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PFTF May 9 2012 Ont fruit crops destroyed and the economy
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Post PFTF May 9 2012 Ont fruit crops destroyed and the economy
Credit card dispute goes before competition tribunal

Hearing in Ottawa today to probe Visa, MasterCard fees among world's highest



Credit card fees charged to merchants by companies such as Visa and MasterCard are the target of a federal competition tribunal hearing that begins in Ottawa today.

At issue are the rules that Canadian merchants must follow, as well as fees that are sometimes as high as three per cent, and are usually passed on to consumers.

It has been estimated that Canadians pay $5 billion a year in hidden credit card fees, putting them among the highest in the world and making the industry a natural target for federal competition commissioner Melanie Aitken, who referred the case to the tribunal in 2010.

In 2009, a group representing independent business owners asked the competition bureau to investigate suspicions that Canada's major credit card companies were engaged in price fixing.

At the time, Corinne Pohlmann, director of national affairs for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, asked why Visa and MasterCard announced fee hikes within a month of each other in June and July 2009.

Wants 2 rules knocked down

"Is this just a coincidence, or was there actually some discussions between the two of them?" she asked.

The competition bureau particularly wants two credit card company rules knocked down.

One requires merchants who agree to accept one Visa or MasterCard card to accept all of them, including premium cards with higher merchant fees.

The other prevents merchants from encouraging consumers to use lower cost options, such as debit cards or cash — or from imposing a surcharge on higher-fee cards.

“Visa and MasterCard's anti-competitive behaviour hurts businesses and consumers alike,” Aitken said in December 2010 when the bureau referred the case to the tribunal.

"We initiated our investigation in response to concerns raised by merchants and their associations regarding substantial increases in the fees that merchants pay for credit card acceptance," she told a meeting of the Canadian Bar Association last October.

Ninety per cent of all credit card transactions in Canada are handled by Visa or MasterCard, adding up to about $240 billion, CBC News reported Tuesday.

"So it is hard to be a retailer anywhere in this country without getting on board with the system of those cards," the CBC's Scott Peterson reported. "And Canada has some of the highest fees in the world — between 1.5 and three per cent, double what it is in Europe."


http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/2 ... ition.html




Credit card fees are unfair, tribunal hears

Hearing in Ottawa probes Visa, MasterCard fees described as world's highest

----------------


Retailers have lobbied for permission to tack a surcharge on purchases, so customers would be more aware of the costs. But the contracts offered by the major credit firms prohibit any such surcharges. They also forbid retailers from selectively accepting only credit cards from the same company with lower fees and denying customers with so-called premium cards.

Those fees add up. A customer in Ontario who buys a set of snow tires in Ontario that cost $400 would pay $452 after taxes, regardless of the payment method.


And Canadian taxpayers foot the bill, too. In question period today, the opposition asked Finance Minister Jim Flaherty about $60 million spent over five years in government credit card fees.

The government said it has developed a code of conduct for the credit card companies with the support of consumer associations and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, and that "there has been general compliance," although Ottawa has had a "couple of instances" where it had to act on violations.

If the customer used a debit card, that retailer would pay 12 cents to a payment firm such as Interac to process the transaction. But if the customer used a premium credit card, the retailer would have to pay $12 to process that same transaction — more than 100 times the cost of the debit transaction.

It has been estimated that Canadians pay $5 billion a year in hidden credit card fees, putting them among the highest in the world and making the industry a natural target for federal competition commissioner Melanie Aitken, who referred the case to the tribunal in 2010.

Visa and MasterCard were expected to issue their opening statements later Tuesday afternoon, but Visa issued a statement denying the charge, saying the policy against a surcharge ensures customers are not "unfairly penalized" for using whatever card they choose.


The tribunal has the power to force credit card companies to change their method of operations, but cannot levy a monetary penalty in the case.

In 2009, a group representing independent business owners asked the competition bureau to investigate suspicions that Canada's major credit card companies were engaged in price fixing.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/2 ... ition.html

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Tue May 08, 2012 8:24 am
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Post Re: PFTF May 9 2012
Bank of America Starts Mortgage Reduction Effort

Bank of America has started sending letters to thousands of homeowners in the United States, offering to forgive a portion of the principal balance on their mortgages by an average of $150,000 each.

The reduction for qualifying homeowners could amount to monthly savings of up to 35 percent on mortgage payments, Bank of America said in a news release on Monday evening.

The principal reduction offers from Bank of America Home Loans are the result of a $25 billion settlement agreement earlier this year with 49 state attorneys general as well as federal authorities who had been investigating allegations of abuses over the handling of foreclosures.

“To the extent principal reduction and other modification tools help us turn mortgages headed for possible foreclosure into long-term performing loans, it will be positive for homeowners, mortgage investors and communities,” Ron Sturzenegger, a legacy asset servicing executive, said in the statement.

The bank said it planned to contact more than 200,000 homeowners who could be candidates for the offers, sending letters to a majority of them by the third quarter of this year.

