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Shaken: 10 Economic Disasters Which Threaten To Rip World Financial Markets To Shreds

2011 has already been the most memorable year in ages and we haven’t even reached April yet.  Revolutions have swept the Middle East, an unprecedented earthquake and tsunami have hit Japan, civil war has erupted in Libya, the price of oil has been soaring and the entire globe is teetering on the brink of economic collapse.  It seems like almost everything that can be shaken is being shaken.  Unfortunately, it does not appear that things are going to settle down any time soon.  The Japanese economy has been dealt a critical blow, the European sovereign debt crisis could flare up again at any moment and the U.S. economy could potentially plunge into another recession by the end of the year.  The global economy and world financial markets were really struggling to recover even when things were relatively stable.  If all of this global instability gets even worse it could literally rip world financial markets apart.

Yes, things really are that bad.  The mainstream media has been really busy downplaying the economic impact of the disaster in Japan and the chaos in the Middle East, but the truth is that these events have huge implications for the global economy.  Today our world is more interconnected than ever, so economic pain in one area of the planet is going to have a significant effect on other areas of the globe.

The following are 10 economic disasters which could potentially rip world financial markets to shreds….

#1 War In Libya

Do you think that the “international community” would be intervening in Libya if they did not have a lot of oil?  If you actually believe that, you might want to review the last few decades of African history.  Millions upon millions of Africans have been slaughtered by incredibly repressive regimes and the “international community” did next to nothing about it.

But Libya is different.

Libya is the largest producer of oil in Africa.

Apparently the revolution in Libya was not going the way it was supposed to, so the U.S. and Europe are stepping in.

Moammar Gadhafi is vowing that this will be a “long war”, but the truth is that his forces don’t stand a chance against NATO.

Initially we were told that NATO would just be setting up a “no fly zone”, but there have already been reports of Libyan tank columns being assaulted and there has even been an air strike on Moammar Gadhafi’s personal compound in Tripoli.

So since when did a “no fly zone” include an attempt to kill a foreign head of state?

Let there be no mistake – the moment that the first Tomahawk cruise missiles were launched the United States declared war on Libya.

Already the Arab League, India, China and Russia have all objected to how this operation is being carried out and they are alarmed about the reports of civilian casualties.

Tensions around the globe are rising once again, and that is not a good thing for the world economy.

On a side note, does anyone recall anyone in the Obama administration even stopping for a moment to consider whether or not they should consult the U.S. Congress before starting another war?

The U.S. Constitution specifically requires the approval of the Congress before we go to war.

But very few people seem to care too much about what the U.S. Constitution says these days.

In any event, the flow of oil out of Libya is likely to be reduced for an extended period of time now, and that is not going to be good for a deeply struggling global economy.

#2 Revolutions In The Middle East

Protests just seem to keep spreading to more countries in the Middle East.  On Friday, five Syrian protesters were killed by government forces in the city of Daraa.  Subsequently, over the weekend thousands of protesters reportedly stormed government buildings in that city and set them on fire.

Things in the region just seem to get wilder and wilder.

Even in countries where the revolutions are supposed to be “over” there is still a lot of chaos.

Have you seen what has been going on in Egypt lately?

The truth is that all of North Africa and nearly the entire Middle East is aflame with revolutionary fervor.

About the only place where revolution has not broken out is in Saudi Arabia.  Of course it probably helps that the United States and Europe don’t really want a revolution in Saudi Arabia and the Saudis have a brutally effective secret police force.

In any event, as long as the chaos in the Middle East continues the price of oil is likely to remain very high, and that is not good news for the world economy.

#3 The Japanese Earthquake And Tsunami

Japan is the third largest economy in the world.  When a major disaster happens in that nation it has global implications.

The tsunami that just hit Japan was absolutely unprecedented.  Vast stretches of Japan have been more thoroughly destroyed than if they had been bombed by a foreign military power.  It really was a nation changing event.

The Japanese economy is going to be crippled for an extended period of time.  But it is not just Japan’s economy that has been deeply affected by this tragedy.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the recent disaster in Japan has caused supply chain disruptions all over the globe….

A shortage of Japanese-built electronic parts will force GM to close a plant in Zaragoza, Spain, on Monday and cancel shifts at a factory in Eisenach, Germany, on Monday and Tuesday, the company said Friday.

Not only that, GM has also suspended all “nonessential” spending globally as it evaluates the impact of this crisis.

The truth is that there are a whole host of industries that rely on parts from Japan.  Supply chains all over the world are going to have to be changed as a result of this crisis.  There are going to be some shortages of certain classes of products.

Japan is a nation that imports and exports tremendous quantities of goods.  At least for a while both imports and exports will be significantly down, and that is not good news for a world economy that was already having a really hard time recovering from the recent economic downturn.

#4 The Japan Nuclear Crisis

Even if the worst case scenario does not play out, the reality is that the crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant is going to have a long lasting impact on the global economy.

Already, nuclear power projects all over the world are being rethought.  The nuclear power industry was really starting to gain some momentum in many areas of the globe, but now that has totally changed.

But of much greater concern is the potential effect that all of this radiation will have on the Japanese people.  Radiation from the disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant is now showing up in food and tap water in Japan as an article on the website of USA Today recently described….

The government halted shipments of spinach from one area and raw milk from another near the nuclear plant after tests found iodine exceeded safety limits. But the contamination spread to spinach in three other prefectures and to more vegetables — canola and chrysanthemum greens. Tokyo’s tap water, where iodine turned up Friday, now has cesium.

