Sunday, March 27, 2011

Fears rise that Japan could sell off U.S. debt

Some lawmakers and market analysts are expressing rising concerns that a demand for capital by earthquake-ravaged Japan could lead it to sell off some of its huge holdings of U.S.-issued debt, leaving the federal government in an even tighter financial pinch.

Others say a major debt sell-off by Tokyo is unlikely, but noted that the mere fact that questions are being raised speaks volumes about the risks involved in relying so heavily on foreign investors to fund U.S. debt.

“This natural disaster in Japan concerns me that it could speed up what’s coming, because they are the second leading buyer of our debt,” Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, told The Washington Times. “Small degrees of differences in how much they buy of our debt, I think, can make a big difference in interest rates that we have to pay people to buy our debt.”

With the federal government having piled up $14.2 trillion in debt, budget experts are warning that the country is on an unsustainable fiscal path. Congress, they say, must find cuts in all areas of the budget, while reforming the entitlement programs — Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — that are the biggest drivers of national spending.

Congress has passed short-term spending bills this year that nibble on the edges of government spending, and President Obama has offered a 2012 spending plan that also saw spending rise.

Concerns about the financial plight facing Japan, which trails only China among foreign holders of U.S. Treasury debt, aren’t helping the picture.

“They have a lot of bonds,” former Sen. Pete V. Domenici told The Times this month after testifying before Congress about the country’s mounting debt woes. “Are they in such bad trouble that they are not going to buy anymore? If they don’t, who do we look to?”

Asked point-blank last week if he thought Japan’s troubles could affect the U.S. borrowing costs and interest rates, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner told a congressional hearing, “I do not.”

Japan, which held some $886 billion in U.S. debt in January, is “a very rich country, with a very high savings rate,” Mr. Geithner said.

But some two weeks after the earthquake, uncertainty still reigns over whether Japan will reduce its purchases of Treasury debt and other foreign assets — a decision that could force the U.S. to pay higher rates on its securities to attract buyers and possibly drive up U.S. interest rates.

Story Continues →

Wis. Republicans Publish Anti-Union Law -- In Apparent Defiance Of Court Order

Yet another shoe has dropped in the battle over Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's (R) anti-public employee union law -- with state Republican leaders now apparently defying or attempting to circumvent a court order that temporarily blocked implementation of the law.

Last week, a judge in Dane County (Madison) blocked the law on procedural grounds, ruling that a key conference committee used to advance the bill -- and to get around the state Senate Dems' walkout from the state -- had violated the state open-meetings law by failing to give proper 24-hours notice.

The judge's order "restrain[ed] and enjoin[ed] the further implementation" of the law, including the prevention of Secretary of State Doug LaFollette (D) from publishing the act in the Wisconsin State Journal, which acts as the state's official newspaper for the purpose of giving the public official notice of new laws -- the final step for the law to take effect. That decision is now going through an appeals process, which remains up in the air.

But now, state Republicans have had the bill published through a different office -- the Legislative Reference Bureau, which handles drafting and research for the legislature -- according to the LRB's statutory requirement to publish legislation within ten days of enactment. Interestingly, the LRB itself says that this publication does not constitute action that would put the law into effect. But the state's Republican leaders disagree. Senate Majority Scott Fitzgerald (R) says the LRB publication constitutes official publication and the insists the law will take effect Saturday.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports:

"I think this is a ministerial act that forwards it to the secretary of state," said Stephen Miller, director of the Legislative Reference Bureau. "I don't think this act makes it become effective. My understanding is that the secretary of state has to publish it in the (official state) newspaper for it to become effective."


Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) claimed it didn't matter that it hasn't appeared in the paper.

"It's published," Fitzgerald said. "It's law. That's what I contend."

Following this action, State House Minority Leader Peter Barca (D) obtained a letter from Scott Grosz, the staff attorney for the Wisconsin Legislative Council -- which offers legal advice to the LRB -- further outlining the LRB's position. Key quote:

As described above, s. 35.095 (3) (b), Stats., refers to the publication activities of the Secretary of State, rather than the publication activities of the LRB. Accordingly, while certain statutory obligations regarding publication of Act 10 have been satisfied by the LRB, the statutory obligation that relates to the effective date of Act 10 has not yet been satisfied by the Secretary of State, and at this time the Secretary's actions remain subject to the temporary restraining order issued in Dane County Circuit Court.

