Daily Digest

Daily Digest 6/15 - Minnesota Prepares For Shutdown, House Trims $9B From Defense Budget, Inflation Affects Households

Wednesday, June 15, 2011, 9:47 AM
  • Minnesota Prepares For Shutdown
  • CBO Chief Says U.S. Debt Default Could Cost Taxpayers Billions
  • Bernanke says US debt limit delay could end badly
  • Ben Bernanke: Be Fiscally Responsible!
  • Canada urges U.S. to steer clear of debt default
  • Greek deputy quits governing party over austerity
  • Flights to be hit if Greece 24-hour strike goes ahead
  • Greek PM Under Pressure to Reshuffle Cabinet
  • Annapolis water, sewer bills may soar
  • U.S. airlines collected $5.7 billion in bag, change fees in 2010
  • Board of Regents weighs 9.8% MTSU tuition hike
  • House Trims $9B From Obama’s Defense Budget
  • School is out after today at Marshall High School - likely forever
  • 1,500 Philadelphia teacher layoffs remain on hold
  • Police work with a priority because so few on duty, available
  • Jerry Brown opens door to gimmicks budget
  • Budget cuts leave UK ‘unable to hold Falklands’
  • Berlusconi Allies In Disarray After Referendum Blow
  • Italy's Tremonti-tax cuts must not hurt stability
  • Copper Theft Strikes Out Sacramento Softball Complex, Benches Games
  • Vote to lower taxes raises Cincinnati's deficit
  • Fresno Sheriff's Deputies Could be Cut
  • EFSF to sell $7.21 billion in debt for Portugal
  • New Baltimore Residents Have Pothole Woes
  • PG&E sees surge in copper wire theft in Antioch area
  • Power Outage Caused By Copper Theft, Says AEP
  • Illinois License Plates Could Get Corporate Sponsors
  • Teachers vote to strike in row over pensions
  • Hungary to cut govt debt to 77% by July, says PM
  • Inflation stretching households to breaking point, TUC warns
  • Diets of poor hurt by rise in food prices - Oxfam
  • Price of food up 7.4%
  • Disney raises theme park prices for summer
  • U.K. House Prices Fall, Sellers Abound
  • Soda Prices Appear Ready To Heat Up With Weather
  • School Lunch Prices in Shoreline to Increase


Follow our steps to prepare for a world after peak oil, such as how to store & filter water

Minnesota Prepares For Shutdown

Time is running out for Minnesota's parks, highway rest stops and public universities, not to mention 36,000 state employees. If Gov. Mark Dayton and lawmakers don't agree on a budget by June 30, the state government is expected to shut down. The state moved one step closer to this outcome on Friday by sending layoff notices to much of the state workforce.

Should officials not resolve their differences in time, state parks and highway stops could be shuttered over the busy Fourth of July weekend. Forget about renewing a driver's license or taking classes at state colleges. Nonprofit agencies may have to suspend their social services if their state funding disappears.

CBO Chief Says U.S. Debt Default Could Cost Taxpayers Billions

A U.S. government default on its debts would be a “dangerous gamble” that could easily cost taxpayers billions of dollars, the head of the Congressional Budget Office said today. Doug Elmendorf told reporters that if the investors who buy federal debt begin demanding even modestly higher interest rates, to compensate for additional risk, it could quickly add more than $100 billion to the interest payments the government must make on its debt.

Bernanke says US debt limit delay could end badly

U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned on Tuesday that a failure to lift the government's $14.3 trillion debt ceiling risks a potentially disastrous loss of confidence in America's creditworthiness. Bernanke said in the absence of a quick resolution to the battle over the debt limit, the United States could lose its prized AAA credit rating, while the dollar's special status as a reserve currency might be damaged.

"Even a short suspension of payments on principal or interest on the Treasury's debt obligations could cause severe disruptions in financial markets and the payments system," Bernanke said in remarks prepared for delivery at an event sponsored by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

Ben Bernanke: Be Fiscally Responsible! (By Ben Bernanke)

Of even greater concern is that longer-run projections that extrapolate current policies and make plausible assumptions about the future evolution of the economy show the structural budget gap increasing significantly further over time. For example, under the alternative fiscal scenario developed by the Congressional Budget Office, which assumes most current policies are extended, the deficit is projected to be about 6-1/2 percent of GDP in 2020 and almost 13 percent of GDP in 2030. The ratio of outstanding federal debt to GDP, expected to be about 69 percent at the end of this fiscal year, would under that scenario rise to 87 percent in 2020 and 146 percent in 2030.

