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After the collapse – Who will your neighbours be?

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by Brandon Smith
of Alt Market
Posted November 04, 2011

This article has been contributed by Brandon Smith of Alt Market, an organization that facilitates networking, local community action, and the exchange of knowledge and ideas and promotes decentralization, localism, and the de-globalization of human economic systems.

Dr. William Stockton celebrates yet another birthday surrounded by family and friends in the midst of a grand suburban paradise. The party is warm, and the evening is filled with joy and merriment. These people singing his praises, laughing and imbibing generous amounts of spirits, are neighbors he’s known for over 20 years. He understands them well, or at least, he thinks he does…

The good doctor, as his neighbors often point out with a jabbing chuckle, is a prepper; a brand of survivalist who participates in the day to day routine of mundane American life while using his spare time to safeguard against unforeseen disaster. His friends view this behavior as an amusing curiosity, an eccentric hobby, but none take it nearly as seriously as William does. It’s not that he is paranoid; far from it. In fact, William Stockton is a professional, a man of sense, and a man of family. He merely lives in an era of great potential danger, where nuclear war and societal collapse are anything but fantasy. Stockton takes these issues into account as an individual, and acts according to the severity of his environment. Much more than his neighbors, he represents legitimate rationality.

Unfortunately for the doctor, and for those who live around him, the days of wine and frosted cake are about to abruptly end as a Civil Defense emergency bulletin blares over the wire. The reality that today’s comforts could disappear in the blink of an eye sets into the minds of the frightened listeners. And soon, we begin to witness the TRUE character of those William once held dear.

This scenario might sound like a familiar consideration to many of us, but for now it remains the stuff of nighttime TV. So begins a rather prophetic and ingenious episode of The Twilight Zone entitled “The Shelter”…

The fascinating thing about “The Shelter” is that it is one of the few short stories showcased in The Twilight Zone (a science fiction program) which hasn’t a single element of science fiction within it. “The Shelter” is terrifying exactly because it is NOT a product of wild imagination, but a representation of social fact that cuts to the calcium rich bone of our culture, even 50 years after it aired on television.

The cold hard truth is, much of our country is completely unprepared for a crisis of any considerable proportion. While the 1950’s and 1960’s held the specter of immediate full scale nuclear war, and thus a highly persuasive incentive for preparedness, the new millennium has hardly been anything to sneeze at. Economic collapse is just as destructive to a nation as an atomic bomb, if not more so. The likelihood of social unrest and the long term implosion of our financial system is greater today than it has been in any other era of American history. So much so that even our currency may evaporate along with our standard of living. Those who prep today are acting in as much a logical fashion as those who built shelters during the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The knee jerk conclusion here by skeptics of the prepper lifestyle will be that the bunker owning citizens of the “red scare” days wasted their time. That obviously, there was no nuclear holocaust, and all their careful planning was for naught. Or why not bring up the media generated hysteria of Y2K, which played on the public’s utter lack of general knowledge concerning computers and U.S. infrastructure to inspire a widespread prepping panic? Did that farce not prove the absurdity of the survivalist mentality?

The answer is no, not really…

The eventuality of collapse is not the issue. Though America today has zero room to maneuver as far as inflationary printing and debt based spending are concerned, and economic instability is inevitable according to the fundamentals regardless of any practical or impractical political measures that could be introduced, the crisis is not our focus. Our focus is, and always has been, independence and self reliance regardless of the circumstances. Through national prosperity, or national pain, the key to survival is to never make assumptions. To never count on your environment to remain hospitable. To keep catastrophe in mind, even if others around you do not.

One vital aspect of survival that often goes unaccounted for by even the most astute preppers, however, is the issue of community. When the last vestiges of normal society crumble, will you be surrounded by friends, or foes? The difference is not always apparent, as Rod Serling noted in the brilliant episode of the Twilight Zone above. The question then arises; how do we know who to work with, who to trust, and when to keep our mouths shut?  When the going gets brutal, who will have the guts to stand firm, who will run, and who will stab us right in the back if they get the chance?

Being a prepper for some years myself, and working with a myriad of character types, I have found that certain personality signals and quirks should be addressed in those who live around you, or those you plan to associate with. Certain kinds of people can be pure poison for any survivalist or any organization striving for practical solutions to collapse. Look at your neighbors and your associates carefully and with some objectivity. Do they fit any of the below profiles a little too well…?

The Lemming

This person lives life to the fullest, which by their definition essentially means working 9 to 5 in a job they despise with co-employees they hate, going home to watch reruns of The Apprentice while drinking away the pain of inadequacy, and bathing in the warm oily coconut butter glow of mainstream news before sinking into their soft feather bed of political ineptitude and dreaming sensible dreams of cult-like consumerist mayhem.

This kind of neighbor will likely freak at even the most non-invasive philosophies. Mention of voting for third party candidates (or Ron Paul) draws googly eyed expressions of disbelief, as if you just broke wind at their dinner table. Conversations of possible economic collapse inspire in them reactions of either complete dismissal along with skeptical cackling, or shrugged shoulders and passive solutions. They buy into anyone who happens to be in a position of petty authority, and would jump into a septic tank filled with rusty nails if someone in an expensive suit or a white coat told them to.

