LONDON: The US and the UK have moved
“substantially” closer to losing their AAA credit ratings, as the
cost of servicing their debt rose, according to Moody’s Investors Service.
The governments of the two economies must balance bringing down their debt
burdens without damaging growth by removing fiscal stimulus too quickly, Pierre
Cailleteau, managing director of sovereign risk at Moody’s in London, said
in a telephone interview.
Under the ratings company’s
so-called baseline scenario, the US will spend more on debt service, as a
percentage of revenue this year than any other top-rated country except the UK,
and will be the biggest spender from 2011 to 2013, Moody’s said on Monday
in a report.
“We expect the situation to further deteriorate
in terms of the key ratings metrics before they start stabilising,”
Cailleteau said. “This story is not going to stop at the end of the year.
There is inertia in the deterioration of credit metrics.”
pound fell against the dollar and the euro for the first time in three days,
depreciating 0.8% to $1.5090, while the dollar index snapped a four-day drop,
adding 0.3% to 90.075. The US government will spend about 7% of its revenue
servicing debt in 2010 and almost 11% in 2013, according to the baseline
scenario of moderate economic recovery, fiscal adjustments in line with
government plans and a gradual increase in interest rates, Moody’s said.
Under its adverse scenario, which assumes 0.5% lower growth each
year, less fiscal adjustment and a stronger interest-rate shock, the US will be
paying about 15% of revenue in interest payments, more than the 14% limit that
would lead to a downgrade to AA, Moody’s said.
The UK is likely
to spend 7% of revenue servicing debt this year and 9% in 2013, rising to almost
12% under the adverse scenario, Moody’s said. Financing costs above 10%
put countries outside of the AAA category into a so-called debt reversibility
band, the size of which depends on the ability and willingness of nations to
reduce their debt burden by raising taxes or reducing spending.
US has a 4 percentage-point band, while the UK has a 3 percentage-point band.
“Those economies have been caught in a crisis, while they are highly
leveraged,” Cailleteau said, referring to the level of private and public
debt as a percentage of gross domestic product. “They have to make the
required adjustment to stabilise markets without choking off growth.”
The US would be the “most affected” under the adverse
scenario, as the only country that would face a downgrade, Cailleteau said. The
company’s baseline scenario assumes that all current AAA sovereigns will
keep their ratings over the next three years, he said.
“On balance, we
believe that the ratings of all large Aaa governments remain well positioned,
although their ‘distance-to-downgrade’ has in all cases
substantially diminished,” Moody’s said in the report.
the current Aaa rated countries are likely to lose their ratings, said Peter
Chatwell, a fixed-income strategist at Credit Agricole CIB in London.
“This report is a warning shot to governments, setting out the
line that they can’t cross with their budgets,” he said. While the
US is likely to benefit from economic growth more than other AAA nations, weak
public consumption is likely to weigh on GDP this year, the ratings company
“The pattern of growth and the high rate of unemployment
raise the question of how strong the recovery will be going forward,”
Moody’s said. “The ability of the US economy to grow more rapidly
and, therefore, for government revenues to contribute to fiscal consolidation,
will have to depend on a revival in the growth of consumption.”
The US economy will grow 3% this year and in 2011 after contracting
2.4% in 2009, according to the median estimate of economist forecasts compiled
by Bloomberg. Unemployment will average 9.6% this year, up from 5.8% in 2008,
and will fall to 9% next year, based on the median estimate.
Sales at US retailers unexpectedly climbed 0.3% in February, compared with a median
forecast for a 0.2% contraction, the Commerce Department said on March 12.
“The emphasis of the market, and our own, will move increasingly away from
public finance developments in 2010, towards medium-term consolidation plans and
the credibility thereof,” Moody’s said.
fiscal consolidation necessary to avert a downgrade will test “social
cohesion” and may involve rewriting the “social contract”
between governments and their people, Cailleteau said. “People have to
decide what level of pain they are willing to accept to have a healthy
economy.” UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has clashed with opposition
leader David Cameron over the timing and speed of budget cuts, as they prepare
for an election that must be held by June 3.
Conservatives argue that the government should come to grips now with the budget
deficit, while Brown’s Labour Party said it’s too soon to remove
fiscal stimulus. “Although the economy is now growing, recovery is still
in its early stages and remains very fragile,” Brown told business leaders
in London on March 10. “We’re not going to withdraw the stimulus
until the recovery is assured.”
The UK economy, which emerged
from its longest-ever recession last quarter, is forecast to expand by 1.2% this
year after a 5% contraction in 2009, according to median economist estimates
compiled by Bloomberg. Unemployment will average 8% this year and 7.9% next
year, the estimates show. “The question here is less when fiscal
retrenchment ought to start, but rather how credible it is that sufficient
retrenchment will take place,” Moody’s said.
