Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Possibly The Last Time To Get Out Of The Dollar

Simon Black

It's no secret that the United States government owes a pretty penny to foreigners. Certainly, what America owes to foreigners pales in comparison to what it owes to Ben Bernanke... but still, $4.45 trillion is no small number, even in these crazy times when terms like "kajillion bajillion" are more appropriate to quantify debt and entitlements.

China is the largest foreign buyer of US Treasuries with around $1.15 trillion in holdings... Japan is the second largest at around $886 billion. Curiously, the trend for China has been down-- the Middle Kingdom has been steadily reducing its position since peaking in October 2010.

Japan, on the other hand, has been steadily increasing its Treasury holdings over the same period. Its government does have a long pattern of currency intervention, and there has been much grumbling in Tokyo about the effects of the strong yen on their exports.

Fast forward to this past weekend. Earthquake. Tsunami. Volcano. Nuclear radiation. Japan clearly has other things on its mind right now than to continue financing the ongoing largess in Washington DC.

At a minimum, Japan will likely slow (or eliminate) its US Treasury purchases, instead focusing on dumping money into its own economy. At greater risk, Japan may choose to allow much of its Treasury portfolio to simply mature, requiring the US government to repay tens of billions of dollars of principal (which it doesn't have).

With so much uncertainty, many investors around the world are buying Treasuries at the moment, so if Japan starts selling its portfolio into that momentum, the impact may be negligible... for now. Rearranging the deck chairs, if you will.

Come June 30th, though, with the supposed end of the "I'm not printing money" money printing that is quantitative easing, the US government will have lost, in theory, two of its biggest buyers-- the Federal Reserve and Japan. And with both China and the OPEC nations slashing their own Treasury purchases, it leaves one simple question:

Who will buy all of this damned US government debt?

Scott Walker's real agenda in Wisconsin

The Republican governor's budget plan would open the state up to a corporate asset-grab not seen since robber baron capitalism

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker
Republican Governor Scott Walker's 'budget repair bill' would pave the way for wholesale privatisation of Wisconsin's state infrastructure. Photograph: Pool/Reuters

On Wednesday evening, in a veritable Night of the Long Knives, Wisconsin's integrity was brutally murdered on the floor of the state Capitol in Madison. On 9 March, integrity and trust built up over a century was obliterated as Wisconsin state senators quickly reversed course and cleaved its budget "repair bill" in half. Financial items require a quorum, thus, collective bargaining was split off from the budget repair bill and voted on separately so as to permit its being voted on now. Even so, this still broke the state's open meeting law requiring 24 hours' notice to ensure transparency. Instead, the Wisconsin senate Republicans pulled out this new legislation without advance notice and began voting, leaving only a stunned Democratic legislator, Peter Barca, to read the open meeting law out loud to prevent the senators from voting. The senate voted over his objections anyway.

The Wisconsin brand has always centered on integrity. This was really about the only distinctive comparative advantage the state could lay claim to. Now, it is gone. With collective bargaining abolished, huge issues remain beyond labour. The privatisation of public assets is now on the agenda, with the yet-to-be-voted-on budget repair bill.

Governor Scott Walker emerges from Wisconsin, a state that invented Progressive Era Republican rule in the 19th and early 20th centuries under such exemplars as Robert LaFollette. Under their tenure, rent-seeking from the public domain and similar insider corruption were checked by a strong public sector anchored in integrity. The state's long history of reforms nurtured a prosperous middle class and made it a model of clean government, solid infrastructure, trade unionism and high value-added industry managed by socialists and the LaFollette Progressives.

Fast-forward to Scott Walker today. Representing a new breed apart from Wisconsin's earlier Republicans, he is seeking to re-open the asset-grabbing Gilded Age style. A plague of rent-seekers is seeking quick gains by privatising the public sector and erecting tollbooths to charge access fees to roads, power plants and other basic infrastructure.

Economics textbooks, along with Fox News and shout radio commentators, spread the myth that fortunes are gained productively by investing in capital equipment and employing labour to produce goods and services that people want to buy. This may be how economies prosper, but it is not how fortunes are most easily made. One need only to turn to the 19th-century novelists such as Balzac to be reminded that behind every family fortune lies a great theft, often long-forgotten or even undiscovered.

But who is one to steal from? Most wealth in history has been acquired either by armed conquest of the land, or by political insider dealing, such as the great US railroad land giveaways of the mid 19th century. The great American fortunes have been founded by prying land, public enterprises and monopoly rights from the public domain, because (to paraphrase Willie Sutton) that's where the assets are to take. Throughout history the world's most successful economies have been those that have kept this kind of primitive accumulation in check. The US economy today is faltering largely because its past barriers against rent-seeking are being breached.

Nowhere is this more disturbingly on display than in Wisconsin. Today, Milwaukee – Wisconsin's largest city, and once the richest in America – is ranked among the four poorest large cities in the United States. Wisconsin is just the most recent case in this great heist. The US government itself and its regulatory agencies effectively are being privatised as the "final stage" of neoliberal economic doctrine.

