Category Archives: Financial

After “Hammer Blow” From Google, A “Paralyzed” Huawei Scrambles To Develop Its Own Operating System

On Monday, Beijing woke up to a new, and far more dire trade war reality for its flagship telecom company: Google which in 2005 bought Android, whose software has since become the most popular mobile operating system in the world, said it would stop supplying Huawei with Android software in order to comply with a US government ban.

Speaking to the FT, Tim Watkins, head of Huawei in Western Europe, said the company had been “astounded” by the ban, but said Huawei was “as well prepared as we could have been.”

Perhaps… yet even so analysts said being cut off from Android was what the FT dubbed “a hammer blow” to a company whose smartphone business has been soaring in recent years, and rose 50% year-on-year to 59 million in the first quarter, while its rivals Samsung and Apple dropped 10% and 23% respectively. In all of 2018, the company shipped some 200 million smartphones, most of them preloaded with Android software.

“Huawei seemed to have unstoppable momentum but with one single blow this could undermine their ambition to become the world’s largest smartphone maker,” said Ben Wood, principal analyst at CCS Insight. Another telecom consultant quoted by the FT, said that the move by Google was the clearest sign yet that Huawei’s partners are “abandoning ship”. He predicted that Washington would begin to “really squeeze the supply line properly now”.

Even without further squeezing, Huawei is in deep trouble: the world’s second-largest smartphone maker is already facing the prospect of being shut out of the world’s most popular smartphone operating system after being placed on a “banned entity” list by the White House, which forbids US companies to supply it with technology.

But with China reportedly being the party that instigated the collapse in trade negotiations in their late stage, surely Beijing, and Huawei was prepared for this contingency?

Not really.

According to a separate report by the FT, Huawei said “it will be able to roll out its own mobile phone operating system “very quickly” if its smartphones are cut off from Google’s Android software.”

Which they now are. And while Huawei is confident that it will have its own (reverse-engineered knock off) operating system “soon”, the bottom line is that the Chinese telecom giant has no Plan B available right now.

This is a major problem for the company which on Tuesday will launch its new flagship Honor phone in London. But, as the FT reports, “networks such as Vodafone and EE are reviewing whether they can press ahead with Huawei handsets at the heart of their launch strategy for 5G, the next generation of mobile internet.”

Scrambling to find alternatives, Huawei has promised its customers that their current phones would continue to work, and have access to Google’s Play Store to buy apps, although it is unclear based on what it can make such a representation. Indeed, as Tim Watkins warned: “The future is not so certain.” Huawei has cast itself as the victim of the ongoing trade war between the US and China, and Watkins said the company was “caught in the middle”.

Watkins also said the group had been preparing for the worst, after becoming a target for the US last year, and that it had been working on its own operating system, which “can kick in very quickly”. He noted that the OS has been trialled in some parts of China.

It was unclear if the name of the new OS will be iSpy 1.0.

Joking aside, creating a new operating system is not a trivial matter: China’s online retail giant, Alibaba, tried to build “China’s Android” but ended up locking horns with Google over just how different its Aliyun OS was from Android. Its successor, ALIOS, is based on Android. Similarly, Samsung has failed to gain much traction for its Linux-based Tizen operating system.

Plan B

Huawei, which in addition to Android on mobile phones uses Microsoft’s Windows on its laptops and tablets which will likely be targeted next, has long sought to develop its own operating systems. In an interview with Germany’s Die Welt newspaper, and subsequently confirmed by Huawei, Richard Yu, chief executive of the consumer division, said the company would “be prepared” in the event of any blacklisting.

“That’s our plan B. But of course we prefer to work with the ecosystems of Google and Microsoft,” he told the German publication in March. Microsoft declined to comment.

Adding to Huawei’s headaches, the company relies on chips made by Qualcomm and Intel and following earlier news that these US tech giants may be next to shut off supplies to Huawei, Watkins said the company has stockpiled five years of spare parts for its phones and one year’s worth of components.

That’s great, the only problem is that such a strategy virtually paralyzes Huawei’s future development. Worse, Citi analysts published a research report saying the potential software ban “could paralyse Huawei’s smartphone and equipment business.”

To be sure, the worst case scenario could result in a far more dire outcome: if Google blocks Huawei from Android, which is used on nearly three-quarters of the world’s mobile phones and offers more than 2.5m apps, the Chinese company will still be able to use the basic, open-source version of the software.

But its future smartphones may lose access to apps including YouTube, Gmail and Maps, and to the Google Play store and to security updates. This is likely to have a severe effect on their attractiveness to consumers outside of China, where many Google apps are already banned.

