Dollar Collapse

Late Wednesday the pathetic Obama administration fired yet another salvo at the Russian bear showing that they are as determined as ever to provoke a new cold war or maybe even a hot one with a nuclear armed power. Despite warnings from American business groups such as the US Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers that the months running dick-measuring contest between El Presidente and Russian leader Vladimir Putin would be harmful to American business the sanctions were leveled anyway. It is obvious that Obama has a huge inferiority complex and his thin-skinned temperament along with a monumental incompetence that is a now apparent to all but the Kool Aid drinking armies of O-Bots and he is now taking a run at the worst president in US history.

The old war criminal and neocon talking point spewing zombie Dick Cheney has remarked in his latest freakish tirade that Obama was “the worst president of my lifetime” although only because he has not militarily occupied the entire Middle East. But when you strip the statement of the reason behind it crazy Dick Cheney is right but it is not for the lack of warmongering but rather for doubling down on Bush-Cheney policies like mass surveillance and covering up torture as well as his regime’s unprecedented free pass to the looters on Wall Street to loot the country with impunity while doing zilch to help the average American. Hell, at least George W. Bush sent everyone $600 which immediately went back into the economy instead of being hoarded by banksters who shower themselves with bonuses for their ongoing rape of the US taxpayer.

Obama’s economic dream team has successfully crushed the middle class into pulp on the verge of eradication and still the money-changers are calling the shots while not one prominent banker responsible for the 2008 economic implosion has gone to prison, Forget that ridiculous and ballyhooed $7 billion settlement with Citigroup over the role of organization in the mortgage securities scam, that is horseshit – Citi’s stock actually went up that day and the people who lost their homes as a result of fraud will get chump change out of it all. The perps all walked – walked away that is with nothing but a mere slap on the back of the wrist by the crooked Eric Holder’s Justice Department. At least the protectors of predatory finance capitalism are still facing some opposition even if it is only symbolic and in the end matters nothing. Democratic party Senator Elizabeth Warren humiliated the stammering mummified creature who is Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen, Obama’s latest identity-based appointment. The blog Liberty Blitzkrieg has a great post with a video of the grilling here where Yellen obfuscates in order to avoid having to answer questions on why the too big to fail banks are bigger in 2014 then they were when Lehman Brothers went under.

But back to the sanctions. Having to this point failed to bait Putin into sending the Russian military into Ukraine to stop the US backed ethnic cleansing and murder of anti-Kiev, anti-fascist, anti-austerity rebels where he can then be fully demonized by a corrupt western media machine the Obama regime is fuming. How long can the false narrative be maintained and the truth that America has been funding (although likely indirectly) vicious neo-Nazi militias and murdering mercenaries to put down resistance to their illicit coup d’etat back in February. The fighting against the death squads and military from the US-EU-NATO Axis of Aggression backed Kiev junta continues largely because the eastern Ukranians know that they are inevitably doomed under a pro-Nazi regime led by Porky Poroshenko and his Hitlerian threats of vengeance -“for every life of our servicemen, the rebels will pay with tens and hundreds of their own” and are fighting for their lives. It has all of course been blamed on Putin by a corrupt media propaganda machine – one of the best essays on this sinister disinformation machine comes from a blog by a writer named Vera Graziadei who describes herself as a ‘British Ukranian Russian actress and writer’ and does a masterful job in flaying the lie machine – the piece is entitled “The Cunning Demons of Russian Propaganda, Or What The BBC Forgot To Warn Us About” and is a must read.

It is the entirely false narrative that allows for Obama and his loathsome regime to unnecessarily push the world closer to the brink out of petulance and dear leader’s narcissism. Being punked by Putin over his offer of asylum to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and then watching the Russian leader act like an adult by pissing on the parade of their imminent attack on Syria over a bogus sarin gas incident last summer has been a burr up Obama’s ass ever since. The new round of sanctions ups the ante in that - according to The Guardian -  includes: ”two major energy firms, a pair of powerful financial institutions, eight weapons firms and four individuals”. Of note is the timing of the announcement – right after the BRICS summit where the developing economic powers continue to work to wrest themselves free from the tractor beam of the US centered financial Death Star.

Putin denounced the latest round of sanctions and warned that they were not in the long term interests of the US corporations operating in Russia – the US Chamber of Commerce gets this too although not Obama – and excerpting from a piece at libertarian financial blog Zero Hedge entitled ”Putin Responds: “US Sanctions Will Boomerang And Cause Very Serious Damage”:

It took just a little over an hour for Vladimir Putin to respond to the latest, most provocative and toughest round of US sanctions yet. The response, appropriately enough, came just after the BRICS summit in Brazil, where the world’s developing countries yesterday announced the formation of both a BRIC bank and a $100 billion currency reserve to provide a liquidity alternative to the insolvent developed world’s central banks. Here Vladimir Putin was asked to comment on the new package of sanctions against Russia announced just minutes earlier by Obama.

Putin’s response: “We aren’t the ones introducing sanctions, you should ask them.”

“Sanctions have a boomerang effect and without any doubt they will push U.S.-Russian relations into a dead end, and cause very serious damage, and it undermines the long term security interests of the US State and its people.” he said to reporters while elaborating that said he needed to see the details of the sanctions to understand their full scope Reuters added.

And as was largely expected, Putin’s next jab was right where it hurt: energy.

“This means that U.S. companies willing to work in Russia will lose their competitiveness next to other global energy companies.”