To be eligible for the principal reductions, however, homeowners will have to meet certain criteria, including: having a loan owned or serviced by Bank of America; owing more on the mortgage than their property is worth; and being at least 60 days behind on payments as of the end of January.

In the statement, the bank said it had started making such offers in March to a narrower group of homeowners — those who were already in the process of seeking mortgage modification. The bank estimated that the earlier wave of trial reduction offers to about 5,000 people could amount to more than $700 million in forgiven principal. But homeowners have to make at least three timely payments for the reductions to become permanent.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/bank-amer ... 02589.html

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Tue May 08, 2012 8:44 am
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Post Re: PFTF May 9 2012
Banks lock up your cash for months, fine you for taking it out - and they still can't pay a decent interest rate

Legions of savers are being trapped on pathetic rates after falling prey to banks and building societies desperate to hold on to their cash.

Millions of pounds has been left languishing on these poor deals with savers unable to touch their cash for up to four months because of the terms of the account.

Banks and building societies are desperate for savers’ cash to fill their coffers. Other sources of funding — such as using the investment money markets — have dried up, and rule changes are forcing banks to back up the loans they make with more of savers’ money.

The problem is customers are becoming increasingly savvy, and will move their money from a poor deal at the earliest opportunity. To combat this, banks and building societies are trying to manufacture loyalty by banning savers from getting to their money.

They are using three key tricks to bully savers into keeping their money at a bank:

Hundreds of accounts demand up to four months’ notice if you want to get at your cash;
More than 70 new deals permit just a handful of withdrawals each year;
Some so-called ‘easy-access’ accounts actually clobber savers with harsh penalties when they dip in to their funds.

Over the past three years, the likes of Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays and HSBC have steadily hiked the price they charge each other to borrow money — despite the Bank of England base rate remaining unmoved at 0.5 per cent.

It has made collecting deposits on the High Street a more attractive way for banks to fund mortgage and credit card loans, which yield a juicy profit.

But banks hate the idea of savers dipping in to the funds or taking their nest eggs elsewhere at the drop of a hat, so have developed new tactics to fight this.

Many have made a renewed bid to lure savers into old-style accounts where savers are supposed to give notice months in advance that they want access to their cash.

Today, there are more than 180 accounts that require up to four months’ notice on withdrawals. This would be fine if they paid a decent rate — but most offer insultingly low returns.

Last week, Cheshire, Derbyshire, and Dunfermline building societies, all part of Nationwide, launched a 75-day notice account paying 2 per cent after tax (2.5 per cent before). The return pales in comparison to the 2.48 per cent (3.1 per cent) on offer online at ING Direct, and Virgin’s 2.28 per cent (2.85 per cent) available on the High Street through its Northern Rock branches — both of which allow any number of instant, penalty-free withdrawals.



Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/saving ... z1uM76LZwU

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Tue May 08, 2012 9:23 am
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Post Re: PFTF May 9 2012
Commodities Erase 2012 Gains as Economic Outlook May Dim Demand


Commodities fell, erasing this year’s gains, as the struggle by Greek political leaders to form a coalition underscored growing concern that the region’s debt crisis will worsen, dimming prospects for raw-material demand.

The Standard & Poor’s GSCI Spot Index dropped for a fifth straight session, heading for its worst run since August. The measure lost as much as 1.6 percent to 641.8, the lowest since Dec. 29. The gauge, which tracks 24 raw materials, was at 642.8 as of 11:22 a.m. in New York, down 0.3 percent for the year. Silver, gold, cocoa and crude oil led the declines. The last annual slump was in 2008.

Raw materials retreated as Greek political leaders met for a second day in a bid to form a government. New Democracy’s Antonis Samaras failed to forge an agreement following an election that raised questions about the euro membership. Reports showed last week that services and manufacturing output shrank in April in the euro region, and unemployment rose to a 15-year high.

“We’re in a deflationary credit contraction situation globally,” said James Dailey, who manages $215 million at TEAM Financial Asset Management LLC in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. “The banking systems in China, Australia, and obviously much of Europe are under severe stress, and that’s creating this kind of deflationary contraction that’s starting to unfold. You’re starting to get a smell of panic in the air and shift towards bearishness in commodities broadly.”

Crude oil headed for its longest slump in three months, gold fell below $1,600 an ounce for the first time since January, copper declined the most in almost five weeks, and orange-juice futures tumbled to the lowest price since 2009. Twenty-one of the commodities tracked by the GSCI were lower.

Silver futures for July delivery fell 3 percent to $29.23 an ounce on the Comex, after touching $29.145, the lowest since Jan. 10. Gold futures dropped 2.4 percent to $1,599.70 an ounce, heading for the biggest loss since April 4. Nickel prices on the London Metal Exchange reached the lowest since March 29.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-05-0 ... emand.html

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Tue May 08, 2012 10:53 am
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Post Re: PFTF May 9 2012
Heat is on: 'Monster' sunspot could put Earth in the crosshairs of powerful solar storms

A mind-bogglingly big sunspot has appeared in the past few days, which could mean the Earth is about to be blasted by powerful solar storms.
Known as AR 1476, it was spotted by Nasa’s Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft, which launched in 2010.
Its diameter of 60,000 miles is many times that of the Earth, which measures just under 8,000 miles across.

