Discovery Of Cave On Moon Raises Hope For Lunar Human Habitation

Japan’s space agency said it has discovered an enormous cave beneath the lunar surface that could be turned into an exploration base for astronauts. It appears to be the perfect spot for humans to colonize the moon.
The discovery, made by Japan’s Selenological and Engineering Explorer (Selene) probe, comes as several countries compete to follow the United States in sending manned missions to the moon. Using a radar sounder system that can examine underground structures, the orbiter initially found an opening 50 meters wide and 50 meters deep, prompting speculation that there could be a larger hollow. Scientists at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa) confirmed the presence of the cave after examining the hole using radio waves.

This post was published at shtfplan on October 19th, 2017.

The Countries Most (& Least) Satisfied With ‘Democracy’

Across the globe, the spread of right- and left-wing populism and authoritarian politics have shaken the very foundations of democracy.
As Statista’s Niall McCarthy notes, a new survey from Pew Research has found that people across the globe are generally unhappy with the functionality of their political systems, though levels of satisfaction with democracy vary hugely between countries.
As can be seen from the following infographic which shows a selection of countries from the survey, people in India have tremendous faith in democracy. 79 percent of those polled said they are satisfied with the way democracy is working in India compared to 11 percent who are dissatisfied. Germany also recorded a high level (73 percent) of satisfaction with democracy.
In many other developed countries, however, faith is waning.
In the United Kingdom and Japan, 47 percent of people are not satisfied with how democracy is working in their countries while in the U. S., that rises to 51 percent. France, South Korea and Brazil all recorded dissatisfaction levels of 65 percent or higher… but Greece tops the charts with only 21% of its citizenry ‘satisfied’ with the weay democracy is working.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 18, 2017.

What Would A North Korean Nuclear Attack Look Like?

Reports that North Korea is planning to test an ICBM capable of reaching the US west coast opened a trapdoor under stocks this morning, suggesting that investors are taking president’s ominous warnings about ‘the calm before the storm’ seriously.
But in the unlikely event that you’re not sufficiently terrified already, researchers at Johns Hopkins have sought to quantify the horrifying consequences of a North Korean nuclear strike in a new research report published by the university’s 38th Parallel project.
The US carrying out any military option raises a significant risk of military escalation by the North, including the use of nuclear weapons against South Korea and Japan. According to the calculations presented below, if the ‘unthinkable’ happened, nuclear detonations over Seoul and Tokyo with North Korea’s current estimated weapon yields could result in as many as 2.1 million fatalities and 7.7 million injuries.
In the report, author Michael Zagurek calculates that an all-out nuclear strike launched by North Korea against Tokyo or Seoul could kill as many as 2.1 million people and injure another 8 million. Combined, the number of dead and injured would equal 10% of the South Korean population – affirming that a nuclear strike by the North would be – by a considerable margin – the single deadliest attack in human history. By comparison, the US killed a combined 120,000 Japanese civilians when dropped nuclear bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 6, 2017.

Does Ethnic Heterogeneity Make Homicide Worse in the Americas?

When gun-control advocates make international comparisons on homicide rates, they generally employ an assumption that places with more stringent gun control laws have lower homicide rates. Unfortunately for them, this only holds up when countries with both high levels of gun control and high homicide rates are excluded from the analysis.
By recognizing the need to exclude most of the world’s nations from this analysis, the gun control advocates are of course implicitly admitting they recognize that gun control cannot explain low homicide rates in many areas. The case of Mexico, for example, illustrates quite well that simply imposing gun control does not eliminate problems with homicide.
So, what can explain these differences? Forced to admit that gun control does not explain low homicide rates by itself, even gun control advocates turn to other factors that are essential. Factors such as income, median age of the population, political stability, and other factors are suggested. Even environmental lead levels may be a factor.
Also important is a lack of cultural and ethnic uniformity within a jurisdiction.
This is especially notable when considering the Americas, where nation-states are in most cases frontier states with populations heavily affected by immigration, a history of conflict with indigenous populations, and institutionalized chattel slavery that lasted until the 19th century. The factors are significant through the region, and the United States cannot be held apart in this regard from the Caribbean, Brazil, Colombia, and other states impacted by all these factors.
Importantly, these factors also make the Americas significantly different from Western Europe and other areas – Japan and Korea, for example – where the present situation is marked by much higher levels of cultural uniformity and quite different recent histories and current demographic trends. This by itself, of course, does not explain all social trends and indicators. But anyone analyzing homicide rates in the Americas will tend to notice immediately that crime rates are high in the Americas overall, although legal regimes vary significantly.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on Oct 06, 2017.