A peek into Governor Walker's so-called "budget repair bill" reveals a shop of horrors that is just the opposite of actually repairing the budget. Among the items listed in the bill until Wednesday night were selloffs of state power generation facilities – in no-bid contracts notoriously prone to insider dealing. The 37 facilities he wants to sell off that produce heating and cooling at low cost to the state's universities and prisons. Walker's budget repair bill would have unloaded them at a low price, presumably to campaign contributors such as Koch Industries – and then stick the bill for producing this power at higher rates to Wisconsin taxpayers in perpetuity. (And this is all being sold as a "taxpayer relief" plan!) Invariably, this will make its way into new legislation once attention is diverted from the current controversy.

The budget bill also plans to tear down the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS). This is not New Jersey, where a succession of corrupt governments have underfunded (read: stolen) the state pension system in order to shift resources to pay for budget shortfalls in general revenues caused by tax breaks for the rich. The WRS is one of the nation's most stable, well-funded and best-managed pension systems. Although Wisconsin is not a big state, the WRS has amassed $75bn in reserves, and pays out handsome pensions to its public retirees, without needing new public subsidy. The Walker bill has language providing for tearing down this system, raiding its assets to pay for further tax cuts for the rich (especially property owners), and then throwing Wall Street a meaty bone as public employees would be shifted to 401k plans handled by money managers on commission.

In a separate proposal, Governor Walker would start privatising the University of Wisconsin's two flagship doctorate-granting campuses. Ironically, the land grant universities – of which Wisconsin has long been among the best – were created by protectionist 19th-century Republicans as an alternative approach to British free-market doctrine, which dominated the prestigious and largely anglophile Ivy League universities. These universities, like their German counterparts, taught a new economic policy of state management and public enterprise that formed the basis for subsequent US and German development. Walker would kill off this tradition, and return intellectual production to the highest bidder.

Other proposals suggest selling off Wisconsin's public northwoods lands with their cornucopia of mineral and timber wealth. And much more is said to be in the works.

So Walker's war is not only against the Democrats and labour, it is against Wisconsin's Progressive Era institutions. His policy threatens to pauperise the state and deal a coup de grace to Progressive Era institutions and impoverish the state's middle class. Contra John Maynard Keynes's gentle suggestion of "euthanasia of the rentier", it is the middle class that is being euthanised – throughout North America and Europe.

Lehman Probe Stalls; Chance of No Charges

The U.S. government's investigation into the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. has hit daunting hurdles that could result in no civil or criminal charges ever being filed against the company's former executives, people familiar with the situation said.


Richard Fuld Jr.

In recent months, Securities and Exchange Commission officials have grown increasingly doubtful they can prove that Lehman violated U.S. laws by using an accounting maneuver to move as much as $50 billion in assets off its balance sheet, which made it appear that the securities firm had reduced its debt levels.

SEC officials also aren't confident they could win any lawsuit accusing former Lehman employees, including former Lehman Chief Executive Richard Fuld Jr., of failing to adequately mark down the value of the large real-estate portfolio acquired in Lehman's takeover of apartment developer Archstone-Smith Trust or to disclose the resulting losses to investors, according to people familiar with the matter.

People close to the investigation cautioned that no decision has been reached on whether to bring civil charges, adding that new evidence still could emerge. Investigators are reviewing thousands of documents turned over to the SEC since it began its probe shortly after Lehman tumbled into bankruptcy in September 2008 and was sold off in pieces. Officials also have questioned a number of former Lehman executives, some of them multiple times, the people said.

But after zeroing in last summer on the battered real-estate portfolio and an accounting move known as Repo 105, SEC officials have grown more worried they could lose a court battle if they bring civil charges that allege Lehman investors were duped by company executives. The key stumbling block: The accounting move, while controversial, isn't necessarily illegal.

In a possible sign that the probe has slowed, the SEC hasn't issued a Wells notice to Lehman's longtime auditor, Ernst & Young, according to people familiar with the situation. The firm had concluded that the accounting in the Repo 105 transactions was acceptable. Wells notices are a formal signal that the SEC's enforcement staff has decided it might file civil charges against the recipient.

An SEC spokesman declined to comment. In a statement, Ernst & Young said the firm stands "behind our work on the Lehman audit and our opinion that Lehman's financial statements were fairly stated in accordance with the U.S. accounting standards that existed at the time."

The snags are the latest sign of trouble for the SEC and other U.S. regulators trying to punish companies and executives at the center of the financial crisis. So far, no high-profile executives have been successfully prosecuted. Last month, a federal criminal investigation of former Countrywide Financial Corp. Chief Executive Angelo Mozilo was closed without charges.

The U.S. government lost the only crisis-related case to go to trial when former Bear Stearns Cos. hedge-fund managers Ralph Cioffi and Matthew Tannin were acquitted in November 2009 of criminal charges related to the $1.6 billion collapse of their hedge funds.

