El Conquistqdor Francisco de Orellana

El Conquistqdor Francisco de Orellana
The Conquistador who put the Amazaon baisn "on the map"....Francisco Orellana

Friday, March 28, 2014

Russia Gets Ready for Life Without Visa and MasterCard

Note from Blog: We find this article very interesting. First, it assumes that if Visa or MC no longer exist in Russia then Russians would find it difficult to travel abroad. There ARE other ways to get money out of Russian to use in other countries! Second, the article states that Russians are "not big credit card users". Perhaps the rest of the "developed" world can learn from the Rusians about getting into debt. The NWO does not like non credit users.

Is Russia ready to cut up its plastic? After Visa and MasterCard stopped processing some Russian transactions in response to U.S. sanctions, Moscow says it could launch a homegrown payment system that could be ready in as little as six months,according to German Gref, chief of the country’s largest bank, Sberbank(SBER:RM).
Hard as it may be for Americans to imagine life without Visa (V) and MasterCard(MA), jettisoning them wouldn’t be all that difficult. Moscow has been preparing for the past few years to issue an electronic payment card that citizens could use for transactions with the government, such as tax and pension payments. Expanding that to include private purchases wouldn’t be hard, says Avivah Litan, an analyst atGartner Research (IT): “If the banks are all on board, they can use the existing [card-reading] equipment in the retail stores. They’ve been thinking about it for so long, it’s just a matter of flipping the switch.”
Legislation has already been introduced in Russia’s parliament that would ban the use of payment systems based outside of the country. “The fact that our banks use infrastructure that they cannot control carries a real threat for national security,” lawmaker Vladislav Reznik said in introducing the measure on March 21.
Getting rid of Visa and MasterCard would cause two very big problems for Russia, though. A government-issued payment card wouldn’t be accepted outside the country, so that Russians going abroad would either have to pay in cash while they travel or—more likely—try to get a card from a foreign financial institution. And Russia could essentially forget about attracting foreign visitors if merchants there could accept only Russian-issued plastic.
Despite the anti-U.S. rhetoric, “No one wants this to explode into shutting down all the [foreign] cards in Russia,” says David Robertson, publisher of the Nilson Report, a U.S. card-industry newsletter. “Politicians are largely ignorant about how the system works.”
The U.S. has alleged that the affected banks have connections with individuals targeted by sanctions in retaliation for Russia’s incursion into Crimea. The banks claim their Visa and MasterCard cardholders couldn’t use their cards to make purchases, although they can use their cards to make cash withdrawals from their accounts—and it appears many did. SMP Bank says that since March 21, retail customers have withdrawn some 4 billion rubles ($110 million). The block on SMP cards was lifted over the weekend, as Visa representatives confirmed in a statement Monday: “Based on clarifications provided to Visa by the U.S. government on March 23, Visa has determined that we are not required to block SMP Bank’s and its associates’ access to our network.”

Russians aren’t big credit card users. According to Euromonitor International, about 30 million credit cards are in circulation in the country, which has a population of 143 million. Compare that with the U.S., where the average consumer has more than three open credit accounts, according to credit monitoring groupExperian (EXPN:LN). Debit cards are widely used in Russia, though, with some 192 million in circulation, according to Euromonitor.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Dangers of a Political Lightweight in the White House

