March 31, 2011

It's Time to Prepare for Higher Food Prices

Agricultural Commodities and the Coming Inflation

The United States has in the past kept a strategic grain reserve, but it was largely eliminated under the 1996 Freedom to Farm Act. Since the beginning of agriculture, farmers have recognized the need to manage stocks of grain to prevent starvation in times of scarcity. Grains are an easy-to-store and nutritious way to provide the basic needs of a population facing a food emergency until alternative food supplies can be arranged. To ensure food security, many countries stockpile strategic grain reserves (SGRs) to help cope with food emergencies, but grain reserves are also used to stabilize grain prices and as a loan commodity. Today, there are no remaining grain reserves in the U.S., and there haven't been since July 2008. Millions of people may die in the next few years because of inadequate world grain reserves. - The U.S. Has No Remaining Grain Reserves; China Stockpiling Grain

March 29, 2011

Along the Watchtower - Longtime readers will recall that we've had several conversations here regarding the impact that the Fed's quantitative easing policy is having on the costs of everyday food items. Soaring prices of agricultural commodities are going to continue to have a devastating effect on the purchasing power of average Americans and consumers around the globe.

Since prices have now recovered some from the selloffs after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, and since there is no end in sight to QE, I thought it was time to once again take a look at out favorite commodities and assess where their prices may be headed over the spring and summer.

Let's start with the grains because rising grain prices cause all sorts of inflation. Not only are grains the raw input to countless consumer goods, grains are also the primary foodstuff for cattle ranchers and hog finishers as they prepare their herds for slaughter.

Let's start with wheat, which is being influenced not just by the falling dollar. Price is also feeling the impact of the ongoing drought in the "winter wheat zone" of the high plains of Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. []

Now take a look at the chart. Long-term support held at $7.50 and wheat looks almost certain to catapult higher very soon.
OK, so how about corn? Corn is extremely important in food production as it is used not only as a primary ingredient but as a sweetener, as well. First, let's look at the chart. Support was found, as expected in the area around $6.50. I have no doubt that corn will soon resume its upward move along its primary trendline from last summer.

Now here's the deal with's expensive to grow! The primary fertilizer that Midwestern corn farmers utilize is anhydrous ammonia. Last year, anhydrous ammonia cost your average farmer about $425/ton. This year, the cost has almost doubled to $750-800/ton.

So, while it might be tempting to seed a lot of acres with corn to capitalize on the high price, the input and production costs are so high that many farmers will choose to plant soybeans, instead. Less acres of corn planted lead directly to less production. Less production leads directly to even higher prices. (Remember that below when we get to cattle.)

So what about soybeans? Soybeans are the one grain that I don't expect to rise in price. They will, most likely, stay rangebound through the summer. Why? Besides the fertilizer costs affecting plantings, soybeans get extra acreage for another reason: Weather. Because soybeans have a shorter growing season, they are a "fall back plan" for many farmers who struggled to get corn planted due to overly wet spring conditions. []

If the upper Midwest spring turns out cool and wet, many farmers will forego corn planting and turn, instead, to soybeans. Extra supply = Lower cost.

Now, let's get back to corn. Have you ever heard the term "corn-fed beef"? Most of the best steakhouses proudly champion corn-fed beef because, frankly, its tastes a helluva lot better than grass-fed. The high sugar content of the corn gets converted into fat. The fat makes its way into the muscle and you, Mr. Steakeater, get yourself a beautiful, marbled "prime" steak. Fat cows are also desirable at slaughter because, well, they weigh more and cattle are sold by the pound.

OK, so now, pretend for a moment that you're a cattle rancher. As your cattle are growing and being prepared for market (the term is "finished"), you want to feed them as much corn as they'll eat and you can afford. Corn at $7.00/bushel really cramps your business plan. Your first reaction is to control costs by thinning your herd, i.e. you sell some prematurely, before they are "finished". You might also simply want to sell some of your herd to take advantage of today's high prices. []

Either way, this extra supply in the short term has actually worked to keep cattle prices from soaring at the same rate as the grains. But this is temporary. By this summer, supply will decrease as cattle that would have been coming to market just then have already been slaughtered. Are we already beginning to see this play out on the chart? Well, take a look:

Many of the same dynamics are in play in the pig market. Note the similar chart pattern of a recent breakout to new highs.

