The Worst News Story of 2015

And the (early) award for the worst news story -- not the worst story, the worst news --  goes to......

And the (early) award for the worst news story — not the worst story, the worst news — of 2015 goes to……

What? Too soon? Maybe not.

This story had precursors in 2014, just a few hints about what it could become. In the spring, a courageous BBC journalist smuggled out pictures and reports of a three-year-old uprising where no uprising can be permitted. Shortly afterward the host country sentenced to death two leaders of the uprising (presumably by the country’s favored method of public beheading followed by crucifixion). Whereupon the uprising managed a murderous bombing attack. In the Middle East they have a name for this: Tuesday.

These events did not take on the gravitas of portents because they took place in the Middle East, but because they took place in Saudi Arabia. There they posed a threat not merely to another brutal Arab dictatorship, but to the entire industrial world, which cannot function without Saudi oil. Such power over the richest countries of the world might seem enviable, but it is, as they say, no bed of roses. Crude oil is selling for about half what it did six months ago, and oil is the kingdom’s only source of income. Their budget for the coming year posits the largest deficit in its history.

The Saudis are not going to run out of money anytime soon, but strains are mounting in every direction. Its population is becoming larger and more affluent, thanks to the lavish spending of oil money, and likes its air conditioning, cars, and 30-cent-a-liter gas. So much so that it is consuming an ever larger share of the country’s oil output, which has not increased significantly since 2005. I am talking here about crude oil, taken from the ground, not the recently fabricated definition of “petroleum liquids” that makes it appear that “production” is still increasing.

So this country, buffeted by market forces, trying desperately to stamp out an insurgency in the heart of its oil-rich Eastern Province, gets the news on Wednesday that King Abdullah, 90, who has terminal lung cancer, was admitted to hospital with pneumonia and was put on a ventilator to keep him breathing. Five per cent of the value of the Saudi stock exchange vaporized. But we are assured that the succession has been arranged, all will be well, nothing can possibly go wrongwrongwrogngarn. It is simply not conceivable that the descendants, in-laws, extended family and close personal friends of (the first Saudi monarch) Ibn Saud’s 45 sons, presented with an opportunity to seize unimaginable wealth and power, will do anything other than behave.

These precursor stories probably do not qualify for the most ominous of 2014. But if the story they are pre-cursing, that is the descent of Saudi Arabia into an Arab Spring maelstrom, should become a story in 2015 then it will win the year for bad news, hands down. May as well hand over the statuette right now.


[See also: The Scariest Picture in the World]

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7 Responses to The Worst News Story of 2015

  1. Tom says:

    Even more troubling is the fact that the whole world is connected, the entire system of civilization is unravelling, basic resources like food and drinking water are becoming scarce, global economics is a sham, and climate change just keeps ramping up with no end in sight. The black swan event that leads to the Stone Age can come from anywhere – the environment, space, the oceans, politics, society – but will be “completely unexpected.”

    Maybe we’ll make it through another year, but matters will be far worse by the end than they are now. We’re already on the downhill run and picking up speed with each passing year. Last year indicated the direction (steadily downward) even more than the previous years and there’s no reason to think it’s going to change.
    Population pressure, resource scarcity, increasing rates of pollution, and reaction from the planet to our idiocy (via continuing methane/hydrogen sulfide release) assures that we’ll persist in going the wrong way (out of existence).

  2. venuspluto67 says:

    Dear World,

    Kindly wait until April before going entirely tits-up. I would really like to have one last winter with indoor heating, especially since that lovely Polar Vortex seems bound and determined to do an encore performance.

    Love and Kisses,

    • colinc says:

      Nicely said and, from here in northern OH, I sincerely and unequivocally second that sentiment!! :) May the [insert-preferred-deity/ies-here] keep the nat-gas and e-juice flowing for at least another 4 months. :D AND, more importantly(?!), may the SSA keep making those deposits for at least another 10 months. My back and legs are feeling great and I have a good-feelin’ about my golf-game this coming season!!! :))

      • venuspluto67 says:

        I’m in southern Wisconsin, so we generally get it worse than you. And I really feel for my Facebook friends who live in the Twin Cities in Minnesota, because they always seem to take these Polar Vortex events right on the proverbial chin. :-(

  3. venuspluto67 says:

    Well, speak of the Devil! :-D

    • venuspluto67 says:

      Sorry to post so much in this thread, but the above article fails to mention who the current heir to the Saudi throne is. This fellow will be in his eighties pretty soon, while the deputy Crown Prince mentioned in the Jerusalem Online article is ten years younger, so perhaps the authors of this article are of the mind that the latter is more likely to be the King of Saudi Arabia in the long term.

      The succession to the Saudi throne is designed to pass from one son of Ibn Saud to another, and this deputy Crown Prince is the youngest of those sons currently living. I wonder what the succession plan is once there are no more sons of Ibn Saud? Or perhaps there is no plan in place for when that eventuality arrives? {shudder}

  4. Karl Kolchak says:

    Bad news? Depend on your point of view I guess. As far as I’m concerned, SA can’t go the way of Somalia or Libya fast enough. After all, its collapse would likely take America’s hideous military-industrial complex with it. Bring it on, I say.