Saturday, March 9, 2013

WATCH: Santelli Battles Liesman Over Bogus Job Numbers

'Get the Fed out of the market!'
'When are markets going to be normal again. When is Bernanke going to stop!'
Santelli and Steve Liesman discuss the jobs report this morning on Squawk Box.
Today's Job Numbers
If you count those discouraged workers and involuntary part-timers as unemployed, the unemployment rate jumps to 14.3%, according to BLS.
Here's the official U-6 data from BLS:
Update on workers not officially counted by BLS:
RECORD 89,304,000 NOT WORKING...
Record 89M Americans 'Not in Labor Force' -- 296,000 Fewer Employed Since January
WHITES: 6.8%...
HISPANICS: 9.6%...
BLACKS: 13.8%...
TEENS: 25.1%...

Devaluation Of Currencies Are Coming - Gerald Celente - The Vinny Eastwood Show - March 7, 2013

MTV Congressman Gets Aggressive With Bernanke

Dr. Bernanke meets the Real World.
Bernanke battles MTV's Sean 'voice of the people' Duffy last week druing House testimony. Duffy is concerned the Fed Chairman is giving the wrong signal to Congress about the national debt, deficit spending and the incredibly over-hyped sequester.
Austerity my ass.  By the way, Duffy is wrong about interest on the debt.  Hell, he's not even close.  It's way worse than he thinks.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Debt Machine rolls on, borrowing $3 million per minute.

Related links:
MUST SEE: The Truth About The Sequester Cuts
Simple Sequester Math
CAUGHT ON TAPE: Obama Lies About Sequester
HILARIOUS: Maxine Waters Has The Sequester All Figured Out
Bloomberg: 'We Can Borrow INFINTE Amount Of Money'
'Thou Hast Sequestered Thy Lord, And My Wrath Is Great' - Obama Speaks
COMEDY: Drinking Your Way Through The Sequester

Bernanke - Gold Varmint

Mark Levin: Government Is “Simulating the Collapse of Our Financial System, the Collapse of Our Society and the Potential for Widespread Violence”

Along with Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, leading conservative radio host Mark Levin reaches tens of millions of listeners weekly, and what he talked about recently on his nationally syndicated show has sent shivers down the spines of many of them.
A few years ago this was fringe theory, restricted only to the sphere of alternative (conspiracy) news.
Warnings of a massive economic collapse, government stockpiling of weaponry, and the idea that Americans could be broadly classified as terrorists and then detained indefinitely or killed often fell upon deaf ears.
Today, as more information ‘leaks’ into the mainstream, it is no longer just conspiracy theory. We now have some of the most influential journalists and commentators in the country alerting Americans to the possibility that everything the government has been preparing for the last several years may soon be realized.
I’m going to tell you what I think is going on.
I don’t think domestic insurrection. Law enforcement and national security agencies, they play out multiple scenarios. They simulate multiple scenarios.
I’ll tell you what I think they’re simulating.
The collapse of our financial system, the collapse of our society and the potential for widespread violence, looting, killing in the streets, because that’s what happens when an economy collapses.
I’m not talking about a recession. I’m talking about a collapse, when people are desperate, when they can’t get food or clothing, when they have no way of going from place to place, when they can’t protect themselves.
There aren’t enough police officers on the face of the earth to adequately handle a situation like that.
I suspect, that just in case our fiscal situation collapses, our monetary situation collapses, and following it the civil society collapses – that is the rule of law – that they want to be prepared.
There is no other explanation for this.
Sourced via Red Flag News

The Pentagon and military have been war-gaming large-scale economic collapse and civil unrest for nearly four years. Those within our government who understand the ramifications a massive breakdown in our systems of commerce, transportation and justice are preparing by stockpiling weapons and ammo, tens of millions of food rations, and even emergency shelters. They are spending hundreds of billions of dollars on continuity of government programs and exercises, preparing for what they know is coming.
Now why would the government be doing this if there wasn’t a reasonable chance that such events could come to pass?
We’ve urged our readers to prepare a well thought out contingency plan for the very scenarios our government is spending your hard earned tax dollars on.
The government may be stockpiling and preparing, but understand that none of these emergency supplies are reserved for you and your family. Only essential personnel involved directly with government operations will have access to these critical survival supplies.
So you’d better have your own reserves. For those who fail to prepare, it will be horrific.
Hat tip Posse

Fractal analysis forecasting a super-sized correction? Mar 8 2013 CrushT...

Roubini: Correction in second half
Dr. Doom says U.S. fiscal drag will eventually catch up with the stock market in the second half of 2013.
Dollar rally just getting started: Societe Generale
Faber: Rally will end ‘badly’
Is It Really 2007 Again?
Don’t Lose Sight of The Macro Message: U.S. Personal Income Fell $505.5 Billion, Sales Plunge, French Unemployment Rises Again to Highest Since 1999, Fitch Downgrades Italy, China’s Economic Crisis Looming, Dollar Breaks 10-year Falling Channel And The Euro Is Breaking Down!

A World’s Record: More Than 30% of U.S. Population Unemployed

The number of Americans designated as “not in the labor force” in February was 89,304,000, a record high, up from 89,008,000 in January, according to the Department of Labor. This means that the number of Americans not in the labor force increased 296,000 between January and February.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) labels people who are unemployed and no longer looking for work as “not in the labor force,” including people who have retired on schedule, taken early retirement, or simply given up looking for work.
The increase marks the second month in a row, after rising in January from 88.8 million in December. Those not in the labor force had declined in December from 88.9 million in November.
89 million not in the labor force =  29%, give or take, assuming the US population is 310,000,000 + official unemployment 7.7%

Another all-time high for the Dow.

First the scoreboard:
Dow: 14,390, +61.4 pts, +0.4 percent
S&P 500: 1,551, +6.9 pts, +0.4 percent
NASDAQ: 3,244, +12.2 pts, +0.3 percent

FED continues to attempt to game the system while everyone suffers from this shitty economy!

You can tell these games are all about balance sheets. Who gives a flying fuck if the FEDS balance sheet has losses ? They just print up some more dollar script notes and walla!
Are they putting on this show for everyone to have concern while they rape and pillage the world?
from CNBC:

Under the existing plan, the Fed would commence asset sales at some point after policymakers begin to raise interest rates.
But things have changed since the plan was put in place.
Not only has the central bank’s balance sheet grown in value, but the average duration on the bonds has risen by 3 years to about 10 years. That means the Fed could suffer big losses on its portfolio later this decade if it sells assets when interest rates climb.
Bubble, loss concerns played down by Fed officials

The Fed’s balance sheet has reached $3 trillion in recent weeks.
When interest rates rise, the Fed may suffer losses that mean it will not pay any income to the government.
If Congress is feeling budget pressure, it may be unhappy with no income from the Fed.
This could lead the Fed to delay balance sheet normalization and fail to exit its easy policy as needed to keep inflation in check.
Powell said this scenario seemed “highly unlikely.”

Santelli: ‘Are We THAT Far Down the Hole?’