So what does all this mean? It means you'd better prepare. Maybe you're comfortable and you have all the disposable income you need. Great, but what about your sister, trying to raise her three kids on 50 grand a year? What about your neighbor or your best friend who is trying simply to make ends meet after losing a job? What can you do to help them?

You start by warning them about the coming surge in food costs brought about by quantitative easing. All of the factors discussed above, combined with soaring fuel costs, will most certainly lead to a much higher "cost of living" in the near future. The time to act is now.


Which Areas Where Most Affected by the Real Estate Bubble Crash?

States Most Affected by the Real Estate Bubble Crash

"Booming Sun Belt cities — Atlanta, Phoenix, Miami, Las Vegas, Tampa — had the most extreme combinations of high prices and oversupply. Houston and Dallas also built plenty, but their prices stayed earthbound and as a result, they don’t seem to have overbuilt. Coastal America had booming prices, but regulatory and natural limits on building restricted construction. And now we see the sharpest declines in the rate of population growth in places that had the most overbuilding. The four states where population growth fell most in 2009, relative to statewide trends in 2000-2008, were Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and — above all — Florida. These are not the states with the worst economic conditions today. (California and Michigan have that honor.) They are, however, places that had particularly extreme housing booms — measured by both quantities and prices. No one should be surprised that their population growth rates have fallen furthest." - Housing Hangover in the Sun Belt, The New York Times' Economix blog, January 12, 2010

December 20, 2010

StephaneManos Blog - As most of you know, the real estate bubble has burst and it is still believed that the real estate market has not yet bottomed out as of 2010. The main reason for the deflating of the housing bubble was due to the large number of homes that were constructed and sold in the years 1997-2005.

The number of houses increased dramatically as about 609,000 new single-family homes were sold during the year 1990-1995. Yet and astronomical 1,283,000 new single-family homes were sold in 2005.

The areas most affected by this real estate crash are the ones that experienced the most construction of new houses and the most gains in new people moving to the areas the fastest. Many suburbs saw huge gains in home sales and increased residents as people moved away from expensive, overcrowded metropolitan areas.

States that are most affected by the real estate bubble crash, which is considered an economic bubble, are Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia.

New Census Data Shows Which Areas of America are Growing, Shrinking

March 30, 2011

The Lookout - According to newly released census data, beginning in 2000 Americans began fleeing the Great Plains for sunnier climates in record numbers.

The data, as mapped by the site New Geography, shows that North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas all had more counties with total population decreases than increases between 2000 and 2010. Meanwhile, southern California, southern Nevada--especially the Las Vegas area--Arizona, Florida, and eastern Texas all saw big population gains.

The metro areas that grew the fastest were all in the west or south. In descending order, they were: Las Vegas, Nevada; Raleigh, N.C.; Austin, Texas; Charlotte, N.C.; Riverside, Calif.; Orlando, Fla.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Houston, Texas; and San Antonio, Texas.

The data also offer information about changes in America's racial makeup. Many of the counties that saw the largest increases in their Hispanic populations were in traditional Hispanic strongholds, including southern California, Arizona, and south Florida. But others were more surprising: Counties in eastern Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Kansas, and Oklahoma all saw an influx of Hispanics, reflecting a trend over the last decade in which many recent Latino immigrants have spread beyond urban centers like Los Angeles and Phoenix into more rural parts of the country.

See: They Opened the Borders to Bring in Unqualified Buyers to Aggravate the Housing Bubble and Bust

America's African-America population, too, saw changes. In a reverse of the Great Migration of the 1920s-50s, many younger and more educated blacks moved out of the declining industrial centers of midwestern states like Michigan and Illinois and back to the south, including areas of Florida, Georgia, and even Mississippi. Atlanta replaced Chicago as the metro area with the largest number of blacks, after New York. Today, 57 percent of black Americans live in the south -- the highest percentage since 1960.

