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Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Bone Health

Dr. Mercola - Mon, 09/15/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Studies from the US Framingham trial show nearly two-fifths of the US population may have suboptimal blood levels of vitamin B12.1 And the criteria they use to make this assessment is 6-700 pg/ml, so it may be the majority of people who are vitamin B12 deficient.

This is important to be aware of, and correct if it applies to you, as vitamin B12 is important for the formation of red blood cells, the maintenance of your central nervous system, and plays a role in the production of DNA and RNA.

Vitamin B12 is also fittingly known as the energy vitamin, and your body requires it for a number of vital functions, including energy production. Much less is known about its role in bone health, although it's emerging as an important player.

Even though vitamin B12 is water-soluble, it doesn't exit your body quickly in your urine like other water-soluble vitamins. Instead, B12 is stored in your liver, kidneys, and other body tissues.

As a result, a deficiency may not show itself until up to seven years later, and by this time damage to your bones may have already set in…

Vitamin B12 Deficiency May Harm Your Bones

Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) revealed that mice deficient in vitamin B12 have growth retardation and fewer osteoblasts (cells responsible for bone formation).2

The researchers suggested that lack of vitamin B12 may interfere with growth signaling in the liver and its "downstream effect" on the osteoblasts.

Recent research also suggests low vitamin B12 status may increase the risk for bone fractures in older men.3 This risk remained even after taking into account other important factors such as smoking, vitamin D status, and calcium intake. As reported by MedicineNet:4

"Men in the group with the lowest B-12 levels were about 70 percent more likely to have suffered a fracture than others in the study. This increased risk was primarily due to fractures in the lumbar spine, where there was an up to 120 percent greater chance of fractures."

Older women with low levels of vitamin B12 (below 208 pg/ml) also experienced significantly more rapid hip bone loss – a sign of osteoporosis – than women with higher levels of B12 in a separate study.5

Elevated homocysteine levels (an amino acid) and low vitamin B12 have also been associated with deteriorated bone health,6 and this may be one avenue by which B12 influences bone health (B vitamins are known to suppress homocysteine). As explained by the Linus Pauling Institute:7

"High homocysteine levels may affect bone remodeling by increasing bone resorption (breakdown), decreasing bone formation, and reducing bone blood flow.

Another proposed mechanism involves the binding of homocysteine to the collagenous matrix of bone, which may modify collagen properties and reduce bone strength.

Since vitamin B12 is a determinant of homocysteine metabolism, it was suggested that the risk of osteoporotic fractures in older subjects might be enhanced by vitamin B12 deficiency."

Indeed, a meta-analysis found that raising vitamin B12 levels in older individuals lead to a reduction in fracture risk.8

Move Over Vitamin D and Calcium, Are You Getting Enough Vitamin B12?

Vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin K2 are crucial for bone health, but also are among the most common supplements taken by older adults for this very reason. Vitamin B12, on the other hand, is often overlooked.

If you're a vegan who does not eat animal products, you are at high risk of deficiency, as B12 is readily bioavailable in its natural form only in animal food sources. This doesn't necessarily have to be meat -- eggs and dairy are options also. Top foods to include are:

  • Wild-caught Alaskan salmon
  • Raw milk
  • Pastured free-range eggs

If you do consume animal products, then consider adding these foods that are even higher in vitamin B12:

  • Grass-fed beef and beef liver
  • Pastured organic free-range chicken

However, keep in mind that even if you do eat animal foods, a supplement can be beneficial if your body's ability to absorb the vitamin from food is compromised, which is especially prevalent as you age.

When you get older, the lining of your stomach gradually loses its ability to produce hydrochloric acid (the stomach acid suppressed by proton pump inhibitors), which releases vitamin B12 from your food. If you're over 50, it's safe to assume you are not absorbing vitamin B12 at an optimal level.

However, just because you are over 50, it doesn't mean you are deficient, it only means your risk increases. If you are eating a healthy diet, you can easily maintain healthy levels. The only way to know for sure is to get your blood tested.

Normal ranges of B12 are 200-1,100 pg/ml. Even though the lower level of normal is 200, if you are below 600, you might be suffering from B12 deficiency. There is one problem with supplementation however, and it's related to the poor absorbability of oral vitamin B12 supplements.

Vitamin B12 is the largest vitamin molecule known. Because of its large size, it is not easily absorbed passively like most supplements. This is why many, if not most, oral B12 supplements are grossly ineffective. The only effective form of B12 supplementation is IM injections or sublingual administration.

That said, B12 supplements are exceptionally safe, with virtually no known side effects. Just avoid oral B12 supplements, as they will not be readily absorbed. Injections or a sublingual (under your tongue) spray work far better, as they allow the large B12 molecule to be absorbed directly into your bloodstream.

What Else Do You Risk by Not Getting Enough Vitamin B12?

Your risk of fracture might increase, but that's not all. Some of the initial signs of B12 deficiency will often include mood changes, such as lack of motivation or feelings of apathy. Low levels can also lead to mental fogginess, memory troubles, muscle weakness, and -- one of the hallmark signs -- fatigue. Vitamin B12 also plays a role in:

Proper digestion, food absorption, iron use, and carbohydrate and fat metabolism Healthy nervous system function Promotion of normal nerve growth and development Help with regulation of the formation of red blood cells Cell formation and longevity Proper circulation Adrenal hormone production Healthy immune system function Support of female reproductive health and pregnancy Feelings of well-being and mood regulation Mental clarity, concentration, and memory function Physical, emotional, and mental energy

Vitamin B12's role in brain health and mental health is particularly significant. According to a small Finnish study published in the journal Neurology, people who consume foods rich in B12 may reduce their risk of Alzheimer's in their later years.9 For each unit increase in the marker of vitamin B12 (holotranscobalamin), the risk of developing Alzheimer's was reduced by 2 percent.

Meanwhile, B group vitamins may slow brain shrinkage by as much as seven-fold in brain regions specifically known to be most impacted by Alzheimer's disease.10 Among participants taking high doses of folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12, blood levels of homocysteine were lowered, as was the associated brain shrinkage – by up to 90 percent. As discussed by Dr. Kelly Brogan, MD in the video below, vitamin B12 deficiency can even cause a range of neurological disturbances that mimic serious mental illness.

The Best 'Recipe' for Bone Health

One of the important strategies for healthy bones is to eat the right kind of foods. A diet full of processed foods will produce biochemical and metabolic conditions in your body that will decrease your bone density, so avoiding processed foods is definitely the first step in the right direction. This goes far beyond calcium, which is the first nutrient many people think of concerning their bones. Your bones are actually composed of several different minerals, and if you focus on calcium alone, you will likely weaken your bones and increase your risk of osteoporosis, as Dr. Robert Thompson explains in his book, The Calcium Lie.

Calcium, vitamins D and K2, and magnesium work synergistically together to promote strong, healthy bones, and your sodium to potassium ratio also plays an important role in maintaining your bone mass (larger amounts of potassium in relation to sodium is optimal for your bone health and your overall health). Ideally, you'd get all or most of these nutrients, including vitamin B12, from your diet (with the exception of vitamin D). This includes:

  • Plant-derived calcium: Raw milk from pasture-raised cows (who eat the plants), leafy green vegetables, the pith of citrus fruits, carob, and sesame seeds
  • Magnesium: Raw organic cacao and supplemental magnesium threonate if need be
  • Vitamin K2: Grass-fed organic animal products (i.e. eggs, butter, and dairy), certain fermented foods such as natto, or vegetables fermented using a starter culture of vitamin K2-producing bacteria, and certain cheeses such as Brie and Gouda
  • Trace minerals: Himalayan Crystal Salt, which contains all 84 elements found in your body, or other natural, unprocessed salt (NOT regular table salt!)
  • Vitamin D: Ideally from appropriate sun exposure (or a safe tanning bed), as it's virtually impossible to get sufficient amounts from food. As a last resort, you could use a supplement, but if you do, you may also need to supplement with vitamin K2 to maintain ideal ratios
Remember to Exercise Regularly and Use Strength Training

Although the focus of this article is on nutrition, the other component you can't ignore if you want strong, healthy bones is weight-bearing exercises like strength training. Bone building is a dynamic process, so you want to make sure you exert enough force on your bones to stimulate the osteoblasts to build new bone. Further, bone is living tissue that requires regular physical activity in order to renew and rebuild itself, it is important to make exercise a lifelong commitment. Peak bone mass is achieved in adulthood and then begins a slow decline, but exercise can help you to maintain healthy bone mass as you get older, and should be viewed as a bone-building partner to your healthy diet.

