October 21, 2016

Edith Piaf, Beloved French Songstress. The Sagittarian Sparrow Sings, "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien - Means, "No, I Regret Nothing." Enjoy! ❤

I was just reading a great article titled, 'Sagittarius The Hero'. Being a Sagittarius myself, it grabbed my attention. It definitely made for some very interesting reading to say the least. I had no idea Josef Stalin was a Sagittarius, born on December 21, 1879. Hmm... but it looks to me that Stalin's birthday falls on the Sagittarius/Capricorn cusp wouldn't you agree? For those of you who don't know, approximately 60 million Russians were starved to death, tortured and murdered by Stalin's Marxist Communist regime. It's hard for me to believe Stalin was a Sagittarius considering what a horrible creature he was. He was inhuman. Sagittarius are known to be the 'clowns of the zodiac', 'the entertainers', the 'great philosophers', the 'seekers of truth and fairness'. Our Sagittarius range of personalities is extreme. Because on the other side of the Sagittarius spectrum is Walt Disney, Mark Twain, Bruce Lee, Ludwig van Beethoven, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, later known as "Osho", and Winston Churchill to name a few historical famous Sagittarius figures that positively influenced humanity as a whole. This is the side of Sagittarius I choose to harness. Let us hope that this world never allows another Stalin nightmare. Hugs to all of you. ❤
okay, I just came across, 10 things you didn't know about Stalin:

His birthday is up for debate

According to official accounts, Stalin was born on December 18, 1879. However, the Old Style Julian calendar (the Russian calendar) marks his birthday as December 6. Stalin himself, however, changed his birthday to December 21, as well as his birth year (allegedly) to 1881, to throw off tsarist officials.
I was inspired to share Edith Piaf's song with you because she was mentioned in the 'Sagittarius The Hero' piece I was reading. Now, I find myself enjoying her gorgeous music on YouTube this Friday afternoon.

The Sagittarian Sparrow
"I want to make people cry even when they don't understand my words."

—Edith Piaf, beloved French songstress, born Dec. 19, 1915, may have personified her country's dichotomy, between the sublime and the degraded. She defiantly lived her life as if "death does not exist"—another quote of hers. The title of her signature song is Je Ne Regrette Rien (I regret nothing).

From the YouTube description:

Piaf dedicated her recording of the song to the French Foreign Legion. At the time of the recording, France was engaged in a military conflict, the Algerian War (1954--1962), and the 1st REP (1st Foreign Parachute Regiment) — which backed a temporary putsch of 1961 by the French military against the civilian leadership of Algeria — adopted the song when their resistance was broken. The leadership of the Regiment was arrested and tried but the non-commissioned officers, corporals and Legionnaires were assigned to other Foreign Legion formations. They left the barracks singing the song, which has now become part of the French Foreign Legion heritage and is sung when they are on parade.

VENEZULA: Corpses 'Exploding' In Decrepit Venezulan Hospitals. Foreshadowing Marxist Socialism's Final Days. Super-Rich Marxist Socialists Drink Champagne, While Middle-Class And Poor Venezuelans Turn To Trash For Food.

THIS IS WHAT AMERICANS WILL GET IF THEY VOTE FOR 4 MORE YEARS OF MARXISM  with Hillary Clinton AFTER 8 YEARS OF Obama's Marxist failed economic policies. And don't tell me Venezuela is an exception. NAME ONE SUCCESSFUL Marxist Socialist Nation ON THIS PLANET throughout history. ANSWER: THERE IS NONE.

Venezuelans voted for Maduro simply because he supported the same damn failed policies his Marxist Socialist predecessor believed in. They didn't give a damn that the only real experience Maduro has ever had was driving a fricken bus and leading a labor union protest against his employer. Yeah, that makes sense. Let's vote for more of the same crap sandwich please. Because it tastes so damn good. NOT. :/ Now the Venezuelan people are living in hell and people, mainly Chavistas, still have THE NERVE to defend the Marxist Socialist inept government and blame the US for Venezuela's nightmare. Yeah. Okay. Whatever.

Front Page Magazine, USA
Foreshadowing socialism's final days.
written by David Paulin
Wednesday October 19, 2016

It was one of the more macabre stories to emerge out of socialist Venezuela -- and served as a metaphor for the final days of the rotting regime.

In a hospital morgue, a bloated corpse exploded.

The morgue's barely functioning cooling system was to blame – hardly a surprise in the oil-rich yet impoverished nation whose health-care system has collapsed under the socialist government. Decomposing for two days in the tropical heat, the corpse finally exploded in a spray of toxic fluids and gasses. The ghastly incident earlier this month necessitated the partial evacuation of the hospital, University Hospital Antonio Patricio de Alcalá, located in Cumaná -- a city of 825,000 in eastern Venezuela. Patients in nearby rooms and corridors were sickened to their stomachs by the stench.

“It’s not the first time that a body exploded,” a hospital employee told a Venezuelan media outlet. “It has already occurred two times since the middle of September.”

The hospital certainly was not always a house of horrors. It was once regarded as one of Venezuela's best public hospitals -- a standard-bearer for health care, according to the Venezuela news site La Patilla. Recently, La Patilla sent a reporter with a hidden camera through the facility: it revealed patients unattended in hallways and the emergency room, shortages of essential equipment, and a lack of air conditioning in wards. The hospital is yet another example of economic decay under “21st Century Socialism" – what Venezuela's late firebrand president, Hugo Chávez, had pledged would turn the South American nation into a workers paradise. Socialism, however, has turned Venezuela into a workers hell.

To be sure, the collapse of Venezuela's health care system was well underway during Hugo Chávez's presidency, even as high oil prices filled government coffers -- a fact that alarmed officials at the U.S. Embassy in Caracas. They described their concerns in a "confidential" diplomatic cable sent in December 2009. Published by WikiLeaks, the cable was written during Hugo Chávez's tenth year in office when his socialist agenda was well under way -- from command-and-control economic policies to nationalizing large swaths of the economy. By then, Venezuela was hardly a workers paradise, however -- as was underscored by the increasingly deplorable state of its health-care system. Some of Venezuela's hospitals were closing while others were ridden with crime, noted the diplomatic cable. Many physicians were quitting medicine -- starting new careers in Venezuela or migrating abroad, upset at being paid a pittance or nothing at all. Medical supplies were in increasingly short supply. The cable blamed Venezuela's ongoing health-care crisis squarely on President Chávez -- his Cuban-style health care initiatives and the politicization of the Venezuela's health care system. Physicians perceived as being anti-Chávez were being disciplined, while incompetent military officials were placed in charge of public hospitals.

The economy's tailspin has worsened under Chávez's successor, Nicholas Maduro, a bus driver-turned politician, who has double downed on his predecessor's socialist policies amid slumping oil prices. Now, acute shortages of food, medicine, and even toilet paper are part of daily life in Venezuela – thanks to a command-and-control economy that abhors free-markets and fails to respect private property. In the morgue where a corpse exploded, for instance, there were no disinfectants, chlorine or formaldehyde, according to employees. Draconian currency exchange and price controls are among the policies that are rightly blamed for the scarcity of basic goods.

There's an irony here. Hugo Chávez, a former coup leader and Army paratrooper, won Venezuela's presidency in 1999 by running as an outsider (he had yet to publicly embrace socialism) and by portraying himself as a moderate who had traded the bullet for the ballot. He had during his campaign rightly lambasted Venezuela's traditional political parties for mismanagement and corruption that had put Venezuela – once an economic success story – into economic decline. Yet under socialism, Venezuela is now in the throes of the worst economic crisis in its history. Its economy is the worst performing in the region and is expected to contract 8 percent this year. Rampaging inflation -- the world's highest -- is expected to hit 720 percent this year as the government feverishly prints more and more worthless currency.