The sunspot is so ginormous that it’s possible to view with home telescopes – though experts warn that these must be fitted with sun filters to prevent permanent eye damage.

Sunspots often travel in pairs and are darker than the surrounding area because they are slightly cooler, which makes them less luminous.
They are caused by the sun’s magnetic field becoming twisted – and it’s this twisting dynamic that can produce coronal mass ejections.

These contain billions of tons of gases bursting with X-rays and ultraviolet radiation.

They are mind-bogglingly hot – around 100,000,000C.


The Earth is occasionally hit by these ejections, leading to amazing shimmering light shows.

They are the result of ionised solar particles becoming imprisoned by Earth’s magnetic field, exciting the gases in the atmosphere and emitting bursts of energy in the form of light.

However, these particles can also cause magnetic storms, which in extreme cases have been known to disrupt satellites and electricity grids.
In 1989, a CME was held responsible for leaving six million people in Quebec, Canada, without power.

Solar activity runs in 11-year cycles, with the current one peaking in 2013, so more violent space weather is on the horizon.

Dr Matthew Penn, of the National Solar Observatory in Arizona, said recently: 'Because the sun is becoming more active, it will have an impact on millions of people. Sunspots can cause the biggest and most damaging space storms that occur.

'During the next two years, we are expecting the number of sunspots visible on the sun to reach a maximum. We know that sunspots are the source of a lot of space weather and solar storms, so we expect a larger number of solar storms here at the Earth.’


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/ ... z1uMBjf45F

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Wed May 09, 2012 2:52 am
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Post Re: PFTF May 9 2012
The big bucks won’t stop here with the departure of Sly Bailey, David Brennan and Andrew Moss

Three chief executives have resigned after falling out with institutional investors. But talk of a 'shareholder spring’ and an end to ever-rising fat cat pay is fanciful.


'In the last 20 years, the pay of American workers has gone nowhere, while CEOs have increased their own pay by 400 per cent; this is how they’ve done it,” explains Graef Crystal in the foreword to his seminal book, In Search of Excess: The Overcompensation of American Executives.


There follows a brilliantly revealing analysis of the way those at the top of major corporations and banks complicated, obfuscated and corrupted the system to ensure ever-rising and self-reinforcing levels of executive remuneration. But this book wasn’t penned in response to the latest outbreak of jackpot earnings for ruinous performance – it was written more than 20 years ago.


Very little seems to have changed since. The gap between those at the top and those at the bottom, or even those in the middle, has only widened further; not just in America, but across all economies, advanced as well as developing and Third World.


Are things finally about to change, following the past week’s stirrings of revolt among traditionally insouciant institutional investors in UK corporations? In one fell swoop, they have claimed no fewer than three scalps – Andrew Moss, a man who will be remembered more for his affair with the wife of Aviva’s head of HR than his stewardship of the company; Sly Bailey, as the head of the newspaper group Trinity Mirror; and David Brennan, grown so stale in the job of chief executive of AstraZeneca that, frankly, most of us had plain forgotten he was there at all.


There’s plenty more where that came from, the institutions mutter darkly, newly emboldened by what has already been dubbed – somewhat inappropriately you might think, given the genuine heroism from which it takes its name – “Britain’s shareholder spring”. We’ll be voting against the remuneration reports of lots of companies over the months ahead, they promise. What took them so long, you might ask?


Major corporations have always paid senior executives well by comparison with the rest of society, and rightly so. These are mostly large and complex organisations that require careful and inspired management even to sustain their market positions in an increasingly competitive world, let alone show decent levels of growth.

But it is only really in the past 40 years that we’ve seen the numbers multiply out of all recognition relative to what employees are paid. Back in the 1960s, the multiple over the average employee’s pay would typically have been less than 10; today, one hundred times and more is commonplace. The seemingly obligatory extra-marital affair is just one of the fringe benefits, or entitlements, that come with the prize.

Few begrudge such spoils for genuine entrepreneurial endeavour; perhaps oddly, most seem positively to admire the rewards given to top footballers and entertainers. But when it comes to the “mere” hired gun, taking few risks with his own capital or livelihood, remuneration has become a matter of deep resentment that, left unaddressed, threatens to undermine public trust in the very foundations of the free market system. Top executive pay seems to have become manifestly unfair and to have lost all connection with underlying performance.

And it’s not just the perceived social injustice of it all. Excessive executive pay tends to be symptomatic of wider corporate governance failure that can frequently result in value-destructive strategy and takeovers. Royal Bank of Scotland’s Fred Goodwin has earned his own particular place in history with his spectacularly hubristic acquisition of ABN Amro, but in every cycle there are a legion of similar, if not quite so momentous, episodes. There are few more telling examples of the old saying that “the fish rots from the head” than the modern corporation.

