Daily Digest

Daily Digest - May 10

Sunday, May 10, 2009, 11:12 AM
  •  The End of Small Farms & Buying Local, Part II - HR 759 is in committee, worse than HR 875 (the Monsanto bill - Video)
  • How to feed the whole world (the case for white bread): Louise Fresco on TED.com
  • Calling a Spade a Spade
  • Net Claims is What Matters (Charts)
  • 1933 & Today (Then vs. Now similarities, Scridb)
  • Pushing 16% U6
  • "Ruminations on the Latest Unemployment Figures from the Bureau of Lies and Statistics"
  • Shadow Inventory (Video)
  • Percent Hob Losses in Post WWII Recessions (Chart)
  • FDIC to Open a Temporary Satellite Office, Jacksonville Office will Assist with  Bank Closings
  • Wholesale Sales Debacle Continues..(Chart)
  • USD - Don't forget about me! (Chart)
  • Fannie Mae to Tap $19 Billion in Treasury Capital
  • California could be broke by July, state official warns
  •  A few A(H1N1) Links Dr. Henry Niman's Map 2831 U.S. Cases as of this wrtitng, A(H1N1) Current Timeline, CDC Cases

Economy

 

How to feed the whole world (the case for white bread): Louise Fresco on TED.com (Video)

Louise Fresco argues that a smart approach to large-scale, industrial farming and food production will feed our planet's incoming population of nine billion. Only foods like (the scorned) supermarket white bread, she says, will nourish on a global scale. (Recorded at TED2009, February 2009, in Long Beach, California. Duration: 18:00.)

 

Calling a Spade a Spade

Yet with all the bogus bullishness being pumped out by the shillmeisters in Washington and on Wall Street, it gives me some sense of hope to know that there are a few people in positions of authority who are a) capable of thinking clearly and b) willing to call a spade a spade. More specifically, I'm referring to Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard law professor who chairs the committee overseeing the taxpayer-funded bank bailout. In "Bailout Watchdog: Credit Crunch Alive and Well," CNNMoney.com details her group's assessment of the current health of the credit system.

In her latest report, Elizabeth Warren of the Congressional Oversight Panel says loans for small businesses and households are still tough to come by.

Despite recent encouraging signs in the economy, Americans are having a hard time getting credit and the effectiveness of government programs to spur lending is unclear, a congressional bailout watchdog said Thursday.

"A snapshot of small business credit at the beginning of 2009 shows credit terms tightening and loan volume dropping," the Congressional Oversight Panel wrote. "Families are facing an even more difficult situation."

The report looked at the availability of credit for small businesses and consumer loans, such as credit cards, auto loans and student loans. It also looked closely at the government's TALF program meant to stimulate markets for those kinds of loans.

"Small business lending has not principally advanced through TALF," said the panel's chief Elizabeth Warren on Thursday. "It's much more through SBA loans, direct loans through community beaks and credit cards."

TALF -- for Term Asset-Backed Lending Facility -- aims to make consumer and small business loans more widely available by spurring what's known as the securitization of those loans. In securitization, banks that make loans in turn sell them to investors -- thus reducing the lenders' cost and risk.

The securitization market in the first quarter of 2009 was 80% below the level in 2007, according to the report.

The five-member panel, established by the law enacted last fall at the height of the financial crisis that set aside $700 billion to bail out banks and other companies, is headed by Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren.

Warren has been an outspoken critic of the government's handling of the bailouts, arguing forcefully that the government rescue efforts need more transparency and tougher standards on banks.

But her latest report also acknowledges that many forces could contribute to restricted lending.

Rising unemployment might mean that households will take on less credit card debt, for example. And as the economy slows, small businesses might have less need for credit.

Even so, the report expressed concern about the effectiveness of TALF to help. "Despite favorable loan terms, the TALF is only beginning to generate significant demand. Some of the slow growth of demand is attributable to lack of demand for securitization, some to claimed flaws in the program's design, and some to fear of political risk. Under those conditions, it is difficult to predict at what rate the demand for TALF loans will increase."

