Who Benefits From High Food Prices?

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In this article way back in 2008 Nomi Prins rightly argues its market speculators like Goldman Sachs and cohorts that are behind the rise in food prices. As Monsanto and ADM post records profits, the poor the getter poorer, and food prices are increasing.

By Nomi Prins | Wed Jun. 18, 2008


Forget subprime. The next price bubble to watch is food speculation.

Last week, new consumer price data [1] released by the US Labor Department confirmed what most shoppers already suspected: Food prices, which took their biggest one-month leap in nearly two decades in April, rose even further in May. Energy costs, too, went up last month. The big question, though, is why?

At the financial leaders G8 summit [2] that wrapped up over the weekend, food and oil speculation were front and center.And G8 leaders aren’t the only ones expressing concern over traders profiting from the world’s pain. Major hedge-fund stars like George Soros and Michael Masters are also screaming moral foul on commodity speculation—a clear signal there’s more fire than smoke on the horizon.

US Food and Gas Expenditures as % of Income

As Masters told [3] a Senate committee last month, “Institutional investors have purchased over 2 billion bushels of corn futures in the last five years. [They] have stockpiled enough corn futures to potentially fuel the entire United States ethanol industry at full capacity for a year.”

Indeed, the current agricultural price bubble has produced record highs in soybeans and wheat as well. Against this backdrop, a clueless Congress passed US farmer and food-stamp aid within the recent farm bill, without addressing the possibility that speculation could be to blame, or that curtailing speculation could help alleviate the domestic and global food crisis. They should have looked toWall Street’s lead.

The latest grain and oilseed trading report from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange cited first quarter of 2008 trading volume up 32 percent over the last quarter of 2007. That’s extra money coming in from speculators, not corn or wheat farmers hedging their crop prices in case of bad weather.

Additionally, the hot new favorite among traders is betting on packages of energy and agricultural futures. Called CCO’s (collateralized commodity obligations), they are like their subprime cousins, CDO’s (collateralized debt obligations). Their performance is linked to rising commodity prices; the higher the prices, the more profit to the CCO.

There’s another group, besides the standard speculator crew, literally reaping extreme profits from the price squeezes—the crop equivalents of Exxon, multinational agricultural biotechnology corporations. Monsanto, which recently told the 12th Annual Goldman Sachs Agricultural Biotech Forum that its profits would double by 2012, is buzzing (PDF) [4]; the firm’s stock price doubled during the past year. ADM, the nation’s second-largest ethanol producer, saw its annual revenues increase by 64 percent. Even agriculture conglomerate Cargill’s third-quarter profits rose 86 percent.

Last week, a group of senators led by Carl Levin (D-Mich.) introduced the Close the London Loophole Act, which would curtail a situation that allows speculators to bypass all Commodity Futures Trading Commission regulations by trading on foreign exchanges.

But without strong regulation of electronic exchanges and the derivatives products that enable speculators to move huge proportions of the futures markets underlying commodities, putting a bit of regulation into the London-based exchanges will not alleviate anything. Unless that’s addressed, this bubble is going to take more than homes with it. It’s going to take lives.

Nomi Prins – Book TV: After Words: Nomi Prins, \”It Takes a Pillage\”


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5-minute Guide to Gaza

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Get fast facts about the desperate situation facing children and their families in Gaza.

Caught in the conflict between Israel and Hamas are the families of Gaza. Here is a quick summary of the challenges faced by many Gazan children and their families.

Minute 1: Gaza’s History

  • The Gaza Strip is a sliver of towns, villages and farmland at the southeast end of the Mediterranean. It’s located between Israel to the north and east, and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula to the south.
  • Gaza city, the region’s capital, has been continuously inhabited for more than 3,000 years and was a crossroads of ancient civilizations.
  • The Israeli military occupied Gaza from 1967-2005.
  • Today, more than 40 per cent of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza are refugees, many of whom live in crowded camps.
  • An 18-month blockade by Israel has driven most families in Gaza into dire poverty. Closed borders and restricted movement has hampered aid from reaching those in need.