Putin said the sanctions will hurt Exxon Mobil Corp which has been given the opportunity to operate in Russia. “So, do they not want it to work there? They are causing damage to their major energy companies,” he said.

While we don’t know for sure, we are confident that following the press conference Putin sat down with the rest of the BRICS, which command a population of just over 3 billion not to mention the world’s fastest growing economies, and realized that for all the posturing, it is really a game of reserve fiat vs energy, with the US controlling the former, while the BRICS, and especially Russia, dominating the latter. And as long as the BRICS don’t have their own monetary system, they will be reliant on the every swift (pun intended) whim of Janet “price-to-equity ratio” Yellen and her central planning kind.

We are just as confident that he and his peers are currently contemplating how to no longer be bound by the former ever again.

The sanctions are of course idiotic and self-defeating and it really is only a matter of time until the corrupt US based rigged casino is faced with alternatives where the deck isn’t stacked – the only ones who don’t realize this are idiots, narcissists and those who are drunk off the bitches brew of highly distilled American exceptionalism.

 

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Nothing can collapse the economic house of cards that is the phony Obama recovery faster than a massive spike in prices – oil and food or simply just oil as the black gold drives damned near everything and keeping the hoax of the “recovery” alive is getting tougher by the day for the big boys and their footstool at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. With the brutal wave of violence raging through Iraq, still a mystery as to the exact cause but the US warmongers supplying arms to religious zealots including admitted cannibals is a probable factor the early winners are already in and they are the oil future speculators and other commodity traders who just had a collective orgasm over the splendid news that Iraq has just shut down production at the country’s largest oil refinery.

According to a story at Reuters, “Iraq’s biggest oil refinery shut down, foreign staff evacuated”:

Iraq’s biggest oil refinery, Baiji, has been shut down and its foreign staff evacuated, refinery officials said on Tuesday, adding that local staff remain in place and the military is still in control of the facility.

Militants from al Qaeda splinter group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) seized Iraq’s second-biggest city of Mosul last week and other Sunni armed groups have advanced into the town of Baiji and surrounded its refinery.The refinery shut down overnight, the sources said.

Baiji is one of three oil refineries in Iraq and only processes oil from the north. The other two are located in Baghdad and the south and are firmly under government control and operational.

“Due to the recent attacks of militants by mortars, the refinery administration decided to evacuate foreign workers for their safety and also to completely shut down production units to avoid extensive damage that could result,” a chief engineer at the refinery said on condition of anonymity.

Potential “extensive damage” to the refinery itself maybe but certainly not to the high-rolling swine in the oil cartels whose profits are about to erupt like a geyser of money stolen from the schmucks who are doomed to lives of quiet desperation because in America they have no political clout. Nor will there be “extensive damage” to the summer parties of the con artists and government subsidized thieves while they frolic drunk, naked and flying higher off if their own arrogance than the pure cocaine that they will be inhaling by the mini-dune. The posh enclaves of the looter class at The Hampton’s and Martha’s Vineyard will resemble something out of The Wolf of Wall Street if not the sheer excesses of Roman orgies that are still notorious for their gross excesses centuries later. This is time to celebrate the coming tidal wave of money that will be lifting the yachts of the many at the expense of the few who are already suffering under the crushing burden of stagnant incomes and rising food prices – stick around, it’s only going to get worse.

While Obama has once again lied to Americans in sending troops back into Iraq – there will be more following the token initial insertion of special operations personnel – the conflagration has all of the signs of further escalation especially since the US installed Iraqi leader of a failed country with an army of falafel eating surrender monkeys paid for by the US taxpayer accusing the Saudis of genocide.Not that our “partners of peace”, those degenerate, terrorist funding perverts in the House of Saud would ever do such a thing, after all – it isn’t like fifteen of the nineteen September 11, 2001 hijackers didn’t hail from The Kingdom. The Libertarian financial blog Zero Hedge nails in in their typical fashion sans the sugar-coating in the piece entitled “This Is Not Going As Planned: Iraq Prime Minister Defies US, Accuses Saudi Arabia Of “Genocide”“- from which I excerpt:

Shortly after the US revealed that, in addition to aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships it was also sending a few hundred “special forces” on the ground in Iraq, contrary to what Obama had stated previously, Washington made quite clear it wants Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to embrace Sunni politicians as a condition of U.S. support to fight a lightning advance by forces from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Then something unexpected happened: Iraq’s Shi’ite rulers defied Western calls on Tuesday to reach out to Sunnis to defuse the uprising in the north of the country, declaring a boycott of Iraq’s main Sunni political bloc and accusing Sunni power Saudi Arabia of promoting “genocide.”

In fact, as Reuters reported moments ago, the Shi’ite prime minister has moved in the opposite direction of Obama’s demands, announcing a crackdown on politicians and officers he considers “traitors” and lashing out at neighbouring Sunni countries for stoking militancy.

Not only did Iraq defy the US, but it also called out America’s BFF (or at least formerly so until the arrival of Iran, which the US is aggressively, and inexplicably, rushing to make its new key partner in the region) for being the real aggressor behind the scenes? How dare Maliki point out the truth – doesn’t he know that those US troops in Iraq can just as easily be used to depose the current regime as “fight” the Al Qaeda Jihadists the US itself armed in the first place?