Weight-bearing exercise is actually one of the most effective remedies against osteoporosis, because as you put more tension on your muscles it puts more pressure on your bones, which then respond by continuously creating fresh, new bone. In addition, as you build more muscle, and make the muscle that you already have stronger, you also put more constant pressure on your bones. A good weight-bearing exercise to incorporate into your routine (depending on your current level of fitness, of course) is a walking lunge, as it helps build bone density in your hips, even without any additional weights.

In addition, Acceleration Training, a.k.a. Whole Body Vibrational Training (WBVT) using a Power Plate, has also been shown to be a safe, natural way to ward off osteoporosis, and it's gentle enough even for the disabled and elderly. Research shows vibrational training may help to produce a significant increase in bone density in postmenopausal women,11 making it another valuable tool for bone health.

The Global Ticking Time Bomb, Economic War & World War III

King World News - Mon, 09/15/2014 - 01:02
As the world continues to move into uncharted territory, today a 40-year market veteran sent King World News a tremendous piece which warns about a global ticking time bomb, economic war, and World War III. He also covers the gold and silver smash. Below is what Robert Fitzwilson, founder of The Portola Group, had to say in this exclusive piece for King World News.

The Regret of War

Mises Canada - Mon, 09/15/2014 - 00:37

We all have regrets. But if you find yourself consistently ruing your past decisions, maybe it’s best to rethink your rashness.

Writing in the Financial Times this weekend, Richard McGregor gives some perspective on Americans’ change of heart for wars.

In the wake of a triumph in WWII, in 1950 65% of polled Americans supported sending troops to Korea. Two short years later only 37% felt the same way. We know what a boondoggle it turned out to be, but few would remember that nearly two-thirds of Americans supported the Vietnam War early on. As it neared the end, almost no one could stomach it any longer.

And speaking of boondoggles, don’t forget that when American went into Iraq in 2003 more than 70% of the population thought it was a good idea. By 2010 only around half that many thought so. The incursion into Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11 was the most “popular” war in America’s recent history – it was almost unanimous! 93% of polled Americans supported it. Today, public opinion is split 50/50.

We all make mistakes, but should heed Albert Einstein’s advice that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result.

Why is this troubling right now? With troubles brewing afresh in Syria and Iraq, 61% of Americans think there is a threat to the national interest, and only 13% disagree. Let’s hope cooler heads prevail.

The Biggest Risk For Investing In Alibaba Is...

Zerohedge - Sun, 09/14/2014 - 22:42

Submitted by George Chen via The South China Morning Post,

What is the biggest risk for investors in China's e-commerce giant Alibaba? In one word: politics.

Jack Ma Yun, English teacher-turned entrepreneur, is already a legend in China for the incredibly fast growth and remarkable success of the e-commerce firm he founded in 1999. I have no doubt about Ma's business experience and leadership skills, but there is one thing Ma - and many of his rivals - may be worried about. Politics.

The Alibaba success story is not just about Alibaba itself. It is about the inevitable trend of globalisation, the rise of China as a country on political and economic fronts, and also about how eager Beijing is to support and build up a crop of new national brands that can compete with the likes of Google and Amazon in the United States.

"To have political connections in Beijing ... isn't necessarily bad. Many companies try to do so"

Beijing's support - directly or indirectly - is a key factor in Alibaba's success. Without the government's support, Ma would not have felt confident enough to speak in New York in front of hundreds of Wall Street investors during the recent roadshow for Alibaba's initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange.

Ma understands the importance of the government's backing for Alibaba and most of the time he has been good at lobbying Beijing for policy support.

However, in at least one case he had a setback and was honest enough to tell the public how he felt about that.

"Sometimes, what can beat you is not technology, but just a document," said Ma at a technology conference in Beijing in March this year, in response to a question about what challenges Alibaba would face in the next phase of its business expansion.

Ma didn't elaborate, but many industry watchers believe his comments were in reference to increasing domestic policy uncertainties related to internet finance and online payments in the world's No2 economy.

Internet finance is completely new in China. Chinese regulators have been back and forth when dealing with some new policy issues, such as whether e-commerce companies can issue credit cards for their online customers as commercial banks do.

On a more personal level, Ma is widely believed to be well-connected to Beijing's political circles. Let's be fair - to have political connections in Beijing or Washington isn't necessarily bad. In fact, many companies try to do so. But it is also a challenge in how you play in an opaque regulatory environment.

That is to say, you should be extremely careful not to cross the line in Chinese politics. Otherwise, the story may turn out very differently. Indeed, we have already seen the rise and fall of Chinese businessmen, including many on the Forbes list, in the past decades.








RE: Thank Yous

TFMR - Daystar - Sun, 09/14/2014 - 22:09

HeyJoe and Mr. Fix,

Thank you for being supporters.  I truly appreciate my readers and their expressions of thanks.

DayStar

Why The Collapse Of Abenomics Is Important: It's A Large-Scale Failure Of Keynesian Stimulus In Real Time

Zerohedge - Sun, 09/14/2014 - 22:07

Submitted by Pater Tenebrarum via Acting-Man blog,

Abenomics Keeps Sputtering – What To Do?

We have frequently discussed the nonsensical attempt by Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe and BoJ governor Haruhiko Kuroda to print and spend Japan back to prosperity in these pages. By now it is well known that devaluing the yen has not achieved the desired effect, but rather the opposite. Not only have exports not really received the expected boost, but Japan’s trade and current account surplus have decreased markedly, even posting negative numbers for the first time in decades. Of course, currency debasement never works: it cannot work.

 

Japan’s current account over the past two decades.

We would like to point out though that a trade or current account surplus is not a measure of a country’s prosperity anyway. So even if the devaluation gambit had “succeeded”, its success would have been meaningless and any positive effects would have been strictly transitory. Japan’s consumers would have suffered just as they are suffering now. As Ludwig von Mises stated with regard to alleged advantages of devaluation:

“The much talked about advantages which devaluation secures in foreign trade and tourism, are entirely due to the fact that the adjustment of domestic prices and wage rates to the state of affairs created by devaluation requires some time. As long as this adjustment process is not yet completed, exporting is encouraged and importing is discouraged. However, this merely means that in this interval the citizens of the devaluating country are getting less for what they are selling abroad and paying more for what they are buying abroad; concomitantly they must restrict their consumption. This effect may appear as a boon in the opinion of those for whom the balance of trade is the yardstick of a nation’s welfare.

 

In plain language it is to be described in this way: The British citizen must export more British goods in order to buy that quantity of tea which he received before the devaluation for a smaller quantity of exported British goods.”

In short, devaluation means securing a strictly temporary advantage for a small sector of the economy – export-oriented companies – while impoverishing all consumers concurrently. In the end, not even the advantages for exporters will be maintained, as domestic prices will inevitable adjust. As strategies for economic revival go, this has to be one of the most moronic ones ever devised. Not surprisingly, the EU’s coterie of economic planners is also fervently in favor of debasing the euro. Especially France’s government has been quite vocal in this respect, which is telling. The situation in the EU at present is this: the ECB has taken the advice of the biggest economic illiterates in political power in the EU.

Abenomics has lately suffered additional setbacks. It is “succeeding” only in one respect – the yen’s purchasing power has plummeted. GDP has just declined by 7.1% annualized last quarter, reversing the gains of the previous quarter and then some. Both the previous quarter’s reported growth and the subsequent decline have partly been the result of a sales tax hike, so they have to be taken with a grain of salt. It is however conspicuous that virtually every economic datum released since April has come in “worse than expected” – in many cases, much worse.

 

Japan – annualized quarterly GDP growth rate

 

 

As a side effect of the sales tax hike as well as the yen’s depreciation, Japan’s consumer price index has begun to soar. Japanese officials play this down by relying on a “core inflation index” that excludes the effect of the sales tax hike, and consequently argue that the inflation rate is still too low. This obviously matters little to the average Japanese citizen, who has seen his real income melt like a pile of snow in the Sahara. It is unfortunately not possible for Japan’s consumers to pay “seasonally adjusted prices ex the sales tax effect”. Statistical artifice cannot alter economic reality.