Cities Where Economies Are Getting Worse

In California metros, unemployment remains high, job growth sluggish and foreclosures common.

March 16, 2011

Forbes - Sunny California has been taking a beating lately on our 2011 Forbes cities lists. Stockton took first place as the Most Miserable City for the second time in three years, and four Golden State metros ranked high on our Most Toxic Cities list.

Alas, California also claims the top spots on our newest list: Cities Where The Economy May Get Worse. Riverside ranked No. 1 thanks to a high unemployment rate (13.9%) coupled with weak job growth, a hefty number of mortgage loans 90 days or more delinquent (8.21% of all loans) and a projected migration pattern that finds 4,000 residents expected to leave the area this year.

Other Golden State metros on the list: Stockton at No. 2, Los Angeles at No. 4, Bakersfield at No. 5, San Francisco at No. 6 and Sacramento at No. 7. All of these cities have double-digit unemployment rates and paltry job growth projections. All except LA have housing markets in which prices continue to decline or remain stagnant.

“Struggling housing markets, state government cutbacks, combined with economies that lack industrial diversity and are heavily dependent on low-wage industries, such as agriculture, will hold back job growth.” So says Celia Chen, a senior director at Moody's, about many smaller California metros.

Behind The Numbers

We started with the 85 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) as defined by the U.S. government’s Office of Management and Budget. These areas include both the cities they are named for and the geographic areas surrounding them, with populations of 500,000 or more. For this list we held up the MSAs to five evenly weighted economic measures.

First we asked Moody’s to provide 2011 projections for job growth, as well as net in-migration, or the estimated number of people moving into (or out of) each city. Moody’s uses a combination of data from Moody’s Analytics, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau to come up with projections. Of the 15 cities where economies may get worse, only three (Bakersfield, No. 5; Sacramento, No. 7; and Jacksonville, No. 8) are projected to welcome new residents in 2011; the others will lose residents to other metros.

Job growth too was minimal in the cities that made our list, with projections of less than 1% in all but one city. That less-than-1% statistic is relative to the local unemployment rate, which we also factored into our methodology, using the most current unemployment rate available for each MSA, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In a city like Stockton, Calif., where unemployment is about 18%, a job growth outlook of 0.54% promises a somewhat dismal future for job opportunities.

On the other hand, Poughkeepsie, N.Y. (which ranked No. 15), boasts a 7.6% unemployment rate (well below the 9% national average) and a 0.43% job growth outlook. Employment offers a bit of good news for Poughkeepsie, but the Hudson River hub made our list for other reasons: a substantial population exodus compared with city size, a housing market that has yet to hit bottom and a significant number of mortgage loans delinquent by 90 days or more.

Lastly we used two housing-centric data points in our methodology. Local Market Monitor, a Cary, N.C.-based real estate research firm, provided us with their 12-month home price outlooks for these metros. LPS Applied Analytics, a Jacksonville, Fla.-based mortgage research company that releases a monthly foreclosure report, supplied the percentage of mortgage loans currently delinquent by 90 days or more. Some of these delinquent loans will be modified or settled in short-sales, but many others will roll over into foreclosures and ultimately become bank-owned properties. It’s a process that wrecks homeowners’ credit and pushes the prices of local real estate down further.

All of the cities on our list claim housing markets with a larger than average number of delinquent home loans on the books. Riverside and Stockton demonstrated some of the highest delinquency rates among the 85 MSAs we assessed.

The good news, at least housing-wise, is that most of the country appears to have hit market bottom, or come close to it. The double-digit plunging home prices and staggering foreclosure rates of the past several years seem to be subsiding--in the case of these cities, at least slowing. [Editor's Note: Others do not agree with this assessment of the housing market.]

See: We Have Not Yet Hit Rock-bottom Prices in Real Estate

Riverside, for example, will see minimal gains in its home prices this year, after a 45% price drop over the past few years from its 2006 peak, according to Local Market Monitor. Even cities like Jacksonville, which ranked high on our list in terms of projected home price declines, will only see a 4% drop over the next 12 months.

