by Brian Shilhavy
Editor, Health Impact News
The WW III “hot war” is continuing to escalate this week, as the regional conflict between Israel and Hezbollah (who some believe has 10x the military power that Hamas has) escalates, as does the Naval War in the Red Sea.
US Warship Directly Targeted In ‘Largest Ever’ Houthi Red Sea Missile Attack
The US Navy shot down nearly two dozen missiles and drones in a major new Red Sea incident, US Central Command (CENTCOM) has confirmed. Given it included at least 21 Houthi missiles and drones launched from Yemen, it marks one of the single largest attacks to take place there since Oct. 7. The Associated Press dubbed it the “largest-ever barrage of drones and missiles targeting shipping in the Red Sea.”
An initial military statement had called the Tuesday 9:15pm (local) assault a “complex attack” conducted by the Iran-aligned militants, which occurred off the Yemeni port cities of Hodeida and Mokha. CENTCOM tallied that it involved 18 one-way attack drones, two anti-ship cruise missiles and an anti-ship ballistic missile, according to the statement.
It generally targeted an area of the southern Red Sea where “dozens” of merchant vessels were traversing at the time. Some defense sources tallied that the total projectile count was 24. Secretary of State Antony Blinken used the opportunity Wednesday to once again charge that Iran is ‘aiding and abetting’ these Red Sea attacks.
The Red Sea continues to grow busy with the presence of naval assets, as the West and its allies attempt to keep international shipping lanes open despite the threat of Houthi missiles and drones launched from Yemen. This has lately included nations such as Denmark, Pakistan and Sri Lanka sending military ships to regional waters as well.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken while meeting with Arab leaders over the weekend before he arrived in Israel Monday evening said, “These attacks are having a real effect on the prices that people have to pay for food, for medicine, for energy. Ships have to get diverted to other places. Insurance rates go up.”
Maritime and industry analyst Sam Chambers has observed, “Over the weekend, the number of transits through the Suez Canal fell to the lowest since the waterway was blocked by the Ever Given containership in early 2021, according to Inchcape Shipping Services.”
But amid the heavy presence Western coalition military ships, there is now an Iranian frigate parked in the Red Sea after its arrival starting nearly a week ago. “2024 was only a few hours old when Iran dispatched a warship, the frigate Alborz, to the Red Sea,” FP recently noted. “Its arrival was yet more bad news for shipping, already facing a crisis from the Iran-backed Houthi attacks on merchant vessels.”
“Iran issues a stern warning against any US adventurism that could endanger regional peace,” Ambassador Amir Saeid Iravani said Tuesday in a letter directed to the US and its allies, a week after Iran’s Navy deployed a cruise missile-armed warship in the region.
American troops are also being attacked daily in other locations, especially in Iraq and Syria.
Iraq’s Prime Minister Says He Seeks a ‘Quick’ Exit of US Forces
Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani has reiterated his desire to end the presence of US and other international forces in Iraq and said he is looking to negotiate a “quick” exit, although so far no deadline has been set.
“There is a need to reorganize this relationship so that it is not a target or justification for any party, internal or foreign, to tamper with stability in Iraq and the region,” al-Sudani told Reuters on Tuesday.
US forces in Iraq and Syria have come under frequent rocket attacks since October due to President Biden’s support for Israel’s slaughter in Gaza. The US has launched several rounds of airstrikes in response, including a recent drone strike in Baghdad that killed an Iraqi militia leader. Al-Sudani strongly condemned the strike as a violation of sovereignty.
After the drone strike, al-Sudani said he was taking steps to expel the US-led coalition in Iraq that’s there nominally to fight ISIS. But the presence is more about the US’s efforts to counter Iran’s influence in the country, as al-Sudani has said Iraqi security forces can handle the last remnants of ISIS. (Source.)