Geely buys Volvo unit for $1.8b (Xinhua)
Geely Chairman Li Shufu (front left) and Ford's Chief Financial Officer Lewis Booth celebrate at the takeover deal signing
ceremony at the headquarters of Volvo Cars in Goteborg in Sweden on March 28, 2010. [Xinhua] GOTEBORG, Sweden - China's Zhejiang Geely Holding
Group signed a deal with Ford Motor Co here on Sunday to acquire the US auto giant's Volvo car unit for nearly $1.8 billion.
The deal was inked by Geely Chairman Li Shufu and Ford's Chief Financial Officer Lewis Booth at the headquarters of Volvo Cars in
the second largest city of Sweden.
The Swedish carmaker, which has about 20,000 workers, was purchased by Ford in 1999 for $6.45 million.
But Ford had been attempting to sell Volo since late 2008, due to its poor market performance. Geely was named as the preferred bidder for the Swedish subsidiary in October
Geely, which started to manufacture cars in 1998, is a major private automaker headquartered in southeast China's Zhejiang province. Geely Holding Group is the parent company
of Geely Automobile Holdings.
Toying with yuan won't help US By Fan Gang (China Daily)
Fundamental problems in the US economy need to be remedied; potential dangers for both nations loom if renminbi is revaluated
The renminbi exchange rate has once again become a target of the United States Congress. China-bashing, it seems, is back in fashion in the US.
But this latest round of disparagement appears stranger than the last. When the US Congress pressed China for a large currency revaluation in 2004-2005, China's
current-account surplus was accelerating. Now China's current-account surplus is shrinking significantly due to the global recession caused by the US financial meltdown.
China's total annual surplus (excluding Hong Kong) now stands at $200 billion, down by roughly one-third from 2008. In GDP terms, it fell even more as GDP grew by 8.7 percent
Back then, pegging the renminbi to the dollar pushed down China's effective exchange rate because the dollar was losing value against other currencies, such as the euro,
sterling and yen. But currently, with the dollar appreciating against other major currencies in recent months, the relatively fixed rate between the dollar and the renminbi has
caused China's currency to shore up.
Of course, there are now other sources of friction that did not seem as pressing five years ago. The US' internal and external deficits remain large, and its unemployment
rate is extremely high. Someone needs to take responsibility, and since US politicians don't want to blame themselves, the best available scapegoat is China and its exchange
rate, which has not appreciated against the dollar in 18 months.
But would a revaluation of the renminbi solve the US' problems? Recent evidence suggests that it would not. Between July 2005 and September 2008 (before the bankruptcy of
Lehman Brothers), the renminbi appreciated 22 percent against the dollar. Yet the quarterly US current-account deficit increased - from $195 billion to $205 billion.
Most economists agree that the renminbi is probably undervalued. But the extent of misalignment remains an open question. The economist Menzie Chinn, using purchasing power
parity (PPP) exchange rates, reckoned the renminbi's undervaluation to be 40 percent. But, after the World Bank revised China's GDP, in terms of PPP, downward by 40 percent, the
undervaluation disappeared. Nick Lardy and Morris Goldstein suggest that the renminbi was probably undervalued only by 12-16 percent at the end of 2008. And Yang Yao of Beijing
University has put the misalignment at less than 10 percent.
But assume that China does revalue its currency sharply, by, say, 40 percent. If the adjustment came abruptly, Chinese companies would suffer a sudden loss of competitiveness
and would no longer be able to export goods. The market vacuum created by the absence of Chinese products could be filled quickly by other low-cost countries, such as Vietnam or
India. Companies in the US cannot compete with these countries either. So no new jobs would be added in the US, but the inflation rate would increase.
Now assume that the renminbi appreciates only moderately so that China continues to export to the US at higher prices but lower profits. This would push up inflation rates
significantly, forcing the US Federal Reserve to tighten monetary policy and possibly undermining the US' recovery, which still remains shaky. New difficulties in the US and
China, the world's two largest economies, would have a negative impact on global investor confidence, hurting US employment even further.
In both scenarios, US employment numbers would not rise and the trade deficit would not diminish. So then what? The historical evidence from the 1970s and 1980s, when the US
consistently pressed Japan to revalue the yen, suggests that US politicians would most likely demand that the renminbi appreciate even more.
The exchange rate measures the relationship between at least two currencies, whose values are based on the productivity and domestic balance of their respective national
economies. Causes for misalignment may be found on both sides. If the US dollar needs to devalue because of fundamental problems in the US economy, the problems cannot be fixed
by lowering the dollar's value alone.