The hit to the company’s top and bottom line would be severe: while Huawei does not break out its smartphones business, last year it said that the consumer business contributed 48% of company revenue. Richard Windsor, an independent analyst, said losing the Google ecosystem “is very likely to cost Huawei all of its smartphone shipments outside China” — which, according to data consultancies including Counterpoint Research, is about half its total.

No wonder then that Huawei’s bonds are plunging at the fastest pace on record…

… as the company’s offshore creditors flee for both fundamental reasons, as the company’s cash flow is expected to grind to a halt, as well as concerns they may be forced to liquidate any securities belonging to the Chinese telecom.

Saxo Bank’s head of equity strategy, Peter Garnry, said Google’s move was “the starting signal of a technology cold war”, adding: “What we are witnessing is a potential reconfiguration of global trade.” Although, in an ironic twist, the strategist believes that “US companies with significant revenue exposure to Greater China (both the mainland and Hong Kong) are the ones facing the most downside risk from any further escalation of the trade war.”

If Garnry is correct, watch for China to do everything in its power to respond by hitting the US where it hurts the most: the sale and production of iPhones. We can only wonder if Tim Cook will be as unprepared as Huawei is, when China blocks not only the sale of iPhones and apps on the mainland, but also bars all the assembly of iPhones for the foreseeable future…

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Washington and Wall Street wake up to the reality that Beijing is happy to walk away

As Wall Street reels from the shock of a trade war exploding to new heights in the form of tariffs and counter tariffs, there’s another reality that is setting in — that China seems happy to walk away from trade talks.

That’s the upshot after China first rolled back some concessions — prompting a new escalation in tariffs — and then showed up to Washington without any other compromises.

“Until a week ago, it looked likely that a far-reaching trade deal would be struck between the U.S. and China within a matter of weeks. But negotiations hit a severe impasse, as the U.S. side accused the Chinese side of having reneged on key concessions,” said Stephen Gallagher, U.S. chief economist at Societe Generale, in a note to clients.

Whether Beijing has miscalculated or not, China’s policy makers are betting that they can absorb a blow to the nearly $400 billion of exports that the country, on net, sells to the U.S. each year.

“Between loose credit and loose fiscal policy, China did rebalance away from exports,” said Brad Setser, senior fellow for international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations.

According to World Bank estimates, consumption in China last year contributed 4.6 percentage points to growth, up from 3.6 points in 2013. Investment, meanwhile, declined to 2.3 points in 2018 from 4.3 percentage points in 2013.

Apart from an usually strong March, industrial production in China has slowed markedly as well.

“Trump’s escalation comes at an awkward time, but if push comes to shove, they’re quite capable of supporting growth through more investment and credit,” he said. He added that China has the capability of borrowing more, particularly if it’s through the central government and not more debt-saddled provincial governments.

In fact, China has already done so.

“China has stepped up its stimulus measures aggressively since the start of the year, which suggests mature policy appreciation of the risks,” added Lena Komileva, chief economist at G-Plus Economics, in a note to clients.

That’s not to say China would escape unscathed from a full-fledged war. SocGen, for instance, says the drag from the trade war for China can be as high as 1.2% of its GDP. And that’s without modeling the greater impact on global confidence as well as China’s relations with key counterparts like the European Union and Japan.

Even with the downturn in global markets, there still seems to be a belief that one or both sides will blink.

Even with the heavy losses on Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.11% is still up nearly 9% for the year, hardly the market pricing in of a global economic collapse.

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Video: The Oroville Dam: What a Difference a Month of Snow and Rain Makes

Over two years after repairs to the main spillway of the Oroville Dam after a near catastrophic failure of the dams emergency runoff chutes the dam was put to the test for media and the world to see. They barely ran the spillway at full operation (understandable), but then they stopped using it and have started working on the inside of what appears to be a – still leaky – spillway.

In this video I use the reporting (fair use) of KPIX CBS Bay Area on the April 2nd re-opening of the dam and then I use the same news cast reporting of ‘rumors’ that the dam is not up to standards to hold massive water runoff if needed. In this video I report and reply to Viewers Comments on both news stories and find out that REAL people are REALLY concerned about the health and well being of the Oroville Dam. No fearporn here Juan. Just real reporting with real public concerns. Open the Video

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Oroville Dam Crisis Worsens-Last Ditch Effort to Save the Dam Is Underway

California faces a triple whammy in which millions of California residents are at risk for three major dam failures. Most readers are aware that the Oroville Dam is in crisis. The latter part of this report will provide a very grim update of the condition of the Oroville and the desperate measures being employed to delay the catastrophic failure of the dam. However, a second dam, the Prado Dam, which now threatens over one million resident of Orange County is in crisis.