However, as these news reports show growing military operations against the U.S. and Israel, something that is perhaps even more devastating to the U.S. was reported this week, and has mostly gone unnoticed by the U.S. Media, and that was an announcement published earlier this week in the Russian Press that the newly expanded BRICS alliance can now become a platform for a self-sufficient dollar-free grain market, and may even soon start their own Grain Exchange.
Time is Ripe for Dollar-Free Grain Trade Within BRICS
Expanded BRICS, a club of major developing economies, could become a platform for a self-sufficient dollar-free grain market, economists say.
BRICS – an acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – added net grain importers Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2024, almost equalizing the production and consumption of key grain crops within the group.
Under these circumstances, the association may create its own trading platform and trade grain within the group without using the US dollar, reads a letter from the Russian Union of Grain Exporters (Rusgrain Union) to the Ministry of Agriculture, reviewed by Russian business newspaper Vedomosti.
According to Rusgrain Union estimates, the five BRICS countries at the end of 2023 produced a total of 1.17 billion tons of grain per year (42% of world production) and consumed 1.1 billion tons (40% of world consumption). After the expansion, the group’s grain production will mount to 1.23 billion tons per year (44% of the world), and consumption will come close to production, i.e. 1.22 billion tons (also 44%).
“Statistically, it is true that 25% of the wheat trade is Russian wheat,” Vladimir Petrichenko, CEO of the analytical company ProZerno, told Sputnik.
“Likewise, more than 25% of the corn trade is Brazilian corn. Moreover, if we talk about soybeans, then about 58% of world trade is Brazilian soybeans. At the same time, China is the largest buyer of corn and wheat, Egypt is the largest buyer of wheat, although to a lesser extent; but they buy wheat in the same way as China there, 12 million tons per year. Now Saudi Arabia has been added, the main buyer of barley. But still, the key commodities are wheat, corn and soybeans. And for all of them, especially considering those who joined in January, this is a huge market.”
BRICS countries represent a huge part, and in some cases more than half of the market for these agricultural goods, the expert pointed out. “In short, this fruit is ripe to be picked up,” Petrichenko stressed.
BRICS’ Grain Exchange
In the letter to the ministry, Rusgrain Union Chairman Eduard Zernin, argued that these developments create the preconditions for the formation of a BRICS “grain exchange.” He believes that Russia could play “the role of a supplier of last resort,” to which “other net exporters may later join.”
Having abandoned the US dollar, the group would need to pick a proper clearing currency, the expert continued. “Another key point is the clearing part. That is, what the clearing center will be like, where it will be, and most importantly, in what currency the settlements will be made,” Petrichenko said.
While this news may seem far less serious than the current “Hot War” that is quickly escalating, I assure you, it is NOT!
Besides the U.S. Military and their production of weapons of mass destruction that have allowed them to be the world’s last remaining “Superpower” since WW II, the U.S. has also dominated the world by controlling the world’s food through the Global Food Cartel, run by just a handful of wealthy families in the U.S. and the U.K. who own most of the world’s corporations producing food.
To learn who those families and companies are, see:
The U.S. has dominated the Global Food Cartel primarily by subsidizing, with American taxes, the three main crops they export all over the world: corn, soybeans, and wheat.
Tax subsidies on these crops allow them to export them to other nations, where the price of these American crops are cheaper than what their own farmers can grow and sell them at.
This, in turn, makes these countries dependent upon these cheap imports, allowing the U.S. to cut off supplies or jack up the price anytime they want, if they want to control that nation’s internal affairs, such as demanding a regime change.
This was a primary technique that the U.S. used back in 2011, during the “Arab Spring” which toppled the governments in Tunisia and Egypt.
Let Them Eat Bread
by Annia Ciezadlo (2011)
How Food Subsidies Prevent (and Provoke) Revolutions in the Middle East
The connection among rising prices, hunger, and violent civic unrest seems intuitively logical. But there was more to Tunisia’s food protests than the logic of the pocketbook. The psychological element — a sense of injustice that arises between seeing food prices rise and pouring a Molotov cocktail — is more important.