This is the "third consecutive year of economic contraction," observed IMF director for the Western Hemisphere Alejandro Werner during a news conference earlier this month. Venezuela, he warned, is in a state of “decomposition.” “The humanitarian aspect is of great concern to us in terms of health care coverage for the Venezuelan society, and in this vein we have been observing the country with a great deal of concern,” he added.

But the worst is yet to come: hyperinflation. Next year inflation is set to hit 2,200 percent, according to an IMF report that the international lender recently issued amid Venezuela's ongoing calamities – including news of an exploding corpse at a hospital morgue. Not surprisingly, an exodus of Venezuelans is fleeing into neighboring countries just like has happened before in other socialist countries from Cuba to East Berlin to Soviet Russia. Venezuelans with the financial wherewithal have headed to the U.S. and other first-world countries, while poorer Venezuela are fleeing into neighboring countries. The exodus has included a brain drain. Citing a study by the Universidad Central in Venezuela, The Miami Herald noted that some 1.5 million Venezuelans, mostly professionals, have migrated abroad as of 2015, with 260,000 arriving United States and 200,000 in Spain.

Venezuela's leftist leaders, for their part, blame the economic crisis and shortages on an “economic war” being waged by opposition leaders, business owners, black marketeers, and foreign enemies that include the United States.

Venezuela's long slide toward failed-nation status has, to be sure, been underway for many years as one government after another embraced bread-and-circuses leftist populism and tolerated corruption, all things that went into overdrive under Hugo Chávez.

The rot and collapse of socialism is an old story. But as Venezuela falls into the abyss, the true believers in Caracas can be counted on to embrace that old leftist war cry: “Socialism or Death!”

Venezuelan jail reveal emaciated prisoners left starving to death

Inside a Venezuelan hospital: 'If people come with cardiac arrest, they die'

CNN: Children Dying From Lack Of Medicine, Supplies In Venezuela's Hospitals

Animals Go Hungry In Venezuela Zoos Due To Shortages

The Daily Mail, UK
written by Jake Wallis Simons In Caracas, Venezuela With Pictures By Roland Hoskins
June 16, 2016

Venezuela's super-rich are enjoying lavish parties and gourmet cuisine, while middle-class people are forced to scavenge for food as the Socialist country's economy collapses.

In the opulent Caracas Country Club, where membership costs an astonishing £77,000 – 458 times the average Venezuelan salary – glamorous women in cocktail dresses were seen relishing a banquet of beef and lobster, followed by a colourful selection of puddings.

Meanwhile, in the Petare slum a few miles away, home to 370,000 Venezuelans, ordinary middle-class people were rummaging in stinking piles of rubbish for rotten cabbage leaves, desiccated limes and scraps of fetid meat.

'Those rich people are thieves. They are government cronies and they stole the country's money,' said Vanessa, 36, who earns £14 a month as an analyst at an electrics company.

'They don't want anything to change, or they would lose their high lifestyle.

'Chávez pretended to be this big Socialist, but he was rich himself. He was a hypocrite. He was a f*****g liar. His legacy is people like me looking for food in the garbage.'

For 20 years, Venezuela's economy was gradually destroyed by 'Chavismo', an authoritarian form of Socialism that wrecked the private sector with mass nationalisation and regulation.

Prices were controlled by the government – often set below the cost of production – and it was illegal to give employees the sack. Petrol was given away for 25p a gallon, and poor people were given free food and healthcare.

Billions disappeared from the economy due to cronyism, with Transparency International naming Venezuela one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

Despite all this, with the biggest oil reserves in the world, a flow of petrodollars kept the nation afloat.

The country has long been the darling of the Left. Ken Livingstone was Chávez's 'urban adviser', and Jeremy Corbyn is a longtime 'Venezuelan solidarity' activist.

But now that oil prices have collapsed – a barrel of Venezuela's domestic crude is now worth as little as $39 – the Socialist utopia has transformed into a failed country.

A state of emergency was declared in May. According to the Venezuelan Observatory of Violence, looters strike more than 10 times a day, and that number is rising.

Yesterday, President Nicolás Maduro, whom Hugo Chávez named as his successor before his death in 2013, resorted to legal action to block a proposed referendum to remove him from office, trying desperately to cling to power.

Meanwhile, at the Petare slum in the east of the city, Maria, 27, a mother-of-three, was sitting in a pile of rubbish hunting for food.

'I come to the rubbish pile whenever I can afford the bus fare,' she told MailOnline. 'I get more here than I would on minimum wage. Our money has become worthless.'

Sky-high inflation, currently approaching 700 per cent, has destroyed Venezuela's currency. The largest note, the 100-Bolivar bill, is now worth just 7p, plunging millions into abject poverty. The government can no longer even afford to print more cash.

'My husband is a welder and we don't make enough to live on,' Maria said. 'I have to queue for hours for food, and often I get nothing. If I come here, at least I go home with something.'

Mother-of-eight Carmen, 39, added: 'I don't want to be here digging in the rubbish. I feel like I'm suffocating, like I can't breathe. I feel like I'm drowning. But my husband is sick and we are hungry.'

Her 12-year-old son, Julio, was helping his mother scavenge in the rubbish after school.

It's not just food that's in short supply. At the El Algodonal hospital in Antímano, Dayana, 30, cradled her five-month-old baby, Anna-Gabriela, who was admitted with acute asthma and bronchitis eight days ago.

The hospital is unable to provide medicine, food or even toilet paper.

'My baby needs antibiotics and asthma drugs, but I've been to 10 pharmacies and nobody has any,' she said.

'I can't bear seeing my baby unable to breathe. I just want her to get better, but she can't follow a course of treatment.'

This was a world apart from the Country Club, where white-coated waiters were seen serving cocktails and canapés and men practised their swings on the golf course against a backdrop of the city's impoverished neighbourhoods on the skyline.

'It's not that we don't care about the poor people. We give a lot to charity,' one golfer told MailOnline. 'Should we stop enjoying ourselves just because the country is burning?'

The Club is just one of a network of exclusive establishments frequented by Venezuela's high society.

Around Caracas alone there is the Lagunita Country Club, which offers an equestrian centre and opera auditorium and costs £50,000 to join; the Valle Ariba Golf Club, which charges £47,000; and the Carenero Yacht Club, with parking space for boats and jet skis and a private beach, where membership costs £60,000.

Venezuela's Socialist rulers have long been at loggerheads with this symbol of capitalism, loudly threatening to seize its land for social housing.

Behind the scenes, however, the Socialists and Boligarchs – so called because of the wealth they gained through their connections to the Bolivarian Socialist government – are often hand-in-glove.

Diego Salazar, a pro-government businessman who was implicated in an oil corruption scandal last year, is a member of the Club, and Alejandro Andrade, Chávez's notorious Finance Minister who travelled in a £7million private jet, has attended its showjumping events.

A former American ambassador, C Allen Stewart – representative of a country so hated by Chávez – died of a heart attack on the golf course.

Inside the club, the air-conditioned Penguin Bar offers leather armchairs, fine whisky and cigars, while the restaurant, which sells vintage bottles of champagne, is proud of its seared tuna steak.

The golfer told MailOnline that many members of these clubs had nothing to do with corruption or the government, but were simply wealthy diplomats or businessmen earning foreign currency.

But few ordinary Venezuelans see things that way. 'I don't want the wealthy to suffer, but they have destroyed our country,' said Francisco Lopez, 66, an administrator at a bank, as he watched people going through the rubbish.

'I know many people who are members at the Club, and their lives are beautiful. Meanwhile, people in this area have no dignity.'

Supermarket shelves all over the country lie empty, despite the government's efforts to force shopkeepers to put everything they have on display.

Some desperate Venezuelans are resorting to bartering on social media to provide for their families, trading everything from flour and nappies to prescription drugs.

Wealthier people are still able to source the best ingredients on Venezuela's thriving black market, however, where goods are sold for many times their original price.

Black marketeers known as ants, or 'Bachaqueros' – so called because of the loads they can carry on their backs – hoard groceries and sell them on at vastly inflated prices.

