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Fri, 07 Oct 2022
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EU fail: Domestic agricultural production soars in Russia after food sanctions

russian agriculture
© RIA Novosti/Sergey Guneev
President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at a farm in southern Russia's Stavropol Region
Economy and sectors adjusting to changing environment

When Russian President Vladimir Putin cut off European Union imports of agricultural products earlier this year, one of the rationales was to give a boost to the badly underdeveloped domestic sector - and it seems to be working. September's retail and investment numbers were down but agricultural production soared by 16.8% year-on-year in September, according to Rosstat.

"Domestic demand in Russia remained sluggish in September, retail sales, which reflect household consumption, edging up 1.7% year-on-year. This is slightly better than what we saw in summer and puts the nine month tally at 2.3% y-o-y," Alfa Bank's chief economist Evgeny Gavrilenkov said in a note on October 20. "Conversely, the agriculture sector posted extremely strong growth of 16.6% year-on-year in September and 7.7% in the first nine months of this year. Combined with strong industrial output growth last month (2.8%), driven by import substitution, this should lead to improvements in basic sector output."

russian harvest
Agriculture has become a key sector in the Kremlin's import substitution programme. Despite being a top three world exporter of grain and home to the "Black Earth" regions, some of the most fertile land in the world, Russia continues to import about 40% of its food. It has deficits in raw milk, potatoes, pork and beef to name a few products.

And Russia completely fails to make any of the added value products like posh cheese or cured meats: why invest in complicated food processing products when it is easier and cheaper to simply import them from Europe? In Moscow the problem is particularly acute, with some 60% of food products imported last year.

Russia's food industry came under even more pressure after Russia acceded to the WTO in August 2012. Pork producers in particular immediately felt the squeeze after duties on European's higher quality, lower cost imports were phased out as part of the deal.

But that problem has gone now after the shops were cleared of this competition, leaving a giant gap in the market that the state is hoping local producers will rush to fill. Indeed, the spike in food prices is causing a macro problem as inflation soars, but the Kremlin must be hoping the food companies are using their extra money to improve their production and that their increased market shares will be permanent when the sanctions regime finally comes to an end.

The Kremlin turned the screw on Europe again this week by adding more products to its own sanction list. The federal supervisory agency for agriculture, the Rosselkhoznadzor, said "temporary restrictions" will go into effect this week on European beef and pork offal, as well as beef, pork and chicken fat.

The agency said it imposed the ban because "banned and harmful substances," including antibiotics, had been found in these meat products and byproducts. It did not identify the other substances.

"We reiterate our view that the economy is adjusting to the new environment. Economic growth has slowed, but it is not stagnating or contracting," writes Gavrilenkov.

Comment: This was a brilliant two-pronged strategy, both helping domestic producers, and encouraging trade relations among the lesser players in the world agricultural market. Latin America has been a particular beneficiary of Russian efforts.

Cow Skull

Life in the California towns hit hardest by the drought

© Reuters/Lucy Nicholson
Manuel Rodriguez, 83, watches as workmen install a water pump to carry water from an outdoor container into his home in Porterville, California October 14, 2014.
In one of the towns hardest hit by California's drought, the only way some residents can get water to flush the toilet is to drive to the fire station, hand-pump water into barrels and take it back home.

The trip has become a regular ritual for East Porterville residents Macario Beltran, 41, and his daughters, who on a recent evening pumped the water into containers in the bed of his old pickup truck to be used for bathing, dish washing and flushing.

As if to emphasize the arid conditions that led them there, an emergency broadcast warned of a brewing dust storm.

The state's three-year drought comes into sharp focus in Tulare County, the dairy and citrus heart of the state's vast agricultural belt, where more than 500 wells have dried up.

Donna Johnson's tap went dry in June. Since then she's been trying to help neighbors connect with help from the county and the state. She began making door-to-door deliveries of water donated by charities and such supplies as hand sanitizer - often in withering 100-degree heat.

"I saw all these people who couldn't take a shower: kids, pregnant women," the 72-year-old said.

Gold Seal

Prepping for the 'end of the world' as we know it

© Dwight Eschliman
A visit to "prepper camp," a four-day session on surviving super viruses, natural disasters, socioeconomic collapse, world war, and more

A shot rings out in the Orchard Lake Campground. The crack ricochets off of evergreens and elms and oaks. No one hits the ground, screams, or ducks for cover. None of the 600 campers even seems fazed by the blast piercing through the stagnant humidity. After all, it's just target practice.