Financial Bubble to Collapse America

Ron Paul On Drones, Kill Lists, Bernanke And Gold

On Bernanke, gold and currency wars.
'Through 6,000 years of history, gold has always been money, and paper money has always failed.'
"Nothing good can come of a currency war.  Even short run trade benefits leads to a weaker economy and higher prices.  It doesn't solve the problem they won't face the truth.  That is that all governments spend too much money, there is too much debt and they get away with it by taxing people.  It seems that all we have is more debt, more printing money, and more government interventions.  Governments won’t even talk cutting things.  They only want to make slight decreases of proposed increases in their budgets!"
Feb. 18 - Bloomberg

On the drone threat and Obama's kill list.
'Extra-judicial killing is the opposite of justice.'
Transcript is here...
Feb. 18


Ron Paul with Tavis Smiley and Cornell West.
'Goverment always pretends to help the poor but always ends up helping the rich.'
Feb. 15

Photo - 'It is no coincidence that the century of total war coincided with the century of central banking.'

Here's a good read published yesterday:
Ron Paul’s Transition from Politician to Pundit | TIME Magazine Profile


Obamacare is a disaster.
Ron Paul with Alex Jones.  Rips Krugman at the 90-second mark.
Feb. 25


The truth about the sequester.
Transcript is here...
March 4


Immigration 'reform' will turn the U.S. into a police state.
Transcript is here...
Feb. 4


On military troop suicides and PTSD.
Beware The Consequences of Pre-Emptive War
Last year more US troops died by suicide than died in combat in Afghanistan. More than 20 percent of military personnel deployed to combat will develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  Some 32 percent of US soldiers reported depression after deployments.  More than 20 percent of active-duty military are on potentially dangerous psychotropic drugs; many are on multiple types.  Violent crime among active duty military members increased 31 percent between 2006-2011.
Transcript is here...
Feb. 11

Photo - End the Fed!

Greece Agrees to Give Up All of its Gold to Obtain Latest Bailout

The devil is in the details.  In this case, the details require Greece to give up all 111 tonnes of its gold in exchange for the latest bailout.  Which means that should Greece ever decide to do what they should have done in May 2010 and default on the banksters, they will now be SOL as far as international trade is concerned.
As far as the banksters are concerned, Greece with its 111 tonnes of gold are merely a practice run for the main event: Portugal with 382.5 tonnes of gold, France with 2,435.4 tonnes of gold and Italy with 2,451.8 tonnes of gold.

But down there in the small print of the Greek deal lies the nasty side for Greece. There lies a heavy penalty clause; Greece's lenders will have the right to seize the gold reserves in the Bank of Greece under the terms of the new deal. Greece has 111 tonnes of gold. In other words Greece has given up on its "money in extremis", gold. If they default they will have nowhere else to go.
Its international assets will be seized and it will not be able to trade internationally at all.
Today we are watching both Iran and the Sudan use their gold to buy food for their country as they have nowhere else and nothing else to get it with. Under the terms of this new deal Greece has effectively forfeited that last resort. And if they wanted to pull a last card from the pack by insisting on a Greek jurisdiction for any final arbitration, they have forfeited that too, by agreeing that future bonds issued will be governed by English law and in Luxembourg courts, conditions more favorable to creditors.
The option of leaving the Eurozone and surviving independently has now gone. If they do default [and many think the shrinking economy will force them down that road] they will have to accept whatever terms they can scrape together from the E.U. in order to survive! Greece is now a colony of the E.U. not a member!
Read more:

Austerity: Another "Policy Mistake" Again

Bust up big banks.(Photo: SEIU / Flickr)Capitalism prescribes the same policy mistakes over and over again - austerity, punishment for debtors (unless they are financial institutions), labor cost cutting – that exacerbate its inevitable crises. When will we attack the structural roots of crisis?
Shoddy political theater distracts people with vague demons called debt ceiling, fiscal cliff and now, sequester. Party leaders posture for major donors, media boosters and the faithful. They claim to save us from the demons. Meanwhile, backstage they all agree on austerity as the "necessary" response to "our major problem," namely federal budget "imbalance." "We" are spending "beyond our means," accumulating "government debts." So "we" must raise taxes and cut spending - impose austerity - to regain balance.
On January 1, payroll taxes rose (from 4.2 to 6.2 %) for 150 million Americans. Their checks shrank as that regressive tax became more so. Obama's hyped "tax increase for the rich" was comparatively trivial. It affected only the very few Americans earning over $450,000, raising their top tax rate from 35 percent to 39.6 percent. Our leaders hope we forgot the 1950s and 1960s, when the top tax rate was 91 percent. On March 1, the sequester hit, unleashing federal spending cuts.
Higher payroll taxes cut personal spending on goods and services; that worsens unemployment. That reduces income and sales taxes while requiring more unemployment compensation, thereby also worsening Washington's budget imbalance. By cutting federal spending on goods and services, the sequester also worsens unemployment, reduces tax revenues and increases unemployment compensation outlays. No wonder critics scream that austerity now is crazy and counterproductive. Europe's three-year austerity program pushed its unemployment rate in February 2013 to 11.9 percent.
Why do "our leaders" agree on austerity (and disagree only on its details)? Why ignore that austerity not only undercuts the economy, but risks the government's budget too? Why ignore alternatives to austerity? For example, tax the largest corporations and richest 3 percent to fund a bottom-up stimulus program. That could help balance the federal budget, directly aid most people and likely outperform the failed top-down (trickle down) policies of Bush and Obama. FDR's policies in the 1930s provide one example to start from.
One reason for austerity: Those who lent to Washington demand assurances that the US government will honor its debts 100 percent. One key assurance is a return to budget balance after the government's costly bailouts of major financial and other corporations. Lenders include chiefly banks, insurance companies, large corporations, rich individuals - the beneficiaries of those bailouts - pension funds and foreign governments. Those lenders' political contributions and broad social powers usually prevail in Washington.
Another reason for austerity is embarrassment. The financial industry was a crucial cause of the crisis, starting in 2007. It benefited most from the massive bailouts in late 2008 and 2009. Those bailouts caused the budget deficits, now suddenly declared to be "our major problem." The financial industry has been subsidized ever since. For example, it borrows from the Federal Reserve at much lower interest rates than it gets by relending the money to the US Treasury. If public discussion recognized that capitalism, crisis and the finance industry are systemic roots of our economic troubles today including the federal budget imbalance, criticism and demands for change might focus there. The system's supporters much prefer to narrow public attention to just the budget imbalance, to "fix" it without attention to its systemic root causes.
Another reason for austerity: It is a kind of "policy mistake" often generated in and by capitalism. Two examples can make this clear. Banks and other money-lenders often encounter borrowers unable to repay their debts. In anger, lenders demand punishment for defaulting borrowers (in poorhouses, workhouses, debtors prisons, etc.) only to discover that imprisoned borrowers are even less able and likely ever to repay debts. Punishing those borrowers, however briefly satisfying to lenders, can hurt lenders too. So bankruptcy laws and other means emerged for lenders and borrowers to work out mutually less damaging compromises. Periodically, lenders forget, overdo punishment, and rediscover again - after much wasteful suffering and pain - the self-destruction of that approach.
The second example concerns a contradiction at the core of the capitalist system. Capitalists always try to reduce the number and pay of their employees. Saving labor costs is standard business strategy. However capitalists eventually discover that that strategy can boomerang. Reducing workers' incomes - hiring fewer or paying them less -  usually means that capitalists sell less. Reduced sales can undermine capitalists' profits as much or more than lower labor costs raise them. Capitalist crises can, and often have, resulted from insufficient demand from workers as consumers. Nonetheless, capitalism's competitive structure imposes the need to cut labor costs, undermining demand and generating crises. The syndrome repeats periodically notwithstanding its massive social suffering and costs and the denunciation of its critics.
Austerity policies are just like policies of imprisoning defaulting debtors and endlessly cutting payrolls. They are short-sighted: capitalists deluded into imagining that mass economic suffering will not hurt them, too. Corporations, major shareholders and top executives are now determined to (1) evade paying the taxes that could balance the federal budget; (2) secure their holdings of government debt; and (3) keep public discussion and politics away from their responsibilities for crisis, and bailouts exclusively for themselves. They push austerity policies to achieve those goals and imagine no blowback from a deteriorating economy. When Americans catch up with the Europeans, who now increasingly confront exactly that blowback, they too will rediscover and debate alternatives.
Punishing debtors, cutting payrolls and imposing austerity keep happening. The capitalist system drives its people and enterprises to return to those policies even though their huge social costs and ultimate dangers for capitalists are rediscovered repeatedly. Usually, what forces that rediscovery and suspends those policies are mass resistance and opposition from below, from victims of the system's dysfunction. The critical question remains: When will people realize that the needed solutions are not primarily about debtors' prisons, relentless labor cost-cutting or austerity policies? The solutions, rather, converge into one basic issue: It is time to face and change the system that relentlessly re-imposes these costly "policy mistakes" on us all.
Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