 

 

Japan’s annual CPI growth rate.

Previously, Japanese consumer prices tended to mildly decline from time to time, thereby enhancing the meager incomes of Japan’s growing class of retirees and the incomes of wage earners. Abe and Kuroda have succeeded in impoverishing them. Mainstream economists all over the world are almost unanimous in their approval of this idiocy.

 

The Latest Advice

This brings us to the most recent plans and the advice dispensed by assorted bien pensants. Given the recent faltering of Japan’s economy, BoJ governor Kuroda has assured everyone that the central bank stands ready to monetize even more debt. After all, whenever the Keynesian recipe of money printing and deficit spending fails to work, it can only mean that not enough of it has been applied. The fact that it hasn’t worked in 25 years is regarded as clear proof that even more of the same is needed.

Concern has been mounting over whether the economic recovery will continue and inflation will hit the BOJ’s 2% target sometime next year.

 

“Should conditions emerge where the target becomes difficult to meet, we are ready to make without hesitation adjustments to policy, additional easing or whatever,” Mr. Kuroda told reporters after meeting Mr. Abe over lunch at the prime minister’s office. The consumer-price index, the BOJ’s policy target, has logged year-over-year rises for 14 straight months and stood at 1.3% in July, excluding the sales-tax rise.

 

Appearing on TV later in the day, the governor refuted views that there was little room for further easing, given the BOJ’s already massive bond purchases. “I don’t believe that there is a limit to additional easing or that there is nothing more we can do.”

 

[...]

 

The Japanese economy contracted an annualized 7.1% in the April-June quarter, as consumers tightened their belts and companies slashed new spending following the three-percentage-point rise in the sales tax to 8%.

The BoJ’s efforts have blown Japan’s monetary base “off the charts”, but a concomitant reduction in bank credit has meant that very little of this has actually translated into money supply growth – so far, that is.

 

Japan’s monetary base rockets into the blue yonder.

 

It must be kept in mind here that this massive rise in the monetary base means that an ever larger share of the fiduciary media in Japan’s banking system have been transformed into covered money substitutes. This makes a deflationary credit collapse less and less likely, and by inference means that the opposite is becoming ever more likely. It cannot be ruled out that faith in the currency one day simply evaporates and that prices will then “catch up” with the monetary inflation that has taken place up to this point.

The main reason why the public’s continued confidence in the currency cannot be taken for granted is the essential Ponzi nature of the BoJ’s debt monetization schemes. By buying ever more government debt with newly issued bank reserves, the government ends up owing more and more of its debt to “itself”. The inherent absurdity of this situation should be obvious.

 

We can deduce from Mr. Kuroda’s comments that he is not at all concerned that anything untoward could happen. After all, it has all gone swimmingly so far. This unawareness on the part of the BoJ’s planners actually heightens the dangers considerably.

 


Japan’s narrow money M1 (demand deposits and currency), roughly equivalent to money TMS-1. Note that in spite of the BoJ’s massive ‘QE’ operations, annualized growth has recently declined to 4% from an interim high of 6% achieved in early 2014. All the same, the money supply is up by a factor of six since Japan’s asset bubble burst in 1990. CPI meanwhile has risen somewhat until 1995 and has essentially flat-lined since then – click to enlarge.

 

So what is the advice dispensed to Japan’s policymakers in the financial press? That’s actually a rhetorical question – they are advised to do what they plan on doing anyway. The Nikkei Asian Review has recently been pondering whether Japan’s economy can “afford” another sales tax hike in 2015. It concludes that in spite of the dangers posed by the government’s debt-berg, only more printing and deficit spending can possibly rescue the economy – and there is of course great urgency:

“Most economists probably feel timid about predicting negative growth at a time when the pros and cons of another consumption tax hike are being discussed. Ryutaro Kono, chief economist at BNP Paribas Securities (Japan), is an exception. He predicts 0.1% negative growth for fiscal 2014.

 

For many economists who belong to organizations, it seems difficult to make unique and surprising predictions. But importantly, they do not want to see the additional consumption tax hike fall through. If it becomes clear the Japanese economy will post negative growth in fiscal 2014, it will be impossible to discuss another tax increase.

 

Japan’s fiscal conditions are continuing to deteriorate due to the aging of society. Many economists feel a sense of crisis, fearing that any delay in the additional tax hike would result in the crumbling of confidence in Japan’s fiscal policy.

 

So, what should be done?

 

The government and private sector should acknowledge the harsh economic situation and then discuss what measures should be taken. It could be possible to implement a supplementary budget, and embark on additional monetary easing as well as accelerate growth strategies.

 

The government’s Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy is due to start intensive discussions about the state of the economy on Sept. 16. Unbiased discussions and quick actions are more necessary than ever before.”

(emphasis added)

To summarize: there is a “sense of crisis” due to the explosion in Japan’s fiscal debt and the danger that confidence in fiscal policy may wane. The best way to counter this is by engaging in more money printing and even more deficit spending (this is what the “implementation of a supplementary budget” means – it means more government spending). This is Keynesian logic and brilliance in all it splendor.

 

 

 

Japan’s total public debt-to-GDP ratio, including an overoptimistic projection – click to enlarge.

 

 

 

Japan’s government deficit as a percentage of GDP.

 

Conclusion:

We conclude that “more of the same” will remain the agenda until the whole house of cards implodes one day.








The Iraq Proxy War: Mapping Whose Troops Are Involved

Zerohedge - Sun, 09/14/2014 - 21:33

There is another "broad coalition" in The Middle East. With fighter from Sudan and Sweden to Spain and Switzerland, the following map shows where all the foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq's 'new crusades' are from...

 

 

Source: AFP








10 tips for real food newbies

Nourished Kitchen - Sun, 09/14/2014 - 21:01

If you’re just starting out, just learning and baby-stepping away from packaged and boxed foods into a diet based on wholesome, natural traditional foods, those first few weeks (months? years?) can feel daunting at best, and completely impossible at worst.  It’s hard, especially if you were raised on Lean Cuisine, Pop Tarts and Crystal Light.  Never mind the conflicting information in the media: the government tells you to stick to low fat, but recently published studies illustrate the importance of high quality fats – including butter.  WhileNourished Kitchen focuses exclusively on real foods, traditionally prepared to maximize nutrition, the site really centers around the pleasure of cooking – and for those just starting out, just giving up the frozen suppers and drive-thrus, it’s not enough to share recipes or techniques; rather, you need more practical and hands-on advice.

So here it is.  Print it out and pin it to your fridge, because it’s a good one – and I promise not to wax poetic about the luxury of raw cream or a freshly picked peach still warm from the sun – that is, until the next post.

And if you want even more comprehensive guidance, check out the Ultimate Bundle which is an amazing resource of 70+ ebooks, online courses and bonuses to make the transition to whole foods and natural family wellness easier.

1. Learn to read labels, really read them.

My first bit advice to anyone learning how to ditch processed foods and cook from scratch is simple: learn to read labels. When you take the time to actually read labels thoroughly, you’ll find crazy words like disodium guanylate, TBHQ (a form of butane – that’s lighter fluid!), MSG (a neurotoxin), artificial colors, nitrates and nitrites, BHA and BHT, and others.  Taking the time to read labels, and then follow up on the ingredients you don’t immediately recognize is often enough to prevent you from tossing those foods into your shopping basket.  After all, who wants to serve up a plate of food laced with lighter fluid, neurotoxins and known human carcinogens to their children?

2. Ditch the boxes and packages and learn to stick to single-ingredient foods.

So once you’ve read the labels on those boxes, backs, tins and packages of processed foods, it’s time to ditch them.  Make the move to single ingredient foods; that is, only purchase foods from the store that contain one ingredient: a bag of brown rice, a bottle of olive oil, a package of butter, a pint of honey.

3. Give up that low-fat mentality, and dive into some butter and olive oil and maybe even tallow.

Do yourself a favor, and give up that low-fat mentality.  The low-fat, low-cholesterol dietary dogma of the 70s, 80s and 90s has largely been discredited; moreover, it’s probably worse for our collective health as it ignores our evolutionary heritage and the very foods that nourished the good health of our ancestors who were largely free of chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer and heart disease.  Learn to love real fats: butter, coconut oil, olive oil and even grass-fed tallow and pastured lard.