Last week’s mass protests in Tunisia were less a symptom of economic malaise than of a society fed up with its broken dictatorship. Should the other autocratic regimes in the Middle East and North Africa be afraid?
For two days, people poured into the streets of Cairo, burning buses and trams, government buildings, and expensive cars. In Tahrir Square, troops fired tear gas at the demonstrators. Cairenes cheered from balconies and rooftops while their comrades in the streets below chanted antigovernment slogans: “You dress in the latest fashions,” they roared at their president, “while we sleep 12 to a room!”
It was 1977, and revolution was in the air. When an already unpopular government tried to rescind food subsidies — meaning massive price increases for staples like bread, rice, and cooking gas — riots erupted. By the time they were over, hundreds of buildings were burned, 160 people were dead, and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat had learned an essential lesson for the modern Arab dictator: let them eat bread. Lots of cheap bread.
Change is sweeping through the Middle East today, but one thing remains the same: the region once known as the Fertile Crescent is now the world’s most dependent on imported grain. Of the top 20 wheat importers for 2010, almost half are Middle Eastern countries. The list reads like a playbook of toppled and teetering regimes: Egypt (1), Algeria (4), Iraq (7), Morocco (8), Yemen (13), Saudi Arabia (15), Libya (16), Tunisia (17).
For decades, many of these regimes relied on food subsidies to ensure stability — a social contract so pervasive that the Tunisian scholar Larbi Sadiki described it as dimuqratiyyat al-khubz, or “democracy of bread.” But over the past several years, grain prices reached record levels, and these appeasement policies lost their luster. In Tunisia, pro-democracy demonstrations began in late December 2010 with protesters brandishing baguettes. In just a few months, a wave of uprisings rippled across the region, toppling Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and Egypt’s longtime ruler, Hosni Mubarak.
For decades, Middle Eastern regimes relied on food subsidies to ensure stability.
The revolutions, of course, are about more than just bread. Middle Easterners want basic human rights, dignity, and a chance at a decent future — good jobs at livable wages. But when a government puts those things out of reach for the majority of its citizens, using handouts or subsidies as a substitute for democratic or economic reforms, bread becomes a powerful symbol of all they cannot have. Today, the protests have spread all the way to Yemen, where demonstrators are baking loaves of bread that spell out the command “leave” in Arabic. The message could not be clearer: the very commodity that Arab regimes once used to ensure obedience has now become a symbol and source of defiance.
The bread wars go back to the Cold War era, when the two superpowers wooed smaller nations with guns, grain, and other goods. It was during this time that many Arab regimes instituted social safety nets based on the Soviet model of centralized bread distribution.
In 1950s Egypt, the populist President Gamal Abdel Nasser began the practice of subsidizing daily bread in exchange for social peace. “They adopted this because this was one way of buying loyalty from the society,” says Ibrahim Saif, an economist and the secretary-general of the Economic and Social Council of Jordan. “It’s the patronage system that prevailed for some time: I am the state, I take care of you, and you don’t question my political behavior.”
By the late 1970s, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was urging Arab countries to rid themselves of the “subsidy burden.” Cairo’s 1977 “bread intifada” was only one of many across the region: throughout the 1980s, protests erupted in Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, and Jordan whenever rulers tried to lift food subsidies. When Sadat was assassinated in 1981, his successor, Mubarak, remembered the lesson of the bread riots: he made sure that Egyptians had plenty of cheap, government-subsidized bread, and other Middle Eastern regimes did the same.
For the next three decades, U.S. taxpayers helped buy that bread. According to the Congressional Research Service, the United States provided Egypt with $4.6 billion in loans and grants under the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Food for Peace program, most of it flowing between 1979 and 1997.