Russia, Korea And Central Banks Accumulate Gold On Dip Below $1,600/oz

Central banks are among the shrewd investors who buy gold bullion on dips.  When gold was weak during May to July of 2012, central banks actively bought nearly 71 tonnes.
Russia and Kazakhstan’s bought 12.2 and 1.5 tonnes in January, but until the IMF reports official activity, may help the very poor sentiment towards gold today. Central banks utilize gold bullion to diversify their holdings and limit their foreign exchange exposure.
It was reported that South Korea bought 20 tonnes of gold last month rumoured to be below the $1,600/oz mark. This is the first purchase this year for South Korea, after they purchased 30 tonnes in 2012.  Previously they purchased in July 2012 at the same price levels. [Read more...]

WARREN: 'How Many Billions Have To Be Laundered For Drug Lords Before We Consider Shutting Down A Bank?'

Elizabeth Warren is still waiting for an answer.
In Senate testimony Thursday, Liz Warren asks how much drug-laundered money it takes before banking regulators consider shutting down a bank.  Hilarity ensues.  And no one ever answers the question.
Witnesses were:
  1. David Cohen, Sec. for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, U.S. Treasury
  2. Thomas Curry, Comptroller, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
  3. Jerome H. Powell, Governor, Federal Reserve System

WARREN: As Senator Reed just pointed out, the United States government takes money laundering very seriously for a very good reason.
Now in December, HSBC admitted to money laundering. To laundering $881 million that we know of for Mexican and Colombian drug cartels. And also admitted to violating our sanctions for Iran, Libya, Cuba, Burma, the Sudan. And they didn't do it just one time. It wasn't like a mistake. They did it over and over and over again across a period of years. And they were caught doing it. Warned not to do it. And kept right on doing it. And evidently making profits doing it.
Now HSBC paid a fine, but no one individual went to trial. No individual was banned from banking. And there was no hearing to consider shutting down HSBC's activities here in the United States. So what I'd like is, you're the experts on money laundering. I'd like your opinion. What does it take? How many billions of dollars do you have to launder for drug lords and how many economic sanctions do you have to violate before someone will consider shutting down a financial institution like this? Mr. Cohen, can we start with you?
COHEN: Certainly Senator. No question the activity that was the subject of the enforcement action against HSBC was egregious.
WARREN: But let me just move you along here on the point Mr. Cohen. My question is, given that this is what you did, what does it take to get you to move towards even a hearing? Even considering shutting down banking operations for money laundering?
COHEN: Senator, we at the Treasury Department under OFAC and (ph) authority, we don't have the authority to shut down a financial institution.
WARREN: I understand that. I'm asking, in your opinion, you are the ones who are supposed to be the experts on money laundering. You work with everyone else, including the Department of Justice. In your opinion, how many billions of dollars do you have to launder for drug lords, before somebody says, we're shutting you down?
WARREN: And I'm asking, what does it take, even to say, here's where the line is. We're going to draw a line here, and if you cross that line, you're at risk for having your bank closed?
COHEN: But I'm not going to get into some hypothetical line drawing exercise.
WARREN: Well it's somewhere beyond $881 million of drug money.
COHEN: Well Senator the actions, and I'm sure the regulators can address this issue. The actions that we took in the HSBC case, we thought were appropriate in that instance.
WARREN: So what you're saying to me is you are responsible for these banks, and again, I read your testimony and you talk about the importance of vigorous enforcement here. But you're telling me you have no view when it's appropriate to consider even a hearing to raise the question of whether or not these banks should have to close their operations when they engage in money laundering for drug cartels?
WARREN: I understand that I'm over my time.  And I'll just say here, if you're caught with an ounce of cocaine, the chances are good you're going to go to jail.  If it happens repeatedly you may go to jail for the rest of your life.  But evidently, if you launder nearly a billion dollars for drug cartels and violate our international sanctions, your company pays a fine and you go home and sleep in your own bed at night.  Every single individual associated with this.  I just, I think that's fundamentally wrong.
"How would you explain this to your neighbor?" Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) asked, noting that the fine slapped on HSBC amounted to about one percent of its profits over 10 years. "Does that really send a message?"

Photo by William Banzai7...

20 Places to Find Local Food and Family Farms Near You

Heather Callaghan
Activist Post

As demand for local and raw goods continue to rise, more people are asking - where do I find local organic? Where do I find raw milk and join a herd share? Where are the farmers markets, co-ops and stands?

Search engines are actually terrible at locating these underground hubs, which makes it so frustrating to try and opt out of corporate chains, save money, and build your family's health. If you've ever gotten a bunch of 'Yelp' listings for weight loss pills while searching, you know what I'm talking about. I've helped a few people find a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) but I found it by accident. So where are they all hiding?

As it turns out, many of the farmers and markets you're looking for have teamed up with certain websites to be mapped. Use this easy list to find yours today. They won't all be on the same map, but you will be sure to find markets and family farms in your area that were previously invisible.

