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Wed, 19 Jan 2022
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Europe's gas storage half-empty in record time, refusing long-term supply contracts with Russia despite soaring costs

european gas empty
On Christmas eve, Gazprom, the Russian state-owned natural gas giant, tweeted a rather unfestive message: Gas inventories in Europe were depleting quickly. Since then, Gazprom has been reminding the world of the trend every few days. "It should be noted that gas reserves in Europe's UGS [underground gas storages] are currently at their lowest for the season in the long history of observation," it tweeted again earlier this week.

Gazprom is right. On Thursday, Gas Infrastructure Europe, an industry association, announced that European gas inventories had dropped below the key 50% mark of total capacity, down to 49.33% as of Jan. 12. It's the earliest the half-empty mark has ever been reached, beating the previous record by seven days. Typically, Europe's gas inventories don't fall to half until about early-to-mid February. During some mild winters, the inventories don't sink below midpoint until early March.

The biggest ally of Europe in the gas crisis has so far been the weather. Only a month ago, many feared the 50% level would be breached on New Year's day. Unseasonal temperatures cut consumption and helped to avoid that scenario. The arrival of liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargos also alleviated the crunch. Some big energy consumers — like fertilizer companies, glass manufacturers and aluminum and zinc smelters — also shut down production.

Comment: One wonders just how low reserves would be if industry hadn't been shut down, and what the knock on effects of shutting them down will have on critical industries, trade and agriculture? It's not as though Europe has the luxury of losing that production and revenue.

Comment: Europe's puppet politicians might get lucky and this winter may continue to be relatively, unseasonably mild, however recent years have shown that severe frosts are still possible past April, so it's hardly a time to be celebrating. However it seems, whatever happens, it's not a high priority concern for Europe's establishment who are hellbent on attending to another agenda: Also check out SOTT radio's: NewsReal: Kazakhstan on Fire: Why US vs Russia 'Great Game' Could Spark Global Economic Collapse


Sanity returning? French court strikes down Paris mask mandate despite increased Omicron cases

covid protests paris january 2022
© Bloomberg
Demonstrators gather in Paris on January 8, 2022 to protest against a proposed law that would impose tight COVID-19 vaccination-pass rules.
A French tribunal on Thursday suspended an outdoor mask mandate in Paris, even as the COVID-19 Omicron variant continues to rampage across France.

The suspension was first reported by French news agency AFP.

Amid rising cases of COVID, the French Interior Ministry's Paris Prefecture had enacted the mandate at the end of December. It required all persons operating in public in France to wear a mask, even when outside.

Comment: Macron's tough-guy stance isn't having the effect he'd hoped:


Who's sweating now? Ghislaine Maxwell ends fight to keep John Doe names under seal

ghislaine maxwell
© Sven Nackstrand/AFP
Ghislaine Maxwell
A whole lot of John Does are likely more nervous this morning.

At issue? Virginia Giuffre's request to unseal documents that name names in her since-settled civil lawsuit against Ghislaine Maxwell, which led to a lengthy and ongoing open-records battle.

In December of last year, a Manhattan jury in Maxwell's trial returned guilty verdicts in five of the six charges against her after six days of deliberations. Maxwell faced federal charges that included conspiracy, violations of the Mann Act, and sex trafficking a minor for her role as Jeffrey Epstein's longtime confidante and now-convicted accomplice, related to what prosecutors described as Epstein's "Pyramid scheme" of sexual abuse of minor girls.

Depending on what lies underneath the redactions, the unsealed information could make waves inside the same courthouse, and around the world.

Comment: Will there finally be some justice for the victims of Epstein's and Maxwell's predation?


Mysterious illness in 'hundreds' of dogs raises alarm in UK

Scarborough, Yorkshire.
© Edward Crawford / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images
Scarborough, Yorkshire
Dog owners in East Yorkshire have warned that their pets fell ill after taking walks along the region's coastline, despite officials finding no "direct link" between the area and the diseases during recent inspections.

Vets in the area claim they have seen cases of severe vomiting and diarrhea in dogs who recently visited the northeast coast. In a Facebook post, Yorkshire Coast Pet Care described being "inundated" with dogs that have suffered a mystery illness, urging officials to investigate.

Since the first cases were identified, British media has reported that hundreds of dogs have been affected, with the initial social media post receiving more than 1,500 responses.