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Federal Reserve policy mixed with extreme weather has put the world on a fast track to revolution and war

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by David DeGraw
of AmpedStatus
Posted August 25, 2011

THERE ARE MANY FACTORS THAT CLEARLY DEMONSTRATE WHY IT WOULD BE DISASTROUS for the Federal Reserve to repeat their vicious Quantitative Easing (QE) policy. If you want to know a significant reason why they cannot get away with another round of QE, here is an equation for you:

(Quantitative Easing + Extreme Weather = Revolution + World War III)

From the very beginning we knew that the Federal Reserve’s QE program was going to cause the cost of food to rise and the dollar to decline in value, and that these intended results would lead to an increase in poverty and civil unrest.

Are food prices approaching a violent tipping point?

A provocative new study suggests the timing of the Arab uprisings is linked to global food price spikes, and that prices will soon permanently be above the level which sparks conflicts. There is a specific food price level above which riots and unrest become far more likely. That figure is 210 on the UN FAO’s price index: the index is currently at 234, due to the most recent spike in prices which started in the middle of 2010 [coinciding with QE2].

Lastly, the researchers argue that current underlying food price trends – excluding the spikes – mean the index will be permanently over the 210 threshold within a year or two. The paper concludes: “The current [food price] problem transcends the specific national political crises to represent a global concern about vulnerable populations and social order.” Big trouble, in other words. The next part of the study identifies that the serious unrest in North Africa and the Middle East also correlates very closely with [the QE2] food price spike. Bar-Yam also notes: “Several of the initial riots in North Africa were identified in news stories as food riots.” From there, the researchers make their prediction of permanently passing the 210 threshold in 12-24 months.

In other words, if the Fed engages in another round of QE, the global unrest that they have already ignited will go hyperbolic. Before getting into the details on how the Fed deliberately made these food prices spike, let’s look at another new study, which also helps demonstrate the obvious, extreme weather is linked to war:

Climate cycles linked to civil war, analysis shows

Changes in the global climate that cut food production triggered one-fifth of civil conflicts between 1950 and 2004. Cyclical climatic changes double the risk of civil wars, with analysis showing that 50 of 250 conflicts between 1950 and 2004 were triggered by the El Niño cycle, according to scientists. El Niño brings hot and dry conditions to tropical nations and cuts food production, to outbreaks of violence in countries from southern Sudan to Indonesia and Peru.

Solomon Hsiang, who led the research at Columbia University, New York, said: “We can speculate that a long-ago Egyptian dynasty was overthrown during a drought. This study shows a systematic pattern of global climate affecting conflict right now. We are still dependent on climate to a very large extent.” Mark Cane, a member of the team, said global warming would have greater climatic impacts than El Niño, making it “hard to imagine” it would not provoke conflicts. [read full report]

Put all these factors together and you have, “The Road Through 2012: Revolution [and/or] World War III.”

In summation, Ben Bernanke and the Fed’s economic central planners were clearly aware of the hostile climate and weather patterns when they engaged in QE2. The Fed’s infamous policy, as I said before, “deliberately threw gasoline all over those brush fires. QE2 was another economic napalm bomb from the global banking cartel.” They knew that they were deliberately attacking (sacrificing) tens of millions of people, but that was secondary to keeping their global Ponzi scheme going by pumping another $2.1 trillion into their fraudulent, insolvent banking system through both QE programs. This is why Ben Bernanke is guilty of crimes against humanity. Now, let’s revisit what I’ve been reporting on for the past year:

Centrally Planned Economic Repression

The IMF has a well-worn strategy that they use to conquer national economies. As I warned four months ago, we have now progressed into Step 3.5: World Wide IMF Riots. Back in October, in a TV interview with Max Keiser, we discussed leaked World Bank documents that revealed the IMF’s strategy. I stated the following:

“They have a four-step strategy for destroying national economies. We are about to enter what they would call Step Three. Step Three is when you’ve looted the economy and now food and basic necessities all of a sudden become more expensive, harder to get to. And then, Step 3.5 is when you get the riots. We are headed to, as the IMF said, and as they plan, Step 3.5: IMF Riots. That’s what’s coming…”

Fast-forward four months to today, and now we see country after country rebelling against high food prices. Since our October interview, food prices have spiked 15%. According to new World Bank data, since June 2010, “Rising food have pushed about 44 million people into poverty in developing countries.”

As Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke announced another round of Quantitative Easing (QE2), those of us paying attention knew that the trigger had been pulled and Step Three had been executed. It was a declaration of economic war, an economic death sentence for tens of millions of people – deliberately devaluing the dollar and sparking inflation in commodities/basic necessities. It was a vicious policy that would impact people from Boston to Cairo.

When QE2 was announced, I warned: “Food and Gas Prices Will Skyrocket, The Federal Reserve Just Dropped An Economic Nuclear Bomb On Us.” I also wrote: “The Federal Reserve is deliberately devaluing the dollar to enrich a small group of a global bankers, which will cause significant harm to the people of the United States and severe ramifications throughout the world. The Federal Reserve’s actions are already causing the price of food and gas to increase and will cause hyperinflation on most basic necessities.”