Apparently not, and instead of seeking a broad coalition with Sunnis as the US ordered, the latest target of his government’s fury was Saudi Arabia, the main Sunni power in the Gulf, which funds Sunni militants in neighbouring Syria but denies it is behind ISIL.

“We hold them responsible for supporting these groups financially and morally, and for the outcome of that – which includes crimes that may qualify as genocide: the spilling of Iraqi blood, the destruction of Iraqi state institutions and historic and religious sites,” the Iraqi government said of Riyadh in a statement.

 As Reuters notes, Maliki has blamed Saudi Arabia for supporting militants in the past, but the severe language was unprecedented.

AND

But where it would get most messy – literally – is if as the previously reported shuttering of Iraq’s largest refinery leads to electricity blackouts for Baghdad. Because nothing gets people in a murderous rage quite as 115 degrees and no air conditioning.

The criminal elite and the political class that has now fully unchained itself from any accountability to the American people, while they ride high today, arrogantly fucking over 99+ percent to fund their bacchanals had best pay heed to that which is being whispered on the warm summer winds that for now only serve to gently rock the yachts at Cape Cod and other privileged locales. With their decadent lifestyles fully dependent on manipulation and stealing from others soon the “murderous rage” from the smoldering oppressed may be a hell of a lot closer than Baghdad.

Now that the region is erupting anew with the storming of Iraq by radical jihadist elements such as ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) and ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and the franchise that is al Qaeda the warmongers and neocons in The Homeland are shrieking like banshees over Obama’s “loss” of Iraq. The current chaos though would not be possible were it not for the original sin of attacking Iraq in 2003, toppling Saddam Hussein who was subsequently lynched and showing that America was no better than it’s former puppet in continuing the torture at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison. The country was also plunged into sectarian violence, bombed to smithereens – the civilian death toll is staggering – and had the indignity of having to see one US puppet replaced with another with no real benefit to the country nor the people. Now it is all going up like a flaming bag of dogshit in Uncle Scam’s hand.

To be fair on this one the disaster in Iraq is not Obama’s fault, were the Bushreich not to have lied the American public into an illegal and unnecessary war based on a pack of lies about Saddam’s phantom weapons of mass destruction there would still be stable country, granted that Saddam was a bastard but he was our bastard. Obama has been far too busy avenging his offense at being humiliated by Russian leader Vladimir Putin over his giving asylum to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and later intervening to stop what would have been a catastrophic war in Syria. Obama has more important things to do than dick around with Iraq with pushing to start a new Cold War and perhaps stumble into World War III. Robert Parry at Consortium News puts it best in his latest piece over at Consortium News entitled “Blaming Obama for Iraq’s Chaos” from which I excerpt:

After Islamic militants captured the major Iraqi city of Mosul on Tuesday, the danger of Official Washington’s false narratives again asserted itself, a direct consequence of the failure to enforce any meaningful accountability on the neocons and others who pushed the Iraq War.

The emerging neocon-preferred narrative is that the jihadist victory in the northern city of Mosul and the related mess in neighboring Syria are the fault of President Barack Obama for not continuing the U.S. military occupation of Iraq indefinitely and for not intervening more aggressively in Syria’s civil war.

For instance, the New York Times on Wednesday wrote that “the swift capture of large areas of [Mosul] by militants aligned with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria represented a climactic moment on a long trajectory of Iraq’s unraveling since the withdrawal of American forces at the end of 2011.”

What is perhaps most striking about such accounts, which are appearing across the major U.S. media, is that the narrative doesn’t go back to the most obvious starting point: President George W. Bush’s illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003. It was that invasion and the ensuing occupation that hurtled Iraq and – to an extent – Syria into their current chaos.

Bush’s invasion, which was justified by bogus claims about Iraq hiding weapons of mass destruction, was in clear violation of international law, lacking the explicit approval of the United Nations Security Council. Yet, even after the WMD falsehoods were exposed and the body counts soared, there was almost no accountability enforced either on the public officials who carried out the aggressive war or on the opinion leaders who rationalized it.

In many cases, the same pundits and pols continue to shape U.S. public opinion today and are dominating the narratives on Iraq and Syria. Thus, there is almost no attention to the fact that before the U.S. overthrow (and subsequent hanging) of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, there was no al-Qaeda threat in Iraq or Syria.

Mr. Parry goes on to debunk the myth of “The Surge” which was nothing more than a propaganda term for a brief escalation of violence led by the hallowed General David Petraeus and his rat pack of media whore supporters as well as the always bloodthirsty Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. The “Surge” was of course bullshit and primarily targeted at putting a sunny side up spin on what was in essence a humiliating defeat for the US and the neocons of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) whose lunacy had contributed to the disaster in the first place. Now in 2014 many of the same culprits for the Iraq debacle are being afforded legitimacy that then don’t deserve by a corrupt media whose only purpose it to shill for wars and protect the interests of the oligarchy and the political elite who serve them. Case in point – the New York Times has once again featured a story by the dutiful neocon lackey Michael Gordon “Iraq Said to Seek U.S. Strikes on Militants” which will be what the war party will push along with their standard “stabbed in the back” whining as they agitate for a re-engagement of US forces in Iraq to “finish the job” this time.