Canada urges U.S. to steer clear of debt default

Canada urged its top trading partner, the United States, on Tuesday to steer clear of defaulting on its debt to avoid "disruptions" to the global economy. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told reporters he had spoken with his U.S. counterparts in Congress and budget officials in the Obama administration to encourage them to "work something out."

"This is not just a procedural matter. This has some consequences," Flaherty told reporters when asked about the possibility of the U.S. missing a debt payment. "We don't need any more disruptions in the world economy these days," he said.

Greek deputy quits governing party over austerity

A backbench lawmaker resigned from Greece's governing Socialists on Tuesday to protest a new austerity drive, eroding Prime Minister George Papandreou's majority and raising the specter of further defections ahead of a crucial vote this month...Earlier Tuesday, another PASOK deputy said he would oppose the new austerity plan, which several others have strongly criticized.

"I have made my decision," Alexandros Athanassiadis said. "I cannot vote for the midterm plan that will change things in my country in such a way."

Flights to be hit if Greece 24-hour strike goes ahead

Flights to and from Greece could be hit by a nationwide strike in the country tomorrow over budget cuts. easyJet has said it expects significant disruption if the 24-hour strike take place and train services, including those to Athens airport, will not run. Industrial action would also force ships and ferries to stay docked in ports, according to the Athens News Agency. Greece’s two biggest labour unions are due to take industrial action against the Greece government tomorrow against austerity measures and higher taxes.

Greek PM Under Pressure to Reshuffle Cabinet

Two senior officials—a senior Socialist Party leader and a cabinet minister—said the government's survival could depend on reseating top cabinet posts after the parliament votes through the new austerity measures at the end of June.

Public protests over deep government spending cuts has been growing as Greece struggles through the worst economic crisis in the country's recent history. Government insiders worry about eroding public support for reforms.

Annapolis water, sewer bills may soar

Property taxes are going up, trash collection fees are going up, and if the City Council passes new water and sewer legislation, those fees will go up, too....The revised plan now before city officials would not only increase the cost of services but significantly alter the rate structure.

Under it, the average Annapolis household would pay about $664 per year for water and sewer. Right now the average household is spending about $344 annually.

U.S. airlines collected $5.7 billion in bag, change fees in 2010

U.S. airlines collected $5.7 billion in fees from their customers last year. That's billion, with a "b." Baggage fees were the top source of fee-based revenue for the airlines, netting the 20-biggest U.S. carriers a collective $3.39 billion in 2010, according to numbers out Monday from the federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS).

But airlines also collected a hefty total from fliers who needed to change their travel plans. All told, the 20 biggest U.S. airlines took in $2.29 billion in revenue stemming from change-of-ticket and cancellation fees.

Board of Regents weighs 9.8% MTSU tuition hike

The Tennessee Board of Regents will consider a 9.8 percent increase in tuition and fees for MTSU in 2011-12, in part to "to mitigate a growing imbalance" caused by hiring more full-time temporary professors in lieu of tenure-track faculty.

House Trims $9B From Obama’s Defense Budget

The House Appropriations Committee passed today a $649 billion defense spending bill that trims $9 billion from President Barack Obama’s budget while boosting ground combat vehicles and special operations programs.

School is out after today at Marshall High School - likely forever

PORTLAND, Ore. – After 51 years, school is out at Marshall High School in southeast Portland and this could be a truly endless summer. Portland Public Schools is shuttering the facility due to budget cuts, enrollment declines and increasing costs to run the school.

It’s the first major high school closure in the Portland area in almost 30 years. Tuesday marks the last day of classes at Marshall, which houses three educational facilities. Students and teachers begged the school board to spare the school this spring to no avail.