4. Ditch refined sweeteners, and choose unrefined sweeteners in strict moderation.

Ditch the sugar, the high fructose corn syrup and, yes, even the agave nectar.  Sugar, natural and traditional or otherwise, is not good for anyone’s health; however, if you need a little something sweet to help you make that transition and reset your tastebuds, add raw honey, molasses, date sugar, unrefined cane sugar, sorghum syrup and brown rice syrup to your basket.  Moreover, use these sweeteners in smaller and smaller quantities each time you prepare a dish, whip up a batch of cookies or sweeten your tea.

5. Shop for fresh, local and sustainably grown fruits and vegetables.

Vegetables  number among my many not-so-secret loves, but if you’re going to start cooking real food for your family, you need to start to love them too.  Don’t be fooled by the seemingly low prices of frozen and tinned vegetables; on a ounce-by-ounce basis, they’re not less expensive than fresh vegetables, purchased on sale and in season.  Besides, fresh vegetables – particularly picked recently from local farms practicing sustainable methods – often offer richer and more complex flavors.  Good flavor helps you to feed your family foods they’ll actually like – without dousing them in processed food additives or boiling them to death over the range.

6. Shop for fresh milk, or, at the very least, always choose grass-fed.

I’ve shared my love of fresh milk and why I drink raw milk before, but if you can tolerate dairy foods, choosing the right milks, butters, cheeses and creams makes all the difference – not only in flavor, but also in nutritive value.  Fresh milk from grass-fed cows is rich in micronutrients; what’s more, it’s also rich in immune-building beneficial bacteria and food enzymes.  If fresh milk just isn’t your style, at the very least choose vat-pasteurized milk from grass-fed cows as it is richer in nutrients and wholesome fats than conventionally produced milk and a far sight better than even most organic milk you find in the dairy case at your grocery store.

7. Learn to love (the right) meats.

Much like choosing milk, the effort you place into choosing the right meats makes all the difference.  The conditions of concentrated animal feed operations are deplorable, but there’s an alternative beyond meatless Mondays and out-and-out vegetarianism.  Choosing meats from pasture- and grass-based operations ensures that you consume high quality meats from animals that were raised with respect for their natural diets and humane treatment.  These meats are richer in micronutrients, less apt to contamination by pathogens like e. coli and salmonella, and are better sources of wholesome fats than their conventionally raised counterparts.

8. Develop a repertoire of fast, easy, simple foods your family actually likes (so you don’t end up in the drive-thru).

Once you’ve figured out what not to buy, and also what it’s best to buy, it’s best to develop a plan that’ll prevent you from relapsing into your old ways and the unhealthy comfort of a standard american diet.  We all get stressed.  We all become overworked.  We all become tired, so it’s important to have a back-up plan – a repertoire of fast, easy and simple foods that your family can appreciate and that keep you from heading to the drive-thru.  Things like chicken fingers (made with almond flour, and without TBHQ), or homemade sun tea instead of soda, or, better yet, learn to use your slowcooker to make healthy “no-fuss” meals.

There’s a ton of wholesome tips on real food, easy recipes, budget cooking and meal planning in the Ultimate Bundle, but the sale ends on Monday, September 15 at midnight.

9. Try some super foods.  Who knows? you may end up loving them.

Don’t be afraid to try something new.  Traditional peoples thrived on foods native to their region and these invariably included some form of a highly nutrient-dense food: liver, roe, shellfish, oily fish, fresh butter, cod liver oil.  Sure, liver may not sound appealing initially, but it’s extraordinarily rich in vitamins and you might not even notice it, if you prepare it properly.

10. Give back to the real food community.

Lastly, give back to the real food community.  Share with friends – not only articles covering real food, or real food recipes, but also by preparing wholesome meals for your family or for get-togethers.  Use social media like twitter and facebook to share articles, your favorite blogs, ideas and activism alerts (did you know you can follow Nourished Kitchen on Facebook?).  Volunteer at your local farmers market.  Plant a community garden.  Give some real food to your food bank.  Teach schoolchildren how to cook.  Just give back, because the movement depends on each one of us.

Photo Credit.

Copyright 2007 to 2014, all rights reserved. Nourished Media, LLC. No part of this content may be republished or reposted without express written permission. Posts on NourishedKitchen.com may contain affiliate links and links to sponsors.

China Bad News & Scotland No News Send Futures Lower

Zerohedge - Sun, 09/14/2014 - 20:51

While USDJPY is not moving much, no clear news from Scotland (GBP is modestly weaker) and an opposition win in Sweden (Krone weaker) along with China's dismal data (and Securities Journal note that no rate cut is coming anytime soon from the PBOC) sparked some significant selling in US stock futures at the open (-13 points). Treasury futures are modestly higher as S&P future are stabilizing around -7 points for now extending losses from Friday as AUDJPY slides...

US equity futures down notably...

 

seemingly led by AUDJPY weakness (AUD weakness and JPY unchness) on the back of China data

 

Charts: bloomberg








Solar in Oil Drilling: Beat Them or Join Them?

Zerohedge - Sun, 09/14/2014 - 20:47

By EconMatters

 

Solar energy has garnered quite a buzz lately as China is said to beef up its solar installation this year. Fundamentally, many energy forecast scenarios by numerous agencies suggest while renewable energy would enjoy a higher growth rate, fossil fuels would remain as a dominant global energy source.  Nevertheless, as the old saying goes -- If you can't beat them, join them.  This seems to be what's happening with at least one solar company.

 

CNBC reported that GlassPoint Solar landed a $53 million investment from Royal Dutch Shell and the sovereign investment fund of Oman for its enhanced oil recovery (EOR) technology. As the company's name suggests, GlassPoint's technology runs on solar power, which produces steam to help pump more fossil fuel from conventional crude oil plays.

 

Read More >>> The Oil Market QE Premium Is Coming out of Price

 

According to CNBC, GlassPoint has been using this technique in Oman since 2012, and it helped the firm score more than double its initial funding. According to EIA data, Oman is the largest oil and natural gas producer in the Middle East that is not a member of OPEC, and that EOR techniques have helped Oman's oil production rebound from a multi-year decline in the early 2000s. Oman relies heavily on complex EOR process to extract more oil than traditional drilling—to boost production.

 

EOR is nothing new to the oil industry.  With much of the world's 'easy oil' already recovered, more and more producers are turning to EOR for prospects of ultimately 30-60% more of the reservoir's original oil.  CNBC quoted consulting firm Ernst and Young which estimated [oil] companies spend at least $5 billion annually on the [EOR] process, and the need for this type of methods to expand the efficiency of wells is particularly acute in places like Oman and Russia where oil fields are getting long in the tooth (see chart below also from CNBC).

 

Graphic Source: CNBC.com

According to CNBC, GlassPoint's CEO Rod MacGregor noted in an interview that "This application looks like the next step for solar." Take it at face value, this new niche solar technology indeed looks very promising as it could reduce oil projects environmental impact, replacing and conserving other energy source used in the EOR process.  This could become a tremendous growth area for the solar industry, and for companies with the expertise.  But before everyone gets overly excited, keep in mind that ultimately, like any new technologies and methods, it will need to pass the number crunching test.

 

Read More >>> Every Middle East Flare Up Last 5 Years Overblown By Media

 

The CNBC article made no mention of the cost factor.  EOR is already a very cost-intensive process. So given that (1) The economics of solar and other renewable energy is still a much debated issue among experts, and (2) the intermittent nature of solar,  I think the most likely scenario is that the new solar drilling technology would be become part of, but not replace the existing traditional methods. This would put a very different perspective on its growth prospect.

 

Before the jury is in, solar industry should have no problem getting funding from oil companies that are desperate to gain some kind of positive association with any renewable drilling project. However, whether this niche technology sector within the solar industry could lose support from the environmental cause due to the involvement with oil drilling is yet to be seen as well.        

 

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The World Order Becomes Disorder

Zerohedge - Sun, 09/14/2014 - 20:44

Submitted by Donald Coxe via CaseyResearch.com,

Is the post-Cold War global boom over?