If SEC officials decide not to take enforcement action against former Lehman executives, they likely would escape criminal prosecution, too. The Justice Department "tends to follow the SEC's lead in these complex financial cases, so reluctance to pursue civil charges generally means the federal agencies won't take a criminal case," said Elizabeth Nowicki, a former SEC lawyer who is an associate professor at Tulane University School of Law in New Orleans.

A spokeswoman for the Justice Department declined to comment on Lehman. In a statement, she said the agency "will continue to root out financial fraud wherever it exists. When we find credible evidence of criminal conduct—by Wall Street financiers, lawyers, accountants or others—we will aggressively pursue justice. However, we can and will only bring charges when the facts and the law convince us that we can prove a crime beyond a reasonable doubt."

A year ago, it looked as if the SEC and federal prosecutors had a road map to use against Lehman's former top executives. Last March, the Repo 105 transactions were condemned by court-appointed examiner Anton R. Valukas, who said in a report that they enabled Lehman to "paint a misleading picture of its financial condition."

In the transactions, Lehman swapped fixed-income assets for cash shortly before the securities firm reported quarterly results, promising to buy back the securities later. The cash was used to pay down the company's debts. Emails sent by executives at the company referred to Repo 105 as a "drug" and "basically window dressing."

Mr. Valukas concluded there were "colorable," or credible, legal claims against Ernst & Young, Mr. Fuld and former finance chiefs Ian Lowitt, Erin Callan and Christopher O'Meara.

All four former Lehman executives have been scrutinized by the SEC, according to people familiar with the matter. Their lawyers didn't respond to calls seeking comment. They previously have denied any wrongdoing related to Repo 105.

A December lawsuit against Ernst & Young by soon-to-depart New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo drew heavily on Mr. Valukas's findings. Mr. Cuomo, who became New York's governor in January, criticized the Repo 105 transactions as a "house-of-cards business model, designed to hide billions in liabilities in the years before Lehman collapsed."

Mr. Cuomo's successor, Eric Schneiderman, is "fully committed" to pursuing the case, a spokesman said. Ernst & Young has vowed to vigorously defend itself against accusations that the maneuver violated generally accepted accounting procedures.

In contrast, SEC officials generally have concluded that the transactions were consistent with accounting standards, according to people familiar with the situation.

And agency officials aren't convinced that Lehman shareholders suffered material harm, since executives were trading one type of highly liquid asset for another, these people said. They said the SEC would face a far lower bar if Lehman had converted illiquid or damaged assets, such as Archstone's real-estate holdings, into cash using Repo 105.

Mr. Fuld and other former executives could face charges of making misleading statements about the company's health before it sank. That likely would be an uphill battle for the government, according to people familiar with the matter, partly because the executives relied on legal and accounting opinions.

British law firm Linklaters LLP signed off on the Repo 105 transactions, all done through the securities firm's European arm. Linklaters declined to comment.

SEC investigators also have looked for evidence that Lehman overvalued positions held by Archstone, which it acquired in 2007. SEC officials aren't convinced, though, that they can build a strong enforcement action around such claims. In his report, Mr. Valukas wrote that he didn't find "sufficient evidence to support a colorable claim for breach of fiduciary duty in connection with any of Lehman's valuations."

It isn't clear what the Lehman executives have said to SEC officials during the probe. Last year, Mr. Fuld told lawmakers he had "absolutely no recollection whatsoever of hearing anything" about Repo 105 at the time of the transactions. Lehman's demise was caused by "uncontrollable market forces" and the U.S. government's unwillingness to rescue the firm, he said.

The Unbearable Lightness Of TARP Reporting

Originally published in September 2010.

Not so fast Czar Zimbabwe and MSM sycophants. FED whitewash exposed.

A new academic paper by economists from MIT and the NY Fed proves that credit markets were NOT "frozen" during the crisis.


Monday was the second anniversary of the failure of Lehman Brothers. And it was two years ago tomorrow that Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke met with the Congressional leadership in a conference room on Capital Hill, telling them that the entire economic system would cease to function if they didn't pass a bailout bill. One of the things Paulson and Bernanke told the members -- something that was repeated over and over, and continues to be repeated -- was that the credit markets were "frozen." Banks, they said, would not lend to each other. If this were true, it would be very bad indeed.

But it wasn't true. The credit markets were not "frozen." Banks were lending to each other. The credit markets were functioning. And now we have a study, by two economists from the NY Fed and one from MIT, that proves it. In "What Happened to US Interbank Lending In the Financial Crisis?," Gara Afonso, Anna Kovner and Antoinette Schoar show that despite claims of a credit "freeze," it never happened. Some theoretical studies, they note, suggest that fear in the interbank markets could be contagious and would lead to a total freeze, but the authors of this study simply looked at the available data. (Crazy, I know.)

