The Fed is busy doing everything in its considerable power to get credit (that is, debt) growing again so that we can get back to what it considers to be “normal.”
But the problem is that the recent past was notnormal. You may have already seen this next chart. It shows total debt in the U.S. as a percent of GDP:
Somewhere right around 1980, things really changed, and debt began climbing far faster than GDP. And that, right there, is the long and the short of why any attempt to continue the behavior that got us to this point is certain to fail.
It is simply not possible to grow your debts faster than your income forever. However, that’s been the practice since 1980, and current politicians and Federal Reserve officials developed their opinions about “how the world works” during the 33-year period between 1980 and 2013.
Put bluntly, they want to get us back on that same track, and as soon as possible. The reason? Because every major power center, be that in D.C. or on Wall Street, tuned their thinking, systems, and sense of entitlement, during that period. And, frankly, a huge number of financial firms and political careers will melt away if and when that credit expansion finally stops. And stop it will; that’s just a mathematical certainty.
Total Credit Market Debt (TCMD) is a measure of all the various forms of debt in the U.S. That includes corporate, state, federal, and household borrowing. So student loans are in there, as are auto loans, mortgages, and municipal and federal debt. It’s pretty much everything debt-related. What it does not include, though, are any unfunded obligations, entitlements, or other types of liabilities. So the Social Security shortfalls are not in there, nor are the underfunded pensions at the state or corporate levels. TCMD is just debt, plain and simple.
As you can see in this next chart, since 1970, TCMD has been growing almost exponentially.
That tiny little wiggle happened in 2008-2009, and it apparently nearly brought down the entire global financial system. That little deviation was practically too much all on its own for the markets to handle.
Now debts are climbing again at a quite nice pace. That’s mainly due to the Fed monetizing U.S. federal debt just to keep things patched together. As an aside, based on this chart, we’d expect the Fed to not end their QE efforts until and unless households and corporations once more engage in robust borrowing. The system apparently needs borrowing to keep growing exponentially, or it risks collapse.
One could ask why credit can’t just keep growing. But there are many reasons to believe that the future will not resemble the past. Let’s start in 1980, when credit growth really took off. This period also happens to be the happy time that the Fed is trying (desperately) to recreate. Between 1980 and 2013, total credit grew by an astonishing 8 percent per year, compounded. I say “astonishing” because anything growing by 8 percent per year will fully double every 9 years. So let’s run the math experiment and ask what will happen if the Fed is successful and total credit grows for the next 30 years at exactly the same rate it did over the prior 30. That’s all. This is nothing fancy, and it is simply the same rate of growth that everybody got accustomed to while they were figuring out “how the world works.”
What happens to the current $57 trillion in TCMD as it advances by 8 percent per year for 30 years? It mushrooms into a silly number: $573 trillion. That is, an 8 percent growth paradigm gives us a 10-fold increase in total credit in just 30 years:
For perspective, the GDP of the entire globe was just $85 trillion in 2012. Even if we advance global GDP by some hefty number, like 4 percent per year for the next 30 years, under an 8 percent growth regime, U.S. credit would be twice as large as global GDP in 2043.
If that comparison didn’t do it for you, then just ask yourself: Why, exactly, would U.S. corporations, households, and government borrow more than $500 trillion over the next 30 years?
The total mortgage market is currently $10 trillion, so might the plan include developing an additional 50 more U.S. residential real estate markets?
So perhaps the situation moderates a bit, and instead of growing at 8 percent, credit market debt grows at just half that rate. So what happens if credit just grows by 4 percent per year? That gets us to $185 trillion, or another $128 trillion higher than today — a more than 3x increase. Again: for what will we borrow (only) $128 trillion for, over the next 30 years?
When I run these numbers, I am entirely confident that the rate of growth in debt between 1980 and 2013 will not be recreated between 2013 and 2043. But, I’ve been assuming that dollars remain valuable. If dollars were to lose 90 percent or more of their value (say, perhaps due to our central bank creating too many of them), then it’s entirely possible to achieve any sorts of fantastical numbers one wishes to see.
For the Fed to achieve anything even close to the historical rate of credit growth, the dollar will have to lose a lot of value. This may in fact be the Fed’s grand plan, and it’s entirely about keeping the financial system primed with sufficient new credit to prevent it from imploding.
Note: The views expressed in Daily Articles on Mises.org are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.
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Chris Martenson is a former biochemical scientist. Currently he is a writer and trend forecaster interested in macro trends regarding the economy, energy composition and environment. He is the founder of PeakProsperity.com. See Chris Martenson’s article archives.
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A few days ago, in the latest escalation over the its territorial dispute with Japan regarding several islands in the East China Sea, China unveiled a so-called “Air Defense Identification” zone, shown on the map below, which includes not only the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands in question, but stretches from South Korea all the way to Taiwan, and which requires that any overflights submit their plans to Beijing in advance.
