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Archive for February, 2009

This proves that Americans really are stupid as they show just how uneducated they really are.  We rank in the bottom half of the world when it comes to knowing geography.

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This should have you concerned if you believe what they are saying.  I’m sure you’ve noticed that food prices continue to rise, not fall, and this may well be the reason why.

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2009

  

*****Catastrophic Fall in 2009 Global Food Production***** – marketskeptics.com

by Eric deCarbonnel

 

After reading about the droughts in two major agricultural countries, China and Argentina, I decided to research the extent other food producing nations were also experiencing droughts. This project ended up taking a lot longer than I thought. 2009 looks to be a humanitarian disaster around much of the world

To understand the depth of the food Catastrophe that faces the world this year, consider the graphic below depicting countries by USD value of their agricultural output, as of 2006.

Now, consider the same graphic with the countries experiencing droughts highlighted.

The countries that make up two thirds of the world’s agricultural output are experiencing drought conditions. Whether you watch a video of the drought in China, Australia, Africa, South America, or the US, the scene will be the same: misery, ruined crop, and dying cattle.

China

The drought in Northern China, the worst in 50 years, is worsening, and summer harvest is now threatened. The area of affected crops has expanded to 161 million mu (was 141 million last week), and 4.37 million people and 2.1 million livestock are facing drinking water shortage. The scarcity of rain in some parts of the north and central provinces is the worst in recorded history.

The drought which started in November threatens over half the wheat crop in eight provinces – Hebei, Shanxi, Anhui, Jiangsu, Henan, Shandong, Shaanxi and Gansu.

Henan
China’s largest crop producing province, Henan, has issued the highest-level drought warning. Henan has received an average rainfall of 10.5 millimeters since November 2008, almost 80 percent less than in the same period in the previous years. The Henan drought, which began in November, is the most severe since 1951.

Anhui
Anhui Province issued a red drought alert, with more than 60 percent of the crops north of the Huaihe River plagued by a major drought.

Shanxi
Shanxi Province was put on orange drought alert on Jan. 21, with one million people and 160,000 heads of livestock are facing water shortage.

Jiangsu
Jiangsu province has already lost over one fifth of the wheat crops affected by drought. Local agricultural departments are diverting water from nearby rivers in an emergency effort to save the rest.

Hebei
Over 100 million cubic meters of water has been channeled in from outside the province to fight Hebei’s drought.

Shaanxi
1.34 million acres of crops across the bone-dry Shanxi province are affected by the worsening drought.

Shandong
Since last November, Shandong province has experienced 73 percent less rain than the same period in previous years, with little rainfall forecast for the future.

Relief efforts are under way. The Chinese government has allocated 86.7 billion yuan (about $12.69 billion) to drought-hit areas. Authorities have also resorted to cloud-seeding, and some areas received a sprinkling of rain after clouds were hit with 2,392 rockets and 409 cannon shells loaded with chemicals. However, there is a limit to what can be done in the face of such widespread water shortage.

As I have previously written, China is facing hyperinflation, and this record drought will make things worse. China produces 18% of the world’s grain each year.

Australia

Australia has been experiencing an unrelenting drought since 2004, and 41 percent of Australia’s agriculture continues to suffer from the worst drought in 117 years of record-keeping. The drought has been so severe that rivers stopped flowing, lakes turned toxic, and farmers abandoned their land in frustration:

A) The Murray River stopped flowing at its terminal point, and its mouth has closed up.
B) Australia’s lower lakes are evaporating, and they are now a meter (3.2 feet) below sea level. If these lakes evaporate any further, the soil and the mud system below the water is going to be exposed to the air. The mud will then acidify, releasing sulfuric acid and a whole range of heavy metals. After this occurs, those lower lake systems will essentially become a toxic swamp which will never be able to be recovered. The Australian government’s only options to prevent this are to allow salt water in, creating a dead sea, or to pray for rain.

For some reason, the debate over climate change is essentially over in Australia.