Minute 2: Socio-economic Conditions

  • 49.1 per cent of Gazans are unemployed.
  • More than 50 per cent of families in Gaza live below the poverty line.
  • Most Gazans live on less than $2 a day

Minute 3: Food and Water

  • Socio-economic conditions in Gaza, which is subject to severe restrictions, have deteriorated sharply, causing nearly 80 per cent of Gaza’s residents to rely on food aid.
  • 46 per cent of all Palestinians are either food insecure or in danger of becoming so.
  • In Beit Lahya, North Gaza, most households have access to water, but the quality is so poor that 95 per cent have to buy drinking water.

Minute 4: Gaza’s Children

  • More than half of Gaza’s 1.5 million residents are children.
  • 50,000 children in Gaza are malnourished. About half of children under two are anemic and 70 per cent have vitamin A deficiency. Current malnutrition rates rival levels seen in drought-stricken regions of Africa
  • Nearly half of all students in the Palestinian territories have seen their school besieged by troops, and more than 10 per cent have witnessed the killing of a teacher in school.

Minute 5: World Vision’s Work in Gaza

  • There are two World Vision communities in Gaza.
  • World Vision supports 23,893 children in the West Bank and Gaza, including 6,000 children sponsored by Canadians.

by World Vision Canada
Please donate now to World Vision’s relief efforts in conflict ridden regions.

The Pre-Conditions of Dua (Supplication)

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When My servants ask thee concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them). I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calleth on Me; Let them also, with a will, listen to My call, and believe in Me; That they may walk in the right way. [Surah Al-Baqarah: Ayah 186]

We know that Dua (supplication) is a type of worship, so it is essential to discuss the pre-conditions that are necessary if we wish for our Dua to be answered. Just like our Salat (prayer) will not be accepted until we perform the necessary pre-requisites, such as wudu (ablution), facing the Qiblah and covering the body. Likewise our dua will likely not be accepted until some pre-requisites are met.

Let’s see what Allah (SWT) tells us about Dua for surely “Allah’s promise is the truth, and whose word can be truer than Allah’s?” (4:122)

praying pray dua supplication to god allah

The Realisation that Only Allah Responds to Dua

“Who else is there that responds to the call of the one in distress when he calls out, and He removes evil from him, and makes you inheritors of the earth ? Is there any other God besides Allah? Little is it that you remember!” (27:62)

We must fully believe that only Allah (SWT) is capable of hearing our prayer, and only Allah (SWT) has the power to grant us what we desire.

Sincerity in Dua to Allah Alone

“Will you call upon other than Allah if you are truthful?” (6:40)

“Those whom you call besides Allah are slaves like yourselves” (7:194)

“And those who you ask besides Him can neither come to your aid, nor can they help themselves!” (7: 197)

After we realize that only Allah (SWT) can respond to our Dua, then it makes sense that we pray to Allah (SWT) alone. We must be careful only to ask Allah (SWT). Idols, the sun to trees, animals, men, pious people, prophets, or even angels have no power to grant any of our Dua’s.

Let’s see what Prophet Muhammad said about Dua in the authentic Hadiths. “And he speaks not of his own desire. It is but a revelation revealed to him.” (53:3-4)

The Presence of an Attentive Heart

Prophet Muhammad said “Make dua to Allah in a state that you are certain that your dua will be responded to, and know that Allah does not respond to a dua that originates from a negligent, inattentive heart” (Tirmidhi)

This shows that our Dua must be made with a mindful heart, such that we know exactly what we are asking for, and who we are asking from, for Allah (SWT) is the Lord of Honor!

Purity of One’s Sustenance

Prophet Muhammad said “Oh you who believe! Eat from the pure and good foods We have given you” Then the Prophet mentioned a traveler on a long journey, who is dishevelled and dusty, and he stretches forth his hands to the sky , saying “Oh my Lord! O my Lord!” – while his food is unlawful, his drink is unlawful, his clothing his unlawful, and he is nourished unlawfully; how can he be answered?” (Muslim, Ahmad)

Therefore, among the necessary conditions of our Dua to be accepted is the purity and lawfulness of our food.