The response by Japan and the US was immediate, with Japan blasting China’s retaliation to its own annexation of the Senkakus a year earlier and demonstratively neither Japan Airlines nor ANA complying with China’s demands, while the US, demonstrating its allegiance to Japan, flew B-52 bombersabove the Air Defense Zone.
China promptly responded to what it perceived was Western hypocrisy:
China’s announcement to establish an Air Defense Identification Zone in East China Sea has drawn criticism from the United States and Japan, yet their blame is wrong.
Their logic is simple: they can do it while China can not, which could be described with a Chinese saying, “the magistrates are free to burn down houses while the common people are forbidden even to light lamps.”
It is known to all that the United States is among the first to set up an air defense zone in 1950, and later more than 20 countries have followed suit, which Washington has taken for granted.
However, as soon as China started to do it, Washington immediately voiced various “concerns.” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday voiced concerns over the zone, fearing it might “constitute an attempt to change the status quo in the East China Sea,” and a White House spokesman on Monday called the Chinese announcement over the weekend “unnecessarily inflammatory.”
Japan set up such a zone in the 1960s and it even one-sidedly allowed the zone to cover China’s Diaoyu Islands. But when China set up the zone covering the Diaoyu Islands, Tokyo immediately announced it “unacceptable” and Abe even called China’s move “dangerous.” It is totally absurd and unreasonable.
In one word, both Washington and Tokyo are pursuing double standards.
The latter should not come as a surprise to China, and the reason why such double standards are allowed to exist in a US superpower legacy world is because neither Japan nor the US believe China would actually dare to re-escalate further. However, in a world in which the US is no longer an undisputed superpower (especially in the aftermath of the Syrian debacle in which Putin schooled the Obama administration) that is changing.
The first clear indication that China would not just sit there and do nothing, came overnight when China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, passed through the Taiwan Strait on Thursday morning on its way to a training mission in the South China Sea.
Naturally, the training mission is just the pretext. China’s long-running if dormant feud with Taiwan, officially the Republic of China, is perhaps the best proxy of US interests in the region, where thanks to the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, the US sells arms and provides military training to the Taiwanese armed forces. China considers US involvement disruptive to the stability of the region, and made that quite clear in 2010 when Obama announced the decision to sell $6.4 billion in military hardware to the island leading to threats of economic sanctions from the mainland.
Which is why China crossing the Straits of Taiwan for the first time with its brand new aircraft carrier is nothing short of a message to Obama. From Xinhua:
It took about 10 hours for the carrier and its four escort ships to get through the strait separating the Chinese mainland and Taiwan.
The Liaoning entered the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday afternoon after it left its home port in Qingdao of east China’s Shandong Province on Tuesday for the South China Sea on a scientific and training mission.
It was escorted by two missile destroyers, the Shenyang and Shijiazhuang, and two missile frigates, the Yantai and Weifang.
The narrative gets scarier:
“During the voyage, the carrier has kept a high degree of vigilance against approaches from foreign warships and aircraft, according to Liaoning Captain Zhang Zheng. This is the first time the carrier has conducted a cross-sea training voyage and passed through the Taiwan Strait since it was commissioned into the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy in September last year, according to Zhang.”
But where it gets worst is that as BBC reported minutes ago, China has not only sent a symbolic message to the US, but a very literal one to Japan and everyone else who thought China would just sit there and do nothing, when it dispatched its own warplanes over the air defense zone.
China has sent warplanes to its newly declared air defence zone in the East China Sea, state media reports.
The vast zone, announced last week, covers territory claimed by China, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.
China has said all planes transiting the zone must file flight plans and identify themselves, or face “defensive emergency measures”. But Japan, South Korea and the US have all since flown military aircraft through the area.
China’s state news agency Xinhua quoted an air force colonel as saying the the warplanes had carried out routine patrols. The zone includes islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, which are claimed by Japan, China and Taiwan.
What happens next: will Japan once again prod the not so sleeping dragon, and continue flying commercial (and military) airplanes over China’s expanded zone of control, without preclearance with Beijing, and will the US send some more strategic bombers just to prove that Obama didn’t win the Nobel peace prize for nothing?
And will then China once again re-escalate, perhaps through an “accidental” engagement with what it “vigilantly” thought was an offensive act by “foreign warships and aircraft?” resulting in a major diplomatic scandal or worse. Or will it simply, and more effectively, launch a salvo of a few hundred billion US Treasurys into the electronic ether, sending the 10 Year yield over 3% and the Fed scrambling to preserve its centrally-planned house of cards?
So, the ball is now in the court of Japan, which lately has been engaging in increasingly more desperate and irrational actions to preserve a sense of control over its imploding economy and the whole “Fukushima thing”, and which means that much more entertainment is imminent.
One of the world’s most influential investment banks says betting that the loonie is going to fall is one of its best investment tips for 2014.
After trading in a fairly narrow band between 95 cents and $1.05 US for the past three years, the bank says it expects the loonie to lose some of its value next year, because of a number of factors.