The United States

California
California is facing its worst drought in recorded history. The drought is predicted to be the most severe in modern times, worse than those in 1977 and 1991. Thousands of acres of row crops already have been fallowed, with more to follow. The snowpack in the Northern Sierra, home to some of the state’s most important reservoirs, proved to be just 49 percent of average. Water agencies throughout the state are scrambling to adopt conservation mandates.

Texas
The Texan drought is reaching historic proportion. Dry conditions near Austin and San Antonio have been exceeded only once before—the drought of 1917-18. 88 percent of Texas is experiencing abnormally dry conditions, and 18 percent of the state is in either extreme or exceptional drought conditions. The drought areas have been expanding almost every month. Conditions in Texas are so bad cattle are keeling over in parched pastures and dying. Lack of rainfall has left pastures barren, and cattle producers have resorted to feeding animals hay. Irreversible damage has been done to winter wheat crops in Texas. Both short and long-term forecasts don’t call for much rain at all, which means the Texas drought is set to get worse.

Augusta Region (Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina)
The Augusta region has been suffering from a worsening two year drought. Augusta’s rainfall deficit is already approaching 2 inches so far in 2009, with January being the driest since 1989.

Florida
Florida has been hard hit by winter drought, damaging crops, and half of state is in some level of a drought.

La Niña likely to make matters worse
Enough water a couple of degrees cooler than normal has accumulated in the eastern part of the Pacific to create a La Niña, a weather pattern expected to linger until at least the spring. La Niña generally means dry weather for Southern states, which is exactly what the US doesn’t need right now.


South America

Argentina
The worst drought in half a century has turned Argentina’s once-fertile soil to dust and pushed the country into a state of emergency. Cow carcasses litter the prairie fields, and sun-scorched soy plants wither under the South American summer sun. Argentina’s food production is set to go down a minimum of 50 percent, maybe more. The country’s wheat yield for 2009 will be 8.7 million metric tons, down from 16.3 million in 2008. Concern with domestic shortages (domestic wheat consumption being approximately 6.7 million metric ton), Argentina has granted no new export applications since mid January.

Brazil
Brazil has cut its outlook for the crops and will do so again after assessing damage to plants from desiccation in drought-stricken regions. Brazil is the world’s second-biggest exporter of soybeans and third-largest for corn. 

Brazil’s numbers for corn harvesting:

Harvested in 2008: 58.7 million tons
January 8 forecast: 52.3 million tons
February 6 forecast: 50.3 metric tons (optimistic)
Harvested in 2009: ???

Paraguay
Severe drought affecting Paraguay’s economy has pushed the government to declare agricultural emergency. Crops that have direct impact on cattle food are ruined, and the soy plantations have been almost totally lost in some areas.

Uruguay
Uruguay declared an “agriculture emergency” last month, due to the worst drought in decades which is threatening crops, livestock and the provision of fresh produce.
The a worsening drought is pushing up food and beverage costs causing Uruguay’s consumer prices to rise at the fastest annual pace in more than four years in January.

Bolivia
There hasn’t been a drop of rain in Bolivia in nearly a year. Cattle dying, crops ruined, etc…

Chile
The severe drought affecting Chile has caused an agricultural emergency in 50 rural districts, and large sectors of the economy are concerned about possible electricity rationing in March. The countries woes stem from the “La Niña” climate phenomenon which has over half of Chile dangling by a thread: persistently cold water in the Pacific ocean along with high atmospheric pressure are preventing rain-bearing fronts from entering central and southern areas of the country. As a result, the water levels at hydroelectric dams and other reservoirs are at all-time lows.

Horn of Africa

Africa faces food shortages and famine. Food production across the Horn of Africa has suffered because of the lack of rainfall. Also, half the agricultural soil has lost nutrients necessary to grow plant, and the declining soil fertility across Africa is exacerbating drought related crop losses.

Kenya
Kenya is the worst hit nation in the region, having been without rainfall for 18 months. Kenya needs to import food to bridge a shortfall and keep 10 million of its people from starvation. Kenya’s drought suffering neighbors will be of little help.