With all that has transpired over the last quarter, even as far back as December 2013, in the Ukraine, I’ve held my peace. As a student of history and having some Slavic ancestry I have a better than average American understanding of Eastern European history, culture, economics, and political structure.  Over the course of the last three months I’ve been studying the situation and the hidden complexities as they unfold in the Ukraine and particularly in Russia. While the common history of this region is too complex and detailed to get into in this short article, it would behoove the readership to study it in detail to understand how we got to where we are at the moment. The relationship of Russia and the Ukraine over the centuries has been at best mutually rewarding and at worst a love-hate relationship. Suffice it to say that the eruption of visible conflict in the Ukraine is but a symptom of a long process that has been ongoing since the days of the Cold War. Essentially, it is a conflict between the East and West; specifically between the U.S.A. and Russia and her former Soviet satellites. At its heart lies the Petro-dollar, this was imposed on the world when President Richard M. Nixon ended the gold-back US Dollar, making it the new reserve currency of the world.
UrkelThis latest manifestation pits two key players in head-to-head positions on opposite sides of each other’s vital interests. It is Putin vs. Obama, but such a match is like Steve Urkel against Chuck Norris. Obviously, the former KGB colonel, Vladimir Putin, with all that position implies, is leagues above the incompetent, effeminate, clumsy, insipid, idealistic, inexperienced Barack Obama. This, however, is but where we stand today. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall we’ve essentially been backing Russia and its still loyal former Republics into a corner; for example, President Reagan assured Gorbechev that NATO would not pursue the formerWarsaw Pact nations to join if Communism fell, and this held until 1994 when President Clinton went back on this promise actively recruiting nations like Poland, Moldavia, Romania, Georgia, and others to join NATO. Ever since we have gradually been encircling Russia with an implied threat by placing strategic missiles in these formerCNorris Soviet satellites; this strategy worked while Russia and its allies worked through the transition period of want in the decade of the 1990’s. The breadlines, so profuse in the Western media depictions at the time, are long since gone. Indeed, Russia has emerged, once again, as a formidable world power, and not as the West chooses to portray it as a regional power. Their large oil and gas reserves, which Europe craves and uses, has given them a bargaining chip that the Obama Administration chooses to ignore.
Additionally, since the Petro-dollar is the reserve currency in most energy transactions worldwide the Russians, together with China, have a rather largeGreenbackreserve. To ignore this would be at the peril of the American economy, because we are put in a vulnerable position in two ways. First, the Russians and Chinese can begin to dump Greenbackswhich will not only release inflation here at home but also hyperinflation. Second, the Russians and Chinese, and many other energy producing nations can simply announce that they will now sell their gas and oil in the currency of the buyer. This would have the same effect as dumping Greenbackswithout the obvious aggressive stance. It also is very attractive to our European allies because it would allow trade in homegrown currency eliminating the necessary purchasing of the Petro-dollarthereby effectively lowering the cost of energy at home at least temporarily. This will prove to be a very divisive factor among our allies in Europe and elsewhere.
Obama’s Executive Order of imposing sanctions against the Russians in general and specific political and business people will be just the action to kick off such reactions on the part of the Russians, Chinese, Iran, and others literally plunging the US economy into chaos with the possibility of an “American Spring” similar to North Africa since 2010 here at home.
Meantime, America is also presenting a carrot in the form of IMF loans to the Ukraine, but such an offer is not without a myriad of strings attached … just ask Greece how their IMFloans worked out!
Overall, the Obama Administration is playing a dangerous game of Cat and Mouse with the Russians … and he is no Jack Kennedy. The sanctions he is imposing come at a time when our economic wellbeing is solidly in the hands of others rather than within our own grasp. If, no more likely when, they decide that they have had enough of playing with an amateur statesman like Barack Obama they will set in motion a series of events that will cause a global economic depression that will have the most devastating effect here in the U.S.A.
Obama through his Executive Order of sanctions against Russia may have lit the fuse of a nuclear economic powder keg which will have Armageddon-like ripple effects throughout the globe. That said, the famous Steve Urkel line of: “Did I do that?” will not serve to mitigate the devastation.  So prepare, check your food stores, set up your gardens, because we are about to enter uncharted and uncertain times.
Pray the Rosary of the Virgin Mary that the Bishops of the world along with the Pope my finally, finally consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. She is our final recourse.
Richard of Danbury, D.S.G.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Ecuador’s popular, powerful president Rafael Correa is a study in contradictions

Rodrigo Buendia/AFP/Getty Images - Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa is greeted by children after accompanying the ruling party's candidate for Quito's Mayor's Office to a polling station in Quito to cast his vote as the country holds municipal elections on February 23, 2014.

