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Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Moscow cuts dependence on US dollar, builds a more self-sufficient financial system


© Reuters/Jim Bourg
The U.S. Treasury Department in Washington

Russia held US Treasury bills worth $66.5 billion as of April this year, according to the latest monthly report from the US Treasury. That compares with the $116.4 billion held a year ago.

From March to April 2015, Russia sold $3.4 billion in US Treasury bonds,reported US Department of the Treasury Monday.

Since August 2014, the value of US bonds in the Russian government portfolio has been steadily declining and the volume of Russian investments in US bonds dropped dramatically. Russia is now only 22nd on the list of the major US debt holders, compared to twelfth place in April 2014.

The Western sanctions imposed against Russia last year over re-unification with Crimea and its position in Ukrainian crisis have pushed Moscow to cut its dependence on the US dollar and build a more self-sufficient financial system.

Western sanctions have encouraged Russia to work more actively with Asia, as the Asia-Pacific region and BRICS, as they make up 60 percent of the world GDP, said Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev last week.

The BRICS summit in Russia this July will see the opening of the $100 billion New Development Bank, intended to compliment the World Bank and sponsor infrastructure projects within the group. Another project to be launched is currency pool worth another $100 billion, expected to guard the group from exchange rate volatility, said Russian President Vladimir Putin in May.

More than 40 countries and associations have said they would like to boost trade with the Russia-led economic block known as the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). Vietnam became the first country out of the EEU to sign a free trade zone deal with the block in May and is considering switching to local currencies in bilateral trade. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Moscow was ready to consider a currency union across the EEU.

Russia's largest bank, Sberbank, issued its first credit guarantees in yuan this June, which marked another step in its de-dollarizing policy.

Yuan-ruble trade in Russia has grown 800 percent between January and September 2014, and accounts for 7 percent of bilateral trade, with a huge potential to grow, according to May data.

Who owns US debt?

China and Japan are the biggest holders of US Treasury bonds, four times as much as held in the Caribbean Banking Centers (a tax haven than includes Bahamas, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Netherlands Antilles and Panama).

As of February, Japan officially held more US debt than China, when Beijing disposed of $15.4 billion in debt. However, in March-April Beijing boosted US Treasury debt by $39.7 billion, which reached $1,263 trillion and ousted Japan, holding $1.215 trillion worth bonds, from first place.

Abbas says Palestinian government to resign within 24 hours


© Reuters/Suhaib Salem

The Palestinian government is to be dissolved within 24 hours, reports, quoting a statement made by President Mahmoud Abbas. The government's spokesman, however, denies any such discussion of dissolution.

"Within 24 hours the Palestinian government will resign," Abbas told members of the Revolutionary Council of his Fatah movement in Ramallah, reports, citing several officials present at the meeting.

The reason for the resignation is the government's inability to act in the Gaza strip, reported earlier in the day citing senior officials with the Palestinian Authority.

"This one [government] is weak and there is no chance that Hamas will allow it to work in Gaza," said Amin Maqbul, secretary general of the ruling Fatah movement's Revolutionary Council, according to .

While Maqbul is quoted as saying that a new government will be formed within 24 hours, another source, an unnamed attendee of the 15th Revolutionary Council conference quoted by the news agency claims it could take several days.

However, the issue was not discussed at the latest meeting of the collective Hamas-Fatah government, according to government spokesman Ihab Bseiso, reports.

The current government was forged by the rival Palestinian movements Hamas and Fatah in June 2014, after a unity pact ended a violent split that began in 2007.

When it comes to water, we're not all equal

As water resources in California near a worst-case scenario where all surface water sources have run out, the ultra wealthy have yet to pull back on their usage. In response, counties all over the state have implemented water restrictions with hefty fines for those who go over their daily allotments. But those fines, often amounting to a small drop in the bucket for the more well off, have done little to curb use in high dollar communities.

Moreover, though California's sanctions purportedly aim to save water, large mega corporations like Nestle and Walmart are still pulling water out of the ground at fractions of pennies on the dollar and reselling bottled products for hundred-fold or more profits. It's been reported, for example, that Nestle puts a mark up of 53 Million percent on a single bottle.

So while California lawmakers argue that the new restrictions make water usage equal for all, the fact is that, as George Orwell so succinctly put it in his classic novella , "all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the hustling and bustling neighborhoods of the ultra wealthy, where sustainable living advocates like Barbara Streisand and other elite stars continued to use thousands of gallons of water to keep their lawns green. After photos of their opulent lifestyles hit social media in recent months some have pulled back, but others, like Steve Yuhas, argue that if they have the money to pay for the water, including fines, they should be able to use it as they see fit.

If you can pay for it, he argues, you should get your water.

People "should not be forced to live on property with brown lawns, golf on brown courses or apologize for wanting their gardens to be beautiful," Yuhas fumed recently on social media. "We pay significant property taxes based on where we live," he added in an interview. "And, no, we're not all equal when it comes to water."

Yuhas lives in the ultra-wealthy enclave of Rancho Santa Fe, a bucolic Southern California hamlet of ranches, gated communities and country clubs that guzzles five times more water per capita than the statewide average.

It's a debate as old as America, and one that is hard to argue with. Yuhas isn't alone in his views. Water is distributed equally when it leaves a particular plant, but once it passes through someone's water meter, it is then owned by the person paying for it. If they have the money to pay, then what's the problem?

"California used to be the land of opportunity and freedom," Barbre said. "It's slowly becoming the land of one group telling everybody else how they think everybody should live their lives."

Jurgen Gramckow, a sod farmer north of Los Angeles in Ventura County, agrees. He likens the freedom to buy water to the freedom to buy gasoline.

"Some people have a Prius; others have a Suburban," Gramckow said. "Once the water goes through the meter, it's yours."

Determining who's right in this argument remains an open question.

But what water scarcity in California highlights is that those with money will always have first dibs on resources.

Today it's water, but according to experts, should California's drought continue the state will be dry within a year. That may not sound like a big deal to Americans in the other 49 states, but NASA has warned that the entire U.S. food supply could be threatened:

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has sounded a stark warning over California's sustained drought, publishing its latest findings where satellite surveys show a rapidly depleting groundwater supply.

And with California as the United States' most valuable agricultural state, and thus key to America's food supply (and much of the world's as well) that could mean drastic consequences for food commodity prices and potential shortages.

But for the ultra-wealthy and those with means, potential shortages for the general population are meaningless.

As demonstrated with the water battles taking place now, those who don't have enough money to cover rising expenses, be they in the form of higher prices or financial penalties, will have to make due with their government-mandated allotments.

If you don't make enough money to acquire those resources we so desperately need to survive and maintain our standard of living, then that's tough. You'll just have to deal with it.

In a worst-case scenario, the bigger fish will undoubtedly take from the smaller fish. Consider a situation where a national emergency is declared. Whatever the reason, imagine that access to fresh water, food, gasoline, electricity or other critical resources becomes limited.

Analyst Greg Mannarino warns that such a scenario, where resources become scarce, could lead to the deaths of millions.

Millions upon millions of people are going to die on a world-wide scale when the debt bubble bursts. And I'm saying when not if...


When resources become more and more scarce we're going to see countries at war with each other. People will be scrambling... in a worst case scenario... doing everything that they can to survive... to provide for their family and for themselves.

The wealthy will certainly have the ability to pay, even if that means acquiring those resources through black-market deals.
Government officials, however, will have another method for taking what they need (or desire).

In 2012 President Obama authorized what many have dubbed the Doomsday Executive Order, which essentially gives federal officials authority to seized everything from food producing farms and water wells, to entire industries and the labor forces which make them possible.

While millions of people have been preparing for the possibility of a catastrophic event by relocating to rural homesteads or farms, as well as stockpiling food, water, personal defense armaments and other essential supplies with the intention of utilizing these preparations if the worst happens, the latest executive order signed by President Obama on March 16, 2012 makes clear that in the event of a nationally deemed emergency all of these resources will fall under the authority of the United States government.