Net Claims is What Matters (Charts)

1933 & Today (Then vs. Now similarities, Scridb)

Pushing 16% U6

The comprehensive unemployment rate which is referred to as U6 and includes part time workers that want full time jobs and discouraged workers that have stopped looking but will take a job if offered, rose to 15.8% from 15.6% and 9.2% in April 2008.

"Ruminations on the Latest Unemployment Figures from the Bureau of Lies and Statistics" 

Was today's unemployment release another Orwell sighting? Reader (and economist) Gonzalo Lira thinks the numbers were more than a tad tweaked to produce a more palatable result
"We're leveling off! We're leveling off!"—so is the hope of Turbo Tim, Helicopter Ben, Larry the Wall Street Lackey and the rest of Team Obama. "This recession is leveling off!"

No it's not: The unemployment figures just released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics are totally cosmetic: We lost a whole lot more than 531,000 unemployed.

First, the "seasonal adjustment", which is a black box that can tweek me into looking like Dumbo the flying elephant. They're knocking off ±65,000 workers for no clearly discernible reason.

Second, notice that the Census Bureau hired 60,000 people last month. Those workers (by definition) are temporary, and are a net cost to the economy, as they will not be adding marginal utility to any economic sector, the census being merely a social expenditure.

Those two items alone turn 530,000 new unemployed into 655,000.

Now notice how, once again, previous months' figures have been readjusted. This time, the readjustments weren't so bad—a mere 30,000 more unemployed in February, turning that month's official totals to 681,000, and another 30,000 for March, making that month's official number 699,000, just shy of that magic 700,000 monthly number (BTW, remember back in the good old days when 300,000 monthly unemployed was "shocking"?)

But notice too: When those more realistic numbers were released, the markets were more or less copacetic—at least they weren't nervously contemplating another suicidal round of cliff-diving, as we currently are. Ever since the October '08 release of Sept. '08 unemployment, when arguably the BLS numbers had a role in triggering the sell-off of
that very nasty month, the unemployment numbers have been generally rosy whenever there's been general nervousness in the markets around the time of the number's release. I know this sounds crazy-man
paranoid, but bear with me: Every time the markets have been nervous, the BLS numbers look pretty good, or at least not that bad, relatively speaking—and then the next month the figures are very quietly revised, sometimes by as much as 35% on the upward side.

I will bet one double Quarter Pounder with cheese and bacon that next month, the revisions of the April numbers will be on the order of an additional 85,000 unemployed. My guess is that, discounting the Census Bureau hirings, April saw 680,000 newly unemployed workers.

That would mean that unemployment isn't accelerating—but it's still growing fast enough to scare the hell out of anyone sane. And anyway, what industry or sector of the economy will be able to absorb all of those unemployed workers in the near-term future?

Now wait for May and especially June numbers, when 2 million new college grads can't find steady work.

This baby ain't over yet.

Shadow Inventory (Video)

Percent Hob Losses in Post WWII Recessions (Chart)

FDIC to Open a Temporary Satellite Office, Jacksonville Office will Assist with  Bank Closings

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) today announced it will open a temporary satellite office in Jacksonville, Florida, to manage receiverships and to liquidate assets from failed financial institutions primarily located in the eastern states.

After conducting a competitive leasing acquisition process, the FDIC entered into a short-term agreement to lease space at 7777 Baymeadows Way in Jacksonville. The decision was based on mission needs and workload.

The new office will provide facilities for up to 500 nonpermanent staff and contractors. Staffing will be based on the workload needs of this office, based on the number of closings in the eastern states, the resulting number of receiverships, and the post-closing workload.

Throughout its history, the FDIC has used these offices to keep temporary asset resolution staff closer to the concentration of failed bank assets they oversee. As the work diminishes, the temporary satellite offices are closed.

The FDIC expects to gradually move into the space starting in mid-September 2009

Wholesale Sales Debacle Continues...(Chart)

You sure the worst is behind us? Even though inventories dropped along with these sales, the inventory to sales ratio continues to rise

USD - Don't forget about me! (Chart) 

Fannie Mae to Tap $19 Billion in Treasury Capital

May 8 (Bloomberg) -- Fannie Mae, operating under a federal conservatorship, asked the U.S. Treasury for a $19 billion capital investment and raised the possibility that its long-term survival may be dependent on continued government funding.