Open shareholder rebellion is, in part, itself a cyclical phenomenon. When the economic tide retreats, it exposes the corporate wrecks that have lain hidden by more clement times. If profits and dividends are rising, nobody much cares, however unconvincing the illusion. It is only when the storm breaks that everyone realises they’ve hooked their destiny to an unfit ship. Belatedly, shareholders are shamed into action. There’s a lot of that going on right now.

City fund managers are making a noise because they have the politicians breathing down their necks, threatening to force them to act through legislation if they don’t of their own volition. Many of those who manage our savings are extraordinarily well paid themselves. They employ the same paraphernalia of self-serving remuneration consultants and bogus performance criteria as the chief executives they are now threatening to axe. There has been a community of interest that makes them reluctant to act.


more at link

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/9252 ... -Moss.html

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Wed May 09, 2012 2:57 am
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Post Re: PFTF May 9 2012
credits to zeker for this one

Ready for doomsday? Some of our neighbors are


Pat and Lynette Brabble returned from church on a laid-back Sunday and flipped on Animal Planet's "River Monsters" on their 82-inch, high-definition TV.

Lynette fielded phone calls from her two grown daughters, a daily occurrence to check in and see how the family's doing.

The front door stood open as traffic rolled by on N.C. Route 42 outside this small North Carolina town.

The pair relaxed in their separate recliners and talked about Pat's dad, who started the family business, Brabble Insulation, nearly 40 years ago, their melded family of four daughters and one son, and one of their favorite pastimes: preparing for disaster.

In the past 13 years, the Brabbles have experienced several natural disasters, including Hurricane Floyd in 1999, which flooded Pat's home; Hurricane Isabel in 2003, which left them without power for more than a week; and a tornado that damaged their daughter's house in 2011.

They've also experienced a downturn in the economy, which forced Pat and his brother, Scott Brabble, to sell their gun shop and refocus their energy on and money into their "bread and butter" business: insulation installation.

So the collecting and stockpiling began, more in earnest in the past couple years, when the Brabbles started filling a 20-foot-by-20-foot room in the barn behind their ranch house with all the essentials they would need to live, trade and survive in case Mother Nature wreaks havoc or the economy of the good ole' USA fails.

"How can you take care of your family?" Pat asked. "We got a big family; we really need to plan for things like that."

"Preppers" is the 21st century term for folks like the Brabbles, who lead normal lives working, playing and taking care of their families. They also sport a hobby of sorts, like playing golf or collecting stamps - buying up what they need in case disaster strikes.

While the term is new, the phenomenon is not.

In America, not so long ago, as the threat of nuclear war loomed over our ideological differences with the former Soviet Union, citizens built bomb shelters and filled them with everyday conveniences to withstand an atomic attack.

While many of those bomb shelters were outside the family abode, nowadays, many folks are stockpiling goods - gas masks, guns, non-perishable food, medical supplies and much more - in garages, sheds or rooms, turning their homes into storage facilities.

They're also prepping for various threats that weigh on people's minds: pandemics, solar flares, natural catastrophes such as earthquakes, tsunamis or hurricanes, economic collapse and terrorist attacks.

"Everybody comes up with a scenario that matches their resources. There are no two scenarios that are alike," said Richard G. Mitchell Jr., emeritus professor of sociology at Oregon State University and author of 2001's "Dancing at Armageddon: Survivalism and Chaos in Modern Times."

Mitchell spent 20 years with a colleague participating in the "survivalist movement," he said. "People who build bomb shelters don't talk about floods."

Contrary to popular belief, Mitchell continued, survivalists aren't loners with a "pickup truck, a chain saw and 5 acres in the woods." It's really become a suburban phenomenon, he said, with people who work 9-to-5 jobs and have retirement funds.

"It's a hobby structure being represented as a primary lifestyle," Mitchell said.

For some, that hobby can get expensive, and can offer a separate, well-sealed, well-hidden living area if disaster strikes.

For Brian Camden, founder of Hardened Structures Hardened Shelters LLC in Virginia Beach, his clients are willing to pay $250 to $800 a square foot, depending on their needs, for that piece of mind.

Camden's architects and engineers design and build everything from reinforced homes to multi-room underground bunkers.

A steel, prefab bunker is the company's biggest seller at $40,000, Camden said.

When asked if it's a growing business, Camden replied, "You have no idea. Today alone I signed two non-disclosure agreements."

Camden will not pinpoint where his clients live - only in general terms, like the client in the Pacific Northwest who has a reinforced shelter underneath his house.

For people like Ilona Bruner, and her husband, Mike, who live in Norfolk's Larchmont neighborhood, their penchant to prepare launched after Hurricane Isabel in 2003, said Bruner, director of The Dwelling Place, a homeless shelter in Norfolk.

With flooding and tornadoes in her neighborhood, and folks without electricity for days, even weeks, Bruner said she started to think about ways to prepare for a disaster, to have a plan for her and her husband.