Hopefully the authorities in Japan will be able to get this situation under control before Tokyo is affected too much.  The truth is that Tokyo is one of the most economically important cities on the planet.

But right now there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding Tokyo.  For example, one very large German real estate fund says that their holdings in Tokyo are now “impossible to value” and they have suspended all customer withdrawals from the fund.

Once again, let us hope that a worst case scenario does not happen.  But if we do get to the point where most of the population had to be evacuated from Tokyo for an extended period of time it would be absolutely devastating for the global economy.

#5 The Price Of Oil

Most people believe that the U.S. dollar is the currency of the world, but really it is oil.  Without oil, the global economy that we have constructed simply could not function.

That is why it was so alarming when the price of oil went above $100 a barrel earlier this year for the first time since 2008.  Virtually everyone agrees that if the price of oil stays high for an extended period of time it will have a highly negative impact on the world economy.

In particular, the U.S. economy is highly, highly dependent on cheap oil.  This country is really spread out and we transport goods and services over vast distances.  That is why the following facts are so alarming….

*The average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States is now 75 cents higher than it was a year ago.

*In San Francisco, California, the average price of a gallon of gasoline is now $3.97.

*According to the Oil Price Information Service, U.S. drivers spent an average of $347 on gasoline during the month of February, which was 30 percent more than a year earlier.

*According to the U.S. Energy Department, the average U.S. household will spend approximately $700 more on gasoline in 2011 than it did during 2010.

#6 Food Inflation

Many people believe that the rapidly rising price of food has been a major factor in sparking the revolutions that we have seen in Africa and the Middle East.  When people cannot feed themselves or their families they tend to lose it.

According to the United Nations, the global price of food hit a new all-time high earlier this year, and the UN is expecting the price of food to continue to go up throughout the rest of this year.  Food supplies were already tight around the globe and this is certainly not going to help things.

The price of food has also been going up rapidly inside the United States.  Last month the price of food in the United States rose at the fastest rate in 36 years.

American families are really starting to feel their budgets stretched.  According to the U.S. Labor Department, the cost of living in the United States hit a brand new all-time record high in the month of February.

What this means is that U.S. families are going to have less discretionary income to spend at the stores and that is bad news for the world economy.

#7 The European Sovereign Debt Crisis

Several European governments have had their debt downgraded in the past several months.  Portugal, Spain, Greece and Ireland are all in big time trouble.  Several other European nations are not far behind them.

Right now Germany seems content to bail the “weak sisters” in Europe out, but if that changes at some point it is going to be an absolute nightmare for world financial markets.

#8 The Dying U.S. Dollar

Right now there is a lot of anxiety about the U.S. dollar.  Prior to the tsunami, Japan was one of the primary purchasers of U.S. government debt.  In fact, Japan was the second-largest foreign buyer of U.S. Treasuries last year.

But now as Japan rebuilds from this nightmare it is not going to have capital to invest overseas.  Someone else is going to have to step in and buy up all of the debt that the Japanese were buying.

Not only that, but big bond funds such as PIMCO have announced that they are stepping away from U.S. Treasuries at least for now.

So if Japan is not buying U.S. Treasuries and bond funds such as PIMCO are not buying U.S. Treasuries, then who is going to be buying them?

The U.S. government needs to borrow trillions of dollars this year alone to roll over existing debt and to finance new debt.  All of that borrowing has got to come from somewhere.

#9 The U.S. Housing Market

The U.S. housing market could potentially be on the verge of another major crisis.  Just consider the following facts….

*In February, U.S. housing starts experienced their largest decline in 27 years.

*Deutsche Bank is projecting that 48 percent of all U.S. mortgages could have negative equity by the end of 2011.

*Two years ago, the average U.S. homeowner that was being foreclosed upon had not made a mortgage payment in 11 months.  Today, the average U.S. homeowner that is being foreclosed upon has not made a mortgage payment in 17 months.

*In September 2008, 33 percent of Americans knew someone who had been foreclosed upon or who was facing the threat of foreclosure.  Today that number has risen to 48 percent.

#10 The Derivatives Bubble

Most Americans do not even understand what derivatives are, but the truth is that they are one of the biggest threats to our financial system.  Some experts estimate that the worldwide derivatives bubble is somewhere in the neighborhood of a quadrillion dollars.  This bubble could burst at any time.  Right now we are watching the greatest financial casino in the history of the globe spin around and around and around and everyone is hoping that at some point it doesn’t stop.  Today, most money on Wall Street is not made by investing in good business ideas.  Rather, most money on Wall Street is now made by making shrewd bets.  Unfortunately, at some point the casino is going to come crashing down and the game will be over.

Most people simply do not realize how fragile the global economy is at this point.

The financial crash of 2008 was a devastating blow.  The next wave of the economic crisis could be even worse.

So what will the rest of 2011 bring?

Well, nobody knows for sure, but a lot of experts are not optimistic.

David Rosenberg, the chief economist at Gluskin Sheff and Associates, is warning that the second half of the year could be very rough for the global economy….

“A sharp slowing in global GDP in the second half of the year cannot be ruled out.”

Let us hope that the world economy can hold together and that we can get through the rest of 2011 okay.  The last thing we need is a repeat of 2008.  The world could use some peace and some time to recover.