Of course, there are problems with China's external imbalance with the US, such as excessive national savings (which account for 51 percent of China's GDP) and distortions in
the prices of energy and other resources. All those problems contribute to the imbalance and China should fix them.
But we should realize that there are fundamental causes for the imbalance on the US side as well, such as over-consumption financed by excessive leverage and high budget
deficits. Only when both sides make serious efforts to fix their domestic fundamentals will the imbalances be reduced in a serious and sustained way. Short-run exchange-rate
adjustments cannot simply fix negative long-term trends.
China may resume a "managed float" of its exchange rate, particularly if the uncertainty of the overall post-crisis economic situation diminishes. In choosing whether or not
to do so, its policymakers may weigh factors ranging from China's international responsibilities to the potential damage of foreign protectionism or even a trade war. What is
certain, however, is that China's politicians have a domestic agenda just like the Americans. The key element of that agenda is to maintain employment growth.
One-third of China's labor force remains in agriculture, earning only about half of what migrant workers in China's booming cities make. (Per-capita earnings for China's
farmers may rise to $770 if the renminbi appreciates by 10 percent, but of course that is only a US dollar-term revision, with Chinese farmers feeling no increase at all).
Getting more farmers into better-paid manufacturing and service-industry jobs will mean not only a reduction in poverty, but lower income disparity. By any moral standard, that
goal is at least as important as anything on America's agenda.
The author is professor of economics at Beijing University and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and director of China's National Economic Research Institute.
Project Syndicate, 2010.
Ron Paul "We Have Only One Party! And They Fight Over Power & Influence!
Economist Peter Schiff answers questions about the coming fiscal crisis, and how to survive it
ALERT! Treasury Yields Begin to Rise, U.S. Default by Inflation Inevitable.
Dates That Destroyed America By Chuck Baldwin
March 24, 2010
Passage of the so-called "health care reform" bill in the House of
Representatives this past Sunday, March 21 (I won't even address the
inferred unconstitutionality of Congress doing business on the Lord's Day.
See Article. I. Section. 7. Paragraph. 2.) drove yet another stake into the
heart of America. For all intents and purposes, it is the health of the
United States that is in dire need of healing. In fact, the US has been on
extended life-support for decades. With its condition being rendered
critical, and absent major surgery, its days are numbered. The passage of
this bill only serves to further weaken an already frail Constitution. In
fact, this one may prove to be the fatal blow. Lady Liberty may never
The decision by Congress to socialize medicine in the US ranks among the
most draconian, most egregious, most horrific actions ever taken by the
central government in Washington, D.C. This bill rocks the principles of
liberty and constitutional government to the core. It changes fundamental
foundations; it repudiates historical principle. Oh! The same flag may fly
on our flagpoles, the same monuments may grace our landscape, and the same
National Anthem may be sung during our public ceremonies, but it is not the
same America. The Congress of the United States has now officially turned
America into a socialist state.
On March 23, 2010, President Barack Obama signed the health care bill into
law, and as such, this date--along with March 21--joins a list of dates that
have each inflicted unconstitutional, socialistic, and sometimes even
tyrannical action against the States United and have, therefore, contributed
to the destruction of a free America.
April 9, 1865
This is the date when General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern
Virginia to U.S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia. Regardless of
where one comes down on the subject of the Civil War, one fact is
undeniable: Abraham Lincoln forever destroyed the Jeffersonian model of
federalism in America. Ever since, virtually every battle that free men have
fought for the principles of limited government, State sovereignty, etc.,
have all stemmed directly from Lincoln's usurpation of power, which resulted
in the subjugation and forced union of what used to be "Free and Independent
States" (the Declaration of Independence). In fact, the philosophical
battles being waged today regarding the recent health care debacle (and
every other encroachment upon liberty and State power by the central
government) have their roots in Lincoln's tyranny.
July 9, 1868
This is the date when the 14th Amendment was ratified. This amendment
codified into law what Lincoln had forced at bayonet point. Until then,
people were only deemed citizens of their respective states. The
Constitution nowhere referred to people as "US citizens." It only recognized
"the Citizens of each State." Notice also that citizenship was only
recognized among the "several States," not among people living in non-State
territories. Until the 14th Amendment, people were "Citizens of each State."
(Article. IV. Section. 2. Paragraph. 1.) The 14th Amendment created a whole
new class of persons: "citizens of the United States." This false notion of
"one nation" overturned the Jeffersonian principle that our nation was a
confederated republic, a voluntary union of states.
February 3, 1913
This is the date when the 16th Amendment was ratified, and the direct income
tax and IRS were instituted. This was a flagrant repudiation of freedom
principles! What began as a temporary measure to support the War of Northern
Aggression became a permanent income revenue stream for an
unconstitutional--and ever-growing--central government.
