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Are you Prepared?

The Global Famine Begins: UN Announces That The Worst Food Crisis Since World War II Is Happening Right Now March 19, 2017

Horse Famine - Public DomainWe always knew that this would start happening.  Earlier this month, I wrote about the severe economic problems that are plaguing South America, but up to this point I have neglected to discuss the horrific famines that are breaking out all over Africa.  Right now there is a desperate need for food in South Sudan, Somalia, northeast Nigeria, Eritrea and Kenya.  And Yemen, even though it is not technically part of Africa, is being affected by many of the same factors that are crippling nations all over eastern Africa.  The United Nations says that more than 20 million people could die from starvation and disease if nothing is done.  When I write about economic collapse, this is the kind of thing that I am talking about, and we are starting to see alarming conditions spread across the globe.  Many believe that we could never possibly face this kind of food crisis in the western world, but unfortunately wishful thinking will only get you so far.

The United Nations was formed in 1945, and the UN has just announced that what we are facing this year is “the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the UN”.  The following comes from a CNN article entitled “20 million at risk of starvation in world’s largest crisis since 1945, UN says“…

“We stand at a critical point in history. Already at the beginning of the year we are facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the UN,” UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien said Friday.

Now, more than 20 million people across four countries face starvation and famine. Without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to death. Many more will suffer and die from disease.”

It would be hard to overstate the level of human suffering that we are witnessing in many parts of Africa at this moment.  In Somalia, the UN estimates that more than 6 million people are in desperate need of food aid

As Somalia inches closer to a calamitous famine, the prospect of utter devastation and colossal loss of human life is once again becoming an imminent reality. The humanitarian situation in Somalia is deteriorating by the day with up to 6.2 million people in need of urgent aid. People across Somalia have been forced to walk hundreds of miles in search of food, water and shelter- with women and children disproportionately affected. Over 300,000 children under the age of five are severely malnourished, with over 200,000 more children at risk of acute malnutrition.

In South Sudan, close to half the population is in dire need of assistance, and things have gotten so bad there that people will literally eat grass if they can find it

Across South Sudan more than one million children are believed to be acutely malnourished and UNICEF have said that if urgent aid does not reach them, many of them will die. “There is no food, we eat anything we can find,” one South Sudanese mother told ITV. “We will find grass, we will eat it. That’s just the way it us for us now.”

Over in Yemen, there are about seven million people in need of food help, and authorities are warning that if nothing is done “millions of children” could starve to death

“The numbers affected are absolutely extraordinary,” said Mark Kaye, Save the Children’s Yemen spokesperson.

“We keep on talking about a country that’s on the brink of famine, but for me these numbers highlight that we’re at the point of no return. If things are not done now we are going to be looking back on this and millions of children will have starved to death, and we’ll all have been aware of this for some time. That will shame us as an international community for years to come.

Eritrea was not specifically included in the recent UN alert, but it should have been.  Much of the country has been hit by a crippling drought, and approximately half of all children in Eritrea are stunted

But we cannot understand why Eritrea is not included in the appeal. Unicef has confirmed what we know from our friends and families inside the country. In a report in January, the agency said that the El Niño drought has hit half of all Eritrea’s regions. Acute malnutrition is widespread. As Unicef put it: “Malnutrition rates already exceeded emergency levels, with 22,700 children under five projected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition in 2017 … Half of all children in Eritrea are stunted, and as a result, these children are even more vulnerable to malnutrition and disease outbreaks.

We have been warned that there would be famines in diverse places in these times.  But here in the western world we tend to be lulled into a false sense of security by our comfortable lives, not realizing that the massively inflated standard of living that we have been enjoying has been fueled by the largest mountain of debt in the history of the planet.

In Kenya, a national emergency has been declared due to drought and famine.  For those of you that are parents, what would you do if your children were crying out for food but you didn’t have anything to give them?  The following story from Kenya is beyond heartbreaking…

Emmanuel Ayapar is three years old and can no longer walk. The flesh on his legs, which dangle from his mother’s hip as she carries him around, is wasting away.