Mubarak was not the only autocrat who developed a taste for cheap American wheat; Iraq’s Saddam Hussein received billions of dollars’ worth of surplus American wheat through grants and loan guarantees, and Jordan, Yemen, and other Middle Eastern countries got lesser amounts. For decades, the United States considered that a small price to pay for keeping friendly dictators in power.
But the cheap wheat came at a high cost: unemployment. The dependence on foreign largesse, coupled with the low price of global grains, encouraged many Middle Eastern regimes to hollow out their agricultural sectors. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, trade liberalization programs pushed Egypt and Morocco, among others, into a dangerous dependence on cheap carbohydrates from abroad.
Encouraged by the IMF and the World Bank to lift tariffs and import bans, and discouraged (or even restricted) from investing in their own agricultural sectors, they went from being net agricultural exporters to net importers — especially of subsidized American wheat.
In 1960, Egypt was producing enough wheat to be almost self-sufficient; by 2010, it was importing roughly half the country’s total intake (nine billion tons), making it by far the biggest wheat importer in the world.
By 2010, the Egyptian government was subsidizing bread to the tune of about $3 billion a year, mostly by selling flour to local bakeries — a complicated, inefficient system that lent itself to massive corruption. The higher global prices rose, the more incentive bakers had to resell subsidized flour and bread into the black market, where they could go for five or more times the subsidized rate.
As expensive as they are, bread subsidies do not succeed in lifting people out of poverty; in fact, by discouraging domestic agricultural investment, they have often hurt the very people they are intended to help. According to the United Nations’ 2009 Arab Human Development Report, the Middle East is the only region outside of sub-Saharan Africa where the number of malnourished people has risen since the early 1990s.
In recent years, the standard of living for most Egyptians declined, even as elites thrived and external economic measurements appeared healthy: according to a Gallup study published last month, both Egypt and Tunisia saw a significant decline in living standards for all income groups except the top 20 percent — even as GDP increased. By early 2008, about 40 percent of Egyptians were living on less than two dollars a day.
When the price of grain began to skyrocket, the “democracies of bread” began to show cracks. In 2008, a wave of small bread riots began in Jordan, Morocco, Algeria, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen. Governments responded by raising wages, increasing subsidies, or handing out cash — solutions that proved unsustainable in the long run.
In Egypt, bread prices rose by 37 percent between February 2007 and February 2008. More people became dependent on subsidized bread than before. This meant longer bread lines, and by March 2008 about a dozen people had died in Egypt’s bread lines — some in fights, others from the sheer exhaustion of standing for hours to get bread.
The public was outraged over these “bread martyrs.” Mubarak ordered the army to take over the baking and distribution of subsidized bread to the public, effectively militarizing bread production. But this bizarrely symbolic decree came too late: on April 6, 2008, tens of thousands of students, unemployed Egyptians, and textile workers in the textile-mill town of Al-Mahalla al-Kubra staged a protest against unemployment, high food prices, and widespread police torture.
Young protesters broadcast cell phone videos of the uprising on Facebook and YouTube, which helped spread the protests to other parts of Egypt. Eventually, the youth activists coalesced into the April 6 Movement, named after the Al-Mahalla al-Kubra uprising, which in turn grew into the revolt that would eventually topple Mubarak.
Over the next two years, a combination of factors — drought, wildfires, ethanol subsidies, and more — converged into a global food crisis. By early 2011, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization announced that food prices had reached an all-time high, surpassing even 2008 levels.
The region once known as the Fertile Crescent is now the world’s most dependent on imported grain.
The U.S. did the same thing to the Iraqi people after President George Bush invaded their country. They brought in Daniel Amstutz, a former Cargill Corporation executive, to oversee the “rehabilitation” of agriculture in Iraq, by eliminating their local crops grown by small-scale producers, and replacing them with U.S. biotech GMO seeds and crops. See:
But here at the beginning of 2024 with the expansion of BRICS, once they develop their own Grain Exchange, these poorer countries, such as Egypt, will be able to purchase Russian wheat in their own local currency at a much cheaper price than they buy from the U.S., and there will be no more “Arab Springs” imposed by the U.S. through grain imports to topple their governments.
