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from http://inflation.us/unemploymentdeclineillusion.html

December 7, 2009

Unemployment Decline An Illusion, Financial System Collapse Ahead

On Friday it was announced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that the U.S. unemployment rate in November declined from 10.2% to 10%. While the mainstream media would like you to believe we have seen a peak in unemployment and the worst of the economic crisis is behind us, we know that this dip in the unemployment number is phony and the recession is only beginning.

Although the unemployment number dipped in November, we still lost 11,000 nonfarm jobs. Unemployment fell by 0.2% only because the civilian labor force shrunk in November by 98,000 people. This means more people are becoming discouraged and giving up looking for jobs. When you combine both short and long-term discouraged workers who aren’t included in the labor force along with those who are underemployed with part-time jobs, real unemployment in the U.S. today is nearly 22%.

The most important area of employment to look at is manufacturing jobs. Increasing manufacturing is the only way for our country to truly recover and build real wealth, because it will allow us to cut down on inflation by exporting real products instead of the money we print. Unfortunately, the U.S. lost 41,000 manufacturing jobs in November and has lost 2.1 million manufacturing jobs over the last two years.

The main areas of increasing employment in November were health care and government jobs, which are non-productive jobs that are increasing global imbalances. These jobs are not being created due to a strengthening economy, they are being created due to our artificial, temporary and destructive stimulus. They are forcing our country to get deeper into debt and create massive inflation.

Those who receive a paycheck for a non-productive health care or government job, compete against all Americans for the purchasing of consumer goods, without an increase in the supply of goods. This means after excess inventories of goods are done being worked off, prices of all the goods we consume will increase at an astronomical rate that is unimaginable to most Americans today.

Many Americans with jobs are not concerned about inflation because they believe if the prices of goods go up, so will their wages and everything will balance out. They don’t understand our standard of living in America has already been declining for over a decade. Sure, we have plasma TV’s, cell phones and the Internet today, but our lives are becoming harder to live and it is becoming more difficult for the middle class to survive.

Twenty years ago, a father with an average job was able to support an entire family of four or five on one income. Today, both parents need to work, and they are still unable to support their family without getting deeply into debt with credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, and college loans. Less families today have health insurance. Wages have not kept pace with inflation, all we have seen is an increase in debt to meet some of the demand from inflation.

With the babyboomers beginning to retire, the decline in our standard of living is about to dreadfully accelerate. The average American peaks in spending at around 46 years old and the last babyboomer will turn 46 in 2010. Therefore, a major drop-off in consumer spending is coming. But more importantly, beginning this next decade, 1.5 to 2 million Americans will apply for Social Security every year until 2026, compared to only 500,000 per year during the last decade. Tax receipts are about to fall off a cliff, at the same time as government entitlement spending for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid go through the roof.

Many people have been asking us on NIAnswers, if we see massive inflation and gold prices go through the roof like we predict, wouldn’t that be good for the U.S. because we have the largest gold reserves at 8,133.5 tonnes? Well, at the current gold price, our gold reserves are worth approximately $300 billion. Our budget deficit this year alone was $1.6 trillion. If we had to pay back our $12 trillion national debt using only the gold in our vaults, it would require a $45,889.44 per ounce gold price. But once you factor in our $55 to $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, our gold reserves will not put a dent in saving our country from the financial system collapse that lies ahead.

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from http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=13701

Global Research, May 22, 2009
US Association of Physicians calls for Moratorium on GMO Foods

 The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) has just issued a call for an immediate moratorium on Genetically Manipulated (GMO) Foods.

In a just-released position paper on GMO foods, the AAEM states that ‘GM foods pose a serious health risk’ and calls for a moratorium on GMO foods. Citing several animal studies, the AAEM concludes ‘there is more than a casual association between GMO foods and adverse health effects’ and that ‘GM foods pose a serious health risk in the areas of toxicology, allergy and immune function, reproductive health, and metabolic, physiologic and genetic health.’ The report is a devastating blow to the multibillion dollar international agribusiness industry, most especially to Monsanto Corporation, the world’s leading purveyor of GMO seeds and related herbicides.

 In a press release dated May 19, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, which describes itself as ‘an international association of physicians and other professionals dedicated to addressing the clinical aspects of environmental health,’ called immediately for the following emergency measures to be taken regarding human consumption of GMO foods:

   * A moratorium on GMO food; implementation of immediate long term safety testing and labelling of GMO food.

    * Physicians to educate their patients, the medical community and the public to avoid GMO foods.