Why you should bookmark and try them all - not all the hubs will be organic, some are just local. Some don't provide raw milk but could lead you there. Some have other resources like healthy body care, organic delivery or restaurants serving your favorite farm finds worth looking into. Some of the websites don't share your political perspective or stance on health and were possibly supported by agencies and organizations you don't care for. But that's okay, take only what you need and leave the rest.

20 Quick Resources to Find Local Food, Farms, Markets, Stands, Co-ops and more!

Farmerspal - Click the map or your state to find organic, markets, grocers, online shopping and more. Make sure you like their Facebook page for other great resources.

FarmMatch - Unique because whoever you are, you can put yourself on the map to be matched with producers in your area. Create your food profile today.

 LocalDirt - Helps you buy right from the farm. It's also a marketplace that allows you to sell and trade. Got eggs? Sell them to your neighbors here. It also allows groups and co-ops to set up bulk orders right there. This one is worth revisiting time and again to check out all its features.

Weston A Price Chapter Leaders - This is my favorite, because it puts you in touch with passionate people who give their time to connect you to your CSA and quite possibly raw milk and dairy. They will have the latest sources. Weston A. Price Foundation is a wealth of knowledge for traditional foods and health.

Real Milk Finder - Also from Weston A. Price, this locator could help you to your raw milk and dairy herd share source. Please keep in mind, raw milk availability really depends on your state laws. And not all of the herd share programs are listed there so be sure to read the next important list item.

Meetup - This seems like a weird place to get the connections but it makes sense. Meetup allows groups to safely connect online and publicly meet to enjoy hobbies, clubs, politics, education - anything. It's just people meeting up, doing what they love, learning or just having fun - I attribute so many happy, life-changing times to this website. This is how I found my CSA! I went to a nutrition wholefoods meetup to take free natural food classes. The woman running it was a Weston A. Price chapter leader who graciously led me through the entire process and got me connected to raw milk and pasture-fed foods. Wherever people who are passionate about their lifestyle meet, you are sure to pick up a wealth of resources and support. You should check it out to find like-minded people and get out there. I've made great friends this way. Some people find their soul mate!

Eat Wild - #1 website for all things grass fed. Their map includes Canada and connects you with grassfed wild foods, even companies who ship directly to you.

LocalHarvest - Another mapping site that allows you to find CSAs, Co-ops, open farms, markets, delis, stores and more. Thankfully, it's been around for awhile. Unfortunately, that could mean some of the info is outdated. Always good to call ahead - don't be afraid to talk to farmers and ask questions. - Created by FarmAid (another educational farm source), offers lots of education and provided some of the links in this article. It also has its own map to find local fare. FarmAid also has a list of open Winter Markets worth checking. They also list two maps to find wild catch and pastured cattle and dairy farms. Local Catch and HomeGrownCow.

Organic Consumers Association - Plug your zip code in and you'll be in touch with not just healthy GMO-free food sources but all kinds of natural health businesses - even skin care, acupuncture and more.

RealTimeFarms - Nicely designed, simple to use map shows farmers, artisans, restaurants, markets and more right in your town. Also search by ingredient or certified organic. Very eye-opening!

FarmPlate - Holy cow! Find everything in your area including apiaries, bakeries, stands, herbalists, confectioners and more. They've got it all.

Market Maker - Is another cool marketplace to buy and sell healthy homegrown.

EatWellGuide - Find local sustainable food. Is supported by lots of big partners so you know the locator will work great.

Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food - This comes from the USDA in an effort to be more "sustainable" and local. Maybe it's to deflect from the tens of billions of dollars going into Big Agri subsidies, the small farm crushing fines of the Food Safety Act, or the GMO deregulation that will run roughshod over local and organic fare. It makes me nervous that the federal government wants to get super cozy with local and have it compassed on a map. But, it does offer a stunning visual of a variety of farms and markets, not just USDA supported ones. You can also find markets near you here. Enjoy it - you paid for it.

EatLocalGrown - Wouldn't it be great to know if your food has GMOs or not? Eat Local Grown agrees and locates sources near you. They also have informative beginner's articles, new food provider listings, and over 50,000 Likes on Facebook.

Food Routes - Has an outreach called Buy Fresh, Buy Local with chapter leaders who will help you do just that.

WWOOF - World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms is a buddy to (awesome permaculture resource) and a volunteer exchange. People volunteer to learn and work an organic farm and they can get room and board in exchange. Some would call it a free vacation. It's an opportunity to travel, see what it takes to cultivate, and...find a farm!

So there you have it - 20 places to locate local food and the farmer right in your area. Did I leave out an important resource? Do you have any questions? Please share your resources and questions below and please let us know if any of the links above helped you with your search.

Hen image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The NATO Economy, the solution to the U.S. crisis

New Secretary of State John Kerry’s first contacts were not devoted to the Asia pivot (transfer of U.S. forces to the Far East) or the partition plan for the Middle East, but to the creation of a NATO economy, without arousing the slightest concern in Europe. However, should it be implemented quickly, this project would solve the economic crisis in the United States at the expense of Europeans.
JPEG - 22.5 kb
Press Conference of John Kerry and Guido Westerwelle in Berlin, February 26.
During his annual State of the Union address, President Barack Obama unilaterally announced the opening of negotiations for a Transatlantic Global Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union (12 February). A few hours later, the scoop was confirmed by a joint statement from the U.S. President and the Presidents of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy and European Commission, José Manuel Barroso.
The transatlantic free trade area project was officially launched on the sidelines of negotiations for the North America Free Trade Zone (NAFTA) in 1992. Following a process of growth, Washington wanted to expand this area to the European Union. However, at the time, voices were raised in the United States to postpone this same absorption until the World Trade Organization was established and stabilized. There was fear that the two projects might collide rather than reenforce one another.
The creation of a transatlantic market is only part of a larger project, including the creation of a real government with a supra-institutional transatlantic economic council, a transatlantic policy council and transatlantic parliamentary assembly. These three bodies have been created in embryo without any publicity.
Their architecture harkens back to a very old project of creating a vast capitalist bloc uniting all States under Anglo-American influence. We can find traces of this in the secret clauses of the Marshall Plan and especially in the North Atlantic Treaty (Article 2). That is why no differentiation is made between the transatlantic union and the NATO economy.
From this point of view, it is significant to note that, on the U.S. side, this project is not monitored by the Commerce Department but by the National Security Council.
We have a glimpse of the transatlantic union’s mode of operation by observing how conflicts were resolved concerning the sharing of personal data. Europeans have very demanding standards for the protection of privacy, while American officialdom can do anything it wants using the fight against terrorism as a justification. After shuttling back and forth, Europeans are laying down as the Americans have imposed their one-way model: the Americans copy European data, while the Europeans have no access to US data.
In economic matters, the idea is to repeal tariffs and non-tariff barriers, that is to say local standards that render certain imports impossible. Washington wants to quietly sell its GMOs in Europe, its chickens treated with chlorine, and its hormone-laced beef. It wants to mine data from Facebook and Google etc. without being hampered by privacy protections.
To this long-term strategy are added medium term tactics. In 2009-2010, Barack Obama had set up a Committee of economic advisers chaired by Christina Romer, historian. This specialist of the Great Depression of 1929, had developed the idea that the only solution to the current crisis in the United States would be to cause a shift of European capital to Wall Street. To this end, Washington has barred most non-Anglo-Saxon tax havens, then played with the euro. Capitalists in search of stability encountered difficulties in transferring their money to the United States, however. The NATO economy will make it easier. The USA will save their economy by attracting European capital, thus to the detriment of Europeans.
Beyond the uneven nature of this project and the trap it represents in the immediate future, the most important thing is that the interests of the United States and those of the European Union are in reality divergent. The United States and the United Kingdom are maritime powers who have a historical interest in transatlantic trade. It was even their goal expressed in the Atlantic Charter during the Second World War. In contrast, continental Europeans have common interests with Russia, especially in energy. By continuing to obey Washington as during the Cold War, Brussels does a disservice to Europeans.