Tanzania
A poor harvest due to drought has prompted Tanzania to stop issuing food export permits. Tanzania has also intensified security at the border posts to monitor and prevent the export of food. There are 240,000 people in need of immediate relief food in Tanzania.

Burundi
Crops in the north of Burundi have withered, leaving the tiny East African country facing a severe food shortage

Uganda
Severe drought in northeastern Uganda’s Karamoja region has the left the country on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe. The dry conditions and acute food shortages, which have left Karamoja near starvation, are unlikely to improve before October when the next harvest is due.

South Africa
South Africa faces a potential crop shortage after wheat farmers in the eastern part of the Free State grain belt said they were likely to produce their lowest crop in 30 years this year. South Africans are “extremely angry” that food prices continue to rise.

Other African nations suffering from drought in 2009 are: Malawi, Zambia, Swaziland, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Tunisia, Angola, and Ethiopia.

Middle East and Central Asia

The Middle East and Central Asia are suffering from the worst droughts in recent history, and food grain production has dropped to some of the lowest levels in decades. Total wheat production in the wider drought-affected region is currently estimated to have declined by at least 22 percent in 2009. Owing to the drought’s severity and region-wide scope, irrigation supplies from reservoirs, rivers, and groundwater have been critically reduced. Major reservoirs in Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria are all at low levels requiring restrictions on usage. Given the severity of crop losses in the region, a major shortage of planting seed for the 2010 crop is expected.

Iraq
In Iraq during the winter grain growing period, there was essentially no measurable rainfall in many regions, and large swaths of rain-fed fields across northern Iraq simply went unplanted. These primarily rain-fed regions in northern Iraq are described as an agricultural disaster area this year, with wheat production falling 80-98 percent from normal levels. The USDA estimates total wheat production in Iraq in 2009 at 1.3 million tons, down 45 percent from last year.

Syria
Syria is experienced its worst drought in the past 18 years, and the USDA estimates total wheat production in Syria in 2009 at 2.0 million tons, down 50 percent from last year. Last summer, the taps ran dry in many neighborhoods of Damascus and residents of the capital city were forced to buy water on the black market. The severe lack of rain this winter has exacerbated the problem.

Afghanistan
Lack of rainfall has led Afghanistan to the worst drought conditions in the past 10 years. The USDA estimates 2008/09 wheat production in Afghanistan at 1.5 million tons, down 2.3 million or 60 percent from last year. Afghanistan normally produces 3.5-4.0 million tons of wheat annually.

Jordan
Jordan’s persistent drought has grown worse, with almost no rain falling on the kingdom this year. The Jordanian government has stopped pumping water to farms to preserve the water for drinking purposes.

Other Middle Eastern and Central Asian nations suffering from drought in 2009 are: The Palestinian Territories, Lebanon, Israel, Bangladesh, Myanmar, India, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Thailand, Nepal, Pakistan, Turkey, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Cyprus, and Iran.

Lack of credit will worsen food shortage

A lack of credit for farmers curbed their ability to buy seeds and fertilizers in 2008/2009 and will limit production around the world. The effects of droughts worldwide will also be amplified by the smaller amount of seeds and fertilizers used to grow crops.

Low commodity prices will worsen food shortage

The low prices at the end of 2008 discouraged the planting of new crops in 2009. In Kansas for example, farmers seeded nine million acres, the smallest planting for half a century. Wheat plantings this year are down about 4 million acres across the US and about 1.1 million acres in Canada. So even discounting drought related losses, the US, Canada, and other food producing nations are facing lower agricultural output in 2009.

Europe will not make up for the food shortfall

Europe, the only big agricultural region relatively unaffected by drought, is set for a big drop in food production. Due to the combination of a late plantings, poorer soil conditions, reduced inputs, and light rainfall, Europe’s agricultural output is likely to fall by 10 to 15 percent.