1,500 Philadelphia teacher layoffs remain on hold

Though a court hearing Tuesday on the layoffs was postponed, the mayor was visiting several schools in an effort to assess planned cutbacks and drum up support for additional taxes to benefit the district. Even as he toured the buildings, tax opponents readied to protest at City Hall.

The state's largest district, which serves about 203,000 traditional and charter school students, is facing a record $629 million deficit.

Police work with a priority because so few on duty, available (Flint, Michigan)

Judy Hovey had given up hope that police would ever arrive, when her door bell rang at 2 a.m.

“It really, really frightened me, given the fact that I’d just had a break-in,” said Hovey, who opened her door to find a police officer there to take a report on a burglary that she had called into 911 about 12 hours earlier. She’s not alone in her wait.

Jerry Brown opens door to gimmicks budget (California)

Brown, who is trying to close the state's remaining $9.6 billion deficit, said he is still negotiating with Republicans and would continue to after Wednesday's rarely-met constitutional deadline. The Democratic governor could continue talks without committing to a budget for as long as 12 days after it is passed, the time he has to sign or veto it.

The majority-vote budget would reimpose $3 billion in deferred payments to schools, forcing districts to borrow more while avoiding deep program cuts. Brown proposed in May using additional tax dollars to pay schools that money on time. It also would rely on taking funds from First 5 programs.

Budget cuts leave UK ‘unable to hold Falklands’

If Argentina were to attack the Falklands again, Britain would risk losing the islands due to cuts in defence spending, according to the naval commander who led the re-capture of the Falklands for the British 29 years ago. “As things currently stand, we’d have serious trouble defending anything much further than the other side of the English Channel,” Admiral Sandy Woodward wrote in an article in the Daily Mail newspaper.

“Twenty-nine years ago today, we re-claimed the Falklands for Britain in one of the most remarkable campaigns since the Second World War,” wrote Woodward, adding that the Falklands “are now perilously close to being indefensible”.

Berlusconi allies in disarray after referendum blow (Italy)

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right government struggled to respond on Tuesday to a crushing referendum loss that even his supporters saw as a “hammer blow.” Berlusconi was under increasing pressure from his allies to make tax cuts to restore the government’s popularity following the highest turnout for a referendum in more than 16 years.

Italians voted overwhelmingly in favour of four proposals to repeal Berlusconi-era laws on nuclear energy, water privatisation and trial immunity for government ministers.

Italy's Tremonti-tax cuts must not hurt stability

Italian Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti rejected pressure on Tuesday to lower taxes and said there was no scope for loosening the tight budget policy he has made his trademark. Speaking after a heavy referendum loss for Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi which has prompted many in the ruling centre-right to press for tax cuts, Tremonti said Italy could not afford to put its commitment to budget stability in doubt.

Copper Theft Strikes Out Sacramento Softball Complex, Benches Games

The Sacramento Softball Complex has gone dark due to copper thieves. According to a Parks and Recreation spokesperson, the theft happened sometime Friday night. The thieves apparently cut the locks and then stole over $1,000 worth of copper wire. Now the park is completely shut down. The lights, scoreboards, sound system, bathrooms, phone lines, and water all are not working.

This isn’t the first time a copper wire theft has happened at a city park. In February Gregory Allen Alexander, 39, was electrocuted after police said he tried to cut a high-voltage copper power line for its recycling value.

Vote to lower taxes raises Cincinnati's deficit

Most Cincinnati property owners will pay lower taxes next year, but that tax break increases the city's already $25 million projected deficit by another $8 million. The decision by City Council Monday means the city will take in less tax revenue in 2012 than it has in any year for the past decade.

Fresno Sheriff's Deputies Could be Cut (Video)

The possible cuts were laid out Monday morning as Fresno County started hearings on the budget for the new fiscal year. And the cuts could impact public safety.... But the Sheriff says she needs eight million dollars more from the County or she will have to lay off 64 deputies. If those deputies are cut, it will take longer to respond to calls for help. And fewer crimes will be investigated.

EFSF to sell $7.21 billion in debt for Portugal

The European Financial Stability Facility, set up to help bailout peripheral Euro zone members struggling under massive debts, will sell 5 billion euros ($7.21 billion) in 10-year bonds Tuesday to fund a disbursement of a previously-offered loan to Portugal. Moody's Investors Service rated the debt Aaa.