Malaysia Invaded - 100's of Terrorists Land on Beaches, Western Media Mute

Source: Tony Cartalucci, BLN Contributor

Hundreds of heavily armed terrorists have crossed from the Philippines and landed in the eastern Malaysian state of Sabah. Dozens are already dead, and the Malaysian military has brought in aircraft and armor to confront the audacious, bizarre invasion, scattering militants into the jungles of Borneo island. A seemingly headline news event, the invasion has been downplayed and spun by the Western media, many calling militant Al Qaeda-linked terrorists, an "armed Filipino clan."

Image: Malaysia has called in air support and armor to confront a bizarre terrorist invasion in its eastern state of Sabah.

The West's woeful, irresponsible coverage of a burgeoning region-wide destabilization, fits in nicely with its coverage of US-Saudi funded/armed terrorism around the world, including in Syria where US-funded terrorists of the so-called "Free Syrian Army" have just taken dozens of UN peacekeepers hostage in the Golan Heights - just days after the US announced it would fund the terrorists further, to the tune of $60 million and the West's Arab partners have just granted the terrorist faction Syria's seat at the "Arab League."

Terrorists are US-Saudi Funded Extremists - Part of Engineered Destabilization.

While the West pleads ignorance over the identity of the militants held up in the jungles of Malaysia's Sabah state, the militant organizations themselves have declared thousands more in reinforcements are being arranged in the Philippines to join and exasperate the conflict. The Free Malaysia Today newspaper reported in its article, "10,000 Tausugs to sail to Sabah," that :
Thousands of Tausug from Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi have sailed to Sabah to reinforce members of the so-called royal army of the sultanate of Sulu who are fighting it out with Malaysian security forces, a Moro National Liberation Front official said Tuesday.
The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) of course, is one of several of Al Qaeda's franchises in Southeast Asia, and spun off the notorious terrorist organization, Abu Sayyaf, a US State Department-listed foreign terrorist organization with direct ties to Al Qaeda.

The Philippines' terrorist organizations, located amongst the country's southern islands have long held ties to Al Qaeda and receive funding and support from Saudi Arabia. AFP reported in their 2010 article, "WikiLeaks: US suspected Saudi ambassador to the Philippines of terror link," that:
The United States suspected a Saudi Arabian ambassador to the Philippines of potential involvement in funding terrorists, according to US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks this week.
The report would also state:
Francis Townsend cited Waly’s intervention to secure the release of two members of an Islamic charity detained in the Philippines, the cable showed.

The group was suspected of funnelling funds to Al-Qaeda-linked groups based in the southern Philippines.
It continued stating:
The February 24, 2007, US embassy cable named the charity suspected of terror financing in the Philippines as IIRO, which stands for the International Islamic Relief Organisation.
Intelligence agencies have said IIRO was set up by Muhammad Jamal Khalifa, a brother-in-law of Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.
The report concluded by stating:
Overall, the WikiLeaks cables singled out Saudi Arabia as the key source of funding for radical Islamist groups including Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hamas.
Saudi Arabia is of course is the chief financier of Al Qaeda, and is currently leading efforts to fund, arm, and fill the ranks of Al Qaeda's franchises from Mali and Libya, to Syria and Iraq. A multitude of reports from across the West have identified Saudi Arabia as the lynch pin in Al Qaeda's global terror campaign, including the US Army West Point Combating Terrorism Center.

Its reports "Al-Qa'ida's Foreign Fighters in Iraq" and "Bombers, Bank Accounts and Bleedout: al-Qa'ida's Road In and Out of Iraq," identify a vast terrorist network maintained by the Saudis that recruits, arms, and funds terrorists from across the Muslim World, and can funnel a mercenary army into any desired nation. At the time, the desired nation was Iraq. In 2011, it was Libya. Today it is Syria. The same network that US soldiers fought in Iraq is verifiably in use today, in support of US regime-change operations in Syria.

And while it is acknowledged across even the Western mainstream media that Saudi Arabia is a notorious state-sponsor of terrorism, including the terrorists allegedly behind the September 11, 2001 attacks that left 3,000 Americans dead, the US has had a decades-long, deep economic and military relationship with the despotic Arabian autocracy.

The US maintains permanent military bases inside Saudi Arabia, funds the Saudi military, and has recently concluded the largest arms deal in US history with the Saudis. Additionally, Saudi Arabia's brutally repressive internal security apparatus is a creation of US advisers and operators.

The Saudi royal family and the elite amongst the US corporate-financier Fortune 500, have maintained deep financial and political ties as well. Saudi Arabian corporate-financier interests (run by the royal family) are tied directly to Wall Street and London via conglomerations like the US-Saudi Arabian Business Council and representation upon the JP Morgan International Council (Khalid Al-Falih of Saudi Aramco, amongst the highest valued companies on Earth).

This also includes the Bin Laden family, whose multi-billion dollar Saudi Binladin Group is an active member of the US-Saudi Arabian Business Council and plays a central role in deciding bilateral policy for the benefit of collective US-Saudi corporate-financier and corresponding geopolitical interests. At one point, the Bin Ladens and the Bush family sat around the same table, as both families were involved in the equity firm, Carlyle. In fact, Bush and Bin Laden family members were clicking champagne glasses together in Washington on 9/11, an event that would make both families immensely rich in the coming decade.

It is clear, most acutely in Libya and Syria, that the use of Saudi Arabia's global Al Qaeda mercenary army serves both Saudi Arabia's interests as well as Western geopolitical ambitions, including to exact regime change around the world. And it just so happens that the West and Saudi Arabia both seek regime change in currently Russo-Iranian-Chinese friendly Malaysia.

West Attempts to Install Client Regime in Malaysia

The West has been propping up Malaysian opposition candidate Anwar Ibrahim for years.

Anwar Ibrahim, head of Malaysia's opposition coalition, which includes the Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), has spent a lifetime in the service of Western interests. Anwar Ibrahim was Chairman of the Development Committee of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 1998, held lecturing positions at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, was a consultant to the World Bank, and a panelist at the Neo-Con lined National Endowment for Democracy's "Democracy Award" and a panelist at a NED donation ceremony - the very same US organization whose subsidiaries are funding and supporting Bersih, a faux-pro-democracy Western-funded street movement that in fact was created by, and in the service of Anwar Ibrahim's political ambitions.