Nearly nine years later, Bruner picks up "shelf-stable supplies" when she goes to the grocery store and adds them to their supplies at home.

"I don't want to get five years of food; I don't want to be a food hoarder," she said.

However, "I think about what we're buying. I'm thinking about medical supplies, what I have on hand."

Bruner has a self-confessed obsession with anti-bacterial soap, she said. And she recently bought a machete from Bass Pro Shop.

Like Pat and Lynette Brabble, Bruner talks about her "bug-out bag," or a bag that contains everything one would need to survive for 72 hours, in case disaster struck and you'd have to abandon your home fast.

The machete would go in the bug-out bag.

Bruner also has important documents scanned in and saved on thumb drives; she's also done the same with family photos and requested her medical records from her doctor to copy them and save them on a portable device as well.

"If you have to leave your house and had 15 minutes to actually evacuate, I'm trying to get those things to me that are irreplaceable," she said. "If we had to rebuild, we would have those important items."

Bruner said that people need to be more aware of the potential for disaster, whether natural or human-made.

"It's not like you have to live your life under this black cloud; the key word is we need to be prepared," she said.

Larry Friedman, vice president/manager of M&G Sales Co., an Army-Navy surplus store on Granby Street in Norfolk, said he sees all types of people preparing for different scenarios.

His biggest sellers are gas masks. He also sells a lot of MREs, or Meals Ready to Eat.

"They're not bad," Friedman said.

A run on certain items "usually follows some event," he said, like when Chernobyl hit the Ukraine in 1986. "A lot of people were really concerned it was going to be global nuclear fallout."

Friedman said some of the shows on TV now, such as the Discovery Channel's "The Colony" and National Geographic's "Doomsday Preppers" (which features R.E.M.'s hit "It's the End of the World as We Know It" in its introduction), feed the hysteria.

Pat and Lynette Brabble were featured on Episode 3 of season one of Nat Geo's show.

It depicted them praying in their shelter with their pastor; heaving Molotov cocktails into a fire pit and showcasing the more than 60 guns Pat owns and stores in the shelter, their cars or in the house.

The Brabbles have enough gas to run their generator for six months, enough food for 18 months for their entire family, and some bargaining chips if they need them, including bottles of liquor to trade for necessities they may need in times of trouble - even though both do not drink.

Lynette called the room where they store everything - from the night-vision goggles to over-the-counter medicine like Pepto-Bismol to DayQuil - her husband's "pride and joy."

The couple has peace of mind if the unthinkable happens.

"We're going to look out for our family," Pat Brabble said. "If they need something to eat, they have a place to go."

http://hamptonroads.com/2012/05/ready-d ... ghbors-are



Read This First Before You Decide That Preppers Are Crazy


Do you believe that preppers are a few cards short of a full deck? Do you assume that anyone that is "preparing for doomsday" does not have their elevator going all the way to the top floor? Well, you might want to read this first before you make a final decision that all preppers are crazy. The information that you are about to read shook me up a bit when I first looked it over. To be honest, I had no idea how incredibly vulnerable our economic system is to a transportation disruption. I am continually getting emails and comments on my websites asking "how to prepare" for what is coming, so when I came across this information I knew that I had to share it with all of you. Hopefully what you are about to read will motivate you to prepare like never before, and hopefully you will share this information with others.

Originally, I was going to write an article about the rising unemployment in Europe today. Did you know that unemployment in the eurozone is now at a 15 year high? It has risen for 10 months in a row with no end in sight.

But I have written dozens of articles about the economic crisis in Europe already. So before starting on that article I started thinking of all the "preparation" questions I have been getting lately and I went over and checked out one of my favorite preparation websites: shtfplan.com.

Well, an article had just been posted over there about a report put out by the American Trucker Associations entitled "When Trucks Stop, America Stops".

I went and found that original report and I was stunned as I read it.

The truth is that our "just in time" inventory and delivery systems leave us incredibly vulnerable to a nationwide disaster.

You see, it is very expensive to hold and store inventory, so most manufacturers and retailers rely on a continual flow of deliveries that are scheduled to arrive "just in time", and this significantly reduces their operating expenses.

This is considered to be good business practice for manufacturers and retailers, but it also means that if there was a major nationwide transportation disruption that our economic system would grind to a halt almost immediately.

Once store shelves are picked clean, they would not be able to be replenished until trucks could get back on the road. In the event of a major nationwide disaster, that could be quite a while.

So what could potentially cause a nationwide transportation shutdown?

Well, it is easy to imagine a lot of potential scenarios - a volcanic eruption, a historic earthquake, an EMP attack, a solar megastorm, a war, a major terror attack, an asteroid strike, a killer pandemic, mass rioting in U.S. cities, or even martial law.

If something caused the trucks to stop running, life in America would immediately start changing.

So exactly what would that look like?

The following is an excerpt from the report mentioned above put out by the American Trucker Associations entitled "When Trucks Stop, America Stops"....