Article 9 and Japan’s Missile Defense Dilemma

After North Korea’s recent missile tests over Japan, new questions have been raised about the ‘pacifist clause’ of the Japanese Constitution and the effectiveness of Japan’s missile defense strategy. How could Shinzo Abe respond?
Just as it seemed like tensions in the Korean peninsula could not get any higher, North Korea decided to launch the Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) over the Japanese island of Hokkaido. This was the fourteenth test of a ballistic missile conducted by North Korea in 2017 – leaving the country with nine operational ballistic missiles, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Of these nine missiles, only the No-Dong has Japan within its optimal firing range of between 1,200-1,500 kilometers. Given that Tokyo is a mere 1285 kilometers from Pyongyang, this is the missile that is likely to keep the Japanese Self-Defence Force on its toes.
Japan’s Self-Defense Legislation
At present, Japan’s missile defense strategy against North Korea is focussed on ensuring a successful interception of the No-Dong medium-range ballistic missile. In fact, it may be the only North Korean missile Japan’s Self-Defence Force can intercept under domestic law. The reason for this lies in the Japanese Constitution. Written in the aftermath of World War II, Article 9 stipulates that ‘Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.’ In this sense, the Japanese Self-Defence Force is only allowed to defend against a foreign attack. This means that Japan can only intercept missiles that are due to land in its territory. Any other missile cannot be intercepted as it would constitute a ‘use of force as means of settling international disputes’ that do not explicitly involve Japan. That is why Japan’s missile defenses are based upon interception of the No-Dong.

This post was published at FinancialSense on 10/06/2017.

Dow Back at Record Highs – Where’s the News?

In early September I wrote an article that asked the question, ‘Is it back to buy the dip or time to sell the rip?’
Since the publication of that article, the Dow has moved up over 900 points off of the low that was struck on September 5th. So clearly the answer to the question asked early this month was that it was still indeed time to buy the dip on the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
We now ask how much higher can the Dow go prior to seeing a significant retracement as we enter the final quarter of 2017?
The past month has not been filled with good and or happy news. We have seen three major hurricanes make landfall on U. S. soil, terror attacks both in the U. S and in abroad, missile launches over Japan from North Korea, more failed attempts to pass legislation in Washington and an FBI raid on President Trump’s campaign manager. Any of these events could have very easily been used by the media as the ‘reason’ for a drop in the markets.
Many have been expecting the market to “react” to all of this bad news and move lower. Of course, the markets have done just the opposite as the Dow has now trading at all-time highs. The fact that the market did not ‘react’ as people might have expected it to do on such a string of bad news has made many angry and repulsed.
While the events over the past month have been tragic, and quite literally evil in the case of the terror attacks, the markets simply brushed off these events as if they didn’t even matter. Of course, the reason why the market brushed off these events is really quite simple to answer. Simply stated, none of these or any other exogenous news events matter to the market. The only thing that does matter to the market is the sentiment of those who are speculating in the market.
Only when that sentiment once again turns negative will the market begin to “react” and correct lower. Of course, there will very likely be some kind of bad news that the pundits will attempt to assign the correction in the market. Once again re-enforcing the cause and effect theory that is so prevalent in the mainstream financial media today.