Welcome to prepper camp.

For four days last month, the campground - nestled in a remote part of the foggy Blue Ridge Mountains in western North Carolina - hosted a crash course in survival. Organized by "Prepper Rick" Austin and his wife, a blogger who goes by "Survivor Jane," the weekend attracted participants from Tennessee, California, Kentucky, Texas, Ohio, and Georgia. When the sole Yankee outs herself, one person jokingly threatens to lynch her with a paracord.

Preppers have their own language. They carry "BOBs," or "bug-out bags," knapsacks stuffed with provisions necessary to "get out of dodge" when "TSHTF" (the shit hits the fan). "TEOTWAWKI" is instantly recognizable as shorthand for "the end of the world as we know it." But that "end" means something different to everyone. They're not all anticipating a rapture. Preoccupations range from super-viruses like Ebola to natural disasters (solar flares, hurricanes) to man-made catastrophes (an ISIS attack, socioeconomic collapse leading to utter mayhem).

Comment: See also: And do have a listen to the SOTT Talk Radio show that was devoted to this subject:

Surviving the End of the World (as we Know it) and further discussion on the SOTT forum here.


Poll: What Americans fear most

Chapman University has initiated the first comprehensive nationwide study on what strikes fear in Americans in the first of what is a planned annual study. According to the Chapman poll, the number one fear in America today is walking alone at night.
© Chapman University
The Chapman Survey on American Fears included 1,500 participants from across the nation and all walks of life. Underscoring Chapman's growth and emergence in the sciences, the research team leading this effort pared the information down into four basic categories: personal fears, crime, natural disasters and fear factors.

The survey shows that the top five things Americans fear the most are:
  • Walking alone at night
  • Becoming the victim of identity theft
  • Safety on the internet
  • Being the victim of a mass/random shooting
  • Public speaking
"What initially lead us into this line of research was our desire to capture this information on a year-over-year basis so we can draw comparisons with what items are increasing in fear as well as decreasing," said Dr. Christopher Bader, who led the team effort. "We learned through this initial survey that we had to phrase the questions according to fears vs. concerns to capture the information correctly, so that is how we present it," Bader continued.

Comment: Fear is the mind-killer. When it comes to dealing with fear, knowledge protects. The more you know about your fears, the less you will be controlled by them and be able to set them aside and move forward.

Fear and Knowledge

You can also learn more about what to expect from the upcoming collapse by listening to the Sott editor's interview with Dmitry Orlov. See also the preparedness thread on our forum.

Eye 2

Big brother: Students told to take inventory of home medicines and turn in list to school


Students at a Mapleton Junior High School in Utah County were given an assignment by the Health teacher to take inventory of their family medicine cabinet and turn in a list of what they found.
A junior high homework assignment has drawn strong criticism over its violation of privacy.

Fox13 reports, students at a Mapleton Junior High School in Utah County were given an assignment by the Health teacher to take inventory of their family medicine cabinet and turn in a list of what they found.

The assignment explained that a major reason for drug abuse in Utah County is people are not safely disposing of medications. Students were to write the names of the medications in the medicine cabinet, what the medication is being used for, and whether it was still being used.

Parent Onika Nugent was bothered by the assignment and posted her feelings to Facebook, and sent a letter to the teacher and principal.

Comment: Well meaning, but misguided? One is left wondering how far this would have gone if concerned parents had not voiced such strong disapproval. Now that educational institutions in the US have turned into prisons, and that CPS can abduct children from their parents with little provocation, such a seemingly 'misguided' assignment takes on more sinister implications.


Over one million protest in Rome against government reforms

© RIA Novosti. Igor Mikhalev
Some one million people have gathered in a rally on Saturday organized by the Italian General Confederation of Labor (CGIL) in Rome against the government's labor market reforms.
Some one million people have gathered in a rally on Saturday organized by the Italian General Confederation of Labor (CGIL) in Rome against the government's labor market reforms.

General Secretary of CGIL Suzanne Camusso, addressed the government on stage saying "do not deceive yourself," and warned that the union would take to the streets and squares of cities throughout Italy to promote their cause, according to Italian news agency TM News.