One estimate suggests that one in four Venezuelans supplement their income in this way.

'Even if people are poor, I never give them a discount,' said black marketeer Christabell, 24, at her hilltop apartment in El Junquito, Caracas.

'I know it sounds like I'm a terrible person, but I worked hard to get these items. If I start giving away my livelihood, I'll be broke. People say I am playing with the hunger of the people, but what about my hunger?'

Her current stock – which she bought from a contact inside a supermarket – cost her £7, she said, and she will sell it for £35, a markup of 400 per cent.

The profit, £28, is double the average monthly salary in Venezuela.

'I often ask myself if what I'm doing is right, and I always answer that it is wrong,' she said. 'But the government has forced us into this, and things are getting worse. It's like a circle getting tighter and tighter around us every day.'

Outside Caracas, the shortages were even more acute. At the Excelsior Gama supermarket, northeast of the capital, thousands of people jostled and argued in an unruly queue while men armed with machine-guns tried to keep the peace.

Most of those queueing had been there since 4am, in the hope of getting one litre of cooking oil and a kilogram of pasta per family.

'We're on a forced diet. We've all lost weight,' said Carlos Acuna, 56, a security guard and father-of-six. 'We had a Socialist revolution, and these are the results. This is the diet of the revolution.'

Nearby, in the rural town of Tacarigua de Mamporal in Miranda state, an emaciated Weimaraner dog was seen stumbling around a tree on the brink of starvation.

Local residents Carlos de Parra, 39, and his wife Yoraima, 34, have seven children between the ages of six and 17. He works as a cleaner and his wife sells street food; but between them they earn just £2 a week due to spiralling inflation.

Living without electricity and running water, the family has so little to eat that they are starting to starve.

In the kitchen cupboard there was nothing but a bag of salt. In the fridge was just a few mouldy limes and a fist-sized lump of dough in a pot – lunch for all seven children.

'I grow corn, beans and yam but it is not enough for us and a worm is eating the crop,' said Carlos. 'I have no money for pesticides or fertiliser.

'Last week I queued for three hours at a grocery shop and in the end I left with nothing. I've never had to fight so hard for food.'

The previous week, he said, armed robbers broke into their house and stole their washing machine. The week before, police confiscated the rifle he used to hunt deer for his family.

'It's complicated to explain how I feel,' he said. 'I can't find the words. There are so many things that we need which I can't find. Every Venezuelan is angry.'

His wife sells street food six days a week, but is not allowed to eat any herself. 'I feel hungry, so hungry, I go to bed without dinner, and I'm not allowed to eat the food I sell,' she said.

'I know it's bad, but sometimes when the boss goes, I eat some pancake. But if I brought some home for my children, they would notice and I'd get sacked.'

Along with economic collapse has come a rise in violent crime. Caracas' murder rate is the highest in the world, earning it the nickname 'the most dangerous city on Earth'. Many parts of the capital, and elsewhere in the country, are lawless.

Chávez's policy of arming civilian militias and 'collectivos' to defend the Socialist revolution has led to Venezuela becoming the most weaponised country in the world, with one gun for every two citizens.

People live in constant fear of robbers and kidnappers, and many members of the middle-classes are leaving for Colombia or the United States.

In the face of such hardship, even the most fanatical supporters of the government – the so-called 'Chavistas' – are starting to have their doubts.

Marlene Gaspar, 44, a hospital security guard, is a member of a pro-government militia which is deployed to maintain order at food queues. But she is so weakened by hunger, she said, that she is no longer attending weekly paramilitary training.

'I used to be overweight, but now I am skinny,' she said. 'I weighed 11stone last year, but now I am under eight. I often don't eat so I can give food to my children.

'Chávez was supposed to change things, but it didn't happen. Instead the rich people have lots of money and fancy cars, and everyone else is starving.

'My heart is heavy. I feel cheated. Our Socialist dream is falling apart.'

VENEZUELA: A New Decree By The Marxist Socialist Banana Republic Could FORCE Its Citizens To Work On Farms To Tackle The Country's Severe Food Shortages. FORCED LABOR. The Government Has Already Rationed Its Citizens Food.

THIS IS WHAT AMERICANS WILL GET IF THEY VOTE FOR 4 MORE YEARS OF MARXISM  with Hillary Clinton AFTER 8 YEARS OF Obama's Marxist failed economic policies. And don't tell me Venezuela is an exception. NAME ONE SUCCESSFUL Marxist Socialist Nation ON THIS PLANET throughout history. ANSWER: THERE IS NONE.

Venezuelans voted for Maduro simply because he supported the same damn failed policies his Marxist Socialist predecessor believed in. They didn't give a damn that the only real experience Maduro has ever had was driving a fricken bus and leading a labor union protest against his employer. Yeah, that makes sense. Let's vote for more of the same crap sandwich please. Because it tastes so damn good. NOT. :/ Now the Venezuelan people are living in hell and people, mainly Chavistas, still have THE NERVE to defend the Marxist Socialist inept government and blame the US for Venezuela's nightmare. Yeah. Okay. Whatever.

CNN Money, USA
written by Patrick Gillespie, Rafael Romo and Osmary Hernandez
July 29, 2016

A new decree by Venezuela's government could make its citizens work on farms to tackle the country's severe food shortages.

That "effectively amounts to forced labor," according to Amnesty International, which derided the decree as "unlawful."

In a vaguely-worded decree, Venezuelan officials indicated that public and private sector employees could be forced to work in the country's fields for at least 60-day periods, which may be extended "if circumstances merit."

"Trying to tackle Venezuela's severe food shortages by forcing people to work the fields is like trying to fix a broken leg with a band aid," Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas' Director at Amnesty International, said in a statement.

President Nicolas Maduro is using his executive powers to declare a state of economic emergency. By using a decree, he can legally circumvent Venezuela's opposition-led National Assembly -- the Congress -- which is staunchly against all of Maduro's actions.

According to the decree from July 22, workers would still be paid their normal salary by the government and they can't be fired from their actual job.

It is a potent sign of tough conditions in Venezuela, which is grappling with the lack of basic food items like milk, eggs and bread. People wait hours in lines outsides supermarkets to buy groceries and often only see empty shelves.

Venezuela once had a robust agricultural sector. But under its socialist regime, which began with Hugo Chavez in 1999, the oil-rich country started importing more food and invested less in agriculture. Nearly all of Venezuela's revenue from exports comes from oil.

With oil prices down to about $41 a barrel from over $100 about two years ago, Venezuela has quickly run out of cash and can't pay for its imports of food, toilet paper and other necessities. Neglected farms are now being asked to pick up the slack.

Maduro's actions are very similar to a strategy the communist Cuban government used in the 1960s when it sought to recover sugar production after it declined sharply following the U.S. embargo on Cuban goods. It forced Cubans to work on sugar farms to cultivate the island's key commodity.

It's important to note that Maduro has issued decrees before and they often just languish. In January, his government published a decree that put in place mechanisms to restrict the access and movements to the money in the accounts. In other words, a kind of bank freeze. However, that hasn't happened yet.

The National Assembly is expected to discuss the decree on Tuesday. But it would largely be symbolic: under Venezuelan law, the Assembly can't strike down a decree.

This latest action by Maduro may also be a sign that at least one other leader may be calling the shots on this issue. Earlier in July, Maduro appointed one of the country's defense ministers, Vladimir Padrino, as the leader of a team that would control the country's food supply and distribution.

It's powerful role, especially at a time of such scarcity in Venezuela.

"The power handed to Padrino in this program is extraordinary, in our view, and may signal that President Maduro is trying to increase support from the military amid a deepening social and economic crisis," Sebastian Rondeau, an economist at Bank of America, wrote in a research note.

Venezuela is the world's worst economy, according to the IMF. It's expected to shrink 10% this year and inflation is projected to rise over 700%. Beyond food shortages, hospitals are low on supplies, causing many patients to go untreated and some to die.