This post was published at GoldSeek on 5 October 2017.

Fukushima Operator Given Green Light To Restart Nuclear Reactors

The Japanese utility Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has received approval to operate reactors for the first time since the 2011 Fukushima meltdown.
On Wednesday, the Nuclear Regulation Authority said TEPCO’s two reactors in northern Japan met new and stricter safety standards.
The authority unanimously approved the draft certificate for reactors number 6 and 7 at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, marking the first step in the process toward restarting them. Portions of the plant’s reactors were damaged in a 2007 earthquake.
Much of the Japanese public is opposed to granting TEPCO permission to once again operate reactors, and rightfully so.
TEPCO was blamed for safety lapses in the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster after a major earthquake in March of 2011, and the tsunami that followed damaged the power supply and cooling system of three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, resulting in an unprecedented nuclear accident.
The area around the plant will be closed for the foreseeable future, with extremely high levels of radiation still being recorded in 2017. Radiation from the damaged plant has found its way into the ocean and surrounding areas, including groundwater. The long-term effects of the disaster are still unknown.
TEPCO said in a statement that it will continue improving safety standards at its plants while focusing on Fukushima’s decommissioning in addition to compensation for the thousands of evacuees.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 5, 2017.

Is Population Decline Catastrophic?

In the 1970’s we heard the earth was going to get so crowded we’d be falling off. Now the panickers have flipped to population decline. They were wrong in the 70’s, so are they wrong again? Is a declining population catastrophic?
Countries from Germany to Japan are investing in mass immigration or pro-birth policies on the assumption that they must import enough warm bodies to stave off economic collapse. I think this is mistaken. Falling population on a country level is certainly no catastrophe and, indeed, may be positive. I’ll outline some reasons here.
Historically, the first question is why population declined. If it’s the Mongols invading again then, yes, the economy will suffer. Not because of the death alone, but because wholesale slaughter tends to destroy productive capital as well.
On the other hand, if the population is declining from non-war, we have a well-studied natural experiment in the Black Plague. Which is generally credited with the ‘take-off’ of the West. Because if the population declines by a third while capital including arable land stays the same, you get a surplus. Same resources divided by fewer people.
Think of zombie movies where dude’s running around with unlimited resources at his disposal – free cars, riverfront penthouses. That, in diluted form, is what a declining population gives us – more land, more highways or buildings, more resources per person.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on 10/03/201.

North Korea Seen Moving Missiles As US Admits For First Time It Is In “Direct Contact” With Pyongyang

North Korea has again been observed moving several missiles from a rocket facility in the capital Pyongyang, according to a report late on Friday by South Korea’s Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) rising speculation that the North is preparing to take more provocative actions. The last time a similar report emerged was at the start of September, which was followed just days later by a ballistic missile launch which flew over Japan.
Officials did not say where the missiles were being moved, nor the make: according to Reuters, the missiles could be either intermediate range Hwasong-12 or intercontinental ballistic Hwasong-14 missiles, according to the report, though the missile facility at Sanum-dong has been dedicated to the production of intercontinental ballistic missiles.
As previously reported, South Korean official have speculated that the North could launch another nuclear or missile test to coincide with the anniversary of the founding of its communist party on Oct. 10, or possibly when China holds its Communist Party Congress on Oct. 18. Meanwhile, US Pacific Command revealed on Friday that the US and South Korea had recently completed their first joint short range air defense training exercise in South Korea, though it did not say when or exactly where the exercises had taken place.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 30, 2017.