Fannie Mae, which took $15.2 billion in aid on March 31, cited the “unprecedented” housing market slump and government- mandated programs that are creating “conflicts in strategic and day-to-day decision making,” according to company filings today with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

California could be broke by July, state official warns

Adding to the fiscal woes, the Obama administration is threatening to pull $6.8 billion in stimulus funds from California in a dispute over an earlier state budget cut.

"The Legislature is going to need to act promptly," said state Department of Finance spokesman H.D. Palmer. "We have a fairly short window to get a lot done."

As the ballot measures lag in the polls, the administration of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has begun revealing the cuts it is weighing as an alternative.

On Thursday, the administration advised law enforcement officials that it was preparing plans to commute the sentences of 38,000 state prison inmates, including all illegal immigrants. It also is considering closing some prisons and sending inmates to county jails, according to a copy of the proposal obtained by The Times.

Under the plan, 19,000 illegal immigrants -- 11% of state prisoners -- would be turned over to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency after having their sentences commuted. An additional 19,000 "relatively low-risk offenders" would have their sentences commuted as well.

Earlier in the week, the administration warned local officials that it may raid their budgets for $2 billion and close firehouses.

Opponents of the ballot measures call such proposals scare tactics.

"It's all about fear," said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn. "This week it's firefighters; next week they'll threaten school closures."

Even if the measures succeed, Taylor said, the state faces serious and immediate financial problems. California's credit rating is so weak that the state is unlikely to be able to borrow money to buy time to address them, he wrote. Lenders have signaled to California that they may not be able to make loans on the scale the state would need.

"Without additional legislative measures to address the state's fiscal difficulties or unprecedented amounts of borrowing from short-term credit markets, the state will not be able to pay many of its bills," Taylor wrote.

He cautioned lawmakers against asking the federal government to help the state secure loans that might provide relief. "The difficult decisions to balance the state's budget now are preferable to Californians losing some control over the state's finances and priorities to federal officials for years to come," Taylor wrote.

The debate over what budget actions to take is expected to intensify once Schwarzenegger issues a revised spending plan later this month.

The unpopularity of the ballot measures appears to reflect intense voter distrust of Sacramento. Just 16% of likely voters say they trust the state government to do the right thing. Schwarzenegger's approval rating remains at a near-historic low, 34%. The state Legislature's, meanwhile, stands at an anemic 12%.

"The voters seem interested in delivering a message," said Mark Baldassare, Public Policy Institute of California president and survey director. "The measures are very complex and confusing to voters -- and they don't seem to have trust in what the governor and Legislature have put before them."

Just 28% of likely voters say they are following news about the ballot measures very closely, although that number is up from 18% in March. Those voters are focusing most of their attention on Proposition 1A.

(More)

 A few A(H1N1) Links Dr. Henry Niman's Map 2,831 U.S. Cases as of this wrtitng, A(H1N1) Current TimelineCDC Cases

The End of Small Farms & Buying Local, Part II - HR 759 is in committee, worse than HR 875 (the Monsanto bill - Video)

 

18 Comments

Davos's picture
Davos
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Re: Daily Digest - May 10

Happy Mothers Day.

My little guy and I are building Marsh 4 flower boxes for the front porch and back decks for her herbs, today project for Mothers day. Thursday I put 12' of gutter on the greenhouse and routed it to collect the rainwater in a new 32 gallon trash container. I was amazed how much water it collects! My thanks to Mother Earth News.

One of the guys I used to fly with left the airlines when I did and got into investing in Chicago. He Facebooked a comment below Congressman Alan Grayson's video with the "Feds" "IG" and said that only 3 of the 10 Congressman showed up for the hearing to find out where our money went. Something I wasn't aware of.

After buying local, raising our own chickens and putting this years garden in I can't even begin to tell you how flabbergasted I am after watching the HR 759 video - and along that vein how surprised I was after watching the TED video that follows....

On unemployment, the real numbers (U6) are being revealed, each month getting closer to John William's Shadow Statistics number of (as of several weeks ago 19.8%). One good blog called the BLS the Bureau of Lying Statistics. How apropos.