Stocks of foodstuff are dangerously low

Low stocks of foodstuff make the world’s falling agriculture output particularly worrisome. The combined averaged of the ending stock levels of the major trading countries of Australia, Canada, United States, and the European Union have been declining steadily in the last few years:

2002-2005: 47.4 million tons
2007: 37.6 million tons
2008: 27.4 million tons

These inventory numbers are dangerously low, especially considering the horrifying possibility that China’s 60 million tons of grain reserves doesn’t actually exists.

Global food Catastrophe

The world is heading for a drop in agricultural production of 20 to 40 percent, depending on the severity and length of the current global droughts. Food producing nations are imposing food export restrictions. Food prices will soar, and, in poor countries with food deficits, millions will starve.

The deflation debate should end now

The droughts plaguing the world’s biggest agricultural regions should end the debate about deflation in 2009. The demand for agricultural commodities is relatively immune to developments in the business cycles (at least compared to that of energy or base metals), and, with a 20 to 40 percent decline in world production, already rising food prices are headed significantly higher.

In fact, agricultural commodities NEED to head higher and soon, to prevent even greater food shortages and famine. The price of wheat, corn, soybeans, etc must rise to a level which encourages the planting of every available acre with the best possible fertilizers. Otherwise, if food prices stay at their current levels, production will continue to fall, sentencing millions more to starvation.

Competitive currency appreciation

Some observers are anticipating “competitive currency devaluations” in addition to deflation for 2009 (nations devalue their currencies to help their export sector). The coming global food shortage makes this highly unlikely. Depreciating their currency in the current environment will produce the unwanted consequence of boosting exports—of food. Even with export restrictions like those in China, currency depreciation would cause the outflow of significant quantities of grain via the black market.

Instead of “competitive currency devaluations”, spiking food prices will likely cause competitive currency appreciation in 2009. Foreign exchange reserves exist for just this type of emergency. Central banks around the world will lower domestic food prices by either directly selling off their reserves to appreciate their currencies or by using them to purchase grain on the world market.

Appreciating a currency is the fastest way to control food inflation. A more valuable currency allows a nation to monopolize more global resources (ie: the overvalued dollar allows the US to consume 25% of the world’s oil despite having only 4% of the world’s population). If China were to selloff its US reserves, its enormous population would start sucking up the world’s food supply like the US has been doing with oil.

On the flip side, when a nation appreciates its currency and starts consuming more of the world’s resources, it leaves less for everyone else. So when china appreciates the yuan, food shortages worldwide will increase and prices everywhere else will jump upwards. As there is nothing that breeds social unrest like soaring food prices, nations around the world, from Russia, to the EU, to Saudi Arabia, to India, will sell off their foreign reserves to appreciate their currencies and reduce the cost of food imports. In response to this, China will sell even more of its reserves and so on. That is competitive currency appreciation.

When faced with competitive currency appreciation, you do NOT want to be the world’s reserve currency. The dollar is likely to do very poorly as central banks liquidate trillions in US holdings to buy food and appreciate their currencies.

 

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This seems to be growing momentum since the defeat of Proposition 8 in CA.  I wonder who comes up with these lame-brain ideas?  Yes, let’s get the IRS all over us for not reporting/paying in our taxes.  If you get a return of money, you sure as hell are not going to protest!  Come on everyone!  Use your fucking heads, and come up with something better than this taxing proposal!

Gay tax revolt grows
by Matthew S. Bajko
Bay Area Reporter – edgeboston.com
Sunday Nov 23, 2008

Melissa Etheridge has written that she will not pay her state taxes in the wake of Prop 8’s passage.
Melissa Etheridge has written that she will not pay her state taxes in the wake of Prop 8’s passage.    (Source:Becky Sapp/Berliner Studio)

The stripping of marriage rights from same-sex couples in California is giving renewed attention to calls for a national gay tax protest.

A handful of LGBT activists have refused to pay any state or federal income taxes for several years now. They argue that since they are not treated equally under the law as their heterosexual neighbors, they should not have to fork over the money they owe to state or federal governments.

Their protest has largely gone unnoticed or unheeded by the majority of LGBT Americans – until now.