    * Physicians to consider the role of GMO foods in their patients’ disease processes.

    * More independent long term scientific studies to begin gathering data to investigate the role of GMO foods on human health.

 The AAEM chairperson, Dr Amy Dean notes that ‘Multiple animal studies have shown that GM foods cause damage to various organ systems in the body. With this mounting evidence, it is imperative to have a moratorium on GM foods for the safety of our patients’ and the public’s health.’ The President of the AAEM, Dr Jennifer Armstrong stressed that ‘Physicians are probably seeing the effects in their patients, but need to know how to ask the right questions. The most common foods in North America which are consumed that are GMO are corn, soy, canola, and cottonseed oil.’ The AAEM’s position paper on Genetically Modified foods can be found at http:aaemonline.org.

 The paper further states that Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) technology ‘abrogates natural reproductive processes, selection occurs at the single cell level, the procedure is highly mutagenic and routinely breeches genera barriers, and the technique has only been used commercially for 10 years.’

The AAEM paper further states, ‘several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food consumption including infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis, insulin regulation, cell signalling, and protein formation, and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal system.’

They add, ‘There is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects. There is causation as defined by Hill’s Criteria in the areas of strength of association, consistency, specificity, biological gradient, and biological plausibility. The strength of association and consistency between GM foods and disease is confirmed in several animal studies.’

 GMO is toxic

The AAEM paper should give grounds for official rethinking of the current quasi laissez faire regulatory stance to GMO in which the solemn word of the GMO seed companies such as Monsanto is regarded as scientifically valid proof of safety. The AAEM study is worth citing in detail in this regard:

‘Specificity of the association of GM foods and specific disease processes is also supported. Multiple animal studies show significant immune dysregulation, including upregulation of cytokines associated with asthma, allergy, and inflammation.  Animal studies also show altered structure and function of the liver, including altered lipid and carbohydrate metabolism as well as cellular changes that could lead to accelerated aging and possibly lead to the accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Changes in the kidney, pancreas and spleen have also been documented. A recent 2008 study links GM corn with infertility, showing a significant decrease in offspring over time and significantly lower litter weight in mice fed GM corn. This study also found that over 400 genes were found to be expressed differently in the mice fed GM corn. These are genes known to control protein synthesis and modification, cell signalling, cholesterol synthesis, and insulin regulation. Studies also show intestinal damage in animals fed GM foods, including proliferative cell growth and disruption of the intestinal immune system. ‘

The AAEM study also reviewed the biotechnology industry claims that GMO foods can feed the world through production of higher crop yields. It cited contrary evidence that the opposite appeared to be true, namely that over time GMO harvest yields were lower than conventional yields and required over time, more not less, highly toxic herbicidal chemicals such as glyphosate. The report noted, ‘The several thousand field trials over the last 20 years for genes aimed at increasing operational or intrinsic yield (of crops) indicate a significant undertaking. Yet none of these field trials have resulted in increased yield in commercialized major food/feed crops, with the exception of Bt corn.’ However, the slight yield gain for Bt corn they report was ‘largely due to traditional breeding improvements,’ and not to GMO.

They conclude that because GMO foods ‘pose a serious health risk in the areas of toxicology, allergy and immune function, reproductive health, and metabolic, physiologic and genetic health and are without benefit, the AAEM believes that it is imperative to adopt the precautionary principle, which is one of the main regulatory tools of the European Union environmental and health policy and serves as a foundation for several international agreements. The most commonly used definition is from the 1992 Rio Declaration that states: ‘In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.’

Under intense public pressure, the German Minister of Agriculture recently issued a prohibition of planting for Monsanto MON810 GMO corn. Unfortunately, two weeks later she permitted planting of GMO potato seeds. Amflora, a genetically modified potato manufactured by chemicals giant BASF (a joint venture GMO partner of Monsanto), was declared by the German Ministry as posing ‘no danger for human health or the environment,’ The Ministry cited ‘in-depth examination’ and talks with scientific and economic experts as basis for the reckless decision.

The publication of the sensational critique of GMO by the American Academy of Environmental Medicine has been greeted with stone silence by most major US media and international press.

 GMO politics

 As I describe in great detail in my book, Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation, , GMO was released on the general public in the early 1990’s in the USA under an executive decision by then President George Herbert Walker Bush, reportedly following closed door meetings with leading Monsanto executives. President Bush mandated that there should be no special health and safety tests done by any US Government agency before releasing GMO for food consumption. It came to be known as the Doctrine of Substantial Equivalence.