April 8, 1913
This is the date when the 17th Amendment was ratified. This amendment
overturned the power of the State legislatures to elect their own senators
and replaced it with a direct, popular vote. This was another serious blow
against State sovereignty. The framers of the Constitution desired that the
influence and power in Washington, D.C., be kept as close to the people and
states as possible. For example, the number of representatives in the House
of Representatives was to be decided by a limited number of voters. In the
original Constitution, the ratio of "people of the several States" deciding
their House member could not exceed "one for every thirty thousand."
(Article. I. Section. 2. Paragraph. 3.) And when it came to the US Senate,
the framers also recognized the authority of each State legislature to
select its own senators, thereby keeping power and influence from
aggregating in Washington, D.C. The 17th Amendment seriously damaged the
influence and power of the states by forcing them to elect their US senators
by popular vote. The bigger the State, the less influence the State
legislature has in determining its US senator. Senators who answered to
State legislators, each answering to a limited number of voters, are much
more accountable to the "citizens of the several States" than those who are
elected by a large number (many times numbering into the millions) of
people. For all intents and purposes (at least in the larger states), US
Senators are more like "mini-Presidents" than they are representatives of
December 23, 1913
This is the date when the Federal Reserve Act was passed. This Act placed
oversight of America's financial matters into the hands of a cabal of
private international bankers, who have completely destroyed the
constitutional principles of sound money and (for the most part) free
enterprise. No longer would the marketplace (private consumption, thrift,
growth, etc.) be the determinant of the US economy (which is what freedom is
all about), but now a private, unaccountable international banking cartel
would have total power and authority to micromanage (for their own private,
parochial purposes) America's financial sector. Virtually every recession,
depression, and downturn (including the one we are now experiencing) has
been the direct result of the Fed's manipulation (again, for its own
purposes and with Washington's cooperation) of the market.
June 26, 1945
This is the date when the United Nations Charter was signed and America
joined the push for global government. Ever since, US forces have spilled
untold amounts of blood and sacrificed thousands of lives promoting the UN's
agenda. Since the end of World War II, in virtually every war in which US
military forces have been engaged, it has been at the behest of the UN. And
it is also no accident that America has not fought a constitutionally
declared war since we entered the UN--and neither have we won one.
Furthermore, it is America's involvement in the United Nations that has
spearheaded this draconian push for a New World Order that George H. W.
Bush, Henry Kissinger, Tony Blair, Walter Cronkite, et al., have talked so
much about. The United Nations is an evil institution that has completely
co-opted our US State Department and much of our Defense Department. It is
an anti-American institution that works aggressively and constantly against
the interests and principles of the United States. But it is an institution
that is ensconced in the American political infrastructure. Like a cancer,
the UN eats away at our liberties and values, and both major political
parties in Washington, D.C., are culpable in allowing it to exert so much
influence upon our country.
June 25, 1962, and June 17, 1963
These are the dates when the US Supreme Court removed prayer ('62) and Bible
reading ('63) from public schools. At this point, these two Supreme Court
decisions were the most serious affront to the First Amendment in US
history. Think of it: from before a union of states was established in 1787,
children had been free to pray and read the Scriptures in school. We're
talking about a period of more than 300 years! Of course, the various State
legislatures--and myriad city and county governmental meetings--still open
their sessions in prayer, as do the US House and Senate, and even the US
Supreme Court. But this same liberty is denied the children of America.
There is no question that America has not recovered from these two horrific
Supreme Court decisions. In effect, the federal government has expelled God
not only from our public schools, but also from our public life! And America
has not been the same since.
October 22, 1968
This is the date when President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Gun Control
Act of 1968. Before this Act, the 2nd Amendment was alive and well in the
United States. The Gun Control Act of 1968 turned a right into a privilege
and forever forced the American people to bow to the altar of government
when seeking to arm themselves. Interestingly enough, this Gun Control Act
mirrored Nazi Germany's Gun Control Act of 1938. In fact, the Gun Control
Act of 1968 is almost a verbatim copy of Hitler's Gun Control Act of 1938.
Our Founding Fathers could never have imagined that governments within the
"several States" would ever be allowed to deny the people's right to keep
and bear arms. In fact, it was the attempted confiscation of the firearms
stored at Concord, Massachusetts, that triggered the War of Independence in
1775. That the people of Massachusetts would be denied their right to keep
and bear arms, as they are today, could not have been foreseen--and would
never have been tolerated--by America's founders.
Yet, most of the hundreds of draconian gun control laws that have been
inflicted upon the American people have all come about as a result of the
Gun Control Act of 1968.
January 22, 1973
This is the date when the US Supreme Court issued the Roe v. Wade and Doe v.
