U.S.-Mexico Border: Plans to Spray Agent Orange-Like Chemical to Kill All Plant Life

(NaturalNews) The Border Patrol has temporarily postponed — but refused to cancel — plans to use helicopters to spray herbicide along the banks of the Rio Grande between the cities of Laredo, Texas and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, in order to kill a fast-growing river cane that provides cover for undocumented migrants, smugglers and other border crossers.

The controversial plan has drawn fire for its similarities to the U.S. government’s defoliation strategy during the Vietnam War, in which the government sprayed more than 21 million gallons of “Agent Orange” and other herbicides in order to eliminate hiding places for Vietnamese guerillas. An estimated 4.8 million Vietnamese citizens and thousands of U.S. soldiers were exposed to the dioxin-based chemical, resulting in more than 500,000 birth defects and 400,000 deaths and disabilities among adults.

The Border Patrol proposed to begin by defoliating 1.1 miles of the river, possibly eventually expanding the program to 130 miles and perhaps even to other parts of the border.

Local citizens and environmentalists on both sides of the border have widely criticized the plan. The Mexican government has objected that there is insufficient scientific data over the health risks of imazapyr, the herbicide to be used, and that it wants to conduct its own assessment. The Border Patrol has postponed the plan, but has not promised to await the results of further studies.

Read moreU.S.-Mexico Border: Plans to Spray Agent Orange-Like Chemical to Kill All Plant Life

Paul Craig Roberts: Israel Kidnaps Peace Boat Crew; Pirates of the Mediterranean

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during President Reagan’s first term. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, and Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

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Paul Craig Roberts

On June 30, the government of Israel committed an act of piracy when the Israeli Navy in international waters illegally boarded the “Spirit of Humanity,” kidnapped its 21-person crew from 11 countries, including former US Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and Nobel Laureate Mairead MaGuire, and confiscated the cargo of medical supplies, olive trees, reconstruction materials, and children’s toys that were on the way to the Mediterranean coast of Gaza. The “Spirit of Humanity,” along with the kidnapped 21 persons, is being towed to Israel as I write.

Gaza has been described as the “world’s largest concentration camp.” It is home to 1.5 million Palestinians who were driven by force of American-supplied Israeli arms out of their homes, off their farms, and out of their villages so that Israel could steal their land and make the Palestinian land available to Israeli settlers.

What we have been witnessing for 60 years is a replay in modern times, despite the United Nations and laws strictly preventing Israel’s theft of Palestine, of the 17th, 18th, and 19th century theft of American Indian lands by US settlers. An Israeli government spokesman recently rebuked the President of the United States, a country, the Israeli said, who stole all of its land from Indians, for complaining about Israel’s theft of Palestine.

I knew the “Spirit of Humanity” would fall to Israeli piracy the minute I received on June 25 from an official of an Israeli peace organization a “public advisory” that the government of Cyprus had withheld permission for the “Spirit of Humanity” to leave for Gaza. The US State Department had advised that “The Israeli Foreign Ministry informed U.S. officials at the American Embassy in Tel Aviv that Israel still considers Gaza an area of conflict and that any boats attempting to sail to Gaza will not be permitted to reach its destination.” The “Spirit of Humanity” obtained permission to leave Cyprus when all aboard signed a waiver absolving Cyprus of all responsibility for the crew’s safety at the hands of the Israelis.


Related article: UN expert says Israeli seizure of aid ship a crime (Reuters):
GENEVA, July 2 (Reuters) – A U.N. human rights investigator on Thursday called Israel’s seizure of a ship carrying relief aid for the Gaza Strip “unlawful” and said its blockade of the territory constituted a “continuing crime against humanity”.


As President Obama has called for humanitarian aid to be sent to Gaza, and as the International Red Cross has damned the inhumanity of Israel’s blockade of Gaza, the question that immediately comes to mind is why did not the United States send sufficient US Navy escort to see the “Spirit of Humanity” safely through international waters to Gaza? We send ships against Somalian pirates, why not against Israeli ones?

Read morePaul Craig Roberts: Israel Kidnaps Peace Boat Crew; Pirates of the Mediterranean

UK economy shrinks at 1930s rates

The recession is now on a par with the very worst year of the Great Depression.

