Food riots fear after rice price hits a high

Shortages of the staple crop of half the world’s people could bring unrest across Asia and Africa, reports foreign affairs editor Peter Beaumont

A global rice shortage that has seen prices of one of the world’s most important staple foods increase by 50 per cent in the past two weeks alone is triggering an international crisis, with countries banning export and threatening serious punishment for hoarders.

With rice stocks at their lowest for 30 years, prices of the grain rose more than 10 per cent on Friday to record highs and are expected to soar further in the coming months. Already China, India, Egypt, Vietnam and Cambodia have imposed tariffs or export bans, as it has become clear that world production of rice this year will decline in real terms by 3.5 per cent. The impact will be felt most keenly by the world’s poorest populations, who have become increasingly dependent on the crop as the prices of other grains have become too costly.

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Rush to restrict trade in basic foods

Governments across the developing world are scrambling to boost farm imports and restrict exports in an attempt to forestall rising food prices and social unrest.

Saudi Arabia cut import taxes across a range of food products on Tuesday, slashing its wheat tariff from 25 per cent to zero and reducing tariffs on poultry, dairy produce and vegetable oils.

On Monday, India scrapped tariffs on edible oil and maize and banned exports of all rice except the high-value basmati variety, while Vietnam, the world’s third biggest rice exporter, said it would cut rice exports by 11 per cent this year.

The moves mark a rapid shift away from protecting farmers, who are generally the beneficiaries of food import tariffs, towards cushioning consumers from food shortages and rising prices.

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Cheney Moves Forward with Plans to Nuke Iran

While everyone is focused on celebretard drivel, the failing economy, the outrageous price of oil (after Iraq goes down in flame with 4,000-plus Americans who lost their lives for what exactly?), and the slimy campaign shenanigans, the Bushbots are quietly ramping up plans to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities.

exxxxallent.jpgUnreported in corporate media:burnsapproves.jpg Cheney is currently running around the Middle East drumming up war on Iran. (Lots more on this here, here, here, and here). But this hellacious old man hasn’t even finished his other two wars yet: Is the “surge” in Iraq about to unravel?

Good lord. McCain has a 67-percent approval rating as Democrats squabble. If he’s elected, that means eight more years of genocidal horrors. But the complicit corporate media will never tell you what’s really going on while we sleep.

Journalists have been writing about the effects of a nuclear attack on Iran for years. It’s in the interest of every human being on earth to read Nuclear Bunker Buster Bombs against Iran: This Way Lies Madness

An estimated 16-20 million Iranians would die in a nuclear war with Israel, according to a report issued by a respected Washington think tank.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) also estimates that between 200,000 and 800,000 Israelis would be killed, the Jerusalem Post reported.

The report, which is theoretical and based on limited verified knowledge of Israel’s and Iran’s nuclear capability, paints a bleak picture for both nations.
On March 22 Chris Floyd wrote a frightening piece, One Foot in the Grave, Iran Attack Nearer, More Likely Than Most Suspect.

Then on March 23 he wrote Saudis Prepare for “Sudden Nuclear Hazards” After Cheney Visit.

Read it and freak:

I. One Tick Closer to Midnight

Last Friday, Dick Cheney was in Saudi Arabia for high-level meetings with the Saudi king and his ministers. On Saturday, it was revealed that the Saudi Shura Council — the elite group that implements the decisions of the autocratic inner circle — is preparing “national plans to deal with any sudden nuclear and radioactive hazards that may affect the kingdom following experts’ warnings of possible attacks on Iran’s Bushehr nuclear reactors,” one of the kingdom’s leading newspapers, Okaz, reports. The German-based dpa news service relayed the paper’s story.

Simple prudence — or ominous timing? We noted here last week that an American attack on Iran was far more likely — and more imminent — than most people suspect. We pointed to the mountain of evidence for this case gathered by scholar William R. Polk, one of the top aides to John Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and to other indicators of impending war. The story by Okaz — which would not have appeared in the tightly controlled dictatorship without approval from the top — is yet another, very weighty piece of evidence laid in the scales toward a new, horrendous conflict. We don’t know what the Saudis told Cheney in private — or even more to the point, what he told. But the release of this story now, just after his departure, would seem to be a clear indication that the Saudis have good reason to fear a looming attack on Iran’s nuclear sites and are actively preparing for it. And they certainly should be bracing themselves. A U.S. attack on Iran will come suddenly, and if it is indeed aimed at destroying Iran’s nuclear capabilities — a “threat” being talked up again with new urgency by both Cheney and Bush lately — it has the potential for unimaginable consequences. As we noted here in a previous piece:

Twelve hours. One circuit of the sun from horizon to horizon, one course of the moon from dusk to dawn. What was once a natural measurement for the daily round of human life is now a doom-laden interval between the voicing of an autocrat’s brutal whim and the infliction of mass annihilation halfway around the world. Twelve hours is the maximum time necessary for American bombers to gear up and launch an unprovoked sneak attack – a Pearl Harbor in reverse – against Iran, the Washington Post reports. The plan for this “global strike,” which includes a very viable “nuclear option,” was approved months ago, and is now in operation. The planes are already on continuous alert, making “nuclear delivery” practice runs along the Iranian border, as Sy Hersh reports in the New Yorker, and waiting only for the signal from President George W. Bush to drop their payloads of conventional and nuclear weapons on some 400 targets spread throughout the condemned land. And when this attack comes – either as a stand-alone “knock-out blow” or else as the precusor to a full-scale, regime-changing invasion, like the earlier aggression in Iraq – there will be no warning, no declaration of war, no hearings, no public debate. The already issued orders governing the operation put the decision solely in the hands of the president: he picks up the phone, he says, “Go” – and in twelve hours’ time, up to a million Iranians could be dead.