But if I had to offer one or two choice articles to paint a quick thumbnail sketch of what is going on right here, right now, I'd have to say it is the worlds 8th largest economy being insolvent and the FDIC opening up satellite digs to aid in bank closings in a state especially hard hit by the housing bubble, while Fannie Mae takes more cash over an AIG like transom.

Take care.

 

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SteveS
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USD chart

Lots of good stuff again Davos!

I'm not a chart technician, so can anyone explain the USD chart you link to?

Thanks,

Steve

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Davos
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Re: Daily Digest - May 10

 Hello SteveS:

I'm not one either. My take though, "if" the dollar drops below the target line it will signal the "start" of a weakened dollar.

If and start I put in quotes because I think it will fall and the only thing that amazes me is how long this is taking to happen. My hunch, it won't be coming back. I think the world is getting fed up with it.

I know there are some tech folks on the site, it will be interesting to get their take.

Take care

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Re: Daily Digest - May 10

I'm wondering if the collapse has already begun. The US dollar is tanking (can't help but notice the loonie has skyroceted) and the bond market is going crazy. All these lies just can't hide how bad things have gotten and I just don't see how lt can go on much longer. Of course the resulting oil production collapse will accelarate just how fast things fall apart. Wish I had enouph money to buy some property to set up a doomstead but for now i'll just prepare in any way I can.

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Re: Daily Digest - May 10

I wrote a post but i dont think it went through. I fully understand peak oil and how we havent been able to find any more large oil reserves since the 80s. However, take Iraq into consideration as they have 120 billion barrels of light sweet crude at a cost of $1 a barrel to produce. When the Iraqis stop blowing up supermarkets Iraq can easily pump 6-8 million barrels a day, and within 15 years could increase its output to 12-14 million barrels a day. With the world economy in depression for the next decade due to US and asian economic imbalances, theres a strong possibility that peak oil will be pushed back a decade possibly even further. People write off Iraqi oil fields as if they dont exist. Notice how they have been fighting since 03, its 09 now and bombings are down 90%. IF IF IF things calm down enough to the point where foreign oil companies cant get to the fields and pump pump that light sweet crude it will buy the world some desperately needed time to avoid SEVERE oil crunches.

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Re: Daily Digest - May 10

Wow what a week! Let see what was up……Gold was up some, markets up..oil up, bullishness up??? Antidepressant sales very strong while Ammo & gun sales up & off the charts??? I have always liked to shoot since I was a little boy. Why can I not find any 22 LR ammo in my area? I have never seen this in my entire life?? No 45 or 9 mm..380 auto the guy says you have to be kidding. If some retailer gets some in you are limited to a few boxes per person. Hummm must be some sort of disconnect in action here LOL.

I looked at Smith & Wesson & Sturm Ruger stock charts…Wow they are higher than before the crash.

My son & I were standing in line at one sporting goods shop on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Two elderly women were standing right in front of us in their Sunday best (just out of church). They told the salesman they needed Ammo. The man replied well ladies we have the MAN killing stuff or the target rounds. The sweet little ladies said without hesitation we want both!

My son about fell over! He asked me if his Grammy was buying too. Looks to me like very “normal” conservative types are buying this stuff. I sure haven’t seen any Cartel types.

This seems strange to me since the election is over 100 days old & none of this has slowed down any. Looks like we are in very strange times indeed.

One man in the store also let me know he rather invest in heavy metals than precious metals. He said people have come after him with the precious metals but they always run away from the heavy metals (lead)…

Looks to me that people see the dollar is going to devalue & they want stuff instead of paper. Maybe this will help in the short run but lookout below….over time.

http://econompicdata.blogspot.com/2009/02/does-great-depression-ii-one-huge-party.html

 

http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article10527.html

Davos's picture
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Re: Daily Digest - May 10

 Funny SNL: Geithner Cold Open

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Re: Daily Digest - May 10

Great articles Davos!

I liked the one on California where they are planning to commute the sentences of 38,000 prisoners. Sounds like a well thought out idea.

They do hide the true intent of the bills, or advertise them falsely.