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The dire state the UK is in emerged on Tuesday as revised figures uncovered the full extent of the country’s economic contraction.

The economy shrank by 4.9pc in the year to the first quarter of 2009, the Office for National Statistics said. The fall in gross domestic product was significantly greater than had previously been calculated, as Government statisticians became aware of the full scale of the fall in company activity.

“Clearly this is now the worst peacetime recession since the 1930s,” said Michael Saunders, chief UK economist at Citigroup. “The worst contraction then was a year of around -5pc; this year will not be hugely different.”

The contraction in GDP during the first quarter alone was 2.4pc, compared with previous estimates of 1.9pc, according to the ONS. This was the biggest one-quarter fall in 35 years.

Moreover, the 4.9pc annual fall was the biggest since Government records began. According to statistics compiled by economic historian Angus Maddison, the contraction was the worst since 1931 – worse than any year during the Second World War and the demobilisation that followed.

Read moreUK economy shrinks at 1930s rates

The Height of Stupidity: Sweden Cuts Deposit Rate to NEGATIVE .25%

“…, punishing savers with negative deposit rates is the height of stupidity.”

“It would be fitting if there was an immediate run on deposits. And if that happens what will Sweden do? Halt deposits? Sweden risks (and deserves) a currency collapse and bank runs for this insane effort. Look for capital flight in Sweden.”


There has been a lot of ludicrous recommendations recently to combat deflation by making deposit rates negative. I did not think any central bank would be dumb enough to try it. I thought wrong.

Today, Riksbank, Sweeden’s central bank cut the deposit rate to -0.25% effectively charging savers interest on deposited money.

DATE 2/07/2009
The weak development of the economy requires a somewhat more expansionary monetary policy. The Executive Board of the Riksbank has therefore decided to cut the repo rate by 0.25 of a percentage point to 0.25 per cent.

Deep economic downturn

Economic activity abroad is very weak and this hits Sweden hard. Exports have fallen substantially and the situation on the labour market is continuing to deteriorate rapidly. The information received in recent months points to the economic downturn in 2009 being somewhat deeper than the Riksbank forecast in April.

Deposit Rate

The decision on the repo rate will apply with effect from Wednesday, 8 July. The deposit rate is at the same time cut to -0.25 per cent and the lending rate to 0.75 per cent.

Sweden Attempts To Boost Lending

Please consider Sweden cuts rates to new low, offers banks loans.

Sweden’s Riksbank cut interest rates to a fresh record low on Thursday and offered banks 100 billion crowns ($13.2 billion) to boost lending as it strives to reverse the country’s worst recession since the 1940s.

The central bank lowered its key interest rate by 25 basis points to 0.25 percent in a surprise move, putting official rates at their lowest since records began in 1907, and said it expected rates to remain at that level until late 2010.

“It’s a double whammy, or even a triple whammy,” said Roger Josefsson at Danske Markets.

“The deposit rates are actually negative now. In some sense they are creating a money machine for banks. You can lend all you want, but don’t put that back into the central bank.”

Sweden was plunged into recession late last year as the global financial crisis pulled the plug on market demand, leaving firms such as world number two truck firm Volvo scrambling to cut costs and shed jobs.

The central bank forecast the economy will contract 5.4 percent this year and return to tepid growth of 1.4 percent next year.

Read moreThe Height of Stupidity: Sweden Cuts Deposit Rate to NEGATIVE .25%

Banking System Like South Sea Bubble: Senior Bank of England Official

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Returns on banking shares relative to the wider market

‘Banking became the goose laying the golden eggs. There is no period in recent UK financial history which bears comparison,’ says executive director for financial stability, Andy Haldane

A senior Bank of England official today compared the banking system over the last 20 years to the South Sea bubble of the early 18th century and said bankers had merely “resorted to the roulette wheel” to keep up with each other.

The Bank’s executive director for financial stability, Andy Haldane, said in a speech in Chicago that having been stable over much of the 20th century, returns in the banking system relative to the wider stockmarket shot up after 1986 until 2006.

“Banking became the goose laying the golden eggs. There is no period in recent UK financial history which bears comparison,” he said.

He said bankers and policymakers became seduced by the excess returns available: “Banks appeared to have discovered a money machine, albeit one whose workings were sometimes impossible to understand.