The signing of the National Defense Resources Preparedness executive order grants the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Labor, the Department of Defense and other agencies complete control of all US resources, including the ability to seize, confiscate or re-delegate resources, materials, services, and facilities as deemed necessary or appropriate to promote the national defense as delegated by the following agencies

So, in the end, whether you agree with Steve Yuhas or not, his assessment is accurate.

When it comes to resource control and acquisition, politicians and the wealthy, will always be just a little more equal than the rest of us.

That's simply the nature of the beast, so preparing for those resource shortages today may be the only saving grace for the majority of the population who will be left to fend for themselves during a real crisis. Most will ignore the warnings, but as Ayn Rand so eloquently put it, "we can ignore reality, but we cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality."

Related Reading:

Facial Recognition-Fest: UK Police Scan 100,000 Concertgoers

UK police used facial recognition technology to scan the faces of 100,000 concertgoers in Leicestireshire over the weekend. (Photo:Tom Blackwell/flickr/cc)

Just in time for facial recognition technology to lose its few privacy allies in the U.S., police in the U.K. demonstrated just what that kind of mass surveillance of the public might look like in reality.

Over the weekend, Leicestireshire police planted a series of "strategically placed cameras" throughout the grounds of an outdoor concert—ironically called the Download Festival—to scan the faces of more than 100,000 people and match them against a database of wanted criminals across Europe.

It was believed to be the first time that facial recognition technology had been used in an outdoor venue in the country.

The law enforcement news website Police Oracle informed concertgoers that the cameras would be used during the festival in a post ahead of the weekend, although it's unclear how widely that message was spread—content on the Police Oracle website can only be read after registration.

Renate Samson, a campaigner with UK-based privacy rights organization Big Brother Watch, told the BBC that the scheme was "a great worry."

Referring to the police justification that the scans would help catch cell phone thieves and other petty crime at the festival, Samson added, "We're very keen for bad people to be caught but we're also keen for innocent people to go about their day-to-day business, have a good time at festivals they've paid good money for, and not feel as though they're being surveyed by police."

Samson also told Noisey that "Leicestershire has a reputation for surveillance. Between 2009 and 2011 they had some of the highest amounts of CCTV in the UK."

In fact, Noisey reports, the Download Festival may be just the start of public video surveillance by law enforcement:

According to the Police Oracle article previously cited, other festival organisers have expressed widespread interest in technology, pending a successful trial. DC [Detective Constable] Kevin Walker told the Oracle, "It is one of the first times it has been trialled outside, normally it is done in a controlled environment. There has also been a lot of interest from other festivals and they are saying: 'If it works, can we borrow it?' "

Genetically Modified Insects for Florida

Millions of genetically modified mosquitoes are set to be released in Florida. It’s a move from biotech company Oxitec, who already released GM olive flies into the Cayman Islands environment as a way to combat wild pests that damaged crops.[1] But, as there are concerns for the olive flies pesticide resistance developing into the ‘wild’ populations, the release of GM mosquitos are also posing questions of risk.


The approach to containing problems in the wild for the GM fly is the same as the mosquito in Florida. Oxitec has developed a ‘kill switch’ that the GM insect can introduce to the wild female during the mating process. In turn, the female offspring mainly die as larvae.

The move to introduce the non-native GM mosquito into Florida, is to curb the rising numbers of dengue fever and chikungunya, both carried and spread by the Aedes mosquitoes. However, though the rise is undoubtedly occurring with both diseases, only 11 patients contracted chikungunya in 2014, and the CDC states that it is rare to find a case of dengue fever in the United States. [2]


“Dengue has emerged as a worldwide problem only since the 1950s. Although dengue rarely occurs in the continental United States, it is endemic in Puerto Rico and in many popular tourist destinations in Latin America, Southeast Asia and the Pacific islands”.[3]

Screenshot (47)

Some concerns have been raised about the “tinkering” with Mother Nature and the after affects, which potentially will be impossible to reverse once out in the wild. Yet, one study which looks into the effects of GM insects compared to current world situations, has made some interesting evaluations: “Scientists believe that climate change, changes in land use and global trade are all leading to expansions in the ranges and prevalence of many agricultural pests”. [4]

Screenshot (52)

Screenshot (49)

It raises the question then, why would you introduce a genetically modified insect into an ecology already struggling, without conducting full studies into the consequences? The area of GM insects has little to no rules governing the procedures taking place in the labs. It is also interesting to note that Oxitec has released GM mosquitos into the Cayman Islands, Malaysia and Brazil and is developing GM agricultural pests, jointly with Syngenta, the seed company.[5] Furthermore,Oxitec “chose a British Overseas Territory with no biosafety law (Cayman Islands) as the site for the first open releases of GM insects in the world”.[6]

[1] [Gene Watch UK] Joint Press Release: Non-native strains of genetically modified (GM) insects risk spread of pesticide resistance. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1Fl8FxQ

[2] [CDC] Chikungunya virus in the United States. Retrieved fromhttp://1.usa.gov/1Fl8FxR

[3] [CDC] Dengue virus in the United States. Retrieved from http://1.usa.gov/1HQorXK

[4] [Houses of Parliament: Office of Science and Technology]. Genetically Modified Insects. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1HQouTm

[5] Genetically-modified insects: under whose control? Retrieved fromhttp://bit.ly/1HQouTp

More dead fish wash up on shore in Riverhead, New York

For the second time in weeks, a large number of dead fish have washed up to the shoreline in Riverhead.

There's a dead fish mystery on Long Island.

For the second time in weeks, a large number of dead fish have washed up to the shoreline in Riverhead.

"Just look, the smell, oh my God, it's terrible," a resident said.

And that's putting it mildly.

"It's just a shame. A lot of guys who own these boats they don't even want to come down here now because of the smell. And the flies, you got flies, you got all kinds of bugs down here now," said Dan Battaglia, of Moose Lodge 1742.

It's just the latest massive fish die off around Riverhead. Just two weeks ago, thousands of the same bunker fish washed up around Flanders Bay.

And a few weeks before that there were more than 100 diamondback terrapins found dead around the same area. And now there's this die off along the Peconic River.

"I wouldn't even consider putting my boat in right now. I'm still sitting on a trailer and we're in the middle of June," said Mario DePinto, a Sound Beach resident.

"We thought we could do some kayaking and get in the water and it's just not inviting," said Sue Ambrosino, a visitor.

There are two main theories here.

One is that blue fish are chasing the bunker into water with little oxygen so the bunker suffocate and die. Environmentalists say the reason though that the water has insufficient oxygen is because of pollution.

"We're causing this fish kill whether we like it or not. The fish are dying because of septic input, they're dying because of nitrogen pollution in our waters, and we have to do our best to clean it up," said Kara Jackson, of The Nature Conservancy.

As for the cleanup, Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter says it will begin first thing Wednesday morning.

"We're going to stage it over here, pick it up with a front end loader and put into a roll off that's is lined and bring it to a disposal location in the town and bury it," said Sean Walter, the Riverhead Town Supervisor.

Mysterious underwater vortex filmed in Thai lake

© YouTube Screen Capture

A mystery vortex filmed swirling around in a lake in Thailand has left witnesses baffled.

The whirlpool was spotted in the aqua blue waters of Cheow Lan Lake, a dammed reservoir in Khao Sok National Park in the Surat Thani Province, and lasted for about two minutes.

The swirl left a long, wide trail of white bubbles as it moved through the water in a seemingly random figure-8 path in the video published on YouTube (watch video below) last week.

[embedded content]

"Strange events that make us feel very confused," wrote YouTube user Wutpink Sukanya.

"But I can not explain What happened was that the The phenomenal natural or caused by sea creatures swimming below the surface (sic)," they wrote.

The video has reportedly been sent to Seoul, South Korea, for analysis but the witness wrote they have already received some criticism from sceptics.

It's not certain whether the underwater vortex was caused by a living creature or a sinkhole somewhere deep below the surface.