But unfortunately, we live in a world that is becoming increasingly unstable.  With the way that the world has been lately, perhaps we should all just start to expect the unexpected.

But world financial markets do not respond well to instability and unpredictability.  In fact, investors tend to start fleeing to safety at the first signs of danger these days.

Most Americans simply have no idea how vulnerable the world financial system is at this point.  Nothing really got “fixed” after 2008.  If anything, global financial markets are even more fragile than they were back then.

So what do all of you think about the state of the global economy?  Please feel free to leave a comment with your opinion below….

Does The Gulf Of Mexico Oil Spill Mean That The U.S. Is Headed For Gas Lines, Higher Food Prices And A Broken Economy?

As the Gulf of Mexico oil spill crisis enters a third month, the economic impact of this environmental nightmare is starting to become clearer.  The truth is that the “oil volcano” spewing massive amounts of oil into the Gulf has absolutely decimated the seafood, tourism and real estate industries along the Gulf coast.  Not only that, but energy industry insiders are now warning that the chilling effect that this crisis will have on offshore drilling could precipitate a new 1970s-style energy crisis.  Considering the fact that the U.S. economy was already on incredibly shaky ground even before the oil leak, the last thing we needed was a disaster of this magnitude.  But it has happened, and the reality is that the long-term effects of this crisis are potentially going to reverberate for decades. 

The American people certainly have a negative view on the impact that this oil spill will have on the economy.  According to a new poll, about eight out of every 10 Americans expect the oil spill to damage the U.S. economy and drive up the cost of gas and food.

But is a new 1970s-style energy crisis really a possibility?

Could we actually soon be headed for blackouts and gas lines?

Well, former Shell executive John Hofmeister believes that is exactly what we are headed for….

“Within a decade I predict the energy abyss looks like brownouts, blackouts and gas lines.” 

In fact, Hofmeister claims that some of his fellow energy industry insiders expect things to be even worse than he is projecting in the years ahead.

Why?

Hofmeister says that the problem is the U.S. government….

“Our federal government, when it comes to energy and the environment, is dysfunctional, it’s broken, and it’s unfixable in its current form.”

Without a doubt, the oil spill will have a chilling effect on offshore drilling.  But does that mean that we are going to be facing a shortage of oil in the future?

Well, that is what the advocates of peak oil would have us believe. 

But the truth is that there are actually a TON of untapped reserves throughout the United States that could provide everything that we need for decades and more.

Nobody is really supposed to talk about it, but the reality is that there are massive deposits of oil in Alaska, the Colorado Rockies and in the Bakken formation in Montana and the Dakotas that are larger than anything found in Saudi Arabia. 

So we will only have an “energy crisis” if that is what oil industry insiders and the U.S. government want.

You see, the oil industry likes to keep the supply of oil down because it means much larger profits for them, and these days the folks in Washington D.C. like anything that causes the U.S. public to use less oil, so higher energy prices are just fine with them.

In fact, rather than focusing on getting the crisis in the Gulf solved, Barack Obama has been exploiting this oil spill to really push his economy-killing climate bill.  It seems like Barack Obama would do just about anything to foist his “cap and trade” carbon tax scheme on the American people. 

Energy issues aside, the impact that this oil spill is having on other areas of the Gulf coast economy is very significant.

For example, the Gulf oil spill is absolutely playing havoc with real estate prices in the region.

Real estate agent Linda Henderson recently put it this way….

“I can tell you that things have pretty much dropped to dead.”

After all, who is going to pay top dollar for beachfront property down there at this point?

Nobody.

Not only that, but obviously the oil spill is devastating the seafood industry in the Gulf as well.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the average wholesale price for Gulf brown shrimp has jumped by more than half since the crisis began.

In addition, oyster prices are up 33% since the beginning of the oil spill, and as oil continues to spew into the Gulf of Mexico the price increases are only going to become more dramatic.

In fact, many are wondering if the seafood industry in the Gulf will ever recover from all of this.

The truth is that fishermen in Cordova, Alaska are still struggling 21 years after the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill devastated the fishing industry in that area.

Some local shrimpers in Louisiana are already predicting that it will be seven years before they can set to sea again, but even that actually may prove to be too optimistic.

Some scientists are warning that the massive quantities of methane that are being spewed into the Gulf of Mexico from the “oil volcano” could create “dead zones” where oxygen is so depleted that literally nothing lives.

So if the oil continues to flow for several more months could very large portions of the Gulf of Mexico become dead zones?

That is a legitimate question at this point.

In addition, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is completely destroying tourism along the Gulf coast.

The truth is that nobody wants to visit places where the beaches are coated with oil and where breathing the air makes your kids want to gag.

Public Service Commissioner Benjamin Stevens recently described what this is going to mean for beaches in his area….

“You get hit by a hurricane and you can rebuild. But when that stuff washes up on the white sands of Pensacola Beach, you can’t just go and get more white sand.”

Hotel Owner Dodie Vegas was even more blunt in describing what this crisis means for her business….

“It’s just going to kill us. It’s going to destroy us.”

But not everyone has been ruined economically by this oil spill.

In fact, it turns out that BP CEO Tony Hayward cashed in about a third of his BP stock one month before the well on the Deepwater Horizon exploded.

Not only that, it has been revealed that Goldman Sachs sold 58% of its shares in BP between January and March of this year.

Isn’t it amazing how the elite always seem to have such perfect timing?