Japanese Banks Plan To Launch A Digital Currency Meant To Kill Off Cash

Japan’s central bank is currently planning to back a scheme that would permanently kill off cash. Using blockchain technology, the J-Coin is now under development by Japanese bankers.
The J Coin has the blessing of financial regulators as this will literally end Japan’s cash dependency. According to the Financial Times, the currency is meant to launch in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as a way to streamline the country’s financial system. The idea for J-Coin is that it would sit alongside the Japanese yen, exchanged at a one-to-one rate, and be offered as a free service. In return, the banks that operate it would get detailed data on how people use it making people easier to track.
Currently, about 70 percent of all transactions in Japan are done with cash. That is a higher than average amount for developed countries where cash has been on the decline for some time now, according to Technology Review. But governments don’t like cash transactions because they are much easier to hide. India, for example, cited shutting down the black market as one reason it decided to push aggressively towards a solely digital money.

This post was published at shtfplan on September 27th, 2017.

Sales To “Common Sense Preppers” Soar Amid Nukes, Quakes, Floods, & Storms

With North Korea threatening to detonate a nuclear weapon over the Pacific Ocean as its leader and President Donald Trump casually bandy about threats of thermonuclear annihilation, people in the US and Japan are understandably starting to worry.
After all, US intelligence agencies revealed during the summer that they believe the North will soon possess a nuclear warhead-tipped ballistic missile capable of striking most of the continental US. In fact, chances are good that, with a little luck, the North already has missiles in its arsenal that could probably strike a large area of the western US.
But, aside from nuclear threats looming in North Korea and Iran, the worst hurricane season in the Atlantic in more than a decade, and the continuing rumblings underneath the Yellowstone caldera, which could signal a potentially humanity-extinguishing eruption, it’s understandable that Americans and Japanese are increasingly worrying about their safety, and have begun purchasing more ‘doomsday preparation’ gear to help assuage those fears.
Now, Reuters is reporting that survivalists across the US are clearing store shelves to stock bunkers in anticipation of Earth’s final chapter. A few survivalists who spoke with Reuters said that North Korea’s threats, and the images of the destruction caused by Hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma, have inspired them to stock up.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 24, 2017.

U.S. B-1B Bombers Fly Just Off Coast Of North Korea: 4 Reasons Why This Time It’s Different

#USAF bombers, fighters fly in international airspace east of #NorthKorea, farthest north of the DMZ in 21st century
— U. S. Pacific Command (@PacificCommand) September 23, 2017

Just before North Korea’s foreign minister was due to address the United Nations, the Pentagon announced that U. S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers escorted by fighter jets flew in international airspace over waters east of North Korea on Saturday, in a show of force which “demonstrated the range of military options available to President Donald Trump.” The flight was the farthest north of the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea that any U. S. fighter jet or bomber has flown in the 21st century, the Pentagon added.
According to Reuters, the B-1B Lancer bombers came from Guam and the U. S. Air Force F-15C Eagle fighter escorts came from Okinawa, Japan. The Pentagon saod the operation showed the seriousness with which it took North Korea’s ‘reckless behavior.’
‘This mission is a demonstration of U. S. resolve and a clear message that the President has many military options to defeat any threat,’ said Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White, calling North Korea’s weapons program ‘a grave threat” adding that ‘we are prepared to use the full range of military capabilities to defend the U. S. homeland and our allies.’

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 23, 2017.

Pat Buchanan: “America Has No Divinely-Mandated Mission To Democratize Mankind”

Authored by Patrick Buchanan via,
If a U. S. president calls an adversary ‘Rocket Man … on a mission to suicide,’ and warns his nation may be ‘totally destroyed,’ other ideas in his speech will tend to get lost.
Which is unfortunate.
For buried in Donald Trump’s address is a clarion call to reject transnationalism and to re-embrace a world of sovereign nation-states that cherish their independence and unique identities.
Western man has engaged in this great quarrel since Woodrow Wilson declared America would fight in the Great War, not for any selfish interests, but ‘to make the world safe for democracy.’
Our imperialist allies, Britain, France, Russia, Japan, regarded this as self-righteous claptrap and proceeded to rip apart Germany, Austria, Hungary and the Ottoman Empire and to feast on their colonies.
After World War II, Jean Monnet, father of the EU, wanted Europe’s nations to yield up their sovereignty and form a federal union like the USA.
Europe’s nations would slowly sink and dissolve in a single polity that would mark a giant leap forward toward world government – Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s ‘Parliament of man, the Federation of the world.’
Charles De Gaulle lead the resistance, calling for ‘a Europe of nation-states from the Atlantic to the Urals.’
For 50 years, the Gaullists were in constant retreat. The Germans especially, given their past, seemed desirous of losing their national identity and disappearing inside the new Europe.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 22, 2017.

