Saturday, April 12, 2008

Food Shortages Herald "New Era Of Hunger"

The writing is on the wall. We are headed for a worldwide depression if something isn't done soon. We need to wake up before for its too late:

A third day of riots in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, had by Friday paralyzed the city with looting and violence.

The demonstrations began earlier in the week, in protest against rising food prices, and turned into riots.

The looting has made access to food even more difficult, doing little to ease widespread hunger among Haitians.

[...]There have been riots in Bangladesh, Egypt, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Mozambique and Senegal. Rising prices have hit poor countries like Peru (and even developed countries like Italy and the United States).

A confluence of problems are driving the problem. They include soaring petroleum prices, which increase the cost of fertilizers, transport and food processing; rising demand for meat and dairy in China and India, resulting in increased costs for grain, used for cattle feed; and the ever-rising demand for raw materials to make biofuels.

As of December, 37 countries faced food crises, and 20 had imposed some sort of food-price controls. The U.N.'s World Food Program says it's facing a $500 million shortfall in funding this year to feed 89 million needy people.

World Bank President Robert Zoellick warned that prices could continue to rise for several years.

"This is not a this-year phenomenon," Zoellick said.

On Friday, the Group of 24 Developing Countries urged advanced nations to step up financial aid to help them deal with the severe impact of higher food and energy prices and the turmoil in global financial markets.

The G-24 said that coordinated international action is needed to prevent the emergence of a larger crisis, and agreed the International Monetary Fund has an important role in responding to the current crisis. They also urged the IMF's sister institution, the World Bank, to increase advice and financial support.

Jean-Claude Masangu-Mulongo, chairman of the G-24 and governor of Congo's central bank, said the world was facing "an unprecedented financial crisis that began ... in the heart of the system, the United States, and is spreading."

Transcript: Obama Indiana Speech 4-11-08

This speech was giving in Columbus, Indiana at a high school. Some excerpts below or read the entire transcript:

So, I have been running for President for about 15 months now. This is a town hall meeting, but I'll make some remarks at the outset and then we'll and then we'll open it up to questions and comments from people.

I've been running for president for about 15 months now which means there are babies who've been born and are now walking and talking since I started running for president. When I started to run, some people asked me, "Barack, why are you running this time, you're a relatively young man, why are you running so soon?"

And I had to explain that I wasn't running because of some long-held ambition or because I thought it was somehow owed to me,

"I was running because of what Dr. King called the fierce urgency of now, the fierce urgency of now, because I believe there is such a thing as being too late, there's such a thing as being too late, and that hour is almost upon us.

We are at a defining moment in our history and I know there are a lot of young people here today and so I want to speak to them as well. There are moments in the life of every generation where we've got to stand up and be counted and I think this is one of those moments.

Our nation is involved in two wars, one war that we need to win in Afghanistan, against Al Qaeda, those who killed 3,000 Americans and have declared war on us.

Another war that I believe should have never been authorized and and should have never been waged, A war that has cost us billions of dollars and thousands of lives. And a war that has not made us more safe.

Meanwhile here at home our economy is struggling and after seven and a half years of George Bush's economic policies, we now realize that pain trickles up. Because for a long time it was only people on Main Street who were having a tough time.

The economy was growing, the stock market was doing great, corporate profits were up, but this was the first economic expansion in U.S. history where the wages and incomes of ordinary families actually declined during an economic expansion. Because this wasn't a balanced economy, it wasn't good for everybody.

And all across Indiana, people are working harder and harder just to get by. They haven't seen a raise, but their costs of everything from health care to college to gas at the pump have gone up, so it's harder to save and it's harder to retire. And now people are worried about losing their homes because of the home foreclosure crisis and even those with good credit are having trouble because the financial markets have frozen up.

You've got 47 million people without health insurance and if you've got health insurance you've seen your co-payments, deductibles and your premiums going up and up and up.

And despite the slogans, we've got millions of children who are being left behind, unable to compete in a global economy [skip] aren't providing them what they need.

Transcript: ABC News Interviews George Bush

Here is the full transcript of Martha Raddatz of ABC News interviewing King George. Does he sound as detached from reality as ever? Judge for yourself:

RADDATZ: All during that period -- April, May, June, July -- when things were really going downhill, people were talking about there being civil war.

BUSH: Yes.

RADDATZ: .You were saying, 'We're winning. We have a plan for victory. We are winning,' up through October.

BUSH: Well, there was -- I also recognized -- I think if you'd go through the -- kind of fully analyze my statements, I was also saying, "The fighting is very tough, it's -- you know, the extremism is unacceptable. The murder is unacceptable."

And you know, it's very important to be realistic.

RADDATZ: But the overall thing -- when you say, "We're winning," you know what the American people hear. You know how that will play.

BUSH: Well, yes. I think we -- and I wanted -- that's as much trying to bolster the spirits of the people in the field as well as -- look, you can't have the commander in chief say to a bunch of kids who are sacrificing either, "It's not worth it," or, "You're losing." I mean, what does that do for morale?

I'm the commander in chief of the military as well, obviously, as, you know, somebody who speaks to the country. And if you look at my remarks, they were balanced. They weren't Pollyannaish.

RADDATZ: But you weren't talking about a new strategy. I mean, I remember going to some strategy tactic things with you. You weren't talking about a new strategy publicly.

It's one thing for the troops and boosting morale. I totally understand that. But do you think you lost credibility with the American people? Do you think that's one...

BUSH: Yes.

RADDATZ: ... of the reasons you couldn't sell this?

BUSH: I think the quickest way to lose credibility with the American people is for them to think the president makes decisions based upon the latest public opinion poll or what's good for a political party.