Even if Tony Hayward resigns as a result of this crisis, he is going to get a 10.8 million pound ($16 million) golden parachute.

No, the true losers in all of this are going to be those living along the Gulf of Mexico who have had their lives, their businesses and the beautiful environment around them destroyed.

We are literally watching an entire region of America slowly die, and Barack Obama still refuses to accept any of the international assistance that is being offered. 

If what is happening in the Gulf of Mexico is not enough to get the American people angry, then what will?  This crisis has been so badly mismanaged that it is absolutely mind blowing.  Let’s just hope that someone can find a way to stop the oil soon.

Why Has Barack Obama Refused To Accept International Help To Clean Up The Oil Spill In The Gulf Of Mexico?

As the crisis in the Gulf of Mexico enters a third month, many are now asking how in the world Barack Obama can keep refusing offers from other countries to help clean up the oil spill.  The truth is that cleaning up oil spills is not rocket science.  There have been massive oil spills in other areas of the world before and there are some folks that have some real expertise when it comes to cleaning them up.  But Barack Obama and BP have been stumbling around as if they are trying to reinvent the wheel.  So exactly what in the world is going on here?  When it comes to Obama’s approach to this crisis, there are really two options.  Either this is one of the most extreme examples of presidential incompetence in modern American history, or Barack Obama is using this crisis for a particular purpose (such as advancing a particular agenda).  In either event, Obama’s actions during this crisis have been completely and totally unconscionable.

The truth is that 13 different countries have offered to help clean up the oil in the Gulf of Mexico.

Barack Obama turned all 13 of them down.

So let’s get this straight….

We are dealing with the greatest environmental disaster in U.S. history by far, and yet we completely refuse any assistance?

What kind of insanity is that?

In fact, it is being reported that just three days after the Deepwater Horizon sank to the floor of the Gulf of Mexico the Dutch government contacted Barack Obama and offered to loan BP ships outfitted with special oil-skimming booms.  In addition, the Dutch had a plan to quickly build sand barriers to protect the vulnerable marshlands along the Louisiana coast.

Needless to say, those plans were not implemented.

According to one Dutch newspaper, the European oil companies that offered to help said that they could have completely cleaned all of the oil from the Gulf of Mexico in just four months.

But now Obama is telling us that the crisis in the Gulf of Mexico could last for years.

So what would keep Barack Obama from accepting international offers of help?

Well, Obama is using something called “the Jones Act” as an excuse.

Howard Portnoy recently described what is going on this way….

In order to accept the offers, which have come from Belgian, Dutch, and Norwegian firms that claim to possess some of the world’s most advanced oil skimming ships, Obama would need to waive the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (P.L. 66-261). Also known as the Jones Act, the law requires essentially that all commercial acts conducted in U.S.-controlled waters be performed by “U.S.-flag ships, constructed in the United States, owned by U.S. citizens, and crewed by U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents.”

So why not simply waive the act? Other presidents have under similar circumstances. George W. Bush waived the Jones Act following Hurricane Katrina, allowing foreign ships into Gulf waters to aid in the relief effort.

The truth is that the Jones Act is not a barrier to receiving assistance at all and Barack Obama knows this.

There would be absolutely no problem with waiving the Jones Act in these circumstances.

So Barack Obama has no excuse.

Either he is completely and totally incompetent or he has been trying to make this crisis worse than it should be.

You see, this is not the first catastrophic oil spill in the history of the world.  There have been others, and we have learned quite a bit about cleaning up oil from those events.  Anthony G. Martin recently described what happened during one particularly brutal oil spill in 1993 and 1994….

In 1993 and ’94 the Saudis faced an oil spill of historic proportions in the Arabian Gulf as four leaking tankers and two oil gushers threatened to spur a catastrophic event that was 65 times worse than the Exxon-Valdez spill. 

An American engineer, Nick Pozzi, was part of a task force charged with developing a solution to the looming disaster.

Pozzi had used various methods to clean up oil spills prior to this event.  However, the time was short, and an effective solution was needed post-haste.

That’s when Pozzi decided that the huge, empty oil tankers, sitting in the dock, could be used to simply vacuum up the oil right off of the top of the water.

The result was that 85% of the oil was recovered.

In a recent interview with Esquire, Pozzi explained that cleaning up the oil in the Gulf of Mexico should not be that complicated….

Keep in mind that what supertankers typically do is they sit in the middle of the ocean waiting for all the traders to come up with the right price. When they feel that the price is right, the tankers that are full, they take off, and they can be anywhere in the world in a few days. Right now there are probably 25 supertankers, waiting for orders, full of oil. So all they got to do is come to Texas, in the Gulf, unload the oil, and then turn around and suck up all this other stuff and pump it onto shore into on-shore storage. It’s not rocket science. It’s so simple.

So why won’t Barack Obama and BP implement the “supertanker method”?

When asked about it they just brush it off.

Are they that incompetent?

Or is something else going on?

If this crisis had been handled properly, oil would not currently be blanketing our pristine Gulf coast beaches.

An increasing number of Gulf coast residents have become so frustrated that they have decided to take it upon themselves to stop the oil that is headed towards their homes and businesses.

But BP and the Obama administration have been running around trying to keep anyone else other than themselves from doing anything about this oil spill.  In fact, Barack Obama has authorized the deployment of more than 17,000 National Guard members along the Gulf coast to be used “as needed” by state governors, and BP is being allowed to use private security contractors to keep the American people away from the oil cleanup sites.