The country's electoral authorities are still reviewing the petition, which Maduro strongly opposes.

VENEZUELA: Venezuela's Government-Run Oil Giant Warns Of Default Next Week. China Cuts Off Cash To Venezuela. The Marxist Socialist Country Refuses To Default.

THIS IS WHAT AMERICANS WILL GET IF THEY VOTE FOR 4 MORE YEARS OF MARXISM  with Hillary Clinton AFTER 8 YEARS OF Obama's Marxist failed economic policies. And don't tell me Venezuela is an exception. NAME ONE SUCCESSFUL Marxist Socialist Nation ON THIS PLANET throughout history. ANSWER: THERE IS NONE.

Venezuelans voted for Maduro simply because he supported the same damn failed policies his Marxist Socialist predecessor believed in. They didn't give a damn that the only real experience Maduro has ever had was driving a fricken bus and leading a labor union protest against his employer. Yeah, that makes sense. Let's vote for more of the same crap sandwich please. Because it tastes so damn good. NOT. :/ Now the Venezuelan people are living in hell and people, mainly Chavistas, still have THE NERVE to defend the Marxist Socialist inept government and blame the US for Venezuela's nightmare. Yeah. Okay. Whatever.

CNN Money, USA
written by Patrick Gillespie
Tuesday October 18, 2016

Venezuela's government-run oil giant -- the country's largest source of cash -- is warning that it could default on its bonds as early as next week.

Petroleos de Venezuela S.A., or PDVSA, failed to get investors to agree on a deal to push back debt payments by three years. The company said it is extending its deadline for a third time so investors can accept a deal by Friday night. This time, it warned that things could get messy.

"If the exchange offers are not successful, it could be difficult for the company to make scheduled payments on its existing debt," PDVSA said in a statement Monday night.

PDVSA owes $1.6 billion in principal and interest on October 28 and another payment of $2.9 billion is due on November 2 for a separate bond.

It's unclear if PDVSA may actually default or if it's trying to strong arm investors to take the deal.

"I don't think they've prepared themselves for a default, I think it's mostly just a threat. The concern is that they're starting to talk about it," says Siobhan Morden, head of Latin America fixed income strategy at Nomura Holdings.

In total, Venezuela is asking investors to "swap" $5.3 billion of bonds due in 2017 with bonds due in 2020, essentially allowing the government to push back payments.

But PDVSA hasn't been able to lure enough investors to accept the offering. It's led Standard & Poor's to cut its rating on PDVSA in mid-September to two notches above default.

PDVSA represents much more than just an oil company. It is Venezuela's lifeline. Oil shipments make up over 95% of the country's export revenue -- that's cash the government badly needs to pay for imports of food and medicine, which are in short supply.

Things have been so badly mismanaged that Venezuela's oil production hit a 13-year low over the summer after oil services provider such as Schlumberger (SLB) dramatically reduced operations earlier this year due to unpaid bills.

With the value of its currency also spiraling lower, many American companies have stopped tracking sales in the country.

Despite sitting on the world's largest oil reserves, Venezuela is running out of food, medicine and cash as its citizens go hungry. Things could get much worse if PDVSA defaults on its debt.

"They're running out of money and they're running out of runway, they need to sell bonds," says Russ Dallen, managing partner at Caracas Capital Markets, a firm based in Miami. "Venezuela is desperate for cash."

Its economy is projected to contract 10% this year while inflation could soar 475%, according to the IMF's latest estimates. China, the largest creditor for Venezuela, has stopped loaning more cash to the South American government.

Against that dire backdrop, the country's opposition-led Congress is trying to gain enough support for a presidential referendum vote to knock President Nicolas Maduro out of office. Over a million people protested in Caracas, the capital, one day last month. However, Maduro is fighting all efforts and chances of the vote happening are dim.

Maduro's government is low on cash, and some experts worry that even if PDVSA makes its upcoming debt payments, it will really squeeze the government's dwindling reserves. Venezuela's central bank has just under $12 billion in reserves, most of which is held in gold.

For now, there's no light at the end of the tunnel for Venezuela, which needs to sell oil to survive. It's prized possession is now at risk.

"There's already been an extreme collapse in the economy, and it would probably worsen if there's an interruption in oil exports," says Morden.
CNN Money, USA
China is cutting off cash to Venezuela
written by Patrick Gillespie
September 30, 2016

Venezuela can't pluck leaves off China's money tree anymore.

After pouring billions into Venezuela over the last decade, China is cutting off new loans to the Latin American nation. It's a major reversal of relations between the two nations, experts say. It also comes at the worst time for Venezuela, which is spiraling into an economic and humanitarian crisis.

"China is not especially interested in loaning more money to Venezuela," says Margaret Myers, a director at Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington research group that tracks loans between China and Latin America.

Since 2007, China's state banks loaned Venezuela $60 billion, according to the Inter-American Dialogue. That's more that it loaned to any other Latin American country. China is considered Venezuela's most important creditor.

Of that, Venezuela still owes China approximately $20 billion, experts say, and there's no sign that it can pay back the amount amid its crisis.

Venezuela pays back the vast majority of its loans to China with oil shipments. Last year, Venezuela's state-run oil company, PDVSA, shipped about 579,000 barrels of oil per day to China, according to the company's financial audit.

But this year, Venezuela -- which has the world's largest oil reserves -- has seen oil production crash to a 13-year low. Some of its service providers, such as Schlumberger (SLB), have dramatically lowered operations due to unpaid bills from the Venezuelan government.

Socialist president Nicolas Maduro has led a regime that mismanaged Venezuela's resources and pushed the economy into a crisis, experts say. China has now run out of patience.

"The Chinese have allowed the Venezuelans to be stupid," says Derek Scissors, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who tracks Chinese investment around the world. "The Chinese don't want to allow the Venezuelans to be stupid anymore."

China's Foreign Ministry did not respond to a request for comment. Venezuela's finance ministry did not respond either.

Like the government, Chinese companies too are losing interest interest in Venezuela. Since 2010, Chinese companies have invested $2.5 billion a year on average in projects in Venezuela. In the first half of this year, they only invested $300 million, according to AEI.

Scissors emphasizes that the data can change if China hands gives even one big loan to Venezuela before the end of the year. However, he too agrees China is in no mood to dole out more money.

That souring sentiment played out last year when the China Railway Engineering Company halted construction on a "bullet train" it had been working on in Venezuela. The train's construction sites, once a sign of blossoming relations, now sit abandoned.

China long saw Venezuela as one of its top allies in Latin America, experts say. In exchange for cash and infrastructure developments, China wanted a secure source of oil for years to come.

But China's ambitions have hit the reality of the crisis in Venezuela, where inflation is expected to skyrocket 700% and the economy is projected to shrink 8% this year, according to the IMF. Its currency has plummeted in value and many experts believe Venezuela could default on its debt.

With dwindling revenues, Venezuela can't pay for many imports of food and medicine, causing massive shortages in those items. Some Venezuelans, who can, are even traveling to the United States to buy basics like toilet paper and tuna fish.

Amid widespread protests for Maduro to resign, his government must now push on without China's help.

"In the specific case of Venezuela, it's true that [the Chinese] are not willing to continue acting as the lender of last resort," says Mauro Roca, a Latin American economist at Goldman Sachs. "The country is already in a deep crisis, but things can unravel even more."
Bloomberg News, USA
written by Sebastian Boyd
July 4, 2016

It’s been almost two years now since the renowned Harvard economist Ricardo Hausmann caused a stir in his native Venezuela by posing an uncomfortable question.

Why does a country that’s so starved for cash keep honoring its foreign debts? In other words, how does it justify shelling out precious hard currency to wealthy bondholders in New York when it can’t pay for basic food and medicine imports desperately needed by millions of impoverished citizens? “I find the moral choice odd,” Hausmann concluded.