Canada has had a current account deficit — the balance of payments between Canada and the rest of the world for all goods, services, investments, imports and exports — for the last five years.
‘We see good reasons for gradual [loonie] weakness’– Goldman Sachs
Goldman says all else being equal, that should lead to any currency losing some of its value. But that hasn’t happened with the loonie due to a variety of other factors that the bank says are about to end.
A strong banking sector was able to attract foreign investment, enough to offset a 30 per cent decline in manufacturing since the recession. But our much lauded financial sector isn’t attracting as much foreign investment as it once did, Goldman notes.
Over the past few quarters, capital inflows have slowed rapidly, pushing the [balance of payments] into deficit of about one per cent of GDP currently,” Goldman says.
The loonie was also seeing some time in the sun as a reserve currency, which means other foreign governments were stockpiling it, and increasing its value. That trend is also slowing, Goldman says.
Another thing working against the loonie is that instead of a rate hike next year (which would push the loonie higher) economists are now saying it’s not impossible that we see a cut, as inflation remains low.
“Our baseline is for the [Bank of Canada] to be on hold, but since the money market curve is pricing a small chance of hikes through end-2014, we see risks here also skewed to the downside,” Goldman Sachs said.
The bank also says the housing market is likely to drag the loonie lower. “With house prices already very elevated … it is likely that private consumption will no longer be the kind of positive impulse to the economy that it was in the past,” the bank said.
“All told, there are a number of reasons why the Canadian dollar has scope to weaken,” the report reads. “Combining all these factors, we see good reasons for gradual [loonie] weakness to persist for idiosyncratic reasons [and] a steady drift weaker and gradual underperformance relative to other major currencies, in particular the U.S. dollar.”
Add it all up and the bank suggests the loonie could fall by as much as seven per cent. The loonie was trading hands at 94.38 cents US on Wednesday.
When it comes to reckless money creation, it turns out that China is the king. Over the past five years, Chinese bank assets have grown from about 9 trillion dollars tomore than 24 trillion dollars. This has been fueled by the greatest private debt binge that the world has ever seen. According to a recent World Bank report, the level of private domestic debt in China has grown from about 9 trillion dollars in 2008 to more than 23 trillion dollars today. In other words, in just five years the amount of money that has been loaned out by banks in China is roughly equivalent to the amount of debt that the U.S. government has accumulated since the end of the Reagan administration. And Chinese bank assets now absolutely dwarf the assets of the U.S. Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank, the Bank of Japan and the Bank of England combined. You can see an amazing chart which shows this right here. A lot of this “hot money” has been flowing out of China and into U.S. companies, U.S. stocks and U.S. real estate. Unfortunately for China (and for the rest of us), there are lots of signs that the gigantic debt bubble in China is about to burst, and when that does happen the entire world is going to feel the pain.
It was Zero Hedge that initially broke this story. Over the past several years, most of the focus has been on the reckless money printing that the Federal Reserve has been doing, but the truth is that China has been far more reckless…
You read that right: in the past five years the total assets on US bank books have risen by a paltry $2.1 trillion while over the same period, Chinese bank assets have exploded by an unprecedented $15.4 trillion hitting a gargantuan CNY147 trillion or an epic $24 trillion – some two and a half times the GDP of China!
Putting the rate of change in perspective, while the Fed was actively pumping $85 billion per month into US banks for a total of $1 trillion each year, in just the trailing 12 months ended September 30, Chinese bank assets grew by a mind-blowing $3.6 trillion!
I was curious to see what all of this debt creation was doing to the money supply in China. So I looked it up, and I discovered that M2 in China has grown by about 1000% since 1999…
So what has China been doing with all of that money?
Well, they have been on a buying spree unlike anything the world has ever seen before. For example, according to Reuters China has essentially bought the entire oil industry of Ecuador…
China’s aggressive quest for foreign oil has reached a new milestone, according to records reviewed by Reuters: near monopoly control of crude exports from an OPEC nation, Ecuador.
Last November, Marco Calvopiña, the general manager of Ecuador’s state oil company PetroEcuador, was dispatched to China to help secure $2 billion in financing for his government. Negotiations, which included committing to sell millions of barrels of Ecuador’s oil to Chinese state-run firms through 2020, dragged on for days.
And the Chinese have been doing lots of shopping in the United States as well. The following is an excerpt from a recent CNBC article entitled “Chinese buying up California housing“…
At a brand new housing development in Irvine, Calif., some of America’s largest home builders are back at work after a crippling housing crash. Lennar, Pulte, K Hovnanian, Ryland to name a few. It’s a rebirth for U.S. construction, but the customers are largely Chinese.
“They see the market here still has room for appreciation,” said Irvine-area real estate agent Kinney Yong, of RE/MAX Premier Realty. “What’s driving them over here is that they have this cash, and they want to park it somewhere or invest somewhere.”