*****

A Timeline Showing the Deterioration of Major Industries Following a Truck Stoppage

The first 24 hours

• Delivery of medical supplies to the affected area will cease.
• Hospitals will run out of basic supplies such as syringes and catheters within hours. Radiopharmaceuticals will deteriorate and become unusable.
• Service stations will begin to run out of fuel.
• Manufacturers using just-in-time manufacturing will develop component shortages.
• U.S. mail and other package delivery will cease.

Within one day

• Food shortages will begin to develop.
• Automobile fuel availability and delivery will dwindle, leading to skyrocketing prices and long lines at the gas pumps.
• Without manufacturing components and trucks for product delivery,
assembly lines will shut down, putting thousands out of work.

Within two to three days

• Food shortages will escalate, especially in the face of hoarding and consumer panic.
• Supplies of essentials—such as bottled water, powdered milk, and
canned meat—at major retailers will disappear.
• ATMs will run out of cash and banks will be unable to process
transactions.
• Service stations will completely run out of fuel for autos and trucks.
• Garbage will start piling up in urban and suburban areas.
• Container ships will sit idle in ports and rail transport will be disrupted, eventually coming to a standstill.

Within a week

• Automobile travel will cease due to the lack of fuel. Without autos and busses, many people will not be able to get to work, shop for groceries, or access medical care.
• Hospitals will begin to exhaust oxygen supplies.

Within two weeks

• The nation’s clean water supply will begin to run dry.

Within four weeks

• The nation will exhaust its clean water supply and water will be safe for drinking only after boiling. As a result gastrointestinal illnesses will increase, further taxing an already weakened health care system.

This timeline presents only the primary effects of a freeze on truck travel. Secondary effects must be considered as well, such as inability to maintain telecommunications service, reduced law enforcement, increased crime, increased illness and injury, higher death rates, and likely, civil unrest.

*****

Earlier in the report, the reasons why America's water supply would be in such jeopardy are described in greater detail....

According to the American Water Works Association, Americans drink more than one billion glasses of tap water per day. For safety and security reasons, most water supply plants maintain a larger inventory of supplies than the typical business. However, the amount of chemical storage varies significantly and is site specific. According to the Chlorine Institute, most water treatment facilities receive chlorine in cylinders (150 pounds and one ton cylinders) that are delivered by motor carriers. On average, trucks deliver purification chemicals to water supply plants every seven to 14 days. Without these chemicals, water cannot be purified and made safe for drinking. Without truck deliveries of purification chemicals, water supply plants will run out of drinkable water in 14 to 28 days. Once the water supply is drained, water will be deemed safe for drinking only when boiled. Lack of clean drinking water will lead to increased gastrointestinal and other illnesses, further taxing an already weakened healthcare system.
Can you see why I always recommend that you make sure that you and your family have access to fresh water and a way to purify it?

This report should be very sobering for all of us.

What would you and your family do if you had no food, no clean water and the stores were shut down because their supplies were gone?

An article by Tess Pennington entitled "Emergency Items: What Will Disappear First" contains a list of 100 things that are likely to disappear from store shelves first. The following are the first 10 things on her list....

1. Generators (Good ones cost dearly. Gas storage, risky. Noisy…target of
thieves; maintenance etc.)
2. Water Filters/Purifiers
3. Portable Toilets
4. Seasoned Firewood. Wood takes about 6 – 12 months to become dried, for home
uses.
5. Lamp Oil, Wicks, Lamps (First Choice: Buy CLEAR oil. If scarce, stockpile
ANY!)
6. Coleman Fuel. Impossible to stockpile too much.
7. Guns, Ammunition, Pepper Spray, Knives, Clubs, Bats & Slingshots.
8. Hand-can openers, & hand egg beaters, whisks.
9. Honey/Syrups/white, brown sugar
10. Rice – Beans – Wheat

You can find the rest of the list right here.

Most Americans just assume that they will always be able to run out to the supermarket or to Wal-Mart and buy anything that they need.

But if the trucks stop running that will change almost overnight.

After reading the information above, does anyone out there still believe that preppers are crazy?

The truth is that there are good, solid reasons why millions of Americans have been storing up food, water filters and other supplies.

Our world is becoming increasingly unstable, and all of us need to get educated about how to prepare for the difficult years that are coming.

One nightmarish event can change everything that we take for granted in a single moment.

Just remember what happened after Hurricane Katrina. Even though that was only a regional disaster, millions of people had their lives completely turned upside down by that tragedy.

Don't make the mistake of assuming that just because the U.S. has always known tremendous peace and prosperity since World War II that things will always be that way.

Our lives will only continue to be "normal" as long as the trucks continue running.

When the trucks stop running in America, there will be mass chaos.

Are you prepared for that?

http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/arch ... -are-crazy

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Wed May 09, 2012 3:06 am
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Post Re: PFTF May 9 2012
Frost kills early blooms, apple crop losses to top $100M

Friday, May 4, 2012


A catastrophic freeze has wiped out about 80 per cent of Ontario’s apple crop and has the province’s fruit industry looking at losses already estimated at more than $100 million.