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Wall Street takes offense at consumers' failure to follow orders and spend, spend, spend

Last week the government reported personal income and spending for April. After months of blaming non-existent consumer spending on cold weather, shockingly occurring during the Winter, the captured mainstream media pundits, Ivy League educated Wall Street economist lackeys, and Keynesian loving money printers at the Fed have run out of propaganda to explain why Americans are not spending money they don't have. The corporate mainstream media is now visibly angry with the American people for not doing what the Ivy League propagated Keynesian academic models say they should be doing.

The ultimate mouthpiece for the banking cabal, Jon Hilsenrath, who does the bidding of the Federal Reserve at the Rupert Murdoch owned Wall Street Journal, wrote an arrogant, condescending, putrid diatribe, directed at the middle class victims of Wall Street banker criminality and Federal Reserve acquiescence to the vested corporate interests that run this country. Here are the more disgusting portions of his denunciation of the formerly middle class working people of America.

We know you experienced a terrible shock when Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008 and your employer responded by firing you.

We also know you shouldn't have taken out that large second mortgage during the housing boom to fix up your kitchen with granite counter-tops.

You should feel lucky you're not a Greek consumer.

Fed officials want to start raising the cost of your borrowing because they worry they've been giving you a free ride for too long with zero interest rates.

We listen to Fed officials all of the time here at The Wall Street Journal, and they just can't figure you out.

Please let us know the problem.

The Wall Street Journal was swamped with thousands of angry responses from irate real people living in the real world, not the elite, QE enriched, oligarchs living in Manhattan penthouses, mansions on the Hamptons, or luxury condos in Washington, D.C. Hilsenrath presumes to know how the average American has been impacted by the criminal actions of sycophantic Ivy League educated central bankers and their avaricious Wall Street owners.

He thinks millions of Americans losing their jobs and their homes due to the largest control fraud in financial history is fodder for a tongue in cheek harangue, blaming the victims for the crime. Hilsenrath reveals he is nothing but a Fed flunky who is fed whatever message they want the plebs to hear. His job is to obscure, obfuscate, spread disinformation, and launch Fed trial balloons to see whether the ignorant masses are still asleep. The Fed and their owners can't understand why their propaganda hasn't convinced the peasantry to follow orders.

A system built upon an exponential increase in debt, cannot be sustained if the masses stop buying Range Rovers, McMansions, stainless steel appliances, 72 inch HDTVs, iGadgets, bling, and boob jobs on credit. His letter to America reeks of desperation. The Fed and their minions have used every play in their Keynesian monetary playbook, and are losing the game in a blowout. With a deflationary depression beginning to accelerate, they have no game.

Despairing mothers, unemployed fathers, impoverished grandmothers, and indebted young people are supposed to feel lucky because they aren't starving to death like the wretched Greeks. We do have one thing in common with the Greeks. We've both been screwed over by bankers and corrupt politicians. Did you know you've been given a free ride by your friends at the Federal Reserve? Did you know that zero interest rates and $3.5 trillion of Quantitative Easing (aka money printing) were implemented to benefit you? According to Hilsenrath, the Fed lending money at 0.25% to their Wall Street bank owners, who then allow you to borrow from them at 15% on your credit card, represents a free ride for you. Are the subprime auto loan borrowers, who account for 30% of all auto sales, paying 13% interest getting a free ride?

Hilsenrath is purposefully lying. Bernanke and Yellen have been saying they want to start raising interest rates for the last four years. Remember the 6.5% unemployment rate bogey set by Bernanke in January 2013? Unemployment dropped below 6.5% in early 2014 on its way to 5.5% today. Did they raise rates? In 2013 we had two consecutive quarters of 4% GDP growth, with no Fed rate increase. In 2014 we had two consecutive quarters of 4.8% GDP growth, with no Fed rate increase. We have added ten million jobs and the stock market has tripled since 2009, with no Fed rate increase.

We are supposedly in the sixth year of an economic recovery and the Fed is still keeping the discount rate at a Lehman "world is ending" emergency level of .25%. Six years after the last recession the discount rate was 5.25%. The last time the unemployment rate was this low the discount rate was 4%. The only ones getting a free ride from the Fed's zero interest rate policy and QE to infinity have been Wall Street banks, the .1% who live off the carcasses of the dying middle class, zombie corporations who should have gone bankrupt, and politicians who keep running up the national debt with no consequences - YET. The Federal Reserve is a blood sucking leech on the ass of America. Their cure has been far worse than the original illness - Wall Street criminality. In fact, their cure has been to reward the Wall Street criminals while spreading cancer to the working class and euthanizing senior citizens.

Hisenrath and his puppet masters at the Fed can't figure you out. For decades you have followed their orders and bought Chinese produced shit with one of your 13 credit cards. The Bernays' propaganda playbook has produced wins for the ruling class since the early 1980's. Their record is 864 - 0 versus the working class. Our entire warped economic system since the 1980's has been dependent upon an exponential increase in debt peddled by Wall Street to citizens, government and corporations to give the appearance of a growing, healthy economy.

An economy built upon the consumption of iGadgets, Cheetos, meat lovers stuffed crust pizza, and slave labor produced Chinese baubles, along with the production of enough arms to blow up the world ten times over, and the doling out of trillions to the non-productive class, is doomed to fail. Maybe I can explain the situation in such a way that even an Ivy League educated central banker or a Wall Street Journal faux journalist will understand.

Maybe Jon and his Fed cronies could be enlightened by a look at the American consumer before the bubble boys (Greenspan, Bernanke) and gals (Yellen) at the Fed, along with the corporate fascist takeover of our political system, and the propaganda spewing corporate media monopolies, combined to deform our financial and economic system for their sole enrichment. The lack of spending by consumers might just be due to some of the following factors:

  • Back in 1980 income meant money earned through working, investing, and saving. The amount of personal income made up of wages totaled 60% in 1980. Today it totals 51%. Interest earned on savings accounted for 14% in 1980. Today it accounts for 8%, as the Fed has punished seniors and savers with negative real interest rates. Since 2009 the Fed has robbed over $1 trillion in interest income from seniors and savers with their zero interest rate policy and handed it to the Wall Street banking cabal. Bernanke didn't just throw seniors under the bus, he ran them over, backed up over them, and ran them over again.
  • In a shocking development, government welfare transfers accounted for 11% of total personal income in 1980 and have risen to 17% today. Only the government could classify money which has been absconded at gunpoint from working Americans in the form of taxes and redistributed back to other Americans as welfare payments, as personal income. If you take money from your left pocket and put it in your right pocket, is that income? The replacement of wages and interest by welfare redistribution payments has not benefited society whatsoever.
  • In 1980 consumer credit outstanding as a percentage of personal income totaled 15%. Today it totals 22%, an all-time high. It is higher than the bubble peak in 2007-2008. Real per capita disposable income has only risen by 88% over the last 35 years. Meanwhile, real per capita consumer debt has risen by 288%. Wages and earnings from saving have been replaced by debt. The propagandists for consumerism have convinced the ignorant masses to spend money they don't have, while pretending to be wealthier and successful. Consumer debt currently stands at a towering all-time high of $3.4 trillion, almost ten times the $350 billion level in 1980. Hilsenrath and the Fed are upset with you because credit card debt still lingers $122 billion, or 12% below 2008 levels. It has forced them to dole out $900 billion of government controlled subprime debt to University of Phoenix wannabes and any deadbeat that can scratch an X on an auto loan application. The U.S. economic system is like a Great White Shark that must keep swimming or it will die. The Federal Reserve run U.S. economic system must keep generating debt or it will die. They are growing desperate and you are not following orders.
  • Before the grand debt delusion overtook the populace, they were saving 11% of their disposable personal income. In 1980, Depression era adults still believed in saving for large purchases such as a house, car, appliance or home improvement. The young adult Boomers didn't have the same experiential deterrent. They were convinced by the Wall Street debt peddlers, Madison Avenue maggots, and corrupt politicians that saving was for suckers. Live for today, for tomorrow may never come. Well tomorrow did come. Boomers are entering their retirement years with $12,000 in retirement savings, while still in debt up to their eyeballs. There have been 10,000 Boomers turning 65 every day since 2010. This will continue unabated through 2029. This demographic certainty was already depressing consumer spending, as this age demographic spends far less than 25 to 54 year olds. Factor in the pitiful amount of savings and you have an ongoing spending implosion.
  • The propaganda machine was so well oiled, the savings rate actually reached 1.9% in 2005, as the masses all believed they would live luxurious retirements off their home equity windfall. How'd that delusion work out? The current level of 5.6% is seen as troublesome by the powers that be. They cannot accept the crazy concept of saving and investment when their entire warped paradigm is built upon borrowing and consumption. Banks don't make money when you save and they despise when you use cash. They can't sustain their opulent lifestyles without their 3% VIG on every electronic transaction, 15% compounded interest on the $5,000 average credit card balance, billions in late fees for being one day late with your payment, $4 on every ATM transaction, and the myriad of other fees and surcharges designed to bilk you and keep you from saving. The saving rate will continue to climb as people have no choice to make up for years of living beyond their means.
  • Hilsenrath is willfully ignorant as he pretends to not understand why the American people will not or cannot accelerate their spending. It is really quite simple. Even a PhD should be able to understand. Real median household income was $52,300 in 1989. Real median household income today is $51,939. The median household has made no economic advancement in the last quarter of a century. And this is using the manipulated lower CPI figure. Using a true inflation rate would show a dramatic decline over the last 25 years. There has been virtually no wage growth during this supposed six year recovery. The industrial base of the country has been gutted, except for the production of arms to blow up brown people in the Middle East. Young people have $1.3 trillion of student loan debt weighing them like an anchor, and those Ruby Tuesday waitress jobs and Home Depot cashier jobs aren't going to cut it.
  • So we have the demographic dilemma of aging, under-saved, over-indebted Boomers who are being forced to spend less. We have an over-indebted, under-employed youth who don't have anything to spend. And lastly we have the 25 to 54 year old age bracket who should be in their prime earning and spending years who are still 4 million jobs short of where they were in 2007 before the Fed induced financial collapse. The only age bracket to gain jobs since the crisis has been 55 to 69, as they have been forced to work to make up for their lost interest income. The only people making job gains are those least likely to spend.
  • The spending crescendo in 2004 through 2007 was fueled by the Greenspan housing bubble and the $3 trillion of mortgage equity withdrawal used to buy BMWs, in-ground Olympic size pools, Jacuzzis, vacations to Tahiti, home theaters, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, and boob jobs, by delusional, apparently brain dead Americans who fell for the Bernaysian propaganda spewed by the Wall Street criminal class, hook line and sinker. The majority of shell shocked underwater home owners have been unable to sell since the housing crash. A 35% price decline will do that. The Fed has created $3.5 trillion out of thin air, more than quadrupled their balance sheet with toxic mortgages from Wall Street, artificially suppressed interest rates to bring mortgage rates to record lows, and was a co-conspirator along with Fannie, Freddie, FHA, and Wall Street hedge funds (Blackrock) to delay foreclosure sales and pump home prices with their buy and rent scheme. The result has been unaffordably high prices, mortgage applications at 1997 levels (60% below 2005 levels), first time buyers at a record low, and a non-existent housing recovery - despite the MSM propaganda saying otherwise.
  • The last data point which might help the math challenged Hilsenrath understand why you aren't spending is total U.S. vehicle miles driven. The chart below shows a relentless climb from 1982 through to the 2008 collapse. It coincides with the debt fueled consumption orgy over this same time frame. The unrelenting expansion of retail outlets and importing of cheap Chinese crap required a lot of trucks to haul the crap. It required a lot of trips to the mall in the minivans and SUVs by soccer moms living in our suburban sprawl paradise. In case you hadn't noticed, the fastest growing retailer in the U.S. since 2008 has been Space Available. The well run retailers like Home Depot and Wal-Mart saw the writing on the wall and stopped expanding. The badly run retailers like Sears and JC Penney have been closing hundreds of stores. And the really badly run retailers like Radio Shack have gone bankrupt. Vehicle miles have essentially flat-lined for the last six years as retailers are closing more stores than they are opening, job growth has been non-existent and commerce within the U.S. is stagnant. If we were experiencing a real economic recovery, vehicle miles would be surging.
So this concludes my little tutorial for the Ivy League educated central bankers at the Fed and the Wall Street Journal Fed mouthpiece - Jon "I don't understand" Hilsenrath. I know it is difficult for people to understand something when their paycheck depends upon them not understanding it, but this is pretty simple stuff. Pompous, arrogant, egocentric assholes who write for the Wall Street Journal, run JP Morgan, or control monetary policy for the world, know exactly what they have done, what they are doing, and who is benefiting. We all know the benefits of ZIRP and QE have gone only to the .1% who run the show. We know income inequality is at all-time highs. We know TPP will be passed, because the corporate fascists control the purse strings of our political class. We know the status quo will be maintained at all costs by the Deep State.

We know mega-corporations continue to ship jobs overseas and replace us with cheap foreign labor. We know the current administration actively encourages illegals to pour over our borders, swamp our social safety net, increase crime, and take jobs from Americans. We know the government has us under mass surveillance and will not hesitate to use all of that military equipment in the hands of local police against us. The will of the people is nothing but an irritant to those in power. They might not have us figured out, but a growing number of critical thinking, increasingly pissed off people, have them figured out. The debt expansion days are numbered. A deflationary depression is in the offing. The coming civil strife, financial panic, war, and overthrow of the existing social order will rival the three previous tumultuous upheavals in U.S. history - American Revolution, Civil War, Great Depression/World War II. Fourth Turnings are a bitch.

Hopefully I've explained the situation to the satisfaction of Jon and Janet. The mood in this country is darkening by the day. There is no going back to the good old days of yesteryear. They are long gone. No amount of debt issuance and propaganda is going to work. The system is overloaded. The people are angry. The politicians are captured. The banking elite are ransacking the nation for every last dime they can get their grubby little hands on. The military industrial complex is itching for war with Russia and China. The world hates us. If you can't see it coming, you are either blind, dumb, or an Ivy League educated economist. So go out and spend to make your slave owners happy.

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The American Medical Association just voted to end personal vaccination exemptions


© luckyraccoon/Shutterstock

The American Medical Association, the country's largest association of physicians, is weighing in on the vaccination debate by supporting the end of personal vaccination exemptions on both the state and federal levels.

At the group's annual meeting in Chicago on Monday, members voted to mobilize the organization in order to persuade state legislatures to eliminate nonmedical reasons for exemption, such as religion, which are used to dodge crucial immunizations against diseases such as measles and whooping cough.

"As evident from the recent measles outbreak at Disneyland, protecting community health in today's mobile society requires that policymakers not permit individuals from opting out of immunization solely as a matter of personal preference or convenience," said board member Dr. Patrice Harris, according to "When people are immunized they also help prevent the spread of disease to others."

Last December, 117 people who had visited Disneyland in Orange County, California were infected with the highly contagious disease. Other states also reported outbreaks and an old debate about the safety of vaccines was revived.
At the time, the right to personal exemptions quickly became a lightening rod of controversy that even extended to potential presidential candidates who were asked for their position in the vaccine debate. Senator Rand Paul said vaccinations should be voluntary and suggested immunization could even lead to "profound mental disorders." Hillary Clinton took a firmer stance than she had in previous years by supporting vaccinations outright.

Although the debate has died down in recent months on the national scale, on the state level vaccination remains a contentious issue. Today in California, where the measles outbreak began, the state's assembly will vote on a bill to end personal waivers.

"It's such a no brainer. You're protecting the kid next to you," said AMA member Dr. James Felsen.

US politicians use "Rent a Crowd" company to give illusion of support

© The Rundown Live

Have you ever wondered how a politician disliked by most could fill a room with screaming supporters giving the perception they have your local communities support?