Apparently a lot of these buyers have so much cash that they are willing to outbid anyone if they like the house…
The homes range from the mid-$700,000s to well over $1 million. Cash is king, and there is a seemingly limitless amount.
“The price doesn’t matter, 800,000, 1 million, 1.5. If they like it they will purchase it,” said Helen Zhang of Tarbell Realtors.
So when you hear that housing prices are “going up”, you might want to double check the numbers. Much of this is being caused by foreign buyers that are gobbling up properties in certain “hot” markets.
We see this happening on the east coast as well. In fact, a Chinese firm recently purchased one of the most important landmarks in New York City…
Chinese conglomerate Fosun International Ltd. (0656.HK) will buy office building One Chase Manhattan Plaza for $725 million, adding to a growing list of property purchases by Chinese buyers in New York city.
The Hong Kong-listed firm said it will buy the property from JP Morgan Chase Bank, according to a release on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange website.
Chinese firms, in particular local developers, have looked overseas to diversify their property holdings as the economy at home slows. Chinese individuals also have been investing in property abroad amid tight policy measures in the mainland residential market.
Earlier this month, Chinese state-owned developer Greenland Holdings Group agreed to buy a 70% stake in an apartment project next to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., in what is the largest commercial-real-estate development in the U.S. to get direct backing from a Chinese firm.
And in a previous article, I discussed how the Chinese have just bought up the largest pork producer in the entire country…
Just think about what the Smithfield Foods acquisition alone will mean. Smithfield Foods is the largest pork producer and processor in the world. It has facilities in 26 U.S. states and it employs tens of thousands of Americans. It directly owns 460 farms and has contracts with approximately 2,100 others. But now a Chinese company has bought it for $4.7 billion, and that means that the Chinese will now be the most important employer in dozens of rural communities all over America.
For many more examples of how the Chinese are gobbling up companies, real estate and natural resources all over the United States, please see my previous article entitled “Meet Your New Boss: Buying Large Employers Will Enable China To Dominate 1000s Of U.S. Communities“.
But more than anything else, the Chinese seem particularly interested in acquiring real money.
And by that, I mean gold and silver.
In recent years, the Chinese have been buying up thousands of tons of gold at very depressed prices. Meanwhile, the western world has been unloading gold at a staggering pace. By the time this is all over, the western world is going to end up bitterly regretting this massive transfer of real wealth.
Unfortunately for the Chinese, it appears that the unsustainable credit bubble that they have created is starting to burst. According toBloomberg, the amount of bad loans that the five largest banks in China wrote off during the first half of this year was three times larger than last year…
China’s biggest banks are already affected, tripling the amount of bad loans they wrote off in the first half of this year and cleaning up their books ahead of what may be a fresh wave of defaults. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. and its four largest competitors expunged 22.1 billion yuan of debt that couldn’t be collected through June, up from 7.65 billion yuan a year earlier, regulatory filings show.
And Goldman Sachs is projecting that China may be facing 3 trillion dollars in credit losses as this bubble implodes…
Interest owed by borrowers rose to an estimated 12.5 percent of China’s economy from 7 percent in 2008, Fitch Ratings estimated in September. By the end of 2017, it may climb to as much as 22 percent and “ultimately overwhelm borrowers.”
Meanwhile, China’s total credit will be pushed to almost 250 percent of gross domestic product by then, almost double the 130 percent of 2008, according to Fitch.
The nation might face credit losses of as much as $3 trillion as defaults ensue from the expansion of the past four years, particularly by non-bank lenders such as trusts, exceeding that seen prior to other credit crises, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. estimated in August.
The Chinese are trying to get this debt spiral under control by tightening the money supply. That may sound wise, but the truth is that it is going to create a substantial credit crunch and the entire globe will end up sharing in the pain…
Yields on Chinese government debt have soared to their highest levels in nearly nine years amid Beijing’s relentless drive to tighten the monetary spigots in the world’s second-largest economy.
The higher yields on government debt have pushed up borrowing costs broadly, creating obstacles for companies and government agencies looking to tap bond markets. Several Chinese development banks, which have mandates to encourage growth through targeted investments, have had to either scale back borrowing plans or postpone bond sales.
This could ultimately be a much bigger story than whether or not the Fed decides to “taper” or not.
It has been the Chinese that have been the greatest source of fresh liquidity since the last financial crisis, and now it appears that source of liquidity is tightening up.
So as the flow of “hot money” out of China starts to slow down, what is that going to mean for the rest of the planet?
And when you consider this in conjunction with the fact that China has just announced that it is going to stop stockpiling U.S. dollars, it becomes clear that we have reached a major turning point in the financial world.
2014 is shaping up to be a very interesting year, and nobody is quite sure what is going to happen next.
By Ellen Brown.
“Control oil and you control nations,” said US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in the 1970s. ”Control food and you control the people.”
Global food control has nearly been achieved, by reducing seed diversity with GMO (genetically modified) seeds that are distributed by only a few transnational corporations. But this agenda has been implemented at grave cost to our health; and if the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) passes, control over not just our food but our health, our environment and our financial system will be in the hands of transnational corporations.
