Bad debts up 500 per cent as easy credit bites

The credit crunch has hit home for thousands of New Zealanders as debt collection agencies report up to a 500 per cent increase in workload over the past few months.

Debt collectors who have been in the industry for more than 15 years say they have never been busier, with small-time borrowers and businesses “across the board” defaulting on loans and payment for services.

Meanwhile, budgeting advisory services are swamped with people needing help as debts spiral out of control. One service says its waiting time to see new clients is up to five weeks.

Graeme Byers, owner of debt collector Guardian Credit Services, told the Herald on Sunday his business had increased by between 400 and 500 per cent this year.

“There’s just more debt out there. Poorer people are getting hammered.”

Byers said the collapse of numerous finance companies had put many people into positions where they could not pay everyday debts. “One feeds off the other. It snowballs,” he said.

Read moreBad debts up 500 per cent as easy credit bites

California Home Prices Drop 32% Amid Foreclosures, Realtors Say

May 23 (Bloomberg) — California home prices tumbled 32 percent in April from a year earlier as “distressed” properties and a lack of financing cut demand, the state realtors group said.

The median existing home price fell to $403,870, the California Association of Realtors said in a statement today. Sales increased 2.5 percent, ending 30 months of consecutive year-on-year declines. Homes priced under $500,000 accounted for 64 percent of sales compared with 40 percent a year earlier.

California had the second-highest U.S. foreclosure rate in April, one for every 204 households, and the most foreclosure filings for the 16th consecutive month, RealtyTrac Inc., a seller of default data, reported on May 14. Sales increased in northern and southern California last month as buyers purchased discounted properties that had been in some stage of default, DataQuick Information Systems said this week.

Read moreCalifornia Home Prices Drop 32% Amid Foreclosures, Realtors Say

U.S. rice farmers want class action against Bayer

KANSAS CITY, Mo., May 23 (Reuters) – Germany’s Bayer AG (BAYG.DE: Quote, Profile, Research) is battling to keep thousands of U.S. rice farmers from becoming part of a massive class-action lawsuit over the contamination of commercial rice supplies by a Bayer biotech rice not approved for human consumption.

In hearings this week in federal court in St. Louis, Missouri, lawyers representing rice farmers said about 7,000 long-grain producers in Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas should be allowed to seek unspecified damages against Bayer for contamination that was uncovered in August 2006.

Farmers suffered extensive losses, both from a plunge in rice prices, and in a drop in export business as Japan and the European Union moved to restrict U.S. rice from crossing their borders.

Many farmers also were not able to plant a crop the following year because of seed shortages tied to the contamination, and had to undertake costly clean-up efforts, according to plaintiffs’ attorneys.

Bayer is fighting the class-action move, and both sides are now awaiting a ruling from U.S. District Judge Catherine D. Perry .

Read moreU.S. rice farmers want class action against Bayer

Energy fears looming, new survivalists prepare


Peter Laskowski stacks firewood at his remote home in Waitsfield, Vt., Friday, April 11, 2008. Convinced that the planet’s oil supply is dwindling and the world’s economies are heading for a crash, people around the country are moving onto homesteads, learning to live off their land, conserving fuel and, in some cases, stocking up on guns they expect to use to defend themselves and their supplies from desperate crowds of people who didn’t prepare.
(AP Photo/Toby Talbot)
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A few years ago, Kathleen Breault was just another suburban grandma, driving countless hours every week, stopping for lunch at McDonald’s, buying clothes at the mall, watching TV in the evenings.

That was before Breault heard an author talk about the bleak future of the world’s oil supply. Now, she’s preparing for the world as we know it to disappear.

Breault cut her driving time in half. She switched to a diet of locally grown foods near her upstate New York home and lost 70 pounds. She sliced up her credit cards, banished her television and swore off plane travel. She began relying on a wood-burning stove.

“I was panic-stricken,” the 50-year-old recalled, her voice shaking. “Devastated. Depressed. Afraid. Vulnerable. Weak. Alone. Just terrible.”

Convinced the planet’s oil supply is dwindling and the world’s economies are heading for a crash, some people around the country are moving onto homesteads, learning to live off their land, conserving fuel and, in some cases, stocking up on guns they expect to use to defend themselves and their supplies from desperate crowds of people who didn’t prepare.