QUITO, Ecuador — In Latin America’s current era of big-personality politics, there may be no other leader who embodies as many apparent contradictions as Rafael Correa, Ecuador’s president.
Although he proudly identifies as a leftist, Correa is staunchly opposed to abortion, even in cases of rape, and has called gay marriage a “barbarity.” He relishes confrontation with Washington, despite the fact that the United States is Ecuador’s top trading partner and a major source of foreign tourists — as well as the place Correa earned his PhD in economics. And for nearly two years, Correa has sheltered WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at Ecuador’s Embassy in London while he curbs press freedoms at home, even cracking down on political cartoonists .
Analysts in the region wonder whether Correa represents a new model of Latin American leadership: economically populist, socially conservative, quasi-authoritarian — and seemingly unbeatable at election time. Polls consistently put his approval ratingbetween 60 and 85 percent, making him one of the region's most popular leaders.
Correa, who was reelected to a third term by a huge margin last March, may have one more twist to add. After spending the past seven years concentrating power in the executive, he says he will not run for reelection when his current term ends in 2017, telling the government newspaper El Telegrafo: “It’s very damaging when one person becomes indispensable.”
It was a surprising observation from a leader who has remade Ecuador to revolve almost entirely around his rule. Correa dominates the country's legislature through the party he founded, Alianza-PAIS, and has stacked the judiciary with his former cabinet members, removing obstacles to his agenda.
Walking away after his current term would also be a notable break with Correa’s leftist allies in the region, such as Bolivia’s Evo Morales, Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua and the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, who have used the ballot box to weaken or eliminate term limits.
Correa’s detractors don’t believe the 50-year-old president has any interest in an early retirement. They see his brand of “21st century socialism” as little more than contemporary Latin American caudillismo — a media-savvy version of old-fashioned strongman rule.
Unlike Chávez and his epic battles with Venezuela’s private sector, Correa maintains generally strong ties with Ecuador’s business community and has presided over a sustained period of economic growth and low unemployment. He has kept the U.S. dollar as Ecuador’s currency.
Felipe Burbano, a political analyst in Quito, said Correa is a master of “state activism,” projecting his presidency — and government spending — into every corner of the country of 15 million by reaching out to rural voters, slum residents and others who were often ignored in the past. Correa has plowed the OPEC country’s oil revenue into new schools, health clinics and infrastructure projects, especially new highways, while cutting the poverty rate from 37 percent to 27 percent from 2007 to 2012, according to official data.
Just as Venezuela’s Chávez took to the airwaves weekly with his “Hello President” program, Correa travels around Ecuador starring in a show called “Citizen Link.” Viewers see him fixing local problems, riffing on international affairs and bludgeoning critics. While he doesn’t sing as smoothly as Chávez, he sings anyway, and he’s often funny, charming, even philosophical.
“Correa combines personal charisma with strong state spending,” Burbano said. And thanks to years of $100-a-barrel oil, “he’s benefitted from revenues that no other leader has had.”
Correa dominates Ecuadoran politics so thoroughly that even local elections have become referendums on his rule. Victories this month by opposition candidates in races for mayor of Quito, the capital, and Cuenca, the country's third-largest city, have been viewed as personal rebukes to him. He campaigned heavily for his political allies and attacked their rivals in often-strident terms.
“He went too far and overplayed his hand,” said Michael Shifter, president of Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington think tank that tracks Latin American affairs. “Correa remains very popular, and the opposition is weak and fragmented, but the elections raise questions about the depth and durability of the president's support.”
“It should alert him to the risks of a popular backlash against his style of confrontational politics,” Shifter said.
Correa seemed to take the loss hard, calling it “an important setback for the Citizen’s Revolution” — the term he uses to describe his socialist political platform — and told the country that the results opened the door to an “anti-patriotic” and a pro-imperial (referring to the United States) right-wing takeover.
The loss of control of Quito by his party could make Ecuador “ungovernable,” he told reporters.
The comment appeared to play to fears of Ecuadorans who remember the turbulent period prior to Correa’s election in 2006, when the country had seven presidents during one 10-year stretch.
It was also a statement from a leader with little patience for checks on his power. Taking his cue from Venezuela’s Chávez, Correa has loaded Ecuador's Supreme Court with allies andhas moved aggressively to silence, even shut down, civil society organizations that challenge him.
ous tribes protested plans to expand oil drilling in sensitive areas of the Amazon rain forest, including Ecuador’s Yasuni National Park, Correa responded with a heavy hand. One of the country's most prominent environmental advocacy groups, Pachamama, was ordered shut down after being accused of stirring up rowdy protests.
“We are extremely concerned about Correa,” said José Miguel Vivanco, the Americas director of Human Rights Watch.
Under a new law decreed by Correa, any non-governmental organization can be closed if the government determines that it has undermined “public peace” or moved away from the objective for which it was created. Other provisions implemented by Correa require private media to report on issues that the government considers “of public interest," a measure Vivanco called “one of the worst media laws in the Americas.”
Ecuador’s relations with the United States have steadily soured during Correa’s presidency. In addition to protecting Assange at the Ecuadoran Embassy in London, Correa further angered U.S. officials last year when he signaled a willingness to take in NSA leaker Edward Snowden.
Congress allowed Ecuador’s U.S. trade preferences to expire last year, exposing the country to new tariffs.
Correa has also blasted the United States for not helping Ecuador collect a $9.5 billion pollution fine against Chevron leveled by Ecuador’s highest court. A federal judge in New York dismissed the judgment this month, ruling that the U.S. attorney who sued the company engaged in bribery and fraud.
The strains with the United States have come despite Correa earning a PhD in economics at the University of Illinois, where he wrote a doctoral thesis exploring the downside of the economic liberalization policies adopted in Latin America during the 1990s.
Ecuadoran analysts say that while the country isn’t anti-American — it depends heavily on U.S. tourism — Correa’s clashes with Washington have played to nationalist sentiments about the country playing a bigger role in the world and displaying more independence.
One result of frayed trade relations with the United States has been Ecuador’s deepening financial dependency on Chinese loans. Correa has increasingly financed his expansion of public spending with oil-backed guarantees with Beijing, giving Chinese companies a lead role in expanding the oil-drilling push into Ecuador’s fragile Amazon region.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Only Way to Avoid Wealth Confiscation