Look no further than a company called "Crowds on Demand", a company who hires multi-talented actors who are experts of improvisational theatre to provide the illusion of support for a candidate. Nothing draws a crowd, like a crowd.

The company who has provided its services for athletes, artists and fashion people has recently admitted to providing services for both Republican and Democrat candidates.

Ceo and founder Adam Swart was emailed a few questions about his services by activist Ian Cioffi. The company owner was asked if his system is proven to work in U.S. politics?

Swart claimed, he has done work for "dozens of candidates in the US primarily but not exclusively Republican. Mostly they are candidates who suffer from lack of enthusiasm/turnout at rallies and in need of a 'game change' (sorry, that's a loaded term now!). The candidates have been primarily congressional/senate candidates. We've only worked with one (serious) presidential candidate thus far.".

So what other benefits could a company of this magnitude offer?

Adam went on to express that they could even go miles further with their expertise and can give a sense of legitimacy for the candidate.

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"I have found our approach has led to increased poll numbers and, in many case made the margin of victory for a few reasons: A) Photo-ops at rallies. Having a diverse group of people (race/gender/age) around the candidate is critical especially for those who are constantly followed by reporters but even for those who only get a couple pieces per day. B) Enthusiastic crowds bring more media attention and shift the narrative onto grassroots supporters. Press always want to understand why people support candidate x or candidate y.

Giving them great footage of enthusiastic supporters speaking about their love for the candidate provides great quotations C) Gives a sense of legitimacy for the candidate among their existing supporters. When they see lots of enthusiastic folks at rallies, they feel like they're backing the right horse. D) Bolsters the candidates' self-confidence. Some candidates knew about the paid crowds and other times we have been hired by outside organizations. In both cases, seeing more supporters gave them the confidence to up their game on stage."

When the founder of Crowds on Demand was asked "what reassurances do you offer that the crowd does not leak the fact that they were paid to arrive?"

Swart responded in an email that "We have all crowd members sign binding non-disclosure agreements. Our crowd members work for us on a regular basis and understand we value discretion given the sensitive nature of the business. The 'leak' issue has only happened on one occasion over the past three years. "

Adam Swart believes he is just making fame into a business. He touts that 10 of my guys are more effective than a 100 bodies in a recent interview.

When asked if his business is disingenuous or fake on the speaking on wealth podcast, he responded that "what we do is get people to pay attention to your event, to your product, no ones gonna say they are going to love it, but ordinarily there are many potentially talented artists who we work with, talented fashion people, talented athletes...".

So next time you go to a political rally and see fans so undeniably in love with a candidate with no rational reason, ask yourself is this person being paid to be here? Are you supporting a fake politician?

Bitcoin Spikes As Greeks Follow Cyprus "Template"

In March/April 2013, Bitcoin prices started to soar as Dijsselbloem's "template" applied toCyprus prompted many to rethink money entirely. As the reality of a possible Grexit looms and Capital Controls are denied (just as they were in Cyprus), so Bitcoin prices are once again surging (up 10% in the last few days) as non-fiat currency once again becomes bid.

Cyprus... 2013


Greece... 2015


As we noted in 2013, what is really driving this surge in demand for a different kind of 'money' is thewholesale loss of faith in the status quo - nowhere is this clearer than in the words and actions of the people of Cyprus capturing the thoughts and feelings of ordinary Cypriots after their bank accounts were frozen...

"Nothing has started yet... everything is going to fall down like dominoes because people don't trust the banks."

Coming to a Greek TV station near you soon.

Source: Bitcoinwisdom 

Thousands of tiny red crabs continue to wash up on California beaches


© Credit: KTLA
Thousands of dead or dying red crabs washed up onto the sand at Huntington Beach on June 15, 2015.

Thousands of small crabs native to the waters off Baja California have washed up on beaches in Orange and San Diego counties, coating the sand in a spiky layer of red.

The crustaceans — Pleuroncodes planipes, known as red crabs, or tuna crabs — began appearing in great numbers last week. Out of the water, they become stranded and typically perish, leaving their bodies to decay on the beach.

The crabs were first reported in San Diego and then ventured up the coast, with thousands appearing as far north as Huntington Beach on Sunday. They were also reported in Newport Beach in January, according to the

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About 1 to 3 inches in length, the crabs look like small lobsters. They often appear in El Niño years, prompted to venture north by warmer Pacific Ocean currents.

The crabs travel in dense schools in the spring and sometimes wash ashore, the San Pedro-based Southern California Marine Institute's director told the .

They appeared in the late 1990s locally and then several years later in the Channel Islands, the reported.

"They often hang around with tuna, and tuna love to eat them," Charina Layman, education manager of La Jolla's Birch Aquarium, told KFMB. "We see this occur every few years, and right now the water is a little bit warmer off our coast."

A park ranger at Doheny State Beach said the water temperature on Sunday was 72 degrees.

Orange County lifeguards were asking people not to touch or take the crabs from marine protected areas, the reported.

Weekend beachgoers, meanwhile, were posting photos of the striking invasion to social media.

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Starfish are capable of ejecting foreign objects from their bodies to quickly heal themselves

© University of Southern Denmark
A starfish squeezes a foreign body through its arm tip.

Starfish have strange talents. Two biology students from University of Southern Denmark have revealed that starfish are able to squeeze foreign bodies along the length of their body cavities and out through their arm tips. This newly discovered talent gives insight into how certain animals are able to quickly heal themselves.

The two biology students, Frederik Ekholm Gaardsted Christensen and Trine Bottos Olsen have discovered a starfish behaviour that has never previously been described in the scientific literature. As part of their studies they were asked to tag some starfish (), so that researchers could reidentify and study the starfish. The tags were injected into the starfish, as a veterinarian tags a dog or cat.

"But every time we put a tag into a starfish, they rid themselves of the tag within a few days. It came out directly through the skin; the starfish simply pushed it out through the skin at the end of one arm and then went on as if nothing had happened", the two students explain.

Many organisms are capable of removing some foreign objects from their body. Think of a splinter that can be pushed out of a finger by itself. However, when the foreign object is lodged deep inside the organism, like a bullet between the internal organs, most organisms have no way to get rid of it without surgery.

The starfish do not attempt to push the tag out of the hole in the skin through which it was injected. Instead they let the tag wander seemingly randomly between the organs for a while, before they finally squeeze it out through an arm tip.

© University of Southern Denmark
Here, the foreign element has been squeezed completely out through the arm tip.

Starfish physiology differs in many respects from ours. They have an external skeleton and decentralized nervous system, and their eyes are placed on the end of each arm. But like us, they have a body cavity filled with organs, and it is through the body cavity that the tag moves before it reaches the tip of an arm, the researchers conclude.

Previous research has documented that starfish are able to regenerate whole limbs and organs, but this trick of ejecting deeply embeded foreign bodies has never before been demonstrated in any organism.

6.0 magnitude earthquake strikes off East Indonesia; no tsunami warning issued


© theextinctionprotocol.wordpress.com

An earthquake measuring 6.0 on the Richter scale jolted North Sulawesi province in the eastern part of Indonesia earlier Tuesday, but it was not potential for tsunami and left no casualties, an official said in Jakarta.The quake struck at 04:04 a.m. Jakarta time Tuesday with epicenter at 71 km northeast Sangihe Island of the province and with the depth at 71 km under seabed, an official of the Meteorology and Geophysics Agency told Xinhua over phone.

"The shakes of the quake were felt moderate. It was not potential to trigger tsunami and did not cause damage. The condition of the people is normal," Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman of the national disaster management agency told Xinhua via phone after the quake.

Previously at 00:40 a.m. Jakarta time Tuesday another quake measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale struck off East Nusa Tenggara province in central part of Indonesia, the official of the meteorology and geophysics agency said.

The quake was centered at 64 km southeast of the province and with the depth at 65 km under seabed, he said.

Sutopo also confirmed that the quake did not cause any damage.

Indonesia is prone to quake as it lies on a vulnerable quake- hit zone called "the Pacific Ring of Fire."