Trump To Impose More Sanctions On North Korea Today

Update: According to Bloomberg, Trump won’t be declaring war (yet), and instead the announcement is sanctions related.
Following yesterday’s anticlimatic Rex Tillerson press conference in which the Secretary of State was expected, by some, to make an important announcement only to disappoint, moments ago National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster said on CNN that “the president will make an important announcement today about the continuation of our efforts to resolve this problem with North Korea short of war.”
McMaster added that Trump will “make that announcement as he meets with our very close allies South Korea and Japan.’
As Bloomberg reminds us, President Trump is set to meet with South Korea President Moon Jae-inat 11:30am and Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at 12:15pm in New York.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 21, 2017.

Thunderstorm Blasts Radiation Everywhere After Turning Into Nuclear Reactor

When a thunderstorm rolled over the Japanese beach town of Uchinada early one December morning in 2015, residents had no idea what they were in for. Sometime after 5 am, a flash of lightning struck a wind turbine and incredible weather phenomena occurred.
While scientists expected the storm, they did not expect the perplexing outcome. The thunderstorm turned into a particle accelerator and blasted gamma radiation at the ground.
Scientists have observed so-called ‘terrestrial gamma-ray flashes’ shooting upwards from the Earth into satellites since the early 1990s. But the 2015 flash was different because not only did it shoot down into the ground instead of up into space, but it confirmed a long-standing suspicion about these flashes by sending a barrage of neutrons into particle detectors a thousand feet away. According to the paper published in Geophysical Research Letters, this is groundbreaking. But that isn’t all.
The flash was massive. ‘The total fluence of gamma-rays at the ground was calculated to be approximately ~100,000 photons/cm2, much larger than the total combined fluence of all TGFs observed by satellites since 1994,’ according to the paper. ‘This is one of the brightest gamma-ray flashes ever seen on the ground,’ Dwyer said.

This post was published at shtfplan on September 20th, 2017.

US Jets Dropped Live Bombs On Korean Peninsula In Massive Show Of Force

It’s becoming apparent that the United States is getting frustrated with the continued nuclear tests done by North Korea. And to prove it, they dropped live bombs on the Korean Peninsula.
The Pentagon deployed a formation of 14 bombers and fighters over the Korean Peninsula on Sunday. This blatant show of force also included South Korean and Japanese aircraft. This most recent deployment of jets was in response to a missile launched over Japan on Thursday. The missile was the cause for much concern in Japan, and warnings were sent out to those who live on the island.
The warplanes were dispatched after North Korea launched a ballistic missile over northern Japan on Thursday, triggering a widespread emergency alert for those who call the region home. Two Air Force B-1B bombers from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam and four Marine Corps F-35B fighters from Iwakuni, Japan, combined with four South Korean F-15K fighters and four F-2 Japanese fighters, U. S. defense officials said. -Washington Post

This post was published at shtfplan on September 19th, 2017.

US Jets Dropped Live Bombs On North Korea In Massive Show Of Force

It’s becoming apparent that the United States is getting frustrated with the continued nuclear tests done by North Korea. And to prove it, they dropped live bombs on the Korean Peninsula.
The Pentagon deployed a formation of 14 bombers and fighters over the Korean Peninsula on Sunday. This blatant show of force also included South Korean and Japanese aircraft. This most recent deployment of jets was in response to a missile launched over Japan on Thursday. The missile was the cause for much concern in Japan, and warnings were sent out to those who live on the island.
The warplanes were dispatched after North Korea launched a ballistic missile over northern Japan on Thursday, triggering a widespread emergency alert for those who call the region home. Two Air Force B-1B bombers from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam and four Marine Corps F-35B fighters from Iwakuni, Japan, combined with four South Korean F-15K fighters and four F-2 Japanese fighters, U. S. defense officials said. -Washington Post

This post was published at shtfplan on September 19th, 2017.