Comment: Interestingly, back in October 2021 "thousands of dead crabs were found on beaches in Hartlepool, Redcar, Saltburn, Staithes, and Whitby", prompting an Environment Agency investigation into a possible industrial pollution incident. However, in November 2021 they ruled that the crabs were not killed by pollution.

dead crabs sick dogs
© Google Maps
Red circles show areas where the dead crabs were found in October, black circles show where dogs have fallen sick.

Eye 1

More of UK's big businesses slash sick pay for unvaccinated staff to legal minimum

© Getty
Ocado and Next have cut sick pay for unvaccinated staff who must self-isolate because of Covid exposure, the BBC has learned.

Both retailers will continue to pay full sick pay to unvaccinated workers if they test positive for the virus.

Furniture giant Ikea is also among employers making similar moves, as staff absences rise.

Next said it was an "emotive topic" but that it had to balance staff and shareholder needs.

Comment: See also: Ikea slashes sick pay for unvaccinated staff to lowest amount allowed by law


Canada: Scores of unvaccinated workers are filing wrongful dismissal claims against employers, lawyers say

toronto financial district
© Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail
People walk along a street in Toronto's financial district, on Jan. 13, 2021.
Employers across the country have begun firing employees who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to lawyers who say they are inundated with vaccine-related cases and claims of wrongful dismissal.

The deluge of cases sets up a crucial legal test of vaccine mandates imposed by employers, one that pits the individual rights of workers against employers' health and safety concerns amid a pandemic that has dragged on for almost two years.

Leading labour and employment lawyers told The Globe and Mail that cases involving the termination of unvaccinated employees hinge on a number of factors, including whether employees are required to come into work, details of an employee's initial hiring contract and whether the employee is unvaccinated on grounds other than medical or religious ones.

Comment: See also:

People 2

Wait... what? Wearing a facemask makes you more attractive to the opposite sex, study finds

man face mask

People wearing face masks are deemed to be more attractive than when they have nothing covering their faces, according to a new study.
People wearing face masks are deemed to be more attractive than when they have nothing covering their faces, according to a new study.

Face masks have become a common sight around Britain in response to the global Covid pandemic.

And Cardiff University researchers claim that the masks make both men and women more appealing on the eye.

Comment: This reads like pro-mask propaganda. "Masks are sexy now!" One wonders if the study had controlled for whether or not study participants were authoritarian followers what the results would show.

See also:


China faces Omicron test just weeks ahead of Beijing Olympics

beijing olympics
© Mark Schiefelbein/AP
China will host the Winter Olympics within weeks.
Across China, more than 20 million people are in some form of lockdown, with many prevented from leaving their homes.

Just weeks before hosting the Beijing Winter Olympics, China is battling multiple coronavirus outbreaks in half a dozen cities, with the one closest to the capital driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

With the success of the Games and China's national dignity at stake, Beijing is doubling down on its "zero-tolerance" Covid-19 policy.

Comment: See also:


Another Republican lawmaker compares Covid passes to Nazi Germany

vaccine protest swastika
© AP Photo/Joan Mateu
Protesters against Covid-19 restrictions in Barcelona, Spain, hold up a sign comparing vaccine mandates to Nazi Germany, reading "the passport will make you free," December 18, 2021.
GOP congressman blasted for drawing parallels between health policies in Nazi Germany and Washington, DC.

Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) took aim at Covid vaccine card mandates in Washington, DC with a Nazi Germany comparison, only to find numerous critics blasting the message, including the Auschwitz Memorial Museum.

Davidson tweeted in response to a message from DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, who reminded residents of the US capital that the city will require proof of Covid vaccination for people 12 and up, and photo IDs for those 18 and older, beginning on Saturday. Masking in public is also mandatory.

Comment: See also:

People 2

Transgender sex offender in jail for child rape celebrated by liberal press as activist hero

Rayne Bennett
A transgender-identifying person who was born male has been featured in multiple articles complaining about the hardships faced by trans-identifying inmates in American prisons. The issue with those articles is that none of them mention that he was convicted for sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl, and that none of the prison staff support his claims.

As detailed by 4w, Rayne Bennett, who was convicted in 2016 of sexually abusing a child, was placed on a sex offender registry for 25 years. KSN reported that Bennett, who was born Jacob Lawrence Pina, held the victim against her will and raped her.

Bennett started claiming transgender identity and adopted the name "Rayne Aloysius Constantine Rose Bennett" while awaiting trial. When he was later sentenced, he was placed in a men's prison. Immediately thereafter, Bennett sought out a mental health professional for a gender dysphoria diagnosis to secure transfer to a women's prison but his efforts were ultimately rejected by prison staff who did not believe his claim of being transgender.

Comment: See also: