Thursday, March 31, 2011

Friday April 1 Housing and Economic stories


Obama housing aide to be mortgage banking lobbyist - ( A key advisor on housing policy to President Barack Obama has accepted an offer to head the Mortgage Bankers Association. "Yes, it's true," Federal Housing Administration Commissioner David Stevens said on Tuesday in a brief telephone conversation when asked if he was going to run the trade association. Stevens announced his resignation from the Obama administration last week but said at the time he was "not sure" where he would next land.

Chicago South Loop condo tower converting to apartments - ( Another failed South Loop condominium project — the 333-unit Lexington Park — is going rental about 10 months after its Irish builder abandoned the development. ST Residential LLC, the current owner of the high-rise at 2138 S. Indiana Ave., plans to list units in the building for rent within the next three months, with move-ins starting by late summer, an ST spokesman says. ST, a joint venture led by Greenwich, Conn.-based Starwood Capital Group and TPG Capital of Fort Worth, Texas, took control of the 35-story tower in May after Lexington Park's developer, Limerick, Ireland-based Chieftain Group Ltd., relinquished the struggling project through a so-called deed-in-lieu of foreclosure. Completed in fall 2009, the building has sat nearly empty for more than 18 months, as the South Loop condo market has shown few signs that it's pulling out of its depressed state. About 55% of Lexington Park's 333 units had been under contract as of early 2010, but those deals were canceled, the spokesman says. Buyers have closed on just three condos in a seven-story portion of the project that has 36 loft units, according to property records.

Nearly vacant condo tower goes bak to lender - ( A Near South Loop site where Chicago gangster Al Capone once had his headquarters, and where Geraldo Rivera famously found nothing in Mr. Capone's vault, has gained new notoriety as the city's biggest condo tower to be taken over by its lender in the current housing crisis. The 35-story Lexington Park, near Michigan Avenue and Cermak Road, was surrendered last week by its Irish developer through a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure. The private-equity venture that now owns the property acquired Corus Bank's the distressed condo loans after the Chicago-based lender failed last fall. Just three buyers have closed on Lexington Park's 333 units, according to property records. The tower, 2138 S. Indiana Ave., was supposed to be ready for occupancy in 2008. Limerick, Ireland-based Chieftain Group Ltd. borrowed $84 million from Corus in fall 2006 to finance the tower's construction, and also obtained $10.6 million in financing from 47 individuals in Ireland, according to mortgages recorded in Cook County. A Chieftain executive who had overseen the development declines to comment and referred questions to ST Residential LLC, a venture led by Greenwich, Conn.-based Starwood Capital Group and TPG Capital of Fort Worth, Texas. "The building's in strong hands," says a spokesman for ST Residential. "We just took ownership last week, and we're evaluating our next steps." The three sales that have closed are in a seven-story portion that consists of 36 lofts, sources say. Condos in the tower seemed to be gearing up for closings late last year, says one buyer, when a flood on an upper floor caused damage to units and the elevator shaft and further delayed the project.

Nevada's boom ends in record number of empty houses - ( The promise of palm tree groves and low-priced real estate lured Alan and Katherine Ackerly across the Rocky Mountains from Denver to Nevada in 2004, where thousands of new houses beckoned brightly as any neon sign. They came to buy their retirement home. But the real estate bust took its toll, with a flood of short sales and foreclosures in the market, and last month the Ackerly's dream home was foreclosed on, too. "I pretty much gave it back to them," said Alan Ackerly, a 57-year-old electrician who stopped paying his mortgage because he owed more than the house was worth. The Ackerly's home is now among a swelling number of abandoned houses in Nevada. There were 167,564 empty houses in the state last year, according to newly released U.S. Census data, more than double the number in 2000. The number of vacant homes represents about one out of every seven houses across Nevada. The figures are another striking example of how the housing crisis has pummeled Nevada, casting a new light on the severely weakened market after years of boom. One result is an increase in code violations. In Clark County, home to Las Vegas, such complaints nearly doubled from 2008 to 2009 and the median price of resale homes dropped to $115,000 in January.

Houses sit empty across SF East Bay - ( Two years after moving out, Kevin Chandler still drives by the house where he expected to raise his children to see how high the weeds have grown out front and check for vandalism. He and his wife moved to Brentwood from Livermore in 2002, excited to buy a home large enough to accommodate their growing family. In 2009, however, both husband and wife lost their jobs. No longer able to make their mortgage payments and facing bankruptcy, the family of six moved in with relatives in neighboring Discovery Bay. Today, the house remains empty -- one of the more than 62,000 homes in the East Bay driving vacancy rates to record highs. According to recently released census data, the percentage of empty homes in Contra Costa and Alameda counties has doubled in the past decade, jumping to more than 6 percent. Many of the Contra Costa cities that grew the fastest in the lead-up to the housing crash are now littered with the highest percentages of empty homes. The cities of San Pablo and Richmond have the highest overall vacancy rates in Contra Costa -- 8.5 and 8.2 percent, respectively. Pittsburg, Antioch and the rest of East Contra Costa follow close behind.

The Collapse of The Suburbs in California - ( Decent video...


Southern California House Sales Fall to Lowest for February in 3 Years - (

$300 Oil is on the Way - (

Does Anyone Seriously Believe the Global Recovery Is Still Intact? - (Charles Hugh Smith of

Wisconsin Republicans to meet with corporate lobbyists in DC - (

US vs. Canadian house prices - (

How to Lose Your House in Foreclosure, Then Receive a Check - (

Discipline Case Filed Against Foreclosure Break-In Lawyer - (

BofA Leak Exposes Possible Force-Placed Insurance Fraud - (

Ex-Chief Of Freddie May Face Civil Action - (

UBS Being Investigated Over Possible Manipulation of Libor - (

How Long Can the Fed Continue to Downplay Inflation? - (

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Thursday March 31 Housing and Economic stories


Realtor charged in mortgage fraud case - ( A top-producing Flagler Beach Realtor is one of 11 people charged in an investigation of mortgage fraud, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said today. Linda Barlan Kasper, 63, was arrested Friday on charges of racketeering and conspiracy. Investigators said a two-year investigation revealed banks were cheated out of $9 million in phony homebuyer loans. "Operation Fast Cash targeted 15 subjects who infiltrated the housing industry as mortgage brokers, appraisers, Realtors and straw buyers with the sole purpose of lining their pockets with illegal money," said Dominick Pape, an FDLE special agent in charge. The group operated in Flagler, Lake and Volusia counties. They bought 23 homes, then, agents say, they over-appraised the values and sold the properties to "straw buyers," who got mortgages and then let the homes go into foreclosure.

'Break-in' lawyer threat to the public, Bar says - ( A Carlsbad lawyer who made national headlines when he told Orange County residents and others to break into their foreclosed homes and take them back poses a “substantial threat of harm to the public,” and should have his license yanked, lawyers with the State Bar of California said today. Michael T. Pines, 59, who told clients in Newport Beach, Carlsbad and Simi Valley to re-enter their repossessed homes and start living in them again, had no right to do so, the Bar said in pleadings to take away the license. In the Newport Beach case, shown here, Pines, center, helped a 72-year-old man break into a 5-bedroom, 4,400-square foot home in Crystal Cove that he had lost to foreclosure, and that was back on the market at $3.8 million. The ex-homeowner was accompanied by Pines and, wielding a hammer, broke a window to gain entry to the house. Officers arrested Pines and his client for trespassing and took them away in a police car.

Fannie Mae's Fraudulent REO Disclosure Practices - ( It is high-time to call attention to Fannie Mae’s dastardly practice of NOT disclosing existing inspections and reports to buyers of their REO properties. Fannie Mae is knowingly breaking real estate law and asking it’s REO listing agents to do so as well. Pretend you buying a foreclosed property owned by Fannie Mae. The listing agent sends you over a package of disclosures (or most of them anyway). They are also required to send over all inspections and reports from any previous escrows. But, they don’t and they won’t. Yes, the agents are to blame and they are creating a huge liability for themselves if they ever get caught. Fannie Mae, however, really puts the listing agents in a bind: the agents know what they are being asked to do is wrong, but they will be fired if they don’t comply. I have personally seen this, many times, from both the listing and selling agent’s side. I used to work with a small team of REO listing agents and we had a Fannie Mae account. The asset managers expressly forbid us from sending them any reports or inspections on the properties. Even worse, they expressly forbid us from accepting or even looking at any inspections or reports done by buyers during an escrow. Their advice to us was that if a buyer’s agent emailed over an inspection report, delete it. Yes, the asset managers actually told us to delete files.

The rich, bankers especially, can defraud without consequences - ( Count me among those who were glad to see the documentary “Inside Job” win an Oscar. The film reminded us that the financial crisis of 2008, whose aftereffects are still blighting the lives of millions of Americans, didn’t just happen — it was made possible by bad behavior on the part of bankers, regulators and, yes, economists. What the film didn’t point out, however, is that the crisis has spawned a whole new set of abuses, many of them illegal as well as immoral. And leading political figures are, at long last, showing some outrage. Unfortunately, this outrage is directed, not at banking abuses, but at those trying to hold banks accountable for these abuses. The immediate flashpoint is a proposed settlement between state attorneys general and the mortgage servicing industry. That settlement is a “shakedown,” says Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama. The money banks would be required to allot to mortgage modification would be “extorted,” declares The Wall Street Journal. And the bankers themselves warn that any action against them would place economic recovery at risk.

Hackers Release BofA Mortgage Emails - ( Hackers have released emails that they claim reveal Bank of America purposely concealed information about mortgage foreclosures. A group known as Anonymous posted emails provided by a former employee of Balboa Insurance, which was acquired by Bank of America ( BAC - news -people ) as part of its Countrywide acquisition. The group contends the emails prove the Bank of America affiliate purposely removed information from mortgage documentation. Bank of America told Reuters that the claims are untrue, and that the emails in question merely pertain to clerical matters and are not foreclosure related. Bank of America has agreed to sell the unit to QBE Insurance Group. Bank of America shares are trading down about 1% Monday. BofA is the top stock in the Rydex 2x S&P Select Sector Financial ETF , trading down 6.7% today. Other top stocks in the fund include JPMorgan Chase, trading down 1.4%, and Wells Fargo, trading down .9% Monday.


Hacker group releases Bank of America documents - (

Germany's new boom: making money by making stuff - (

Are Chinese Ready to Rent? - (

Loaning a friend money... What could go wrong? - (

Ex-Bank of America Employee Can Prove Mortgage Fraud - (

The perils of property - (

Likely Economic Effects of the Japanese Earthquake - (

The Economic Aftershock of Japan - (

AmpedStatus Network -- A99 - (

As house prices double dip, pundits debate how low it will go - (

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Wednesday March 30 Housing and Economic stories


Alvarez, Seijas trounced in Miami-Dade recall election – ( With almost all precincts reporting results, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez and Commissioner Natacha Seijas have been ousted from office.
Results from the recall election, including absentee and early votes, show a vast majority of voters, around 88 percent, want to kick out the two politicians. Both politicians kept a low profile as results came in, but billionaire auto magnate Norman Braman, who championed the recall effort along with political action committee Miami Voice, celebrated with supporters at a news conference. “Today is the first day of a new day for Miami-Dade County. County voters have demonstrated by their ballots that they are tired of unaccountable officials, of being ignored, and of being over-taxed in this very difficult recessionary time,” he said. “I say, ‘congratulations Miami-Dade voters!’”

Building permits fall to all-time low - ( The housing market just can't seem to catch a break. The number of permits issued in February for future housing construction fell to a new all-time low, according to a government report released Wednesday. Building permits fell to an annual rate of 517,000 permits last month, down 8.2% from a revised 563,000 in January, the Commerce Department said. That was the lowest level seen since the government started tracking the figures in 1959, and much worse than economists had expected. Uncertainty about the job market and rising gas and food prices are still keeping potential homebuyers on the sidelines, even as mortgage rates and home prices are at attractive lows. "It's consumer nervousness," said David Crowe, chief economist with the National Association of Home Builders. "It's a fragile recovery to begin with, and then you throw in high energy costs, new uncertainties about Congress, and it's just enough to spill over the glass again."

Yemen Declares State of Emergency - ( Armed men opened fire on crowds of antigovernment protesters Friday in Yemen's capital, killing an estimated 45 people and injuring hundreds—prompting Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to declare a state of emergency and suggesting his government has shifted to a hard line against its hardening opposition. Friday's bloodshed marked the most significant escalation in violence in Yemen's capital since protesters began in January to call for the end of Mr. Saleh's 32-year regime. The one-day death toll stood higher than the estimated 40 demonstration-linked fatalities in Yemen until now. The day's violence began after Friday prayers, a time city residents have in recent weeks joined protesters who are camped near San'a University. Several people who saw Friday's crowds estimated the demonstrators numbered 100,000 or more, San'a's largest protests yet. Yemen's president declares a state of emergency after around 30 protesters are killed at an anti-government rally. Witnesses said official forces opened fire, but this was later refuted by the president. Video and image courtesy of Reuters. Gunfire rang out. Gunmen could be seen firing into a crowd of thousands from atop buildings. Black smoke poured from the edge of the demonstration site. Some witnesses said the smoke came from burning tires, in a screen that helped mask the gunmen's position.

Portugal risks political chaos amid austerity feud - ( Portugal's political and financial crisis deepened Thursday, when the main opposition party said it won't support the minority government's latest measures aimed at avoiding a bailout for the debt-laden country. The decision could force the beleaguered government's downfall, triggering fresh market jitters just as Europe readies new measures to contain the continent's sovereign debt crisis. Many analysts anticipate Portugal's high debt load and feeble growth will compel it to ask for financial assistance like Greece and Ireland last year. The government has ruled out asking for help, insisting its tax hikes, pay cuts and reductions in welfare benefits and other state spending will be enough to restore faith in the economy.

Nike to raise prices sharply as costs hit gains - ( Nike Inc plans to raise the prices on its shoes and sports clothing markedly in 2012 to cope with the rising costs of oil, cotton and transportation that are hurting its profitability. The shares in the world's largest athletic shoe and clothing maker plunged 7 percent on fears that already stretched margins will come under even greater pressure this year and next. It reported a lower-than-expected quarterly profit on Thursday, hurt by rising production costs. The company expects margin pressures to persist this year, intensifying in the current quarter. "This is evidence that rising input costs are hurting Nike's profit," said Giri Cherukuri, a portfolio manager with OakBrook Investments, which owns Nike shares. "Nike's margins will be under pressure for the rest of the year." To contend with that, Nike executives said the company would ramp up and broaden its price increases.


Stocks Rally on Libya Cease-Fire, Fed; Yen Falls on G-7 Moves - (

Reduced exports to Japan could pinch U.S. economy - (

Long Pause For Japanese Industry Raises Concern About Supply Chain - (

World energy crunch as nuclear and oil both go wrong - (

Portugals Rating Cut Two Steps by Moodys on Outlook - (

New-home construction plunges in February - (

California housing market slump persists through February - (

Fed Says Some Banks Can Resume Dividends After Stress Tests - (

Workers Prepare to Connect Power to Stricken Nuclear Plant - (

Radiation Fears Add to Japan’s Economic Woes - (

U.S. nuclear officials suspect Japanese plant has a dire breach - (

Monday, March 28, 2011

Tuesday March 29 Housing and Economic stories


In union strongholds, residents wrestle with cuts - ( In Midwestern union strongholds, residents torn over proposals to curb union benefits, powers. There once was a time when Harry and Nancy Harrington -- their teenage children in tow -- walked the picket line outside the nursing home where she was a medical aide, protesting the lack of a pension plan for the unionized work force. But those days of family solidarity are gone. Harry now blames years of union demands for an exodus of manufacturing jobs from this blue-collar city on the shore of Lake Michigan. He praises new Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker for attempting to strip public employee unions of nearly all of their collective bargaining rights. "I'm sorry, but the unions want to yell, they want to intimidate," says Harry Harrington, 69, as he sets a coffee cup down next to another newspaper headline about the union demonstrations.

Special report: On borrowed time: budget delays start to hurt - ( When they finally completed their new control tower last November, officials at University Park Airport hoped it would provide a needed safety upgrade. The skies can get crowded on days when Penn State plays football, and the existing air traffic controllers stationed 200 miles away can't see down between the long corduroy ridges that bisect this swath of central Pennsylvania. And there was that incident a few years back, when two commercial planes lined up at opposite ends of the runway and started rolling toward each other, primed for takeoff. A local set of eyes on the runway would help. But several months after the $7 million tower passed its inspection, it remains empty. Money to hire the federal air traffic controllers is bottled up in Washington, hostage to the months-long budget standoff in Congress. "I've got to be confident that it will be resolved. I don't see any way how a facility like this ... how we could come this far in seven and a half years and not have the funding," says airport director Bryan Rodgers, as he stares at computers that still have that out-of-the-box smell, with protective plastic still on their screens. As the fiscal year nears its halfway point, the $3.7 trillion U.S. government is essentially running on automatic pilot. Republicans and Democrats have extended out last year's budget to keep the lights on as they battle over roughly $50 billion in proposed cuts.

Lack of Parts From Japan Forces G.M. to Halt Work at a Plant - ( General Motors said Thursday that it would temporarily shut a truck plant in Louisiana because it could not get enough Japanese-made parts, the first in what analysts say could be widespread disruptions at auto plants in North America because of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis half a world away. That it was G.M. — rather than one of the Japanese automakers, which depend on many parts from their home country — that succumbed first to the shortage shows how much the industry depends on far-flung suppliers. But Toyota and Honda have shut their plants in Japan until next week as they try to repair damaged facilities, assess the state of their suppliers and determine how to restart production safely. “The modern auto industry has never faced a natural or human calamity on the scale of today’s crisis in Japan,” Michael Robinet, the director of global production forecasts for the research firm IHS Automotive, wrote in a report Thursday.

Portugal yields rise, government warns of political crisis - ( Portugal's government blamed higher rates paid at a debt auction on Wednesday on the opposition's refusal to back its latest austerity plans, warning a political standoff could force it to seek a bailout. Portugal's plight has become yet more complicated by the fact that the main opposition Social Democrats have refused to back the government's latest austerity plans, which are aimed to ensure the country meets its budget goals. "Failure to approve the new measures in the budget plan would push the country to external help," Finance Minister Fernando Teixeira dos Santos told parliament's budget committee. "Current market conditions are unsustainable in the medium- and long-term." Prime Minister Jose Socrates warned on Tuesday that his minority government would be unable to continue if the country's long-term economic strategy, which includes the latest austerity measures, was not passed in parliament. "Yield levels in Portugal still trade above their snowball level -- where the level of interest charged means their level of debt stock is going up -- and that means that longer-term the situation, despite their best efforts, is getting worse not better," said rate strategist Charles Diebel at Lloyds Bank.

Higher prices for food are about to get worse - ( Americans are noticing higher prices at the grocery store, and it's about to get worse. Food prices at the wholesale level rose last month by the most in 36 years. Cold weather accounted for most of it, forcing stores and restaurants to pay more for green peppers, lettuce and other vegetables, but meat and dairy prices surged, too. The big questions are how long food prices will keep rising and how high they'll go. The impact is already visible. Wendy's, paying higher prices for tomatoes, now puts them on hamburgers only by request. Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts have raised prices because they pay more for coffee beans. Supermarkets warn customers that produce may be of lower quality, or limited. "It has thrown the whole industry into a tizzy," says Dan Bates, director of merchandising for the produce division of grocery chain Supervalu Inc.


U.S. Libor Probe Includes BofA, Citi, UBS - (

High Radiation Severely Hinders Emergency Work to Cool Japanese Plant - (

Crisis Prompts Exodus of Executives From Tokyo - (

Japan dumps water on reactor; U.S. sends planes for citizens - (

Japan’s Meltdown and the Global Economy’s - (

Japan Churns Through ‘Heroic’ Workers Hitting Radiation Limits for Humans - (

Bernanke in Testimony Can Prove to Ron Paul How QE2 Works in Free Markets - (

Philadelphia-Area Manufacturing Expands by Most Since 1984 - (

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Monday March 28 Housing and Economic stories


Bahrain Suspends Stock Market Trading Due to State of Emergency - ( Bahrain closed its stock exchange and the cost of insuring against default by the Persian Gulf nation held near the highest since July 2009 as clashes between security forces and anti-government protesters intensified. The nation’s five-year default swaps dropped 7 basis points to 352 today after surging 44 yesterday to surpass Lebanon, whose debt carries a lower credit rating, for the first time in more than a year. Fitch Ratings cut Bahrain two levels yesterday as the government imposed a three-month state of emergency. Clashes between the mainly Shiite Muslim protesters in Bahrain and forces from their Sunni government injured hundreds and drew criticism from Shiite-ruled Iran. Bahraini opposition group al-Wefaq said two of its members were killed when security forces moved to clear demonstrators from the Pearl Roundabout in the capital. Bahrain is home to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet and its ruling family has close links with Saudi Arabia, an ally of the U.S. in its attempts to halt Iran’s nuclear program.

Portugal’s Rating Cut Two Steps by Moody’s on Outlook - ( Portugal’s debt rating was cut by Moody’s Investors Service, which cited a weaker outlook for economic growth, risks to the government’s deficit- reduction plans and a possible need to recapitalize banks. The rating was downgraded to A3, four steps from so-called junk status, according to an e-mailed statement from Moody’s yesterday, with the outlook on the grade “negative.” The euro slipped after the announcement, to $1.3982 per euro at 10:54 a.m. in Tokyo from $1.3998 yesterday. Higher interest rates set by the European Central Bank may exacerbate the challenge for Portugal, Moody's said, as it tries to rein in the euro region’s fourth-biggest budget gap and avoid the bailout fate of Greece and Ireland needed. The government is raising taxes and carrying out the deepest spending cuts in more than three decades in its battle to restore investor confidence.

Socrates Bailout Threat, Moody’s Cut Send Portugal Bonds Lower - ( Portuguese bonds fell after Prime Minister Jose Socrates raised the specter of needing a bailout and Moody’s Investors Service cut the country’s debt rating. The yield on 10-year debt rose 3 basis points to 7.44 percent and the spread, a measure of risk, widened 2 basis points to 429 more than comparable German bunds. “Market participants have strong concerns about the ability of Portugal to continue meeting its funding needs,” Valentin Marinov, a senior currency strategist at Citigroup Inc. inLondon, wrote in a note to clients. “The expectation of potential bailout could erode further the demand for the debt of the euro zone member state going forward.” Opposition lawmakers’ resistance to additional budget cuts announced last week to meet deficit targets threatens a “political crisis,” Socrates said late yesterday in Lisbon. “The consequence of a political crisis is the worsening of the financing risks of our economy and would lead Portugal to request external intervention.”

