‘Explosive’ Food Prices

Overheating emerging markets, in China in particular, pose the biggest threat to the market and political situation in 2011 according to Philippe Gijsels, head of research at BNP Paribas Fortis Global Markets.

“These economies are clearly overheating and governments are putting measures in place to slow them down to fight inflationary pressure. More than anything else, food inflation is a problem,” Gijsels told CNBC.com.

“In countries were 70 percent to 80 percent and sometimes more of a family’s budget goes to food, explosive price rises risk to destabilize these societies. Remember the old saying: ‘hunger starves civilizations,’” he added.

“We believe that some of these governments will be quite aggressive in their inflation fight. And we do not even want to think about the consequences if this year were to have a disappointing monsoon,” Gijsels said.

He is worried that everyone is so bullish on China’s ability to engineer a soft landing.

“There is almost no emerging market bear to be found. And that in itself is already scary,” Gijsels said.

Read more here.

Freshman Senator Backing a Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment

Buoyed by strong Tea Party support during his campaign, freshman Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) has arrived in Washington and says he’s determined to take significant steps to rectify the staggering U.S. deficit. Lee talked to Fox News on Sunday about his proposed constitutional amendment to balance the budget.

In order to propose such an amendment, several steps would need to be taken. The first option, which Lee says is the path he will choose, is for both houses of Congress to pass a two thirds majority vote. The second option would be a Constitutional Convention, which would also require a two thirds vote from state legislatures. The proposal would then need to be ratified.

When asked about cutting government programs, including those that could be lifelines for Americans, Senator Lee took a strong stance, saying “no program will be held immune from review” and that Congress needs to consider “categorical across the board cuts” regardless of a program’s perceived importance.

If the U.S. government’s budget functioned more like a typical American household, Lee says “the credit cards would have been “cut to pieces” a long time ago. While acknowledging that a serious reduction in spending would not necessarily help ease existing debt, Lee said its still time to start “paying off the bill. It may take time but we need to stop accumulating new debt.”

Speaking during his weekly internet and radio address over the weekend, President Obama called for bipartisanship among both parties in Congress, citing reduction of the budget deficit as a top priority.

UK public health system ‘gridlocked’ by swine flu

For a shuddering preview of what Obamacare will look like when it is fully implemented–which by the way won’t occur until its namesake President Barack Obama (D) is safely out of office–let’s look at its role model, the British National Health Service (NHS), which has been around for over 60 years and has ironed out all the kinks.

According to the British paper The Telegraph

The NHS is in “gridlock”, with hospitals across the country being forced to declare that they have reached the highest level of emergency because of flu and other winter viruses.

Britain’s most senior accident and emergency doctor told The Sunday Telegraph that four weeks of intense pressures had left casualty departments “overwhelmed” with patients.

He said desperately sick people had been left for hours waiting on trolleys, with even those requiring intensive care enduring long delays.

Dozens of NHS units have cancelled surgery and clinics for outpatients. At least 10 major centres issued “black alerts” – the highest emergency warning – meaning they were at breaking point, forcing patients to be sent elsewhere.

Scores of hospital wards closed due to norovirus, the winter vomiting bug, which put more than 1,200 beds out of use in one week as nurses attempted to isolate the disease.

Fighting to restore a culture of life

A campaign that started in Los Angeles this week seeks to raise awareness to what is becoming known as “black genocide” — the devastation occurring in black America as result of abortion.

It’s modeled after a highly successful similar campaign conducted in Atlanta earlier this year by Georgia Right to Life and the Radiance Foundation.

According to just released data from the Guttmacher Institute, 1.21 million abortions were performed in the United States in 2008. Some 30 percent of these abortions were performed on black women.

With blacks accounting for about 12 percent of the U.S. population, the tragic disproportionate rate of abortion in this community is clear.

Seventy billboards will be posted around Los Angeles, with focus on neighborhoods with high percentage black population. The billboards show the face of a beautiful black child with a headline that says: “Black Children are an Endangered Species.”

The campaign is timed to coincide with March for Life, which notes the anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, and with Black History Month in February.

Abortion, of course, is a plague on the whole nation. But, as with all problems, the most vulnerable communities get hit the hardest.

A widely held assumption in our national discourse today is that there are “economic issues” and “social issues” that are separate, unrelated concerns. The fact that many actually believe that our nation’s economic vitality has nothing to do with the condition of the American family or our general attitudes toward life and personal responsibility is a symptom of rather than an answer to our problems.

Realities in black America speak to this issue. The 25 percent of this population in which poverty is entrenched and passed on from generation to generation is the portion of the population in which traditional family structure has been most broken and lost.