 

The neocon propaganda beacon over at the Washington Post has a real knee-slapper today, a column by an Iraq war veteran decrying the overrunning of Iraq entitled  ”Iraq veteran: This is not what my friends fought and died for” rehashing the old Vietnam canard of “they didn’t let us win”.  The writer is described in the sub-header as:  John Nagl, a veteran of both Iraq wars, is the headmaster of The Haverford School and author of the forthcoming “Knife Fights: A Memoir of Modern War.” – just another death pimp hustling a book and playing on the gullibility of Americans whose bogus concern for veterans only surfaces when political fodder is needed. So the neocons will be doing what they always do in caterwauling about the global Islamic takeover and calling for the government to send more US servicemen and women to die for their vainglorious stupidity and failed ideology.  This should do wonders for the collapsing house of cards economy that has already been gutted by wars of choice as well as the entire Veterans Administration healthcare system that is understaffed, underfunded and can’t book appointments fast enough for the victims and buddies of guys like Nagl let alone a new wave of permanently damaged victims who will be sacrificed upon the neocon altar of lies.

The stupid rush to a war of some sort against Russia never stops with the latest bit of exceptional arrogance directed at taking down Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin being the most dangerous one yet. In a horrifying recent article written by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard at The Telegraph a new kind of weapon of mass destruction, one designed to bring down the Russian financial system not only exists but is being given serious consideration by our idiotic and short-sighted US cadre of political and bureaucratic lunatics running the big red, white and blue asylum.

The article describes a secret financial aspect to that most anti-American of laws that is the USAPATRIOT Act that has been polished by an “elite cell” at the US Treasury Department in what is tabbed as the “Manhattan Project of the 21st Century” in which “scarlet letters” can be applied to foreign banks deemed by the standard loose definitions to have been involved in money laundering to support terrorist activities. In terms of sheer hypocrisy alone when considering the to this day unpunished crime spree of domestic economic terrorism directed at millions of Americans by the big Wall Street banks/casinos with their own money laundering schemes – cleaned up and called derivatives – this has to be the proverbial mother of all bad ideas.

I excerpt from the Telegraph article, entitled “US financial showdown with Russia is more dangerous than it looks, for both sides” from which I excerpt:

The United States has constructed a financial neutron bomb. For the past 12 years an elite cell at the US Treasury has been sharpening the tools of economic warfare, designing ways to bring almost any country to its knees without firing a shot.

The strategy relies on hegemonic control over the global banking system, buttressed by a network of allies and the reluctant acquiescence of neutral states. Let us call this the Manhattan Project of the early 21st century.

“It is a new kind of war, like a creeping financial insurgency, intended to constrict our enemies’ financial lifeblood, unprecedented in its reach and effectiveness,” says Juan Zarate, the Treasury and White House official who helped spearhead policy after 9/11.

“The new geo-economic game may be more efficient and subtle than past geopolitical competitions, but it is no less ruthless and destructive,” he writes in his book Treasury’s War: the Unleashing of a New Era of Financial Warfare.

Bear this in mind as Washington tightens the noose on Vladimir Putin’s Russia, slowly shutting off market access for Russian banks, companies and state bodies with $714bn of dollar debt (Sberbank data).

The stealth weapon is a “scarlet letter”, devised under Section 311 of the US Patriot Act. Once a bank is tainted in this way – accused of money-laundering or underwriting terrorist activities, a suitably loose offence – it becomes radioactive, caught in the “boa constrictor’s lethal embrace”, as Mr Zarate puts it.

This can be a death sentence even if the lender has no operations in the US. European banks do not dare to defy US regulators. They sever all dealings with the victim.

That the US government, particularly the US Treasury which is nothing but a revolving door that spins like wind turbine for the likes of the corrupt elite of the New York based high finance jackals such as former Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson who engineered the disastrous financial bailout and former NY FED boss Timothy Geithner whose phony stress tests allowed the Wall Street casinos to become bigger and more immune from accountability is even contemplating such a serious provocation, a virtual declaration of war against a nuclear power is indicative of the rot and how deep it goes. The best thing that any emerging power, particularly Russia, China or India can do is to get out of the US based financial and banking system entirely.

Back to the Telegraph article:

The US Treasury faces a more formidable prey with Russia, the world’s biggest producer of energy with a $2 trillion economy, superb scientists and a first-strike nuclear arsenal. It is also tightly linked to the German and east European economies. The US risks endangering its own alliance system if it runs roughshod over friends. It is in much the same situation as Britain in the mid-19th century when it enforced naval supremacy, boarding alleged slave ships anywhere in the world, under any flag, ruffling everybody’s feathers.

President Putin knows exactly what the US can do with its financial weapons. Russia was brought into the loop when the two countries were for a while “allies” in the fight against Jihadi terrorism. Mr Putin appointed loyalist Viktor Zubkov – later prime minister – to handle dealings with the US Treasury.

 Mr Zarate said the Obama White House has waited too long to strike in earnest, clinging to the hope that Putin would stop short of tearing up the global rule book. “They should take the gloves off. The longer the wait, the more maximalist they may have to be,” he said.

 This would be a calibrated escalation, issuing the scarlet letter to Russian banks that help Syria’s regime.

He thinks it may already too late to stop Eastern Ukraine spinning out of control, but not too late to inflict a high cost. “If the US Treasury says three Russian banks are “primary money-laundering concerns”, do you think that UBS, or Standard Chartered will have anything to do with them?”