Bolton decisions, which, in effect, legalized abortion-on-demand. These two
decisions expunged the Jeffersonian principle that all men are endowed by
their Creator with the unalienable right to life (Declaration). Since then,
more than 50 million unborn babies have been legally murdered in their
mothers' wombs. Abortion is, without a doubt, America's national holocaust.
It has opened the door to a host of Big Government programs and policies
that have resulted in the wanton destruction of human life both in the
United States and overseas. It has created an entire industry whose express
purpose for existing is the destruction of human life. It has desensitized
the conscience and soul of America. Furthermore, it has forced men of
decency and good will to finance--with their tax dollars--the unconscionable
act of killing unborn children.
And once again, another Jeffersonian principle was eviscerated. He said, "To
compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of ideas
which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical." The Roe and Doe
decisions violate this principle in the most egregious manner possible.
October 26, 2001
This is the date when President George W. Bush signed the USA Patriot Act,
and the federal government's war against individual liberty began in
earnest. Most of the unconstitutional eavesdropping, snooping, wiretapping,
phone call intercepting, email reading, prying, financial records tracking,
travel watching, ad infinitum, ad nauseam, by federal police agencies began
with the implementation of the Patriot Act. The Department of Homeland
Security and the "war on terrorism," which have resulted in the deaths of
tens of thousands of innocent people worldwide, and the usurpation of
federal power at home, have all come about as an outgrowth of the Patriot
Act. The USA Patriot Act has forever shifted the focus of American law and
jurisprudence against constitutional government and individual liberty,
toward a police-state mentality. The Patriot Act is even turning our local
and State law enforcement agencies into military-style "Jackboots," where
police officers see themselves not necessarily as guardians of the
citizenry, but, as often as not, as adversaries, where citizens are deemed
to be the "enemy."
October 17, 2006, and October 9, 2009
These are the dates when President G.W. Bush signed and re-signed the
Military Commissions Act. This Act is the outgrowth of the Patriot Act but
has, in effect, terminated the fundamental protections of individual
liberty, which are found in the US Constitution and Bill of Rights. For all
intents and purposes, the Patriot Act and Military Commissions Act
eviscerated the 4th and 5th Amendments, and do serious injury to several
others. The Military Commissions Act also expunges the constitutional right
of Habeas Corpus.
March 21 and 23, 2010i
These are the dates when Congress passed and President Obama signed into law
the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act," the so-called "health
reform" bill that we spoke about at the beginning of this column. While
Social Security and various Welfare programs have toyed with socialism in
the United States, this bill is the largest and most expansive endorsement
of socialism in American history. This bill socializes some 18% of the US
economy by socializing the health care industry in America. The fallout and
ramifications of this bill are going to be horrific.
When future historians review the demise of our once-great republic, they
will observe that the above dates, including March 21 and March 23, 2010,
were the dates that destroyed America. The American people have been far too
tolerant for far too long.
People concerned about the future of freedom and prosperity in America
should line up quickly and demand that their respective State legislatures
and governors resist this new health care bill, even to the point of
refusing to implement it in their states. More than 30 states are
threatening to take the health care bill to court. But states must do more
than that. They must follow the lead of the State of Virginia and pass
legislation refusing to comply with it. Yes, I'm saying it: it is time for
another State rebellion! If states do not stand up and draw their lines in
the sand now, it will be forever too late.
After Rick Perry's highway department announced the Trans Texas Corridor (TTC) route known as TTC-35 was "dead" in 2009, we find out post-election in
2010 that it, along with free trade, is very much alive and well. Canadian officials have shown renewed interest in a multi-modal trade corridor along I-35. Winnipeg recently
announced its intention to build an inland port
similar to those in San Antonio and Dallas. One such inland port in
Kansas City has ceded sovereign United States territory to Canada and Mexico with the flags of
all three countries flying over it. Officials in Winnipeg said it also intends to run a logistics and trade corridor to include rail and high speed highways all the way to
Mexico as an Asia-Pacific gateway connecting to Toronto and Montreal.
It should surprise no one that former San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger and tolling authority (Alamo RMA) Chairman Bill Thornton took a trip to Toronto in 2006,
partially at taxpayer expense, to promote Trans Texas Corridor-style trade connections and to be certain it includes the Port of San Antonio.
Norris Pettis, Canadian Consul General in Dallas, notes in the latest San
Antonio Business Journal that "of all the urban centers I deal with, San Antonio is right up there in preaching free trade." The article also said Canadian
officials observe an anti-trade sentiment in the U.S. as a whole, but see an open door in Texas, which they say doesn't share "protectionist policies."
Thank you, Rick Perry.