However, Fitzgerald is insisting otherwise, the Wisconsin State Journal reports:

"Every attorney I have consulted said this will now be law," said Fitzgerald. "It wasn't a secret. I think they left the door open for this."

As WisPolitics reports, Fitzgerald said that he had sent the LRB the letter suggesting publication:

"It became clear that this was an option and they were on equal footing with the secretary of state," Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald said he could not speculate what legal actions may be taken following LRB publishing the act, but he was confident the move was proper.

"It's law tomorrow," he said.

So what does this all mean? Well, it now appears that Republicans are ready to move ahead with the new law eliminating most collective bargaining rights for public employee unions, despite a court order that prevented not only 'publication' but any "further implementation" of the statute. The move is almost certain to spark yet more litigation and provide more grist for the Democratic efforts to recall Republican state Senators this year and Walker himself next year.

Video of thousands in London protest march as paint bombs, flares fly

Indiana prosecutor told Wisconsin governor to stage ‘false flag’ operation

Mario Piperni Image
Eric W. Dolan
Raw Story

An Indiana prosecutor and Republican activist has resigned after emails show he suggested Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker stage a fake attack on himself to discredit unions protesting his budget repair bill.

The Republican governor signed a bill on March 11 that eliminates most union rights for public employees.

In an email from February 19, Indiana deputy prosecutor Carlos F. Lam told Walker the situation presented "a good opportunity for what’s called a ‘false flag’ operation."

The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism discovered the email among tens of thousands released to the public last week following a lawsuit by the Isthmus and the Associated Press.

"If you could employ an associate who pretends to be sympathetic to the unions' cause to physically attack you (or even use a firearm against you), you could discredit the unions," Lam said in his email.

"Currently, the media is painting the union protest as a democratic uprising and failing to mention the role of the DNC and umbrella union organizations in the protest," he continued. "Employing a false flag operation would assist in undercutting any support that the media may be creating in favor of the unions."

Lam resigned from his position after the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism published an article about his email.

Read Full Article

Geithner Announces Plans To Offload $142 Billion In Fraudulent Mortgage Assets

On average the FCIC found that 28% of mortgages in any given securitized pool were fraudulently originated.


Source - Yahoo

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The US Treasury Department on Monday said it would start selling-off mortgage-backed securities worth an estimated $142 billion, in an effort to close another chapter of the financial crisis.

The department said each month it will offload up to $10 billion in mortgage-backed securities (MBS), assets which bundle together large numbers of mortgages.

"We will exit this investment at a gradual and orderly pace to maximize the recovery of taxpayer dollars and help protect the process of repair of the housing finance market," said Treasury official Mary Miller.

The products, secured by state-backed mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, were bought as part of the 2008-2009 financial sector bailout.

As the housing bubble began to burst the Treasury and Federal Reserve bought up swathes of so-called "toxic assets," when losses appeared to be endangering individual banks and the financial system at large.

But the Treasury said the market for asset-backed derivatives is now much more robust, three years after the depths of the crisis.

"The market for agency-guaranteed MBS has notably improved since the time Treasury purchased these securities in 2008 and 2009," it said in a statement.

The Treasury hopes to net $15-20 billion profit from the sale, depending on market conditions.

According to Nancy Vanden Houten, an analyst at Stone & McCarthy, that estimate "might be on the high side," but a profit was likely.

"I think perhaps something closer to $10 billion is more reasonable."

The Treasury has recently offloaded equity stakes in Citigroup, General Motors, Ally Financial and American International Group that it took on to help them survive the crisis.

AIG recently offered to buy back $15.7 billion in mortgage-backed securities from the Federal Reserve as part of its effort to emerge from a government bailout.


More detail on this clip is here...