CSS colleague, Alexandra Daley, sent a summation of a newspaper account, written by Ashley Ludwig, Patch Staff which was written on May 17, 2019 at 1PM Pacific time.

The Prado Dam is now at a high urgency risk characterization, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Federal engineers are stating that there is a good chance for a “significant flood event. and they upgraded the dam’s risk category from moderate to high urgency.”

According to Federal officials, strong Pacific storms, could produce conditions that could breach the spillway of the Orange County dam. A catastrophic failure has the potential to “drown out dozens of downstream communities, from Anaheim’s Disneyland to Newport Beach” according to the Army Corps of Engineers from the Los Angeles District.

Over 1.4 million people live and work below Prado Dam, with property valued at over $61 billion, including Disneyland and many high-end resorts and properties in Newport Beach.

The Dam has been near failure in the past. In 2005, a leak in the dam led to the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people in Corona.

Army Corps of Engineer spokesperson, Lillian Doherty told the LA Times that the spillway was a concern, but that repairs on the spillway won’t begin for at least two years. The obvious question jumps off the page: What if a hundred year storm should strike the area before repairs are completed? This damaged spillway is a clear and present danger to 1.4 million residents. However, farther north, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) won’t even admit the Oroville Dam spillway cannot be used
Ominous Update On the Oroville Dam

Spillway? Did someone say spillway? At least in Orange County, the federal government has a presence. The people of Orange County should feel good about this. For months, Paul Preston and myself have saying the spillway is damaged and cannot be used to handle the spring run-offs and heavy rains. The people that have mocked our warnings owe us both an apology. In a last ditch effort to save the dam, the DWR is attempting to divert water through the power plant by utilizing something called penstocks. This will allow the Oroville Dam to generate 13,000 cubic feet per second of water with regard to the outflow of water expelled by the dam. Presently the dam cannot generate more than 10,000 cubic feet per second. This process is now needed because the spillway is damaged beyond repair. This is what Paul Preston and myself have been saying, and showing with photos published on our respective websites, and we are now seeing the proof which is employing this desperate and last ditch attempt to delay the inevitable. From the inflow/outflow numbers at the dam, we figure they have an additional three days. The day of reckoning for Oroville Dam is almost here .

The Oroville Dam is less than 10 feet from overtopping. What happens when an earthen dam like the Prado or Oroville Dam has its water overtop the dam? Here is what Army Corps of Engineers Division Chief, Lillian Doherty says about this issue.

"Our concern right now is about the concrete slab of the spillway and how well it will perform if water were to spill over the top of the dam, We will determine whether or not it is as reliable as it should be."

At least the residents near the Prado Dam are being considered. Doherty stated that they are working to develop outreach strategies to alert the estimated 1.4 million people who could be impacted. The people, downstream from the Oroville Dam are being lied to by the DWS. They are being told there is no danger despite the fact that it is obvious for any to see that has eyes to see.

Doherty said her agency is working with a national team of experts to develop interim and permanent risk-reduction measures at the Prado Dam, as well as public outreach strategies to alert the estimated 1.4 million people who live and work in 29 communities downstream.

One may remember that in February 2017, Butte County officials evacuated 180,000 people from the Oroville Dam area because a concrete spillway was deemed to be ineffective. As the situation at the Oroville Dam disintegrated during heavy rains, an evacuation of more than 180,000 people commenced. Had the dam collapsed, all would have been caught in the resulting flood waters and would have all perished in their cars.

The head of the California Water Resources Department was removed after an independent probe found the failure was the result of a lax safety culture. Nothing has changed.

That same year, the Corps of Engineers discovered that the 60-year-old Whittier Narrows Dam, about 40 miles to the west of Prado Dam, was structurally unsafe and posed a potentially catastrophic risk to more than 1 million people in working-class communities along the San Gabriel River floodplain.

Engineers also found that the earthen structure could fail if water were to flow over its crest.

With less than 10 feet from overtopping, why isn’t the Oroville Dam attracting the attention of the Army Corps of Engineers? Why is the inept DWR still in charge? The Whittier Narrows is of concern because the Army Corps of Engineers used the phrase “catastrophic risk to more than 1 million people..”. This is exactly what we are looking at with regard to the Oroville Dam and nobody is saying anything. If the Oroville Dam suffers a catastrophic failure the following will happen with regard to the impact on human survival:

A 30 foot wall of water will escape the failed Oroville Dam
The water will be traveling at 75 mph
It would take a minimum of 72 hours to evacuate Sacramento and Stockton
A 20 foot wall of water would reach Sacramento within 45 minutes
Over 1 million people lie in the path of the water 
As with all these soon-to-be-failed dams, the spillways constitute the major reason for potential failure and we are not clearly seeing this condition at the Oroville Dam

From Agenda 21 Radio

Please note the enormous craines. This photo was taken on May 16, 2019. They are not holding back the water, they are checking for catastrophic failure potential. Not a word to the public, but the DWR is very worried!