Truvia's deception: A highly processed GMO sweetener that contains only 5% stevia

If you're one of the people who was excited when the "natural" sweetener that was allegedly made from the stevia plant became more commonly available, I'm afraid I have some bad news for you.

All of that hype about the "new" zero-calorie Truvia? All the talk about how natural it is? That's just not true.

Incidentally, while the FDA has approved this bastardization of stevia, the actual leaf, where the active chemicals are found, is banned from sale as a food additive or sweetener and may only be sold as an "herbal supplement."

The Big Food/Big Agri Connection

There's a direct connection to Big Agri - Cargill, a privately held, multi-billion dollar corporation, was the driving force behind getting FDA approval of the sweetener, despite evidence that it might not actually be safe in its processed form. Cargill is also a major player in the meat industry (with all of its unspeakable feedlot horrors) and has been subject to numerous food safety recalls over the past few years due to contaminated meat. Cargill, that bastion of food safety, was the driving force behind the FDA's decision to switch the status of stevia from a "supplement" to a food that is "generally recognized as safe".

Cargill wasn't alone, however. Big Food joined forces, since diet soda sales have plummeted over the past 10 years. According to the Wall Street Journal, the sale of low-calorie soft drinks has declined by billions per year over the past decade, as consumers became aware of the potential risks of neurotoxic artificial sweeteners.

So, to combat those health concerns, Coca Cola produced Truvia and Pepsi produced PureVia. Now, I don't know about you, but I can't consume anything produced by either of those companies (both Coke and Pepsi lobbied fiercely against the labeling of GMOs) and delude myself into believing the product is healthy.

Decades ago, diet sodas were touted as a healthy way to have a refreshing beverage without expanding your waistline. Unfortunately, the zero-calorie beverages were anything but healthy, and many people have suffered ill effects from the consumption of those drinks. Even corporate-funded Fox News was forced to admit that diet sodas were detrimental to human health.

Enter Truvia, the cure for all of those diet soda ills. Because, it's !

Truvia is the second best-selling sugar substitute in the United States, most likely because the deceptive marketing is targeted at those who want to make healthier, less artificial choices. Remember how last week we discussed that Big Food isn't making very much money? This is just the next volley of propaganda in which Big Food attempts to deceive the public into believing their processed food-like substances are actually food. Sales of Truvia in 2014 exceeded $400 million.

But...Truvia is not actually "natural"

Not so fast. While it's true that the powdered stevia you get in the little packets is in part derived from a plant grown in Paraguay, it isn't just the plant you're getting. If it was just a powdered up plant, Coca Cola and Cargill wouldn't be able to hold the patents to make it, right?

Traditionally, a leaf from the stevia plant was dropped into a hot beverage to steep and lend its sweetness. But the current product that's being touted for its "natural sweetness" is a far cry from a leaf from the garden. (Despite how Cargill glosses over the heavy processing on the Truvia website.) In fact, Cargill had to settle a civil lawsuit a few years back because of their claims that the product was natural. The lawsuit forced them to put millions of dollars aside to settle future claims and they were required to put an asterisk on their tagline "Nature's calorie-free sweetener."

Nor is it actually mostly stevia...it's mostly derived from GMO corn

Truvia is actually made mostly of erythritol, a sugar alcohol derived from genetically modified corn. Only 5% of the compound is actually derived from the stevia plant.

Despite the fact that erythritol is made from corn, and most corn is GMO, the Truvia website provides the strangest dance of denial I've witnessed in quite some time. They seem to feel that since it's just derived from corn, then processed like crazy, that the origin of the corn has no bearing on the end product.

Here's what the website says, which sure sounds to me like GMO corn is used:

Does Truvía® natural sweetener contain GMO? Is it genetically modified? [Link]

No. Truvía® natural sweetener is not GMO, and does not contain any genetically modified ingredients. There are no known varieties of genetically modified stevia available anywhere in the world. The carrier for the intensely sweet stevia leaf extract is called erythritol. The erythritol used in Truvía® natural sweetener is produced by a yeast organism that is found in nature. The yeast ferments or digests dextrose and other nutrients. In other words, dextrose is the food for the yeast - much like corn may be food for a cow that produces meat or milk. The dextrose used as the feedstock for the yeast is a simple sugar that is derived from the starch component of U.S.-grown corn. Although genetically enhanced corn and non-transgenic corn are grown in the U.S. today, erythritol is not derived from corn and dextrose feedstock (just as milk is not derived from cattle feed); it is derived from the yeast organism. Erythritol is not genetically modified, and does not contain any genetically modified proteins.

Do you use GMO corn to produce the erythritol used in Truvía®natural sweetener? [Link]

The erythritol used in Truvía® natural sweetener is produced by a yeast organism that is found in nature. The yeast "ferments" or "digests" dextrose and other nutrients. Dextrose is the food for the yeast - much like corn may be food for a cow that produces meat or milk. The dextrose is derived from the starch component of U.S.-grown corn. Both GM corn and non-GM corn are grown in the U.S. today. Cargill does not segregate the corn used to manufacture the dextrose used in the erythritol process.

Why is Truvía® natural sweetener non-GMO if you use GMO corn?[Link]

Erythritol is not made from corn or dextrose (just as milk is not made from cattle feed); erythritol is made from a yeast organism that eats the dextrose for food. Erythritol itself is not derived from a genetically modified source, and does not contain any genetically modified proteins.

Here's how Truvia is made

Truvia contains 3 ingredients: Erythritol, Rebiana, and natural flavors.


We talked about erythritol and it's genetically modified origins above. This ingredient makes up 95-99% of the "natural sweetener." Straight from the Cargill website, here's how erythritol is made:

Erythritol is the first polyol to be manufactured on a commercial scale by a fermentation process. The starting material is a simple sugar-rich substrate which is fermented by a yeast like fungus to yield erythritol.

The product is then crystallized to 99.5 percent purity from the filtered and concentrated fermentation broth.


Rebiana (chemical name rebaudioside A) makes up less than 1% of the little packet. Rebiana (also called Reb-A) is a substance that is derived from the stevia leaf, but is not actually stevia. Although Truvia's website says that Rebiana is retrieved from the stevia leaf by soaking it in water, the patent held by Coca Cola divulges that it actually takes 40 steps (!!!) to extract the desired molecule, steps that include the use of yummy stuff like acetone, methanol, ethanol, acetonitrile, and isopropanol.

Natural Flavoring

If you've been paying attention, you know that the term "natural flavoring" is so broad as to be without definition. Even MSG can be considered "natural" according to some, since it originates, far far back in the process, from yeast. Other types of natural additives are repugnant, so they hide the real origins behind that much-abused word, natural. (Read Natural Additives: Bugs, Hair, and Anal Secretions, Oh My for the full story on that meaningless ingredient listing.)So, really, this third ingredient could be anything.

A Dishonorable Mention Goes to Stevia in the Raw

Another deceptive product on the stevia bandwagon is Stevia in the Raw. It's also not really stevia -it's primary ingredients are dextrose and maltodextrin, both derived from corn, and both likely to be genetically modified. As well, maltodextrin often contains MSG, which doesn't have to be disclosed in the ingredients list.

The Conclusion? Truvia is NOT Stevia

Here's the long and the short of it: if you have a sweet tooth, you simply have to understand that sweet things have calories. Whether you decide to consume things that are sweet is entirely up to you, but a non-harmful, no-calorie sweetener is simply the stuff of fairy tales. Little packets of sweet substances without calories are, without exception, highly processed and often very harmful.

If you want to sweeten a beverage with stevia, your very best bet is to make like the folks in Paraguay and steep a leaf of it in your beverage. (You can get organic stevia leaves HERE, or you can grow it yourself.) The second best option is a pure extract like this one.

Truvia, for all its gushing propaganda, contains less than 5% of anything even derived from the stevia plant, much less actual stevia.