Bersih's street activism fits into a global pattern of Western-backed "color revolutions," where meddling in sovereign nation's political processes to install Western-client regimes is disguised as "democracy promotion."

Anwar Ibrahim's affiliations with Malaysian "Islamists," the already active political subversion his US State Department-funded Bersih movement is sowing in Malaysia's streets, and his Western backers' habitual support for terrorism internationally as a geopolitical tool, raises the possibility that his opposition movement is complicit in the conveniently timed militant destabilization Malaysia now faces, only months before 2013's general elections.

This may be why the Western media refuses to properly cover an otherwise very noteworthy conflict. The fact that these militants are emanating from long-time US ally, the Philippines, and the Philippines' current role in assisting the US "pivot" towards Asia, and more specifically facilitating a proxy confrontation with China, illustrates the greater regional implications at play. The US intends to install client regimes in Myanmar led by Aung San Suu Kyi, Thailand led by Thaksin Shinawatra's despotic political dynasty, and in Malaysia led by Anwar Ibrahim. Together, this front will then be turned against Chinese interests as part of a long-planned desire to encircle and contain China.

It will be done so under ASEAN and at the cost of Asia's stability and prosperity.

The future of Asia hangs in the balance, and therefore conflicts like Malaysia's battle against armed extremists in Sabah may not be covered by the Western press, but it must be covered by the alternative press. The unhinged insanity that is now spilling blood on Malaysia's shores, also represented by the West's proxy Anwar Ibrahim and his attempts to provoke street protests against the ruling government, illustrates just how dangerous the current Anglo-American international order is, and how far its reach extends.

We must identify the corporate-financier interests driving this agenda, - interests we most likely patronize on a daily basis, and both boycott and permanently replace them to erode the unwarranted influence they have used, and will continue to use against people the world over.

At the open: Dow hits record but jobs report euphoria soon fades

The Dow Jones industrial average sprinted to a record intraday high at the open to above the 14,400 mark, but the rally soon fizzled out as celebration over a strong February jobs report was replaced by worries that stocks may have been bid up too quickly this week.
The inevitable concern that the improvement in the U.S. labour market may cause the U.S. Fed to ease back on its stimulus measures was also taming enthusiasm for stocks. U.S. financials were particularly under pressure.
The TSX was lower in early trading, hurt by sinking gold prices that have been pressured by the flight of money to higher-risk assets such as stocks. The lacklustre TSX performance came despite Canadian job creation showing remarkable strength last month, helping the loonie to recover some of this week's losses against the greenback. 
At 1017 a.m. (ET), the Dow was up 15 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 14,344 after earlier hitting an intraday record high of 14,413.
The broader S&P 500 index was nearly unchanged after hitting a high of 1,552 near the open, closing in on its record closing high of 1,565.15 from October of 2007.
The S&P/TSX composite index was down 7 points, or 0.05 per cent, at 12,819. Gold was down $11.30 at $1,563.80 (U.S.) per ounce. Other commodities weren't doing great either: crude oil was down 21 cents at $91.35 and copper was down 0.2 per cent at $3.51 per pound.
The U.S. non-farm payrolls report showed the net creation of 236,000 jobs last month. Economists were looking for 165,000 jobs. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate fell to 7.7 per cent, its lowest level since 2008 and also a better reading than what was expected.
In Canada, February's job figures were much stronger than anticipated, with net employment gains of 50.700 more than five times what economists had called for. The unemployment rate, as expected, held at 7 per cent. The loonie is trading up about one-third against the greenback.
Among stocks moving on news this morning was Pandora Media Inc., with its shares are up 24 per cent after it reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter results late Thursday and announced its CEO plans to step down.
On the TSX, SNC-Lavalin Group hiked its dividend by 4.5 per cent as it reported an increase in profit and revenue in the final quarter of 2012. But investors weren't impressed by the numbers; the stock opened down 6 per cent at $43.10.
Overnight, Japan's Nikkei rallied 2.6 per cent, climbing for the seventh day in a row and reaching a fresh multi-year high as the yen fell against the U.S. dollar. The country released a revision to fourth-quarter gross domestic product to show an annual 0.2-per-cent increase, much better than last month's initial reading of a 0.4-per-cent contraction. It also said its current account deficit rose in January.
Traders also absorbed more data from China overnight. Its exports rose 21.8 per cent in February, down slightly from January's 25 per cent but beating low expectations given that the period encompasses the Lunar New Year holidays, when manufacturers traditionally close. Imports plunged 13.8 per cent, but that was met with little concern because of the impact of the holidays.

Foreign Lottery Scam Costs 81-Year-Old Nearly Half A Million Dollars

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A scam targeting the elderly causes a man to give away $400,000 in six years after he says he was told he’d receive more than a million dollars in prizes.
Rochelle Ritchie explains that man is warning others not to follow in his footsteps.
The question that comes to mind when you hear these kinds of stories is “Why would anyone do that?” Well, this elderly man says he saw it as an opportunity to pay for his wife’s medical expenses.

A growing lottery scam out of Jamaica is costing Americans millions.
“We see these almost on a daily basis,” said Frank Schissler, U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service says lottery fraud out of Jamaica and Canada are growing more prevalent by the day, and targeting the elderly with promises of big bucks.
“We’re estimating losses at over $42 million in the last three years,” said Schissler.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, in 2008, just under 3,700 scams were reported. In 2012, that number jumped to almost 30,000.
Norman Breidenbaugh, 81, is hoping what happened to him won’t happen to anyone else.
“I don’t have a pot to go in or a window to heave it out of, I lost everything,” he said.