Profits Before Populations
According to an Acres USA interview of plant pathologist Don Huber, Professor Emeritus at Purdue University, two modified traits account for practically all of the genetically modified crops grown in the world today. One involves insect resistance. The other, more disturbing modification involves insensitivity to glyphosate-based herbicides (plant-killing chemicals). Often known as Roundup after the best-selling Monsanto product of that name, glyphosate poisons everything in its path except plants genetically modified to resist it.
Glyphosate-based herbicides are now the most commonly used herbicides in the world. Glyphosate is an essential partner to the GMOs that are the principal business of the burgeoning biotech industry. Glyphosate is a “broad-spectrum” herbicide that destroys indiscriminately, not by killing unwanted plants directly but by tying up access to critical nutrients.
Because of the insidious way in which it works, it has been sold as a relatively benign replacement for the devastating earlier dioxin-based herbicides. But a barrage of experimental data has now shown glyphosate and the GMO foods incorporating it to pose serious dangers to health. Compounding the risk is the toxicity of “inert” ingredients used to make glyphosate more potent. Researchers have found, for example, that the surfactant POEA can kill human cells, particularly embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells. But these risks have been conveniently ignored.
The widespread use of GMO foods and glyphosate herbicides helps explain the anomaly that the US spends over twice as much per capita on healthcare as the average developed country, yet it is rated far down the scale of the world’s healthiest populations. The World Health Organization has ranked the US LAST out of 17 developed nations for overall health.
Sixty to seventy percent of the foods in US supermarkets are now genetically modified. By contrast, in at least 26 other countries—including Switzerland, Australia, Austria, China, India, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Greece, Bulgaria, Poland, Italy, Mexico and Russia—GMOs are totally or partially banned; and significant restrictions on GMOs exist in about sixty other countries.
A ban on GMO and glyphosate use might go far toward improving the health of Americans. But the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a global trade agreement for which the Obama Administration has sought Fast Track status, would block that sort of cause-focused approach to the healthcare crisis.
Roundup’s Insidious Effects
Roundup-resistant crops escape being killed by glyphosate, but they do not avoid absorbing it into their tissues. Herbicide-tolerant crops have substantially higher levels of herbicide residues than other crops. In fact, many countries have had to increase their legally allowable levels—by up to 50 times—in order to accommodate the introduction of GM crops. In the European Union, residues in foods are set to rise 100-150 times if a new proposal by Monsanto is approved. Meanwhile, herbicide-tolerant “super-weeds” have adapted to the chemical, requiring even more toxic doses and new toxic chemicals to kill the plant.
Human enzymes are affected by glyphosate just as plant enzymes are: the chemical blocks the uptake of manganese and other essential minerals. Without those minerals, we cannot properly metabolize our food. That helps explain the rampant epidemic of obesity in the United States. People eat and eat in an attempt to acquire the nutrients that are simply not available in their food.
Glyphosate’s inhibition of cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes is an overlooked component of its toxicity to mammals. CYP enzymes play crucial roles in biology . . . . Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body. Consequences are most of the diseases and conditions associated with a Western diet, which include gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
More than 40 diseases have been linked to glyphosate use, and more keep appearing. In September 2013, the National University of Rio Cuarto, Argentina, published research finding that glyphosate enhances the growth of fungi that produce aflatoxin B1, one of the most carcinogenic of substances. A doctor from Chaco, Argentina, told Associated Press, “We’ve gone from a pretty healthy population to one with a high rate of cancer, birth defects and illnesses seldom seen before.” Fungi growths have increased significantly in US corn crops.
Glyphosate has also done serious damage to the environment. According to an October 2012 report by the Institute of Science in Society:
Agribusiness claims that glyphosate and glyphosate-tolerant crops will improve crop yields, increase farmers’ profits and benefit the environment by reducing pesticide use. Exactly the opposite is the case. . . . [T]he evidence indicates that glyphosate herbicides and glyphosate-tolerant crops have had wide-ranging detrimental effects, including glyphosate resistant super weeds, virulent plant (and new livestock) pathogens, reduced crop health and yield, harm to off-target species from insects to amphibians and livestock, as well as reduced soil fertility.
Politics Trumps Science
In light of these adverse findings, why have Washington and the European Commission continued to endorse glyphosate as safe? Critics point to lax regulations, heavy influence from corporate lobbyists, and a political agenda that has more to do with power and control than protecting the health of the people.
In the ground-breaking 2007 book Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation, William Engdahl states that global food control and depopulation became US strategic policy under Rockefeller protégé Henry Kissinger. Along with oil geopolitics, they were to be the new “solution” to the threats to US global power and continued US access to cheap raw materials from the developing world. In line with that agenda, the government has shown extreme partisanship in favor of the biotech agribusiness industry, opting for a system in which the industry “voluntarily” polices itself. Bio-engineered foods are treated as “natural food additives,” not needing any special testing.