The Latest Outflow and Inflow Reports From the Oroville Dam

Earlier in this publication I alluded to a new mitigation strategy being employed by the DWR as they are rerouting some of the water through the power plant. They are using the penstocks to accomplish this goal. The penstocks can mitigate flood waters to a certain degree and for only a certain time. The use of the penstocks stresses the dam in other areas and is only meant to mitigate a severe crisis. By using the penstocks, the DWR is admitting that the spillway is not usable. Again, the outflow that can be generated is about 13,000 cubic feet per second. The water approaching the dam over the next several days is peaking at 17,500 inflow. Eventually the dam is going to overtop and the dam will likely fail.

Below is a chart which shows the use of the penstocks is barely meeting the need. However, as it continues to rain and the snow begins to melt, catastrophe is likely.

OROVILLE DAM (ORO)

Elevation: 900.0′ · FEATHER R basin · Operator: CA Dept of Water Resources/O&M Oroville Field Division

Query executed Saturday at 12:17:37

Provisional data, subject to change.
Select a sensor type for a plot of data.

Hourly Data

Earlier

DATE / TIME
PDT

RES ELE
FEET

STORAGE
AF

OUTFLOW
CFS

INFLOW
CFS

RIV REL
CFS

RAIN
INCHES

BAT VOL
VOLTS

05/18/2019 01:00

890.92

3,396,134

11,995

13,384

9,461

44.04

13.4

05/18/2019 02:00

890.93

3,396,288

11,988

13,993

9,461

44.04

13.4

05/18/2019 03:00

890.94

3,396,442

11,875

13,578

9,487

44.04

13.4

05/18/2019 04:00

890.95

3,396,595

11,925

13,083

9,512

44.04

13.4

05/18/2019 05:00

890.95

3,396,595

11,942

11,914

9,487

44.04

13.4

05/18/2019 06:00

890.95

3,396,595

12,035

11,921

9,487

44.04

13.4

05/18/2019 07:00

890.95

3,396,595

12,009

11,927

9,512

44.04

13.4

05/18/2019 08:00

890.95

3,396,595

11,961

11,920

9,513

44.04

13.4

05/18/2019 09:00

890.95

3,396,595

12,000

11,917

9,513

44.04

13.4

05/18/2019 10:00

890.95

3,396,595

12,052

11,931

9,513

44.04

13.4

05/18/2019 11:00

890.95

3,396,595

11,927

11,942

9,513

44.04

13.4

05/18/2019 12:00

890.95

3,396,595

44.04

13.4

Conclusion

According to Paul Preston, some people are evacuating. However, many more are unaware of the danger. Both the federal and state governments are acting irresponsibly. Given how quickly the Oroville dam could unravel, evacuations should have already been underway.

"A troubling theme is emerging as the Corps reviews its portfolio of large flood control systems that were built a long time ago and are now showing signs of severe stress," said Daniel Swain, a UCLA climate scientist told the LA Times. "Federal engineers are finding that these systems are not as resilient as they thought they were and that the frequency of what were regarded as once-in-a-lifetime storms is increasing significantly."

https://thecommonsenseshow.com/activism-agenda-21-conspiracy/oroville-dam-crisis-worsens-last-ditch-effort-save-dam-underway

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JPM Warns About “Perfect Storm” American Farm Crisis, Slashes Deere To Sell

An escalating Sino-American trade war is creating turmoil in rural America.

JPMorgan told clients Tuesday, the American agriculture complex is on the verge of disaster, with farmers caught in the crossfire of an escalating trade war, reported the Financial Times.

"Overall, this is a perfect storm for US farmers," JPMorgan analyst Ann Duignan warned investors.

With a farm crisis currently underway, Duignan downgraded John Deere’s stock to underweight, citing fundamentals in the Midwest are “rapidly deteriorating.”

And his downgrade was well-timed after Deere’s earnings overnight, as Bloomberg reports that Deere & Co. is no longer “cautiously optimistic” as it has been for so long.

The machinery giant reported lower-than-expected earnings and cut its annual guidance as its farmer customers shun major purchases amid uncertainty about demand for their products.

“Ongoing concerns about export-market access, near-term demand for commodities such as soybeans, and a delayed planting season in much of North America are causing farmers to become much more cautious about making major purchases,” Chief Executive Officer Sam Allen said in a statement Friday.