He was, predictably, skewered by the administration back in Caracas -- President Nicolas Maduro labeled him a “financial hitman” and an “outlaw” on national television -- but today the question feels more urgent than ever. Prices for oil, Venezuela’s lifeblood, have fallen almost by half since Hausmann first spoke out and the country’s cash squeeze has deepened dramatically. The chaos has reached unprecedented levels -- food rationing, looting, mob lynchings, collapsing medical care -- yet through it all, bond traders have received every dime they were owed, billions and billions of dollars in all.

“There are two worlds,” said Francisco Ghersi, a managing director of Knossos Asset Management in Caracas. “The world of the bondholders and the world of what’s happening in Venezuela.”

The 21st century has produced a slew of government defaults across the globe, from Argentina to Ecuador to Ukraine. In almost every instance, the country in crisis hit the default button long before the situation got as dire as it has in Venezuela. The only similar case that economists point to is Zimbabwe back in the early 2000s. But even that comparison is flawed, says American University professor Arturo Porzecanski, because Venezuela was significantly wealthier than Zimbabwe before crisis struck and so the South American country’s collapse has been of a much greater magnitude.

What makes this pay-the-debt-at-any-cost approach all the more curious is that it comes in a country run by self-proclaimed socialists who have railed for the better part of two decades against foreign capitalist powers.

There are endless theories, spawned in part by Hausmann’s public pronouncement, as to why the Maduro administration has stuck so doggedly to this policy. The main ones fall into three rough categories.
Food Riots

The first of them is an argument that’s been floated publicly by high-ranking government officials themselves. It states that Venezuela can wait it out till oil prices rebound. Why rock the boat, the thinking goes, if salvation is potentially just weeks away? (Prices have been rallying of late, climbing to near $50 a barrel.)

The next argument is something of a conspiracy theory born in part out of the opaque nature of the country’s finances. It posits that close associates of the administration are major holders of the country’s bonds and that the government fears it’d lose their much-needed support if the payments stopped coming in. Efforts to obtain comment from government press officials on this and other aspects of the story were unsuccessful.

The third theory, and it’s one that ties back into the first idea, states that even though Venezuela lost access to international capital markets a long time ago, a default could still deepen the government’s cash squeeze by triggering legal action from creditors that would undermine the country’s ability to export. If fewer petro-dollars flow into the country, the savings from the default could be washed away, making the situation on the ground even worse.

It’s frankly hard to imagine what a further deterioration would look like. After shrinking an estimated 7.5 percent in 2015, the economy is forecast to post an even bigger contraction this year. Food shortages are now so acute, and lines outside stores so long, that spontaneous protests are popping up everywhere. In one episode in the 500-year-old coastal city of Cumana, hundreds were arrested and a middle-aged man was shot to death, one of three fatalities at food-related demonstrations in June alone. There have been so many vigilante justice-style lynchings -- more than 70 in the first four months of this year -- that the supreme court has banned Venezuelans from sharing video recordings of the gruesome events on social media.

Default’s Benefits

To Hausmann and to legal experts who have studied the country’s oil operations, the risk of angry creditors blocking exports after a default is actually small. The way that PDVSA, as the state oil company is known, structured sales contracts makes it difficult for them to be interrupted by a legal challenge, according to Francesca Odell, a partner at Cleary Gottlieb in New York. What Hausmann and others see instead from a default is the opportunity to free up a big chunk of cash that could be re-directed toward imports.

The government is due to make $1.5 billion in foreign debt payments in the second half of this year. Include PDVSA’s tab and the figure swells to $5.8 billion. It’s a staggering sum of money in a nation that has bled its hard currency reserves down to just $12 billion. And while few, if any, bondholders would embrace a default, they certainly wouldn’t be caught off-guard by it. For the better part of the past 18 months, the government’s benchmark bonds have been trading under 50 cents on the dollar, a price that in essence signals to a debtor: “We’re prepared for a restructuring, go ahead and do it if you must.”

“It’s fairly shocking that they have decided to service the debt over all else,” said Risa Grais-Targow, an analyst at Eurasia Group in Washington. “But I do think the commitment is fairly strong.”

Venezuela’s bonds due in 2027 fell 0.37 cents to 48.48 cents on the dollar as of 2:24 p.m. today in New York.

Maduro, the man handpicked by the late Hugo Chavez to succeed him, has spoken frequently about his determination to keep paying the debt. In a speech back in May, he proudly explained how the country had doled out $36 billion to creditors -- “a huge amount of money” -- over the previous 20 months. The payments were made, he went on to say, “with dignity, without accepting preconditions from anyone, maintaining the country’s independence despite the pain.” These are references to multilateral lenders like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, institutions that are despised by the Latin American left.

As long as Maduro continues to pay, there will be investors willing to own the debt. Venezuela’s bonds are among the highest-paying investments in emerging markets, offering today an average yield of 26 percent. That’s in dollars -- in a world where many developed-nation bonds are yielding close to zero (or even less). And since Chavez swept into office 17 years ago, the country’s bonds have handed investors a total return of 517 percent.

“It is one of the most miserable, mismanaged, hopeless countries on the planet,” said Jan Dehn, head of research at Ashmore Group Plc, which manages $50 billion of emerging-market assets. “But that doesn’t mean you can’t make money.”

Hausmann, meanwhile, is more incensed than ever.

In a recent interview, he called the government’s insistence on paying the debt, coupled with a church’s claim that it rejected offers of international aid, “a crime against humanity.” There’s a history here, it should be noted, between the professor and the Chavistas. Some two decades ago, he served in the business-friendly government that Chavez tried to overthrow in a coup attempt that effectively launched his political career. Perhaps that explains some of the enmity between the two sides. Regardless, this is what Hausmann wants to ask the folks on the other side: How can they sleep at night? “It’s beyond belief.”

VENEZUELA: Venezuela’s Moves Signal Gutting of Democracy. Food Prices Skyrocket As People Go Hungry Thanks To The Marxist Socialist That Destroyed Economy. Inflation To Rise 475% This Year.

THIS IS WHAT AMERICANS WILL GET IF THEY VOTE FOR 4 MORE YEARS OF MARXISM  with Hillary Clinton AFTER 8 YEARS OF Obama's Marxist failed economic policies. And don't tell me Venezuela is an exception. NAME ONE SUCCESSFUL Marxist Socialist Nation ON THIS PLANET throughout history. ANSWER: THERE IS NONE.

Venezuelans voted for Maduro simply because he supported the same damn failed policies his Marxist Socialist predecessor believed in. They didn't give a damn that the only real experience Maduro has ever had was driving a fricken bus and leading a labor union protest against his employer. Yeah, that makes sense. Let's vote for more of the same crap sandwich please. Because it tastes so damn good. NOT. :/ Now the Venezuelan people are living in hell and people, mainly Chavistas, still have THE NERVE to defend the Marxist Socialist inept government and blame the US for Venezuela's nightmare. Yeah. Okay. Whatever.

The Wall Street Journal, USA
written by Anatoly Kurmanaev
Friday October 21, 2016

CARACAS, Venezuela—Venezuela’s government has steadily become more authoritarian in recent years, but many citizens feel it cast off the last vestiges of democracy Thursday night, when electoral authorities extinguished the opposition’s efforts to recall President Nicolás Maduro by referendum.

The action came days after the government postponed December elections for governors that it would have badly lost and stripped the legislature of one of last powers it had left: its constitutional right to pass a federal budget.

Taken together, the moves signal the end of any hope that Mr. Maduro could be removed from power through referendum, as provided for under the constitution, or even have his executive power checked. And they fuel growing doubt about whether Mr. Maduro’s ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela will hold presidential elections scheduled for 2018.

Public figures and intellectuals here have this week decried an official end to democracy in a country with one of Latin America’s longest and strongest democratic traditions.

