Hawaii hemp legislation pending

SUBHEAD: Senate Bill 2787 to further encourage the state Department of Agriculture to license farmers to grow industrial hemp.

By Staff on 1 February 2016 for NORML -

Image above: Immature hemp plant and field it's to be planted in. From article on tips to grow hemp. (http://toneag.com/wp/2009/08/24/hemp-production/).

Legislation is pending, Senate Bill 2787, to further encourage the state Department of Agriculture to license farmers to grow industrial hemp for “research and development purposes.”
Additional legislation, Senate Bill 2757, is pending to authorize the department of agriculture to establish a three-year industrial hemp research program to investigate the viability of industrial hemp as a building material for housing in the State.

In 2014, lawmakers previously approved legislation, Senate Bill 2175, establishing a two-year pilot program at the University of Hawaii at Manoa to study the potential use of industrial hemp as a phytomediator (a plant capable of removing toxins from the soil) and as a biofuel.

Hemp is a distinct variety of the plant species cannabis sativa L. that contains minimal amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Various parts of the plant can be utilized in the making of textiles, paper, paints, clothing, plastics, cosmetics, foodstuffs, insulation, animal feed and other products. The crop is commercially cultivated throughout the world. 
Members of Congress recently approved language (Section 7606) in the omnibus federal Farm Bill explicitly authorizing states to sponsor hemp research absent federal reclassification of the plant. Presently, 24 states have enacted legislation permitting licensed hemp cultivation in a manner that is compliant with this statute.

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection and Health and the Senate Committee on Water, Land, and Agriculture have scheduled a public hearing for Senate Bill 2787 on February 5th at 2:45PM in conference room 224.  
Please go tp original article and fill out form to contact your lawmakers and urge them to support this pending legislation.


Retail Apocalypse

SUBHEAD: So far 2016 is offering empty shelves and retail store closings all across America.

By Michael Snyder on 31 January 2016 for End of American Dream -

Image above: Low level of inventory in supermarket cooler section. From (http://retailexcellence.com/uhhhh-are-they-going-out-of-business/).

Major retailers in the United States are shutting down hundreds of stores, and shoppers are reporting alarmingly bare shelves in many retail locations that are still open all over the country.  It appears that the retail apocalypse that made so many headlines in 2015 has gone to an entirely new level as we enter 2016.

As economic activity slows down and Internet retailers capture more of the market, brick and mortar retailers are cutting their losses.  This is especially true in areas that are on the lower portion of the income scale.

In impoverished urban centers all over the nation, it is not uncommon to find entire malls that have now been completely abandoned.  It has been estimated that there is about a billion square feet of retail space sitting empty in this country, and this crisis is only going to get worse as the retail apocalypse accelerates.

We always get a wave of store closings after the holiday shopping season, but this year has been particularly active.  The following are just a few of the big retailers that have already made major announcements…
But these store closings are only part of the story.

All over the country, shoppers are noticing bare shelves and alarmingly low inventory levels.  This is happening even at the largest and most prominent retailers.

I want to share with you an excerpt from a recent article by Jeremiah Johnson.  The anecdotes that he shares definitely set off alarm bells with me.  Read them for yourself and see what you think…

I came across two excellent comments upon Steve Quayle’s website that bear reading, as these are two people with experience in retail marketing, inventory, ordering, and purchases.  Take a look at these:

#1 (From DJ, January 24, 2016)