Crime Without Punishment: FCIC Chair Phil Angelides With Dylan Ratigan: "28% Fraudulent Mortgages And No Wall Street Handcuffs"

Brooksley Born Questions Lloyd Blankfein Over AIG And Derivatives Risk

Video - FCIC Hearings - Jan. 13, 2010

Since we can't watch Lloyd on trial in the Galleon case, we present the next best thing - a few minutes of last January's FCIC hearing with Brooksley Born, who warned more than a decade ago about a derivatives nightmare before being professionally silenced by Greenspan, Summers and Rubin.

This clip has not been posted before.


How Can America Create Wealth If Our Industrial Base Is Destroyed? 50,000 Manufacturing Jobs Have Been Lost Every Month Since 2001

Any economy that constantly consumes far more wealth than it produces is eventually going to be in for a very hard fall. Many point to relatively stable GDP numbers as evidence that the U.S. economy is doing okay, but the truth is that we have had to borrow increasingly massive amounts of money to keep GDP numbers up at that level. The U.S. government is going to run an all-time record deficit of about 1.65 trillion dollars this year and average household debt in the United States has now reached a level of 136% of average household income. But borrowing endless amounts of money and consuming massive amounts of wealth with that borrowed money is a road that leads to economic oblivion. The only way to have a healthy economy in the long run is to create wealth. But how can America create wealth if our industrial base is being absolutely destroyed? According to Forbes, the United States has lost an average of 50,000 manufacturing jobs per month since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001. Hundreds of formerly thriving industries in the United States are being totally wiped out. China uses every trick in the book to win trade battles. They deeply subsidize their domestic industries, they openly steal technology, they blatantly manipulate currency rates and they allow their citizens to be paid slave labor wages. So yes, the products coming from China are cheaper, but in the process tens of thousands of factories in the U.S. are shutting down, millions of jobs are being lost and the ability of America to create wealth is being compromised.

In 2010, the U.S. trade deficit was just a whisker under $500 billion. Much of that trade deficit was with China.

During 2010, we spent $365 billion on goods from China while they only spent $92 billion on goods from us.

Does a 4 to 1 ratio sound like a "fair and balanced" trade relationship to anyone out there?

Our trade deficit with China in 2010 was the largest trade deficit that one country has ever had with another country in the history of the world.

In fact, the U.S. trade deficit with China in 2010 was 27 times larger than it was back in 1990.

Needless to say, that is not a good trend.

Our industrial base and our ability to create wealth is being wiped out so rapidly that it has now become a very serious threat to our national security.

According to Forbes, there is only one steel plant inside the United States that is still capable of producing steel of high enough quality to meet the needs of the U.S. military, and even that plant has been bought by a European company.

Meanwhile, China produced 11 times as much steel as America did last year.

Not only that, China is now the number one supplier of components that are critical to the operation of U.S. defense systems.

How in the world did we let that happen?

So what happens if we have a conflict with China someday?

But of more immediate concern is the loss of jobs that the destruction of our industrial base is causing.

For example, the Ivex Packaging Paper plant in Joliet, Illinois just announced that it is shutting down for good after 97 years in business. 79 good jobs will be lost. Meanwhile, China has become the number one producer of paper products in the entire world.

But China is not just wiping the floor with us when it comes to things like steel and paper.

The truth is that China has now become the world's largest exporter of high technology products. Back in 1998, the United States had 25 percent of the world’s high tech export market and China had just 10 percent. Ten years later, the United States had less than 15 percent and China's share had soared to 20 percent.

So how is China doing it? Well, as noted above, they are pulling every trick that they can think of.

Most Americans think that we have "free trade" with nations such as China. That is a complete and total lie and anyone that believes that we have "free trade" with China does not know what they are talking about.

China subsidizes their domestic industries to such an extreme extent that many global industries no longer even come close to resembling "free markets" as a recent story in Forbes noted....

According to a story in the January 20, 2009 New York Times, government subsidies so thoroughly disrupted pricing in the global market for antibiotics that many western producers had to either move facilities to Asia or exit the business entirely. The reason this might matter to intelligence analysts is that the last U.S. source of key ingredients for antibiotics — a Bristol-Myers Squibb plant in East Syracuse, New York — has now closed, leaving the U.S. dependent on foreign sources in a future conflict.

Our politicians and our business leaders have pursued economic policies that are so self-destructive that it defies explanation.