The exact number of people taking such steps is impossible to determine, but anecdotal evidence suggests that the movement has been gaining momentum in the last few years.

These energy survivalists are not leading some sort of green revolution meant to save the planet. Many of them believe it is too late for that, seeing signs in soaring fuel and food prices and a faltering U.S. economy, and are largely focused on saving themselves.

Some are doing it quietly, giving few details of their preparations — afraid that revealing such information as the location of their supplies will endanger themselves and their loved ones. They envision a future in which the nation’s cities will be filled with hungry, desperate refugees forced to go looking for food, shelter and water.

Read moreEnergy fears looming, new survivalists prepare

The Real Life Ministry Of Love Is Being Built

The federal government is continuing the incremental agenda to build a Ministry of Love styled detention camp system for the American people. According to a report from the Los Angeles Times, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency or ICE is building three new detention camps in the United States. The detention facilities will be minimum-security residential facilities that the federal government says will be used to house illegal aliens. Considering that the majority of the American people are against illegal immigration and just want immigrants to come into the country legally, most people will believe that this is a reasonable step to solve the illegal immigration problem. Unfortunately, this is really nothing more than a phony solution to solve a problem that has been created by government policies that have been implemented to encourage the illegal alien problem. The federal government is using the illegal immigration problem as an excuse to build the detention camp apparatus that is really meant for the American people. This is pretty obvious considering Rex 84, the Army’s Civilian Inmate Labor Program, the preservation of detention camps for Japanese Americans used during World War II and additional detention facilities built by KBR. Building a series of detention facilities is not going to resolve the illegal immigration problem with an administration that has supported policies to ensure as many illegal aliens enter the country as possible. As the economy unravels and as more and more people begin to protest against this criminal government, the establishment will need these detention facilities to lock up large numbers of Americans.

Recently in Waterloo Iowa, the federal government through ICE and FEMA built a temporary detention facility on the National Cattle Congress fairgrounds to round up a group of illegal aliens working in the area. Rounding up a few hundred illegal aliens does absolutely nothing to reverse the long standing policies that created the illegal immigration problem in the first place. In fact, all they are doing to the illegal aliens they round up is to process them through their temporary FEMA camp. This is clearly not an effective way to stop illegal immigration. Under the guise of solving the illegal immigration issue they are simply having their people go through the motions in order to practice the deployment of a FEMA camp and the processing of live test subjects through the FEMA camp.

According to a report from Radar Magazine, top secret continuity of government operations includes a database called Main Core which contains a list of 8 million Americans. During a national emergency, people in this database could be arrested and detained by government authorities. In 2007, George W. Bush signed National Security Presidential Directive 51 which gives the president authority over all three branches of government during a catastrophic emergency. The Bush administration has also refused to reveal details on specific details of continuity of government operations to the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee. Perhaps the Main Core database and the plans to round up American citizens listed in this database during a national emergency is one of the reasons why they are keeping these details secret.

FEMA has also announced that they are expanding a program to transport a large number of American citizens using trains during an emergency. This is the same method that the Nazis used to transport large numbers of Jews and political dissidents to their death camps.

Read moreThe Real Life Ministry Of Love Is Being Built

Buffett sees “long, deep” U.S. recession

BERLIN (Reuters) – The United States is already in a recession and it will be longer as well as deeper than many people expect, U.S. investor Warren Buffett said in an interview published in German magazine Der Spiegel on Saturday.

He said the United States was “already in recession” and added: “Perhaps not in the sense that economists would define it” with two consecutive quarters of negative growth.

“But the people are already feeling the effects,” said Buffett, the world’s richest man. “It will be deeper and last longer than many think.”

Read moreBuffett sees “long, deep” U.S. recession

Government Insider: Bush Authorized 9/11 Attacks

Keep in mind when reading this, that the man being interviewed is no two-bit internet conspiracy buff.

Stanley Hilton was a senior advisor to Sen Bob Dole (R) and has personally known Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz for decades. This courageous man has risked his professional reputation, and possibly his life, to get this information out to people.

The following is from his latest visit to Alex Jones’ radio show.