It should be no surprise to regular readers of The Daily Bail, but the NY Fed's own data show that interbank lending during the period from September to November did not "freeze," collapse, melt down or anything else. In fact, every single day throughout this period, hundreds of billions were borrowed and paid back. The decline in daily interbank lending came only when the Fed ballooned its balance sheet and started paying interest on excess reserves.

(Afonso, et al. 2010)

And yet, even to this day, TARP apologists and their clueless handmaidens in the media continue to talk of a credit "freeze." A credit freeze that didn't happen. As he mindlessly praises the "success" of TARP, Ben Smith of Politico is just the latest media clown to make this simple mistake (and Dan Amira of Daily Intel cites him approvingly). Forget, for just a moment, the fact that TARP, along with an alphabet soup of Fed lending facilities and FDIC guarantees on bank bond issuance, helped to subsidize Jamie Dimon's bonus and Lloyd Blankfein's cappucino machine. One would think that mere curiosity, or even fear of embarrassment, would inspire journalists who bother to write about this stuff to do a little research. Alas, no. Any journalist worth his salt -- heck, any twelve-year old -- could find the Afonso-Kovner-Schoar study with a simple Google search. (Is it any mystery why people who have paid attention over the last two years hold mainstream journalists in contempt?) In any case, for the sake of convenience we've reposted the study here.



What happened to US interbank lending in the financial crisis?

Many commentators have argued that interbank lending froze following the collapse of Lehman Brothers. This column presents evidence from the fed funds market that, while rates spiked and loan terms became more sensitive to borrower risk, mean borrowing amounts remained stable on aggregate. It seems likely that the market did not expand to meet additional demand for funds.

Borrowing in the interbank market is the most immediate source of bank liquidity and, aggregate activity in the market can therefore be an important indicator of the functioning of the banking market. Problems in this market can lead to insufficient bank liquidity and thus to inadequate allocation of capital and risk sharing between banks. In addition, the (overnight) interbank rate, known as the fed funds rate in the US, is the main mechanism through which US monetary policy is channelled. This raises the question whether the interbank market mitigate or amplify shocks to individual banks and the banking sector overall.

Many recent economic theory papers predict a market freeze if lenders cannot assess bank-specific risks or fear liquidity shortages. We argue that observed conditions in the overnight fed funds market after Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy do not support these hypotheses.


While we appear to document a functioning fed funds market immediately after the Lehman crisis, we only measure loans that were made, not all the loans that banks might have wanted. Presumably, demand for funds increased at the same time, so unmet demand may have been a problem. There was increased demand for discount window borrowing. However, banks that accessed the discount window were likely to be less profitable. Thus, while we cannot rule out that some banks were screened out of the market, the turmoil in the interbank market cannot have been so big that completely normal and solvent banks had to turn to the discount window for liquidity. This provides further evidence that the interbank market was not completely frozen through the crisis.

Powerful quake hits Shizuoka

A powerful earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.0 jolted central Japan on Tuesday night.

The Japan Meteorological Agency says the quake with an intensity of 6 plus on the Japanese seismic scale zero to 7 hit at 10:31 PM.

The focus of the quake is in the eastern part of Shizuoka Prefecture and is estimated to be at a depth of 10 kilometers.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011 23:05 +0900 (JST)

crash!!!!! Rule 48 Invoked

China US bond purchases decline for 3rd month

China's holding's of US debt fell for the third month
© AFP/File

WASHINGTON (AFP) - China's holding's of US debt fell for the third month in January, while buying from Japan and Britain picked up, the Treasury Department said Tuesday.

Chinese holdings of Treasury securities fell $5.4 billion, or less than half a percent, to $1.15 trillion in January from December.

January's level was $20.6 billion lower than the peak of $1.175 trillion in October.

China's holdings are keenly watched as a sharp turn away from US bonds by their biggest foreign buyer could send US debt costs skyrocketing.

Moreover, leaked diplomatic cables in February vividly showed China's willingness to translate its massive holdings of US debt into political influence on issues ranging from Taiwan's sovereignty to Washington's financial policy.

Japan was a distant second among foreign holders of US debt, with $886 billion, the Treasury figures showed.

Overall foreigners made net purchases of US long term debt in January to the tune of $51.5 billion, lower than the $55 billion expected by analysts.

© AFP -- Published at Activist Post with license

Possible Fukushima Nuclear Fallout Projections For the U.S. Based on Wind Patterns

The recent 8.9 meqa earthquake that rocked japan has left at least two nuclear reactors damaged, overheated and leaking radiation over the Pacific Ocean.

Here are the latest possible Fukushima Nuclear Fallout predictions and projections for the U.S. based on the most current wind patterns.

Read More »

Help Japan: Earthquake Relief Options

As you watch the terrifying images of the tsunami rolling over Japanese industrial plants, farmland, and a nuclear power plant, the natural inclination is want to help with relief efforts. The Red Cross, Salvation Army and many other organizations have already sprung into action, and many organizations are already accepting donations via text message.