“This is the worst disaster fruit growers have ever, ever experienced,” Harrow-area orchard owner Keith Wright said Friday.


“We’ve been here for generations and I’ve never heard of this happening before across the province. This is unheard of where all fruit growing areas in basically the Great Lakes area, in Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York State, Ontario, are all basically wiped out. It’s unheard of.”


Wright lost hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of apples and peaches Sunday morning when freezing temperatures killed the blossoms.


Warm temperatures got fruit trees blooming early and when temperatures plummeted Sunday morning it damaged or wiped out much of the $60 million apple crop and 20 to 30 per cent of Ontario’s $48 million tender fruit crop which includes peaches, cherries, pears, plums and nectarines.


Brian Gilroy, a Georgian Bay area apple grower who is chairman of the Ontario Apple Growers, said the loss to fruit growers and the economy will easily be more than $100 million. On top of the lost yield or no crop at all, orchard workers and spinoff industries such as juice, packing, storage and farm supplies will be affected.


Gilroy said consumers will find locally grown apples pricey and difficult to find this fall. Some kinds of apples such as Empire will be very difficult to find.


Washington State has a good crop but consumers should expect apple prices to jump because all of northeastern North America was affected, he said.


What crop growers do get will likely have visible damage such as apples with ridges like the ones on pumpkins.


“This past weekend in southwestern Ontario and the Niagara region temperatures got down to close to -7 (Celcius) while things were out in full bloom and it’s pretty well wiped them out,” Gilroy said of orchards already hit by previous frosts. “It’s very widespread and the worst that anybody’s seen.”


Gilroy said about 65 per cent of the 215 commercial apple growers in Ontario have crop insurance but the disaster has the board approaching the provincial and federal governments for help under an agri-recovery program.


Some growers across Ontario have also lost entire orchards of peaches, sour cherries, pears, plums and nectarines, said Phil Tregunno, chairman of the Ontario Tender Fruit Producers Marketing Board.


It depended on location. The board is estimating 20 to 30 per cent of that $48 million crop is done.


“It was just way too early,” Tregunno said of blossom season that came about a month early. “That just put us at a huge risk.”


Dave Nickels of Nickels Orchards in Ruthven said he lost all his apples, peaches, cherries and pears. He said when talking to other growers you can’t even get a word out of them because they’re just sick.


“It’s kind of like having a death in the family except there’s no closure to this one,” Nickels said.


Wright said the warm weather came so early growers were worried the blossoms would get hit by frost. At 4:30 a.m. Sunday morning the temperature at Wright’s farm bottomed out at about -3 C. He said at -3.9 degrees researchers estimate there will be 90 per cent bud kill.


In some varieties there is still a chance to get some apples. In early June trees shed excess fruit as a natural thinning process and growers will have to wait to see if shocked trees will drop all their fruit, Wright said.


Janice Wagner of Wagner Orchards in Lakeshore said it looks like they were lucky and their apple blossoms didn’t get frozen, perhaps because they are further from the lake.


Strawberries and blueberries may have escaped. Helen McLeod of MacLeod farms near Cottam said they tried to protect their berries by spraying water on them all night. It’s a trick she hopes worked.


Ted Klassen of Klassen Blueberries on County Road 50 near Lake Erie said he thinks he escaped with very little damage to the blueberry bushes that were in full bloom.

http://www.windsorstar.com/mobile/story.html?id=6569409

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Wed May 09, 2012 3:12 am
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Post Re: PFTF May 9 2012
Northeast Ohio wine grapes 'devastated' by hard freeze

It was what grape growers in Northern Ohio feared the most. Early Sunday morning, temperatures in the Grand River Valley vineyards of Lake and Ashtabula Counties dropped into the lower and middle 20s. That's not just a quick frost. That's a hard freeze. By 9 that morning, most of the primary buds, the growth that gives you the best fruit, were black and shriveled, killed by freezing temperatures.

"It was devastating." said Mary Jo Ferrante-Leaman, of Ferrante Winery in Geneva. "There was just nothing we could do."

Leaman said the freeze killed 80 percent of this year's wine grape crop. Ferrante Winery farms 45 acres of vinifera grapes in the prestigious Grand River Valley appellation east of Cleveland. The grape vines began growth early this year due to an extremely warm March. Growers at several area wineries have battled eleven different frost or freeze events from late March through the month of April. All had managed to save the majority of their crops. That is, until Sunday morning.

"We have 6 large wind machines to mix the air and keep the grapes warm," Leaman said, "but once the temperature drops below 28 degrees for more than a couple of hours, freeze damage begins."

Temperatures early Sunday were well below freezing for more than 6 hours. "We haven't seen a freeze like this in at least 12 years," said Leaman.

Similar reports are coming in from nearby Vineyards as well. Growers at St. Joseph's Winery & Chalet Debonne report similar devastating losses.