To be clear, there are several significant factors contributing to rising food prices, such as extreme weather conditions, biofuel production and Wall Street speculation; but the Federal Reserve’s policies deliberately threw gasoline all over those brush fires. QE2 was another economic napalm bomb from the global banking cartel.

In a recent McClathy news article entitled, “Egypt’s unrest may have roots in food prices, US Fed policy”, Kevin Hall reports:

“‘The truth of the matter is that when the Federal Reserve moved on the quantitative easing, it did export inflation to a lot of these emerging markets. There’s no doubt that one of the side effects of the weak dollar and quantitative easing has been rising commodity prices. It helped create this bullish environment for commodities. This is a very delicate balancing act.’

It’s a view shared by Ed Yardeni, a veteran financial market analyst, who reached a similar conclusion in a research note to investors. He joked that Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke should be added to a list of revolutionaries, since his quantitative easing policy, unveiled last year in Wyoming, has provoked unrest and change in the developing world

‘Since he first indicated his support for such a revolutionary monetary change, the prices of corn, soybeans and wheat have risen 53 percent, 37 percent and 24.4 percent through Friday’s close,’ Yardeni noted. ‘The price of crude oil rose 19.8 percent over this period from $75.17 to $90.09 this (Monday) morning. Soaring food and fuel prices are compounding anger attributable to widespread unemployment in the countries currently experiencing riots.’”

The people throughout the Middle East and Northern Africa, on the fringe of the Neo-Liberal economic empire and most vulnerable to the Fed’s inflationary policies, are the first to rebel. The conclusion that we reach, the unfortunate reality of our current crisis: the Federal Reserve and global economic central planners have declared war on us. We are under attack. We must remove Ben Bernanke from power and hold him and the rest of the global banking cartel accountable. We must also break up the “too big to fail” banks. This a message I, along with many others who have analyzed our economic situation, have been repeating over and over for the past three years.

Hopefully, a critical mass of people will soon understand this reality and back it up with non-violent civil disobedience before riots and violence rip our society apart. For these reasons, let’s all go to Wall Street on September 17th and show these tyrants that we’ve had enough.

Too big to fail? Ten banks own 77% of all U.S. banking assets

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from The Economic Collapse
Posted July 18, 2011 

BACK DURING THE FINANCIAL CRISIS OF 2008, the American people were told that the largest banks in the United States were “too big to fail” and that was why it was necessary for the federal government to step in and bail them out. The idea was that if several of our biggest banks collapsed at the same time the financial system would not be strong enough to keep things going and economic activity all across America would simply come to a standstill. Congress was told that if the “too big to fail” banks did not receive bailouts that there would be chaos in the streets and this country would plunge into another Great Depression.  Since that time, however, essentially no efforts have been made to decentralize the U.S. banking system.

Instead, the “too big to fail” banks just keep getting larger and larger and larger. Back in 2002, the top 10 banks controlled 55 percent of all U.S. banking assets.  Today, the top 10 banks control 77 percent of all U.S. banking assets.  Unfortunately, these giant banks are also colossal mountains of risk, debt and leverage. They are incredibly unstable and they could start coming apart again at any time. None of the major problems that caused the crash of 2008 have been fixed. In fact, the U.S. banking system is more centralized and more vulnerable today than it ever has been before.

It really is difficult for ordinary Americans to get a handle on just how large these financial institutions are.  For example, the “big six” U.S. banks (Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo) now possess assets equivalent to approximately 60 percent of America’s gross national product.

These huge banks are giant financial vacuum cleaners. Over the past couple of decades we have witnessed a financial consolidation in this country that is absolutely unprecedented. This trend accelerated during the recent financial crisis. While the big boys were receiving massive bailouts, the hundreds of small banks that were failing were either allowed to collapse or they were told that they should find a big bank that was willing to buy them.

As a group, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo held approximately 22 percent of all banking deposits in FDIC-insured institutions back in 2000. By the middle of 2009 that figure was up to 39 percent.

That is not just a trend – that is a landslide. Sadly, smaller banks continue to fail in large numbers and the big banks just keep growing and getting more power. Today, there are more than 1,000 U.S. banks that are on the “unofficial list” of problem banking institutions. In the absence of fundamental changes, the consolidation of the banking industry is going to continue.

Meanwhile, the “too big to fail” banks are flush with cash and they are getting serious about expanding. The Federal Reserve has been extremely good to the big boys and they are eager to grow. For example, Citigroup is becoming extremely aggressive about expanding and has been hiring dozens of investment bankers, dialing up advertising and drawing up plans to add several hundred branches worldwide, including more than 200 in major cities across the United States.

Hopefully the big banks will start lending again. The whole idea behind the bailouts and all of the “quantitative easing” that the Federal Reserve did was to get money into the hands of the big banks so that they would lend it out to ordinary Americans and get the economy rolling again. Well, a funny thing happened.  The big banks just sat on a lot of that money. In particular, what they did was they deposited much of it at the Fed and drew interest on it. Since 2008, excess reserves parked at the Fed have grown by nearly 1.7 trillion dollars.  Just check out the chart posted below….