New Baltimore Residents Have Pothole Woes

He says a couple of children on his street, Brett Drive off County Line, have been injured riding their bikes over potholes several inches deep. "It's like a war zone in some spots," he said, adding a small dog could fit in the worst potholes.

Mayor Larry Smith and other city officials acknowledged the road issue in town. The mayor and fellow council members have themselves balked at the potholes on their streets. While there's little money to repair streets, city officials are forwarding the matter to the road committee for review.

PG&E sees surge in copper wire theft in Antioch area

Pacific Gas & Electric workers were shocked this month to find one of the utility's 45-foot wood poles along the railroad tracks chopped to the ground in what officials say is the most brazen local case to date of copper thieves targeting PG&E property. Wires were removed from the transformer atop the pole, and a handsaw was found on the ground.

The utility is accustomed to a certain level of property vandalism but says it has seen a surge in copper thefts in recent months in the area of Antioch north of Highway 4. Thieves have swiped copper from about 300 poles in Antioch since the beginning of the year, compared with fewer than 10 in 2010, company spokeswoman Tamar Sarkissian said last week.

Power Outage Caused By Copper Theft, Says AEP

A spokesperson from American Electric Power said the outage was caused by a copper wire theft. The utility believes that theft is what caused more than 2,600 Jefferson County homes to go without power last night.

Illinois License Plates Could Get Corporate Sponsors

License plates in Illinois could one day come with corporate sponsors. The "Winfield Press" reports the state is considering selling ad space on the plates. The Illinois Senate has passed a measure ordering a study to test public support for the plan and find out how much money the state could rake in if it let companies put their advertisements or logos on license plates.

Proponents hope it could help Illinois close its roughly 15-billion-dollar budget gap. The study should wrap up by the beginning of next year.

Teachers vote to strike in row over pensions (UK)

Members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action. The two unions represent more than 380,000 teachers. The NUT says it balloted 220,000 members while 160,000 teachers belong to the ATL.

Earlier this year, Labour peer Lord Hutton produced a report on pension reforms that recommended raising the retirement age for public sector workers from 60 to 66 by 2020.

Hungary to cut govt debt to 77% by July, says PM (Using pension funds)

Private pension funds must transfer the assets of members returning to the state pillar to the Pension Reform and Debt Reduction Fund by June 14. Government securities transferred in the portfolio will be withdrawn, thus reducing state debt.

László András Borbély, deputy CEO of Hungary's government debt management agency ÁKK, earlier said that the government securities in the private pension portfolio were worth the equivalent of 4-4.5% of GDP, and state debt could drop as a result by a similar rate in June. More than HUF 2,800 billion in private pension fund assets are being transferred to the state pension pillar, pension fund association Stabilitás said early in June, citing preliminary data after the valuation date for the transfer

Inflation stretching households to breaking point, TUC warns (UK)

The TUC has warned that household budgets were being stretched to breaking point after the latest set of official inflation figures showed the annual increase in the cost of living running well ahead of wage settlements.

With the City warning that inflation was likely to head higher in coming months from the 4.5% rate recorded in May, Brendan Barber, the TUC's general secretary, said the recent sharp increases in food and fuel prices were making life increasingly hard for consumers.

Diets of poor hurt by rise in food prices - Oxfam

Rising food prices, hovering near record highs after a spike in grain costs, are changing diets particularly in developing countries such as Kenya, according to a survey issued by charity Oxfam on Wednesday.

"Huge numbers of people, especially in the world's poorest countries, are cutting back on the quantity or quality of the food they eat because of rising food prices," he added.

Price of food up 7.4% (New Zealand)

Rising food prices have started to pinch, with Statistics New Zealand yesterday reporting a 7.4% in the cost of food in the year ended May. That included a 2.2% lift in October because of an increase in GST, but is still the largest annual rise since the year to July 2009.

Food prices became political yesterday, after the release of the price rises.

Disney raises theme park prices for summer

As the summer tourist season begins, the Walt Disney Co. announced an increase in ticket prices at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando and Disneyland Resort in Anaheim.