BRICS Development Bank Could Break Dollar Hegemony

Source: BDL
South Africa’s chances of playing a significant role in the mooted Brics bank now depend on President Jacob Zuma’s negotiation skills.
International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane says that while the country will not say no to a chance to host the bank, it was now up to negotiations at the level of president among Brics member countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and SA).
South Africa will host the fifth Brics summit in Durban from March 26-27 as it looks to stake its claim on this body of emerging economies, which aspires to be an alternative economics and politics club.
While South Africa is the smallest of the Brics economies, it has set its sights on hosting the bloc’s planned development bank. Pretoria diplomats feel that the country’s distinguished financial services sector — hailed in 2008 for its sophistication at a time when US and UK banks were at the centre of a global financial crisis — stood South Africa in good stead.
However, as a “junior” partner to countries like China, it maybe wishful thinking to expect its financial services glamour to guarantee it host status.
Pretoria, with backing from the African National Congress, has been lobbying for the right to have the bank based in South Africa.
The option of having the bank co-hosted in two countries has also been considered, as technocrats and diplomats in these countries trash out preliminary issues ahead of the Durban summit, where the development bank will be launched.
Diplomats and leaders from the Bricks countries are also thrashing out details on the proposed currency swap mechanism — a potentially game-changing idea that could take on the dollar, euro and other currencies.
Brics countries are looking at ways to establish a foreign-exchange reserve pool, along with a currency-swap arrangement, meant to insulate these emerging economies against the economic woes faced by developed economies.
Ms Nkoana-Mashabane says she envisages a conclusion of the discussion on the currency swap to happen in Durban. The idea behind a currency swap was meant to keep trade among the Brics countries within the confines of this league’s currencies, so that “you don’t have to go through other countries that are not involved in the transaction”.
Intra-Brics trade is more than $300bn and is expected to reach the $500b n mark by 2015.
Together with the proposed development bank, intra-Brics trade and currency pooling are some of the key issues ahead of the Durban summit. It is hoped the bank, with a $50bn starting capital, would rival the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, which are dominated by established economies.
Brics countries will pool resources to fund development projects within their countries but these would not exclude other states. The bank would also fund projects in developing countries that are outside the Brics league.
Pretoria diplomats are determined in their campaign to host the bank. “Of course hosting it will be good,” says Ms Nkoana-Mashabane. “But not just good because it’s good to host an institution, (but) because SA has something to offer. We … have the capacity to run the best financial services in the world. We are a very sound, dependable democracy, with an independent foreign policy,” she says.
It would also be wise for South Africa to be ready to settle for nominating a citizen to run the bank, in the event that Brics presidents don’t agree on South Africa hosting it.
South Africa is gearing up to be the chair country for the whole year after the summit. That will put Pretoria in the driving seat in the implementation of the Durban declaration, the minister says.

French workers accused of 'being lazy' by U.S. tycoon riot on streets as last ditch protest to save 1,200 jobs descends into violence

  • Workers from the Amiens Goodyear plant gathered at the company offices
  • They were told at the end of January that the plant would close imminently
  • As union bosses met with managers the protest in Paris turned violent
  • New figures show French unemployment levels at their highest since 1999

  • Workers at a French tyre-making factory clashed with riot police today as last-ditch protests aimed at saving their jobs turned violent.
    Staff from the Goodyear factory in northern France gathered outside the company's offices near Paris as they continued to rally against attempts to restructure or close the Amiens plant which employs 1,200 people.
    But as union representatives met with company management inside, protestors fought with police on the streets outside, setting fire to piles of tyres.
    The trouble flared as it was announced that unemployment figures in France had reached their highest for more than 13 years in the last quarter of 2012.
    It also comes after American tycoon Maurice Taylor - chairman of U.S. tyre giant Titan International -  refused to rescue the Goodyear tyre factory because its workers are 'lazy, overpaid and talk too much'.
    Scroll down for video
    Clashes: Riot police are pictured near Paris today as a last ditch protest by workers to save a Goodyear plant that employs 1,200 staff descended into violence
    Clashes: Riot police are pictured near Paris today as a last ditch protest by workers to save a Goodyear plant that employs 1,200 staff descended into violence

    Anger: Tyres can be seen burning in the foreground as Goodyear staff clash with police in Paris today
    Anger: Tyres can be seen burning in the foreground as Goodyear staff clash with police in Paris today

    Riot: Police form a line to drive protestors back as a fire rages close by. The workers were told in January that their factory in Amiens is to close imminently
    Riot: Police form a line to drive protestors back as a fire rages close by. The workers were told in January that their factory in Amiens is to close imminently
    Maurice "Morry" Taylor delivered the crushing summary of how some outsiders view France's work ethic in a letter
    In the letter released on Feburary 19, Mr Taylor said his company would not be buying a Goodyear tyre plant in Amiens that is threatened with closure and the loss of 1,170 jobs, telling French industry ministry Arnaud Montebourg: 'I have visited the factory several times.
    'The French workforce gets paid high wages but works only three hours.
    'They get one hour for breaks and lunch, talk for three hours and work for three. I told the French union workers this to their faces. They told me that's the French way!'
    The letter sent by Mr Taylor sparked a row with the government, with Mr Montebourg branding the description ‘ridiculous’, saying that he would instruct government agencies – including the tax office – to examine Mr Taylor’s business with ‘redoubled zeal’.
    Goodyear said on January 31 that it would be closing its main French plant and cutting its workforce in France by 39 percent amid labor disputes and plunging car demand in Europe.
    The issue is now creating unrest in Paris as one demonstrator tore away a policeman's shield while another hit the officer on the head.
    Only a spray of tear gas pushed the mob back.
    The tyre firm announced that it was to close the plant at the end of January.

    Today's meetings between unions and management are said to be to discover the findings of an independent report into the social and economic impact that the closure of the plant will have.
    The French Government is proposing to reform the labor regulation that has held up the factory's closure after five years of attempts by the company to restructure the plant.
    Line of defence: Police sprayed tear gas at demonstrators in a bid to drive them back
    Line of defence: Police sprayed tear gas at demonstrators in a bid to drive them back

    Burning rubber: Officers look on as a demonstrator wearing a Goodyear protest slogan T shirt throws another tyre onto a raging fire
    Burning rubber: Officers look on as a demonstrator wearing a Goodyear protest slogan T shirt throws another tyre onto a raging fire

    Running battles: Protestors attempt to storm a barricade as police fend them off outside the Goodyear offices in west Paris
    Running battles: Protestors attempt to storm a barricade as police fend them off outside the Goodyear offices in west Paris

    The workers were infuriated last month when tyre executive Taylor, CEO of Titan International, said the plant was 'not worth saving'.
    The fortunes of the Goodyear plant are in stark contrast to that of a Dunlop plant just across the road which is going from strength to strength.
    The two plants, whose shared parent is Goodyear Dunlop, chose different destinies four years ago when Dunlop's unions accepted tougher labour conditions and Goodyear's rejected them.
    Now Goodyear faces closure, while Dunlop has received more than 50 million euros in investment.

    Union leaders at the two plants on the outskirts of Amiens, where riots erupted last August, were friends before a management request to merge the plants and switch to four daily work shifts from three previously tore them apart in 2009.
    Scuffle: One worker is seen kicking out at a riot policeman who tries to use his shield to protect himself
    Scuffle: One worker is seen kicking out at a riot policeman who tries to use his shield to protect himself

    Violence: One protestor was seen taking a policeman's shield while another threw a punch at him
    Violence: One protestor was seen taking a policeman's shield while another threw a punch at him
    Defending the country's work ethic a fortnight ago, Mr Montebourg said that America was in fact the top foreign investor in France, with 4,200 US companies employing nearly half a million people within the country.
    Haviland & Co. has been present in France since 1842, IBM since 1914, Coca-Cola since 1933 and General Electric since 1974, while last year companies including Massey Ferguson, Mars chocolate and 3M chose to invest further in France.
    Mr Montebourg added: ‘But most importantly, in contrast to your ridiculous and derogatory comments, all these companies know and appreciate the quality and productivity of the French workforce and the commitment, know-how, talent and skills of French workers.’
    Apparently warning Mr Taylor against further attacks, Mr Montebourg wrote: ‘In the meantime, rest assured that you can count on me to have the competent government agencies survey your imported tyres with a redoubled zeal.’
    But the government is now facing a growing problem to find a rescuer for the troubled plant.
    Heated: A plume of black smoke billows high into the air as riot police stand close to the flames generated by the burning tyres
    Heated: A plume of black smoke billows high into the air as riot police stand close to the flames generated by the burning tyres