"Today is not the last. CGIL will continue their protest to change the Job Act (law on employment) and the policies of the government, including by means of a nationwide strike," Camusso added.

CGIL's march under the slogan "Work, dignity, equality. To change Italy," began on Saturday as two processions made their way to Piazza San Giovanni from two different points of the city, TM News reported. Participants include people of different ages and social status, many of which are workers, the unemployed, pensioners and students. Protesters are demonstrating against Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's employee protection rules which contribute to unemployment in the country.

According to Camusso, the "Stability Law", which defines the basic parameters of the state budget for 2015, is not sufficient to ensure that the country observe "equality."

In early September, the Italian prime minister presented a three-year program of measures and reforms to be implemented within "one thousand days." Key areas of the plan will include the labor legislation, judicial reform and institutional reform.

Tax breaks and spending cuts unveiled in Italy's 2015 budget earlier in October have also come under scrutiny by the public, with critics worrying the plans will prolong the country's ongoing recession and rise in unemployment.

Stock Down

90% of Americans are poorer today than in 1987

© AFP Photo / Jewel Samad
The American Dream is slipping further away from the vast majority of Americans than it has in a quarter century. Now 90 percent of US households are poorer than they were in 1987, according to both a new study and the head of the Federal Reserve.

"The new, harsh reality is that the bottom 90 percent of households are poorer today than they were in 1987," Matt O'Brien wrote in the Washington Post Wonkblog, citing data from a new National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) paper on U.S. wealth inequality, which he says is based on tax data. "It's been a lost 25 years for the bottom 90 percent, but a lost 15 for the next 9 percent, too. That's right: altogether, the bottom 99 percent are worth less today than they were in 1998."

Federal Reserve Board Chairwoman Janet Yellen delved deeper into the statistics at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston Economic Conference on Inequality of Economic Opportunity last Friday.

Black Cat

Hunting witches: The 'War on Terror'

prisoners witch hunt
© www.rjgeib.com
Witch hunts and special prosecutions, deflections of the elite and powerful.
America's decade-long hysteria since 9/11 has taken on some characteristics of the European witch hunts of 500 years ago, with incineration of targets after a sham "due process," albeit now with Hellfire missiles from the air not stake-burnings on the ground.

The Great Hunt of today takes various forms with the whole world as hunting grounds: there are fishing expeditions to identify domestic enemies, hunts to apprehend undocumented people and suspected terrorists, and hunts for declared enemies in other countries.

Today we consider it ridiculous that people once believed human beings possessed supernatural powers and should therefore be burned alive, hung, or broken on a wheel to destroy the devil within. But, demonic possession was once a deeply held belief that spread throughout Europe from Italy to Scandinavia.

Witch Burning

During what is referred to as the Early Modern Period, scholars now estimate that 40,000 to 60,000 people were put to death for witchcraft - most of them between 1550-1650. Historians call this the time of the Great Hunt, or the Burning Times.

In that era, fantastic ideas were put forth to justify belief in the irrational. When the suspected witches of old had airtight alibis, ways were invented to get around them. An accused witch's spouse might testify that she had been sleeping soundly beside him all night in bed, but she could still be found guilty of going abroad in the dark to perform diabolic deeds.

This was explained by the idea that a person's spirit could leave her body and take the form of an animal, or a doppleganger (her double or evil twin) and thus she could be in two places at once. The image of witches on broomsticks traversing the night sky was borne of the idea that spirits were leaving their bodies and going off to participate in devil worship, or Black Sabbaths.

This horrific period of time gave us the "witch hunt" as a metaphor to describe a frenzied search for perceived enemies, with little regard for their actual guilt or innocence. (Witch panics spread to the American colonies, where an estimated 35 to 37 people were put to death.)

However, today's politically motivated hunts are no longer predicated on the fear that people actually possess supernatural powers - or are they? The modern mentality no longer holds such irrational beliefs as demonic possession - or does it?

Comment: Spell-binding: Depending on the "effect" needed to manipulate and influence public opinion, the PTB bank on a particular connotation to convey its message, a nose ring for mesmerizing constituents by whatever label fits the agenda. Guerrillas and Militants: depictions of unruly savages with bandannas and AK47s who engage in gang-style war-mongering leading to unpredictable bursts of violence. (If these are stooges, controllably convincing, all the better! ISIS and al Qaeda, for example.) Terrorists or Insurgents: a tried-and-true formula for mass fear-mongering and fomenting hatred for these "pinnacles of evil." (These don't even have to be real! They can be anyone, anytime, anywhere...or the PTB itself as in 9/11.) The PTB casts its spell on a gullible public and they respond according to script.