As of Sunday, one-day passes for the Disney theme parks in Anaheim increased 5.3%, from $76 to $80. A three-day pass to visit Disneyland and nearby Disney California Adventure Park jumped 8.7%, from $206 to $224. Annual passes for Southern California residents, among the most popular ticket option, increased 8.1%, from $184 to $199.

U.K. House Prices Fall, Sellers Abound

Prices have been depressed by a variety of factors. Many prospective buyers have seen their monthly income fall in real terms as inflation has outpaced wage growth, making it less appealing to invest in a bigger property. The threat of job loss has also dissuaded some from taking on a bigger mortgage. First-time buyers in particular have been deterred by tight lending conditions.

The RICS said the fall in its balance in May was driven by a rise in the number of prospective sellers on the market, coinciding with a modest drop in people looking to buy.

Soda Prices Appear Ready To Heat Up With Weather

PepsiCo Inc. (PEP) plans to raise drink prices by an average of 3% and 5% between mid-July and Labor Day, according to trade publication Beverage Digest, which would put Pepsi's prices 5% to 7% higher than they were a year ago by the end of the summer. A Pepsi spokesman confirmed the pricing plans Monday.

Coca-Cola Co. (KO) has indicated it plans to raise prices 3% to 4% during the second half of the year, for a total increase of 2% to 3% for the full year. Both companies plan to get the pricing boost from a mix of raising prices, fewer deals and shifting the mix of products sold to higher-priced items, as they look to offset higher costs for ingredients, packaging and shipping.

School Lunch Prices in Shoreline to Increase (Washington)

The Shoreline School Board last week unanimously approved a 25-cent increase in school lunch meals for the 2011-2012 school year.

This is the second straight time the district has raised lunch prices as expenses rise and school budgets decline. Food service costs are up thanks to high fuel costs and increased retirement costs to the district.

Article suggestions for the Daily Digest can be sent to [email protected]. All suggestions are filtered by the Daily Digest team and preference is given to those that are in alignment with the message of the Crash Course and the "3 Es."


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Greek Jan-May Budget Deficit Widens 12.9% On Year, Misses Target

"Euro zone ministers failed on Tuesday to reach agreement on how private holders of Greek debt should share the costs of a new bailout, putting the onus on the leaders of Germany and France to forge a deal later this week.

Nervous markets pushed the bond yields of Greece, Ireland and Portugal to their highest levels since the introduction of the euro in 1999 amid uncertainty over a second rescue for Athens and the contribution governments are likely to demand from the private sector."

..................1A) Greek Jan-May Budget Deficit Widens 12.9% On Year, Misses Target

"Greece's state budget deficit widened 12.9% in the first five months of 2011 to EUR10.28 billion from EUR9.1 billion a year earlier, the finance ministry said Tuesday.

The figure missed the government's target of EUR9.07 billion.

According to the finance ministry's statement, net ordinary budget revenue for the five month period totaled EUR18.36 billion, down 7.1% from EUR19.76 billion in the same period of 2010 and a target of EUR20.52 billion."

"But because employee concessions saved just $39 million, 100 cops and hundreds of other city workers will still have to be laid off to bridge San Jose's 10th straight budget deficit.

The 7-4 council vote after four hours of debate showed divisions on the council over how to save more police jobs amid an alarming spike in homicides. The number of killings -- 27 so far this year -- is running at more than double the city's rate over the past decade."

................2A) San Jose police agree to cuts as murder rate climbs

.................2B) San Jose cops approve 10 percent pay cut

"Jefferson County employees will begin receiving layoff notices Wednesday.

County commissioners made the announcement during their regular meeting, Tuesday. The county announced 964 jobs would be cut by June 18th."

..................3A) Official backs 25% fee hike in Jefferson Co

"Efforts to control public finances are not being evenly shared between the central government and the regions, the Madrid-based bank said in its annual report. The regions hire half of public workers, control health and education spending, and together owe 115 billion euros ($165 billion)."

"Japan's economy minister said Wednesday the government should start lifting the nation's 5% sales tax even if deflation persists, as the nation's poor fiscal state could create even more serious economic pains in the future if allowed to worsen.