 The US Government, on urging of Monsanto and the GMO lobby, further decided that labelling of a food product as ‘GMO free’ should be prohibited, using the vaguely formulated and entirely unscientific ‘doctrine’ proclaimed by President Bush in 1992, namely that GMO plants and non-GMO or ordinary plants were ‘substantially equivalent’ and hence needed no special testing before being released to the public.

 That Substantial Equivalence Doctrine, despite the fact that it directly contradicts the demand of the GMO companies for exclusive patent rights to their GMO seeds as being ‘unique’ and different from ordinary seeds, enabled Monsanto, Dow Chemicals, DuPont and other GMO patent holders to proliferate their products with no control. Most Americans naively believe that the Government Food and Drug Administration and US Department of Agriculture are there to make certain industrial food products are confirmed fully safe for human and for animal consumption before licensing.

 That de facto prohibition on labelling GMO foods has meant that most Americans have no idea how much of their daily diet from store-bought Corn Flakes to soybeans to corn and additives in every food on the supermarket shelf contained GMO contamination.

 Coincident with the mass introduction of GMO into the human and animal diet in the United States beginning the end of the 1990’s, there have been reported epidemic levels of allergic outbreaks in humans, strange diseases and numerous other health issues. The fact it is forbidden by Federal law to label GMO products means most health professionals are not even aware there might be any connection to a GMO diet for millions of Americans. The US population, since the 1992 ruling of President Bush—a ruling reaffirmed by presidents Clinton, George W. Bush and now by Barack Obama and his pro-GMO Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack—has been in effect treated as human guinea pigs in mass experimentation for substances never independently proven in long-term (ten years or longer) studies to be safe.    

It remains to be seen if the scientific critique of the AAEM is given the attention it warrants.

 

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from http://www.sfbayview.com/2009/you-are-being-lied-to-about-pirates/

by Johann Hari

Somali pirate “ships” are small, but the ships they seize are huge. They held one gigantic tanker for months until ransom was paid.

Who imagined that in 2009, the world’s governments would be declaring a new War on Pirates? As you read this, the British Royal Navy – backed by the ships of more than two dozen nations, from the U.S. to China – is sailing into Somalian waters to take on men we still picture as parrot-on-the-shoulder pantomime villains. They will soon be fighting Somalian ships and even chasing the pirates onto land, into one of the most broken countries on earth.

 

But behind the arrr-me-hearties oddness of this tale, there is an untold scandal. The people our governments are labeling as “one of the great menaces of our times” have an extraordinary story to tell – and some justice on their side.

Pirates have never been quite who we think they are. In the “golden age of piracy” – from 1650 to 1730 – the idea of the pirate as the senseless, savage thief that lingers today was created by the British government in a great propaganda heave. Many ordinary people believed it was false: Pirates were often rescued from the gallows by supportive crowds. Why? What did they see that we can’t?

In his book “Villains of All Nations,” the historian Marcus Rediker pores through the evidence to find out. If you became a merchant or navy sailor then – plucked from the docks of London’s East End, young and hungry – you ended up in a floating wooden Hell. You worked all hours on a cramped, half-starved ship, and if you slacked off for a second, the all-powerful captain would whip you with the cat o’ nine tails. If you slacked consistently, you could be thrown overboard. And at the end of months or years of this, you were often cheated of your wages.

Pirates were the first people to rebel against this world. They mutinied against their tyrannical captains – and created a different way of working on the seas. Once they had a ship, the pirates elected their captains, and made all their decisions collectively. They shared their bounty out in what Rediker calls “one of the most egalitarian plans for the disposition of resources to be found anywhere in the 18th century.”

They even took in escaped African slaves and lived with them as equals. The pirates showed “quite clearly – and subversively – that ships did not have to be run in the brutal and oppressive ways of the merchant service and the Royal navy.” This is why they were popular, despite being unproductive thieves.

The words of one pirate from that lost age – a young British man called William Scott – should echo into this new age of piracy. Just before he was hanged in Charleston, South Carolina, he said: “What I did was to keep me from perishing. I was forced to go a-pirating to live.”

In 1991, the government of Somalia – in the Horn of Africa – collapsed. Its 9 million people have been teetering on starvation ever since – and many of the ugliest forces in the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity to steal the country’s food supply and dump our nuclear waste in their seas.

Yes: nuclear waste. As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more than 300 died.