It’s also worth noting that several of the big foreclosure cities remain absent from this list: namely Phoenix, Las Vegas and all of the Florida metros except Jacksonville, which ranked eighth on our list. Here’s why: While Florida home prices continue to decline in most metros, and foreclosure and delinquency rates remain high, job growth shows signs of improving, and people are beginning to move back to the Sunshine State, especially to Miami and Orlando. Indeed Phoenix skirted our list thanks in part to a bullish migration projection as well, with 19,000 additional people expected to call the Southwest metropolis home this year.

“Net migration patterns will improve this year in Phoenix, Orlando, Miami and Las Vegas due to the low cost of housing and slight gains in job growth,” explains Chen. “Job growth is expected to turn positive this year in all of these areas, for the first time since 2007.”

Las Vegas remains the top city for delinquent loans (and Nevada the top state for foreclosures) but it skirted a spot on this list, thanks to a strong migration projection as well (13,000 people are expected to move to Sin City this year). That said, Local Market Monitor expects home prices to drop another 4% over the next 12 months, and unemployment vs. job growth leaves much to be desired. Although it didn’t make our list, Vegas merits watching as a city where the economy could get worse.

In Pictures: 15 Cities Where Economies Are Getting Worse


Big Oil Companies Nearly Doubled Their Profits in 2010 Compared to 2009; the Top Five Oil Refiners Control More Than Half of the Domestic Refining Capacity in the U.S.

Big Oil’s Lust for Tax Loopholes

Oil Prices and Profits Rise While Big Oil Defends Its Tax Loopholes

January 31, 2011

American Progress - Oil prices are high and rising at an alarming pace. After hitting a low of $38 per barrel in January 2009, the price of oil doubled to $76 per barrel just a year later. By January 2011, prices rose another 14 percent, and the average barrel now costs around $87. And there is little reason to believe this will change anytime soon, as political instability in the Middle East may cause prices to rise even further.

As oil prices rise, so do Big Oil company profits. But even with their cash registers overflowing with dollars from struggling families, Big Oil is mobilizing to defeat President Obama's proposal to invest $4 billion annually in clean energy programs by ending unnecessary tax loopholes for this highly profitable industry.

big five oil companies' nominal profits, 2001-2010

The big five oil companies—BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil [Rockefeller-owned], and Shell—made a total profit of nearly $1 trillion over the past decade. The three oil companies that have reported their 2010 profits nearly doubled their profits compared to 2009. (see chart)

Their profits closely follow the rise in oil prices from 2005 to 2008, when the average price rose from $55 to $95 per barrel. Profits for the major oil producers rose from $13 to $21 per barrel. ExxonMobil did much better than its competitors, with profits rising from $16 to $25 per barrel.

These profits are likely to grow as oil prices continue to rise. CNN reported on January 31 that,

"Exxon Mobil posted quarterly earnings Monday that topped Wall Street expectations, thanks to rising oil prices and increased production."
Its 2010 profit of $31 billion is nearly two-thirds higher than its 2009 profit.

And we can expect oil prices and profits to rise even more as a result of instability in the Middle East. AP reported that,

"Growing political unrest in Egypt drove oil prices higher over the weekend, pushing benchmark crude up $3.70 to $89.34 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange."
This provides nearly a $4 per barrel windfall to oil companies because the oil is worth more though the cost of producing oil remains stable and relatively low. The Energy Information Administration estimates that production costs:

... can range from as little as $2 per barrel in the Middle East to more than $15 per barrel in some fields in the United States, including capital recovery. ... technological advances in finding and producing oil have made it possible to bring once-expensive deepwater Gulf of Mexico oil into production for less than $10 per barrel.

ExxonMobil, for instance, will make nearly $9 million more every day that the oil price includes Friday's spike. Prices will rise further if this instability spreads to other oil-producing nations such as Iran, Libya, or Algeria—all of which produce much more oil than Egypt.

Rising oil prices aren't the only factor driving bigger profits. Big Oil companies have invested a huge percentage of their profits into buying back shares of their own stock over the last few years, which helps drive up the price of the remaining shares. ExxonMobil, for instance, spent $35 billon—the equivalent of nearly 80 percent of its 2008 profits—on common stock purchases that year. It spent $700 million more on common stock purchases in 2009 than its profits of $19.2 billion. Meanwhile, ExxonMobil invested less than 1 percent in clean energy technologies the year of its record 2008 profit of $45 billion.

While Big Oil is busy raking in profits, American families are struggling with the worst economy in 80 years. One way to spur more job growth is to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. President Obama proposed during his State of the Union address that Congress eliminate unnecessary tax breaks for Big Oil companies to pay for these investments.

"To help pay for [clean energy investments], I'm asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. ... I don't know if you've noticed, but they're doing just fine on their own. So instead of subsidizing yesterday's energy, let's invest in tomorrow's."

The administration estimates closing these Big Oil tax loopholes would save "approximately $4 billion per year in tax subsidies to oil, gas, and other fossil fuel producers." These tax giveaways include the "domestic manufacturing tax deduction" that creates an incentive to keep manufacturing plants in the United States. Former CAP Senior Policy Analyst Sima Gandhi described the absurdity of extending this special tax break to Big Oil and gas companies since they cannot move an onshore or offshore oil field to another nation.

"Companies that manufacture, produce, or extract oil and gas or any primary derivative receive a manufacturing subsidy provided that the product was made in the United States. But since removing this subsidy does not affect the production of oil [in the U.S.], the subsidy does not significantly affect business decisions."

The Congressional Joint Economic Committee determined that excluding Big Oil companies from this provision "will not increase consumer energy prices." Oil prices rose from $42 to $90 per barrel since this tax break was created in 2004, so it did nothing to keep prices down.

The oil and gas industry argues its tax breaks are essential to its ability to create jobs, but the evidence indicates that clean energy investments are a more cost-effective job creator. A University of Massachusetts study found that investment in clean energy creates anywhere from two to four times more direct and indirect jobs compared to the same investment in oil and gas production. Investing $1 million to retrofit buildings to make them more energy efficient creates three times more jobs than a $1 million investment in oil and gas. An investment in wind energy creates two and a half times more jobs compared to the same investment in oil and gas. At a time when the federal government must reduce its spending while creating more jobs, it makes much more sense to invest tax dollars in the most cost-effective programs to increase employment.

Taxpayer handouts for oil companies have proven to be ineffective. Domestic oil production has continued to decline since the early 1970s in spite of multiple, generous tax subsidies. Gandhi reports that "the Treasury Department estimates that ending subsidies will affect domestic production by less than one half of 1 percent."

President George W. Bush, a former oil man, noted in 2005 that high oil prices have eliminated any remaining reason for tax breaks.

"With $55 oil we don't need incentives to the oil and gas companies to explore. There are plenty of incentives."

Oil and gas production can be a risky, dangerous business that provides an essential fuel for the American economy. The Big Oil companies deserve to make a profit. But it makes little economic sense for these same companies to receive billions of dollars in tax breaks while they benefit from rising oil prices that take a huge bite from families' wallets.

President Obama noted in his State of the Union that "the first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation." Some special interests such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce believe that America cannot meet this challenge, saying the "administration has [an] unrealistic approach on energy."

We believe that we can innovate, compete, and grow if we make investments in the clean energy technologies of the future. Eliminating tax loopholes for enormously profitable oil companies to provide incentives and seed capital for investors in this $2 trillion industry is essential to our economic recovery and competitiveness.

Oil and Gasoline Inventories Moving in the Opposite Direction

March 30, 2011

Bespoke Investment Group - This week's release of energy inventories for the last week reinforces a trend that has been in place for the last several weeks. While oil inventories have been rising and coming in ahead of expectations, gasoline inventories have been declining and falling at a faster than expected rate. At this rate, it is only a matter of weeks before gasoline inventories will fall below average. For oil, May is when inventories typically begin their seasonal period of decline, so that will be a key time to watch and see how things trend this year versus historically.