This potential death toll is not pacificist hyperbole; it comes from a National Academy of Sciences study sponsored by the Pentagon itself, as The Progressive reports. (Although Bush’s military brass like to peddle the public lie that “we don’t do body counts” of the enemy, in reality, like all good businessmen they keep precise accounts of their production outputs: i.e., corpses.) The Pentagon’s NAS study calibrated the kill-rate from “bunker-busting” tactical nukes used to take out underground facilities – such as those which house much of Iran’s nuclear power program. Another simulation by scientists, using Pentagon-devised software, was even more specific, measuring the aftermath of a “limited” nuclear attack on the main Iranian underground site in Esfahan, the magazine reports. This small expansion of the Pentagon franchise would result in stellar production figures: three million people killed by radiation in just two weeks, and 35 million people exposed to dangerous levels of cancer-causing radiation in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Bush has about 50 nuclear “earth-penetrating weapons” at his disposal, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.Nor is the idea of a nuclear strike on Iran mere “liberal paranoia.” Bush himself pointedly refused to take the nuclear option “off the table” this week. But what’s more, Bush has made the use of nuclear weapons a centerpiece of his “National Security Strategy of the United States,” issued last month, The Progressive notes. While reaffirming the criminal principle of “pre-emptive” attacks on perceived enemies which may or may not be threatening America with weapons they may or may not possess, Bush declared that “safe, credible and reliable nuclear forces continue to play a critical role” in the “offensive strike systems” that are now a key part of America’s “deterrence.” In the depraved jargon of atomic warmongering, a “credible” nuclear force is one that can and will be used in the course of ordinary military operations. It is no longer to be regarded as a sacred taboo. This has long been the dream of the Pentagon’s “nuclear priesthood” and its acolytes, going back to the days of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. For decades, a strong faction within the American power structure has been afflicted with a perverted craving to unleash these weapons once more. An almost sexual frustration can be discerned in their laments as time and again, in crisis after crisis, their counsels for “going nuclear” were rejected – often at the very last moment. To justify their abberant desire, they have relentlessly demonized an ever-changing array of “enemies,” painting each one as an imminent, overwhelming threat, led by “madmen” in thrall to pure evil, impervious to reason, fit only for destruction. Evidence for the “threat” is invariably exaggerated, manipulated, even manufactured; this ritual cycle has been enacted over and over, leading to many wars – but never to that ultimate, orgasmic release.

Now this paranoid sect has at last seized the commanding heights of American power…they have found a most eager disciple in the peevish dullard strutting in the Oval Office. Under their sinister tutelage, Bush has eviscerated 40 years’ worth of arms control treaties; officially “normalized” the use of nuclear weapons, even against non-nuclear states; rewarded outlaw proliferators like India, Israel and Pakistan; and is now destroying the last and most effective restraint on the spread of nuclear weapons: the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The treaty guarantees its signatories – such as Iran – the right to establish nuclear power programs in exchange for rigorous international inspections. But Bush has arbitrarily decided that Iran – whose nuclear program undergone perhaps the most extensive inspection process in history – must end its lawful activities. Why? Because the country is led by “madmen” in thrall to pure evil, impervious to reason, who one day may or may not threaten America with weapons they may or may not have…. So the NPT is dead. As with the Geneva Conventions and the U.S. Constitution, it now means only what Bush says it means. Force of arms, not rule of law, is the new world order. The attack on Iran. The obvious, murderous insanity of such a move in no way precludes its implementation by this gang – as their invasion of Iraq clearly shows.

The nuclear sectarians have waited decades for this moment. Such a chance may never come again. Will they let it pass, when with just a word, in just twelve hours, they can see their god rising in a pillar of fire over Persia?

And more evidence on March 22 from Deutsche Presse-Agentur

The Saudi Shura council will secretly discuss national plans to deal with any sudden nuclear and radioactive hazards that may affect the kingdom following experts’ warnings of possible attacks on Iran’s Bushehr nuclear reactors, media reports said Saturday.

The Saudi-based King Abdul-Aziz City for Science and Technology has prepared a proposal that encapsulates the probabilities of leaking nuclear and radiation hazards in case of any unexpected nuclear attacks in Iran, the Okaz Saudi newspaper said.

The Saudi Shura or consultative council plans to debate the proposal on Sunday.

The power plants in the south-western Iranian port of Bushehr were built with German assistance in 1974 and resumed with Russian aid in 1992, after it had been stopped by the Islamic revolution.