[Regarding the] alerts about the current state of the RR industry. This is in line with what I’ve been noticing as I visited our local/regional grocery store, Walmart, and Target this week in WI. I worked in big box retail for 20 years specializing in Inventory Management. These stores are all using computerized inventory management systems that monitor and automatically replenish inventory when levels/shelf stock get low. This prevents “out of stocks” and lost sales. These companies rely on the ability to replenish inventory quickly from regional warehouses.
As I shopped this week and looked at inventory levels I was shocked. There were numerous (above and beyond acceptable levels) out of stocks across category lines at all three retailers. And even where inventory was on the shelf, the overall levels were noticeably reduced.
Based on my experience, working for two of these three organizations in store management, they have drastically/intentionally reduced their inventory levels. This is either due to financial stresses/poor sales effecting their ability to acquire new inventory, or it could be the result of what was mentioned earlier regarding the transporting of goods to these regional warehouses. Either way this doesn’t bode well for the what’s to come.  Stock up now while you can!”
#2 (From a Commenter following up #1 who didn’t provide a name, January 26, 2016)
“I’d like to tailgate on the SQ Alert “based on my experience…” regarding stock levels in big box stores. This weekend we were in two such stores, each in fairly isolated communities which are easily the communities’ best source for acquiring grocery items in quantity.
I myself worked in retail (meat) for thirty years so I know exactly what a well-stocked store looks like, understand the key categories and category drivers, and how shelves are stocked and displays are built to drive sales and profits. I also understand supply chain and distribution methodologies quite well.
Each of the stores we were in were woefully under-stocked. This time of year-the few weeks following the holidays-is usually big business in groceries and low stock levels suggest either poor ordering at the store level, poor purchasing at the distribution level or a purposeful desire to be under-stocked.
Anyone familiar with the retail grocery industry is also familiar with how highly touted “the big box store’s” infrastructure is. They know exactly when demand is high and for what items and in what quantities. It is very unlikely that both stores somehow got “surprised” by unusually high demand. It is reasonable then to imagine that low stock levels in rural areas with few options is a purposed endeavor to assure that both the budget conscious and the folks in more remote areas are not fully able to load up their pantries.
Simply put I believe the major retailer in question is doing their part to limit the ability of rural America to be sufficiently prepared. Nevertheless, we are wise to do our best to keep ahead of the curve. God bless your efforts, Steve.”
Yes, this is just anecdotal evidence, but it lines up perfectly with hard numbers that I have been discussing on The Economic Collapse Blog.

Exports are plummeting all over the globe, and the Baltic Dry Index just plunged to another new all-time record low.  The amount of stuff being shipped around by air, truck and rail inside this country has been dropping significantly, and this tells us that real economic activity is really slowing down.

If you currently work in the retail industry, your job is not secure, and you may want to start evaluating your options.

We have entered the initial phases of a major economic downturn, and it is going to be especially cruel to those on the low end of the income spectrum.  Do what you can to get prepared now, because the economy is not going to be getting better any time soon.


Chinese to take over Syngenta?

SUBHEAD: The China Chemical Company is seeking a takeover of the Swiss Syngenta Corporation for $43 billion.

By Tyler Durden on 2 February 2016 for Zero Hedge -

Image above: Image above: Open gate to Syngenta GMO field just past the State Park access road. In the distance is "Mordor" - The secret Navy mountain retreat labeled as an "ordinance storage facility" on most maps. Photo by Juan Wilson in 2009. From (http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2009/02/poli-hale-access-denied.html).

[IB Publisher's note: With the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) a stone's throw from the Syngenta's GMO fields on the Mana Plain of Kauai, And given the desire of secrecy of US Navy and its myriad weapons contractors (Lockheed, Raytheon etc), And the nature of their R&D it is unlikely that a Chinese owned Syngenta will have access to the "Public" land in Mana controlled by the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC) that controls the leases on those lands. Unfortunately, it may bring on more Dow-DuPont activity there, or even, God forfend, Monsanto may come back to Kauai again.]

The ink was not yet dry on the seemingly endless Monsanto-Syngenta on again/off again takeover drama, when moments ago in a shocking development the newswires were lit up with news that a new, and very much unexpected, bidder has emerged for the Swiss pesticides giant Syngenta: China National Chemical Corp, or ChemChina as it is known, which according to WSJ and BBG is set to pay $43.7 billion to acquire a piece of Swiss corporate history.