And the Middle Eastern countries are not the only ones benefiting from BRICS, so are the African countries.
BRICS to create new global trade balance – Nigerian NGO CEO
Membership in the group will “help reduce the Western dominance generally,” Muda Yusuf told RT
The prominent Nigerian economist claimed that BRICS memberships are a “win-win situation.”
On Tuesday, speaking during an exclusive interview to RT, Muda Yusuf, the CEO of the Nigerian Center for the Promotion of Private Enterprise, said a lot of sectors will benefit if Nigeria joins the BRICS.
“Such sectors as oil and gas, technology sector, agricultural sector, solid mineral sector, and generally our infrastructure” will get advantages from joining the economic block, he added.
Yusuf stressed that with a BRICS membership, “we [Nigeria] are likely to see a much better balance of payment position.” Muda Yusuf believes that Abuja will see “a more liberal terms, in terms of what to do” and a lot more “freedom”.
“It also helps to reduce the Western dominance generally,” he added.
BRICS membership “has a very important value in terms of geopolitical influence” because if the country belongs to such economic bloc, “there’s a whole lot of opportunities it gives you in terms of influence among members, and even globally,” economist explained. (Source.)
Has the United States ever been more Negatively Viewed by the Rest of the Word?
For most of my life growing up here in the United States, most of the world viewed the U.S. as the “land of opportunity”, and a place that many aspired to immigrate to for a better life.
(And I’m not referring to refugees and migrants who come here illegally across the Mexican border.)
But how does the world view the United States here in 2024?
My guess is that they see us as a dying Empire who is going to try and take down the rest of the world, as they scramble to make new alliances, both economically and militarily.
The refusal to stop Israel from committing genocide in Gaza, has shocked the world. New military alliances are being formed almost every day now, especially among the Muslim nations.
This was just published yesterday:
Türkiye, Pakistan, S. Arabia agree to enhance defense cooperation
Türkiye, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have agreed to enhance trilateral defense cooperation during a Trilateral Defense Committee meeting held in Pakistan’s city of Rawalpindi, according to an Anadolu Agency (AA) report on Tuesday.
The second such meeting was held at the GHQ, the headquarters of Pakistan’s army, in the garrison city of Rawalpindi. It was attended by senior military officials from the three nations.
At the meeting, where possible collaborations in defense equipment technologies, including research and development, were discussed, Türkiye, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia agreed to increase trilateral defense cooperation, according to the ISPR, Pakistan military’s media wing.
“The three sides reaffirmed the importance of combining the intellectual, technical, financial and human resources of the three friendly nations toward the achievement of shared objectives and attainment of self-sufficiency in the defense domain,” it said.
The historical “brotherly relations” among the three countries were also acknowledged, and the need to enhance the pace of collaboration in pursuit of common goals was reiterated.
The statement added that it was decided that the three nations would convene their next meeting during the World Defense Show in Riyadh next month. (Full article.)
With the technology that exists today to use translation software to read pretty much anything that is published on the Internet now, the world watches what comes out of the U.S. media, including the “Alternative Media” which today is not much different than the legacy media since the same investors on Wall Street and Silicon Valley are buying them up, and the rest of the world knows that the U.S. economy is in trouble, and could take down the entire world’s financial system.
This was published today in the Russian media:
US government debt biggest threat to global economy – Russian NGO
US government debt and Washington’s budget deficit present the biggest threats to the global economy this year, Russian government agency Roscongress has warned.
Washington’s $34 trillion burden is mathematically impossible to pay off, Roscongress has claimed in a report it published on Wednesday. The agency based its estimate on the current ratio between the size of the debt, the rate at which it is growing, and budget revenues.