And if this attack moves forward this fall, you can forget any elections, now or ever again…and anyway, do you seriously think they’re going to let go of the power they’ve seized over the past several decades? You’re dreaming if you think they’re going to relinquish their power to the likes of Obama.

You know you live in a dictatorship when the pResident commits unending pre-emptive wars at his own whim, without public comment, without Congressional approval, without any discussion whatsoever.

And you thought you wouldn’t have to see that smug expression ever again after 2008…

March 25, 2008

Source: luminaria

Iran’s Wheat Fungus: Coincidence or Biological Warfare?

 Global Research reports:

A dangerous new fungus with the ability to destroy entire wheat fields has been detected in Iran, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported today.

The wheat stem rust, whose spores are carried by wind across continents, was previously found in East Africa and Yemen and has moved to Iran, which said that laboratory tests have confirmed its presence in some localities in Broujerd and Hamedan in the country’s west.

Up to 80 per cent of all Asian and African wheat varieties are susceptible to the fungus, and major wheat-producing nations to Iran’s east – such as Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan – should be on high alert, FAO warned.

“The fungus is spreading rapidly and could seriously lower wheat production in countries at direct risk,” said Shivaji Pandey, Director of FAO’s Plant Production and Protection Division.

He urged the control of the rust’s spread to lower the risk to countries already impacted by high food prices.

Iran has said that it will bolster its research capacity to tackle the new fungus and develop wheat varieties that are rust-resistant.

Called Ug99, the disease first surfaced in Uganda and subsequently spread to Kenya and Ethiopia, with both countries experiencing serious crop yield losses due to a serious rust epidemic last year. Also in 2007, FAO confirmed that a more virulent strain was found in Yemen.

Sure, maybe it was carried by the wind — and maybe the fungus was introduced by man. Not so much a conspiracy theory when history is taken into account. For instance, back in 1977, the San Francisco Chronicle reported the CIA dispatched “anti-Castro terrorists” to introduce “African swine fever virus into Cuba in 1971…. Six weeks later an outbreak of the disease forced the slaughter of 500,000 pigs to prevent a nationwide animal epidemic.” It was so scary that the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization labeled the outbreak the “most alarming event” of 1971.

Read moreIran’s Wheat Fungus: Coincidence or Biological Warfare?

From Seeds of Suicide to Seeds of Hope: Navdanya’s Intervention to Stop Farmers’ Suicides in Vidharbha

The increasing costs of production and the falling farm prices that go hand in hand with globalisation and corporate hijack of seed supply, combined with the decline in farm credit is putting an unbearable debt burden on farmers. The lure of huge profits linked with clever advertising strategies evolved by the seeds and chemical industries are forcing farmers into a chemical treadmill and a debt trap. It has been witnessed that across the country, farmers are taking the desperate step of ending their life. The pesticides, which had created debt, also became the source of ending indebted lives. More than 150,000 farmers have committed suicide in India due to distortions introduced in agriculture as a result of trade liberalisation. More than 20,000 farmers have committed suicide in Andhra Pradesh alone.

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Read moreFrom Seeds of Suicide to Seeds of Hope: Navdanya’s Intervention to Stop Farmers’ Suicides in Vidharbha

Return of the Plague

Victims of the plague during the 1574 Siege of Leiden by the Spaniards black death black plague bubonic plague

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Like no other disease, plague evokes terror. One of the most lethal illnesses in human history, it killed probably a third of Europe’s population in the 14th century. It may also have been one of the first agents of biological warfare: It’s said that in the 1340s, invading Mongols catapulted their plague dead over the city wall into Kaffa in the Crimea.

Yet the plague is not just a disease of the distant past. While cases tapered off in the mid-20th century, the World Health Organization (WHO) now classifies plague as “re-emerging.” No one is predicting another pandemic like the Black Death that devastated Europe. The WHO now records at most only a few thousand cases worldwide per year; and, if detected early, the disease can be treated effectively with antibiotics. But since the early 1990s, plague has returned to places – including India, Zambia, Mozambique, Algeria and parts of China – that had not seen it in many years or even decades.

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Famines May Occur Without Record Crops This Year


Feb. 20 (Bloomberg) — Grain farmers will need to harvest record crops every year to meet increasing global food demand and avoid famine, Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. Chief Executive Officer William Doyle said.

People and livestock are consuming more grain than ever, draining world inventories and increasing the likelihood of shortages, Doyle said yesterday in an interview on Bloomberg Television. Global grain stockpiles fell to about 53 days of supply last year, the lowest level since record-keeping began in 1960, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“If you had any major upset where you didn’t have a crop in a major growing agricultural region this year, I believe you’d see famine,” Doyle, 57, said in New York.

Potash, the world’s largest maker of crop nutrients, has more than doubled in market value in the past year as record crop prices allowed farmers to spend more on fertilizer to boost yields. The company has more than doubled net income in the past two years to $1.1 billion and expects gross profit from potash to expand to $8 billion within five years from $912 million in 2007. Potash is a form of potassium that helps plants grow.

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