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The strategic advantages of community building

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by Alt-Market
Posted on July 13, 2011

THE YEAR WAS 2002, AND WHILE THE MAJORITY OF AMERICANS WERE COMPLETELY OBSESSED WITH THE SO-CALLED “War On Terror” and other devices of distraction, something much more real and decidedly prophetic was going on in our southern hemisphere. Argentina was in the midst of total collapse, driven by banker fraud and extreme currency devaluation in tandem with government mismanagement and corruption. First, cities exploded with rioting and violence as Argentinian police and military attempted to crush all dissent. Soon after, displaced refugees from population centers along with roving bands of thieves flooded into the countryside, wiping out isolated farms, murdering families, and hunting down any small group of survivors weaker than themselves and flush with supplies. The authorities (and I use the term loosely) were too busy trying to suppress civil protests to bother protecting those who were caught unprepared.

This behavior is part and parcel of economic destabilization, regardless of the time or place in which it occurs. Only nine years ago, a very modern and technologically savvy nation of people, nearly cannibalized itself. Those who survived and thrived did so through family aid and substantial existing wealth, or, the tactical building of communities for the purpose of mutual defense and alternative trade. Farmers armed themselves and formed regional groups along with security measures. City dwellers formed neighborhood watches and barter networks when the mainstream economy disappeared. The bottom line; lone wolves and isolated country families were nothing more than tempting targets at the onset of the breakdown in Argentina.

I and most other Americans have never personally lived through such a collapse, though some would be preppers rather boldly claim to be experts on surviving these specific kinds of catastrophes. I am not an expert, and neither is anyone else who has not experienced a collapse first hand. However, we CAN learn from the experiences of experts; those people who lived through the Great Depression, the Argentina crisis, the implosion of Bosnia, the breakup of the Soviet Union, the ongoing breakdown in Greece, etc. We can analyze their successes, and their failures, and devise solutions based on that which actually WORKED, instead of the random theories of people who can only guess at what life is like in the thick of hell.

One solution that has consistently been adopted and applied by numerous societies across the globe in the face of a stratum of different calamities is the art of community building. This strategy has proven itself over and over again regardless of catastrophic conditions. It is not theory. It is not debatable. Community networking has been proven time and again as a means of subsisting safely during depression, hyperinflation, mass hysteria, despotism, martial law, and even widespread war. Unfortunately, it is a methodology that has gone mostly ignored by many Americans, even those who are well aware of impending economic danger.

Common Oppositions to Community Building

First, we must put to rest those misconceptions that hinder the development of meaningful defensive community before we are able to understand the nature of various organizational methods and their benefits. Let’s examine some often heard arguments against the formation of survival relationships, groups, and focused networks…

1) Other People Aren’t Reliable. I Can Survive Better On My Own…

I’ll be the first to admit that some people are unreliable if not downright pathetic. On top of this, many in our culture find it necessary to exaggerate their abilities or their resolve until they are faced with an actual crisis, and then they fold like a wet blade of grass. Counting on such men is a waste of time and energy, not to mention, dangerous. Certainly, every prepper should have the ability to make it on his own, at least for a short time, in a collapse environment, and anyone who does not have that option is in some serious trouble.

I write a lot about “dangerous assumptions”, almost to the point of feeling ill, because most if not all of America’s problems are either caused or exacerbated by them. We presume too much too often, and it always comes back to bite us. Presuming that one will never be forced into a situation where he might have to survive alone for a time is foolish. There is no guarantee that we will always have others to fall back on, or that we will never be driven from our homes. On the other hand, it is equally foolish to presume that you will not face even worse circumstances while you are on your own. Unless you have the ability to go for weeks without sleep, and to be alert to every conceivable detail at every conceivable moment, it is insane to CHOOSE lone wolf survival over community and mutual defense. Its good to have the ability to go solo, but if you want to actually make it through a collapse similar to that which occurred in Argentina or worse, eventually you will have to work with others. This is not my opinion, it is a fact made concrete by numerous economic disasters around the world.

2) Groups Draw Too Much Attention. It’s Better To Keep A “Low Profile”…

I’m not sure where this nonsensical theory came from, but it definitely didn’t get started by anyone who has actually lived through economic implosion. The root of this strange position is that organizing networks of people for trade and for defense makes you a visible “target” for a corrupt government. At least, that’s the argument. It may be true that more focused groups of liberty minded people are indeed placed on lists, and singled out for surveillance or media ridicule, however, we need to apply some logical thought here.

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Great Depression comes knocking

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from The Daily Bell
Posted July 13, 2011

China’s Economy Grows 9.5%, Exceeding Estimates … China’s economy and industrial production expanded more than analysts predicted, indicating the nation is maintaining momentum even after interest-rate increases to cool inflation. Gross domestic product rose 9.5 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, the statistics bureau said in Beijing today, after a 9.7 percent gain the previous three months. The median estimate was for a 9.3 percent pace in a Bloomberg News survey of 18 economists. Industrial output advanced 15.1 percent in June, the most since May 2010. – Bloomberg 

Dominant Social Theme:
See, things are good! China is in a good shape, Europe is recovering and America has the political will to deal with its problems. Recovery is on the way. No problem!