Since the fall of Bolshevism, the world has seen remarkably sustained growth in international cooperation, brought about by freer trade and new technologies. Financial assets have generally performed well, increasing prosperity across most of the world. There were just two major interruptions - the tech crash in 2000, and the financial crash in 2008.

The world warmed up fast after the Cold War. Prices of most commodities rose, despite major corrections:

  • Oil climbed from $15 per barrel to as high as $140. It collapsed with the crash, but climbed back swiftly to near $100.
  • Corn climbed from $2 to as high as $8 before sliding to $3.60.
  • Copper climbed from 80 cents to $4.30 before sliding to $3.
  • Gold shot up from $350 to $1,900 before pulling back toward $1,200.

So what’s happening with commodity prices now? Is this just another correction, or has the game really changed?

Commodity prices have risen against a backdrop of falling interest rates:

The US ten-year Treasury yielded 8% as recently as 1994, and as low as 2.1% during the crash. Recently the consensus target was 4%—before fears of outright deflation drove it to 2.4%. Bond yields have fallen below 1%. Even the bonds of the southern members of the Eurozone yield Treasury-esque returns.

Remarkably, those low yields persist even as major geopolitical outbursts have ended the mostly benign post-Cold War era. The foundations of global economic progress are being shaken by geopolitical earthquakes from Russia and Ukraine to Syria and Iraq, where a new caliphate has been proclaimed.

It seems bizarre, but the world is heading toward a revival of both the Cold War and the Ottoman Empire.

Unfortunately, these concurrent crises are occurring at a time when the great democracies’ leaders bear scant resemblance to those leaders responsible for the end of the Cold War and the launch of global cooperation and free trade: Reagan, Thatcher, and George HW Bush. Mr. Obama won his nomination by voting against the invasion of Iraq. He ran on the promise of ending wars, not starting them. Now, faced with sinking popularity in an election year that could give Republicans complete control of Congress, he naturally fears dragging America into the ISIS chaos—or Ukraine.

Obama is also haunted by the collapse of his most daring and creative foreign policy achievement—the reset with Russia. Last week, Mr. Putin doubled down on his Ukrainian attacks by warning that Russia should be taken seriously, because it is a major nuclear power and is strengthening its nuclear arsenal. Those with long memories recall Khrushchev banging his shoe at the United Nations and shouting, “We will bury you!”

Meanwhile, Western Europe’s leaders show few signs of being prepared for either crisis. Angela Merkel, raised in East Germany, is cautious to a fault. British Premier David Cameron is struggling to prevent Scottish secession and to deal with the likely return of hundreds of ISIS-trained British citizens. (Military analysts generally agree that well-funded returnees with ISIS training are much greater threats than Al Qaeda ever was… yet Cameron has failed to convince his coalition partner to support restraining their re-entry into British Muslim communities.)

The backdrop for long-term investing has, in less than a year, swung from promising to promises broken by wars and threats of more-terrifying wars.

Another unlikely threat is deflation.

DEflation?

When central bankers have been running the printing presses 24/7?

Most economists, strategists, and investors would have deemed deflation a near-impossibility with government debts at all-time highs, funded by money printed at banana-republic rates. Who thought that the Fed would quadruple its balance sheet? And who dreamt that such drastic policies would be sustained for six years and would be accompanied by outright deflation in much of Europe and minimal inflation in the USA?

So why have Brent oil prices fallen from $125 in two years despite production outages in Syria and Libya and repeated cutbacks in Nigeria? Are Teslas taking over the world?

The answer is that the US is once again #1 in oil production, thanks to fracking (in states that allow it). Mr. Obama likes to boast about the new US oil boom, but he has been a bystander to this petro-revolution. According to an oil company executive interviewed in the New York Times last week, without fracking, global oil prices might be at $200 a barrel, and the world would be in a deep recession. He’s a Texan and thus inclined toward hyperbole, but his point is directionally valid.

US frackers - deploying advances in science and technology with guts and skill—have averted fuel inflation. And farmers, using the tools of modern agriculture—GMO and hybridized seed, farm machinery equipped with GPS and logistics, and carefully monitored fertilizers—have combined with Mother Nature to unleash record crops of corn and soybeans. So much for food inflation.

Capitalism is doing its job: to expand output of goods and services, thereby preventing shortages from derailing recoveries through inflation. That success story means central bankers can keep printing away.

So what should investors do? The S&P’s rally has been sustained through near-zero-cost money used to: (1) buy back stock to enrich insiders and please activist hedge funds which have borrowed big to buy big; and (2) prop up the overall market because investors have learned that buying on margin when the costs are minimal - and below dividend yields - just keeps paying off. Stein’s law says, “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.” Too bad it doesn’t say when.

Gold loses its luster when: (1) inflation seems to be as remote as a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow; and (2) even a concatenation of crises fails to send investors rushing into the time-tested crisis consoler.

We had predicted in February that 2014 would be the year of increasing geopolitical risks that would challenge conventional asset allocations. We see geopolitical risks expanding from here - not contracting - and stick to our investment advice that the broad stock market is precariously valued. A range of options is available for those who wish to hedge themselves against even worse news.

Gold is part of any such risk mitigation. So are long government bonds.

Most importantly, we have entered an era when wise investors will devote as much time to reading the foreign news as they allocate to reading the investment section.

-----

For deeper analysis consider taking a 90-day risk-free trial to The Casey Report.

Each issue offers unmatched financial intelligence for profiting from quick and powerful trends as they develop, and guarding your wealth long term from the threats of government interference and market collapse.

There are detailed forecasts from our Ivy League economist, geopolitical updates from our man in Washington, strategies for internationalizing, and focused technical analysis—with vital charts you need to see, provocative candor, and historical perspectives from Doug.

All with actionable investment recommendations to take advantage of the reality on the ground. To see which opportunity the team likes best now, click here.








What Happens When "Scotland" Comes To Spain?

Zerohedge - Sun, 09/14/2014 - 20:12

Friday saw the largest demonstration in the history of Barcelona with 1.8 million people showing up, exceeding all previous records, calling for Catalan independence...

As Martin Armstrong notes, demonstrators were waving independence flags and wearing yellow-and-red shirts with the phrase “Now is the time” shouting “Independencia!” as they swarmed into the semiautonomous area in northeastern Spain that hails Barcelona as its capital.

What is clear, we are seeing the beginning stages of what we have warned about – the rise of civil unrest that leaded to nations dividing or being overthrown in revolutions. What has taken place in Scotland is by no means going unnoticed.

“Independence, independence”, has been the new cry of the people today in Spain in the center of the Catalan capital. Two main roads that converge at a place filled over a distance of seven miles with people. Here, a “V” for “Victoria” (Victory) was formed. The amount of protesters is very impressive and the police have been gearing up for this because they know what is coming.

Catalonia has 7.6 million inhabitants and this is a very important region for Spain. Despite the economic crisis and an unemployment rate of more than 22 percent, Catalonia is around one fifth of total gross domestic product of the Southern European country is generated.  

Proponents of secession from Spain think an independent Catalonia would achieve a higher standard of living.

*  *  *

Coming to another European country near you soon...

*  *  *

Of course, this doesn't help...

Unemployment in European Union http://t.co/DwAePpYyw6 pic.twitter.com/rUJRUjwf0J

— Conrad Hackett (@conradhackett) September 13, 2014

*  *  *

Just as we warned previously...

The history of Europe over the last 100 years shows that austerity can have severe consequences and outcomes and perhaps most notably, the independent variable that did result in more unrest: higher levels of government debt in the first place.

 

*  *  *

And here is Deutsche Bank's take on how this might escalate...

From Edinburgh to Barcelona

The unexpected increase in the uncertainty about the outcome of next week’s Scottish independence referendum – see accompanying article in this issue of Focus Europe – re-focused press and clients’ attention on the possibility of a similar referendum in Catalonia on 9 November. The large demonstration in Barcelona on 11 September contributed to elevate media interest.

Catalonia matters

It will take years for Spain to work through the high public and private debt, but the country tends now to be described as a poster-child of the euro-area approach to the crisis along with Ireland, while France and above all Italy struggle to recover. Furthermore, contrary to France, the Spanish government is in a more solid position, and, contrary to Italy, it showed a greater determination in implementing structural reforms.