"No one would seek to raise taxes if the economy were in a depression, but should the economy be flying at its usual altitude, we would need to lift the consumption tax," Kaoru Yosano said at a press conference. "The issue of international confidence, market confidence in Japan's finances would become more important than the issue of deflation. We also have an important policy goal of preventing long-term interest rates from rising." "

  • Other news, headlines and opionion:

Greece crippled by protests, strike over austerity

Moody's puts French banks on review for downgrade over Greece

France downplays bank credit rating downgrade fears

Greek default would pose contagion risk: Fekter

Belarusians Withdrew $1 Billion of Foreign Currency Deposits for Three Months

Canadian household debt reaches $1.5 trillion

OPEC may earn record $1.034 trillion from oil exports - EIA

Europe's $103 Billion Yard Sale May Come Up Short as Buyers Seek Bargains

Greek Debt Rescheduling Cost Put at 20 Billion Euros, FT Says

Italy raises euro3.5 billion in bond sale

Ontario faces $100B infrastructure gap

Food subsidies push up Morocco budget deficit

Yonkers borrowing deal dead; 700 school layoffs still targeted

Lockheed's space business to cut 1200 jobs in Sunnyvale, elsewhere

Beijing Home Prices Fall in First 5 Months15 Jun 2011

One in 5 credit unions 'in danger of closing' (Ireland)

Spain c.bank concerned over govt growth, budget goals-UPDATE 1

Greek ports paralysed by latest strike

EU Will Consider "All Options" To Rescue Greece: Juncker

Japan gov't approves TEPCO bailout

CalPERS plans health premium hike of 4%

Gold to Reach $5000 Due to Supply Shortage: Report (CNBC)

A Gradual Sudden Catastrophe (McAlvany audio....listen at the 10 minute mark for info on China's inflation and huge central bank leverage)

More than 60000 homeowners fall 90 days behind on repayments (Ireland)

S&P lowers outlook for China property

Atlanta-Area County Raising Taxes to Fix Finances

100% Chance of Greek Default, Says Niall Ferguson

Oakland employees storm meeting, demanding council stop contracting

City of Miami faces estimated $40 million budget shortfall

Property taxes may go up to pay for police (Salt Lake City..."“If we don’t transfer some of the cost to a property tax, we would have to cut 60% of our deputies,” says Corroon")

Mangano Plans 130 Layoffs, Police Redeployment (Nassau County)

State Dems ready budget with higher fees, taxes (California)

Privatisation won't cover pension deficit (Bulgaria)

China Inflation Heading for 6% Shows Danger for Wen Extending Rate Pause

Belarus leader threatens to 'whack' Internet protestors

Faced with unrest, wary China flexes muscle

California's Chiang Says 'We're Not There Yet' on Needing IOUs

May core CPI rises most in nearly 3 years‎

Canada's airports snarled by Air Canada strike

Providence - Half of Taxes Pay for Pensions

Marin County Grand Jury Examines Pensions ("The report specifically calls out San Rafael as having nearly 50 percent of its payroll directed towards pension costs.")

Homebuilder Confidence in U.S. Fell in June

U.K. Jobless Claims Rise Faster Than Estimated While Growth in Wages Slows

Polish Inflation Quickens in May to Fastest in Decade, Rate Increase Eyed

Fed Officials Discuss Explicit Inflation Target

Spanish Parliament Rejects Proposal to Ease Rules on Mortgage Foreclosures

U.S. Industrial Production Rose Just 0.1% in May

Fannie Mae Extends Selling Agent Bonus to Move REO Properties

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Posts: 68
More U.S. homes lease solar panels with no upfront costs

More U.S. homes lease solar panels with no upfront costs http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/environment/2011-06-14-homes-le...
Amid a booming U.S. solar market, more homeowners are able to lease rooftop panels — some with no upfront costs — and pay only for the power produced.

WSJ Gold Miners Wield Dividend in ETF Fight http://google.com/news/search?q=Miners+Hit+Back+In+Gold+ETF+Fight
Gold miners are striving to outshine the metal they produce, raising their dividends to win back investors who have been flooding to bullion-backed funds.

WSJ The Easy Credit That Fueled Brazil's Boom Now Imperils It. Google
Now the engine that has helped the nation become a global player in beef, oil and mining is colliding with another policy imperative: battling inflation.