Free-Market Analysis:
We are not convinced by the endless stream of happy talk that emanates from the mainstream media these days. Our view is less benign. From what we can see, the world is descending into a kind of controlled (or uncontrolled) Great Depression. It’s taking time but the arc is clear.

This article will illustrate yet again how mainstream media covers the world – China in particular – and why the reality is so much different. We regularly observe that the world’s conversation is organized via the Anglosphere elites’ “dominant social themes.” These fear-based promotions are intended to strip wealth and prosperity from the middle class in order to increase control of globalist institutions. But the Anglosphere elites also work via OMMISSION. That is, in addition to advocating fear, they actively encourage ignorance.

We are well past considering it to be coincidence. The world’s economy is a kind of planned madhouse. Those in power have inflicted upon it scores of central banks – all busily printing/creating money from nothing at the push of a button. Those who run these central banks are well aware of their ruinous disposition. They understand fully the boom bust cycle that brings bankruptcy and hopelessness to so many. But one does not ever acknowledge this. If one works within the system, one is not supposed to.

In the upside-down world of modern finance, central bankers who print money are “hawkish inflation fighters.” Politicians who endlessly create the distortive price fixes, called “laws,” are “public servants.” Corporate leaders who generate profits by linking their companies to the great, grinding machinery of Western legislation are “entrepreneurs.”

Mainstream media coverage provides us with a disparate view: Each element of the puzzle is treated incidentally. Sometimes the news is good, sometimes bad. But … somehow … the Western world’s economic situation continues to erode.

What is the result? Sooner or later, planned or not, the conclusion shall be reached. It will presented as a coincidental fait accompli, a solution that has occurred quite by accident, an evolution that seems inevitable but was not in any sense (so we are to believe) preordained: What is to be the apex of all this? A shiny new world order, perhaps, complete with a global currency.

In the meantime we are not supposed to notice the truth. Not ever. And what are the over-riding sub-dominant social themes when it comes to the world’s non-existent economic recovery? In no particular order … Europe’s crisis is being dealt with; America is on the rebound; the BRICS are healthy and China continues to expand at a rapid pace while controlling inflation. If you believe this, dear reader, we have a bridge to sell you in downtown Brooklyn, NY.

There is ample evidence that none of this is as it seems. The US is broke. Involved in an ever-spreading war on terror, American political and corporate elites can’t agree on how to confront an impending national default. In Brussels, powerful Eurocrats are meeting for the umpteenth time to deal with a sovereign crisis that never seems to go away.

Price inflation? China and the BRICS generally continue to announce that price inflation is under control: Every month the leaders of these countries assure it is so, while continuing to put into place Draconian price-fixing policies to control what is already controlled. It IS controlled. They tell us so.

In fact, America is staggering; it is finally retreating from its horrible wars not because the military-industrial complex wants to, but because it has to. The Pentagon, like the rest of the country, is broke. Europe is broke, too. And China has printed so much money that it has had to forbid people from buying and selling real estate.

There are more problems. Japan is reeling from a devastating earthquake. Russia is collapsing into a morass of corruption leavened only by additional “terrorism” and Africa faces devastating drought accompanied by “food insecurity” that threatens starvation for tens of millions.

Listen to the mainstream media and none of the above is placed into perspective. The reporting is serial and disconnected. In many cases it is determinedly optimistic. It wouldn’t do for elite media to admit the truth. The idea that the Western dollar reserve system basically died in 2008 and only the injection of some US$50 TRILLION around the world has saved the system from complete collapse is not an acceptable epiphany.

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Fukushima: It’s much worse than you think

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by Dahr Jamail
Posted on al Jazeera on 16 Jun 2011

Scientific experts believe Japan’s nuclear disaster to be far worse than governments are revealing to the public

“FUKUSHIMA IS THE BIGGEST INDUSTRIAL CATASTROPHE in the history of mankind,” Arnold Gundersen, a former nuclear industry senior vice president, told Al Jazeera. Japan’s 9.0 earthquake on March 11 caused a massive tsunami that crippled the cooling systems at the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) nuclear plant in Fukushima, Japan. It also led to hydrogen explosions and reactor meltdowns that forced evacuations of those living within a 20km radius of the plant.

Gundersen, a licensed reactor operator with 39 years of nuclear power engineering experience, managing and coordinating projects at 70 nuclear power plants around the US, says the Fukushima nuclear plant likely has more exposed reactor cores than commonly believed. “Fukushima has three nuclear reactors exposed and four fuel cores exposed,” he said, “You probably have the equivalent of 20 nuclear reactor cores because of the fuel cores, and they are all in desperate need of being cooled, and there is no means to cool them effectively.”