Study after study, for instance, shows that the biggest factor in earning power is education and the biggest factor in educational success is family background and the values prevailing in the home of the child.

A Rand study concluded that $500 billion would be added annually to our gross domestic product if test scores of black and Hispanic children reached national averages.

Read more here.

House vote to repeal healthcare reform set for Wednesday

House Republicans officially set their vote on legislation repealing healthcare reform for Wednesday.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) released his schedule for next week on Friday, which has the GOP-controlled House starting debate on its legislation on Tuesday before a Wednesday vote.

On Thursday, the House will debate and vote on legislation to instruct committees to develop alternatives to replace the reform law.

The vote represents somewhat of a return to normalcy in the House after all substantive floor action was postponed in the past week, in the wake of the attack against Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).

Republicans had faced some calls to change the name of their bill in the wake of the attack, but Cantor’s schedule showed no indication of doing so, referring to H.R. 2 by its official name, “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act.”

Killing Politicians and Other Guilty Pleasures

In the leftist pile-on blaming the Tucson shootings on the right, the collective voice of Hollywood was muted. Some, like Jane Fonda and Michael Moore, were among the notable exceptions, but most, including many normally outspoken liberals, were silent. Hollywood’s instinct for self-preservation makes many wary of anything that resembles the issue of whether John Hinckley’s attempted assassination of President Reagan was in any way related to Hinckley’s obsession with Martin Scorsese’s movie Taxi Driver.

Even after it became abundantly clear that the shooter was mentally disturbed rather than politically motivated, leftist politicians, pundits, and bloggers proclaimed that things like crosshairs on a campaign map of political districts and militaristic metaphors like “don’t retreat, reload” were subliminal calls to violence and political killings by even the apolitical among the deranged. It’s a matter of “climate,” they claimed.

Were these people expressing sincere conviction or betraying a despicably ghoulish opportunism? If they truly believe their claims and that the purveyors of this language and imagery must be held accountable and act responsibly, why aren’t they confronting Hollywood for presenting the killing of politicians in a favorable light? The answer is that such principles don’t apply to their political allies!

I am not referring to the British faux-documentary Death of a President (2006) that has been mentioned by some this last week, in which President George W. Bush is assassinated. I am writing of two American-made films in which characters presented as right-wing elected officials were killed, by either the hero of the movie (Shooter) or by one of the right-wing politician’s own minions in a scene intended to be humorous (Machete). In both films, the killing of the elected official was meant to be enjoyed by the audience, and for many on the left, that was precisely the case.

Read more here.

Rep. Issa’s House Panel Requests Homeland Security Documents

A House committee wants the Homeland Security Department to provide documents about a policy requiring political appointees to review many Freedom of Information Act requests before releasing them.

The request for e-mails and other documents is in a letter obtained Sunday by The Associated Press.

The request comes from the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Republican congressman Darrell Issa of California. It is one of the earliest moves by House Republicans who have vowed to launch numerous probes of President Barack Obama’s administration.

The Freedom of Information Act is supposed to ensure the quick public release of government documents without political consideration.

Oversight panel spokesman Frederick Hill says that documents the panel already has received seem inconsistent with comments by Homeland Security officials.

Hu Highlights Need for U.S.-China Cooperation, Questions Dollar

Chinese President Hu Jintao emphasized the need for cooperation with the U.S. in areas from new energy to space ahead of his visit to Washington this week, but he called the present U.S. dollar-dominated currency system a “product of the past” and highlighted moves to turn the yuan into a global currency.

“We both stand to gain from a sound China-U.S. relationship, and lose from confrontation,” Mr. Hu said in written answers to questions from The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post.

Mr. Hu acknowledged “some differences and sensitive issues between us,” but his tone was generally compromising, and he avoided specific mention of some of the controversial issues that have dogged relations with the U.S. over the past year or so—including U.S. arms sales to Taiwan that led to a freeze in military relations between the world’s sole superpower and its rising Asian rival.

On the economic front, Mr. Hu played down one of the main U.S. arguments for why China should appreciate its currency—that it will help China tame inflation. That is likely to disappoint Washington, which accuses China of unfairly boosting its exports by undervaluing the yuan, making its products cheaper overseas. The topic is expected to be high on U.S. President Barack Obama’s agenda when he meets Mr. Hu at the White House on Wednesday.

Mr. Hu also offered a veiled criticism of efforts by the U.S. Federal Reserve to stimulate growth through huge bond purchases to keep down long-term interest rates, a strategy that China has loudly complained about in the past as fueling inflation in emerging economies, including its own. He said that U.S. monetary policy “has a major impact on global liquidity and capital flows and therefore, the liquidity of the U.S. dollar should be kept at a reasonable and stable level.”

Read more here.

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