“One of the South Sea stocks was memorably ‘a company for carrying out an undertaking of great advantage, but nobody to know what it is’. Banking became the 21st-century equivalent.”

Read moreBanking System Like South Sea Bubble: Senior Bank of England Official

Helen Thomas slams White House for lack of transparency

At the White House presser on Wednesday, several correspondents questioned the way the Oval Office selected questions from the public for today’s virtual town hall.

President Barack Obama answered pre-selected questions Wednesday afternoon about health care sent in from emails, Facebook and Twitter. CBS’ Chip Reid and columnist Helen Thomas thought this reflected a lack of transparency at the White House.

“It feels like the concept of a town hall, I think, is to have an open public forum. And this sounds like a very tightly controlled audience and list of questions. Why do it that way?” asked Reid.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs deflected the question, but that only raised the ire of Helen Thomas, UPI’s veteran correspondent who has long been at the top of the White House press corps totem pole.

“We have never had that in the White House,” Thomas said, referring to the degree that press events are pre-scripted in the Obama administration. “I’m amazed, I’m amazed at you people who called for openness and transparency…”

That’s when things got testy, and Gibbs looked very uncomfortable as Reid and Thomas took turns attacking his evasive answers.

“Calling reporters the night before, telling them they’re going to be called on – that’s shocking,” Thomas said, referring to an incident last week when Huffington Post blogger Nico Pitney was given advance warning that he would be called on to ask a question on behalf of the Iranian public.

This video is from C-SPAN, broadcast July 1, 2009.

Read moreHelen Thomas slams White House for lack of transparency

Official: US government will pull out of GM if no deal by July 10

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A sign hangs in the window of a General Motors dealership in Chicago

The US government will pull its support from General Motors if the automaker does not get court permission for a speedy exit from bankruptcy protection by July 10, an official testified on Wednesday.

“We cannot make an open-ended commitment,” Henry Wilson, a member of President Barack Obama’s automotive task force, told the New York court.

GM is seeking court permission to sell its best assets to a new company in which the US government will get a majority stake.

Should the plan be approved in time, Wilson said the government could begin to sell its stake as early as 2010, once the new company is ready to launch a public stock offering.

Officials have said the Obama administration has no intention of nationalizing General Motors over the long term and will not be participating in its day-to-day operations.

Read moreOfficial: US government will pull out of GM if no deal by July 10

After China, Brazil Eyes Non-Dollar Trade With India

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SAO PAULO (Dow Jones)–Brazil is considering using its own currency when conducting trade with India, the local Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper said Monday.

Central Bank President Henrique Meirelles met with Indian banking officials in Europe at the Bank for International Settlements meeting over the weekend to discuss the move away from the dollar in trade between the nations, Estado reported.

Brazil and China are also conducting studies on how to shed the dollar in trade, according to Estado.

Read moreAfter China, Brazil Eyes Non-Dollar Trade With India

Schwarzenegger declares fiscal emergency; California issues IOUs

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California is inventing its own currency

AFTER weeks of trying to fix California’s budget, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and state legislators have fought one another to a standstill.

A day after the state Senate failed in a late-night bid to close part of a deficit now projected at $US26.3 billion ($A32.6 billion), California Controller John Chiang took steps to begin issuing IOUs to tens of thousands of companies and individuals owed millions of dollars by the state.

Mr Schwarzenegger declared a fiscal emergency, ordering state workers to take a third unpaid day off each month.

A meeting between Mr Schwarzenegger and the state’s top four legislative leaders ended abruptly within half an hour. Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, a Democrat from Los Angeles, charged out of the Governor’s office, clearly distraught, and walked briskly down the hall.

Related articles:
State’s budget gap deepens $2 billion overnight (San Francisco Chronicle)
Schwarzenegger declares emergency in California (AFP)
Schwarzenegger to shut state offices to save money (Sydney Morning Herald)
Governor dumps plan to build prison hospitals (San Francisco Chronicle)

“He broke it. He should fix it,” Ms Bass said tersely, alluding to Mr Schwarzenegger’s refusal to accept a budget deal that would have averted IOUs but not closed the entire deficit. “Nothing more to say.”

Read moreSchwarzenegger declares fiscal emergency; California issues IOUs