Food riots to worsen without global action: U.N.

ROME (Reuters) – Food riots in developing countries will spread unless world leaders take major steps to reduce prices for the poor, the head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said on Friday.

Despite a forecast 2.6 percent hike (This is disinformation.) in global cereal output this year, record prices are unlikely to fall, forcing poorer countries’ food import bills up 56 percent and hungry people on to the streets, FAO Director General Jacques Diouf said.

“The reality is that people are dying already in the riots,” Diouf told a news conference.

“They are dying because of their reaction to the situation and if we don’t take the necessary action there is certainly the possibility that they might die of starvation. Naturally people won’t be sitting dying of starvation, they will react.”

The FAO said food riots had broken out in several African countries, Indonesia, the Philippines and Haiti. Thirty-seven countries face food crises, it said in its latest World Food Situation report.

Read moreFood riots to worsen without global action: U.N.

No food price relief seen for poor Afghans

KABUL, April 14 (Reuters) – Impoverished Afghans struggling with rising wheat prices are not expected to get any relief soon with no sign prices are going to come down, a United Nations official said on Monday.

Top finance and development officials from around the world called in Washington on Sunday for urgent action to stem rising food prices, warning that social unrest will spread unless the cost of basic staples is contained.

Afghanistan is one of the world’s poorest countries with half its 25 million people living below the poverty line.

Wheat prices in Afghanistan have risen by an average of 60 percent over the last year with certain areas seeing a rise of up to 80 percent, the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) said.

Read moreNo food price relief seen for poor Afghans

The World According to Monsanto – A documentary that Americans won’t ever see.

On March 11 a new documentary was aired on French television (ARTE – French-German cultural TV channel) by French journalist and filmmaker Marie-Monique Robin, The World According to Monsanto – A documentary that Americans won’t ever see. The gigantic biotech corporation Monsanto is threatening to destroy the agricultural biodiversity which has served mankind for thousands of years.

I highly recommend this video. This is so important.

The Face of a Prophet

George Soros will not go quietly.

At the age of 77, Mr. Soros, one the world’s most successful investors and richest men, leapt out of retirement last summer to safeguard his fortune and legacy. Alarmed by the unfolding crisis in the financial markets, he once again began trading for his giant hedge fund — and won big while so many others lost.

Mr. Soros has always been a controversial figure. But he is becoming more so with a new, dire forecast for the world economy. Last week he rushed out a book, his 10th, warning that the financial pain has only just begun.

“I consider this the biggest financial crisis of my lifetime,” Mr. Soros said during an interview Monday in his office overlooking Central Park. A “superbubble” that has been swelling for a quarter of a century is finally bursting, he said.

Read moreThe Face of a Prophet

Anti-terror laws used to spy on family

A family who were wrongly suspected of lying on a school application form have discovered that their local council used anti-terrorism surveillance powers to spy on them.

The family, from Poole in Dorset, said they had been tailed for three weeks by council officials trying to establish whether they had given a false address in an attempt to get their three-year-old daughter a place at a heavily oversubscribed local nursery school, which their two older children had attended. The family had in fact done nothing wrong, and the investigation was eventually aborted.

Yesterday it emerged that Poole borough council had legitimately used the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act to monitor the family. This involved keeping a detailed log of their movements for two weeks, following the mother’s car as she took her three children to school each day and even watching the family home to ascertain their sleeping habits.

The Act, passed in 2000, was supposed to allow security agencies to combat terrorism.

The 39-year-old mother, a businesswoman who wished to remain anonymous, said: “I can’t imagine a greater invasion of our privacy. I’m incensed that legislation designed to combat terrorism can be turned on a three-year-old. It was very creepy when we found out that people had been watching us and making notes. Councils should be protecting children, not spying on them.”

The council defended its right to investigate families in a covert manner, saying it had used the law twice in the past year to successfully prove parents were lying about where they lived.

By Chris Green
Friday, 11 April 2008

Source: The Independent

Bush Pushes for Seed Money for Missiles in Space

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Reuters) – The Bush administration and Republican allies in Congress are again pushing for seed money to explore options for putting a multibillion-dollar layer of ballistic-missile interceptors in space.

Last year, the Democratic-controlled Congress rejected the administration’s request for $10 million to resume studies on the idea, first floated in the 1980s as part of then-President Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative.

Derided by critics as “Star Wars,” the concept has been embraced by missile-defense backers as potentially more effective than sea- and ground-based parts of an emerging shield against missiles that could be tipped with chemical, germ or nuclear warheads.

Read moreBush Pushes for Seed Money for Missiles in Space

Mysterious Earthquakes Off Oregon

(GRANTS PASS, Ore.) – Scientists listening to underwater microphones have detected an unusual swarm of earthquakes off central Oregon, something that often happens before a volcanic eruption – except there are no volcanoes in the area.