Jeffrey M. Smith, Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology, confirms that US Food and Drug Administration policy allows biotech companies to determine if their own foods are safe. Submission of data is completely voluntary. He concludes:
In the critical arena of food safety research, the biotech industry is without accountability, standards, or peer-review. They’ve got bad science down to a science.
Whether or not depopulation is an intentional part of the agenda, widespread use of GMO and glyphosate is having that result. The endocrine-disrupting properties of glyphosate have been linked to infertility, miscarriage, birth defects and arrested sexual development. In Russian experiments, animals fed GM soy were sterile by the third generation. Vast amounts of farmland soil are also being systematically ruined by the killing of beneficial microorganisms that allow plant roots to uptake soil nutrients.
In Gary Null’s eye-opening documentary Seeds of Death: Unveiling the Lies of GMOs, Dr. Bruce Lipton warns, “We are leading the world into the sixth mass extinction of life on this planet. . . . Human behavior is undermining the web of life.”
The TPP and International Corporate Control
As the devastating conclusions of these and other researchers awaken people globally to the dangers of Roundup and GMO foods, transnational corporations are working feverishly with the Obama administration to fast-track the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that would strip governments of the power to regulate transnational corporate activities. Negotiations have been kept secret from Congress but not from corporate advisors, 600 of whom have been consulted and know the details. According to Barbara Chicherio in Nation of Change:
The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) has the potential to become the biggest regional Free Trade Agreement in history. . . .
The chief agricultural negotiator for the US is the former Monsanto lobbyist, Islam Siddique. If ratified the TPP would impose punishing regulations that give multinational corporations unprecedented right to demand taxpayer compensation for policies that corporations deem a barrier to their profits.
. . . They are carefully crafting the TPP to insure that citizens of the involved countries have no control over food safety, what they will be eating, where it is grown, the conditions under which food is grown and the use of herbicides and pesticides.
Food safety is only one of many rights and protections liable to fall to this super-weapon of international corporate control. In an April 2013 interview on The Real News Network, Kevin Zeese called the TPP “NAFTA on steroids” and “a global corporate coup.” He warned:
No matter what issue you care about—whether its wages, jobs, protecting the environment . . . this issue is going to adversely affect it . . . .
If a country takes a step to try to regulate the financial industry or set up a public bank to represent the public interest, it can be sued . . . .
Return to Nature: Not Too Late
There is a safer, saner, more earth-friendly way to feed nations. While Monsanto and US regulators are forcing GM crops on American families, Russian families are showing what can be done with permaculture methods on simple garden plots. In 2011, 40% of Russia’s food was grown on dachas(cottage gardens or allotments). Dacha gardens produced over 80% of the country’s fruit and berries, over 66% of the vegetables, almost 80% of the potatoes and nearly 50% of the nation’s milk, much of it consumed raw. According to Vladimir Megre, author of the best-selling Ringing Cedars Series:
Essentially, what Russian gardeners do is demonstrate that gardeners can feed the world – and you do not need any GMOs, industrial farms, or any other technological gimmicks to guarantee everybody’s got enough food to eat. Bear in mind that Russia only has 110 days of growing season per year – so in the US, for example, gardeners’ output could be substantially greater. Today, however, the area taken up by lawns in the US is two times greater than that of Russia’s gardens – and it produces nothing but a multi-billion-dollar lawn care industry.
In the US, only about 0.6 percent of the total agricultural area is devoted to organic farming. This area needs to be vastly expanded if we are to avoid “the sixth mass extinction.” But first, we need to urge our representatives to stop Fast Track, vote no on the TPP, and pursue a global phase-out of glyphosate-based herbicides and GMO foods. Our health, our finances and our environment are at stake.
Ellen Brown is an attorney, president of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books, including the best-selling Web of Debt. In The Public Bank Solution, her latest book, she explores successful public banking models historically and globally. Her blog articles are at EllenBrown.com.
Drones killed an estimated 36 of the 162 Palestinians who lost their lives during Operation Pillar of Defence [AP]
|Jerusalem – There are many things to fear in Gaza: Attacks from Israel’s Apache helicopters and F-16 fighter jets, the coastal enclave’s growing isolation, the regular blackouts from power shortages, increasingly polluted drinking water and rivers of sewage flooding the streets.
Meanwhile, for most Palestinians in Gaza the anxiety-inducing soundtrack to their lives is the constant buzz of the remotely piloted aircraft – better known as “drones” – that hover in the skies above.
Drones are increasingly being used for surveillance and extra-judicial execution in parts of the Middle East, especially by the US, but in nowhere more than Gaza has the drone become a permanent fixture of life. More than 1.7 million Palestinians, confined by Israel to a small territory in one of the most densely populated areas in the world, are subject to near continual surveillance and intermittent death raining down from the sky.