Time: The 2% Economy. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2075364,00.html
But the bottom line is that the 2% economy is reshuffling the deck on everything from the debt debate to job growth to the likely outcome of the 2012 elections. Here in the U.S., there won't be many winners.

7 Ways Not to Buy Gold. http://www.kiplinger.com/columns/kiptips/archives/7-ways-not-to-buy-gold...
Bill Gross Starts an ETF. http://www.kiplinger.com/columns/balance/archive/pimco-bill-gross-starts...

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Contaminated sewage sludge worries Japanese

Contaminated sewage sludge worries Japanese

TONY EASTLEY: Already the radioactivity from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant has contaminated groundwater and seawater, the air and soil.

Now it has somehow seeped into sewage in dozens of treatment plants.

Radioactive caesium has been found in sewage sludge in treatment facilities from Hokkaido in the north to Osaka in the west, as well as in Tokyo.

So serious is the problem that Japan doesn't know where to put the growing pile of contaminated waste.

For millions of Japanese the discovery could ruin their holiday plans.

Here's North Asia correspondent Mark Willacy.

(Sound of the sea)

MARK WILLACY: In a few weeks Japan's beaches will be teeming with swimmers but for now all along the east coast men in wetsuits are wading into the surf to take samples of water.

With radioactive iodine and caesium from the imploded Fukushima plant already found in the Pacific there are fears that this summer beaches will have to be closed.

(Sound of Japanese woman speaking at the beach)

"I am so concerned," says this swimmer. "I worry all the time that the sea might be contaminated here," she says.

Even in Miyazaki more than 1,000km south of the leeching Fukushima plant officials are taking sea samples.

(Sound of Japanese man speaking at the beach)

"It's very scary," says this surfer. "Very scary."

But there's also a contamination concern for something you'd never want to swim in.

High levels of radioactive caesium have been found in sewage sludge in treatment plants in 16 prefectures (ed: about 1/3 of the country).

It's believed rain soaked soil contaminated with radiation was washed into sewage lines and facilities during this wet season. The contamination's then settled in the sludge.

The sludge is usually incinerated and the ash used in materials like cement, but no-one wants it now so piles of radioactive sludge are growing around the country.

(Sound of Akio Koyama speaking)

"No-one had expected such high levels of radioactivity in sewage sludge," says radioactive waste expert Akio Koyama.

"This material must be stabilised and solidified before it can be safely disposed of, otherwise radioactive material will seep into groundwater. The problem is we've never had to deal with something like this before," he says.

In other words Japan has no safety guidelines for radioactive sludge.

So now some people living near treatment plants are taking their own radiation readings in a bid to check if their neighbourhoods are safe for their children.


Nate's picture
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Many, many thanks,

Many, many thanks, Saxplayer.  I think you set a new record for the # of posts!


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Posts: 395
ewilkerson's picture
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Posts: 390
I swear the world is falling

I swear the world is falling apart fast.

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Posts: 11
The big risk with Greece as

The big risk with Greece as far as I can tell is the Credit Default Swap market. Basically banks have been selling CDS's as insurance against Greece defaulting. Now anyone can buy this insurance regardless of if they actually loaned Greece any money. 

So its like this.

I will sell you House Insurance on a house you do not own. If the house burns down I will pay you $100. I will sell the insurance to you for $1 as the house has been there for 40 years and hasn't burned down yet.

You know that a known pyromaniac has just moved into the house. It is summer. The house is surrounded by tall dead grass. On one side of the house is a magnifying glass testing facility and on the other side is a petrol station. The local fire department has just left for a holidy in Tahiti.

Do you buy my insurance for $1 knowing that if the house burns down I will pay you $100? 

That is Greece. People realized that Greece would eventually default a couple of years ago. So how big is the CDS market for a Greece default? CDS market is 600 Trillion to 1 Quadrillion. Might the CDS market for Greek debt be a Trillion dollars? Or more? Who is on the hook for that? No one knows.


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Posts: 35
Apparent Explosion and Fire at Fukushima #4

  What is going on there? I saw nothing on the mainstrem news about this. Very scary. This world is coming apart at the wheels and no one seems to notice.

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