Scientists don’t know exactly what the earthquakes mean, but they could be the result of molten rock rumbling away from the recognized earthquake faults off Oregon, said Robert Dziak, a geophysicist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Oregon State University.

There have been more than 600 quakes over the past 10 days in a basin 150 miles southwest of Newport. The biggest was magnitude 5.4, and two others were more than magnitude 5.0, OSU reported.

Read moreMysterious Earthquakes Off Oregon

Not-So-Quiet Food Riots

The big problem with inflation is that people get low blood sugar when they are hungry, and soon their moods turn sour. I know this for a fact because if breakfast or brunch or lunch or coffee break or dinner or any snack is five minutes late, I involuntarily turn into a screaming monster from hell demanding to know who stole my food and vowing bloody revenge. I can only imagine the anger when hunger is caused because someone can’t afford to buy food!

This “inability to buy food” is one of the problems with inflation, and that ugliness is now here, as we read from Bloomberg.com that “The World Bank in Washington says 33 nations from Mexico to Yemen may face ‘social unrest’ after food and energy costs increased for six straight years.” Hahaha! No kidding?

World Bank chief Robert Zoellick says, “Thirty-three countries around the world face potential social unrest because of the acute hike in food and energy prices”, and that since 2005, “the prices of staples have jumped 80%”.

Like what? Like corn and wheat, which are making the news by rising like crazy, and the latest food emergency is that “Rice, the staple food for half the world,” is now double the price of a year ago, and a fivefold increase from 2001. Yikes!

100% inflation in the price of rice in one year! And 500% in seven years! Yikes again! No wonder that Jody Clarke at MoneyWeek.com reports that “Since January 2005 the average price of a loaf of bread in the US has risen 32%. Overall, US retail food prices rose 4 % last year, the biggest jump in 17 years, says the US Department of Agriculture. Meanwhile restaurant owners have been even harder hit, with wholesale price increases of 7.4%. That’s the biggest jump in nearly three decades, according to the National Restaurant Association.”

And worse yet for us alcohol-besotted worthless lushes out here, heroically keeping bartenders and comely barmaids gainfully employed year around, the price of hops, an integral ingredient in beer making, has soared from $4 a pound to $40.

The Marketbasket Survey, conducted by the American Farm Bureau Federation, says a basket of things like bread, milk, eggs and pork chops will cost you $3.50, or 8.9%, more this year than last. Both a five-pound bag of flour and a dozen eggs are up over 40% since January 2007.

Read moreNot-So-Quiet Food Riots

A Weekend to Start Fixing the World

As Finance Ministers Convene Here, Multiple Crises Test Their Ability to Cope

Financial markets are tumbling. The world economy is starting to sputter. Food prices have shot up so far, so fast, that there are riots in the streets of many poor nations.

It’s a hard time to be one of the masters of the global economy.

Those leaders — finance ministers from all over the world — are gathering in Washington this weekend to sort out their reactions to the most profound global economic crises in at least a decade. The situation could reveal the limitations that international economic institutions face in dealing with the risks inherent to global capitalism.

“There’s got to be something coming out of the weekend, a way to visibly assume public responsibility for trying to limit the damage that financial markets can do to our society,” said Colin Bradford, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “The pressure is on politicians this weekend to come up with an answer. . . . What is the power structure going to do about this?”

The Group of Seven finance ministers of major industrialized countries meet today, and the governing boards of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank will meet tomorrow and Sunday. Their agendas: in the case of the G-7 and IMF, countering the breakdown in financial markets; in the case of the World Bank, food inflation that threatens to drive more of the world’s poorest people into starvation.

Read moreA Weekend to Start Fixing the World

Spain’s worst drought for a generation leaves water and comradeship in short supply

Llosa del cavall reservoir in Sant Llorencs de Morunys, north of Solsona

Spain is suffering its worst drought in more than four decades, pitting the country’s regions against each other in a fierce battle over water resources.

There has been 40 per cent less rain than usual since October 1 across the nation as a whole, according to the Meteorology Institute, although in some regions the impact has been far worse. Mediterranean regions such as Catalonia and Valencia have been the worst affected – they have had less rain than at any time since 1912.

Farmers in Catalonia fear they could lose their crops altogether if it does not rain in coming weeks, and Britons with homes on the coast could soon face restrictions on water.

The situation in Barcelona – Catalonia’s capital and top tourist draw – could soon become critical. Water reserves there are at 19 per cent of capacity – they must be shut down when they reach 15 per cent because there is too much sediment near the bottom. José Montilla, president of Catalonia, said: “We must prepare for the worst.”

Read moreSpain’s worst drought for a generation leaves water and comradeship in short supply