TEPCO has been spraying water on several of the reactors and fuel cores, but this has led to even greater problems, such as radiation being emitted into the air in steam and evaporated sea water – as well as generating hundreds of thousands of tons of highly radioactive sea water that has to be disposed of. “The problem is how to keep it cool,” says Gundersen. “They are pouring in water and the question is what are they going to do with the waste that comes out of that system, because it is going to contain plutonium and uranium. Where do you put the water?”

Even though the plant is now shut down, fission products such as uranium continue to generate heat, and therefore require cooling. “The fuels are now a molten blob at the bottom of the reactor,” Gundersen added. “TEPCO announced they had a melt through. A melt down is when the fuel collapses to the bottom of the reactor, and a melt through means it has melted through some layers. That blob is incredibly radioactive, and now you have water on top of it. The water picks up enormous amounts of radiation, so you add more water and you are generating hundreds of thousands of tons of highly radioactive water.”

Independent scientists have been monitoring the locations of radioactive “hot spots” around Japan, and their findings are disconcerting. “We have 20 nuclear cores exposed, the fuel pools have several cores each, that is 20 times the potential to be released than Chernobyl,” said Gundersen. “The data I’m seeing shows that we are finding hot spots further away than we had from Chernobyl, and the amount of radiation in many of them was the amount that caused areas to be declared no-man’s-land for Chernobyl. We are seeing square kilometres being found 60 to 70 kilometres away from the reactor. You can’t clean all this up. We still have radioactive wild boar in Germany, 30 years after Chernobyl.”

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“We are on the verge of a Great, Great Depression”

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by George Washington
Posted originally June 1, 2011

THE NEWS THAT FREQUENT CNBC GUEST Peter Yastrow of Yastrow Origer (and formerly with DT Trading) told CNBC that “We’re on the verge of a great, great depression. The [Federal Reserve] knows” is going viral today. But this is not news to anyone who has been paying attention. As I pointed out Tuesday, billion dollar fund managers agree: the government never fixed the underlying economic problems, so we’ll have another crash. I provided details last month: As noted in January, the housing slump is worse than during the Great Depression.

As CNN Money points out today: Wal-Mart’s core shoppers are running out of money much faster than a year ago due to rising gasoline prices, and the retail giant is worried, CEO Mike Duke said Wednesday. “We’re seeing core consumers under a lot of pressure,” Duke said at an event in New York. “There’s no doubt that rising fuel prices are having an impact.”

Wal-Mart shoppers, many of whom live paycheck to paycheck, typically shop in bulk at the beginning of the month when their paychecks come in. Lately, they’re “running out of money” at a faster clip, he said. “Purchases are really dropping off by the end of the month even more than last year,” Duke said. “This end-of-month [purchases] cycle is growing to be a concern.

And – in case you still think that the 29% of Americans who think we’re in a depression are unduly pessimistic – take a look at what I wrote last December. The following experts have – at some point during the last two years – said that the economic crisis could be worse than the Great Depression:

States and Cities in Worst Shape since the Great Depression

States and cities are in dire financial straits, and many may default in 2011. California is issuing IOUs for only the second time since the Great Depression. Things haven’t been this bad for state and local governments since the 30s. Loan Loss Rate Higher than During the Great Depression

In October 2009, I reported: In May, analyst Mike Mayo predicted that the bank loan loss rate would be higher than during the Great Depression. In a new report, Moody’s has just confirmed (as summarized by Zero Hedge): The most recent rate of bank charge offs, which hit $45 billion in the past quarter, and have now reached a total of $116 billion, is at 3.4%, which is substantially higher than the 2.25% hit in 1932, before peaking at at 3.4% rate by 1934.

Here’s a chart summarizing the findings:

Indeed, top economists such as Anna Schwartz, James Galbraith, Nouriel Roubini and others have pointed out that while banks faced a liquidity crisis during the Great Depression, today they are wholly insolvent. See this, this, this and this. Insolvency is much more severe than a shortage of liquidity.

Unemployment at or near Depression Levels

USA Today reports today: So many Americans have been jobless for so long that the government is changing how it records long-term unemployment. Citing what it calls “an unprecedented rise” in long-term unemployment, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), beginning Saturday, will raise from two years to five years the upper limit on how long someone can be listed as having been jobless.

The change is a sign that bureau officials “are afraid that a cap of two years may be ‘understating the true average duration’ — but they won’t know by how much until they raise the upper limit,” says Linda Barrington, an economist who directs the Institute for Compensation Studies at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations.

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Our economic future – From best to worst case

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by Doug Casey of Casey Research
Posted originally June 7, 2011

THERE IS A GREAT DEAL OF UNCERTAINTY ABOUT WHAT THE FUTURE OF THE U.S. ECONOMY MAY LOOK LIKE – so I decided to take a stab at what’s likely to happen over the next 20 years. That’s enough time for a child to grow up and mature, and it’s long enough for major trends to develop and make themselves felt.

I’ll confine myself to areas that are, as the benighted Rumsfeld might have observed, “known unknowns.” I don’t want to deal with possibilities of the deus ex machina sort. So we’ll rule out natural events like a super-volcano eruption, an asteroid strike, a new ice age, global warming, and the like. Although all these things absolutely will occur sometime in the future, the timing is very uncertain – at least from the perspective of one human lifespan. It’s pointless dealing with geological time and astronomical probability here. And, more important, there’s absolutely nothing we can do about such things.