“Democracy doesn’t exist without the separation of powers, without elections and without votes,” Alberto Barrera, a noted author here, said in an online column this week. “That has another name.”

The government followed the referendum’s suspension by issuing travel bans for 11 opposition leaders, including former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles and Jesús Torrealba, the general secretary of the opposition alliance. The move was likely aimed at preventing the opposition from drumming up international support for their cause, one of the few avenues of action left to them.

Political scientists have long debated how best to characterize a country that still held elections but whose leaders exerted political control by co-opting formal democratic institutions like courts. That subtle discussion now seems to have been rendered moot.

“Venezuela just took the ‘competitive’ out of ‘competitive authoritarianism,’” John Polga, professor of Latin American studies at the U.S. Naval Academy in Maryland, said in a message on Twitter.

“Elections are the sine qua non of democracy—the bare minimal requirement—so pushing back regional elections until next year and now suspending and possibly canceling altogether the recall referendum is tantamount to a declaration that the government no longer wishes to even keep up the appearance of being an electoral democracy,” Mr. Polga said.

Some opposition parties on Friday called people onto the streets to defend their voting rights. A few hundred university students staged protests outside campuses across the country Friday morning, but most of the country remained calm, awaiting an announcement expected later today from the official opposition alliance.

The opposition has struggled to attract more than a few thousand to several antigovernment protests staged in the past month, with many people saying they are tired of going to rallies that haven’t produced a visible result. Others express fear of being thrown into jail, as dozens of demonstrators have been.

For all its authoritarian tendencies, the Venezuela’s Socialist government has staged one election and referendum after another over much of its 18 years in power. Its leaders, often decked out in bright red, called their government “a beautiful revolution” and boasted they had the world’s most democratic government.

For years, especially during the first few years after Socialist Hugo Chávez’s first became president in 1999, leftists from Buenos Aires to Madrid saw a new utopia rising in South America to counter Washington’s imperialist hegemony. It was Venezuela’s opposition, which carried out a brief-lived coup against Mr. Chávez in 2002, that was widely seen as antidemocratic.

But any democratic credentials the government had were soon tarnished as Mr. Chávez took control of once-independent institutions, from the election agency to the courts. He muzzled the independent media by stripping critical TV stations of their broadcast licenses and withheld newsprint from independent newspapers.

Conditions further deteriorated quickly under the rule of his successor, Mr. Maduro, who trained in Communist Cuba and later became a bus driver. Upon Mr. Chávez’s death in 2013 Mr. Maduro became the leader of this country of 30 million people and oversaw the world’s worst economic meltdown.

“The latest moves by the government have made it more evident that Venezuela is no longer a democracy,” said Diego Moya-Ocampos, political-risk analyst at consulting firm IHS Inc. in London.

written by Patrick Gillespie and Osmary Hernandez
Friday October 21, 2016

Earlier this year, Venezuelans suffered through acute food shortages.

Now food is starting to reappear on more and more supermarket shelves. But the prices are prohibitive for almost everyone.

"The prices are really really high...people are just shocked by the price increases," says Alejandro, a 24-year old who works at a law firm in Maracaibo, Venezuela, near the border of Colombia.

It's the latest reality in a country where people are going hungry: food within eyesight but out of reach.

To ease the shortages, Venezuela's government has quietly stopped enforcing some of its price controls on food in parts of Venezuela that border Colombia and Brazil where food is shipped in.

It wasn't feasible for many Venezuelan businesses to bring in basic goods from other countries. That's because no matter what price they paid, they were forced to sell at super low prices dictated for years by the socialist government.

But now food importers can bring in basics like eggs, milk and flour -- things that have been previously scarce on shelves -- and sell them without price controls. It's the reason supermarkets have more food now than in previous months.

However, the difference between Venezuela's price controls and market prices is significant. Venezuelans say they've seen staggering price hikes as the country struggles with exponentially rising inflation. The IMF forecasts inflation in Venezuela to rise 475% this year.

For example, Venezuela's most popular dish is the arepa. Call it the hot dog of Venezuela. It's made with cornmeal. The government's price for cornmeal was 190 bolivars -- or about 16 cents -- for a two pound bag.

In supermarkets today though, cornmeal made in Venezuela is selling for 975 bolivars, and imported cornmeal goes for 1,850 bolivars.

And even that sometimes isn't always available, Venezuelans say. That's when the black market kicks in, where unofficial food vendors sell the bag of cornmeal for as much as 3,500 bolivars -- or $3.

"The price of everything skyrocketed," says Simon, a 25-year old recent college graduate who teaches high school students in Caracas, the country's capital. "There's no quality of life here."

Simon makes roughly 96,000 bolivars a month on the ever-rising exchange rate. That's equal to about $80.

He hasn't had meat in his fridge in a month.

"Not because we can't find meat, but because it's very expensive," says Simon. He lives with his mother, Carmen, in an upper middle class neighborhood.

The price for a dozen eggs in some supermarkets in Caracas is now 1,800 bolivars ($1.50). A year ago it was 500 bolivars ($0.40).

The government's price on a liter of milk is about 350 bolivars, but it's being sold now for 970 bolivars in some stores.

The shortages have even hit middle class Venezuelans hard. Simon and Carmen went without toilet paper for a month in July, and during various times this year they've been without milk, eggs and cheese. Last month, Carmen flew to New York to visit her daughter and took back basics, like toilet paper, to Caracas.

Simon and Alejandro, who don't know each other, stress they are the lucky Venezuelans who can get by despite being without some basics.

For the poorest Venezuelans, the current minimum wage, including the equivalent of food stamps, is 65,000 bolivars a month (roughly $54). That means one bag of cornmeal and a dozen eggs could take up as much as 8% of a worker's monthly pay.

What's unclear to many Venezuelans is whether the government will continue to turn a blind eye and not enforce its price controls -- or if it will start reenforcing the controls because people are complaining about sky high prices. That uncertainty frustrates many Venezuelans.

At this point there are no good options for the government or its people.

"What's worse -- for there to be empty shelves, or stocked shelves with prices that are exorbitantly high?" says Daniel Osorio, who spends a week every month in Caracas and leads the investing firm Andean Capital Management. "When it was at the old price, there was nothing available."

VENEZUELA: Congratulations To Bolivarian (Marxist) Socialism For Nearly Bankrupting Venezuela's Monopoly Oil Company And The Country.

THIS IS WHAT AMERICANS WILL GET IF THEY VOTE FOR 4 MORE YEARS OF MARXISM  with Hillary Clinton AFTER 8 YEARS OF Obama's Marxist failed economic policies. And don't tell me Venezuela is an exception. NAME ONE SUCCESSFUL Marxist Socialist Nation ON THIS PLANET throughout history. ANSWER: THERE IS NONE.

Venezuelans voted for Maduro simply because he supported the same damn failed policies his Marxist Socialist predecessor believed in. They didn't give a damn that the only real experience Maduro has ever had was driving a fricken bus and leading a labor union protest against his employer. Yeah, that makes sense. Let's vote for more of the same crap sandwich please. Because it tastes so damn good. NOT. :/ Now the Venezuelan people are living in hell and people, mainly Chavistas, still have THE NERVE to defend the Marxist Socialist inept government and blame the US for Venezuela's nightmare. Yeah. Okay. Whatever.

Forbes.com, USA
written by Tim Worstall
Friday October 21, 2016

The stirring achievements of Bolivarian socialism as practiced in Venezuela never cease to amaze. They’ve managed to create, at one time, an entire country running out of beer. The banknotes cost more to print than they are worth. A fertile tropical nation has widespread food shortages. They’ve even managed that the place sitting on the world’s largest oil reserves has to import oil from the U.S. To add to this list of blows struck against the imperialist Yankees we can now add the possible bankruptcy, or at least default on its debts, of the monopoly oil company sitting on top of that ocean of oil which is the world’s largest reserves.
Venezuela’s state-owned oil company has warned that it is in danger of defaulting on its debts after investors declined an offer to swap bonds.