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the U.N. envoy to Somalia, tells me: “Somebody is dumping nuclear material here. There is also lead and heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury – you name it.” Much of it can be traced back to European hospitals and factories, who seem to be passing it on to the Italian mafia to “dispose” of cheaply. When I asked Ould-Abdallah what European governments were doing about it, he said with a sigh: “Nothing. There has been no cleanup, no compensation and no prevention.”

At the same time, other European ships have been looting Somalia’s seas of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our own fish stocks by over-exploitation – and now we have moved on to theirs. More than $300 million worth of tuna, shrimp, lobster and other sea life is being stolen every year by vast trawlers illegally sailing into Somalia’s unprotected seas.

The local fishermen have suddenly lost their livelihoods, and they are starving. Mohammed Hussein, a fisherman in the town of Marka 100km south of Mogadishu, told Reuters: “If nothing is done, there soon won’t be much fish left in our coastal waters.”

This is the context in which the men we are calling “pirates” have emerged. Everyone agrees they were ordinary Somalian fishermen who at first took speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers, or at least wage a “tax” on them. They call themselves the Volunteer Coast Guard of Somalia – and it’s not hard to see why.

In a surreal telephone interview, one of the pirate leaders, Sugule Ali, said their motive was “to stop illegal fishing and dumping in our waters … We don’t consider ourselves sea bandits. We consider sea bandits [to be] those who illegally fish and dump in our seas and dump waste in our seas and carry weapons in our seas.” William Scott would understand those words.

No, this doesn’t make hostage-taking justifiable, and yes, some are clearly just gangsters – especially those who have held up World Food Program supplies. But the “pirates” have the overwhelming support of the local population for a reason. The independent Somalian news site WardherNews conducted the best research we have into what ordinary Somalis are thinking – and it found 70 percent “strongly supported the piracy as a form of national defense of the country’s territorial waters.”

One of the pirate leaders, Sugule Ali, said their motive was “to stop illegal fishing and dumping in our waters … We don’t consider ourselves sea bandits. We consider sea bandits [to be] those who illegally fish and dump in our seas and dump waste in our seas and carry weapons in our seas.”

During the revolutionary war in America, George Washington and America’s founding fathers paid pirates to protect America’s territorial waters, because they had no navy or coast guard of their own. Most Americans supported them. Is this so different?

Did we expect starving Somalians to stand passively on their beaches, paddling in our nuclear waste, and watch us snatch their fish to eat in restaurants in London and Paris and Rome? We didn’t act on those crimes – but when some of the fishermen responded by disrupting the transit corridor for 20 percent of the world’s oil supply, we begin to shriek about “evil.” If we really want to deal with piracy, we need to stop its root cause – our crimes – before we send in the gunboats to root out Somalia’s criminals.

The story of the 2009 war on piracy was best summarized by another pirate, who lived and died in the fourth century BC. He was captured and brought to Alexander the Great, who demanded to know “what he meant by keeping possession of the sea.” The pirate smiled and responded: “What you mean by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, while you, who do it with a great fleet, are called emperor.”

Once again, our great imperial fleets sail in today – but who is the robber?

Johann Hari is a writer for the Independent newspaper. He has reported from Iraq, Israel/ Palestine, the Congo, the Central African Republic, Venezuela, Peru and the U.S., and his journalism has appeared in publications all over the world. To contact him, email johann@johannhari.com [2] or visit his website at JohannHari.com [3]. This column previously appeared in the Independent and Huffington Post, where the following postscript was added:

Postscript: Some commentators seem bemused by the fact that both toxic dumping and the theft of fish are happening in the same place – wouldn’t this make the fish contaminated? In fact, Somalia’s coastline is vast, stretching 3,300km (over 2,000 miles). Imagine how easy it would be – without any coast guard or army – to steal fish from Florida and dump nuclear waste on California, and you get the idea. These events are happening in different places but with the same horrible effect: death for the locals and stirred-up piracy. There’s no contradiction.

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.sfbayview.com/wp-content/uploads/somali-pirates-seize-ship-101508.jpg

[2] johann@johannhari.com: mailto:johann@johannhari.com

[3] JohannHari.com: http://www.JohannHari.com

[4] Image: http://www.addtoany.com/share_save?sitename=San%20Francisco%20Bay%20View&siteurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sfbayview.com%2F&linkname=You%20are%20being%20lied%20to%20about%20pirates&linkurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sfbayview.com%2F2009%2Fyou-are-being-lied-to-about-pirates%2F

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