The politicians who created the bloated and growing $17.3 trillion U.S. national debt are now planning ways to confiscate your wealth to pay off their bill.

That debt comes out to $54,730 for every U.S. citizen and $150,641 for each U.S. taxpayer. (Almost half of all Americans pay no income taxes.)

Across the world, in nearly bankrupt countries (think bank “bail-ins” in Cyprus), politicians are talking openly about forced confiscation of wealth — and the Obama administration is more than sympathetic.
It was the U.S. Congress that adopted the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), a mechanism that makes global wealth confiscation easier for all governments.

There is even discussion of the U.S. government taking over all private retirement plans, IRAs, 401ks and the like. And how about that “one time” wealth tax, where banks will be ordered to turn over to the U.S. Treasury a percentage of your deposits? 

Make no mistake — we are all at risk.
Moreover, in an effort to pay down debt, countries typically adopt austerity programs that severely restrict public services and government salaries, and, at the same time, slow the economy.

This often prompts public unrest and political instability, further spooking the markets.
Thus begins a socioeconomic and political spiral that can lead to collapse and chaos. Argentina is a prime example. At least seven people were killed in Argentina in December 2013 during a week of riots.

My point is this: If wealth confiscation becomes a reality, it means that things here have gotten really bad. There will be civil unrest, and an even greater divide between the rich and the poor.

You’ll want to take yourself out of harm’s way.
It won’t be chaos on a global level — it’ll just be happening in the bloated Western nations.
Nobody expects the worst. But those who prepare for it are usually better for it.

Indeed, the signs point to wealth confiscation in the near future. With a little sensible preparation, you can be one of the few who weathers the storm.