If they used as much energy cleaning up the oil as they are in keeping the American people away from the spill they might actually be accomplishing something.

Meanwhile, CBS News is reporting that there could be as much as 1 billion barrels of oil under the damaged BP oil well in the Gulf of Mexico and that it could keep flowing for more than a decade.

Apparently BP made one of the biggest oil discoveries in history, but the problem is that oil is now coming out of there at such high pressure that we simply do not have the technology to control it.

In addition, experts have discovered a massive gas bubble which is estimated to be 15 to 20 miles across and “tens of feet high” under the floor of the Gulf of Mexico.

So what in the world is going to happen if that thing blows?

Also, there are reports of fissures and cracks appearing on the ocean floor around the damaged wellhead.

If this thing goes from a “leak” to an “eruption” it could be a catastrophe beyond anything any of us could even imagine.

So let’s hope that nothing like that happens.

But there is another very serious threat that we need to keep an eye on.

Some environmentalists are now warning that North America could be facing years of toxic rain because of the highly toxic chemical dispersants that BP is using to control the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.  Because it is so poisonous, the UK’s Marine Management Organization has completely banned Corexit 9500, so if there was a major oil spill in the UK’s North Sea, BP would not be able to use it.  So BP really needs to start explaining why they are dumping so much of it into the Gulf of Mexico – especially since so much of it could end up raining down on us.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama and Joe Biden are busy playing golf and BP chief executive Tony Hayward has been busy watching his yacht race.

Well, considering the fact that Tony Hayward is set for a massive 10.8 million pound ($16 million) payout if he chooses to step down, perhaps he is not too concerned about exactly how things turn out.

As for Barack Obama, his main concern in all this seems to be advancing his climate agenda.  During a recent interview, Obama directly compared the current crisis in the Gulf to 9/11, and indicated that he believed that it would fundamentally change the way that we all look at energy issues from now on.  But the truth is that cleaning up the oil in the Gulf has nothing to do with the “cap and trade” carbon tax scheme that Obama is trying to foist on all of us.

What Obama needs to do is to accept all the help that is being offered, get everybody working together on cleaning up this mess, and find a way to stop all that oil from coming out of the ground. 

Until he makes some progress on those things, the American people are not likely to want to hear the first thing about all of the new taxes, rules and regulations that he is so eager to impose on all of us.

The Gulf of Mexico is literally being destroyed, and already this disaster has been so horrific that the effects will be felt for decades.  If Barack Obama cares one ounce about the American people he needs to start doing his job instead of playing politics with this crisis.

Who Died And Made BP King Of The Gulf Of Mexico?

There is one question that I would really like an answer to.  Who died and made BP king of the Gulf of Mexico?  In recent weeks, BP has almost seemed more interested in keeping the American people away from the oil spill than in actually cleaning it up.  Journalists are being pushed around and denied access, disaster workers are being intimidated and abused and now BP has even go so far as to hire an army of private mercenaries to enforce their will along the Gulf coast.  Are we suddenly living in occupied Iraq?  How in the world did a foreign oil company get the right to start pointing guns at the American people?  The last time I checked, BP did not own the Gulf of Mexico and did not have the right to tell the American people where they can and cannot go.  The truth is that BP could have avoided all of this by running an open, honest and transparent operation from the start.  They could have welcomed help from all sources, they could have tried to be open with the media, and they could have tried to be fair with the volunteers and rescue workers.  But instead BP has been conducting this whole thing as if we are living in a totalitarian dictatorship and they are the dictators.

Over the last several weeks, members of the mainstream media attempting to cover the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico have been yelled at, harassed, kicked off public beaches and threatened with arrest.  The Obama administration keeps promising “to improve media access”, but so far their promises haven’t seemed to make much difference.  In fact, a recent AP report detailed several recent highly disturbing incidents of journalist intimidation….   

  • On June 5, sheriff’s deputies in Grand Isle threatened an AP photographer with arrest for criminal trespassing after he spoke to BP employees and took pictures of cleanup workers on a public beach.
  • On June 6, an AP reporter was in a boat near an island in Barataria Bay when a man in another boat identifying himself as a U.S. Fish and Wildlife employee ordered the reporter to leave the area. When the reporter asked to see identification, the man refused, saying “My name doesn’t matter, you need to go.”
  • According to a June 10 CNN video, one of the network’s news crews was told by a bird rescue worker that he signed a contract with BP stating that he would not talk to the media. The crew was also turned away by BP contractors working at a bird triage area — despite having permission from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to enter the facility.
  • On June 11 and 12, private security guards patrolling in the Grand Isle area attempted repeatedly to prevent a crew from New Orleans television station WDSU from walking on a public beach and speaking with cleanup workers.
  • But it is not just the media that are being pushed around.  The Louisiana Environmental Action Network is reporting that BP is actually threatening to fire fishermen hired to help with the oil spill cleanup for using respirators and other safety equipment that wasn’t provided by the company.

    Seriously.

    The workers say that they are only using their own safety equipment because BP has not provided what they need.  It is a fact that a large number of rescue workers have already gotten sick enough to be admitted to the hospital, so it certainly makes sense that those working to clean up the oil would want to do whatever they can to stay safe.

    But no, BP has to be a bunch of jerks about the whole thing.