    The trouble erupted as it was announced today that French unemployment figures had reached their highest for more than 13 years.
    The sixth consecutive quarterly increase means that 10.6 per cent of French residents were unemployed in the last quarter of 2012, according to the national statistics institute Insee.
    It also means that unemployment in the country is at its highest since the second quarter of 1999 and is the latest bad news for a government that has admitted it will fall far short of growth and public deficit targets this year.
    The French economy also contracted by 0.6 per cent in the last three months of the year.
    Other data published on Thursday showed a widening trade deficit.
    The figures prompted renewed calls from the French Government for action at a European level to help improve the Euro Zone's second largest economy.
    The European commission has predicted that unemployment in the country will reach 10.7 per cent this year, nearly double the unemployment rate in Germany and only slightly behind Italy's 11.6 per cent.
    But France's unemployment rate is still far better than in Greece and Spain.
    President Francois Hollande took power last May promising to halt a relentless rise in unemployment which has left one in four youths out of work and vowing to restore France’s industrial competitiveness.
    The president’s approval ratings have slumped to around 30 percent since then as his government battles against a tide of factory closures.
    After backtracking last month on growth and deficit targets, he conceded the unemployment goal would now be harder to reach.

    Maine Town Declares Food Sovereignty

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    Sedgwick, Maine has done what no other town in the United States has done. The town unanimously passed an ordinance giving its citizens the right “to produce, process, sell, purchase, and consume local foods of their choosing.” This includes raw milk, locally slaughtered meats, and just about anything else you can imagine. It’s also a decided bucking of state and federal laws.
    From David Gumpert’s coverage:
    This isn’t just a declaration of preference. The proposed warrant added, “It shall be unlawful for any law or regulation adopted by the state or federal government to interfere with the rights recognized by this Ordinance.” In other words, no state licensing requirements prohibiting certain farms from selling dairy products or producing their own chickens for sale to other citizens in the town.
    What about potential legal liability and state or federal inspections? It’s all up to the seller and buyer to negotiate. “Patrons purchasing food for home consumption may enter into private agreements with those producers or processors of local foods to waive any liability for the consumption of that food. Producers or processors of local foods shall be exempt from licensure and inspection requirements for that food as long as those agreements are in effect.” Imagine that–buyer and seller can agree to cut out the lawyers. That’s almost un-American, isn’t it?
    I applaud the residents of Sedgwick for making such a bold stand. Three other Maine towns are also slotted to vote on a similar ordinance in the coming weeks.
    I wonder, though, about how enforceable such a law is if the state or federal government chose to challenge it. In response to a similar question, Edwin Shank (of Your Family Cow) commented on Gumpert’s post:
    I’m not one of the “lawyers here” but my observation is that when the local law chooses to prohibit more than the rest of the state, nation or organization they will usually get by with it. It is when local law moves to allow more latitude that the trouble starts.
    For example, I can imagine that if a county in PA would take a Humbolt CA position on raw milk, the state would take an it’s-up-to-them position. But if local law in an area moved to allow raw butter, cream, kefir & yogurt… I’m sure it would not get to first base.
    Still, I say Kudos to the fine folks of Sedgwick Maine. Their common sense bravery warms the heart of every awake American. If nothing else, their move will bring the ridiculousness of the situation to the consciousness of another percent or so of Americans. One American at a time the tipping point will be reached.
    Deborah Evans, one of the citizens of Sedgwick also commented:
    The problem with your question is that nobody really knows the answer. In Maine, there are maybe ten or so “citizen-initiated rights-based” ordinances like ours, passed in various towns in recent years, on a variety of issues. For instance, Montville passed an ordinance forbidding the planting of GMO’s several years ago. ME’s Dept of Ag wrote them a letter saying they could not do that according to some legal point, whereupon Montville’s counsel wrote back that they could do it because of a different point of law. As far as we know, that was that.
    Also, Maine has “home rule” for its towns in the statutes. The Maine Municipal Association published “Municipal Home Rule: Grassroots Democracy or A Symbolic Gesture,” (from Maine Townsman, January 1983) by Michael L. Starn, Editor. In this article, he writes:
    Municipal home rule in Maine is both constitutional and legislative. The constitutional provision can be found in the Constitution of the State of Maine, Art. VII, Pt.2, §1, and was adopted in public referendum in 1969. The amendment reads:
    “The inhabitants of any municipality shall have the power to alter and amend their charters on all matters, not prohibited by Constitution or general law, which are local and municipal in character. The legislature shall prescribe the procedure by which the municipality may so act.”
    Our Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance states:
    (1) Producers or processors of local foods in the Town of Sedgwick are exempt from licensure and inspection provided that the transaction is only between the producer or processor and a patron when the food is sold for home consumption. . . .
    (2) Producers or processors of local foods in the Town of Sedgwick are exempt from licensure and inspection provided that the products are prepared for, consumed or sold at a community social event.”
    Therefore, we the radicals who concocted this mutinous act of infamy believe that according to the Home Rule provisions of our State Constitution, the citizens of Sedgwick have the right to enact an ordinance that is “local and municipal in character.”
    David posted a link to our ordinance template so please feel free to read it over as I think some of your questions will be answered there. Having founded our legal position in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the State of Maine, we feel that if a challenge is posed it can only be resolved in a court of higher authority.
    The Farmer to Consumer Legal Defense Fund, the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund and the Alliance for Democracy have all aided us in our efforts to construct this ordinance over the last year. We have had the civics lesson of our lives – and it all started with a few of us sitting around a farmhouse kitchen table, having been gobsmacked by our Dept of Ag over a “new interpretation” of the 1,000-bird processing exemption..
    Regardless of the outcome when all the votes are counted, Sedgwick and the other three towns have stood up and taken a stand on what matters in our communities. We know of several other towns who are just waiting to see how this goes before they jump in the game. Our State Legislators and Senator are very excited about this as it gives them a mandate to begin to make the changes at the state level. Right now there are three bills in the Legislature’s Ag Committee that address our issues at the state level, largely because our issues are everyone’s issues when you get right down to it. If citizens in enough towns in enough states stand up and take a stand on their local food system based on their inalienable right to produce and choose the food they eat, the Fed might have to listen! What a concept.
    As a country the majority of us have become politically lazy and complacent. If we want change we must take up the tools of the democracy bequeathed to us by the Founding Fathers, organize, and get the ball rolling.
    If anybody thinks real change happens any other way, look at our history: Long before our Constitution was amended, individuals and small groups of outspoken people put their lives on the line to end slavery, to allow women the right to vote, to end racial discrimination, etc. Look at the struggles to legalize something as basic as the right to home school your own children. Real change comes from the people. Period.
    So, Kudos to the fine citizens of Sedgwick, Maine. May you inspire many other municipalities to follow suit!
    (photo by Mr. Ducke)