And shares are tumbling…

Farmers are facing tremendous headwinds, including worsening trade war, collapsing soybean exports, global oversupply conditions, and crop yield losses in the Midwest due to flooding.

“As a result of tariffs and excess global supply, US soybean export inspections are down 27%” YoY, Duignan wrote. She added that the Chinese are shunning US farmers and are purchasing crops from South America.

Refinitiv trade flows indicate the trade war has cut over 80% of US soybean exports to China so far this market year (September-August).

Domestically, “the Midwest is off to a very slow start in 2019/20,” Duignan wrote. The growing season is “off to a bad start,” and soybeans are far behind in “planting progress” compared with 2018, she said.

After promising over the weekend to “never surrender to external pressure,” Beijing defied President Trump’s demands that it not resort to retaliatory tariffs and announced plans to slap new levies on $60 billion in US goods.

China’s retaliatory tariff rate increase comes after the White House raised tariffs on some $200 billion in Chinese goods to 25% from 10% on Friday.

In more bad news, China might completely stop purchasing agricultural products from the US. There are currently 7.4 million metric tons of beans that have not yet been shipped to China, according to the US Department of Agriculture data. China could easily cancel the orders, or if the beans are en route, Chinese ports could refuse to take the cargo, a Bloomberg headline said.

This all comes at a time when farmers are defaulting and missing payments at alarming rates, forcing regional banks to restructure and refinance existing loans.

Several months ago, we showed the number of farmers filing for bankruptcy climbed to its highest level in a decade.

Because of the unfriendly environment, the level of farm debt is approaching highs not seen since the farm crisis of the early 1980s.

The deepening trade war has led Trump to pledge $15 billion worth of agricultural product purchases from American farmers through the Commodity Credit Corp., a federal agency given authority during the Great Depression to stabilize prices.

Farmers are some of Trump’s key supporters, they’ve been big advocates of getting a better trade deal with Beijing, but now many are running out of patience as the Midwest goes bankrupt – triggering JPM to write a gloomy note to investors of the next farm crisis

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Total Catastrophe For U.S. Corn Production: Only 30% Of U.S. Corn Fields Have Been Planted – 5 Year Average Is 66%

2019 is turning out to be a nightmare that never ends for the agriculture industry. Thanks to endless rain and unprecedented flooding, fields all over the middle part of the country are absolutely soaked right now, and this has prevented many farmers from getting their crops in the ground. I knew that this was a problem, but when I heard that only 30 percent of U.S. corn fields had been planted as of Sunday, I had a really hard time believing it. But it turns out that number is 100 percent accurate. And at this point corn farmers are up against a wall because crop insurance final planting dates have either already passed or are coming up very quickly. In addition, for every day after May 15th that corn is not in the ground, farmers lose approximately 2 percent of their yield.
Unfortunately, more rain is on the way, and it looks like thousands of corn farmers will not be able to plant corn at all this year. It is no exaggeration to say that what we are facing is a true national catastrophe.

According to the Department of Agriculture, over the past five years an average of 66 percent of all corn fields were already planted by now…

U.S. farmers seeded 30% of the U.S. 2019 corn crop by Sunday, the government said, lagging the five-year average of 66%. The soybean crop was 9% planted, behind the five-year average of 29%.

Soybean farmers have more time to recover, but they are facing a unique problem of their own which we will talk about later in the article.

But first, let’s take a look at the corn planting numbers from some of our most important corn producing states. I think that you will agree that these numbers are almost too crazy to believe…

Iowa: 48 percent planted – 5 year average 76 percent

Minnesota: 21 percent planted – 5 year average 65 percent

North Dakota: 11 percent planted – 5 year average 43 percent

South Dakota: 4 percent planted – 5 year average 54 percent

Yes, you read those numbers correctly.

Can you imagine what this is going to do to food prices?

Many farmers are extremely eager to plant crops, but the wet conditions have made it impossible. The following comes from ABC 7 Chicago…

McNeill grows corn and soybeans on more than 500 acres in Grayslake. But much of his farmland is underwater right now, and all of it is too wet to plant. Rain is a farmer’s friend in the summer but in the spring too much rain keeps farmers from planting.

The unusually wet spring has affected farmers throughout the Midwest, but Illinois has been especially hard hit. Experts say with the soil so wet, heavy and cold, it takes the air out and washes nutrients away, making it difficult if not impossible for seeds to take root.

Right now, soil moisture levels in the state of Illinois “are in the 90th to 99th percentile statewide”. In other words, the entire state is completely and utterly drenched.