Washington's Puget Sound skies dotted with 'fire rainbows'


© Jen Brazas

The thin, wispy clouds floating around the Puget Sound region Monday usually do nothing more than give the blue skies a little bit of character.

But today, they were giving the skies a little bit of color.


© Brian Willard Roetger

We had a number of reports of rainbow arcs in the sky -- both in a circular halo around the sun and just lighting up some clouds near the horizon -- a circumhorizontal arc, otherwise known informally as "fire rainbows."

They're both caused by the same thing -- those thin clouds are made of tiny ice crystals that at a certain angle to the sun will refract the sunlight like a prism. The type of arc they create are based on cloud position and shape of ice crystal -- and we had two rather common ones Monday.


© Krystie Baker

The sun halos, like these captured by @zargoman, can happen year round:

© @Zargoman

The circumhorizontal arcs only happen near the summer solstice near solar noon as the sun has to reach a certain height above the horizon for the angles to work. Sure enough, this arc was seen by Bob Hutchins around lunchtime near Boeing Field:

© Bob Hutchins

Many times these can be signals of approaching rain, as cirrus clouds like these will frequently precede a cold front. But not in this case, they're just some fair weather clouds passing through and no rain is in the forecast for at least the next few days.

So much for food safety: Each week products are found contaminated with allergens, pathogens, particulate matter

One of the clear and present dangers in having such a highly industrialized, highly centralized food system in this country (a system where a whopping 96% of everyone relies on the other 4% for their food) is contamination. Our food is so centralized now that 10 megacorporations essentially own and produce all the brands you see on your grocery store shelf.

In short, it ain't like your mom's mom's mom used to make.

So in a typical week, several products are found contaminated with everything from undeclared major allergens to potentially fatal food-borne pathogens to "particulate matter". You never know what you're gonna get.

In just the last few days, these things have been recalled (via the FDA's recall page and the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service FSIS):

June 12, 2015 - Larry's Custom Meats Inc., a Hartwick, N.Y. establishment, is recalling approximately 529 pounds of beef tongue products that may have been shipped with lingual tonsils still attached, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

June 10, 2015 - Walgreen Co. of Deerfield, IL is recalling Nice! Powdered Sugar Mini Donuts, because it has received consumer complaints alleging that mold was observed on some products.

June 10, 2015 - Vitamin Cottage Natural Food Markets Inc., a Lakewood, Colo., based natural grocery chain, is recalling additional lots of Natural Grocers brand Macadamia Nuts as the product has the potential to be contaminated with , an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.

June 10, 2015 - A Wisconsin firm is voluntarily recalling its potato salad, due to the possibility of Listeria monocytogenes contamination. The product was distributed to Jewel stores in the Chicago area and may have been sold at delicatessen counters between May 30 and June 9 under the brand name Garden Fresh Steakhouse Potato Salad.

June 9, 2015 - Big Easy Foods Louisiana Cuisine, Inc., a Lake Charles, La. establishment, is recalling approximately 93,006 pounds of both raw and cooked stuffed chicken product due to misbranding and an undeclared allergen, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today. The product contains wheat, a known allergen which is not declared on the product label.

Too bad for all those Celiacs and gluten intolerant people. Or, if you ate what's listed below, you wouldn't even now what you actually ate.

June 6, 2015 - Benedetti Farms, Inc., a Sonoma, Calif. establishment, is recalling approximately 11,670 pounds of chicken and turkey sausage products due to misbranding, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today. The chicken and turkey sausages were wrapped in hog and sheep casings that were not listed on the labels. Hog and sheep casings may elicit allergic reactions in the rare cases of individuals known to be allergic to pork or sheep proteins.

This one below was just updated June 5, 2015 to a total of nearly 600,000 pounds of recalled meat that was processed without any inspection using another facility's mark of inspection to make consumers think the meat was inspected when it wasn't:

May 20, 2015 - LQNN, Inc., a Garden Grove, Calif. firm, added additional poundage to the recalled products list, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today. The added products should have been part of the original 213,192 pounds of chicken, beef and pork products that were recalled on May 20, 2015. The new total recalled poundage is 598,374 pounds. The products which were moved and sold in commerce included the unapproved use of another facility's mark of inspection, which has been identified as Establishment number 18995. LQNN, Inc., operating as Lee's Sandwiches, has been processing products from federally-inspected establishments and re-packaging them without the benefit of inspection. Products produced without inspection present potential of increased human health risk.

June 4, 2015 - Santa Barbara Smokehouse of Santa Barbara, CA is voluntarily recalling all smoked salmon EXCLUDING HOT SMOKED SALMON from March 1st to April 8th 2015, because it has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

In addition, the CDC is reporting that unopened frozen ground tuna products found two types of salmonella: salmonella newport in one, and salmonella weltevreden in another.

Via Food Safety News:

The unopened frozen ground tuna products represented two different lots of product imported from Indonesia by Osamu Corporation of Gardena, CA, CDC stated. On May 27, Osamu Corporation recalled the two lots of ground frozen yellowfin tuna imported from Indonesia and distributed in California and Arizona due to possible Salmonellacontamination.

The company's recall announcement includes a seven-page retail distribution list of restaurants and sushi bars in California where the recalled product had been distributed. CDC is advising restaurants and retailers not to sell or serve the recalled ground frozen yellowfin tuna imported from Indonesia by Osamu Corporation.

In another frightening twist, Food Safety News also reported another recall on June 12 I did not find on the FSIS or FDA websites:

Shirks Meats of Dundee, NY, is recalling "Smoked Andouille Sausage" due to Listeria monocytogenes contamination. No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this problem.

The recalled in-store packed "Smoked Andouille Sausage" comes in a clear plastic package with a date of 6-5-15 on it. Package sizes varied from 9-12 ounces. The "Smoked Andouille Sausage" was sold only from the retail location at 4342 John Green Rd. in Dundee, NY.

To find all that out took three different government agencies and a food safety news website: the FDA, the USDA, the CDC, and Food Safety News. This is just a few days in America's food system, just a snapshot. Can you imagine trying to keep up with this on a constant basis?

I'm not telling you all this just to scare you. I'm putting all this information in one place so people can see just how screwed up our food system is. This is just what we know about. This is just what has come to the surface.

Beyond being lied to about our food on its packaging - everything from not being told if our food is genetically modified to the entirely misleading names on ingredient lists - practically every day or two, something horridly wrong is found with our food that could potentially damage or even kill us if we eat it.

This is a place where people need to start taking their power back. This is a place where buying local matters the most. Otherwise, how are you ever really going to know what's in your food? What's on your dinner plate? What's on the end of your fork?

Food used to just be food. Now it's an industrialized battleground where we misplace a lot of our trust in corporations much more interested in bottom lines than human beings.

House-shaking mammoth bang baffles Auckland residents (again)


© File photo/NZ Herald
The mysterious sound was heard in the Auckland suburbs of Onehunga and Mangere Bridge on Sunday night.

A house-shaking explosion noise has baffled Auckland residents.

The mammoth bang was heard by residents in the suburbs of Onehunga and Mangere Bridge about 10.30pm on Sunday. One reader who wrote in to the said they could feel the house shake.
The scary noise sounded "super sonic" and no one knew what it was, the woman said.

Residents turned to Twitter to find the source of the mysterious noise - but no clues have turned up yet. Dean Taylor tweeted: "What was that Big Bang in Onehunga just now?" Twitter user Peter Tainui said it might have been related to the mystery bang or explosion heard in the same area a couple of weeks ago. "What/who the hell is the cause?" he asked.

Another loud bang stumped residents in the Onehunga, Three Kings, Mt Roskill, Epsom and Mt Albert area on May 30. One Twitter user at the time said it sounded like a loud boom, thunder or an explosion.

A series of mysterious explosion noises were also reported across Auckland in June 2014, which turned out to be Defence Force training exercise at the Kaipara Bomb Range. New Zealand Defence Force spokesman Geoff Davies said the noise did not come from the organisation. He said the Defence Force had not received any calls about the noise.

An Auckland Council spokeswoman said there was no known record of calls about the bang on Sunday night.