He seems listless and sad, tongue flicking repeatedly in and out of his mouth.

‘We do not have enough food,’ said Veronica, his 28-year-old mother. ‘We eat only once a day.’

The little boy is suffering from severe malnutrition and is at risk of starving to death. He weighs just 15lb – half the typical weight for a boy of his age.

I don’t even know what to say after that.

In the western world we can be so incredibly self-absorbed that we don’t even realize that children are literally starving to death on the other side of the planet.

Hopefully those of us that live in “wealthy” western countries will step up to the plate and aid those in need, and hopefully this crisis will also help us to understand that we need to prepare for the day when things get difficult in our own nations too.

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This Region Of The World Is Being Hit By The Worst Economic Collapse It Has Ever Experienced March 7, 2017

South America On The Globe - Public DomainThe ninth largest economy in the entire world is currently experiencing “its longest and deepest recession in recorded history”, and in a country right next door people are being encouraged to label their trash so that the thousands upon thousands of desperately hungry people that are digging through trash bins on the streets can find discarded food more easily.  Of course the two nations that I am talking about are Brazil and Venezuela.  The Brazilian economy was once the seventh largest on the globe, but after shrinking for eight consecutive quarters it has now fallen to ninth place.  And in Venezuela the economic collapse has gotten so bad that more than 70 percent of the population lost weight last year due to a severe lack of food.  Most of us living in the northern hemisphere don’t think that anything like this could happen to us any time soon, but the truth is that trouble signs are already starting to erupt all around us.  It is just a matter of time before the things currently happening in Brazil and Venezuela start happening here, but unfortunately most people are not heeding the warnings.

Just a few years ago, the Brazilian economy was absolutely roaring and it was being hailed as a model for the rest of the world to follow.  But now Brazil’s GDP has been imploding for two years in a row, and this downturn is being described as “the worst recession in recorded history” for that South American nation…

Latin America’s largest economy Brazil has contracted by 3.6 percent in 2016, shrinking for the second year in a row; statistics agency IBGE said on Tuesday. It confirmed the country is facing its longest and deepest recession in recorded history.

Data shows gross domestic product (GDP) fell for the eighth straight quarter in the three months to December, down 0.9 percent from the previous quarter. The figure was worse than the 0.5 percent decline economists had forecast and left the country’s overall GDP down 3.6 percent for the full year following a 3.8 percent drop in 2015.

“In real terms, GDP is now nine percent below its pre-recession peak,” Neil Shearing, chief emerging markets economist at Capital Economics, told the Financial Times.

“This is comfortably the worst recession in recorded history,” he added.

It had been hoped that things in Brazil would be getting better by now, but instead they just keep getting worse.

The number of bankruptcy filings has soared to an all-time record high, and the official unemployment rate has more than doubled since the end of 2013.  The following comes from Wolf Richter

In a stunning deterioration, the unemployment rate in Brazil spiked to 12.6% in the rolling three-month period through January, a record in the new data series going back to 2012, according to Brazil’s statistical agency IBGE. Up from 11.8% in the three-month period through October. Up from an already terribly high 9.5% a year ago. And more than double the 6.2% in December 2013.

Meanwhile, hordes of hungry people are rummaging through garbage cans in Venezuela in order to find something to fill their aching stomachs.

Things have gotten so bad that one of President Maduro’s chief opponents has urged citizens to label which trash bags have food in them so that people that are searching through the garbage can find food scraps more easily

Controversial Priest and opponent to President Nicolás Maduro’s administration Father Jose Palmar posted on social media this week about labeling discarded waste so those looking through it for food can do so more easily and “with dignity.”

Palmar called on Venezuelans to celebrate Lent by identifying bags where food has been discarded for those with no where else to turn. That way, they don’t have to dig through non-edible items to find it.

And previously I have written about how people are so hungry in Venezuela that some of them are actually slaughtering and eating cats, dogs, pigeons and zoo animals.

I keep telling people that this is coming to America, but a lot of people out there don’t want to believe me.

But it is most certainly coming.