Two days after the passage of Proposition 8, the anti-gay constitutional amendment California voters passed November 4 that bans gays and lesbians from marrying in the Golden State, lesbian singer Melissa Etheridge penned a posting on the Daily Beast blog titled “You can forget my taxes.”

She wrote that she would be withholding the half a million dollars she owes the state in taxes this year and urged other LGBT people to do the same.

Because she and her wife, Tammy Lynn Michaels, are no longer afforded the same rights as other Californians under the state constitution, Etheridge wrote that, “Okay, so I am taking that to mean I do not have to pay my state taxes because I am not a full citizen. I mean that would just be wrong, to make someone pay taxes and not give them the same rights, sounds sort of like that taxation without representation thing from the history books.”

Etheridge’s stance has led to the creation of a Facebook group called “I will join Melissa Ethridge [sic] in refusing to pay CA taxes until I can marry!” San Francisco resident Emily Drennen, a bisexual who this summer married her wife, Lindasusan Ulrich, created the page.

Drennen did not respond to a request for comment. On the Facebook page she wrote, “Singer Melissa Etheridge rails against the passage of the same-sex marriage ban in California – and she won’t be paying the state a dime. This group is for Californian LGBTQI citizens and our allies who pledge to withhold paying our 2008 taxes unless our marriage rights are restored.”

As of Tuesday, only 19 people had signed up, many being residents of other states.

In July of this year John Bisceglia started writing at http://www.gaytaxprotest.blogspot.com/ about the idea for a national tax equality protest on April 15, 2009. The Bellingham, Washington resident wrote that he used to pay his taxes until he divorced his partner in 2005 and saw how the law mistreated gay couples.

In a statement he released in August, Bisceglia said he had “reached his limit” and would withhold his tax filings until the federal government grants all LGBT Americans and their children the 1,400-plus legal rights and protections civil marriage affords.

“The federal government’s discrimination against LGBT families is an abomination; it is cruel to deny our families a marriage certificate while simultaneously doling them out like candy to heterosexuals,” he stated. “My hope is that those in the LGBT community with substantial income demand their long overdue rights by taking a stand for justice, for society, and for equality for all Americans.”

Palm Springs resident Charles Merrill stopped paying his federal and state taxes four years ago after President Bush urged in his State of the Union speech for Congress to pass a federal amendment banning same-sex marriage in the U.S. Constitution. At the time he and his partner of 18 years, Kevin Boyle, were living on a farm in the mountains near Asheville, North Carolina.

Two years ago they moved to California and married this year. He has continued to withhold his federal and state income taxes and is suing the Internal Revenue Service. His lawsuit, Merrill vs. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, is scheduled to be heard by the U.S. Tax Court in San Diego sometime in 2009.

“My hope is that those in the LGBT community with substantial income demand their long overdue rights by taking a stand for justice, for society, and for equality for all Americans.”

Merrill, 75, is a cousin to the founder of Merrill Lynch & Co. He applauded Etheridge for shining a national spotlight on the gay tax protest. In an interview this week, he said he would gladly pay his taxes, but not before he is afforded the same rights as straight taxpayers.

“I want to pay taxes but I want to pay them as everyone else, not as a second-class citizen,” said Merrill. “I am really doing this for the 18,000 couples who got married in California and are denied all those rights.”

Should the tax protest snowball into a national movement, he said it would send a strong signal to President-elect Barack Obama to maintain his campaign pledge to repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which has been used to justify discriminating against same-sex couples. Merrill noted that in Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage is still legal, and California prior to Election Day nearly 30,000 gay and lesbian couples have married, with more exchanging vows in Connecticut now that that state has enacted same-sex marriage.

At a time when governments are hurting for money, a gay tax revolt would have an impact, argued Merrill.

“I think it would be a wake-up call to President-elect Obama to get started on this, these promises he made us. It could turn into a economic problem if enough gays and lesbians stop paying taxes,” he said. “It is not extortion or anything, just a reminder of what he said he was going to do.”

Not everyone is jumping onto the tax protest bandwagon. Asked about Etheridge’s comments by Joy Behar last week on CNN, lesbian actress Cynthia Nixon said withholding her tax payments is “something I am not going to do.”