Note: All honor to Stanley Hilton for risking his life so that we may know the truth of 9/11.

The Bush Junta Unmasked

“This (9/11) was all planned. This was a government-ordered operation. Bush personally signed the order. He personally authorized the attacks. He is guilty of treason and mass murder.” –Stanley Hilton

Alex Jones interview of Stanley Hilton, attorney for 911 taxpayers’ lawsuit

AJ: He is back with us. He is former Bob Dole’s chief of staff, very successful counselor, lawyer. He represents hundreds of the victims families of 9/11. He is suing Bush for involvement in 9/11. Now a major Zogby poll out – half of New Yorkers think the government was involved in 9/11. And joining us for the next 35 minutes, into the next hour, is Stanley Hilton. Stanley, it’s great to have you on with us.

SH: Glad to be on.

AJ: We’ll have to recap this when we start the next hour, but just in a nutshell, you have a lawsuit going, you’ve deposed a lot of military officers. You know the truth of 9/11. Just in a nutshell, what is your case alleging?

SH: Our case is alleging that Bush and his puppets Rice and Cheney and Mueller and Rumsfeld and so forth, Tenet, were all involved not only in aiding and abetting and allowing 9/11 to happen but in actually ordering it to happen. Bush personally ordered it to happen. We have some very incriminating documents as well as eye-witnesses, that Bush personally ordered this event to happen in order to gain political advantage, to pursue a bogus political agenda on behalf of the neocons and their deluded thinking in the Middle East. I also wanted to point out that, just quickly, I went to school with some of these neocons. At the University of Chicago, in the late 60s with Wolfowitz and Feith and several of the others and so I know these people personally. And we used to talk about this stuff all of the time. And I did my senior thesis on this very subject – how to turn the U.S. into a presidential dictatorship by manufacturing a bogus Pearl Harbor event. So, technically this has been in the planning at least 35 years.

AJ: That’s right. They were all Straussian followers of a Nazi-like professor. And now they are setting it up here in America. Stanley, I know you deposed a lot of people and you’ve got your $7 million dollar lawsuit with hundreds of the victim’s families involved.

SH: 7 billion, 7 billion

AJ: Yeah, 7 billion. Can you go over some of the new and incriminating evidence you’ve got of them ordering the attack?

Read moreGovernment Insider: Bush Authorized 9/11 Attacks

U.S. Will Attack Iran

Israel’s Army Radio is reporting that President Bush intends to launch a military strike against Iran before the end of his term.

The Army Radio, a network operated by the Israeli Defense Forces, quoted a government source in Jerusalem. The source disclosed that a senior official close to Bush said in a closed meeting that Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney believed military action against Iran was now called for.

Bush concluded a trip to Israel last week, where he said, “The objective of the United States must be to . . . support our strongest ally and friend in the Middle East.”

The Radio report, which was quoted by the Jerusalem Post, disclosed that the recent turmoil in Lebanon, where the Iranian-backed group Hezbollah had seized virtual control of the country, was encouraging an American attack.

Hezbollah’s aggression in Lebanon is seen as evidence of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s growing influence, and the U.S. official said that in Bush’s view, “the disease must be treated, not its symptoms,” according to the Post.

The White House on Tuesday denied the Army Radio report, saying in a statement: “As the president has said, no president of the United States should ever take options off the table, but our preference and our actions for dealing with this matter remain through peaceful diplomatic means. Nothing has changed in that regard.”

However, numerous signs point to a U.S. strike on Iran in the near future:

# A leading member of America’s Jewish community told Newsmax in April that a military strike on Iran was likely and that Vice President Cheney’s March trip through the Middle East came in preparation for the U.S. attack.

# The Air Force recently declared the B-2 bomber fleet – a critical weapons system in any U.S. attack on Iran – as airworthy again. The Air Force had halted B-2 flights after a February crash in Guam. As Newsmax reported, the Air Force has refitted its stealth bombers to carry 30,000-pound “bunker buster” bombs, needed to destroy Iran’s hardened nuclear facilities.

# A second U.S. aircraft carrier, the USS Abraham Lincoln, joined the carrier USS Harry S. Truman in the Persian Gulf in May, carrying far more weaponry and ammunition than on previous deployments.