Certainly, the victims will need help. The 8.9 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami Friday has so far left thousands of people stranded and the death toll is estimated to exceed 10,000. Meanwhile, the government has declared an “atomic power emergency” after a nuclear power plant’s cooling system was knocked out by the tsunami.

While Japan, with its strict building codes, was better prepared for a disaster like this than Haiti was for the earthquake last year or than Indonesia, which was slammed by a tsunami in 2004, it still is a major blow for the country.

Here’s how to give:

  • For small donations: Many organizations allow you to donate $10 simply by sending a text message. Text 'REDCROSS' to 90999 and, if you use Verizon or AT&T, you won’t be charged a fee for the message, so your full $10 will go the Red Cross. You can also text 'TSUNAMI' to 50555 to give to Convoy of Hope, a global relief organization based in Washington, D.C. The charge will show up on your next bill. But while this method is convenient, it’s not fast: Text donations normally take 90 days to process.
  • For larger donations: If you’d like to contribute more than a few dollars, donate online. In addition to the Red Cross and Convoy of Hope, the Salvation Army, which has had a presence in Japan since 1895, is mobilizing relief efforts in response to the earthquake.
  • Give cash, not clothes. As Kathy Kristof pointed out after last year’s quake in Haiti, relief organizations need money, not sweatshirts or boots.
  • Beware of scammers, fraudulent sites. Don’t give to strangers who contact you by e-mail or on the phone. If you’ve never heard of a charity, check to see if it is listed on Charity Navigator, which evaluates the financial health and efficiency of more than 5,500 organizations. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the FBI reported that 4,000 scamming charity sites were created to take advantage of generous donors. To ensure you are not scammed, the FBI suggests:

    Avoid cash donations if possible. Pay by debit or credit card, or write a check directly to the charity. Do not make checks payable to individuals.

    If you have received a suspicious e-mail, or have been contacted by someone claiming to be a victim of a disaster and you are skeptical, the FBI suggests that you contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center at

We know Americans can be generous. Just four months after last year’s devastating earthquake in Haiti, the American Red Cross raised $430 million from donors who wanted to do their part. In the first four weeks the Red Cross raised $32 million in text donations alone.

For Honolulu’s Homeless, an Eviction Notice

HONOLULU — From his home on Ilalo Street, Banery Afituk can feel the breeze off Mamala Bay, two blocks away. Walking out his front door, to his right, he can make out the tops of the luxury ocean liners, and to his left, some of this city’s finer high rises. “I like it here,” he said, as his three children played around him.

Home for Mr. Afituk, his pregnant wife and their children is, in fact, a tattered tent rising low off the sidewalk, one of dozens that have sprung up in a colony of homelessness near the downtown of this tropical tourist getaway.

But all these tents, including Mr. Afituk’s, are about to disappear. Hawaii redevelopment officials told residents of this fetid colony that by Tuesday they would remove the estimated 75 remaining tents, lean-tos and other structures, forcing about 100 people who have called the area home to find somewhere else.

State officials said they were simply trying to enforce the law and clean up the waterfront district to encourage development in a desirable corner of the island where the tents, piles of garbage and wandering homeless offer quite a contrast to the rest of Oahu.

But this forced exodus is only the latest chapter in Hawaii’s difficult relationship with its homeless as it wrestles with two forces: a warm climate that facilitates outdoor living and the threat to the image of the state that is central to tourism.

Advocates for the homeless said this latest sweep would have the same effect as the last few: the homeless will simply take their tents elsewhere.

“I understand that they are caught between a rock and a hard place,” Doran J. Porter, executive director of the Affordable Housing and Homeless Alliance in Hawaii, said of state officials. “This isn’t an appropriate place for lean-tos and tents.”

And Mr. Porter said he knew full well that state officials were under pressure from the business community. “My concern is that they need to have solutions of where these folks are going to go,” he said. “We can’t keep kicking them out of one place where they go to another. That’s why they are there in the first place: they were kicked out of Waikiki and the beaches. This has been going on for years.”

Anthony Ching, the executive director of the Hawaii Community Development Authority, said his agency’s mandate to redevelop this 600-acre plot had been jeopardized by the illegal dwellings. He said once they were gone, city workers would power-wash the sidewalks and clean up garbage and grassy areas.

“We are not evicting them per se,” he said. “We are telling them they can’t have structures on the roadway. That does not inhibit their use of the sidewalk.”

In the tents, people appeared accepting of their fate.

“I have no idea where I’m going to go,” said Douglas Sencio, 52, who works at a carwash, as a young girl next to him ate spaghetti from a pan bubbling on a portable camp stove. “It’s comfortable. We try to make it comfortable. And they come to take it from us. They said, ‘You have to move, you have no choice.’ ”

This patch of poverty is in a stretch of Honolulu that most tourists probably do not see, unless they glance down some of the side streets running off Ala Moana Boulevard on the trip from the airport. It makes for a startling contrast in a place better known for the surfers on the wild beaches of the North Shore and the developed beaches of Waikiki, where tourists can be seen carrying frothy drinks down the beach, listening to the soft strum of Hawaiian folk music at the House Without a Key.