The Ukraine disaster has now taken a turn for the worst with the installation of the new US puppet over the weekend in what amounts to a rigged election.  Petro Poroshenko aka “The Chocolate King” is another sleazy corrupt oligarch who like a depraved dog is already licking Uncle Scam’s balls with an escalation of the “anti-terrorist” actions – in layman’s terms – slaughter of anti-fascist, anti-austerity Ukranians in the east, particularly in Donetsk where Zarate’s “high cost” is being inflicted on civilians who reject the Kiev coup government and it’s neo-Nazis. With the new false legitimacy of the “Chocolate King” trumpeted by the corrupt US state-corporate media the real bloodshed is about to begin.

The threat by Zarate to use the USAPATRIOT Act provisions against Russian banks  for being “primary money-laundering concerns” over the laughable charge of backing terrorists in Syria would represent an escalation of extreme danger in that it could implode the entire global economy given the degree of interconnection that currently exists. This would amount to a self-inflicted wound of the gravest nature simply for the childish reason of sticking it to Putin. Granted Zarate has a new book to hustle but considering events over the last year from our political class – including President Barack Obama and John Kerry’s State Department bringing down the entire economic house of cards is entirely probable. Zarate also wrote a column at the neocon propaganda beacon that is the Washington Post back in March in which he called for the US Treasury to attack the Russian banking system.

Once again returning to the Telegraph article Russia would surely retaliate for such an unprecedented and arrogantly conceived act of aggression:

Yet as the old proverb goes: “Russia is never as strong as she looks; Russia is never as weak as she looks.”

Princeton professor Harold James sees echoes of events before the First World War when Britain and France imagined they could use financial warfare to check German power.

He says the world’s interlocking nexus means this cannot be contained. Sanctions risk setting off a chain-reaction to match the 2008 shock. “Lehman was a small institution compared with the Austrian, French and German banks that have become highly exposed to Russia’s financial system. A Russian asset freeze could be catastrophic for European – indeed, global – financial markets,” he wrote on Project Syndicate.

Chancellor George Osborne must have been let into the secret of US plans by now. Perhaps that is why he issued last week’s alert in Washington, warning City bankers to prepare for a sanctions fall-out. The City is precious, he said, “but that doesn’t mean its interests will come above the national security interests of our country”.

The greatest risk is surely an “asymmetric” riposte by the Kremlin. Russia’s cyber-warfare experts are among the best, and they had their own trial run on Estonia in 2007. A cyber shutdown of an Illinois water system was tracked to Russian sources in 2011. We don’t know whether US Homeland Security can counter a full-blown “denial-of-service” attack on electricity grids, water systems, air traffic control, or indeed the New York Stock Exchange, and nor does Washington.

“If we were in a cyberwar today, the US would lose. We’re simply the most dependent and most vulnerable,” said US spy chief Mike McConnell in 2010.

That the US would “lose” a cyberwar is a given in considering the pathology of the personality types tasked with the defense against such. Look at the NSA Stasi that is so intent on building a surveillance machine to turn against any potential US political dissent, commit acts of industrial espionage and blackmail that too little time is likely invested by the hotshots at Ft. Meade to actually consider protecting The Homeland in the event of such an attack. Russia would be entirely justified to launch one too if the US Treasury “elite cell” succeeds in getting Obama to issue the order against Putin’s banks.

An economic collapse would be the best scenario in that case, if the crazies in Washington actually are able to use such tactics to topple Putin and if hard liners end up in charge of Russia’s nukes then it could be hasta la vista baby.

Grilling season officially opened this weekend so tire up those barbecue grills my fellow Americans, to combat soaring beef prices the noxious product Pink Slime is coming back with a vengeance. Pink Slime or as the corporations that manufacture it like to refer to it “lean finely textured beef” or “LFTB” is a filler product or food additive that amounts to basically the shit that is swept off of the slaughterhouse floor along with other trimmings and byproducts that can’t be sold and then chemically treated to give it the appearance of chewed pink bubble gum.

The description on how it is manufactured taken from the Wikipedia page is as follows:

The product is used as a filler or to reduce the overall fat content of ground beef. It is produced by processing low-grade beef trimmings and other meat by-products such as cartilage, connective tissue and sinew,  which contain fat and small amounts of lean beef, and mechanically separating the lean beef from the fat through the use of a centrifuge at about 100°F (38°C). The heat liquefies the fat to help separate lean beef from fat and other by-products. The recovered beef material is processed, heated, and treated with gaseous ammonia or citric acid to kill E. coli, salmonella, and other bacteria. Gaseous ammonia in contact with the water in the meat produces ammonium hydroxide. The product is finely ground, compressed into pellets or blocks, flash frozen and then shipped for use as an additive.

Rick Jochum, a spokesperson for Beef Products Inc. (BPI) stated that the finished product is 94 to 97 percent lean beef, and has a nutritional value comparable to 90 percent lean ground beef. Furthermore, it was stated that the product’s content is very high in protein, is low in fat, and contains iron, zinc and B vitamins. Jochum also said that BPI’s product does not contain cow intestines or connective tissue such as tendons.  Food editor and cookbook author J.M. Hirsh described it as highly mealy with bits and studs of cartilage-like matter, and a USDA microbiologist says the product does contain connective tissue “instead of muscle” and thus it is “not meat” and is “not nutritionally equivalent” to ground beef. [Mr. Jochum can't be taken seriously considering that his paycheck rides on selling garbage like Pink Slime to the public]

Most of the product is produced and sold by BPI, Cargill Meat Solutions, and Tyson Foods. The product sold by BPI introduces the trimmings to ammonium hydroxide (a solution of ammonia in water), while the Cargill product uses citric acid instead of ammonium hydroxide.  Part of the manufacturing process at BPI includes extruding the material through long tubes that are thinner than a pencil, during which time the meat is exposed to gaseous ammonia.