So let’s limit ourselves to the possibilities presented by human action. They’re plenty weird and scary, and unpredictable enough.

THE MARKET FOR PROGNOSTICATION

People are all ears for predictions, whether from psychics or from “experts,” despite the repeated experience that they’re almost always worthless, often misleading and more than rarely the exact opposite of what happens.

Most often, the predictors go afoul by underrating human ingenuity or extrapolating current trends too far. Let me give you a rundown of the state of things during the last century, at 20-year intervals. If you didn’t know it’s what actually happened, you’d find it hard to believe.

1911— The entire world is at peace. Stability, freedom and prosperity prevail almost everywhere. Almost every country in Europe is ruled by a king or queen. Western civilization has spread to nearly every corner of the world and is received with appreciation. Stunning breakthroughs are being made in science and technology. There’s no sign of a gigantic world war about to come out of nowhere to rip apart the political and cultural map of Europe and bankrupt everybody. Who imagined that a dictatorial communist regime would arise in Russia?

1931— It’s early in a disastrous worldwide depression. Attention is on economic troubles, not on the virtually unthought-of possibility that in less than 10 years a new world war would be under way against Nazism and a resurgent Germany.

1951— Except for Vietnam, all that remains of the colonies the West had established in the 19th century are quiescent. Nobody guessed almost all would either be independent, or on their way, in 10 years. China has joined Russia – and many other countries – as totally collectivist. Who imagined that Germany and Japan, although literally leveled, would be perhaps the best investments of the century? Who guessed that the U.S. was already at its peak relative to the rest of the world?

1971— Communist and overtly socialist countries all over the world seem to be in ascendance, soon to be buoyed further by a decade of rising commodity prices. The U.S. and the West are entering a deep malaise. Little significance is attached to rumblings from the Islamic world.

1991— Communism has collapsed as an ideology, the USSR has disappeared, and China has radically reformed. Islam is increasingly in the news.

2011—The world financial/economic crisis is four years old, but things are still holding together. Islamic terrorism and collapse of old regimes in the Arab world dominate the news. China is viewed as the world’s new powerhouse.

BAD AND WORSE

Regrettably, I’m not much of a linguist. But I do pick up interesting semantic trivia. In Spanish they don’t say “in the future,” as we do in English, which implies a definite outcome. Instead they say “en un futuro” – in a future – which implies many possible outcomes. It’s a better way of assessing reality, I think.
Here are three 20-year futures to consider. There are, obviously, many, many more – but I think these encompass the three most realistic broad possibilities.

• BEST CASE – FACTS GET FACED

Realizing what a disaster the complete destruction of their currencies would be, most governments decide to endure the pain of allowing interest rates to rise and limiting increases in the money supply. Poorly run corporations and banks are left to fail. Talk of abolishing the Federal Reserve, and using a commodity for money, becomes serious and widespread.

Shaken, the U.S. ends its profligate ways, in part because it lacks the means to continue, and in part because everyone but collectivist ideologues has actually learned something from the brutal ‘10s and ‘20s.

Amidst massive protests, the government closes much of its counterproductive apparatus, eliminates many taxes, and lets 30% of its employees go. It also, albeit reluctantly, liberalizes its regulation of the economy because it has become impossible to deny that the U.S. has been falling behind in all areas.

Although there is a resurgence of libertarian thought – reminiscent of the Reagan-Thatcher era – simple practicality is mainly responsible for forcing the government’s hand. For one thing, it can’t afford the bureaucracy needed to enforce detailed interference. For another, entrepreneurs are increasingly just doing what they please, partly from necessity and partly from a growing sense of righteousness. Interest rates go to 25%, to compensate for high levels of inflation. That’s high enough to make it worthwhile for people to save, and the capital base starts growing. The stock market has collapsed to its lowest level in living experience (in real terms), but the values available encourage people to become investors. Business is restructured on a sound, debt-free basis, with little speculation.

The U.S. radically cuts its military spending and pulls almost all troops out of their foreign bases and wars. The War on Drugs comes to an end, and the crime rate in both the U.S. and Mexico plummets.

The government solves most of its overhanging financial problems with a seriously devalued – but not hyperinflated – dollar. The Social Security deficit is eliminated by abstaining from benefit increases and by inflating away much of what had been promised before. Most Americans suffer a severe drop in their standard of living, as they’re forced into new patterns of production and consumption. A generation of college students find that their degrees in sociology, political science, economics, English lit, Black studies, gender studies and underwater basket weaving are of no real value.

When it’s all over, the tough times that started in ’07 prove to have been no more than a cyclical bump in the road, like all the other recessions since WW2, just much bigger.

A rough and memorable ride, but it ends with a return to prosperity.

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Peak… Everything

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by Tom McCafferty
Posted originally May 20, 2011

Crude oil is just one of many things the world is running out of, says Tom McCafferty, author of Options Demystified and numerous other books on trading.