According to Bloomberg, China National Chemical Corp. is nearing an agreement to buy Syngenta for CHF 43.7 billion as the state-backed company extends its buying spree with what would be the biggest-ever acquisition by a Chinese firm, said people familiar with the matter.
ChemChina, as the closely-held company is known, offered about 470 francs a share in cash to acquire Syngenta and a deal could be announced as early as Wednesday when the Swiss company reports earnings, the people said, asking not to be named as the details aren’t public. That’s 24 percent higher than Syngenta’s last close of 378.40 francs on Feb. 1. Its shares rose 7.1 percent to 405.1 francs as of 1:26 p.m. in Zurich.

The deal would help Chairman Ren Jianxin transform ChemChina into the world’s biggest supplier of pesticides and agrochemicals, while snatching an asset coveted by St. Louis-based Monsanto Co. 
It also underscores the importance China attaches to owning seed and cropcare technology that can boost agricultural output and help feed the world’s biggest population.

Bloomberg notes that if successful, the $43 billion purchase would be the largest acquisition by a Chinese firm, surpassing China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd.’s $29 billion purchase of China Netcom Group Corp. in 2008.

It remains to be seen whether Europe's anti-trust authorities, let alone the Swiss, will greenlight such a massive incursion into the heart of corporate Europe.

As a reminder, in recent year major Chinese purchases of both U.S. and Canada-based companies have been frowned upon.

Perhaps Europe will decide that it is in its best interest to open its markets to the one country that suddenly is finding it needs to park "hot money" abroad and M&A is just the way to do it.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: DowPont Genetically Modified Offices 12/11/1
Ea O Ka Aina: DuPont guilty in Waimea, Kauai 5/9/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Standing up to Syngenta  5/2/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Into the Belly of the Beast 4/20/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Ecoterrorist Coprorations 4/25/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Farming vs poisoning the land 2/14/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Dow - DuPont - Syngenta sue Kauai 1/11/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Corporate Colonialism on Kauai 9/26/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Regulation of GMOs & Pesticides 6/27/13

Stupor Bowl 2016

SUBHEAD: The economic game of watching the Bear's Recession Offense crush the Unicorn believing Bulls.

By Charles Hugh Smith on 31 January 2016 for Of Two Minds -

Image above: Illustration of Chicago Bears mascot in uniform. From (http://www.windycitygridiron.com/2009/7/13/945246/the-bears-den-7-13-09).

When I use the phrase Stupor Bowl, I refer not to the upcoming Super Bowl or the crazy mid-winter bicycle free-for-all in Minneapolis, but to the economic game of watching the Bear's Recession Offense crush the Unicorn-believing Bulls.

Let's follow the score here in the opening minutes of the Recession 2016 contest:
1. Sales have only one way to go: down. Touchdown Bears.

2. Profits have only one way to go: down. Touchdown Bears.

3. Stock buybacks have only one way to go: down. Touchdown Bears.

4. Global "growth" has only one way to go: down. Touchdown Bears.

5. Risk premiums have only one way to go: up. Touchdown Bears.

6. The efficacy of central bank "easing" only one way to go: down. Touchdown Bears. 
This is getting stupefyingly repetitive, and the game has barely started: the Bears have racked up 42 points while the Unicorn-believing Bulls are scoreless.

The Unicorn-believing Bulls are going to need not just one Immaculate Reception, but a half-dozen miracle scores just to stay in the game. But the Bears have barely dented their playbook. Another eight touchdowns are within reach.
7. Government deficits have only one way to go: up.

8. The growth rate of private-sector debt has only one way to go: down.

9. The number of nations with crashing currencies has only one way to go: up.

10. The number of nations defaulting on sovereign debt has only one way to go: up.

11. The number of IPOs that quickly fall below their initial price has only one way to go: up--way up.

12. The number of margin calls to be issued to overleveraged "investors" has only one way to go: up--way up.

13. The number of junk bonds that will default has only one way to go: up--way up.

14. The number of Greater Fools willing to pay outlandishly absurd prices for homes in hot markets is plummeting; as a result, the market value of real estate globally has only one way to go: down--way down. 
The Bears can fumble a few plays and still score another 42 points with ease.