The Human Rights Campaign has not taken any official stance for or against the idea.

“The beauty of our movement is that people get the choice to practice civil disobedience in whatever way they wish,” said spokesman Brad Luna. “Obviously, we would encourage people to understand their personal responsibility that comes with practicing that civil disobedience. Nonetheless, we understand people are going to protest these anti-LGBT measures in their own way.”

Fred Karger, the founder of Californians Against Hate, which has organized against Prop 8, also took a measured stance when asked if he supported a gay tax revolt.

“I am supportive of every legal approach to get our equal rights. Certainly laws could be questioned and people can protest however they want to. It is a personal decision,” said Karger, who said he had no intention of not paying his own taxes. “You got a lot of angry people out there.”

An e-mail seeking comment from state Board of Equalization member Betty Yee was not returned by press time.

Of course anyone opting to join the tax revolt should take precautions should the taxman cometh.

Merrill said he has squirreled away the taxes he should have paid over the last four years in case of the day when he is ordered to hand over the money. He also does not own property and said he has moved a large part of his savings into gold coins, which are hidden away in a secret location – even his partner does not know the whereabouts.

“I put those in a private place that nobody could attack them,” he said.


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Most likely, you heard it here first! : )

Special US Rally announced for May 3

February 6, 2009 – http://gactupdate.wordpress.com/

A special rally will be held in Philadelphia on 3 May to push for gay rights in the US, reports Pink News. A gay equality rally has been given permission to be held at the Independence Hall in Philadelphia. The event takes place on a Sunday. The Independence Hall is associated with the declaration of Independence and the formation of the United States of America. The route of the march to the event also takes in sites of historical importance both to the US gay community and the wider US community.

Independence Hall, Philadelphia. Photo uncredited by Pink News

The March for Equality on Independence Mall will pass by Benjamin Franklin’s burial site, the US Mint, National Constitution Centre, Federal Reserve Bank, Federal Office Building, the Gay Pioneers Historic Marker, Liberty Bell Centre and Independence Hall.

Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell are where the Gay Pioneers held the first organised gay and lesbian civil rights demonstrations, called Annual Reminders, each Fourth of July from 1965 to 1969.

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Without Mr.Puga, a good friend of mine, I would not know about this crazy dance, I’m sure the dance moves will be a huge hit in the clubs…maybe not, but we’ll be doing the dance this weekend (we’ll blame the alcohol the next day).

Oh alright, I’m a sucker for good choreography, and the Yes Dance has it…ok I lie..its pretty bad but fucking hilarious!


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First, it was FEMA handing out an overwhelming number of trailers with high levels of formeldehyde in them well after Hurricane Katrina had hit the south.  Now, they are handing out food rations for ice storm victims with tainted and recalled peanut butter.  It’s nice to know that FEMA is always right on top of everything!  We sure can count on them to fuck things up no matter what the circumstance may be!

Recalled peanut butter in meals distributed by FEMA

February 4, 2009
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FEMA reports emergency meal kits given to storm victims in Kentucky and Arkansas may contain peanut butter involved in a nationwide recall.

The recall features meals made under the standing rock label.

The meals come with of a variety of main courses.

Nothing is wrong with the meals themselves.

However, packets of peanut butter that come with the meal may contain salmonella.

FEMA spokesman Thomas R. Hegele says, “I wouldn’t be concerned about it, but if they have any doubts about it, don’t eat that part.”

Hegele says he’s confident the rest of the food in the meals kids is safe.

People who have received commercial meal kits are asked to inspect the kits and immediately dispose of any peanut butter packets.

For more information call 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636).

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Ok…I wanna know your thoughts on why you think he would do this!

A CARELESS man is in hospital after slicing off his penis and flushing it away down the loo.

Medics in Serbia managed to save 45-year-old Ratko Dudic’s life.

But they couldn’t fish out his severed manhood from the town’s main drains.

Urologist Dr Branko Potic from the Nis Clinical Centre said: “The patient’s life is not in danger.”

Source

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