There is little hope of escaping the zenana – an Arabic word referring to a wife’s relentless nagging that Gazans have adopted to describe the drone’s oppressive noise and their feelings about it. According to statistics compiled by human rights groups in Gaza, civilians are the chief casualties of what Israel refers to as “surgical” strikes from drones.
“When you hear the drones, you feel naked and vulnerable,” said Hamdi Shaqura, deputy director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, based in Gaza City. “The buzz is the sound of death. There is no escape, nowhere is private. It is a reminder that, whatever Israel and the international community assert, the occupation has not ended. We are still living completely under Israeli control. They control the borders and the sea and they decide our fates from their position in the sky,” said Shaqura.
The Israeli military did not respond to Al Jazeera’s requests for comment.
Suffer the children
The sense of permanent exposure, coupled with the fear of being mistakenly targeted, has inflicted deep psychological scars on civilians, especially children, according to experts.
“There is a great sense of insecurity. Nowhere feels safe for the children, and they feel no one can offer them protection, not even their parents,” said Ahmed Tawahina, a psychologist running clinics in Gaza as part of the Community Mental Health Programme. “That traumatises both the children and parents, who feel they are failing in their most basic responsibility.”
Shaqura observed: “From a political perspective, there is a deep paradox. Israel says it needs security, but it demands it at the cost of our constant insecurity.”
There are no statistics that detail the effect of the drones on Palestinians in Gaza. Doctors admit it is impossible to separate the psychological toll inflicted by drones from other sources of damage to mental health, such as air strikes by F-16s, severe restrictions on movement and the economic insecurity caused by Israel’s blockade.
But field researchers working for Palestinian rights groups point out that the use of drones is intimately tied to these other sources of fear and anxiety. Drones fire missiles themselves, they guide attacks by F-16s or helicopters, and they patrol and oversee the borders.
A survey in medical journal The Lancet following Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s month-long attack on Gaza in winter 2008-09, found large percentages of children suffered from symptoms of psychological trauma: Fifty-eight percent permanently feared the dark; 43 percent reported regular nightmares; 37 percent wet the bed and 42 percent had crying attacks.
Tawahina described the sense of being constantly observed as a “form of psychological torture, which exhausts people’s mental and emotional resources. Among children at school, this can be seen in poor concentration and unruly behaviour.” The trauma for children is compounded by the fact that the drones also disrupt what should be their safest activity – watching TV at home. When a drone is operating nearby, it invariably interferes with satellite reception.
“”It doesn’t make headlines, but it is another example of how there is no escape from the drones. Parents want their children indoors, where it feels safer and where they’re less likely to hear the drones, but still the drone finds a way into their home. The children cannot even switch off from the traumas around them by watching TV because of the drones.”
Israel’s ‘major advantage’
Israel developed its first drones in the early 1980s, during its long occupation of south Lebanon, to gather aerial intelligence without exposing Israeli pilots to anti-aircraft missiles. Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies at Bar Ilan University, said drones help in situations where good, on-the-ground intelligence is lacking. “What the UAV gives you is eyes on the other side of the hill or over the border,” he said. “That provides Israel with a major advantage over its enemies.”
Other Israeli analysts have claimed that the use of drones, with their detailed intelligence-collecting abilities, is justified because they reduce the chances of errors and the likelihood of “collateral damage” – civilian deaths – during attacks.
But, according to Inbar, the drone is no better equipped than other aircraft for gathering intelligence or carrying out an execution.
“The advantage from Israel’s point of view is that using a drone for these tasks reduces the risk of endangering a pilot’s life or losing an expensive plane. That is why we are moving towards much greater use of these kinds of robots on the battlefield,” he said.
‘Mistakes can happen’
According to Gaza human rights group al-Mezan, Israel started using drones over the territory from the start of the second intifada in 2000, but only for surveillance.
Israel’s first extra-judicial executions using drones occurred in 2004, when two Palestinians were killed. But these operations greatly expanded after 2006, in the wake of Israel’s withdrawal of settlers and soldiers from Gaza and the rise to power of the Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas.
Drones, the front-line weapon in Israel’s surveillance operations and efforts to foil rocket attacks, killed more than 90 Palestinians in each of the years 2006 and 2007, according to al-Mezan. The figures soared during Operation Cast Lead and in its aftermath, with 461 Palestinians killed by drones in 2009. The number peaked again with 199 deaths in 2012, the year when Israel launched the eight-day Operation Pillar of Defence against Gaza.
Despite Israeli claims that the intelligence provided by drones makes it easier to target those Palestinians it has defined as “terrorists”, research shows civilians are the main victims. In the 2012 Pillar of Defence operation, 36 of the 162 Palestinians killed were a result of drone strikes, and a further 100 were injured by drones. Of those 36 killed, two-thirds were civilians.
Also revealing was a finding that, although drones were used in only five percent of air strikes, they accounted for 23 percent of the total deaths during Pillar of Defence. According to the Economist magazine, the assassination of Hamas leader Ahmed Jabari, which triggered that operation, was carried out using a Hermes 450 drone.