How in the world could anyone be so stupid?

Since 2001, over 42,000 U.S. factories have closed down for good. Millions of jobs have been lost. The ability of the once great American economic machine to create wealth has been neutered.

The business environment in America is completely and totally pathetic at this point. The number of small businesses that are being created is also way, way down.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 403,765 small businesses were created in the 12 months that ended in March 2009. That was down 17.3% from the previous year, and it was the smallest number of small businesses created since records began being kept in 1977.

The truth is that the U.S. economy is dying.

We continue to consume about the same amount of wealth that we always have, but our net worth is declining.

According to the Federal Reserve, more than two-thirds of Americans have seen their net worth decline during this economic downturn. In fact, the Fed says that between 2007 and 2009, the wealth of the average American family declined by 23%.

So if it seems like your family and everyone around you is getting poorer, that is because it really is happening.

We really are becoming poorer as a nation.

We can see evidence of this all around us. Just consider a few of the examples that have been in the news in recent days....

*One school district in the Chicago area is laying off 363 teachers.

*The U.S. Postal Service is offering $20,000 buyouts to thousands of workers as they attempt to slash 7,500 good paying jobs.

*The city of Detroit, once a shining example of middle class America, is now a rotting cesspool of economic decline and it saw its population decline by 25 percent over the decade that recently ended.

Americans are not feeling the full impact of America's industrial decline yet because we have been filling the gap in wealth creation with massive amounts of debt.

In the years since 1975, the United States had run a total trade deficit of 7.5 trillion dollars with the rest of the world. That 7.5 trillion dollars could have gone to support U.S. businesses and U.S. workers, but instead it left the country and went into the hands of foreigners that do not pay taxes.

Therefore, the U.S. government, state governments and our local governments have had to borrow massive amounts of money to make up the difference.

Most people do not realize it, but the destruction of America's industrial base has played a very significant role in the government debt crisis we are facing today.

In addition, the millions upon millions of workers that have lost their jobs as America's industrial base has been destroyed are now a drain on the system. Instead of creating wealth and being involved in economically productive activity, millions of American workers are now totally dependent on the U.S. government for survival.

Do you think that it is just some sort of accident that we have 44 million Americans on food stamps?

Don't you think that a large percentage of those people would actually like to have good jobs that would enable them to sufficiently feed their families?

If we continue on the path that we are currently on we are not going to have much of an economy left.

Not that all trade is bad. Certainly not. For example, trade with Canada is generally a very good thing.

However, the horribly unbalanced and unfair trade relationships that we have with nations such as China are ripping our industrial base apart. Our politicians have not been telling us the truth about what the "global economy" will mean for American workers. Most U.S. workers never realized that globalism would mean that they would be competing for jobs with workers willing to work for one-tenth the pay on the other side of the globe.

Those people that believe that we can indefinitely maintain an economy where we consume far more wealth than we create are completely and totally delusional.

Until the American people wake up and start demanding change from our politicians on these issues, 50,000 (or more) manufacturing jobs will continue to fly out the doors every single month and even more Americans will become dependent on government welfare.

Is that what you want?

Read The NY Fed White Paper That Dismissed The Housing Bubble - Just Before It Burst

Video - Bernanke Was Wrong - July, 2009

Dec. 2004 NY Fed Paper: Are Home Prices the Next "Bubble"?

The Fed got this one completely, 100% wrong. Total FAIL. This December 2004 study of the housing market is a reminder that the same people exerting almost total, unaccountable control over our monetary policy, are the same people who produce studies like this.

This paper has plenty of charts, regression analyses, hedonics and endnotes. All absolutely worthless.

Basic findings:

  • A "close analysis of the U.S. housing market" finds little basis for concerns about a steep decline in home prices
  • The rise in home prices is driven by fundamentals, not speculation (this time it's different)
  • Weaker fundamentals are unlikely to cause home prices to drop steeply on a nationwide basis
  • Any decline in home prices is unlikely to have serious ramifications for the broader economy and "is unlikely to plunge the U.S. economy into a recession."

More detail...


OFFICIAL: CRIME PAYS "up to $2,400 for employers who hire... individuals with felony records.