As a result, very few Illinois farmers have been able to get corn or soybeans in the ground at this point…

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s crop progress reports, about 11% of Illinois corn has been planted and about 4% of soybeans. Last year at this time, 88% of corn and 56% of soybeans were in the ground.

I would use the word “catastrophe” to describe what Illinois farmers are facing, but the truth is that what they are going through is far beyond that.

Normally, if corn farmers have a problem getting corn in the ground then they just switch to soybeans instead. But thanks to the trade war, soybean exports have plummeted dramatically, and the price of soybeans is the lowest that it has been in a decade.

As a result there is very little profit, if any, in growing soybeans this year…

Farmers in many parts of the corn belt have suffered from a wet and cooler spring, which has prevented them from planting corn. Typically when it becomes too late to plant corn, farmers will instead plant soybeans, which can grow later into the fall before harvest is required. Yet now, planting soybeans with the overabundance already in bins and scant hope for sales to one of the biggest buyers in China, could raise the risk of a financial disaster.

And if the wet conditions persist, many soybean farms are not going to be able to plant crops at all this year.

Sadly, global weather patterns are continuing to go haywire, and much more rain is coming to the middle of the country starting on Friday…

Any hopes of getting corn and soybean planting back on track in the U.S. may be washed away starting Friday as a pair of storms threaten to deliver a “one-two punch” of soaking rain and tornadoes across the Great Plains and Midwest through next week.

As much as 3 to 5 inches (8 to 13 centimeters) of rain will soak soils from South Dakota and Minnesota south to Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, according to the U.S. Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.

We have never had a year quite like this before, and U.S. food production is going to be substantially below expectations. I very much encourage everyone to get prepared for much higher food prices and a tremendous amount of uncertainty in the months ahead.

Even though I have been regularly documenting the nightmarish agricultural conditions in the middle of the country, the numbers in this article are much worse than I thought they would be at this point in 2019.

This is truly a major national crisis, and it is just getting started.

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Trump Quietly Reversed Obama Policy That Allowed Illegal Aliens To Work

Quietly, it seems, President Donald Trump reversed the usurper Barack Hussein Obama Soetoro Sobarkah’s policies, which enabled illegal aliens to work far easier in America. The return of “no match” letters appear to be part of the administration’s Buy American, Hire American policies.

Bloomberg reported:

The Social Security Administration has revived an old practice of notifying employers of mismatches between information on tax forms and the agency’s records.

Starting in March, the SSA began sending employer correction request notices, also known as “no-match letters,” to employers with at least one employee whose name and Social Security number combination on a filed W-2 doesn’t match SSA records. The letters instruct employers to register for the agency’s Business Services Online and correct the mismatch within 60 days

Some 575,000 employers already have received letters.

The return of no-match letters, which haven’t been sent to employers for more than a decade, already is stirring controversy among advocacy groups and some Democratic lawmakers. The move is viewed as another Trump administration policy targeting immigrants, sparking concerns that companies could fire employees pre-emptively, fearing that they might lack work authorization.

While some like Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-IL) refer to this as scare tactics, one has to question what the problem actually is? If Social Security numbers don’t match names, shouldn’t that be a red flag that not only do you have an illegal alien using it, but that a true American’s identity might have been stolen? Of course!

Of course, Democrats are protesting this!

The Hill reported on their efforts:

The no-match letters, Democrats argue, are being instituted as part of the Trump administration's crackdown on immigration as a measure of outing to employers undocumented immigrants working with false or stolen SSNs.

The agency has defended the practice of using the letters in the past, telling NPR in late March that it was focused on improving the accuracy of its record.

"If we cannot match the name and SSN reported on a W-2 to our records, we cannot credit earnings to a worker's record," spokesman Mark Hinkle said in a statement at the time. "When earnings are missing, the worker may not qualify for Social Security benefits he or she is due or the benefit amount may be incorrect."

At least 46 Democrats signed a letter that was sent to acting Social Security Administration Commissioner Nancy Berryhill earlier this month urging her to retract that orders she was given.

“This action will cause numerous problems by diverting resources away from frontline workers whose primary mission is administering benefits,” the Democrats wrote of the Employer Correction Request Notices. “Additionally, this rule can result in increased discrimination and abuses against U.S. workers, particularly women.”

Berry was also sent another letter signed by 146 labor and immigration organizations that claims that such letters are ineffective, endanger citizens and labor rights and could overwhelm the SSA’s resources.