Yikes! I remember the revulsion that I had after I read Eric Schlosser’s book “Fast Food Nation” but this is even more disgusting than that gut-wrenching expose. Of course Cargill and Tyson – two of the massive meat production corporations that continually are looking for ways to profit off of selling increasingly lower quality product are involved. These corporations are the strongest arguments for local food production that exist and if you happen to have a good farmers market within the vicinity just avoid the corporate food behemoths altogether. You will save money and be healthier.

The return of Pink Slime is given an excellent treatment over at the libertarian financial site Zero Hedge in a piece entitled “The Solution To Record Meat Prices: The Return Of Pink Slime” that touches on some of the other aspects of the spiking cost of meat in America including – GASP – rampant inflation of the type that is hidden by the US government in that core inflation omits food and energy costs. Years of Federal Reserve money printing and the backstopping of the rigged six ways from Sunday financial markets bear a large share of the blame for Americans getting jammed again as the economy steers into the next leg down. If one pays attention to the propagandists in the state-corporate media, particularly in regards to the economy any shortcoming is always blamed on the weather anymore although in the case of beef that is at least somewhat true considering the record droughts.

I excerpt at length from the Zero Hedge piece:

A few months ago we reported that while the Fed is seeing nothing but hedonic deflation as far as the eye can see, food prices – for whatever reason but “certainly not” due to trillions in liquidity entering a close system so just blame it on the weather – were soaring to record highs. Among them was the price of beef, which in 2014 alone has soared by the most in over a decade. This led the US Department of Agriculture to warn of “sticker shock” facing home chefs on the eve of the Memorial Day holiday weekend, the unofficial start of the U.S. summer grilling season.

According to the USDA, reported by Reuters, conditions in California could have “large and lasting effects on U.S. fruit, vegetable, dairy and egg prices,” as the most populous U.S. state struggles through what officials are calling a catastrophic drought. Alas, the USDA had nothing to say about the Fed’s unprecedented desire to reflate the US economy which is still suffering from the catastrophic depression which started nearly 7 years ago.

Link to Reuters story:  “USDA warns of sticker shock on U.S. beef as grilling season starts”

Ok we get it: soaring food prices are not only already here but are set to surge even more, especially for those who rather eat real meat than mystery meat dispensed with largesse at your favorite $0.99 fast food outlet.

So what are food processors to do facing soaring meat input costs and unwilling to suffer bottom line hits? Why, return to that old staple of unknown origin of course.

Here comes Pink Slime… again.

According to the WSJ, “finely textured beef, dubbed “pink slime” by critics, is mounting a comeback as retailers seek cheaper trimmings to include in hamburger meat and processors find new products to put it in.”

Proving that popular memory lasts at best a couple of years, it was only in 2012 when sales of pink slime, processed from beef scraps left after cattle are butchered, collapsed in 2012 after a “social-media frenzy spurred by television reports raising questions about its legitimacy as a beef product. The ingredient’s two largest producers, Beef Products Inc. and Cargill Inc., closed plants that made it and cut hundreds of jobs—while defending the product’s quality and pointing out that the U.S. Department of Agriculture deems it safe.”

What really allowed the scrapping of pink slime, however, was the broad decline in prices of non-alternative meat, as in the real deal. However, now that meat prices are soaring again (all weather mind you, nothing to do with the Fed), it is time for US consumers to eat “hedonically-cheap” “meat” once again.

Link to Wall Street Journal story “‘Pink Slime’ Makes Comeback as Beef Prices Spike” (behind pay wall so excerpted below)

From the WSJ:

 

Today, Cargill sells finely textured beef to about 400 retail, food-service and food-processing customers, more than before the 2012 controversy, though overall they now buy smaller amounts, company officials said. Production of finely textured beef at Beef Products has doubled from its low point.

The resurgence is being driven, in part, by an aversion to something many consumers and companies find even less pleasant than the pink-slime nickname: red-hot prices. Prolonged drought in the southern Great Plains has shrunk U.S. cattle supplies to historic lows. The retail price of ground beef soared 27% in the two years through April to a record $3.808 a pound,according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That means serious sticker shock for U.S. consumers preparing to fire up their barbecues for Memorial Day weekend—the traditional start to the summer grilling season. The week leading up to the Monday holiday is typically one of the biggest sales periods for ground beef, with an estimated 160 million pounds likely to be sold during that stretch this year, according to CattleFax, a Colorado-based research firm.

How much of that burger meat contains finely textured beef isn’t clear. Prior to the flurry of media attention in 2012, Beef Products estimates, the ingredient was in as much as 70% of the ground beef sold in the U.S. at retail and in food service. Cargill and Beef Products decline to give a similar estimate now, but they say sales have rebounded sharply from their 2012 lows.

So… 100%? But at least the Fed will soon be able to claim that “food” (or byproducts rather, but who cares) prices are plunging, even as it itself announced that food prices in its cafeteria have soared by up to 33% as Zero Hedge reported yesterday.

Meanwhile, it’s a feeding frenzy, pardon the pun, out there by those who know too well that Americans don’t really care what they shove in their mouths as long as it i) tastes kinda meaty and ii) is cheap.