The Unicorn-believing Bulls will need the financial equivalent of The Catch just to avoid being skunked.

But even that won't change the outcome--a recession that will leave all the Unicorn believers, Keynesian Cargo Cultists and the rest of the delusional mob of Bulls stupefied by their crushing defeat.


Ground Control to Captain Zhou

SUBHEAD: The dynamic duo, Nature and Reality, the actual owners of the planet, have showed up to read us the riot act.

By James Kunstler on 1 February 2016 for Kunstler.com -

Image above: A Chinese political poster from 1958 "Brave the wind and the waves, everything has remarkable abilities". From (http://meowzedong.weebly.com/propaganda-under-mao-zedong.html).

Why would anybody suppose that the Peoples Bank of China might want to tell the truth about anything that was within their power to lie about? Especially the soundness of any loan portfolio vested unto the grasp of its tentacles?

Of course, most of what China has done in speeding toward the wall of financial crack-up, it learned from watching US bankers slime their way into Too Big To Fail nirvana — most particularly the array of swindles, dodges, and frauds constructed in the half-light of shadow banking to hedge the sudden, catastrophic appearance of reality-based price discovery.

When so many loans end up networked as collateral in some kind of bet against previous bets against other previous bets, you can be sure that cascading contagion will follow. And so that is exactly what’s happening as China’s rocket ride into Modernity falls back to earth.

Like most historical fiascos, it seemed like a good idea at the time: take a nation of about a billion people living in the equivalent of the Twelfth Century, introduce the magic of money printing, spend a gazillion of it on CAT and Kubota earth-moving machines, build the biggest cement industry the world has ever seen, purchase whole factory set-ups, and flood the rest of the world with stuff.

Then the trouble starts when you try to defeat the business cycles associated with over-production and saturated markets.

Poor China and poor us. Escape velocity has failed. Which raises the question: escape from what, exactly? Answer: the implacable limits of life on earth. The metaphor for all this, of course, is the old journey-into-space idea, which still persists in the salesmanship of Elon Musk, the ragged remnants of NASA, and even the nightmares of Stephen Hawking.

Get off this messed-up home planet and light out of the territories, say Mars. Of course, this is a vain and stupid idea, since we already have a planet engineered to perfection for all the life systems associated with the human project. We just can’t respect its limits.

So now, that dynamic duo, Nature and Reality, the actual owners of the planet, have showed up to read the riot act to the renters throwing a wild party.

The fourth and perhaps ultimate financial crisis of the last twenty years begins to express itself in terms that only the raptors and vultures can see from on high. George Soros, Kyle Bass, and the other flocking shadow banking scavengers prepare to short the living shit out of the old Middle Kingdom.

The immortal words of G.W. Bush ring in their ears: “This sucker is going down,” and they are sure to win big by betting on the obvious.

Trouble is, this sucker could go down so much further than they imagined, that whatever fortunes they gain from its descent will be foiled by the destruction of the very economic system needed for them to enjoy their gains.

For instance, when banking systems go down, governments usually follow, and when governments go down, societies often unravel. It doesn’t take a great effort of imagination to see China’s one party politburo leadership machine lose the respect of its governed masses, and then its control of events, followed by a Great Struggle among the regions and factions to restore some kind of order.

And when the smoke clears there will a whole lot of nearly worthless concrete and steel, and a vast loss of notional wealth, and China will be lucky to land back in some approximation of the Twelfth Century.

It must be interesting for China to watch the horrifying disintegration of America’s political party structure currently on view, with the mad bull called Trump rampaging across the land and the designated inevitable Mz It’s-My-Turn hijacking her collective for the greater glory of Goldman Sachs.

The last time China got the vapors politically — the so-called Cultural Revolution of the 1960s — the country went batshit crazy. Surely some of the ruling party remembers that with requisite terror.

Or maybe this is China and the USA’s Thelma and Louise moment. Pedal to the metal, they drive into the abyss of history holding hands. Remember, audiences loved that!