Lack of Hastiness

Prophet Muhammad said “You will responded to as long as you are not hasty, meaning that a person says, ‘I have prayed and prayed and my prayer has not been answered!'” (Bukhari, Muslim)

This shows that Dua should be continuous, and that we should avoid giving up our Dua because it has not been responded to. For Allah (SWT) is The Wise and we know that no Dua is ever wasted! This does not mean however, that we cannot pray that our Dua be answered quickly, for it has been narrated that the Prophet prayed for rain and said “quickly, and not delayed..” (Ibn Majah)

Summary

The above are conditions that can aid us in getting our Dua responded to. The response of our Dua depends on the Will of Allah (SWT), and He responds to whom He pleases. Therefore it is possible that the Dua of a disbeliever who does not meet any of these conditions is responded to, and it is possible that a Muslim who fulfills all of these conditions is not responded to. However without a doubt, if we strive to fulfill and put into practice all of these factors we will have a much greater chance of our Dua being answered.

We also know that a Dua of a believer is never wasted. If our dua is not granted and we are patient then Allah (SWT) either turns away some evil that was going to inflict us, or Allah (SWT) reserves its rewards for the hereafter. On the day of judgement when we see the huge rewards we get for our Dua’s not being answered, we will wish none of our Dua’s got granted on earth! So even if our Dua in not answered in this life we should hope for its rewards in the next.

One of the main purposes of Dua is that we have an attentive heart towards Allah (SWT). That we turn to Him and acknowledge His Power. This however requires patience, purity and sincerity. We need to call out to Allah (SWT) with a sincere heart, for verily Allah (SWT) does not accept any Dua made from a neglectful heart. How sincere is our heart? Right now the choice is ours!

We ask Allah (SWT) the Most High, the All-Powerful, to teach us that which will benefit us, and to benefit us by that which we learn. May Allah (SWT) grant blessings and peace to our Prophet Muhammad and his family and companions.

Videos;

Audio;

Imam Sudais Making Dua in Mecca (Dua E Qunoot) – Audio Download

The Wooden Bowl – Life Lessons

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The Wooden Bowl

I guarantee you will remember the tale of the Wooden Bowl tomorrow, a week from now, a month from now, a year from now.

A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and four-year old grandson. The old man’s hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered. The family ate together at the table.

But the elderly grandfather’s shaky hands and failing sight made eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor. When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth.

The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess. ‘We must do something about father,’ said the son. ‘I’ve had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor.’

So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner. There, Grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner. Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl!

When the family glanced in Grandfather’s direction, sometime he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone. Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food.

The four-year-old watched it all in silence. One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, ‘What are you making?’

Just as sweetly, the boy responded, ‘Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food in when I grow up.’ The four-year-old smiled and went back to work .

The words so struck the parents so that they were speechless. Then tears started to stream down their cheeks. Though no word was spoken, both knew what must be done. That evening the husband took Grandfather’s hand and gently led him back to the family table. For the remainder of his days he ate every meal with the family. And for some reason, neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk spilled, or the tablecloth soiled.

On a positive note, I’ve learned that, no matter what happens, how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.

I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles four things: a rainy day, the elderly, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.

I’ve learned that, regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life.

I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as making a ‘life..’

I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.

I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back.

I’ve learned that if you pursue happiness, it will elude you. But if you focus on your family, your friends, the needs of others, your work and doing the very best you can, happiness will find you.

I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.

I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one.

I’ve learned that every day, you should reach out and touch someone.

People love that human touch – holding hands, a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.

I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.!

I’ve learned that you should pass this on to everyone you care about.

I just did

Anonymous Japanese Donor gives for 33 years

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TOKYO (AFP) – A Japanese police station Wednesday paid tribute to an anonymous donor who has handed in envelopes full of cash to give to the needy every month for more than 33 years.The police station in Tochigi prefecture, north of Tokyo, received the first envelope in August 1974, which contained 1,000 yen, or nine dollars at the current rate.