WE ARE ALL FAMILIAR WITH ALL THE HULLABALOO in recent years over Peak Oil. Dozens of books and websites devoted an enormous about of space to scaring the pants off of us. In a few years, we would be all be sitting in a dark, cold room without access to “Dancing with the Stars”.  Man… that will be a bummer! Before you get your blood pressure back under control, I’m here to tell you the Peak Oil is just the beginning. The World is facing more peaks that it can handle in the next few decades. For example:

•  Peak Water:  The World does not have enough water for crops or the increasing population. Every wonder why China was so aggressive to control sleepy little Tibet? Guess where the origins of the five great Chinese rivers are located? Or why it is importing so many tons of soybeans? When thinking about food importation, think of it as just a substitute for importing water. China is not alone. In India, the Green Revolution is now a disaster.

•  Peak Population:  How many people can the World sustain? I’m afraid we are going to find out the hard way. More specifically, how many senior citizens can it take care of… think of our Social Security system and then think of countries like Russia or Italy that have an even more serious aging challenge. China is right in line because of its one-child policy.

•  Peak Money: How much fiat currency can the World float? Remember, there has never a fiat currency that did not collapse.

•  Peak Weather:  Global Warming or long-term cycles? It doesn’t matter. Oceans and temperatures are rising.

•  Peak Politics It has always been a mess and it only seems to get worse. Are there any politicians or leaders that are not just out for themselves? Sadly, it also applies to their constituents.

•  Peak Taxes Will there every be enough tax money to solve every problem? Can our cities, states and national governments every balance a budget and reduce their deficits? If we can’t, how are the poorer countries going to cope?

My point is there are more than enough problems facing the World and its investors to keep all the prognosticators busy.

 

WikiLeaks nuclear bomb story preceded Osama death

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from The Daily Bell
Posted originally May 03, 2011

Capturing bin Laden ‘would unleash hell’ … The mastermind of the 9/11 attacks warned. Also that al-Qaeda has hidden a nuclear bomb in Europe which will unleash a “nuclear hellstorm” if Osama bin Laden is captured, leaked files revealed. The terror group also planned to make a 9/11 style attack on London’s Heathrow airport by crashing a hijacked airliner into one of the terminals, the files showed. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told Guantanamo Bay interrogators the terror group would detonate the nuclear device if the al-Qaeda chief was captured or killed, according to the classified files released by the WikiLeaks website. – MSN.com

Dominant Social Theme:
We got this son-of-a-gun. Hooray. Now we need to watch out for pocket nuke retaliation.

Free-Market Analysis:
What are the odds that WikiLeaks would release an Osama bin Laden nuclear bomb story only a week before his putative death at the hands of American Navy Seals? We have long pointed out that WikiLeaks is probably some sort of Anglo-American intel operation and this story excerpted above ran at US/MSN.com (NewsNine) – among other mainstream US outlets – is right in line with that expectation.

This seems to us, when coupled with the “death” of bin Laden, to be obvious propaganda, designed to frighten citizens of the West into giving up more wealth and power to the globalist facilities that will supposedly keep everyone “safe” from the terrorists. It is a kind of dominant social theme, that bin Laden’s death will result in retaliation and thus the already authoritarian West will have to undergo further totalitarian incursions.

We wrote yesterday that the supposed death of bin Laden presaged other more dire consequences, possibly and we wonder now if they are not the most fundamental ones – merely a ratcheting up of the police state in the US and the West generally. The economic malaise has not lifted and has in fact gotten worse. It is very obvious that civil unrest remains feasible across the West, especially as summer approaches. Thus further measures are to be put in place. Osama bin Laden’s “death” justifies such.

Nonetheless, the Western power-elite does not control information any longer to the same degree and the reactions to bin Laden’s death on many alternative news, blogs and even mainstream media sites was overwhelmingly skeptical. The elites can continue to insist on framing the larger dialogue as they like, but they have lost the hearts and minds of many. Seen from this point of view, the probably phony death of bin Laden is an act of desperation more than a clever ruse. They continue to run the script. It’s all they know how to do.

Osama bin Laden probably died years ago of kidney failure, or perhaps assassination. Al-Qaeda itself is a very dubious proposition, as it was initially funded by Western intel to fight the Soviet Union which invaded Afghanistan. Additionally Osama bin Laden apparently worked closely with the CIA in the 1980s and is said to have traveled to America and then to France for medical treatment. We are faced with the proposition that bin Laden himself was an American intelligence asset and that al-Qaeda (whatever it is/was) was in large part funded or at least set up by the West.

We have a great deal of difficulty with the announcement of the death of Osama bin Laden as we believe he died long ago. We think the war on terror itself is a phony enterprise designed mainly to provide an excuse to further erect the facilities of global governance by providing the US in particular with the justification to globalize its military and policing operations – and to position them more dramatically at home. The convergence of the WikiLeaks story with the death of bin Laden again reinforces this viewpoint. While bin Laden’s supposed death may provide cover for NATO and the US, the larger significance may simply be a ratcheting up of the war on terror. This is what the WikiLeaks story is telling us.

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