    Even the EPA says that workers need to be careful.  Hugh Kaufman, a senior policy analyst at the EPA’s office of solid waste and emergency response, made the following statement during an interview on Thursday….   

    “There’s no way you can be working in that toxic soup without getting exposures.”

    It’s not just the oil that is the problem.  The chemical dispersants that BP is using in the Gulf are even more toxic than the oil.  In fact, because it is so extremely toxic, the UK’s Marine Management Organization has completely banned Corexit 9500, so if there was a major oil spill in the North Sea, BP would not be able to use it

    But the Obama administration has allowed BP to dump over a million gallons of Corexit 9500, Corexit 9527 and other highly toxic dispersants into the Gulf of Mexico.

    Apparently the truth is that BP would rather disperse the oil so that the spill doesn’t look so bad even if it means creating an ecological disaster of nightmarish proportions.

    You see, these days BP does what it wants, and anyone who doesn’t like it gets pushed out of the way. 

    Monique Harden, the co-director and attorney at the New Orleans-based Advocates for Environmental Human Rights, is so outraged over BP’s behavior that she recently made the following statement….

    “BP should not be running the Gulf region like a prison warden, and we’ve got to stop that.”

    But rather than becoming more open and taking responsibility for their actions, BP has now hired private security contractors to keep the American people away from the oil cleanup sites.

    In other words, BP has brought in a horde of private mercenaries (just like the U.S. uses in Iraq and Afghanistan) to muscle the American people around.

    Yeah, we are really going to appreciate that.

    Doesn’t BP understand that the American people do not respond well to this kind of nonsense?

    In fact, it is being alleged that BP has actually attempted to manipulate the search results on sites like Google and Yahoo.

    They seem absolutely obsessed with controlling what we see and think.

    Perhaps what BP should be obsessed with is stopping the oil from shooting out of the ground.

    Meanwhile, BP execs are busy testifying in front of Congress and making half-hearted apologies. 

    Carl-Henric Svanberg, the BP chairman, has even apologized for referring to those affected by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill as “small people”.

    Isn’t that nice of him?

    While all of this is going on, BP is already trying to ensure that things go their way legally.  Back in May, BP requested that one particular judge be assigned to preside over all lawsuits related to the spill.  Well, it turns out that this particular judge gets tens of thousands of dollars a year in oil royalties and is paid travel expenses to attend oil industry conferences.

    Isn’t that convenient?

    But that is how the game is played these days.

    Meanwhile, the “oil volcano” on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico continues to pump out a nightmarish amount of oil every single day.  BP is even admitting that oil is escaping from the leak at such high pressure that if they try to cap it the entire well may blow.

    So this crisis may keep getting worse for months.

    By the time this is over, will anything in the Gulf be left alive?

    Even now, hordes of dolphins, fish, sharks, crabs, rays and other sea creatures find themselves trapped between the rapidly advancing oil and the shore.  Unprecedented numbers are showing up just off the Gulf coast in an attempt to escape certain death, but once the oil reaches shore there will be nowhere else for them to go.  The tragedy will be unspeakable.

    Things did not have to turn out this way.  BP and the Obama administration could have done things much differently.  But they didn’t. 

    Now we all have to live with the results.

    16 Burning Questions About The Gulf Of Mexico Oil Spill That We Deserve Some Answers To

    The Gulf of Mexico oil spill is a national nightmare that seems to have no ending.  Every day new details come out that are even more shocking than what we learned the day before.  The truth is that life will never be the same in the Gulf of Mexico or for those who live along the Gulf coast.  Now Barack Obama has made a big Oval Office speech and has tried to convince all of us that he is in charge of the crisis.  Well, perhaps if he had tried to take decisive action a month ago the American people may have rallied around him.  But right now the BP/government response to this disaster remains completely and totally chaotic.  Nobody seems to be able to stop the leak, and BP has made the environmental nightmare far worse by dumping over a million gallons of highly toxic dispersants into the Gulf.  U.S. government officials are running around holding press conferences and waiting for BP to do something.  Meanwhile oil is pouring ashore and toxic gases are being detected at very alarming levels.  The biggest environmental disaster in U.S. history is also quickly becoming one of the biggest economic disasters and potentially one of the biggest public health disasters.   

    The truth is that the American people deserve some answers about what in the world is going on down there in the Gulf.  BP does not own the Gulf of Mexico and they have no right to keep the American people from seeing what is happening.  There are some very serious health and environmental questions that have been raised in the media recently, but both BP and the U.S. government are not giving us any answers. 

    But we need some answers.  People are getting sick.  Crops are dying.  Wildlife is being devastated.  Birds are flocking north by the thousands.

    But BP and the U.S. government continue to treat us as though we are on a “need to know” basis and that what we “need to know” is not much.

    Actually, much of what they have decided to tell us throughout this crisis has turned out to be lies anyway.

    The truth is that it is about darn time that someone started telling it to us straight.  

    The following are 16 questions about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill that we really need some answers to….

    #1) Barack Obama has authorized the deployment of more than 17,000 National Guard members along the Gulf coast to be used “as needed” by state governors.  So what are all of these National Guard troops going to be doing exactly?  Are the troops going to be used to stop the oil or to control the public?

    #2) Barack Obama has also announced the creation of a “Gulf recovery czar” who will be in charge of overseeing the restoration of the Gulf of Mexico region following the oil spill.  So is appointing a “czar” Obama’s idea of taking charge of a situation?