Four times in the last month, Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA) has extended an offer to investors to swap their bonds which mature next year for notes due in 2020. The oil company is required to pay out $1.8 billion this month and $3 billion next month in debt interest and bond maturities.

This week, it warned investors in a statement that if they declined to swap their bonds, the company may end up defaulting.
Bankruptcy and default are not quite the same thing although one can lead to the other. Neither are evidence of great care or skill in managing this most important part of the Venezuelan economy.

The underlying reason here is in contention. Some lawmakers are shouting that it is corruption:
A report by a Venezuelan congressional commission accused Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) [PDVSA.UL] of corruption on Wednesday, saying about $11 billion in funds went missing from the state-run oil company while Rafael Ramirez was at the helm from 2004-14.

“It is more than the (annual) budget of five Central American countries,” said Freddy Guevara, comptroller commission president and a member of one of Venezuela’s hardline opposition parties, alleging widespread malfeasance at the state oil producer.

“We’re talking about $11 billion they cannot justify,” he added, as he presented a report by the legislative body that audits the state.
Default would make matters problematic to say the least:
It’s likely the company will retain control of its assets such as the refineries in Venezuela, said Mara Roberts, a New York-based analyst at BMI Research. The story is different when it comes to oil being exported, she said.
“Oil tankers could also potentially be at risk, with those carrying Venezuelan crude likely to face attachment claims upon arrival,” Roberts said by e-mail. “This could discourage take up of PDVSA’s shipments.”
My own explanation would be the more traditional one. The one common before these latest allegations of corruption. This is that Venezuela’s oil is very heavy and thus needs large capital investment for it to continue to be extracted. The basic operating method of the Chavez and then Maduro administrations has been to skimp on that capital spending and then spend the money saved on consumer imports into Venezuela. Largely as a means of buying political support despite their complete and total mismanagement of the domestic economy. There were also further borrowings using the oil company as the legal form doing the borrowing, again to fund such spending upon consumers.

But, obviously, borrowing spent on rice doesn’t increase the ability of the oil company to produce more oil to pay back the borrowings. Production, and thus income, has been falling, even without any influence of the falling oil price itself.

You can indeed buy bread and circuses with resource rents. But do too much of it and you’ll not have the capital to keep those resource rents coming. Which is what I would say has been another great success of boli socialism. And, obviously, one that we ourselves don’t want to repeat. Seriously, socialism, don’t do it.

SCIENCE: Scientists Unearth New Species Of Titanosaur That Roamed Australia 95 Million Years Ago. Wow :o Very Cool :D

The Los Angeles Times, USA
written by Amina Khan
Thursday October 20, 2016

Talk about a giant find. Paleontologists have dug up the fossil remains of two enormous long-necked dinosaurs in Queensland, Australia. One of them, Savannasaurus elliottorum, represents a species that’s new to science; the other specimen, Diamantinasaurus matildae, features the first skull fragments found for any Australian sauropod.

The roughly 95-million-year-old fossils, described in the journal Scientific Reports, offer clues about how these sauropod dinosaurs first arrived Down Under.

“A new dinosaur like Wade, or Savannasaurus, will allow us to work out how these dinosaurs evolved through time, how they responded to climatic changes, and also how they responded to changes in the positions of the continents as well,” lead author Stephen Poropat, a vertebrate paleontologist at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum in Winton, Queensland, said in a video interview.

This specimen of Savannasaurus elliottorum (nicknamed “Wade” for Australian paleontologist Mary Wade) was discovered in 2005 by study coauthor David Elliott, who co-founded the dinosaur museum.

Elliott had been herding sheep in western Queensland when he came across a pile of fossilized bone fragments. At the time, he’d hoped that he’d discovered some kind of theropod (a group whose members include the velociraptor and Tyrannosaurus rex) but he soon realized it was a much bigger find.

“It turned out to be just as good, because it is a totally new species of sauropod — and it’s quite unlike most of the other ones around the world too,” Elliott said in a video interview. “It’s very, very different.”

Titanosaurs are the heavyweights of the long-necked sauropods; Savannasaurus elliottorum, for example, stretched to half the length of a basketball court, with a long neck and comparatively short tail. Even though it was just a medium-sized titanosaur, it was also “the most rotund sauropod we have found so far,” Poropat said in a statement.

Scientists think that the two enormous species actually managed to somehow share resources — perhaps eating different plants, or at different times of the day. But they aren’t clear on how the animals got to Australia in the first place.

They may have been able to cross from South America to Australia through Antarctica (all of which were connected at the time), but the plant record shows that there was what the study called a “sharp climatic barrier” that probably kept them out until about 105 million years ago. While much of the Earth was quite warm at that time, there were still relative cold spots that would have kept the sauropods from venturing into Antarctica.

But the dinosaurs clearly made it — and the researchers think it’s because an episode of global warming eventually helped thaw out those cold spots, which “would have enabled sauropods to disperse from South America, across Antarctica, to Australia via a set of suitable habitats,” they wrote.

The mystery of the titanosaurs has yet to be solved, however; Wade is just the fifth type of sauropod that’s ever been discovered in Australia, Poropat pointed out. Scientists say they’ll need much more fossil evidence before they can properly fill in the blanks in their history and migration patterns.

“Given the very patchy nature of the Early Cretaceous fossil record, especially in East Gondwana,” the study authors wrote, “considerable further work is required before the complex biogeographic history of the Australian Cretaceous terrestrial vertebrate fauna can be unraveled.”

The Sydney Morning Herald, Australia
written by Bridie Smith
Friday October 21, 2016

The world has a new dinosaur: a barrel-bellied giant herbivore that stood as tall as a giraffe and grazed the grasslands of what is now central-west Queensland.

While its height of up to six metres places it alongside the dainty giraffe, that's where the similarities end.

This newly discovered cretaceous creature named Savannasaurus elliottorum had stumpy legs, which it needed to support its solid frame and wide girth. Its hips alone were 1.5 metres wide.

"You could almost look at it as a long-legged, long-necked and long-tailed hippopotamus with a much smaller head," said paleontologist Stephen Poropat.

The first dinosaur bone was found by chance in March 2005 by grazier David Elliott while mustering sheep on his outback Queensland property near Winton, 177 kilometres north-west of Longreach.

It took two digs and years of painstaking work to release the bones from the clay-rich soil. A front end loader was used to scrape off the topsoil before paleontologists attempted to remove the earth surrounding the fossils. The traditional tools of choice were defeated and instead, pneumatic tools with special tips had to be called upon to remove rock from bone.

"That's why, even though this dinosaur was discovered in 2005, it hasn't been announced until now," said Dr Poropat, a research associate at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum in Winton.

But unearthing the 95-million-year-old dinosaur remains was worth the wait. The find represents not only a new species of dinosaur but a new genus.

"It represents a new end point on the sauropod family tree," Dr Poropat said.

Almost a quarter of the skeleton has been retrieved - making this the third-most complete Australian dinosaur skeleton.

The largest individual fossil collected was the dinosaur's humerus, or upper arm bone, which weighs about 100 kilograms.

The bones collected include vertebrae, pelvis, shoulder and limb bones. However there are just a few neck and tail bones, leaving researchers to guess the length these body parts might have been.

Having gathered almost a quarter of the skeleton, paleontologists were able to build up a picture of what the dinosaur, which belongs to the titanosaurus group, might have looked like.

Its barrel of a belly would have housed a huge gut, where the nutrients from the vegetation it snipped off plants with its front teeth were slowly extracted. It didn't have back teeth, so was unable to chew.

"These dinosaurs may well have been like walking, fermenting vats," Dr Poropat said. "They could have retained food in their system for up to two weeks in order to extract sufficient nutritional value from their food."

Its ancestors probably came from South America - meaning the Australian dinosaur could provide an explanation as to how and when dinosaurs dispersed across the globe.