US Is Sending Another Aircraft Carrier To Korea: Yonhap

After carrying out bombing drills over the Korean peninsula on Monday following North Korea’s firing of an intermediate-range missile over the Japanese island of Hokkaido, US and South Korean forces are planning to continue their displays of military might early next month, according to a report from Yonhap, the South Korean news agency. However, in a move that is sure to provoke a barrage of threats from North Korea, the US is reportedly sending a nuclear-armed aircraft carrier to the waters off the Korean peninsula, where it will take part in an upcoming round of military drills.
Earlier this year, the US sent three aircraft carriers to waters near North Korea in an unprecedented show of force. However, it’s unclear if any of those carriers are still positioned so closely to the peninsula. Here’s the latest map of US naval strike groups, which was compiled by Stratfor using publicly-available information. Deployments considered “sensitive” would not be included on this map.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 18, 2017.

South Korea: The Wild Card in the Korean Crisis

Last May, I spoke at Mauldin Economics’ Strategic Investment Conference and made two points on the situation on the Korean Peninsula. I said that the United States and North Korea had entered into a major crisis and that the crisis would likely lead to war. The crisis ensued, but war has not broken out. As North Korea test-fired another missile that flew over Japan late last week, it’s time to review what happened and why the war hasn’t materialized.
North Korea had been working on developing nuclear weapons for years; this was nothing new. But the development that turned this into a crisis was that the North had passed a threshold. There was evidence that North Korea had developed warheads small enough to be fitted to a missile. There was also evidence that Pyongyang seemed to be moving toward a new missile that would be capable of striking the United States.
One of the United States’ top imperatives is to keep the homeland secure from foreign attacks of all sorts. The possibility of a nuclear attack towered over all other threats. Logically, North Korea would not want to fire an intercontinental ballistic missile and endure the inevitable retaliation that might annihilate the country. The problem for the United States was that it could not be certain that North Korea would follow this logic; the fact that it probably would was not good enough in this situation. Therefore, the US would try to destroy North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities just before they became operational. The problem, of course, was figuring out how close North Korea was to developing an operational weapon. The United States was therefore in an area of uncertainty.

This post was published at Mauldin Economics on SEPTEMBER 18, 2017.

North Korea Vows To Complete Nuke Program, Reach “Military Equilibrium” With The US

Shortly after the UN Security Council “strongly condemned” North Korea’s ‘highly provocative’ ballistic missile launch over Japan on Friday, Kim Jong Un vowed he would complete his nation’s nuclear program despite escalating international sanctions. On Saturday, state-run news agency KCNA quoted the leader, who said that North Korea is nearing its goal of “equilibrium of real force’ with the U. S. and claimed that North Korea’s nuclear program is nearly complete.
KCNA added that Friday’s latest missile test was aimed at ‘calming down the belligerence of the U. S.’ and ‘confirming action procedures of actual war,’ the state-run agency said in a statement. Kim personally guided the launch of the latest Hwasong-12 missile, it added.

Hwasong-12 missile lifting off from Pyongyang, on Aug. 29. KCNA also said that Kim expressed great satisfaction over the launch, which he said verified the ‘combat efficiency and reliability’ of the missile and the success of efforts to increase its power. While the English version of the report was less straightforward, AP noted that the Korean version quoted Kim as declaring the missile as operationally ready. He vowed to complete his nuclear weapons program in the face of strengthening international sanctions, the agency said.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 16, 2017.