“Other than to instill fear and to add to the series of attacks that have come down against the immigrant community — whether it’s the Census question, whether it’s the public charge initiative against lawful permanent residents — this is one more tool in their arsenal, I think, to drive the community into the shadows of society, to create more anti-immigrant sentiment in the country and just to create fear and instability in communities with large immigrant populations,” said Rep. Jesús García (D-Ill.), the lead signatory of the Democratic letter.

OK, look, I don’t care for the Social Security Administration anymore than I do the IRS, and I don’t doubt there will be some hangups concerning errant letters, but are these people seriously arguing against these measures when, again, not only could we be talking about illegal aliens but identity theft of Americans?

“You should not use this letter to take any adverse action against an employee, such as laying off, suspending, firing or discriminating against that individual, just because his or her SSN or name does not match our records,” according to a sample “no-match” letter

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Total Catastrophe For U.S. Corn Production Will Impact All Of Us

2019 is turning out to be a nightmare that never ends for the agriculture industry. Thanks to endless rain and unprecedented flooding, fields all over the middle part of the country are absolutely soaked right now, and this has prevented many farmers from getting their crops in the ground.

I knew that this was a problem, but when I heard that only 30 percent of U.S. corn fields had been planted as of Sunday, I had a really hard time believing it. But it turns out that number is 100 percent accurate. And at this point corn farmers are up against a wall because crop insurance final planting dates have either already passed or are coming up very quickly.

In addition, for every day after May 15th that corn is not in the ground, farmers lose approximately 2 percent of their yield. Unfortunately, more rain is on the way, and it looks like thousands of corn farmers will not be able to plant corn at all this year. It is no exaggeration to say that what we are facing is a true national catastrophe.

According to the Department of Agriculture, over the past five years an average of 66 percent of all corn fields were already planted by now…

U.S. farmers seeded 30% of the U.S. 2019 corn crop by Sunday, the government said, lagging the five-year average of 66%. The soybean crop was 9% planted, behind the five-year average of 29%.

Soybean farmers have more time to recover, but they are facing a unique problem of their own which we will talk about later in the article.

But first, let’s take a look at the corn planting numbers from some of our most important corn producing states. I think that you will agree that these numbers are almost too crazy to believe…

Iowa: 48 percent planted – 5 year average 76 percent

Minnesota: 21 percent planted – 5 year average 65 percent

North Dakota: 11 percent planted – 5 year average 43 percent

South Dakota: 4 percent planted – 5 year average 54 percent

Yes, you read those numbers correctly.

Can you imagine what this is going to do to food prices?

Many farmers are extremely eager to plant crops, but the wet conditions have made it impossible. The following comes from ABC 7 Chicago…

McNeill grows corn and soybeans on more than 500 acres in Grayslake. But much of his farmland is underwater right now, and all of it is too wet to plant. Rain is a farmer’s friend in the summer but in the spring too much rain keeps farmers from planting.

The unusually wet spring has affected farmers throughout the Midwest, but Illinois has been especially hard hit. Experts say with the soil so wet, heavy and cold, it takes the air out and washes nutrients away, making it difficult if not impossible for seeds to take root.

Right now, soil moisture levels in the state of Illinois “are in the 90th to 99th percentile statewide”. In other words, the entire state is completely and utterly drenched.

As a result, very few Illinois farmers have been able to get corn or soybeans in the ground at this point…

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s crop progress reports, about 11% of Illinois corn has been planted and about 4% of soybeans. Last year at this time, 88% of corn and 56% of soybeans were in the ground.

I would use the word “catastrophe” to describe what Illinois farmers are facing, but the truth is that what they are going through is far beyond that.

Normally, if corn farmers have a problem getting corn in the ground then they just switch to soybeans instead. But thanks to the trade war, soybean exports have plummeted dramatically, and the price of soybeans is the lowest that it has been in a decade.

As a result there is very little profit, if any, in growing soybeans this year…

Farmers in many parts of the corn belt have suffered from a wet and cooler spring, which has prevented them from planting corn. Typically when it becomes too late to plant corn, farmers will instead plant soybeans, which can grow later into the fall before harvest is required.

Yet now, planting soybeans with the overabundance already in bins and scant hope for sales to one of the biggest buyers in China, could raise the risk of a financial disaster.

And if the wet conditions persist, many soybean farms are not going to be able to plant crops at all this year.

Sadly, global weather patterns are continuing to go haywire, and much more rain is coming to the middle of the country starting on Friday…

Any hopes of getting corn and soybean planting back on track in the U.S. may be washed away starting Friday as a pair of storms threaten to deliver a “one-two punch” of soaking rain and tornadoes across the Great Plains and Midwest through next week.

As much as 3 to 5 inches (8 to 13 centimeters) of rain will soak soils from South Dakota and Minnesota south to Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, according to the U.S. Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.