GE’s $1 Billion in Nuclear Sales at Risk as Nations Ponder Industry Future - ( General Electric Co. (GE)’s goal of broadening its $1 billion nuclear service-and-parts business with sales of new reactors risks stalling as world leaders reconsider the future of atomic energy. Governments from Germany to India are reassessing the technology after Japan’s March 11 earthquake and tsunami crippled a power plant and raised the threat of a meltdown.China today halted nuclear project approvals and plans safety inspections of new facilities. Political doubts after the Japan disaster may signal dwindling appetite for new plants, and the reactors that Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt has said he wants to pursue. Three reactors at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant use a GE design, including the damaged No. 1 unit that began operating in 1971. “We want to look at, just like the whole industry, the details of what happened here,” GE Power & Water CEO Steve Bolze said yesterday in an interview. “There is going to be a lot of discussion, and we’re part of that process.”


Global Demand for U.S. Assets Falls on Lower Purchases of Bonds, Equities - (

Nuclear Fuel Rods May Be Damaged as Japan Battles Meltdown - (

China Leading Economic Index Rebounds, Easing Concern of Sudden Slowdown - (

Libyan Rebels Fall Back as Qaddafi Forces Near Benghazi - (

Ink Barely Dry on Finance Ministers’ Deal, Trichet Calls Europe’s New Fiscal Rules Weak - (

Japan’s Government Likely to Bear Much of the Loss - (

U.S. Producer Prices Rise More than Forecast, Led by Food, Oil - (

U.S. Housing Starts Fell in February to Lowest Since April 2009 - (

Fed Signals Further Stimulus Unlikely as Recovery Gains Strength - (

U.S. Mortgage Applications Fell Last Week on Fewer Purchases - (

Crisis Adds New Risk to Global Recovery - (

Freddie Mac’s Former Chief May Face S.E.C. Action - (

Japan Says 2nd Reactor May Have Ruptured With Radioactive Release - (

Last Defense at Troubled Reactors: 50 Japanese Workers - (

Workers briefly abandon Japan nuclear plant as crisis worsens - (

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sunday March 27 Housing and Economic stories


Angry Retirees Converge On Lansing To Protest Budget Plan - ( More than 1,000 demonstrators are rallying in Lansing today to protest Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder's budget plan, the AP reports. The rally was largely comprised of retirees angry over the proposed elimination of personal tax breaks that benefit Michigan's seniors. Snyder's budget plan would end the state's income tax exemption for pensions and eliminate the state's Earned Income Tax Credit, which gives low-income residents money for working rather than being on welfare. The increases would generate $1.67 billion in new income tax revenue. Snyder would use this to offset an 86% business tax cut, which he argues will lead to job creation and increased economic competitiveness.

Dem attacks Obama for State spokesman’s firing - ( A Democratic congressman is calling out President Barack Obama over the firing of the State Department's top spokesman. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) called the forced resignation of P.J. Crowley "outrageous" and demanded Obama "fix" the situation. "Outrageous -PJ Crowley leaving State Department for saying the truth about treatment of Bradley Manning," Blumenauer tweeted Tuesday. "Obama needs to fix this." Contacted by Raw Story, Blumenauer's press secretary Derek Schlickeisen was hesitant to go into detail. He simply said that the congressman's tweet should speak for itself. Crowley was forced to resign over the weekend after he spoke out in defense of Bradley Manning, the Army private who has been accused of leaking secret State Department cables to WikiLeaks. During at talk at MIT, Crowley had told British television journalist Philippa Thomas and several others that the treatment of Manning was "ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid." In a statement, Crowley acknowledged his remarks but did not rescind them. "The exercise of power in today's challenging times and relentless media environment must be prudent and consistent with our laws and values," he said. "Given the impact of my remarks, for which I take full responsibility, I have submitted my resignation." Manning attorney David Coombs revealed earlier this month that for at least two nights in row, the Army private had been "stripped naked" for as long as seven hours at a time. Manning has been held at the Quantico brig since July under a maximum security regimen, which leaves him in his cell for 23 hours a day, because authorities say his escape would pose a risk to national security.