"The United States Government offers a federal tax credit of up to

$2,400 for employers who hire individuals from nine targeted groups of job

seekers, including individuals with felony records.

"States can offer

an additional tax break to business owners who hire people with criminal records as one way

to support the re-entry of those who are legitimately trying to return to the job market in

order to support their families and rejoin their communities... "

Payed your debt but still paying? CLICK HERE

Postcards From Hell

Anti-cuts march: Tens of thousands at London protest

More than 250,000 people have attended a march and rally in central London against public spending cuts.

Labour leader Ed Miliband addressed crowds in Hyde Park and the main march organised by the Trades Union Congress passed off peacefully.

But small groups attacked shops and banks with a stand-off in Piccadilly. There have been 214 arrests and 66 people injured, including 13 police.

Ministers say the cuts are necessary to get the public finances in order.

In the largest public protest since the Iraq war rally in 2003, marchers from across the UK set off from Victoria Embankment to Hyde Park, where TUC general secretary Brendan Barber was first in a line of speakers.

"We are here to send a message to the government that we are strong and united," he said.

"We will fight the savage cuts and we will not let them destroy peoples' services, jobs and lives."

Mr Barber was followed by Mr Miliband, who said: "The Tories said I should not come and speak today. But I am proud to stand with you. There is an alternative."

The march began at 1200 GMT and it took more than four hours for the protesters to file past the Houses of Parliament on their way to the park.

The TUC, which organised the event, said more than 250,000 people had taken part, and the Metropolitan Police confirmed the numbers.

BBC political reporter Brian Wheeler, in central London, said there were lots of families and older people, and the atmosphere was good-natured but the anger was real.

"The noise in Whitehall was deafening as thousands of protesters banged drums, blew whistles and shouted anti-cut slogans, slowly making their way towards Trafalgar Square.

"The crowds were booing as they went past Number 10, but the demonstration was good-natured and friendly.

"There are hundreds of trade union banners, but we have also spoken to public sector workers who have come to make their voices heard."

One of those protesting was Peter Keats, 54, from Lowestoft, Suffolk, who works for Jobcentre Plus.

Marchers in Whitehall Organisers estimated at least 250,000 people attended

He said: "Personally, I think it's wrong the way we are hitting the poor.

"I'm not so much worried about myself but the customers I deal with are vulnerable and I'm worried about them and I'm worried about the kids of this country."

Demonstrator Christine Nugent, a university research fellow, said: "The size and scale of it, and the range of people here, is great."

The veteran of anti-Margaret Thatcher demonstrations in the 1980s said protesters came from all walks of life, adding: "There are a lot of trade unionists here, but it's not just the usual suspects."

There have been separate incidents involving a number of protesters, some with their faces covered by scarves, away from the main march:

  • A sit-in organised by the campaign group UK Uncut took place at Fortnum & Mason department store in Piccadilly. The group has previously mounted protests against tax avoidance measures by big businesses
  • A bonfire was lit by protesters at Oxford Circus, where earlier police said light bulbs containing ammonia were thrown at officers
  • Topshop on Oxford Street had its windows smashed and was doused with paint
  • Missiles were thrown at the Ritz Hotel, Piccadilly
  • Bank branches including the Royal Bank of Scotland were attacked with paint and had windows broken, while branches of HSBC and Santander were broken into.

Scotland Yard said there had been 202 arrests for public order offences, criminal damage, aggravated trespass and violent disorder.

Start Quote

I agree with the protesters, they are fighting for the future. ”

End Quote Bonnie, Tunbridge Wells

Commander Bob Broadhurst said: "The main TUC march has been going well. We have had more than a quarter of a million people with hardly any problems.

"Unfortunately we have had a group of approximately 500 criminals committing some disorder including throwing paint at Topshop in Oxford Street and at the police, and scaring the public who are trying to shop."

Policing minister Nick Herbert said the government was "committed to supporting peaceful protest" and blamed the violence on "a small minority of individuals".

Police and protesters in Piccadilly A stand-off between police and splinter groups took place in Piccadilly

Mr Miliband condemned the violence, saying: "There is no excuse for it. It is unlawful and wrong."