The Zero Hedge piece then gives a synopsis on the recent history of Pink Slime so check it out.

So just enjoy those burgers today and cue up the Lee Greenwood music because even if you are eating shit mixed with chemicals you can be proud to be an American because at least you know you’re free.

God bless the USA, USA, USA!

Wars everywhere, massive and unfettered unconstitutional surveillance and data-mining programs, systemic government corruption, long-term structural unemployment, growing income inequality, global loss of prestige, crumbling infrastructure, the inability to compete in the global marketplace due to poor education, a huge for-profit prison system, paramilitary police goon squads, the death of the American dream, torture chambers at the US concentration camp at Gitmo, wanton criminality in every nook and cranny of the revolving door between Washington and Wall Street – No Problem at all! Forcing the Washington Redskins of the National Football League to change their name – Holy Shit! Scramble the crisis units and bring Senate business to a halt for this massive national emergency. Congress pulls this sort of crap all of the time, like dragging has been baseball players like Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire and others into their ridiculous tribunals instead of practicing legitimate oversight on real problems and focusing on doing their damned jobs rather than showboating.

The latest farce involves a letter submitted to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell this week asking him to consider changing the team name. According to a story in Sports Illustrated which now so often forays into the realm of national politics and pimping the government line – such as with covering up the state of martial law declared last year in Beantown by promoting the feel good tales of Boston Strong – the letter was dated May 21, 2014 and as I excerpt:

“The N.F.L. can no longer ignore this and perpetuate the use of this name as anything but what it is: a racial slur. We urge the N.F.L. to formally support a name change for the Washington football team.”

“We urge you and the National Football League to send the same clear message as the N.B.A. did: that racism and bigotry have no place in professional sports.”

That the letter perfectly capitalizes on the time of the NBA’s stripping of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for making racist comments that were secretly recorded and reek of a setup and that no Republicans were asked to sign it is just evidence that the entire thing is an election year charade. Not that the Republicans have the time to get onboard this ship of fools, they are too busy masturbating over the latest Benghazi dog and pony show.

Is it politically incorrect? Sure but only more so in an election year. Do the descendants of Native Americans have every right to be offended? I can’t speak for them but I would think that having your ancestors fucking slaughtered by raving John Wayne hammerhead prototypes under the pretense of Manifest Destiny would be a far more serious grievance than what the hell some football team calls itself – and has called itself ever since the team relocated from Boston back in 1937. Jesus Christ – get a life people. The ginned up outrage is led by that sissified little twit Harry Reid, a wimp with an insatiable taste for the sand that has been kicked into his face like the weakling in that famous old advertisement cartoon for Charles Atlas. Go and sell that bullshit to the Fighting Irish in South Bend, Indiana Harry!

I would think that a larger problem is the National Football League’s infatuation with militarism and the flag-sucking that is a part of every major broadcast – particularly in the current era of the endless wars after the day that changed everything. It is impossible to enjoy watching a game without being bludgeoned by the big red, white and blue club wielded by the networks and the league itself. Never is it more apparent than during the big nationally televised opener in September which always falls right around the anniversary of 9/11 and nationalism and war worship is crammed down spectator’s throats from the pregame onward. There is always the obligatory military flyover, hope that the American taxpayers enjoy it because they are paying for it, the honor guard and on Thanksgiving day the nauseating tributes to our precious military.

If there was ever a sport that was made for America it is professional football, it is a ‘sport’ custom made for militarist American imperialism and the now fully mutated form of capitalism that a constant state of armed conflict needs to exist. Former NFL player Dave Meggyesy drew much criticism when he nailed it in a speech delivered at Syracuse University that “symbolically and metaphysically, big-time football represents our violent culture and the mode of authoritarianism. It has as its keynote competition and militaristic, organized violence.” This was in the seventies during the Vietnam war, a completely unnecessary and ruinous military misadventure in which over fifty thousand Americans and millions of Vietnamese were killed for nothing – besides the ability of greedy American corporations to now use the country as yet another one of their cheap labor havens to which well-paying jobs have been offshored by the millions since around the time that the twin towers fell.

No matter how much total horseshit that this name thing change is in the larger scheme of things, and again I do recognize that some of Native American descent are offended but if the Redskins do knuckle under and agree to renounce the nickname it will be far more out of the potential to make more money than any bowing to the political correctness Nazis. Just imagine how much coin can be made by selling all of that brand new, officially authorized NFL merchandise like shirts, jackets, dog sweaters and thousands of other items! It will be as if money rained down from the heavens on Roger Goodell and Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, a thoroughly slimy little prick who makes Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones look like the fucking Pope. The league itself will also shine in the same manner that it does when exploiting National Breast Cancer Awareness Month with special pink hued team apparel which the proceeds go to charity but the real prize – appealing to the female demographic is a matter of invaluable goodwill towards the NFL.

Perhaps a more appropriate team name would be the Washington Whores in honor of the pack of unprincipled and rapacious jackals who are our representatives.

(Image: Christian Science Monitor)

The crushing economic destruction of the American people is to borrow one of those great Orwellian terms from the oligarchy’s media shills “picking up steam”.  Food prices, in particular meat prices are currently exploding into the stratosphere in inverse proportion to the purchasing power of American wage slaves who continue to be sucked dry by the corrupt government, the permanent war machine and the ongoing subsidizing of Wall Street casinos. It is a long holiday weekend and the traditional BBQ’s that will take place will likely feature more cheap hamburger cut with pink slime and additive packed hot dogs than actual steak and beef ribs. The next leg down on the collapse is under way and it is going to hit Americans in the pocketbook as well as their stomachs.