Tullos Wells is part of the Lone Star Rail project (pushing an Austin-San Antonio commuter rail line) and also traveled with Hardberger. He also happens to work for the
law firm Bracewell & Giuliani, one of the biggest players in pushing the privatization of our public roads (and represents Spain-based Cintra on private toll deals here in
Texas) as well as pushing these multi-national trade corridors. Read more about the Bracewell & Giuliani connection here. It's not rocket science to conclude this is why Rick Perry endorsed Rudy Giuliani for President in 2007.
The Trans Texas Corridor has always been about exploiting Texas landowners and taxpayers to open up new trade corridors to facilitate the free flow of goods among the
three countries to benefit private corporations. Executive Director of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), Amadeo Saenz, admitted in public testimony February 1
(watch it here), that though TxDOT says the TTC is “dead,” it could change its mind tomorrow and still move
forward with the Trans Texas Corridor since the statutory authority to do so remains in the Texas Transportation Code. This is one time we can take them at their word. They are
indeed moving forward.
While most Texans have no problem with trade, many have expressed dismay with so-called "free" trade. It'd be more aptly called government managed trade,
which is heavily tilted in favor of foreign countries, fails to insist on reciprocity, and overly taxes American goods while providing tax breaks on foreign imports. The North
American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has done more to hurt the U.S. manufacturing sector than any other government policy in recent history. In fact, more than one million
Americans have lost jobs due to NAFTA. Given the grim state of the economy and high U.S. unemployment, now more than ever, the U.S. needs to reconsider NAFTA.
A handful of U.S. lawmakers recently renewed calls to repeal
NAFTA. President Obama once spoke of his support for renegotiating parts of NAFTA, but seems to have reversed himself since taking office, now battling members of his own
party to push for yet more "free" trade agreements to be signed with many other countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Chile, Peru, Vietnam and Brunei
on an Asia-Pacific regional free-trade agreement, South Korea, Panama, and Columbia.
Stop the freight train...
Within days of Perry winning the Texas primary March 2, TxDOT revealed itsintention to extend the SH 130 toll road northward. SH 130
from Georgetown around Austin extending south to San Antonio is the first leg of the Trans Texas Corridor TTC-35. So as predicted, Perry, bolstered by his primary win, will
continue his plans to push the TTC piece by piece all the way up to the Red River.
With Winnipeg moving a multi-modal trade corridor southward along I-35, and the expansion of US 281 south of San Antonio underway (which feeds into the I-35 corridor)
moving the corridor northward, it proves the TTC's demise was mere illusion designed to put Texans back to sleep while politicians get re-elected and quietly build it, segment
by segment under the radar
Harness the power of local government
This new TTC segment from Waco to Hillsboro, fills the gaps of "free" lane I-35 expansion, and will also likely become some form of foreign-owned toll road,
like segments 5 & 6 of SH 130. The good news is, the section of I-35 where there is a 391 local government subregional planning commission (TURF co-sponsored events to help
spread this method to fight the Trans Texas Corridor for TTC-69), I-35 will be expanded and kept toll-free (read about their success here). So a portion of TTC-35 will bypass
the 391 commission's jurisdiction.
One of the proven ways Texans can STOP the TTC dead in its tracks is to utilize this little known goldmine of a government-to-government commission to force TxDOT to
comply with the will of Texans within its jurisdiction. There are a total of 10 commissions formed using the local government code Chapter 391 in Texas, the majority of those
formed directly to stop the TTC. To find out more about how to form one in your region, contact the private property rights foundation Americans Stewards of Liberty at http://www.stewards.us.
To deliver the final knockout punch, however, Texans must continue to pressure lawmakers and the Governor to repeal any and all forms of the Trans Texas Corridor (now
renamed "innovative connectivity plan") from the transportation code and prevent any further contracts from being signed.
Dirty little secrets sneak under the radar
The TTC-69 (planned to go from the Rio Grande Valley northeast to Texarkana and eventually up through Michigan) public private partnership (called CDA in Texas) was awarded to ACS of Spain and Zachry of San Antonio in June of
In August of 2009, Perry-appointed Texas Transportation Commissioner Ned Holmes asked for the TTC-69 contract to be approved by the Texas Attorney General, Greg Abbott.
Perry wants this contract signed before the citizens of Texas can step-in to stop it. Perry's son, Griffin, works for UBS (to further connect the
dots go here), the financial
arm of the ACS consortium who won the development rights for TTC-69.
When TxDOT announced that TTC-35 was "dead," it also clearly stated TTC-69, also given the name I-69 to make it appear more harmless, is still moving forward. In fact, expansion of US 77 is already
underway in the valley as part of the initial leg of what will be known as TTC-69/I-69.