Civil rights group Liberty said the march had been "infiltrated by violent elements" who attacked buildings before "melting into the demonstration once more".

Earlier, the largest union involved, Unite, said so many of its members had wanted to take part that it could not find enough coaches or trains to ferry them to London.

Its general secretary Len McCluskey said the scale of the deficit had been exaggerated.

Outlining his economic plan to the BBC, he said: "Our alternative is to concentrate on economic growth through tax fairness so, for example, if the government was brave enough, it would tackle the tax avoidance that robs the British taxpayer of a minimum of £25bn a year."

Education Secretary Michael Gove said he could understand the disquiet and anger.

"But the difficulty that we have as the government inheriting a terrible economic mess is that we have to take steps to bring the public finances back into balance," he said.

Mr Miliband is attending the march but is yet to sketch out an alternative, he added.

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude on cuts

Matthew Sinclair, director of the Taxpayers' Alliance which lobbies for lower taxes and greater government efficiency, said: "It's understandable that people feel upset...

"But in the end it's not valid and what politicians should be doing is not encouraging this rally but saying look, you've got to be more realistic about the options facing this country."

Did you take part in the march? What is your reaction to Saturday's events? You can send us your views and experiences using the form below.

Fukushima: Resümee über bisherige Rechnungen und CTBTO Messungen

(For english information please go to the bottom of the page)

CTBTO Daten: was ist alles mit heutiger Technik messbar?

Die CTBTO unterhält weltweit 60 zertifizierte Stationen. Diese Stationen wurden für die Verifikation des umfassenden Atomteststop-Vertrages eingerichtet und messen Radioaktivität mit noch nie dagewesener Genauigkeit. Allerdings hat dieses Messnetz auch eine wesentlich geringere räumliche Dichte verglichen mit den nationalen Strahlenwarnsystemen. Eine Detektion an einer CTBTO Station bedeutet nicht, dass Gesundheitsrelevanz besteht. Bisher gab es keine Messung im CTBTO System, die gesundheitsschädliche Aktivitäten von Radionukliden zeigte.

Das CTBTO System misst keine Dosis-Leistungen, sondern die Konzentrationen von individuellen Isotopen wie Jod-131 und Cäsium-137. Deswegen kann es auch Stoffe nachweisen, deren Dosis-Leistung ein verschwindender Bruchteil der Dosis-Leistung der natürlichen Radioaktivität ist (ein hundert-Millionstel). Und zwar deswegen, weil diese Stoffe normalerweise in der Atmosphäre nicht vorkommen.

Mit dem heutigen Tag wurde Strahlung aus Fukushima an 24 unterschiedlichen Stationen der Behörde registriert. Neue Detektionen betreffen die Station in Stockholm/Schweden sowie Stationen im europäischen Teil von Russland. Damit ist die Strahlungswolke – in extrem verdünnter Form – beinahe schon um die ganze nördliche Hemisphäre gelaufen. Simulationen der ZAMG zeigen sehr schön die Ausbreitung der letzten zwei Wochen. Das Modell hat generell sehr zufriedenstellend funktioniert.

Bei den unten sichtbaren Grafiken wurde eine andere Skalierung verwendet wie bei unseren operationellen Simulationen. Die Graphiken wurden darauf optimiert, auch kleinste Aktivitätskonzentrationen von Jod-131 zu zeigen, wie sie auch im CTBTO Netz gemessen werden können.

Radioaktivität von Fukushima 3 Tage nach Beginn des Unfalles
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Radioaktivität von Fukushima 6 Tage nach Beginn des Unfalles: Wolke erreicht USA
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Radioaktivität von Fukushima 9 Tage nach Beginn des Unfalles: Extrem verdünnte Radioaktivität hat USA überquer
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Radioaktivität von Fukushima 12 Tage nach Beginn des Unfalles: Extrem verdünnte Radioaktivität über Europa
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Radioaktivität von Fukushima 15 Tage nach Beginn des Unfalles (Prognose)
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Dr. Gerhard Wotawa
Stabsstelle Daten/Methoden/Modelle
Zentralanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik
Hohe Warte 38, 1190 Wien

Powerful message from former (C.I.A. Agent) to all Americans!