A recent post from libertarian financial blog Zero Hedge  ”The Meat Crisis Is Here: Price Of Shrimp Up 61% – 7 Million Pigs Dead – Beef At All-Time High” (originally at The Economic Collapse by Michael Snyder) provides the following grim news:

As the price of meat continues to skyrocket, will it soon be considered a “luxury item” for most American families?  This week we learned that the price of meat in the United States rose at the fastest pace in more than 10 years last month.  Leading the way is the price of shrimp.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the price of shrimp has jumped an astounding 61 percent compared to a year ago.  The price of pork is also moving upward aggressively thanks to a disease which has already killed about 10 percent of all of the pigs in the entire country.  And the endless drought in the western half of the country has caused the size of the U.S. cattle herd to shrink to a 63 year low and has pushed the price of beef to an all-time high.  This is really bad news if you like to eat meat.  The truth is that the coming “meat crisis” is already here, and it looks like it is going to get a lot worse in the months ahead.

A devastating bacterial disease called “early mortality syndrome” is crippling the shrimping industry all over Asia right now.  According to Bloomberg, this has pushed the price of shrimp up 61 percent over the past 12 months…

In March, shrimp prices jumped 61 percent from a year earlier, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The climb is mainly due to a bacterial disease known as early mortality syndrome. While the ailment has no effect on humans, it’s wreaking havoc on young shrimp farmed in Southeast Asia, shrinking supplies.

This disease has an extremely high mortality rate.  In fact, according to the article that I just quoted, it kills approximately nine out of every ten shrimp that it infects…

Cases of early mortality syndrome, which destroys the digestive systems of young shrimp, were first reported in China in 2009, said Donald Lightner, a professor of animal and comparative biomedical sciences at University of Arizona in Tucson.

The disease, which kills about 90 percent of the shrimp it infects, traveled from China to Vietnam to Malaysia and then to Thailand, he said. Cases also were reported in Mexico last year, Lightner said.

A different disease is driving up the price of pork in the United States.  It is known as the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, and in less than a year it has spread to 30 states and has killed approximately 7 million pigs.

The price of bacon is already up 13.1 percent over the past year, but this is just the beginning.

It is being projected that U.S. pork production could be down by as much as 10 percent this year, and Americans could end up paying up to 20 percent more for pork by the end of 2014.

The price of beef has also moved to unprecedented heights.  Thanks to the crippling drought that never seems to end in the western half of the nation, the size of the U.S. cattle herd has been declining for seven years in a row, and it is now the smallest that is has been since 1951.

Over the past year, the price of ground chuck beef is up 5.9 percent.  It would have been worse, but ranchers have been slaughtering lots of cattle in order to thin their herds in a desperate attempt to get through this drought.  If this drought does not end soon, the price of beef is going to go much, much higher.

As prices for shrimp, pork and beef have risen, many consumers have been eating more chicken.  But the price of chicken is rising rapidly as well.

In fact, the price of chicken breast is up 12.4 percent over the past 12 months.

Not ones to in the words of the slimy mayor of Chicago never let a good crisis go to waste there is money to be made off of the rising cost of meat and with drought raging through California the cash register bells are ringing as big food corporations rush to increase production of chicken which will further drive up prices. There are very tough days coming, especially as the government offsets costs in programs – such as food stamps to continue to buy more jets, drones, tanks, bombs, armored personnel carriers as well as keep the gamblers who run the financial markets afloat perhaps there is the day coming where the convergence of forces sparks a new growth industry in providing an alternative food source.

The reference to Soylent Green may be lost on some but any person of my age, science fiction movie fans and others whose knowledge of popular culture isn’t mired in the era of reality trash television is of course one to the classic – and like so many others of the era – now prophetic 1973 movie. The film starred macho man Charlton Heston while he was between his most famous gigs as Moses and head of the National Rifle Association and predicted a dystopian future of overpopulation, poverty and food shortages. Someone in the future had an innovative idea on how to solve the food shortages and that was Soylent Green. Considering the stupid, demented, unimaginative and psychotic qualities of our political elite it would be no surprise whatsoever if this idea is already bouncing around in the hallowed confines of the best and the brightest in Washington and New York. I saw the movie as a young teen and it has stuck with me ever since, when it comes to a grim depiction of the future it only lags behind “The Road” and “Idiocracy” in terms of terrifying scenarios.

The weekly trips to the grocery store keep adding up as do gas, electric and housing costs – all of which are not included in official government calculations of what constitutes inflation as “Core Inflation” omits food and energy costs. For the past few years portions have been shrinking as big food conglomerates design packaging that is ever smaller while not lowering prices and luxury items continue to rise in price. With the meat price spike it is going to become imperative to alter my diet and finally appease my cardiologist who has been advising me to cut down on the consumption of meat for years now. Hey, I like vegetables, beans and rice and have a damned good and reasonable local produce stand very close to me so a change in eating habits is doable. What is troubling is that with the growth in pre-prepared convenient food over the last couple of decades that others may not be able to make the transition as easily as I.

I suspect that at this rate that in some households across the fruited plain that the family dog may soon end up on the menu out of necessity as meat becomes increasingly priced out of the budget of the beggared masses.

Soylent Red, White and Blue anyone?