In addition, Ports to Plains (to run from Mexico all the way to Alberta, Canada) and La Entrada de Pacifico, two other active TTC corridors, show that nothing has
changed there either, except shedding the official connection by name to the Trans Texas Corridor. La Entrada, to traverse through the Big Bend area, has a disturbing new twist
with the resurrection of the idea to cede Big Bend to international interests by deeming it an "international" park, essentially to join it with Mexico's
"Big Bend" on the other side of the U.S. border.
The idea is to eventually develop future sea-port connections with Far-East ocean shipping lanes. The current strategy in these two corridors is to steer federal
transportation dollars into several otherwise useful local projects over time, and then connect the segments into a singular, identifiable system.
Your tax dollars at work
An active coalition pushing the development of the Ports to Plains trade corridor just completed a trade mission to Alberta, as well as advertising the West Texas Trade
Summit in San Angelo (February 19), where the stated goal was to promote both trade and multi-national trade corridors in Texas and Mexico. Ports to Plains Alliance will also be
hosting an "Energy Summit" April 8-9 in Colorado, mirroring the efforts of other public private partnerships (partially tax-funded) like TTC-69's Alliance for I-69,
and the big I-35 coalition, called the North America Supercorridor Coalition or NASCO.
So don't fall for the rhetoric, Texans. As Ronald Reagan used to say, "trust but verify," and the verifiable facts point to the Trans Texas Corridor briskly
moving ahead on all fronts. Remain vigilant to stop the biggest land grab in Texas history and to protect our sovereignty. Your freedom depends on it!
Make the connection...
Read more about how privatizing government functions comes at great cost to taxpayers here.
Read Ed Wallace's article on Perry's cronyism regarding privatizing and tolling our public roads here.
Terri Hall is the founder of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF), a non-profit organization that has rallied Texans
to successfully oppose the Trans Texas Corridor, which is a critical component in the formation of the North American Union (or North American Community). The NAU was promoted
by former President George Bush as the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), and called for deep integration between Mexico, Canada and the United States. For further
information,Terri can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 210-275-0640.
Crisis of Disappearing Honeybees is Deepening 2010-03-26
The mysterious 4-year-old crisis of disappearing honeybees is deepening. A quick federal survey indicates a heavy bee die-off
this winter, while a new study shows honeybees' pollen and hives laden with pesticides.
Two federal agencies along with regulators in California and Canada are scrambling to figure out what is behind this relatively recent threat, ordering new research on
pesticides used in fields and orchards. Federal courts are even weighing in this month, ruling that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency overlooked a requirement when
allowing a pesticide on the market.
And on Thursday, chemists at a scientific conference in San Francisco will tackle the issue of chemicals and dwindling bees in response to the new study.
Scientists are concerned because of the vital role bees play in our food supply. About one-third of the human diet is from plants that require pollination from honeybees, which
means everything from apples to zucchini.
Bees have been declining over decades from various causes. But in 2006 a new concern, "colony collapse disorder," was blamed for large, inexplicable die-offs. The
disorder, which causes adult bees to abandon their hives and fly off to die, is likely a combination of many causes, including parasites, viruses, bacteria, poor nutrition and
pesticides, experts say.
"It's just gotten so much worse in the past four years," said Jeff Pettis, research leader of the Department of Agriculture's Bee Research Laboratory in
Beltsville, Md. "We're just not keeping bees alive that long."
This year bees seem to be in bigger trouble than normal after a bad winter, according to an informal survey of commercial bee brokers cited in an internal USDA document.
One-third of those surveyed had trouble finding enough hives to pollinate California's blossoming nut trees, which grow the bulk of the world's almonds. A more formal
survey will be done in April.
Beekeeper Zac Browning shipped his hives from Idaho to California to pollinate the blossoming almond groves. He got a shock when he checked on them, finding hundreds of the
hives empty, abandoned by the worker bees.
The losses were extreme, three times higher than the previous year.
"It wasn't one load or two loads, but every load we were pulling out that was dead. It got extremely depressing to see a third of my livestock gone," Browning
said, standing next to stacks of dead bee colonies in a clearing near Merced, at the center of California's fertile San Joaquin Valley.
Among all the stresses to bee health, it's the pesticides that are attracting scrutiny now. A study published Friday in the scientific journal PLOS (Public Library of
Science) One found about three out of five pollen and wax samples from 23 states had at least one systemic pesticide — a chemical designed to spread throughout all parts of a
EPA officials said they are aware of problems involving pesticides and bees and the agency is "very seriously concerned."
The pesticides are not a risk to honey sold to consumers, federal officials say. And the pollen that people eat is probably safe because it is usually from remote areas where
pesticides are not used, Pettis said. But the PLOS study found 121 different types of pesticides within 887 wax, pollen, bee and hive samples.