Due process of law doesn't apply to "bone fide evil-doers" so there is no accountability when it comes to the ultimate witch hunt. As in the days of old, truth doesn't apply. It is about the smoke and mirrors of deflection. The demonization of an entire population, such as the Muslims, provides "a threat to national security." With each illusory level of fake provocation, the government and military, unshackled, gain more and more control. Create a "war" so advanced weapons systems may be engaged for "defense." Prop up the evil bogey-man and obscure the real objectives: empirical land-grabs and control of someone else's resources. If you kill innocent civilians you just have to say they were terrorists or aiding terrorists, and voila, problem solved. Revise your definitions and no proof is necessary. It works like magic.

This piece was written in 2011. Since then nothing much has changed except the patterns and nefarious actions of "authority" have become increasingly transparent to those who choose to see.


Ottawa shooter Zehaf-Bibeau: Asked to be sent to jail, no obvious sign of mental illness in 2011


Michael Zehaf-Bibeau's yearbook photo.
The man who shot and killed Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at the National War Memorial and was gunned down himself on Parliament Hill Wednesday morning told a B.C. judge almost three years ago that he was homeless and wanted to go to jail to help break his drug addiction.​

Montreal-born Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, 32, lived in B.C. in recent years, walking the streets of Vancouver, Burnaby, and Surrey, and may have been staying at a Salvation Army shelter in downtown Vancouver as recently as two weeks ago.

Zehaf-Bibeau was also charged with robbery and uttering threats for an incident in Vancouver on Dec. 16, 2011, which court records indicate may have been an attempt to get help. CBC News obtained the psychiatric assessment and audio recordings of Zehaf-Bibeau's court appearances in Vancouver on Dec. 2011 and Feb. 2012.
'He believes his must spend time in jail as a sacrifice to pay for his mistakes in the past and he hopes to be a better man when he is eventually released.'- Dec. 2011 psychiatric assessment
The psychiatrist, who met with Zehaf-Bibeau at the Surrey Pre-Trial Centre, found that he was fit to stand trial, and explained some of Zehaf-Bibeau's motivation for wanting to be imprisoned.

Comment: On the one hand we have a psychiatric assessment showing no obvious signs of mental disorder; on the other we have his lawyer's suggestion of an undiagnosed mood disorder and signs of impulsiveness, instrumental violence, and odd behavioral changes. Zehaf-Bibeau's encounters with the law, and his association with Islam, would have put him on the radar of intelligence services. It looks like this was the case. As Niall Bradley recently wrote: "he was first identified by "U.S. security agencies", who were able to inform their Canadian colleagues that Zehaf-Bibeau too had "recently converted to Islam."" And we know how the FBI, CIA (and presumably CSIS) 'handle' potential homegrown terrorists...


Mayor who promised to "restore dignity and never embarrass the community" arrested on child porn charges

© State's Attorney General's Office
Wilson Longanecker, Jr.
The former mayor of Sorrento, Louisiana faces 40 counts of possession of child pornography after he was unable to dispose of the material while police were raiding his home, The Advocate reports.

Wilson Longanecker, Jr. entered office promising to "restore dignity," saying that he would never do anything that would "embarrass this community."

Less than a year after being elected, however, he stopped going to his office, citing a medical procedure - but he also stopped responding to emails, phone calls, and text messages. After five months, Randy Anny - the man Longanecker, Jr. beat in the election by a single vote - had to step in and act as mayor pro tem in order to manage the city's finances.

Dereliction of duty became the least of Longanecker, Jr.'s problem on Thursday, however, when investigators with a multiagency child pornography task force raided his home and discovered 40 videos depicting children between the ages of 3 and 14 engaged in sexual activities.

Longanecker, Jr. attempted to destroy the material while the investigators were collecting it, the Louisiana Attorney General's Office said, so he will also be charged with at least one count of obstruction of justice.

He faces between five and 20 years in prison, as well as a fine of $50,000, for each count if convicted.

"Crimes like this illustrate how important it is to actively, aggressively pursue those who exploit our children," Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said in a statement.