Gene Sigel farms 170 acres of wine grapes in Lake and Ashtabula Counties. He said Monday's cold "pretty much destroyed the whole 2012 vintage for our wine farmers." Sigel supplies grapes to several wineries in the area.

"Vines that were brilliant green on Saturday afternoon," lamented Sigel, "were turned to dry lifeless shoots by the frost on Sunday morning. Fields that stretch as far as the eye can see are simply all dead."

Vines will grow new buds in a few weeks, Sigel said. The fruit on these buds will be smaller and of lesser quality.

"Fields that froze this week have not frozen in 50-60 years in our area." he added, "In my case I just bought 54 acres of a neighboring farm last year that has never really frozen like this. The previous owner is 93 years old and has owned the farm I bought since 1956 and never experienced this complete a frost."

Mary Jo Ferrante is hoping for the best. "With the secondary fruit set, we might be able to produce about a third of what we normally do."

Ferrante Winery averages about 110-thousand gallons of wine per year. "We won't have any signature or reserve wines this year." she said.

On top of that, the cost of saving the grapes keeps mounting. Ferrante just spent $5,000 on propane for the wind machines. "More frosts are still possible." said Ferrante, "We've got to save the grapes we have



Read more: http://www.newsnet5.com/dpp/weather/wea ... z1uMH6D5Py

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Wed May 09, 2012 3:14 am
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Post Re: PFTF May 9 2012
Cameron: Euro needs single government to work properly

A successful euro zone requires a single government if it is to work properly, British Prime Minister David Cameron said in a newspaper interview on Wednesday.

"There's nowhere in the world that has a single currency without having more of a single government," Cameron told Britain's Daily Mail.

"Making sense of the euro for me would mean that those euro zone countries would have to have much more coordinated economic policy, much more coordinated debt policy," he said.

Cameron, who opted out of a new European economic pact late last year, advocated Britain's position outside the euro and its ability "to do things to ourselves, for ourselves, by ourselves.

http://www.jpost.com/Headlines/Article.aspx?id=269244

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Wed May 09, 2012 3:16 am
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Post Re: PFTF May 9 2012
Moody's downgrades Israel's bank outlook to negative


Moody's international credit rating agency on Wednesday downgraded Israel's banking system outlook to negative from stable. The agency took the step in response to the "projected slowdown in economic growth and the country's challenging operating environment which will continue over the 12-18 month outlook period."

The Bank of Israel responded to the downgrade, saying that it was studying the report and will seek to draw from it the appropriate conclusions.

In its report, entitled "Banking System Outlook: Israel," the agency predicted that GDP growth would decelerate significantly in 2012, mainly due to weakening export demand stemming from the unresolved eurozone crisis.

http://www.jpost.com/Headlines/Article.aspx?id=269234

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Wed May 09, 2012 3:17 am
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Post Re: PFTF May 9 2012
Syriza's Tsipras to meet Greece's pro-bailout parties


The leader of Greece's left-wing Syriza bloc is continuing attempts to form a government after elections on Sunday produced an inconclusive result.

Alexis Tsipras has said he will try to form a coalition based on tearing up the terms of the EU/IMF bailout deal, which he describes as "barbaric".

On Wednesday, he will meet the two mainstream pro-bailout parties, Pasok and New Democracy (ND).

If the two sides fail to agree, Greece could face fresh elections in weeks.

Power vacuum?

Mr Tsipras wants a government that turns its back on cost-cutting and Greece's bailout commitments.

He secured agreement from one centre-left party on Tuesday.


But the party leaders who signed the bailout deal are unlikely to agree to his terms, says the BBC's Mark Lowen, in Athens.

If no deal is reached, a perilous power vacuum would be created, our correspondent says.

Greece would be unable to draw its international loan, meaning it would again face the prospect of bankruptcy and possible exit from the euro, he adds.

The European Commission and Germany say countries must stick to budget cuts.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said on Tuesday: "What member states have to do is be consistent, implementing the policies that they have agreed."

The financial chaos has sparked huge social unrest in Greece and led to a deep mistrust of the parties considered to be the architects of austerity.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-18001715

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Wed May 09, 2012 3:43 am
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Post Re: PFTF May 9 2012
Portugal scraps four public holidays in austerity drive


Portugal has taken austerity measures to a new level with the decision to scrap four of its 14 public holidays.

Two religious festivals and two other public holidays will be suspended for five years from 2013.

The decision over which Catholic festivals to cut was negotiated with the Vatican.

Portugal has already cut public sector wages and raised taxes to reduce its budget deficit and deal with its economic crisis.

The country agreed a 78bn euro bailout deal with the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund last year and recently passed the latest review of its spending cuts.

It is hoped the suspension of the public holidays will improve competitiveness and boost economic activity.

The four days affected are All Saints Day on 1 November; Corpus Christi, which falls 60 days after Easter; 5 October, which commemorates the formation of the Portuguese Republic in 1910; and 1 December, which marks Portuguese independence from Spanish rule in 1640.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-17998937

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Wed May 09, 2012 3:44 am
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