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Re: Daily Digest - May 10

Can't believe that this Louise Fresco woman is for real - I put her at about the same level of intelligence as  the woman auditor (Inspector General Coleman) responding to Grayson about the Fed. I wonder if Louise ever heard about peak oil and the challenges we face associated with agriculture given a decline in oil based products for both energy for equipment and as a fertilizer feed stock. No one wants to go back to farming with a stick and a hoe, but other than  briefly mentioning that technology must come to our rescue, I didn't hear her say much of anything that made any sense. Yes, we are going to have to come up with some very intelligent ideas to feed the people of the world in the future, but I didn't hear even one suggestion from her as to how we might proceed other than putting down the organic farming world and chiding us about eating "real" food. I don't know where this leads us, but if the experts in control of out current industrial Ag. system are planning more of the same on steroids, our challenge to turn the ship is even greater than I thought.

Jim

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shallow roots

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/may/08/bank-england-recession-economy

Bank of England braced for third wave of financial crisis

Surprise £50bn cash injection is attempt to avert new phase of credit crunch

On Thursday the Bank surprised the City by announcing that it would pump an extra £50bn of new money into the economy despite recent stockmarket rallies.

Now the Guardian has learned that this increase in quantitative easing was driven by fears in Threadneedle Street that the credit crunch is still sucking the life out of the British economy and the banking sector remains in deep trouble.

The new mood of caution chimes with comments from business leaders yesterday, who warned that apparent green shoots in the economy had shallow roots.

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Re: Daily Digest - May 10

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25451161-11949,00.html

 

Stuart Rintoul | May 09, 2009

Article from: The Australian

DAME Elisabeth Murdoch has written to Michelle Obama inviting her to join an environmental "call to arms" she is launching, called Influential Women for Climate Change Action.

In the letter, the latest signal by the Murdoch family of its commitment on climate change, its matriarch, who turned 100 in February, tells the US first lady the world is facing a "global emergency".

Dame Elisabeth says the group will be a "campaign to enlist influential women in Australia and around the world to take the lead in protecting and nurturing Mother Nature by encouraging people to reduce their emissions".

"Having seen many challenges in my 100 years, I believe it is time to add my voice to what could be termed 'a call to arms', a call for people around the world to act now to reduce our impacts on the planet," Dame Elisabeth writes.

"It is plain to see humanity cannot go on living beyond the planet's means. Climate change is not the first manifestation of this, just the latest and most serious. As recent extreme events like the Victorian fires and the Queensland floods demonstrate, it threatens the future for generations living now, as well as for those to come.

"From a personal point of view, I have lived long enough to have a great-great granddaughter starting life, and I wonder what her world and her life will be like if we do not act in her defence now."

Dame Elisabeth tells Ms Obama of the Global Green Plan Foundation, a project of which she is patron, which is developing an environmentally focused school curriculum warning of the dangers of climate change.

The curriculum, aimed at middle-years students, was launched yesterday at Williamstown High School in Melbourne, where Dame Elisabeth was described by foundation president Hal Hewett as "the world's only centenarian climate change campaigner". The curriculum, Living in 2030: An Experiment in Survival, backed by Fuji Xerox, invites students to imagine the world in 2030 if nothing is done to curb "economic rationalist thinking" with its "lunatic slogan, 'Grow at all costs"' and to find solutions to global warming and diminishing resources.

Dame Elisabeth was joined at the launch by actress and green campaigner Isabel Lucas.

Dame Elisabeth's letter was sent to Ms Obama last week. Mr Hewett said it was now being considered "in both the East Wing and the West Wing" of the White House.

In November 2006, News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch announced a change of heart on climate change, saying that while he remained sceptical of doomsday scenarios, "the planet deserves the benefit of the doubt". In May 2007, he said News Corporation, owner of The Weekend Australian, would be carbon neutral by 2010, saying climate change posed "clear, catastrophic threats".

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Re: Daily Digest - May 10

For those that would enjoy some slightly dark humor in the form of a well designed (free) turn-based strategy game related to oil production politics, see here: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/5379

It kept me busy for a little while this morning, I must confess. When you think about the deeper implications, perhaps it's not so funny as it initially seems.

Enjoy!