 

However, calls for a self-determination referendum in Catalonia add a significant element of uncertainty. Catalonia accounts for a larger proportion (18.8%) of the national economy than Scotland (8%). Indeed, Catalonia is the largest region in Spain (Figure 2).

Catalonia’s referendum would have less clear consequences than Scotland’s

The consequence of the Scottish referendum will be clear: a yes would imply that Scotland becomes independent and Great Britain would be a less united kingdom. The Catalan referendum would differ in at least two elements:

First, and most important, the Catalan referendum, if it takes place, would probably have a very different (lack of) legal basis. The Spanish Constitution opens the possibility of referenda, but specifically excludes from such a procedure the "basic principles" of the Spanish constitution, which include Spain's unity. Indeed, it appears highly likely that the Spanish Constitutional Court will reject Catalonia's request for a self-determination referendum to be held on 9 November.

 

Second, even if a non-binding referendum were to take place, it would probably ask two questions: (i) "Do you want Catalonia to become a state?" and (ii) "If yes, do you want this state to be independent?"

Will the Catalan referendum take place?

The referendum is promoted by the Catalan President Artus Mas, leader of Convergence and Union (CiU) and the junior regional government partner Republican Left of Catalonia (Esquerra Republicana per Catalunya – ERC). The latter is a more radical pro-independent party. The 2012 CiU-ERC government pact is based on the commitment that a self-determination referendum will take place by end-2014 unless socio-economic conditions require a postponement.

Assuming that as expected the constitutional court will declare the referendum illegal, we see four broad scenarios:

(I) Catalan President Mas and Spanish PM Rajoy’s reach a compromise and both referendum and early regional elections are avoided (positive for a macro-stability point of view). Rajoy could change approach and promise a constitutional reform after the end-2015 general election along with greater financial autonomy (for example in terms of tax treatment).

 

— Push-back: If Rajoy is seen as too lenient, his PP party could pay a political cost. But if Mas does not obtain major concessions, his position would weaken to the advantage of ERC. If a compromise was easy to reach we would not have come to the current situation. ERC could also react by triggering a fall of the Catalan government.

 

(II) Mas triggers early elections using the result as a de facto proindependence vote (potentially negative for a macro-stability point of view).

 

— Push-back: The risk for Mas would be to lose the presidency as his current junior coalition partner ERC is leading in opinion polls. The eventuality that Catalonia, contrary to Scotland, is not allowed to hold a referendum could further boost consensus for ERC.

 

(III) A variation of the second scenario is a crisis triggered by ERC (potentially negative for a macro-stability point of view). In this case CiU could try to form another government coalition (e.g. with the socialists) but the risk, however, would be that ERC would gain further consensus ahead of the next elections to the cost of the less radical CiU.

 

— Push-back: CiU will be perfectly aware of this risk – hence they will have to avoid providing a clear justification to ERC. This in turn complicates even further the relationship with Madrid.

 

(IV) Catalonia goes ahead with the referendum even if the Constitutional Court declares it illegal (potentially negative for a macro-stability point of view). According to the Financial Times (11 Sept.), the majority of analysts believes the vote will have to be called off after the Constitutional Court’s ruling. There are probably at least three reasons behind this view. First, going ahead with an illegal referendum could split Mas’ party. Second, a significant part of the Catalan population could boycott the referendum if it is declared illegal. Third, the referendum would have no legal validity and Madrid could argue that nothing has changed – it could also complicate the relationship of Catalonia with EU partners. However, we would not discard the possibility of a referendum taking place on 9 November:

 

— Push-back: ERC could push to hold an informal referendum anyway. Alternatively, Mas may want to avoid losing the initiative at the advantage of ERC and also use the result of the referendum to strengthen his bargaining position with Madrid.

Which scenario is more likely? Toward a muddle-through approach

In cases as complex as the one above the most likely scenario can sometimes be identified by finding the dominant strategy (in terms of game theory). However, it is extremely difficult to identify such a strategy given the above described constellations of incentives and constraints. For example, PM Rajoy could opt for a divide-and-rule strategy by trying to entice Mas’ CiU away from the alliance with ERC via material concessions. But that would cause the fall of the current government and more importantly could further boost ERC’s projected share of seats. On top of that, Rajoy will also have to take into account the repercussions of his concessions on other regions – for example on the Basque regions. The risk of ending up in a “prisoner’s-dilemma” conundrum, where the least optimal solution is selected, is material.

Alternatively, we could resort to economic arguments. The scenarios that lead to the greater economic benefit (i.e. probably scenario I above) should become the most likely. The central government may hope that the improving economic conditions will quell the demand for independence. Although it is true that the economic crisis shone a light on the financial transfers from Catalonia to the central government, our understanding is that the drivers of the independence movement in Catalonia are beyond economic considerations. They are rooted in a centuries-long history. This gives a strong emotional content to the debate beyond pure economic considerations like in Scotland.

The Scottish referendum and reactions to it will matter for Catalonia

Next week’s Scottish referendum could affect the likelihood of the above four scenarios via at least three elements.

The result: a yes vote would probably boost the independence movement.

 

The EU partner reactions: the pro-independent Catalans are in favour of Catalonia as an independent state within the European Union.3 If Scotland vote yes, joining the EU could become a complicated process. The European Union could be weary of being seen as supporting Scotland’s independence given the situation in Ukraine. Equally if not more relevant, a number of European countries will be also wary of the consequences for their own territorial unity, for example Belgium and to a lesser extent Italy. Overall, exiting the euro-crisis calls for further European integration. A break-up of the euro-area fourth largest country would be perpendicular to this trajectory.

 

Markets and business reaction: a negative reaction by the market and businesses potentially reallocating away from Scotland in case of a yes vote could weaken the pro-independence movement in Catalonia.

* * *

Opinion polls on Catalonia independence

No regular, independent opinion polls are available to assess support for the pro-independence vote. However, there appears to have been an increase in the support for pro-independence over the past 3 years.

According to the State pollster CIS this year around 45% of the Catalan supports full independence, 20% a federal state and 23% an autonomous region (Reuters).

The Center for Opinion Studies of the Catalan presidency reported a 54.7% support for independence in 2013. The 2014 survey provides a less clear reading.








Washington’s War Against Russia — Paul Craig Roberts

Paul Craig Roberts - Sun, 09/14/2014 - 19:34

Washington’s War Against Russia

Paul Craig Roberts

Quarterly Call For Donations

Dear Readers: The site has three types of donors. Some donate automatically a fixed amount each month. Others donate randomly without being asked. Others respond to the quarterly request. The response so far to this current quarterly request is disappointing.

As this site grows in influence, its support needs to grow. Protecting this site is expensive. Those of us who tell you the truth and who provide explanations different from the propaganda are targets. Many efforts are made to smear us, discredit us, and, thereby, limit our audience. Government trolls and poorly informed “patriots” who defend the government but not the Constitution, attack us in comment sections and sow confusion by misrepresenting what we write. Email attacks are mounted that so swell the inbox that it becomes impossible time wise to work through the messages to find the legitimate ones to which to respond.

It will not be long before only a masochist will be willing to speak the truth in the United States or in any country of the West.

This is your site. It depends on your support. I need to see your support.

Washington’s War Against Russia

The new sanctions against Russia announced by Washington and Europe do not make sense as merely economic measures. I would be surprised if Russian oil and military industries were dependent on European capital markets in a meaningful way. Such a dependence would indicate a failure in Russian strategic thinking. The Russian companies should be able to secure adequate financing from Russian Banks or from the Russian government. If foreign loans are needed, Russia can borrow from China.

If critical Russian industries are dependent on European capital markets, the sanctions will help Russia by forcing an end to this debilitating dependence. Russia should not be dependent on the West in any way.

The real question is the purpose of the sanctions. My conclusion is that the purpose of the sanctions is to break up and undermine Europe’s economic and political relations with Russia. When international relations are intentionally undermined, war can be the result. Washington will continue to push sanctions against Russia until Russia shows Europe that there is a heavy cost of serving as Washington’s tool.

Russia needs to break up this process of ever more sanctions in order to derail the drive toward war. In my opinion this is easy for Russia to do. Russia can tell Europe that since you do not like our oil companies, you must not like our gas company, so we are turning off the gas. Or Russia can tell Europe, we don’t sell natural gas to NATO members, or Russia can say we will continue to sell you gas, but you must pay in rubles, not in dollars. This would have the additional benefit of increasing the demand for rubles in exchange markets, thus making it harder for speculators and the US government to drive down the ruble.