Thanks to chronically empty store shelves and severe food shortages, people in Venezuela are losing weight at an astounding pace.  In the United States it would be a good thing if much of the population lost this much weight, but in Venezuela it definitely is not

Three quarters of the country’s population lost an average of over 18 pounds over food shortages in 2016, according to a survey by Venezuelan universities and nonprofit groups. Last year, over 80 percent of foodstuffs disappeared from shelves and many had to get by with one meal a day, Foreign Policy reported.

Venezuela was once South America’s most powerful petrostate. But decades of government mismanagement sent the country into decline. Maduro’s predecessor Hugo Chavez choked the economy with heavy-handed regulations, price controls, and a campaign to nationalize major industries that chased out foreign investments.

Further north, very alarming signs are starting to pop up in Mexico.

It probably won’t happen next week or next month, but there are indications of emerging “liquidity problems” which could precipitate a major debt crisis at some point…

In Mexico foreign investors hold around $100 billion of the country’s local-currency government debt, the most for any emerging market economy. That’s almost 20 times what it was 20 years ago. They also hold billions of euros worth of corporate bonds, which are also showing signs of strain, prompting some Mexican business leaders to call for “new programs” to be implemented before the situation causes “a large-scale crisis” among Mexican companies.

The most ominous sign yet came last week when Bloomberg reported sources saying that the Bank of Mexico (or Banxico, as it is referred to) had sought a swap line from the Federal Reserve in case of “liquidity problems,” which immediately triggered furious denials from Banxico. “I can say clearly and unequivocally that we are not in the process of asking for any credit line from any authority,” said the central bank’s governor, Agustin Carstens, who has postponed by six months his departure from the bank, initially scheduled for May.

One of the biggest problems for nations such as Brazil, Venezuela and Mexico is the strength of the U.S. dollar.  During the good times they went into tremendous amounts of debt, and much of that debt was denominated in U.S. dollars.  So when the U.S. dollar becomes stronger, it takes more of their own local currencies to pay that debt back.

And if the Federal Reserve raises interest rates at their next meeting, that will strengthen the U.S. dollar even more and put even more pressure on emerging market economies.

Unfortunately, it appears that this is precisely what the Fed is going to do

Even one small interest rate increase by the Fedcould have a sweeping impact on U.S. and world economies, Komal Sri-Kumar told CNBC on Monday.

“I think they are going to hike” on March 15, Sri-Kumar said on “Squawk Box,” echoing a theory shared by many analysts. “But that is going to prompt capital outflows from the euro zone, especially with the political risk. It is going to increase the capital outflow from China, and the U.S. economy will feel the impact.”

The global economy is more interconnected than ever before, and pain that starts in one region can rapidly spread to others.

The biggest debt bubble that the world has ever seen is starting to burst, and over the coming years we are going to see financial pain on a scale that would be unimaginable to most of us at this moment.

But even now there are those that would suggest that this colossal debt bubble can continue growing much faster than global GDP indefinitely, and this sort of exceedingly reckless optimism is leading many astray.

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Trumpocalypse? Suddenly Liberals Are The Ones Stockpiling Food, Guns And Emergency Supplies December 22, 2016

prepper-photo-by-nomadic-lass-on-flickrNow that the shoe is on the other foot, many liberals all over America have suddenly become extremely interested in prepping.  Fearing that a Trump presidency could rapidly evolve into a “Trumpocalypse”, a significant number of leftists are now stockpiling food, guns and emergency supplies.  In fact, even though many had expected a sharp drop in gun sales following Trump’s victory, what actually happened is that fear of what is coming under Trump pushed background checks for gun sales to an all-time record high on Black Friday.  The election of Donald Trump has awakened the left to a degree that we haven’t seen in decades, and some on the left are embracing hardcore survivalism without any apologies.

What is ironic about all of this is that on the other end of the political spectrum interest in prepping is probably the lowest that it has ever been in the history of the modern prepper movement.  A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article about how it was like “a nuclear bomb went off in the prepping community“, and nothing has changed since that time.

In fact, since I originally wrote that article we have gotten some hard numbers that show how dramatically optimism about the future has surged among those on the right.

