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Mars Phoenix Lander

Congratulations to NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for successfully placing the Phoenix Lander on Mars last night. The purpose of this mission was to land near the polar ice caps, drill down into the soil and test it for two things: Water and life.

So far, the Phoenix is performing as expected. Unfortunately, unlike other missions to Mars, such as the Pathfinder, the Phoenix is not mobile. With its situation so close to a Polar ice cap, its mission is slated to last only six months, until the beginning of a Martian winter at which point it is expected to freeze to death. It is unfortunate NASA did not have the budget to give it wheels, wings or propulsion, but at least it landed successfully and is on course to complete its mission. Perhaps future missions will include one or more miniature reconnaissance drones.

We wish NASA and JPL the best of luck. We wait to hear of life on Mars. In the meantime, for additional news or photos taken by Phoenix, please visit either the NASA or JPL websites linked here.

It is good time to be an American manufacturer. For the past ten or so years, whenever I informed a potential customer we manufacture our products in the USA; they ran out of my trade show booth. They would always leave grumbling they were looking for goods imported from China. For the past year, when I say all our goods are made in the USA practically line up down the aisle oohing and ahhing at my products; marveling at the quality, complexity and variety of products.

You might be wondering why. Well, for one, the dollar is quite weak. This makes Made in the USA products a bargain in the EU. Two, China has finally done what we all knew they would–shown their quality of production to be not only inferior, but also negligent. People are afraid of buying Chinese made products. They want to offer their customers something of solid value for their hard-earned dollars. Therefore, quality is of the essence.

This is giving the US manufacturer an opportunity to shine once again and show the world, we have the right stuff, at the right price and with the right expertise. We are known for putting pride of manufacture and commitment to quality into everything we make.

For all the organizations who hung on during the USA manufacturing migration to Asia by either cutting margins or finding a comfortable niche to fill or innovating news way of producing products that reduce costs or by investing heavily in automation, I have to say, get ready for a resurgence of the worlds best brand — MADE IN THE USA!

Perhaps it would be a good idea to stock up on non-perishable food staples, like flour, corn, rice, and beans. Also, if you have any land stock up on seeds and whatever you would need for a vegetable garden. If this fungus does indeed spread across the globe, it could be disastrous for a few years to come.

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Wheat Crop Failures Could be Total, Experts Warn

On top of record-breaking rice prices and corn through the roof on ethanol
demand, wheat is now rusting in the fields across Africa.

Officials fear near total crop losses, and the fungus, known as Ug99, is
spreading.

Wheat prices have been soaring this week on top of already high prices, and
futures contracts spiked, too, on panic buying.

Experts fear the cost of bread could soon follow the path of rice, the price
of which has triggered riots in some countries and prompted countries to cut
off exports.

David Kotok, chairman and chief investment officer of Cumberland Advisors,
said the deadly fungus, Puccinia graminis, is now spreading through some
areas of the globe where “crop losses are expected to reach 100 percent.”

Losses in Africa are already at 70 percent of the crop, Kotok said.

“The economic losses expected from this fungus are now in the many billions
and growing. Worse, there is an intensifying fear of exacerbated food
shortages in poor and emerging countries of the world,” Kotok told investors
in a research note.

“The ramifications are serious. Food rioting continues to expand around the
world. We saw the most recent in Johannesburg.

“So far this unrest has been directed at rising prices. Actual shortages are
still to come.”

Last month, scientists met in the Middle East to determine measures to track
the progress of “Ug99,” which was first discovered in 1999 in Uganda.

The fungus has spread from its initial outbreak site in Africa to Asia,
including Iran and Pakistan. Spores of the fungus spread with the winds,
according science journal reports.

According to the Food and Agriculture Office (FAO) of the United Nations,
approximately a quarter of the world’s global wheat harvest is currently
threatened by the fungus.

Meanwhile, global wheat stocks are at lows not seen in half a century,
according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Scientists fear that the spores could spread on the wind and reach the U.S.
and Canada or Europe.

“It will take five to eight years to genetically engineer a resistance,”
said Kotok. “In the interim, U.S. agriculture faces higher risk.”

Kotok is worried that governments around the globe are reacting to the
crisis - which he believes is as big of a threat as bird flu -
inappropriately by artificially lowering the prices of domestic wheat, and
raising export taxes on wheat.

William Gamble, president of Emerging Market Strategies, tells MoneyNews
that artificial mechanisms put in place by governments could be as much to
blame for the crisis as anything.

“Twenty countries have put food in price controls or export restrictions,”
Gamble says.

“Others have restricted futures markets. It is the politicians who are
interfering in the markets to protect themselves, and that causes the
problem.”

Source: http://moneynews.newsmax.com/money/archives/st/2008/4/24/100454.cfm