The real danger to Russia is a continuation of its low-key, moderate response to the sanctions. This is a response that encourages more sanctions. To stop the sanctions, Russia needs to show Europe that the sanctions have serious costs for Europe.

A Russian response to Washington would be to stop selling to the US the Russian rocket engines on which the US satellite program is dependent. This could leave the US without rockets for its satellites for six years between the period 2016 and 2022.

Possibly the Russian government is worried about losing the earnings from gas and rocket engine sales. However, Europe cannot do without the gas and would quickly abandon its participation in the sanctions, so no gas revenues would be lost. The Americans are going to develop their own rocket engine anyhow, so the Russian sales of rocket engines to the US have at most about 6 more years. But the US with an impaired satellite program for six years would mean a great relief to the entire world from the American spy program. It would also make difficult US military aggression against Russia during the period.

Russian President Putin and his government have been very low-key and unprovocative in responding to the sanctions and to the trouble that Washington continues to cause for Russia in Ukraine. The low-key Russian behavior can be understood as a strategy for undermining Washington’s use of Europe against Russia by presenting a non-threatening face to Europe. However, another explanation is the presence inside Russia of a fifth column that represents Washington’s interest and constrains the power of the Russian government.

Strelkov describes the American fifth column here: http://slavyangrad.org/2014/09/12/we-will-not-allow-for-russia-to-be-ripped-asunder-and-ruined/

Saker describes the two power groups inside Russia as the Eurasian Sovereignists who stand behind Putin and an independent Russia and the Atlantic Integrationists, the fifth column that works to incorporate Russia in Europe under US hegemony or, failing that, to help Washington break up the Russian Federation into several weaker countries that are too weak to constrain Washington’s use of power. http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com.br/2014/09/strelkov-from-swimming-with-piranhas-to.html

Russia’s Atlantic Integrationists share the Brzezinski and Wolfowitz doctrines with Washington. These doctrines are the basis for US foreign policy. The doctrines define the goal of US foreign policy in terms of preventing the rise of other countries, such as Russia and China, that could limit Washington’s hegemony.

Washington is in a position to exploit the tensions between these two Russian power groups. Washington’s fifth column is not best positioned to prevail. However, Washington can at least count on the struggle causing dissent within the Eurasian Sovereignists over Putin’s low-key response to Western provocations. Some of this dissent can be seen in Strelkov’s defense of Russia and more can be seen here:
http://slavyangrad.org/2014/09/13/the-new-round-of-sanctions-the-pre-war-period/#more-3665 

Russia, thinking the Cold War ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union, opened herself to the West. Russian governments trusted the West, and as a result of Russia’s gullibility, the West was able to purchase numerous allies among the Russian elites. Depending on the alignment of the media, these compromised elites are capable of assassinating Putin and attempting a coup.

One would think that by now Putin’s government would recognize the danger and arrest the main elements of the fifth column, followed by trial and execution for treason, in order that Russia can stand united against the Western Threat. If Putin does not take this step, it means either than Putin does not recognize the extent of the threat or that his government lacks the power to protect Russia from the internal threat.

It is clear that Putin has not achieved any respite for his government from the West’s propaganda and economic assault by refusing to defend the Donbass area from Ukrainian attack and by pressuring the Donetsk Republic into a ceasefire when its military forces were on the verge of a major defeat of the disintegrating Ukrainian army. All Putin has achieved is to open himself to criticism among his supporters for betraying the Russians in eastern and southern Ukraine.

The European politicians and elites are so deeply in Washington’s pocket that Putin has little chance of courting Europe with a Russian show of good will. I have never believed that this strategy could work, although I would be pleased if it did. Only a direct threat todeprive Europe of energy has a chance of producing within Europe a foreign policy independent of Washington. I do not think Europe can survive a cutoff of the Russian natural gas. Europe would abandon sanctions in order to guarantee the flow of gas. If Washington’s hold on Europe is so powerful that Europe is willing to endure a major disruption of its energy supply as the price of its vassalage, Russia will know to cease its futile attempts at diplomacy and to prepare for war.

If China sits on the sidelines, China will be the next isolated target and will receive the same treatment.

Washington intends to defeat both countries, either through internal dissent or through war.

Nothing said by Obama or any member of his government or any influential voice in Congress has signaled any pullback in Washington’s drive for hegemony over the world.

The US economy is now dependent on looting and plunder, and Washington’s hegemony is essential to this corrupted form of capitalism.

The post Washington’s War Against Russia — Paul Craig Roberts appeared first on PaulCraigRoberts.org.

It's The Debt, Stupid

Zerohedge - Sun, 09/14/2014 - 19:30

Submitted by Adam Taggart via Peak Prosperity,

The fundamental failing of today's global economy can be summarized simply: Too Much Debt.

We have taken too much of it on, too fast, in too many markets around the world, to have any hope of making good on it. Not only does the math not work out, but also on a moral level, we are placing a tremendous obligation on future generations that will unfairly limit the prosperity they can enjoy tomorrow in order to finance our consumption today.

In the US alone, total credit market debt stands at over $57 trillion and is doing its damnedest to continue expanding exponentially. Since simple math shows us that this debt level cannot be supported, the key questions to ask at this stage are:

Will the unsupportable debt disappear via default, or inflation?

And very important:

When these debts do disappear, who will take the losses?

*  *  *

For those who simply don't want to wait until the end of the year to view the entire new series, you can indulge your binge-watching craving by enrolling to PeakProsperity.com. The entire full new series, all 27 chapters of it, is available -- now-- to our enrolled users.

The full suite of chapters in this new Crash Course series can be found at www.peakprosperity.com/crashcourse

And for those who have yet to view it, be sure to watch the 'Accelerated' Crash Course -- the under-1-hour condensation of the new 4.5-hour series. It's a great vehicle for introducing new eyes to this material.








ISIS' Next Target: The Suez Canal

Zerohedge - Sun, 09/14/2014 - 18:55

Following ISIS blitzkrieg in which it took over nearly half of Iraq and a third of Syria in the blink of an eye, at which point it created its own Islamic State Caliphate resulting in Obama's own personal war against the jihadists, some have wondered what is ISIS' next step: surely its leadership will not merely stagnatte as one after another US predator drone bomb away the capital Reqqa until ISIS figurehead leader al-Baghdadi is killed or gravely wounded. To be sure, the one thing ISIS, which stunned the world with the speed of its ascent, can not afford is to stand still.

So what is next on the strategic timeline for the Islamic State?

According to one source, Al Arabiya, which cites Egyptian experts, the answer is none other than the Suez Canal, and the country it is located in: Egypt.

“There is definitely a threat from ISIS to Egypt,” Mohammed Badr, a professor of political science at the University of Germany told Al Arabiya News, adding that the group has the country in its “line of sight.”

“All extremist groups represent a danger for Egypt,” Badr said, adding that “ISIS, the Muslim Brotherhood, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis [an Islamist militant group] are all dangerous for Egypt but the level of their threat is different.”

More details from Al-Arabiya:

One alleged ISIS militant took to social media to warn Egypt that it should be expecting a “surprise” soon. “Except a surprise in Egypt within days,” alleged ISIS member Abu Siyaf al-Masry wrote on his personal Twitter account, according to the Cairo-based daily al-Masry al-Youm.

 

These online threats are seen by some analysts as a means to mark their presence in Egypt, despite their absence on the ground. “They don’t have any presence in Egypt until now, which is why they use the internet and social media platforms to interact with Egyptians and spread their influence,” Mohssen al-Faham, a political analyst and commentator for Cairo-based daily al-Gomhuria, told Al Arabiya News.

 

In recent weeks, the Islamist group started showing notable signs that it might be interested in expanding its influence in Egypt.

ISIS' strategy on how to infiltrate Egypt, if indeed that is the case, is simple: ISIS has started to communicate with and coach Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, Egypt’s deadliest militant group, and share advice with it on how to create secret cells.

“ISIS and Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis are linked on an ideological level even though the group is not believed to be officially linked to ISIS insurgents,” Badr said.