It did not bear a sender’s name but enclosed a piece of paper only saying: “Please use this for the unprivileged people.”

The envelopes kept arriving punctually every month with the enclosed money gradually increasing to 3,000 yen, 5,000 yen and eventually 8,000 yen, the police said.

The station received the 400th envelope on Tuesday, taking the total amount donated to 1,744,000 yen, the police said, adding that the money had been given to the town’s social welfare council.

“I just take my hat off for the act of continuing sending donations over three decades without expecting rewards,” said station chief Taisuke Kimura.

“We will continue working for the safety of this town in return for this goodwill act,” he said.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080109/od_afp/japanpolicecharityoffbeat
Wed Jan 9, 7:59 AM ET

When I read this article it reminded me of this Hadith about charity.

It is Narrated by Abu Hurairah that on the authority of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, (who said): “There is a man who gives a charity and he conceals it so much so that his left hand does not know what his right hand spends.” (B. & M-Msh. 6:6.)

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, Seven people will be shaded by Allah under His shade on the day when there will be no shade except His.

They are:

1. a just ruler
2. a youth who grew up in the worship of Allah
3. a man whose heart is attached to the mosque
4. two men who love each other for Allah’s sake, meeting for that and parting for that.
5. a man who is called by a woman of beauty and position but he says, I fear Allah
6. a man who gives in charity and hides it, such that his left hand does not know what his right hand gives in charity
7. a man who remembered Allah in private and so his eyes shed tears.

Narrated by Abu Hurairah & collected in Sahih al-Bukhari (english trans.) vol.1, p.356, no.629 & Sahih Muslim english trans.) vol.2, p.493, no.2248

In too many cases nowadays we give for the sake of the self, rather than for the act of charity and service to humanity. Warren Buffet gives more than $30 billion, with the all associated publicity and self congratulations.

This Japanese donor, in my opinion, has given a greater act of charity than Warren Buffet. There is no match. It was given for the right purpose.

What is even more amazing, is that fact that for 33 years the Japanese police received and distributed this money for the purpose for which it was intentioned.

Try doing that is some other Asian countries that have been the news lately. I won’t mention the names directly, but most people will know of countries with Police that are more corrupt and more criminal than the criminals themselves. Try sending envelopes with cash to the Police in some other countries and see what happens to it. Mostly likely it will stay in the Police and get distributed amongst the Police.

I say God bless this person and the Japanese Police for their integrity. Translating this example to our personal lives, an act of charity does not have to be in monetary terms, it can take on many other forms.

Abu Hurairah who quotes the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as saying: “A charity is due for every joint in each person on everyday the sun comes up: to act justly between two people is a charity; to help a man with his mount, lifting him onto it or hoisting up his belongings onto it is a charity; a good word is a charity; and removing a harmful thing from the road is a charity.” (Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Some other Hadiths pertaining to Charity;

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “The believer’s shade on the Day of Resurrection will be his charity.” – Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 604

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) also said: “Every act of goodness is charity.” – Sahih Muslim, Hadith 496

Subhan Allah!

Websites that you can visit for more Hadiths and related knowledge;

http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/fundamentals/hadithsunnah/bukhari/
http://www.islamawareness.net/Hadith/htopic_charity.html
http://www.islam-quran-sunnah.blogspot.com/
http://www.sunnipath.com/Library/
http://www.ishwar.com/islam

Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Mosque – Abu Dhabi

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The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan was born in Al Ain city in 1918. His early days in Al Ain, which is surrounded by desert, made him an esteemed leader who was known for his magnanimity, broad–mindedness, perseverance, far-sightedness and wisdom. He was considered a sage for the Arabs. He became Ruler of Al Ain in 1946 and, thanks to his direction, the first school opened in Al Ain in 1959. He formed the United Arab Emirates in December 1971 and made it rank among the world’s most advanced countries.

Video from the Builders – Halcrow – of World’s 6th Largest Mosque