"It's a really exciting find as it sheds light on exactly how animals moved across the continents and through time," Dr Poropat said.

"And another thing the fossil record can help us answer is when the Australian fauna started to show such a unique character. It's quite possible that that process started long before Australia finally detached from Antarctica."

The discovery, as well as the identification of the first fossilsed dinosaur head bones ever found in Australia, has been outlined in the journal Scientific Reports.

SCIENCE: This Volcano In Japan Stopped An Earthquake In Its Tracks, Scientist Say. :o

Mount Aso in Japan. 
CHO KOK BIN/National Geographic Creative

Science Magazine
written by Ian Randall
Thursday October 20, 2016

Before they break a volcano’s heart, earthquakes must stop in the name of lava. That’s the conclusion of a new study, which reports that Japan’s 2016 Kumamoto earthquake may have been stopped in its tracks by the magma chamber underneath the active volcano Mount Aso. The study offers insight into the interplay between earthquakes and volcanoes—and it may also help explain Mount Aso’s explosive eruption this month.

As the products of slowly moving tectonic plates, large earthquakes and active volcanoes are closely related phenomena that often occur near each other. Large earthquakes can trigger volcanic eruptions—even at considerable distances—and the presence of underground bodies of magma can affect the patterns and segmentation of geological faults in volcanic regions. Despite these links, opportunities to study earthquake-volcano interactions are comparatively rare, and a lack of geological observations means that little has been known about how volcanoes might affect an earthquake rupture.

This is what made the earthquakes that hit Japan’s Kyushu Island earlier this year rather special. The shocks, which peaked with a magnitude-7.1 event on 16 April that caused widespread damage, struck only 30 kilometers southwest of Mount Aso, one of the world’s largest active volcanoes. The mountain features a caldera—a cauldronlike depression caused by a volcano collapsing into itself—about 22 kilometers in diameter.

Seizing this rare opportunity, geoscientist Aiming Lin of Kyoto University in Japan and colleagues raced to the epicenter the day after the main shock to investigate the quake’s fault ruptures and the impact on the caldera. The researchers combined satellite images from Google Earth with on-the-ground observations of broken roads and river channels to find out how much the earth had shifted near fault lines, a measurement known as displacement. They also used seismic imaging to study the structure of the crust below the ground.

The team found that the earthquake created a 40-kilometer-long swath of surface ruptures along the pre-existing Hinagu-Futagawa fault zone, with horizontal displacements of as much as 2.45 meters and vertical shifts of up to 0.9 meters. They also found a new set of faults that cut across the Aso caldera from the southwest toward the northeast. Near the northeastern edge of the caldera, however, the surface rupturing changed. There, the ruptures were dominated by vertical movements before abruptly stopping.

Seismic imaging of the ground beneath Mount Aso revealed that underground rupturing ceased below a depth of 6 kilometers, an unusual cutoff. But that also happens to be the upper boundary of the volcano’s underground magma chamber.

“We found that the coseismic rupturing stopped at the volcano, inside the caldera,” says Lin, explaining that the partially molten magma chamber could not be ruptured by the earthquake. If the magma chamber had not been present, he says, the extent of the earthquake’s rupturing would likely have been longer. Instead, the presence of the magma chamber acted to change the stress field of the rock around it, leading to pulling-apart stresses that resulted in the vertical fault movements.

But Lin warns that the new ruptures produced beneath the caldera could become fresh conduits for escaping magma, potentially leading to future eruptions like the 11-kilometer-high ash cloud that exploded from Mount Aso on 8 October. With their initial study complete, the researchers are hoping to gather more data on how the volcano might have been affected by the earthquake rupturing.

The factors that control earthquake rupturing are very much a matter of ongoing research, with variations in the mechanical properties of fault zones playing an important role, notes geophysicist Margarita Segou of the British Geological Survey in Nottingham, who was not involved in this study. Alongside the impact of magma chambers on the properties of the shallow crust, she notes, are other potentially relevant factors such as the presence of low seismic velocity zones controlled by fluids.

“In the future,” she adds, “time-dependent seismic hazard studies—including earthquake and volcano forecasts—are expected to include more realistic representations of active stress fields, acknowledging the existence of critical perturbations from multiple sources.”

USA: US Court Issued A Landmark Ruling On Oct. 14, 2016 That Stops The Bureau Of Land Management Federal Agency From Wiping Out Wild Horses In Wyoming! YAY! :D

written by Staff
Friday October 14, 2016

Denver (Oct. 14, 2016) — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit today issued a landmark decision that stops the Bureau of Land Management from wiping out wild horses from over one million acres of public land in the Wyoming Checkerboard.

The ruling holds that BLM violated two federal laws in its conduct of a 2014 wild horse roundup that removed over 1,263 wild horses from the area, and means that the agency’s plan to round up 500 more horses from the Checkerboard beginning on Oct. 18 is also illegal.

Plaintiffs American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, The Cloud Foundation, Return to Freedom and photographers Carol Walker and Kimerlee Curyl and their attorney, Bill Eubanks, of Meyer, Glitzenstein and Eubanks, are hailing the decision and its precedential implications for wild horse management throughout the western United States.

“This ruling throws a wrench into the backroom deal between the BLM and livestock grazing interests to eliminate federally protected wild horses from over one million acres of public land in Wyoming,” Eubanks said. “With this landmark decision, the 10th Circuit has permanently stopped the BLM from treating public lands as private and eliminating wild horses from public lands based on a request from private landowners.

“This sets a major legal precedent across the West and protects wild horses from ranchers who want to eliminate these iconic animals from our public lands in order to put even more domestic cattle and sheep on these public lands to the detriment of the ecosystem.”

In its ruling issued today, the 10th Circuit held that “the BLM violated both the [Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros] Act and FLPMA [Federal Land Policy Management Act] in carrying out the 2014 removal of wild horses from the Checkerboard.”

The appellate court reversed the 2015 lower court ruling upholding BLM’s actions in the 2014 Checkerboard wild horse roundup.

Today’s decision is a closing chapter in an ongoing legal battle over the BLM’s plan to eradicate wild horses from a two-million-acre area of public and private land at the request of the Rock Springs Grazing Association. The RSGA owns or leases the private land blocks in the Checkerboard and views wild horses as competition for taxpayer subsidized livestock grazing on the public lands in the area.

Last week, the plaintiffs filed another lawsuit to block the agency from proceeding with the next Checkerboard roundup, set to begin on Oct. 18.

This is the third major legal victory for the groups in just over a month. Earlier this week, the 10th Circuit threw out a lawsuit by the State of Wyoming to compel the BLM to remove hundreds of wild horses from non-checkerboard public lands in that state. In a precedential ruling, the 10th Circuit held that the BLM is not required to remove wild horses from public lands just because their populations exceed outdated population limits.

On Sept. 9, the BLM cancelled plans to conduct cruel surgical sterilization experiments on wild mares in Oregon, citing a lawsuit filed by The Cloud Foundation and AWHPC as the reason.

Return to Freedom is a national nonprofit dedicated to wild horse preservation through sanctuary, education and conservation, and also operates the American Wild Horse Sanctuary in Lompoc, Calif.

The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign is a national wild horse advocacy organization whose grassroots mission is endorsed by a coalition of more than 60 horse advocacy, public interest, and conservation organizations. AWHPC is dedicated to preserving the American wild horse in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage.

The Cloud Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and protection of wild horses and burros on our Western public lands with a focus on protecting Cloud’s herd in the Pryor Mountains of Montana. Cloud is the subject of Foundation founder Ginger Kathrens’ groundbreaking PBS/Nature documentaries.

Carol Walker and Kimerlee Curyl are renowned wild horse photographers who regularly photograph the wild horses of the Adobe Town, Great Divide Basin and Salt Wells Creek HMAs.

Meyer Glitzenstein & Eubanks LLP is a public interest environmental law firm with offices in Washington, D.C. and Fort Collins, Colo.