“Their exchange is another sign that shows a clear threat to Egypt from ISIS,” he added.

While the west is traumatized by three beheadings of western journalists in the past month, in Egypt this is almost a daily occurrence, especially if the word "Israel" is uttered. Last week, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which is based in the Sinai Peninsula claimed to have beheaded four men accused of being Israeli Mossad spies in a video that seemed to have been inspired by the methods of ISIS.

Meanwhile Egypt, already deep in political turmoil with the military regime doing its best to cleanse all representatives of the US-backed Muslim Brotherhood (remember them?), appears to not be too concerned about the ISIS threat. Specifically, the possibility of an ISIS offensive was downplayed by an Egyptian Interior Ministry spokesman, who told Al Arabiya News that al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood were “the two main terrorist organizations” that threatened Egypt.

“ISIS cannot reach a country like Egypt given the cohesion between people and the unity of the nation,” Interior Ministry spokesman Hany Abdellatif told Al Arabiya News, adding that the group targets weak, failed states.

 

“But we [the Interior Ministry] are still getting threats of terrorism and must remain vigilant as the region is ablaze,” Abdellatif said.

And while Egypt may or may not be the next territorial expansion for ISIS, a new threat is emerging in the Middle East/North Africa region.

According to Reuters, a new armed group calling itself the Caliphate Soldiers in Algeria has split from al Qaeda's North African branch and sworn loyalty to the radical breakaway group Islamic State fighting in Syria and Iraq. A breakaway of key Algerian commanders from Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, known as AQIM, would show deepening rivalry between al Qaeda's core command and the Islamic State over leadership of the transnational Islamist militancy. As we expected several months ago, as Al Qaeda's reputation in the terrorist world plummets and is replaced by the "bloodthirsty" ISISites, more and more splinter terrorist groups will gravitate to the "cool, new" clique.

In a communique, AQIM central region commander Khaled Abu Suleimane, whose real name is Gouri Abdelmalek, claimed leadership of the new group, joined by an AQIM commander of an eastern region in Algeria, where the al Qaeda wing has its base. "You have in the Islamic Maghreb men if you order them they will obey you," Suleimane said in reference to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State. "The Maghreb has deviated from the true path."

 

The communique was posted on jihadi websites. Algerian officials did not immediately comment on the statement.

 

The Algeria splinter group is the latest to side with Baghdadi over al Qaeda's aging chieftain Ayman al-Zawahri, as the Islamic State appeals to younger militants with successes in gaining territory in Iraq and Syria.

Finally, to cement the fact that Al Qaeda is no longer even remotely relevant to anyone, and certainly not the CIA, Site Intelligence reported earlier that Al-Qaeda released its annual video for the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and in this installment, placed group official Hossam Abdul Raouf in the prominent role of lead speaker, and denied reports of its waning influence and strength. Translated: Al Qaeda is dead, replaced by its even more ferocious, if mostly for populist purposes, spin offs, ISIS and now, the Caliphate Soldiers.

And if and when the Islamic State and its Caliphate Soldiers take over the Suez Canal, watch as all those Brent shorts, many of which are rumored to be originating at Liberty 33 itself, suddenly get a margin call.








Chinese Gold Demand 39t In Week 36, YTD 1290t

In Gold We Trust - Sun, 09/14/2014 - 18:37

Robust Chinese gold demand is keeping up its pace. Chinese wholesale demand, measured by withdrawals from the Shanghai Gold Exchange vaults, was 39 tonnes in week 36 (September 1 – 5). Year to to date 1290 tonnes has been withdrawn from the SGE vaults.  
 
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Chinese Gold Demand 39t In Week 36, YTD 1290t">Continue Reading

India’s June Gold Import Highest in 12 Months

In Gold We Trust - Sun, 09/14/2014 - 18:32

Despite the fact the new Indian government, led by Narandra Modi since May, hasn’t lowered the import duties on both gold and silver, Indians keep on buying precious metals. Despite the fact we already knew this, there was less gold being smuggled into the country and more imported through official channels last June; 77 tonnes were gross imported, which is up 48 % from a month earlier, and up 75 % from June last year. This was accompanied by falling premiums.

India’s June Gold Import Highest in 12 Months">Continue Reading

Bob Shiller Warns Of "Parallels To 1937"

Zerohedge - Sun, 09/14/2014 - 18:24

Authored by Robert Shiller, originally posted Op-Ed at The Guardian,

The depression that followed the stock-market crash of 1929 took a turn for the worse eight years later, and recovery came only with the enormous economic stimulus provided by the second world war, a conflict that cost more than 60 million lives. By the time recovery finally arrived, much of Europe and Asia lay in ruins.

The current world situation is not nearly so dire, but there are parallels, particularly to 1937. Now, as then, people have been disappointed for a long time, and many are despairing.

They are becoming more fearful for their long-term economic future. And such fears can have severe consequences.

For example, the impact of the 2008 financial crisis on the Ukrainian and Russian economies might ultimately be behind the recent war there.

According to the International Monetary Fund, both Ukraine and Russia experienced spectacular growth from 2002 to 2007: over those five years, real per capita GDP rose 52% in Ukraine and 46% in Russia.

That is history now: real per capita GDP growth was only 0.2% last year in Ukraine, and only 1.3% in Russia. The discontent generated by such disappointment may help to explain Ukrainian separatists' anger, Russians' discontent, and the Russian president Vladimir Putin's decision to annex Crimea and to support the separatists.

There is a name for the despair that has been driving discontent – and not only in Russia and Ukraine – since the financial crisis.

That name is the "new normal," referring to long-term diminished prospects for economic growth, a term popularized by Bill Gross, a founder of bond giant PIMCO.

The despair felt after 1937 led to the emergence of similar new terms then, too. "Secular stagnation", referring to long-term economic malaise, is one example. The word secular comes from the Latin saeculum, meaning a generation or a century.

The word stagnation suggests a swamp, implying a breeding ground for virulent dangers. In the late 1930s, people were also worrying about discontent in Europe, which had already powered the rise of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.

The other term that suddenly became prominent around 1937 was "underconsumptionism" – the theory that fearful people may want to save too much for difficult times ahead.

Moreover, the amount of saving that people desire exceeds the available investment opportunities. As a result, the desire to save will not add to aggregate saving to start new businesses, construct and sell new buildings, and so forth.

Though investors may bid up prices of existing capital assets, their attempts to save only slow down the economy.

Secular stagnation and underconsumptionism are terms that betray an underlying pessimism, which, by discouraging spending, not only reinforces a weak economy, but also generates anger, intolerance, and a potential for violence.

In his magnum opus The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth, Benjamin M Friedman showed many examples of declining economic growth giving rise – with variable and sometimes long lags – to intolerance, aggressive nationalism, and war.

He concluded:

"The value of a rising standard of living lies not just in the concrete improvements it brings to how individuals live but in how it shapes the social, political, and ultimately the moral character of a people."

Some will doubt the importance of economic growth. Maybe, many say, we are too ambitious and ought to enjoy a higher quality of life with more leisure. Maybe they are right.

But the real issue is self-esteem and the social-comparison processes that the psychologist Leon Festinger observed as a universal human trait.

Though many will deny it, we are always comparing ourselves with others, and hoping to climb the social ladder. People will never be happy with newfound opportunities for leisure if it seems to signal their failure relative to others.

The hope that economic growth promotes peace and tolerance is based on people's tendency to compare themselves not just to others in the present, but also to the what they remember of people – including themselves – in the past.

According to Friedman:

"Obviously nothing can enable the majority of the population to be better off than everyone else. But not only is it possible for most people to be better off than they used to be, that is precisely what economic growth means."

The downside of the sanctions imposed against Russia for its behaviour in eastern Ukraine is that they may produce a recession throughout Europe and beyond.

That will leave the world with unhappy Russians, unhappy Ukrainians, and unhappy Europeans whose sense of confidence and support for peaceful democratic institutions will weaken.

While some kinds of sanctions against international aggression appear to be necessary, we must remain mindful of the risks associated with extreme or punishing measures. It would be highly desirable to come to an agreement to end the sanctions; to integrate Russia (and Ukraine) more fully into the world economy; and to couple these steps with expansionary economic policies.

A satisfactory resolution of the current conflict requires nothing less.








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