    #3) Because it is so incredibly toxic, the UK’s Marine Management Organization has completely banned Corexit 9500, so if there was a major oil spill in the UK’s North Sea, BP would not be able to use it.  So why is BP being allowed to use Corexit 9500 in the Gulf of Mexico?

    #4) It is being reported that 2.61 parts per million of Corexit 9500 (mixed with oil at a ratio of 1:1o) is lethal to 50% of fish exposed to it within 96 hours.  That means that 1 gallon of Corexit 9500/oil mixture is capable of rendering 383,141 gallons of water highly toxic to fish.  So why was BP allowed to dump 1,021,000 gallons of Corexit 9500 and Corexit 9527 into the Gulf of Mexico, and why aren’t they being stopped from dumping another 805,000 gallons of these dispersants that they have on order into the Gulf?

    #5) If these dispersants are so incredibly toxic to fish, what are they going to do to crops?  What are they going to do to people?

    #6) If the smell of the oil on some Gulf beaches is already so strong that it burns your nostrils, then what in the world is this oil doing to to wildlife that encounter it?

    #7) Is it a bad sign that birds from the Gulf region are flocking north by the thousands?

    #8) Why is BP being allowed to use private security contractors to keep the American people away from the oil cleanup sites?

    #9) Why is BP openly attempting to manipulate the search results on sites like Google and Yahoo? 

    #10) Why has the FAA shut down the airspace above the Gulf of Mexico oil spill?  What don’t they want the American people to see?

    #11) Senator Bill Nelson of Florida says that there are reports that there are additional ruptures in the sea floor from which oil is leaking.  If there are quite a few of these additional ruptures, then how in the world does BP expect to completely stop this oil leak?

    #12) Why are scientists finding concentrations of methane at up to 10,000 times normal background levels in Gulf waters?

    #13) At some testing stations in the Gulf of Mexico, levels of benzene have been detected at over 3000 parts per billion, and levels of hydrogen sulfide have been detected as high as 1192 parts per billion.  Considering that these levels would be highly toxic to humans, why hasn’t the general public been warned?   

    #14) Why are so many Gulf oil spill disaster workers showing up at local hospitals complaining of a “mysterious illness”?

    #15) If “70% or 80%” of the protective booms are doing absolutely nothing at all to stop the oil, then what is going to stop the millions of gallons of oil in the Gulf from eventually reaching shore?

    #16) It is being reported that the deepsea oil plumes are creating huge “dead zones” where all creatures are dying as they are deprived of oxygen.  If this oil spill continues to grow could the vast majority of the Gulf of Mexico become one gigantic “dead zone”?

    ***UPDATE***

    A reader named Stacy has posted a very alarming comment regarding what is happening in her area down in Florida that we wanted to share with everyone….

    We live in the navarre, florida area and in the past week almost every family we know has had vomiting and diarreha. This could just be anecdotal – maybe we just have a stomach bug circulating, but it is strange. We had a huge storm the week before it happened that blew in from the gulf so who knows.

    Also, the city of destin, florida has taken it upon themselves to close the destin pass with their own purchased boom and barges. This is an elite destination and they are not waiting around for bp and their hired prison workers to clean the beaches. Apparently, the coast guard was at the meeting and told the locals that they will face criminal prosecution, but they don’t care. They are protecting their million dollar properties.

    The Depression Of 2011? 23 Economic Warning Signs From Financial Authorities All Over The Globe

    Could the world economy be headed for a depression in 2011?  As inconceivable as that may seem to a lot of people, the truth is that top economists and governmental authorities all over the globe say that the economic warning signs are there and that we need to start paying attention to them.  The two primary ingredients for a depression are debt and fear, and the reality is that we have both of them in abundance in the financial world today.  In response to the global financial meltdown of 2007 and 2008, governments around the world spent unprecedented amounts of money and got into a ton of debt.  All of that spending did help bail out the global banking system, but now that an increasing number of governments around the world are in need of bailouts themselves, what is going to happen?  We have already seen the fear that is generated when one small little nation like Greece even hints at defaulting.  When it becomes apparent that quite a few governments around the globe cannot handle their debt burdens, what kind of shockwave is that going to send through financial markets?

    The truth is that we are facing the greatest sovereign debt crisis in modern history.  There is no way out of this financial mess that does not include a significant amount of economic pain.

    When you add mountains of debt to paralyzing fear to strict austerity measures, what do you get?

    What you get is deflationary pressure and financial markets that seize up.

    Some of the top financial authorities in the world are warning us that unless something substantial is done, that is exactly what we are going to be seeing as 2010 turns into 2011.

    Of course some governments around the world could try to put these economic problems off for a while by printing and borrowing even more money, but we all know by now that only makes the long-term problems even worse.

    For now, however, it seems as though most governments are opting for the austerity measures that the IMF seems determined to cram down the throats of everyone.

    So what will austerity measures mean for the global economy?

    Think “stimulus” in reverse.

    Yes, things are going to get messy.

    It looks like there is going to be a great deal of economic fear and a great deal of economic pain in 2011 and the years beyond that.

    So are we headed for “the depression of 2011”?

    Well, let’s hear what some of the top financial experts in the world have to say….

    #1) Economist Nouriel Roubini:

    “We are still in the middle of this crisis and there is more trouble ahead of us, even if there is a recovery. During the great depression the economy contracted between 1929 and 1933, there was the beginning of a recovery, but then a second recession from 1937 to 1939. If you don’t address the issues, you risk having a double-dip recession and one which is at least as severe as the first one.”