There is block after block of tents and tarps, shopping carts, bicycles and piles of garbage. Mr. Afituk said he went to a nearby restroom in the morning to bring back gallons of water to wash his children before school.

The dearth of nearby toilets or garbage pickup has contributed to the depredation of a neighborhood that the Hawaii Community Development Authority is eager to redevelop. In recent years, the University of Hawaii moved its medical school to Ilalo Street, and a nearby park where homeless people once camped has been renovated.

Still, there is evidence of a shift in attitudes toward the homelessness problem with the election last year of a new governor, Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat. He appointed a homeless coordinator soon after taking office.

But national advocates for the homeless said Hawaii had been slow to recognize the extent of its problem and to take advantage of federal resources to deal with it.

Neil J. Donovan, the executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless, said the state was one of many trying to deal with the homeless through ordinances, like the one barring tents, rather than programs to create housing. “That’s just such a short-sighted approach,” Mr. Donovan said. “It’s all about a lack of affordable housing.”

In 2009, the coalition named Honolulu the eighth meanest city in the country in its dealing with the homeless. Still, Mr. Donovan said Hawaii’s situation was particularly challenging: on an island with limited land, escalating property values have made affordable housing scarce.

“A lot of communities have different options to present to people,” he said. “In Hawaii, if you are persistently poor, you are really stuck where you are, on the islands.”

The stories of the Hawaii homeless are not dissimilar from those in other areas: of jobs lost, time in prison, struggles with alcoholism and mental illness, of broken marriages.

“I’m just trying to save enough money to get a place,” said Michael Taylor, who said he had been living on the streets for about six years. “They’ve been chasing us all around town. Everywhere you go, they tell you to move on, or threaten to arrest you.”

Mr. Afituk, who like many of the homeless here came from Micronesia, said he and his family had been forced to move out of a one-room apartment after he lost a job last year. He said he was now working as a fire marshal at Pearl Harbor, but did not make enough to rent a home. “I can’t afford it,” he said. “It’s $1,200 a month for a one-bedroom apartment.”

And as in other temperate places — like Santa Monica, Calif. — Hawaii’s climate is a draw to people looking to live outside. “I love it: free rent, free electricity,” said Sherri Watson, 43. “Who wants to stay in a bed-bugged shelter?”

Todd Wilbur, 36, said: “It’s not right that they shuffle us from one side to the other and back and forth. They just make us go in circles. Over here they are going to build a shopping center, another cafe. Why don’t they put up affordable housing instead?”

Union of Concerned Scientists (Japan nuclear disaster blog)

All Things Nuclear

Japanese Nuclear Disaster: Live Report from Japan and Breaking News

The Intel Hub Radio with Shepard Ambellas, Bob Tuskin, and Joe Joseph as well as special guests Thomas Malone live from Japan, Steve Stars, and Dr. Judy Wood.

Join us for our special broadcast on the ongoing disaster in Japan. In these trying times it is very important to remain vigilant and NOT fearful. Those that call true reporting fear mongering are in denial and at times outright liars.


No one knows if radiation is going to hit the west coast. We have never claimed to know 100% The odds that it ALL gets in the jet stream seem very low.

Japan is obviously going to be devastated by nuclear fallout as well as the pacific ocean which could hurt pacific seafood.

We need to stay LEVEL HEADED and not go to either extreme. On one hand the mainstream media is obviously lying but on the other we have people who are clearly fear mongering about the possibility of radiation on the west coast.

It is a possibility? Yes. It is “confirmed” NO

Possible Full Scale Meltdown In Japan

CBC Says Fallout For West Coast NOT A Risk

CIA Sends USAID to Japan to Manage Nuclear Disinfo Campaign

Japan Facing Nuclear Catastrophe — Democracy NOW!

Company That Owns Japanese Nuclear Plant Known To Lie About Nuclear Safety

Tsunami Report update

Mike Rivero - The Dangers of Belief

World Stock Markets Slide - Nikkei Futures Down 16%

The Nikkei is on lunch break and futures have tanked as Armageddon fears grow after two more blasts rocked nuclear plants tonight.

Bloomberg - Global Stock Market Futures

PM Naoto Kan just finished addressing the nation, and told everyone within a 15-mile radius to stay indoors, as radioactive material spreads.

Radiation fears are now spreading to the Phillipines.

Jet Stream Analysis

Japan's PM says 4th reactor of Fukushima NPP on fire


Japan Faces Potential Nuclear Disaster as Radiation Levels Rise

TOKYO — Japan faced the likelihood of a catastrophic nuclear accident Tuesday morning, as an explosion at the most crippled of three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station damaged its crucial steel containment structure, emergency workers were withdrawn from the plant, and a fire at a fourth reactor spewed large amounts of radioactive material into the air, according to official statements and industry executives informed about the developments.