Tokyo Rice Store Asks Customers Not to Buy as Nuclear Risk Sparks Hoarding - ( Masuhiro Ogura, who runs his own rice store in downtown Tokyo, is telling shoppers not to buy from him until they run out. “If you still have some left, you should wait,” Ogura, 68, told a regular customer yesterday, joining a government appeal to refrain from hoarding amid fears of nuclear radiation leaks from an earthquake-damaged facility 135 miles north of Tokyo. Tokyo residents emptied store shelves of food, water and batteries and filled car tanks with gasoline as workers at the crippled Fukushima nuclear facility struggled to avert the risk of a meltdown. Hoarders may make it more difficult to send goods to the millions of people affected by the 7-meter (23- foot) tsunami that engulfed Japan’s northeast coast, according to Agriculture Minister Michihiko Kano.

U.S.-Saudi Tensions Intensify With Mideast Turmoil - ( Even before Saudi Arabia sent troops into Bahrain on Monday to quell an uprising it fears might spill across its own borders, American officials were increasingly concerned that the kingdom’s stability could ultimately be threatened by regional unrest, succession politics and its resistance to reform. So far, oil-rich Saudi Arabia has successfully stifled public protests with a combination of billions of dollars in new jobs programs and an overwhelming police presence, backed by warnings last week from the foreign minister to “cut any finger that crosses into the kingdom.” Monday’s action, in which more than 2,000 Saudi-led troops from gulf states crossed the narrow causeway into Bahrain, demonstrated that the Saudis were willing to back their threats with firepower. The move created another quandary for the Obama administration, which obliquely criticized the Saudi action without explicitly condemning the kingdom, its most important Arab ally.

House GOP calls emergency meeting to defund NPR - ( The House Rules Committee will hold an emergency meeting Wednesday to consider legislation to permanently prohibit federal funding of National Public Radio (NPR) after conservative activist James O'Keefe released a video smearing the news organization. The bill, H.R. 1076, was introduced by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), who is leading the effort in the House to eliminate all federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the parent organization of NPR and the Public Broadcasting Service. Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) office told Politico that he will bring the bill to the House floor on Thursday. A video created by O'Keefe's "Project Veritas," showed activists Shaughn Adeleye and Simon Templar posing as members of the fictional Muslim Education Action Center (MEAC) and meeting with NPR Foundation President Ron Schiller and NPR Senior Director of Institutional Giving Betsey Liley.


If Market Keeps Falling, Fed Will Keep Printing: 'Dr. Doom' - (

Gundlach Sees Bull Market Undercut by U.S. Debt in View Shared by Klarman - (

Derivatives, as Accused by Buffett - (

Japan Faces Potential Nuclear Disaster as Radiation Levels Rise - (

BOJ Fails to Contain Investor Panic as Nuclear Danger Rises - (

Kan Signals Higher Radiation Danger From Crippled Japanese Nuclear Plant - (

Qaddafi's Advance Puts Forces 100 Miles from Rebels' Capital - (

Euro-Area Nations Divided Over Method for Boosting Aid Facility - (

Fed Sees Economy on `Firmer Footing'; Affirms Bond Purchases - (

Conservatives Balk at Stopgap Spending Measure - (

Federal Reserve Brain Trust: Who's In, Who's Out - (

Disaster in Japan Batters Suppliers - (

Radiation Exposure Could Curtail Workers’ Efforts - (

Fire and Damage at Japanese Plant Raise Risk of Nuclear Disaster - (

Stricken Nuclear Plant Rocked by Blasts, Fire - (

Japan: Nuclear reactor storage pool may be boiling - (