    #2) Bank of England Governor Mervyn King:

    “Dealing with a banking crisis was difficult enough, but at least there were public-sector balance sheets on to which the problems could be moved. Once you move into sovereign debt, there is no answer; there’s no backstop.”

    #3) German Chancellor Angela Merkel:

    “The current crisis facing the euro is the biggest test Europe has faced for decades, even since the Treaty of Rome was signed in 1957.”

    #4) Paul Donovan, the Senior Economist at UBS:

    “Now people are questioning if the euro will even exist in three years.”

    #5) Michael Pento, Chief Economist at Delta Global Advisors:

    “The crisis in Greece is going to spread to Spain and it’s going to be very difficult to deal with. They are bailing out debt with more debt and it isn’t sustainable. It’s a wonderful scenario for gold.”

    #6) LEAP/E2020:

    “LEAP/E2020 believes that the global systemic crisis will experience a new tipping point from Spring 2010. Indeed, at that time, the public finances of the major Western countries are going to become unmanageable, as it will simultaneously become clear that new support measures for the economy are needed because of the failure of the various stimuli in 2009, and that the size of budget deficits preclude any significant new expenditures.”

    #7) Telegraph Columnist Edmund Conway:

    “Whatever yardstick you care to choose – share-price moves, the rates at which banks lend to each other, measures of volatility – we are now in a similar position to 2008.”

    #8) Peter Morici, an Economics Professor at the University of Maryland:

    “The next financial tsunami is emerging and will ripple to America.”

    #9) Bob Chapman of the International Forecaster:

    “The green shoots of recovery have now turned into poison ivy. The abyss has again been filled with more debt and more fiat currency. In the process the Fed and now the ECB have lost all credibility.”

    #10) Telegraph Columnist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard:

    “The M3 money supply in the United States is contracting at an accelerating rate that now matches the average decline seen from 1929 to 1933, despite near zero interest rates and the biggest fiscal blitz in history.”

    #11) Professor Tim Congdon from International Monetary Research:

    “The plunge in M3 has no precedent since the Great Depression. The dominant reason for this is that regulators across the world are pressing banks to raise capital asset ratios and to shrink their risk assets. This is why the US is not recovering properly.”

    #12) Reuters Columnist Iliana Jonas:

    “The default rate for commercial mortgages held by banks in the first quarter hit its highest level since at least 1992 and is expected to surpass that by year-end and peak in 2011, according to a study by Real Capital Analytics.”

    #13) Paul Krugman, a Nobel Prize-winning Economist:

    “It’s not hard to see Japan-style deflation emerging if the economy stays weak.”

    #14) Stan Humphries, Chief Economist for Zillow.com:

    “Anyone expecting a robust rebound in the housing market … will be sorely disappointed.”

    #15) Fox News:

    “As the national debt clock ticked past the ignominious $13 trillion mark overnight, Congress pressed to pass a host of supplemental spending bills.”

    #16) Bloomberg:

    “The U.S. government’s Aaa bond rating will come under pressure in the future unless additional measures are taken to reduce projected record budget deficits, according to Moody’s Investors Service Inc.”

    #17) Peter Schiff:

    “When creditors ultimately decide to curtail loans to America, U.S. interest rates will finally spike, and we will be confronted with even more difficult choices than those now facing Greece. Given the short maturity of our national debt, a jump in short-term rates would either result in default or massive austerity. If we choose neither, and opt to print money instead, the run-a-way inflation that will ensue will produce an even greater austerity than the one our leaders lacked the courage to impose. Those who believe rates will never rise as long as the Fed remains accommodative, or that inflation will not flare up as long as unemployment remains high, are just as foolish as those who assured us that the mortgage market was sound because national real estate prices could never fall.”

    #18) The National League of Cities:

    “City budget shortfalls will become more severe over the next two years as tax collections catch up with economic conditions.  These will inevitably result in new rounds of layoffs, service cuts, and canceled projects and contracts.”

    #19) Dan Domenech, Executive Director of the American Association of School Administrators:

    “Faced with continued budgetary constraints, school leaders across the nation are forced to consider an unprecedented level of layoffs that would negatively impact economic recovery and deal a devastating blow to public education.”

    #20) Mike Whitney:

    “Without another boost of stimulus, the economy will lapse back into recession sometime by the end of 2010.”

    #21) Kevin Giddis, Managing Director of Fixed Income at Morgan Keegan:

    “There is big money making big bets that at a minimum we we’ll have a recession if not a depression that could last for years.”

    #22) John P. Hussman, Ph.D.:

    “In my estimation, there is still close to an 80% probability (Bayes’ Rule) that a second market plunge and economic downturn will unfold during the coming year. This is not certainty, but the evidence that we’ve observed in the equity market, labor market, and credit markets to-date is simply much more consistent with the recent advance being a component of a more drawn-out and painful deleveraging cycle.”

    #23) Richard Russell, the Famous Author of the Dow Theory Letters:

    “Do your friends a favor. Tell them to “batten down the hatches” because there’s a HARD RAIN coming. Tell them to get out of debt and sell anything they can sell (and don’t need) in order to get liquid. Tell them that Richard Russell says that by the end of this year they won’t recognize the country. They’ll retort, “How the dickens does Russell know — who told him?” Tell them the stock market told him.”

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