None of the chemicals themselves were at high enough levels to kill bees, he said, but it was the combination and variety of them that is worrisome.
University of Illinois entomologist May Berenbaum called the results "kind of alarming."
Despite EPA assurances, environmental groups don't think the EPA is doing enough on pesticides.
Bayer Crop Science started petitioning the agency to approve a new pesticide for sale in 2006. After reviewing the company's studies of its effects on bees, the EPA gave
Bayer conditional approval to sell the product two years later, but said it had to carry a label warning that it was "potentially toxic to honey bee larvae through residues
in pollen and nectar."
The Natural Resources Defense Council sued, saying the agency failed to give the public timely notice for the new pesticide application. In December, a federal judge in New York
agreed, banning the pesticide's sale and earlier this month, two more judges upheld the ruling.
"This court decision is obviously very painful for us right now, and for growers who don't have access to that product," said Jack Boyne, an entomologist and
spokesman for Bayer Crop Science. "This product quite frankly is not harmful to honeybees."
Boyne said the pesticide was sold for only about a year and most sales were in California, Arizona and Florida. The product is intended to disrupt the mating patterns of insects
that threaten citrus, lettuce and grapes, he said.
Berenbaum's research shows pesticides are not the only problem. She said multiple viruses also are attacking the bees, making it tough to propose a single solution.
"Things are still heading downhill," she said.
For Browning, one of the country's largest commercial beekeepers, the latest woes have led to a $1 million loss this year.
"It's just hard to get past this," he said, watching as workers cleaned honey from empty wooden hives Monday. "I'm going to rebuild, but I have plenty
of friends who aren't going to make it."
Related: Article I wrote in 2007 on the honey bee crisis, click here to read.
China's heir-apparent pitches Russian alliance Link 2010-03-24
The man widely seen as China's next leader told Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Tuesday the world's two most
powerful emerging market economies should help each other increase their weight in global affairs.
China and Russia say their trade and political relations are better than ever, though senior Russian officials are privately concerned about an increasingly assertive China
along Moscow's vast and largely empty southeastern border.
Vice President Xi Jinping, seen as the frontrunner to succeed President Hu Jintao in 2013, told Putin Beijing wanted the power of key developing nations to be recognised.
"We consider that in the process of the deep transformation of the world order, the interests of China, Russia and other developing countries must be taken fully into
account," Xi said.
"Russia and China must become strategic props for each other in the future on all questions which have a strategic interest for Russia," he told Putin at the start of
talks in Moscow.
Analysts said the visit to Russia -- which will include a meeting on Wednesday with President Dmitry Medvedev -- was aimed to acquaint Russia's leaders with a potential
successor to Hu.
"Xi Jinping is considered to be one of the candidates to replace Hu Jintao so it is a very important visit, to get acquainted with him and to understand the aims of the man
who could be the next ruler of China," said Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of the magazine Russia in Global Affairs.
Russia has called for the group of emerging market powers known as BRIC -- which also includes Brazil, India and China -- to be given more say in world affairs, though
China's economy is bigger than the other three put together.
FUELLING THE DRAGON
China, the world's fastest growing major economy, has in recent years sought to secure long-term oil and gas supplies from Russia, the world's biggest energy producer,
which has been battered by the economic crisis.
China's economy grew by about 8.5 percent to $4.76 trillion last year while Russia's economy shrank 7.5 percent to $1.25 trillion after a 10-year economic boom,
according to the International Monetary Fund.
Russia is a keen buyer of Chinese manufactured goods, though Moscow is worried that its former Soviet role as a supplier of technology and arms to Beijing has largely vanished
as China's own industries overtake Russia's.
Russia also sees China as an important partner in efforts to limit the influence of the United States on issues ranging from Iran's nuclear programme to reducing reliance
on the dollar.
"We have always supported China on the most sensitive questions, including on the problem of Taiwan," Putin said. Xi said Russia and China should work to prevent the
dominance of a single power, shorthand for U.S. influence.
Xi's talks in Moscow will include discussions about trade, investment, energy and the development of the sparsely populated regions of Russia's Far East, Russian
But behind the warm phrases of support for closer ties, many Russian policy makers are increasingly anxious about China's rise as a world economic and political power.
"The growing economic imbalance -- China has already overtaken Russia on all parameters -- cannot but provoke concern, even if China tries to demonstrate its
benevolence," said Lukyanov.
China was Russia's second most important trade partner last year after the European Union, though bilateral trade tumbled 29 percent to $39.5 billion from $55.9 billion in
2008, according to Russian customs statistics.
Bilateral trade fell as the economic crisis undermined demand for metals, oil and gas, Russia's main exports, but this is expected to recover this year.