“No. 4 is currently burning and we assume radiation is being released. We are trying to put out the fire and cool down the reactor,” the chief government spokesman, Yukio Edano, told a televised press conference. “There were no fuel rods in the reactor, but spent fuel rods are inside.”

Government officials also said the containment structure of the No. 2 reactor had suffered damage during an explosion shortly after 6 a.m. on Tuesday.


Watch Live Geiger Counter From Japan - Live Stream NHK TV

Possible Full Scale Meltdown In Japan – Live Updates

Commentary by Intel Hub Commentator John King:

In these times of uncertainty we must conduct ourselves with reserve and resolve. Fear mongering and scare tactics should not be tolerated. However I find myself having a hard time in swallowing the main stream story pertaining to Radiation leaks.

Prepare and educate yourselves NOW so that when the time comes you will have the knowledge you need to react calmly and logically to knowing how to handle the situation and what must be done. This will better enable you and your loved to be prepared to survive.

Panic = disaster. Staying calm, using your head and knowing what to do = survival.

The Intel Hub
March 14th, 2011

Update: The IAEA has stated that radiation has been released into the atmosphere.

Radiation Levels and distances from Fukushima - TwitPic

Update: 9:08pm PST – From the BBC - Higher than normal radiation levels are detected in Tokyo, the AFP is quoting the city government as saying.

Update: 7:51pm PST - BREAKING NEWS: Radiation 400 times annual legal limit measured near No. 3 reactor – KYODO The Prime Minister of Japan was quoted as saying that there was a high risk of radiation coming out of the plant in the future.

Update: 7:39pm PST -The French Embassy in Tokyo has reportedly said that weak radioactive material could reach Tokyo in 10 hrs.

Update: 7:24pm PST – The Prime Minister has admitted that the containment chamber was damaged. On going fire at reactor 4. NBC is reporting that this is the 2nd worst nuclear disaster in history. All people in a 20km radius are being asked to evacuate if they have not already.

Update: 6:20pm PST -Kyodo reporting “No. 2 reactor container damaged” France is also reporting that the disaster is a 5 or 6 on a nuclear disaster scale of 1 to 7

Update: 5:30pm PST – Japan’s chief Cabinet secretary was quoted as saying that he could NOT rule out the possibility of meltdowns at all three plants!

Update: 5:22pm PST -The radioactive fuel rods at the No. 2 reactor of the Fukushima No. 1 power station were fully exposed at one point Monday, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said, raising the possibility that it suffered a partial core meltdown according to the Japan Times.

Update: 5:08pm PST – There is a high possibility that radioactive substances are being released. Kyodo has reported that radioactive materials are being released!

Update: 4:37pm PST – The explosion is thought to have damaged the reactors pressure suppression system. Radiation now tops legal limits.

Update: 4:25pm PST - Kyodo has reported that the suppression pool may have been damaged which would increase the risks of radiation greatly. The containment vessel could have also been damaged! Operators of the plant have been told to evacuate. 50% of the length of the fuel rods exposed.

Update: 4:14pm PST – Explosion heard at Unit 2 of Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, nuclear safety agency says – AP – Live Press Conference – During the first part of the conference it was reported that this explosion could be the worse by far.

Update: 4:08pm PST – Reuters flash says explosion heard at reactor #2!

Update: 3:05pm PSTCBC Report

Technicians are racing to prevent a meltdown after uranium rods were fully exposed twice Monday on a third nuclear reactor at a northern Japan power plant that was reeling from explosions at two other reactors.

The fuel rods were exposed after the reactor in Unit 2 at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant because a steam vent wouldn’t open, the utility said.

Water levels were restored after they first dropped at the reactor, but the rods remained exposed Monday night after the second episode, officials said.

Update: 2:55pm PST - The Guardian reports that independent experts in the field cannot get reliable data from the Japanese government and that there is a history of info doctoring and cover-ups related to Japan’s nuclear facilities. Link

Update: 2:49pm PST – Russia Today is reporting that radiation levels near the Fukushima nuclear plant are RISING.

It is very important to understand that this situation is changing every minute and that no one knows for sure if deadly radiation will make it to the U.S. west coast.

Fukushima On Saturday (GeoEye/Associated Press)

BBC Update 1:53pm PST

“The New Scientist’s Short Sharp Science blog has been asking nuclear scientists about the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. It says: “The real fear is that harmful radioactive material will escape from the reactor core.”

Fox News is reporting that the fuel rods in ALL three damaged reactors are set to meltdown. This is not fear mongering this is simple fact. The BBC is also reporting that Japanese Officials are in full scale panic mode. Moscow officials have not ruled out the fact that Japan may be covering up the extent of the damage.

Aaron Dykes, writing for has reported that Japanese officials fear a third explosion.