We have never had a year quite like this before, and U.S. food production is going to be substantially below expectations. I very much encourage everyone to get prepared for much higher food prices and a tremendous amount of uncertainty in the months ahead.

Even though I have been regularly documenting the nightmarish agricultural conditions in the middle of the country, the numbers in this article are much worse than I thought they would be at this point in 2019.

This is truly a major national crisis, and it is just getting started

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US food crisis: Spring’s record-late arrival in parts of the U.S. has catastrophic consequences for food industry – Food prices set to rise

The calendar might have said it was spring more than a month ago, but the physical signs of it around us told a much different story. According to officials data, this was the latest arrival of spring in 38 years of records for parts of Kansas and Oklahoma.

Portions of Washington and Oregon also saw the latest spring start on record. In parts of the Plains, in places like South Dakota, Nebraska and even into Oklahoma, a late spring like this year’s only happens once every 10 or more years. Many farming fields are ruined and will not be planted this year. Otherwise, planting has been dramatically delayed.

Spring and its typical green growth arrived later than usual in much of the U.S., save for parts of the South, thanks to a stubborn weather pattern that most noticeably affected parts of the central and southern Plains, Northwest and northern New England.

Spring was more than 10 days later than usual in those areas, according to data from The USA National Phenology Network, which tracks the physical arrival of spring by looking at when leaves and other growth appears and blooms.
crop map

Using data that dates back to 1981, the group also examined how unusual this spring’s lateness was compared to previous years and came to the following results:

This was the latest arrival of spring in 38 years of records for parts of Kansas and Oklahoma.

Portions of Washington and Oregon also saw the latest spring start on record. 

In parts of the Plains, in places like South Dakota, Nebraska and even into Oklahoma, a late spring like this year’s only happens once every 10 or more years.

The absence of spring was due to a stubborn upper-level pattern with a southward dip in the jet stream over parts of the Northwest, Plains and Midwest for much of March and April. This funneled below-average temperatures into these regions at times.
Chilly weather

Due to this chilly pattern, Marquette, Michigan, has received above-average snowfall (227.5 inches) and is experiencing its second-longest streak of temperatures below 70 degrees. The last time temperatures reached at least 70 degrees was September, 17, 2018, which was 238 days ago. The current record longest streak is 252 days.

The record will be tied if the temperature does not climb to at least 70 degrees by May 28. Based on the current forecast for Marquette, it is possible that a new record could be set. Here a summary for the USA:

Below-average temperatures from Montana to Wisconsin and as far south as Iowa and Nebraska lasted from January through April. Precipitation was also well-above-average in the Midwest and into South Dakota, as well as into parts of the West for the first four months of the year. 

Another cold blast surged southward in early May and brought near-freezing temperatures to portions of the central Plains. Duluth, Minnesota, even shattered a May snowfall record when more than 10 inches fell on May 8 into May 9.

Total catastrophe for US farming production

Some of the same locations in the Plains and Midwest with chilly temperatures also experienced very wet conditions. This combination of cold and wet has exacerbated the agricultural impacts of a late spring.

Snowmelt and heavy rainfall brought significant river flooding to parts of the Plains and Midwest in March. Many farming fields were ruined and will not be planted this year, according to the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC).
Corn

The Midwest Regional Climate Center noted that spring planting was delayed due to the wet and cold conditions in the region. As of the end of April, corn planting was behind the 5-year average in all Midwest states.

By May 12, only 30 percent of the nation’s corn acreage had been planted, 36 points behind the 5-year average. The corn planting in Illinois as of May 12 was the slowest on record, dating back to 1979, according to Karen Braun, global agriculture columnist at Thomson Reuters.
Soybean, Sugar Beet and Oat

The soybean crop is also behind schedule, and as of May 12, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) said that just nine percent of the nation’s soybean acreage was planted, 20 points behind the 5-year average.

In addition to flooding, persistent cold and late-season snow in the Dakotas has not allowed the soil to warm up and has prevented crop planting, the NCDC reported in its April summary.

Through the end of April, just seven percent of North Dakota’s sugar beet acreage had been planted, well below the average to date of 39 percent. Only seven percent of the acreage for oats was planted in South Dakota compared to the average of 62%.

Areas farther West also experienced difficulties. Farmers in Idaho delayed crop planting due to the high soil moisture and erosion caused by several storms in April, NCDC reported.

We have never had a year quite like this before, and U.S. food production is going to be substantially below expectations. I very much encourage everyone to get prepared for much higher food prices and a tremendous amount of uncertainty in the months ahead.

This is a major national crisis, and it is just getting started. Get ready and be prepared

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