Palestinian fighters report that they have responded to the constant surveillance by living in hiding, rarely going outdoors and avoiding using phones or cars. It is a way of life not possible for most people in Gaza.
Gaza’s armed groups are reported to be trying to find a way to jam the drones’ navigation systems. In the meantime, Hamas has claimed it has shot down three drones, the latest this month, though Israel says all three crashed due to malfunctions.
Last week, on the anniversary of the launch of Pillar of Defence, an Israeli commander whose soldiers control the drones over Gaza from a base south of Tel Aviv told the Haaretz newspaper that “many” air strikes during the operation had involved drones. “Lt Col Shay” was quoted saying: “Ultimately, we are at war. As much as the IDF strives to carry out the most precise surgical strikes, mistakes can happen in the air or on the ground.”
Random death by drone
It is for this reason that drones have become increasingly associated with random death from the sky, said Samir Zaqout, a senior field researcher for Al-Mezan.
“We know from the footage taken by drones that Israel can see what is happening below in the finest detail. And yet women and children keep being killed in drone attacks. Why the continual mistakes? The answer, I think, is that these aren’t mistakes. The message Israel wants to send us is that there is no protection whether you are a civilian or fighter. They want us afraid and to make us turn on the resistance [Palestinian fighters].”
Zaqout also points to a more recent use of drones – what has come to be known as “roof-knocking”. This is when a drone fires small missiles at the roof of a building to warn the inhabitants to evacuate – a practice Israel developed during Operation Cast Lead three years earlier, to allay international concerns about its repeated levellings of buildings with civilians inside.
In Pillar of Defence in 2012, 33 buildings were targeted by roof-knocking.
Israel says it provides 10 minutes’ warning from a roof-knock to an air strike, but, in practice, families find they often have much less time. This, said Zaqout, puts large families in great danger as they usually send their members out in small groups to be sure they will not be attacked as they move onto the streets.
One notorious case occurred during Cast Lead, when six members of the Salha family, all women and children, were killed when their home was shelled moments after a roof-knocking. The father, Fayez Salha, who survived, lost a case for damages in Israel’s Supreme Court last February and was ordered to pay costs after the judges ruled that the attack was legitimate because it occurred as part of a military operation.
A US citizen who has lived long-term in Gaza, who wished not be named for fear of reprisals from Israel, said she often heard the drones at night when the street noise dies down, or as they hover above her while out walking. “The sound is like the buzz of a mosquito, although there is one type of drone that sometimes comes into view that is silent,” she said.
She added that she knew of families that, before moving into a new apartment building, checked to see whether it housed a fighter or a relative of a fighter, for fear that the building may be attacked by Israel.
Shaqura said the drones inevitably affect one’s day-to-day behaviour. He said he was jogging early one morning while a drone hovered overhead.
“I got 100 metres from my front door when I started to feel overwhelmed with fear. I realised that my tracksuit was black, the same colour as many of the fighters’ uniforms. I read in my work too many reports of civilians being killed by drones not to see the danger. So I hurried back home.”
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper declined to comment on spying allegations. [EPA]
|Canada let the US spy agency conduct widespread surveillance during the G8 and G20 summits in Toronto in 2010, according to documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the former US National Security Agency contractor and whistleblower.Reported exclusively by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on Wednesday, the documents reveal that American officials turned the US embassy in Ottawa into a security command post during a six-day, NSA spying operation as US President Barack Obama and other world leaders met in June 2010.
The CBC report said the documents did not reveal the precise targets of the NSA operation, but described part of the US mandate during the Toronto summits as “providing support to policymakers”.
The spying operation was reportedly “closely coordinated with the Canadian partner”, according to a leaked NSA briefing note.
A spokesperson for Stephen Harper, Canadian prime minister, declined to comment on Wednesday on the report’s allegations.
“We do not comment on operational matters related to national security,” spokesperson Jason MacDonald said.
A spokeswoman for Canada’s equivalent of the NSA, the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), said they could not comment on the operations of Canada or its allies.
“Under the law, CSEC does not target Canadians anywhere or any person in Canada through its foreign intelligence activities,” Lauri Sullivan, spokesperson, said.
“CSEC cannot ask our international partners to act in a way that circumvents Canadian laws.”
OpenMedia.ca, a Canadian civil liberties group, condemned the spying.
“It’s… clear this spying was aimed at supporting US policy goals during a highly contentious summit,” Steve Anderson, the group’s executive director, said in a statement.
“This is sure to cause huge damage to Canada’s relationships with our other G20 partners.”
Harper came under fire last month after a report by a Brazilian broadcaster alleged the CSEC spied on a Brazilian government ministry, straining ties between the two countries.
Snowden began leaking top-secret documents detailing the NSA’s collection of millions of US communications records earlier this year.
Reports coming out of the leaked materials allege the NSA monitored German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone, scanned millions of French telephone records, and hacked the computer network of Brazil’s state-run oil company, Petrobras.