“A fresh report out of Russia Today reveals heightened concerns that a third explosion may be imminent, following the news that the Unit 2 cooling system at Fukushima Dai-Ichi is fully down. Further the fuel rods are known to be partially exposed, making the system more vulnerable, according to Kyoto News:

The plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., said a steam vent of the pressure container of the reactor that houses the rods was closed for some reason, raising fears that its core will melt at a faster pace.

“The fuel rods in all three of the most troubled Japanese nuclear reactors — each of which lost its cooling system in Friday’s massive earthquake and tsunami — appear to be melting, the nation’s chief government spokesman said Monday,” reported Fox News.

Officials are now worried that a 3rd reactor may explode, raising fears of a full scale nuclear meltdown. At the same time multiple news agencies including CBC are reporting that fallout for the west coast is NOT a risk.

Japan quake: Radiation rises at Fukushima nuclear plant

Watch: Residents are checked for radiation exposure in Koriyama

Radiation from Japan's quake-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has reached harmful levels, the government says.

The warning comes after the plant was rocked by a third blast, which appears to have damaged one of the reactors' containment systems for the first time.

If it is breached, there are fears of more serious radioactive leaks.

Officials have extended the danger zone, warning residents within 30km (18 miles) to evacuate or stay indoors.

The government later said that radiation levels at the plant's main gate had fallen sharply.

The crisis has been prompted by last Friday's 9.0-magnitude quake and tsunami in north-eastern Japan.

On Tuesday morning, reactor 2 became the third to explode in four days at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

A fire also briefly broke out at reactor 4, and is believed to have caused radioactive leaks.

Reactor 4 had been shut down before the quake for maintenance, but its spent nuclear fuel rods are still stored on the site.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said they were closely watching the remaining two reactors at the plant, 5 and 6, as they had begun overheating slightly.

He said cooling seawater was being pumped into reactors 1 and 3 - which were returning to normal - and into reactor 2, which remained unstable.

There was a hydrogen blast in reactor 3 on Monday, following another in reactor 1 on Saturday.

Radiation levels in the Japanese capital - 250km (155 miles) away - were reported to be higher than normal, but officials said there were no health dangers.

Flights cancelled

Tokyo residents have been stocking up on supplies, with some stores selling out of items such as food, water, face masks and candles.

Start Quote

Do not go outside”

End Quote Yukio Edano Chief Cabinet Secretary

Housewife Mariko Kawase, 34, told AFP news agency: "I am shopping now because we may not be able to go out due to the radiation."

Radiation levels in Chiba prefecture, next to Tokyo, were 10 times above normal levels, Kyodo News reports.

In other developments:

  • A 70-year-old woman has been rescued alive from rubble in the coastal town of Otsuchi, five days after the disaster
  • Airlines from Asia and Europe - including Germany's Lufthansa, Air China and Taiwan's EVA Airways - halted flights to Tokyo
  • The Nikkei share index tumbled again, ending 10.55% lower, as the central bank pumped almost $100bn (£62bn) more cash into the financial system, a day after its record $183bn intervention
  • Ninety-one countries have offered aid to Japan, ranging from blankets to search dogs and military transport aircraft

In a televised address, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said: "There is still a very high risk of more radiation coming out."

Homes sealed

He said that 140,000 people living within between 20km (12 mile) and 30km of the plant were at risk and should not leave their homes.

Click to play

BBC Weather's wind-direction forecasts for Japan over coming days

Some 70,000 residents within 20km have already been evacuated, and the premier urged anyone left in that exclusion zone to leave.

"Now we are talking about levels that can impact human health," said the chief cabinet secretary.

He told residents: "Please do not go outside. Please stay indoors. Please close windows and make your homes airtight.

"Don't turn on ventilators. Please hang your laundry indoors."

The government also announced a 30-km no-fly zone above the plant to prevent planes spreading the radiation further afield.

Rolling blackouts

After Tuesday's blast, radiation dosages of up to 400 millisieverts per hour were recorded at the site.

A single dose of 1,000 millisieverts causes temporary radiation sickness such as nausea and vomiting.

Rolling blackouts would affect five million households on Tuesday, said Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), which runs the 40-year-old plant.

Japan's nuclear safety agency said earlier it suspected the latest blast may have damaged reactor 2's suppression chamber.

The BBC's Chris Hogg in Tokyo says that would make it a more serious incident than the previous explosions, which were thought just to have damaged the buildings housing the reactors.

The latest official death toll from the quake and tsunami stands at about 2,400 - but some estimates suggest at least 10,000 may have been killed.

Thousands are still unaccounted for - including hundreds of tourists - while many remote towns and villages have not been reached.

More than 500,000 people have been made homeless.

The government has deployed 100,000 troops to lead the aid effort.

The UK Foreign Office has updated its travel advice to warn against all non-essential travel to Tokyo and north-eastern Japan. British nationals and friends and relatives of those in Japan can contact the Foreign Office on +44(0) 20 7008 0000 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting +44(0) 20 7008 0000 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.


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