# Israel is gearing up for war. In April, it conducted its largest homeland military exercises ever. The Jewish-American source said Israel is “preparing for heavy casualties,” expecting to be the target of Iranian retribution following the U.S. attack.

# Saudi Arabia is taking steps to prepare for possible radioactive contamination from U.S. destruction of Iran’s nuclear facilities. The Saudi government reportedly approved nuclear fallout preparations a day after Cheney met with the kingdom’s highest-ranking officials.

# The USS Ross, an Aegis-class destroyer, has taken up station off the coast of Lebanon. Military observers speculate it is there to help defend Israel from missile attacks.

Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a recent Pentagon briefing that the Iranians are systematically importing and training Shiite militia fighters, who slip back across the Iraqi border to kill American troops.

And Israeli intelligence has predicted that Iran will acquire its first nuclear device in 2009, much earlier than previous U.S. estimates.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008 12:40 PM
By: Newsmax Staff

Source: Newsmax.com

Surging inflation will stoke riots and conflict between nations, says report

Riots, protests and political unrest could multiply in the developing world as soaring inflation widens the gap between the “haves” and the “have nots”, an investment bank predicted yesterday.

Economists at Merrill Lynch view inflation as an “accident waiting to happen”. As prices for food and commodities surge, the bank expects global inflation to rise from 3.5% to 4.9% this year. In emerging markets, the average rate is to be 7.3%.

The cost of food and fuel has already been cited as a factor leading to violence in Haiti, protests by Argentinian farmers and riots in sub-Saharan Africa, including attacks on immigrants in South African townships.

Merrill’s chief international economist, Alex Patelis, said this could be the tip of the iceberg, warning of more trouble “between nations and within nations” as people struggle to pay for everyday goods. “Inflation has distributional effects. If everyone’s income moved by the same rate, you wouldn’t care – but it doesn’t,” said Patelis. “You have pensioners on fixed pensions. Some people produce rice that triples in price, while others consume it.”

A report by Merrill urges governments to crack down on inflation, describing the phenomenon as the primary driver of macroeconomic trends. The problem has emerged from poor food harvests, sluggish supplies of energy and soaring demand in rapidly industrialising countries such as China, where wage inflation has reached 18%.

Unless policymakers take action to dampen prices and wages, Merrill says sudden shortages could become more frequent. The bank cited power cuts in South Africa and a run on rice in Californian supermarkets as recent examples.

“You’re going to see tension between nations and within nations,” said Patelis.

The UN recently set up a taskforce to examine food shortages and price rises. It has expressed alarm that its world food programme is struggling to pay for food for those most at need.

Last month, the World Bank’s president, Robert Zoellick, suggested that 33 countries could erupt in social unrest following a rise of as much as 80% in food prices over three years.

Merrill’s report said the credit crunch has contributed to a global re-balancing, drawing to a close an era in which American consumers have been the primary drivers of the world’s economy.

In a gloomy set of forecasts, Merrill said it believes the US is in a recession – and that American house prices, which are among the root causes of the downturn, could fall by 15% over the next 18 months.

Read moreSurging inflation will stoke riots and conflict between nations, says report

Pentagon Cannot Account for For $15 Billion

The inspector general for the Defense Department said yesterday that the Pentagon cannot account for almost $15 billion worth of goods and services ranging from trucks, bottled water and mattresses to rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns that were bought from contractors in the Iraq reconstruction effort.

The Pentagon did not have the proper documentation, including receipts, vouchers, signatures, invoices or other paperwork, for $7.8 billion that American and Iraqi contractors were paid for phones, folders, paint, blankets, Nissan trucks, laundry services and other items, according to a 69-page audit released to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

An earlier audit by the inspector general found deficiencies in accounting for $5.2 billion of U.S. payments to buy weapons, trucks, generators and other equipment for Iraq’s security forces. In addition, the Defense Department spent $1.8 billion of seized Iraqi assets with “absolutely no accountability,” according to Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), who chairs the oversight committee. The Pentagon also kept poor records on $135 million that it paid to its partners in the multinational military force in Iraq, auditors said.

Read morePentagon Cannot Account for For $15 Billion