Mike

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Re: Daily Digest - May 10

The headline has no link that I can see

The End of Small Farms & Buying Local, Part II - HR 759 is in committee, worse than HR 875 (the Monsanto bill - Video)

But this might to be it

Don

______________________

too big to fail = too big to fix

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Re: Daily Digest - May 10

I hope that swine flue doesnt go anywhere, and just when I started thinking it was a non event recently the globe and mail posted this:

Canada now has 281 cases of swine flu

 

Hmmm that's a lot more than the 1 or 2 cases they were reporting a few weeks ago. It's spreading but not killing people yet, not in Canada. Could this be an exponential thing? Everything is okay it's a controlled problem then boom every other person has it and there are dying everywhere?

Davos's picture
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Re: Daily Digest - May 10

 I'm not an expert on provinces but there was death in Alberta and another here in the US in Washington State...

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Re: Daily Digest - May 10
bearmarkettrader wrote:

I wrote a post but i don't think it went through. I fully understand peak oil and how we havent been able to find any more large oil reserves since the 80s. However, take Iraq into consideration as they have 120 billion barrels of light sweet crude at a cost of $1 a barrel to produce. When the Iraqis stop blowing up supermarkets Iraq can easily pump 6-8 million barrels a day, and within 15 years could increase its output to 12-14 million barrels a day. With the world economy in depression for the next decade due to US and asian economic imbalances, theres a strong possibility that peak oil will be pushed back a decade possibly even further. People write off Iraqi oil fields as if they dont exist. Notice how they have been fighting since 03, its 09 now and bombings are down 90%. IF IF IF things calm down enough to the point where foreign oil companies cant get to the fields and pump pump that light sweet crude it will buy the world some desperately needed time to avoid SEVERE oil crunches.

A lot of IF's there :-)

Is the 120 billion barrels verified anywhere?

Also - from what I read, even though the oils supposedly sitting up at only 600 odd meters from the surface, I can't believe that the extraction costs are only $1 / barrel - considering current estimates are that it take about $70/barrel for companies to break even.

Even if peak oil is pushed back a decade, it takes nearly that long from planning stages to running for a full scale nuclear power plant to be operational (so I believe) - yet alone masses of them when there's only a limited number of companies who can do that type of work.

If this is indeed true, it's good news but only good in terms of delaying the inevitable.

My other concern would be that if the find is that big - looks who's presiding over it - do you think that if peak oil really becomes wildly accepted as being in the current framework of time that the Iraqi oil is going to be shared? It will be hoarded while the rest starve or worse, it will be fought over. The military will be the first to confiscate the reserves. Watch China and Russia and even perhaps India band together as one to go head to head with the US is they attempt to hoard the oil - uncertain, shaky time might be ahead of us I think. It might even come down to a shared arrangement while the rest of the world goes without rather than an all out fight of it?

The food issue is looming on the horizon as well - current food production levels require vast amounts of oil to maintain due to intensive farming techniques involving machinery and products derived from oil and the population numbers keep on growing exponentially...

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Re: Daily Digest - May 10
Davos wrote:

 I'm not an expert on provinces but there was death in Alberta and another here in the US in Washington State...

The woman who died in Canada had other health issues prior to the flu.  Davos and Firejack, don't get caught up in the media sensationalism.

Davos's picture
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Re: Daily Digest - May 10

Hello Gadfly:

Thanks, trust me I'm not getting caught up in anything, either way.

As I stated weeks ago: I have absolutly no idea which way this thing is heading. I see a lot of similarities to the 1918 flu but that doesn't mean it will or won't be like it.

As for the media, I'd beg to differ with what you state. There was hype a few weeks ago. Then, when there were no deaths to report the drive by mainstream media dropped the flu reporting, almost entirely. Maybe I'm wrong, I don't have TV, cable or dish, but that is what I see on the net.

After watching Dr. Henry Niman's video interview I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if that changes should this not fizzle out and we end up with 200,000 infections and the mortality rate that Mexico saw.

I believe the death of the 30 year old male in Washington also was related to some other underlying health problems.

My point to the post/reply I made was just to point out that there was a death (in Canada), it just wasn't in the (mainstream) news.

I found the most intereting part of Dr. Niman's video interview was that he himself said Mexico had 200,000 infections and his flu tracker application showed, at the time 2,000 or 3,000 infections?!?!?

Take care.

 

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