How to Prepare

Before I show you how to prepare, let me ask you …
Is it worth taking a few really simple steps today to protect yourself and your family from potential danger, financial ruin and chaos?
I’m sure your answer is the same as mine.
But I only ask you this question because I am certain a major crisis in America is coming … and I want you to prepare before it strikes.
If you wait, it will be too late. Your money will be taken from you and it could put your family in danger unnecessarily.
That’s why it’s important to plan now — before the confiscation and chaos begins ... so you can get out stress-free. Here’s what I suggest you do:
Step 1: Make sure your passport and vital documents are up to date.
Step 2: Keep bank account balances to a minimum. The government can’t take what isn’t there.
Step 3: Have cash on hand. In a crisis — cash is king.
Step 4: Invest in transportable assets. Things like foreign currencies, gold, rare coins, stamps and art are easy to travel with.
Step 5: Know exactly where you want to go. Pick the country you plan to escape to as soon as possible.
Follow these steps and you’ll be ready to “get out of dodge” on a moment’s notice should you need it.
But, here’s the thing: There’s more to it than this.
As an expat who left America 30 years ago, I can tell you I’ve met hundreds of people who have left the U.S. for various reasons.
And most have made costly mistakes when leaving.  
They’ve alienated themselves from their families, had difficulty getting health care abroad, and one man I met was miserable after moving to a country he’d only seen online.
My point for telling you this is, I’ve seen it all when it comes to moving overseas.
I’ve seen successful moves and I’ve seen people head back to America with their tail between their legs.
That’s why I’ve been working on creating a resource for Americans who want to know how to plan a move overseas. It covers every last detail, from telling your family you plan on moving to choosing a destination that’s ideal for you.
Of course, I know many people won’t actually move out of the country, but I also know that every Sovereign Investor reader I spoke with at the Total Wealth Symposium last fall wants a Plan B in place just in case they need it.


Ted Baumann

Monday, March 10, 2014

Presuppositions of Local Production

MARCH 10, 2014
We must clearly define what we mean by local production since “local” production has come to mean different things to different people. There are those who have turned “local” production into an ecological cause, a healthy alternative, or a political statement. Such “local” initiatives have little to do with healthy localism. In fact, without a special set of circumstances, even handcrafted goods or homegrown crops will not necessarily enrich a local culture.
Cajun crayfish etouffee
Cajun crayfish etouffee. Photo by jeffreyw
The principal presupposition of authentic local production is a close interrelationship between producers, inhabitants, and the locality. There must be that turning inward by which a people use their own local resources to make products suited to their tastes and oriented towards the perfection of their society.
New England Clam Chowder
New England Clam Chowder
In this sense, demand should influence production much more than production should determine demand. By constantly adjusting available materials to local tastes, producer and consumer should become the “co-creators” of goods. For example, a farmer might plant crops he perceives are both suited to his soil and prized by his customers. A local cuisine develops when chefs constantly adjust local dishes and native ingredients to reflect what local people like.
Le Venacais cheese from Santo-Pietro-di-Venaco, Corsica. Photo by Pierre Bona.
Le Venacais cheese from Santo-Pietro-di-Venaco, Corsica. Photo by Pierre Bona.
We might mention as an example certain sheep cheeses from the wild and brambly regions of Corsica that are coated with rosemary, thyme, fern leaves, fennel seeds, savory, or juniper berries.* In the profoundly Christian souls of the artisans who make these fine cheeses, we encounter a passion for perfection that leads to the search for the ideal cheese through the constant interaction between the cheese makers and the local population over the course of generations. Hence, local production is a distilling process where the people experience the spiritual joy of seeing the product of their joint creativity with the materials at hand.
Various sushi displayed Photo by Multichill.
Various sushi displayed Photo by Multichill.
Local production is enriched even more when families refine their products over generations and the good word of their quality provides natural advertising and makes such products a source of local pride. In this way, an area becomes “known” for its particular wines, fruits, or handicrafts