“The excessive debt was accumulated at low rates but needs to be refinanced at high rates that limit economic activity and reduce cash flow. In the medium term, the servicing of US debt will cost $1 trillion a year,” reads the report, titled ‘Key Events – 2024. Geoeconomics. Forecasts. Major risks’.
The US government cannot solve the problem by restarting the printing press this year because that would lead to higher inflation, the report added. The country saw consumer prices shoot up to the highest levels in decades in 2022, prompting the Federal Reserve to embark on a series of rate hikes to tame inflation.
US government federal debt topped $34 trillion for the first time in history at the end of December. It now amounts to about $102,000 for every man, woman, and child in the country. US total public debt is roughly equivalent to the economies of China, Germany, Japan, India, and the UK combined, as pointed out by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, a nonpartisan fiscal policy group in New York. (Full article.)
The rest of the world is also quickly learning just how corrupt our business leaders and politicians are as well, as they watch in horror the current document dumps from the unsealed court records of Jeffrey Epstein’s friends. Most of them are probably learning for the first time something that I have been publishing for about a decade, which is that the United States is the World leader in child sex trafficking. See:
And what about the U.S. political show in Washington D.C.? Do you think there is a single world leader that actually believes that Joe Biden, who can barely walk or talk, is actually running this country?
They would probably be laughing hysterically at the U.S. right now, if they weren’t so terrified about what is going to happen when the U.S. economy blows up.
Here is a good example of current sentiment towards the U.S. and their ally, Israel, especially among the wealthy oil-producing Arab states:
‘Ask Zelensky for money’: MbZ tells Netanyahu
Abu Dhabi says the Israeli notion that Gulf Arab states will foot the bill for the crisis in Gaza and the West Bank is ‘wishful thinking’
Emirati President Mohammed bin Zayed (MbZ) refused a request by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to pay unemployment stipends to Palestinian workers from the occupied West Bank and instead told his ally to go “ask Zelensky” for money during a recent phone conversation, according to informed officials who spoke with Axios.
Since the historic attack on southern settlements by the Palestinian resistance in Gaza on 7 October, Tel Aviv imposed a closure on the occupied West Bank and banned about 150,000 Palestinian workers from entering Israel.
As concerns grew that a worsening Palestinian economy would exacerbate the violent escalation in the West Bank, Netanyahu refused calls by the defense ministry and Shin Bet to put the issue of paying unemployment stipends to a vote in the security cabinet. Instead, he turned to his allies in Abu Dhabi.
During a phone call with MbZ a few weeks ago, Netanyahu “broadly asked for help in regards to the Palestinians,” the sources tell Axios. However, the conversation turned sour once the Israeli premier “specifically asked if the UAE would be willing to pay the Palestinian workers,” leaving the UAE leader “stunned.”
“MbZ told Netanyahu he couldn’t do it, and then sarcastically suggested the Israeli prime minister turn to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky instead,” the sources said, adding that the Emirati leader remarked that “Zelensky gets a lot of money from many countries, so maybe he would be able to help.”
“The notion that Arab countries will come in to rebuild and pay the bill for what’s currently happening is wishful thinking,” an Emirati official told Axios.
In mid-December, Netanyahu reportedly told Knesset officials that Saudi Arabia and the UAE would foot the bill to rebuild Gaza.
“The first step in Gaza will be to defeat Hamas. After that, I believe that the UAE and Saudi Arabia will support the rehabilitation of the Strip,” Netanyahu said during a closed-door testimony to the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
On Tuesday, Israeli media repeated these claims, reporting that US officials seeking to revive a Saudi-Israel normalization deal believe this would secure Saudi funding to “rebuild Gaza.” (Full article.)
There just might actually be an “Arab Spring” this year, but it will be far different from the one in the 2010’s….
The sharks are circling, waiting for the moment when “Babylon the Great” is about to fall.
“Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries.” (Revelation 14:8)
“Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird. For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.” (Revelation 18:2-3)
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