Just before the election, CNBC’s All-America Economic Survey found that only 15 percent of all Republicans believed that the economy would improve over the next year, but after the election that number skyrocketed all the way up to 74 percent.

But among Democrats it is a different story altogether.  That same CNBC survey found that optimism about the economy on the left fell by more than half after the election.  At this point, it is sitting at just 16 percent.

It would be hard to overstate how negatively many on the left feel about Trump.  We have seen many of them take to the streets to angrily protest his election, and according to the BBC others have decided to stockpile food and guns “in preparation for social and economic collapse”…

In America, stockpiling weapons and food, in preparation for social and economic collapse, has tended to be the preserve of right-wing libertarians and foes of “big government”. But the Liberal Prepper Facebook group – up to now a small band – reports a big increase in enquiries.

“A lot of people are worried that not only will [a Trump presidency] fail but that it will fail spectacularly to the point that we are going to end up on in one or more critical situations that we are just not prepared for,” says Jeff, 36, one of the group’s members.

So could we see “social and economic collapse” under Trump?

Despite the wild optimism that we are seeing on the right at the moment, without a doubt this is a possibility.

It is funny how a single election can change our perspective on things so dramatically.  During the Obama years, it seemed like the left was constantly talking about disarming everyone, but now Trump has sparked a renewed interest in gun ownership among many liberals.  Prominent progressive author Ana Marie Cox is just one example

Witness Ana Marie Cox, a popular progressive writer with gigs at MTV and the New York Times. “So who else has been researching basic disaster prep stuff?” she polled her Twitter audience on Wednesday. “Bc—congrats, right wingers—I do not trust the government to help anymore!” Her next tweet extended the holiday merriment to our nation’s Second Amendment enthusiasts: “Getting my rifle out of storage this week.”

And did you know that leftists even have their own gun organization?

It is known as “the Liberal Gun Club”, and since Trump’s victory it has experienced a huge surge in membership

Lara Smith, national spokesperson for the Liberal Gun Club, says her organization has seen a “huge” rise in enquiries since November’s election and a 10% increase in paid members.

US gun sales hit record levels in October amid fears a Hillary Clinton election victory would lead to draconian gun control measures.

The election of Donald Trump, who was backed by the National Rifle Association early on, was thought to bring an end to panic buying. Shares in gun manufacturers even dropped by as much as 18% following his victory.

Instead, FBI background checks for gun transactions soared to a new record for a single day – 185,713 – during the Black Friday sales on 25 Novemberaccording to gun control news site The Trace.

Many on the right have responded to Donald Trump’s election victory by deciding that the battle is over and that it is time to go to sleep.  But many on the left have been suddenly awakened and are now preparing for extremely challenging times ahead.

I hate to say this, but in this case those on the left that are busily preparing are showing much more wisdom than many on the right that have chosen to abandon prepping altogether at this point.

Of course most of those on the left don’t really understand the storm that is approaching.  All they know is that Trump is “really bad” and therefore they need to try to get through the next four years the best that they can.  Here is more from the BBC

“We are not looking for end of the world Mad Max-type scenarios, we are not looking at a zombie apocalypse,” says the author of a left wing survivalist blog, who also reports a surge in interest since Trump’s victory.

He says it is “fairly easy to predict” an economic collapse under Trump but adds: “No matter what, the country is still going to be here in four years, there’s going to be another election.”

I would have to agree that a major economic downturn is quite likely in the very near future.  We have been on the greatest debt binge in history during the Obama years, and it is inevitable that this bubble will burst.

Donald Trump basically has two choices.  He could try to prolong this debt bubble for as long as possible, but that would make the ultimate outcome even worse.  Or he could try to deal with the crisis right away, but that would mean an extraordinary amount of pain for all of us.

No matter who won the election, we were going to have to deal with the consequences of decades of incredibly foolish decisions sooner or later.

Let us certainly hope for the best, but without a doubt those that are preparing for challenging times ahead are showing incredible wisdom, and this includes both liberals and conservatives.

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