Jul 16

After Creating Dollar Exclusion Zones In Asia And South America, China Set To Corner Africa Next (ZeroHedge, July 15, 2012):

By now it really, really should be obvious. While the insolvent “developed world” is furiously fighting over who gets to pay the bill for 30 years of unsustainable debt accumulation and how to pretend that the modern ‘crony capitalist for some and communist for others‘ system isn’t one flap of a butterfly’s wings away from full on collapse mode, China is slowly taking over the world’s real assets. As a reminder: here is a smattering of our headlines on the topic from the last year: World’s Second (China) And Third Largest (Japan) Economies To Bypass Dollar, Engage In Direct Currency Trade“, “China, Russia Drop Dollar In Bilateral Trade“, “China And Iran To Bypass Dollar, Plan Oil Barter System“, “India and Japan sign new $15bn currency swap agreement“, “Iran, Russia Replace Dollar With Rial, Ruble in Trade, Fars Says“, “India Joins Asian Dollar Exclusion Zone, Will Transact With Iran In Rupees“, ‘The USD Trap Is Closing: Dollar Exclusion Zone Crosses The Pacific As Brazil Signs China Currency Swap“, and finally, Chile Is Latest Country To Launch Renminbi Swaps And Settlement“, we now get the inevitable: Central bank pledges financial push in Africa.” To summarize: first Asia, next Latin America, and now Africa.

Yep: the Yuan may not be the reserve currency by default, but at this rate China will have bilateral, read USD-bypassing relations, with all countries in Asia, South America and shortly Africa (where none other than Goldman Sachs has been pushing harder than anyone). Once the entire world is trading in CNY, it will be merely a matter of flipping the switch and all those fancy three-letter economic theories that explain why the uber-welfare state works just becayse the US can print an infinity+1 in debt, will all suddenly find themselves completely and totally bidless.

From China Daily:

China is to promote the yuan’s use in settling trade and investment with Africa, and encourage the more active development of Chinese financial institutions across the continent, a senior central bank official said on Friday.

Li Dongrong, assistant governor of the People’s Bank of China, said Africa has the capability of becoming a new hub of international capital flow, and the yuan’s use there should be further improved in accordance with rising demand for the currency there.

“We will continue to encourage domestic financial institutions to increase their presence and business across the continent,” Li told delegates at the Forum on China-Africa Financial Cooperation in Beijing, adding that the cooperation potential between the two sides is huge, as Africa’s economy continues to take off. Continue reading »

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Mar 07

Highly recommended article.

An Observer investigation reveals how rich countries faced by a global food shortage now farm an area double the size of the UK to guarantee supplies for their citizens

A woman tends vegetables at a giant Saudi-financed farm in Ethiopia.

We turned off the main road to Awassa, talked our way past security guards and drove a mile across empty land before we found what will soon be Ethiopia’s largest greenhouse. Nestling below an escarpment of the Rift Valley, the development is far from finished, but the plastic and steel structure already stretches over 20 hectares – the size of 20 football pitches.

The farm manager shows us millions of tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables being grown in 500m rows in computer controlled conditions. Spanish engineers are building the steel structure, Dutch technology minimises water use from two bore-holes and 1,000 women pick and pack 50 tonnes of food a day. Within 24 hours, it has been driven 200 miles to Addis Ababa and flown 1,000 miles to the shops and restaurants of Dubai, Jeddah and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Ethiopia is one of the hungriest countries in the world with more than 13 million people needing food aid, but paradoxically the government is offering at least 3m hectares of its most fertile land to rich countries and some of the world’s most wealthy individuals to export food for their own populations.

The 1,000 hectares of land which contain the Awassa greenhouses are leased for 99 years to a Saudi billionaire businessman, Ethiopian-born Sheikh Mohammed al-Amoudi, one of the 50 richest men in the world. His Saudi Star company plans to spend up to $2bn acquiring and developing 500,000 hectares of land in Ethiopia in the next few years. So far, it has bought four farms and is already growing wheat, rice, vegetables and flowers for the Saudi market. It expects eventually to employ more than 10,000 people.

But Ethiopia is only one of 20 or more African countries where land is being bought or leased for intensive agriculture on an immense scale in what may be the greatest change of ownership since the colonial era.

An Observer investigation estimates that up to 50m hectares of land – an area more than double the size of the UK – has been acquired in the last few years or is in the process of being negotiated by governments and wealthy investors working with state subsidies. The data used was collected by Grain, the International Institute for Environment and Development, the International Land Coalition, ActionAid and other non-governmental groups.

The land rush, which is still accelerating, has been triggered by the worldwide food shortages which followed the sharp oil price rises in 2008, growing water shortages and the European Union’s insistence that 10% of all transport fuel must come from plant-based biofuels by 2015. Continue reading »

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Mar 14

Victims of the plague during the 1574 Siege of Leiden by the Spaniards black death black plague bubonic plague


Like no other disease, plague evokes terror. One of the most lethal illnesses in human history, it killed probably a third of Europe’s population in the 14th century. It may also have been one of the first agents of biological warfare: It’s said that in the 1340s, invading Mongols catapulted their plague dead over the city wall into Kaffa in the Crimea.

Yet the plague is not just a disease of the distant past. While cases tapered off in the mid-20th century, the World Health Organization (WHO) now classifies plague as “re-emerging.” No one is predicting another pandemic like the Black Death that devastated Europe. The WHO now records at most only a few thousand cases worldwide per year; and, if detected early, the disease can be treated effectively with antibiotics. But since the early 1990s, plague has returned to places – including India, Zambia, Mozambique, Algeria and parts of China – that had not seen it in many years or even decades. Continue reading »

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