Another loud bang was reported by central Auckland residents in May when a power line worker was injured in a substation accident, cutting power to homes. But there was no power outages or incidents on Sunday night, Vector spokeswoman Sandy Hodge said. The company had "a really quiet weekend", she said.

South Front Crisis News 16 June: Kurds retake Tal Abyad, U.S. warplanes strike Iraqi army

Syria's Kurdish forces have taken control the strategic northern border town of Tal Abyad in Raqqa province from Islamic State militants UK-based Syrian Observatory of Human Rights reported on Monday. Some 40 terrorists were killed as they fled the town after the Kurdish People's Protection Units advanced into the city, the monitoring group added.

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Fighter jets of the US-led coalition once again struck the Iraqi forces in the Western province of Anbar on Saturday. The US-led coalition warplanes hit a position of the Iraqi army in Anbar province. We remember, in early June, the US-led coalition warplanes hit the bases of Iraqi army's Hezbollah battalions in Fallujah in Anbar province, killing 6 soldiers and injuring 8 others. Indeed, The US has constantly struck the popular forces' positions in different parts of Iraq. Meanwhile, Head of Iraqi Parliament's National Security and Defense Committee Hakem al-Zameli also disclosed that the anti-ISIL coalition's planes have dropped weapons and foodstuff for the ISIL in Salahuddin, Al-Anbar and Diyala provinces.

Alexei Miroshnichenko and Yuri Miroshnichenko, the former stating that he had worked in the Foreign Intelligence Service and the latter that he had worked in Ukraine's embassy in France, declared their unwillingness to continue working for Kiev, saying that they could no longer tolerate what was happening to their country. "We can no longer put up with what is happening in Ukraine. Traitors, fascists, various intelligence agents have taken up the reins of the country, and are leading it to ruin." the brothers stated at press conference on Monday. The brothers added that most part of Ukrainian Special Services and politician are controlled by US Special Services.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Armed Forces is presently consolidating their positions, preparing for an offensive, and deliberately provoking Lugansk and Donetsk militia to return fire, in order to blame them for violating the truce. Only according to reports from DPR the Ukrainian Armed Forces have violated the ceasefire regime 191 times over the past 24 hours.

15 June Military Report

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TTIP talks and industry pressure caused EU bureaucrats to cancel pesticide bans

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Using the argument of the top secret Trans-Atlanic Trade and Investment Partnership talks, as well as enormous reported lobbying pressure from such chemical giants as Bayer AG and BASF as their excuse, the EU Commission has quietly abandoned plans for tighter safety regulations on pesticides. This is no minor bureaucratic issue. The health and safety of hundreds of millions of people in the EU are at risk to say nothing of animals, birds and insects, and nature at all.

Way back in 1999, sixteen years ago, the EU Commission began to look at possible health dangers from a class of chemical pesticides known as endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). Until now, tragically, nothing has been done by Brussels to safeguard the health and safety of her citizens based on the "precautionary principle," otherwise stated, if it might harm, there is evidence it does, and you cannot be more precise, ban it until you are absolutely certain, whether GMO crops and glyphosate herbicide Roundup or ECDs or DDT.

Scientists link ECD exposure, even in low doses, to a rise in foetal abnormalities, genital mutations, lowered sperm counts, genital malformations, non-descended testes, misplaced penis holes, infertility, cancer and even to IQ loss. One recent study by the Washington University School of Medicine linked 15 EDCs found in plastics, personal care products, cosmetics and many household items, to early onset of menopause.

There is an estimated health cost in the EU of between €157 to perhaps €270 billion annually dealing with the health damage from EDC exposure. Endocrine disruptors can be found in food containers, plastics, furniture, toys, carpeting and cosmetics. Professor Philippe Grandjean of Harvard University, one of a group of 18 of the world's foremost experts on endocrine science scientists which did a study on effects of endocrine disruptors remarked, "The shocking thing is that the major component of that cost is related to the loss of brain function in the next generation."

Scientists recommend against pregnant women and children using plastic containers for food, especially in the microwave due to endocrine disruptors.

Based on such scientific studies, the EU had prepared a list of 31 endocrine-disrupting chemicals that were to be completely banned in 2014. More and more scientific studies had documented that the ECDs produce toxic effects in extremely low doses and are not suitable to regulate intensity of exposures but require a complete ban.

Angeliki Lyssimachou, environmental toxicologist with Pesticides Action Network-Europe (PAN), said: "If the draft 'cut-off' criteria proposed by the commission had been applied correctly, 31 pesticides would have been banned by now, fulfilling the mandate of the pesticide regulation to protect humans and the environment from low-level chronic endocrine disrupting pesticide exposure."

Instead, now the EU favors industry-supported options for "potency-based" measurements of EDCs. These would set thresholds, below which exposure to low-potency EDCs would be deemed safe, even if no comprehensive testing for longer-term effects on humans had been conducted.

Chemical Industry wins over our Health, Safety

Apparently the interests of international trade in toxic substances were deemed more important by the opaque, unelected, faceless bureaucrats in the Brussels EU Commission who have such enormous anonymous power over our daily lives, so far away from democratic checks and balances.

The key faceless one who killed the proposed ban now gets a face. Her name is Catherine Day. She sits next to EU President Jean Claude Junker and arguably wields more power as Secretary General current Secretary-General of the European Commission, a post she has held for ten years and two presidents.

Secretary-General of the European Commission Catherine Day

Day, the Irish-born Secretary-General, according to EU documents obtained by the UK Guardian that are just now made public, cancelled the planned EDC ban on 2 July 2013, only hours after a same day visit to Brussels by representatives of TTIP officials from the US Mission to Europe.

Secretary General Day, the same day, sent a letter to the Director General for Environment, Germany's Karl Falkenberg, telling him to abandon the draft criteria that would have banned EDCs on the prudent "precautionary principle" pending years of independent health and safety tests.

EU chemical industry giants such as Bayer AG and BASF were joining the American Chamber in the heavy Brussels lobby pressure to get the ban lifted.

In the weeks before 2 July 2013, the US TTIP committee of the American Chambers of Commerce in Washington sent a letter to the EU Commission before flying to Brussels where they stated, "We are worried to see that this decision [to ban-f.w.e.], which is the source of many scientific debates, might be taken on political grounds, without first assessing what its impacts will be on the European market." BASF also complained that bans on pesticide substances "will restrict the free trade with agricultural products on the global level."

The EU internal documents obtained by the reveal that a high-level delegation from the American Chambers of Commerce (AmCham) visited EU trade officials on 2 July, 2013 to insist that the EU drop its planned criteria for identifying EDCs in favor of a value new "impact study" that would leave EDCs untouched. They report that minutes of the meeting show EU Commission officials pleading that "although they want the TTIP to be successful, they would not like to be seen as lowering the EU standards."

Even were all proposed 31 EDCs banned as originally planned, the impact on chemical sales in the EU of perhaps annually €9 billion. Compare that with health costs arising from EDC exposures of as much as €270 billion annually.

When journalists requested the EU Commission to make public the background memos and discussions, a Commission spokesperson retorted, "The commission is under no obligation to publish internal working papers. As you know, the European commission acts in full independence and in the general European interest."

Excuse me, madam spokesperson, could you say that again, slowly? "As you know, the European commission acts in full independence and in the general European interest?"

Catherine Day, defending her killing of the ban, lied and stated that, "Needless to say, there is absolutely no truth in the allegation that our position was influenced by industry or anyone else. Our concern is only for the quality and coherence of the commission's work - but not everyone wants to wait for that." Coherently destructive to the population of the EU is her Commission's work, but that is why Brussels prefers to remain as faceless as possible.

We continue to let the EU unelected faceless immoral bureaucrats wield power over our health, our childrens' health, our very lives, whether allowing toxic GMOs or EDCs. We seem to be hypnotized by something that keeps us passive in the face of unbelievable actions clearly harmful to all of us. Isn't that interesting?

"New Eastern Outlook".