What Causes High Gas Prices? (Excerpt)

May 24, 2007 - ...In the past, gasoline prices pretty much mirrored the price per barrel of oil. If oil was in short supply and the price increased, gasoline prices would also increase. However, in the early part of this decade, we saw a new anomaly with gasoline prices: they started to spike.

It would appear something other than the price of oil has a much greater affect on the the price of gasoline. While oil prices do have some affect on gasoline prices, it’s apparently not that much. After all, when oil was half the price it is now, gasoline wasn’t half its price. Something else is at work.

When the oil companies get their oil, they transport it to refining facilities across the country, most of which are in Texas. The refining facilities are responsible for taking the crude oil and converting it into usable products.

Consolidation in the refining industry has limited our refining capabilities. The three biggest American oil companies ExxonMobile [Rockefeller-owned], ConocoPhillips, and ChevronTexaco used to be six individual companies. There was a time when the oil industry wasn’t making a profit (hard to believe, but it wasn’t that long ago). When they combined, they also bought out some of the smaller refiners.

The top five refiners now control more than half of the domestic refining capacity in the United States. Unfortunately, this has allowed the big refiners to tightly control gasoline reserves thus greatly affecting availability and prices. Is this bad? It depends. If they are deliberately reducing refining capabilities to reduce the amount of gasoline they produce, thus increasing their profit margins, then yeah … it is.

Without a competitive market, the consumer will continue to suffer because there is no incentive for Big Oil to increase refining capacity when there is a shortage. Spending millions to construct new refineries to produce gasoline faster will only lower their profit margins. They like the prices high because it costs them the same amount of money to make the gasoline regardless of its price...

OPEC Could Reap $1 Trillion This Year

March 30, 2011

National Journal - The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is set to make a record-breaking $1 trillion in export revenues this year if crude oil prices remain above $100 a barrel, an the International Energy Agency official told the Financial Times.
"It would be the first time in the history of OPEC that oil revenues have reached a trillion dollars," Chief IAEA Economist Fatih Birol told the Financial Times. "It's mainly because of higher prices and higher production."
The possibility of a record-breaking year comes as continued unrest in the Middle East and North Africa, engagement in Libya, and signs of an economic recovery renew debate among policymakers over how to deal with rising global oil prices and their ties to national security.

President Obama will weigh in on the issue today when he speaks about his new four-part “Plan for America’s Energy Security” at Georgetown University. And Republicans and oil state Democrats have argued for expanded offshore oil and gas drilling in light of rising prices and foreign oil dependence.

On Tuesday, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings, R-Wash., introduced legislation that expands drilling and the Interior Department said in a report this month that the oil industry isn’t using a large portion of their drilling leases.

The report, along with other energy security concerns, will likely be discussed at Hastings’ Natural Resources Committee hearing this morning, where Bureau of Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) director Michael Bromwich is scheduled to testify on his FY 2012 budget.


March 30, 2011

Japan's Crippled Atomic Plant

Japan Considers Entombing Nuclear Plant as Workers Fight to Stop Radiation

March 30, 2011

Bloomberg - Japan will consider entombing its crippled atomic plant in concrete as workers grapple to reduce radiation and contain the worst nuclear disaster in 25 years.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano today ruled out the possibility that two of the six reactors at the Fukushima Dai- Ichi plant would ever be salvaged.

“Given the whole situation, the objective circumstances, it is obvious,” Edano said when asked about reactors 5 and 6, which were offline at the time of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and so weren’t rendered inoperable. “The public perception is fairly clear.”

About 600 workers, firefighters and soldiers have averted the threat of a total meltdown by injecting water into damaged reactors for the past two weeks. Engineers have connected the complex’s six units with the power grid and two are using temporary motor-driven pumps. While technicians are trying to repair monitoring and cooling systems, the work has been hampered by discoveries of hazardous radioactive water.

The government hasn’t ruled out pouring concrete over the whole facility as one way to shutting it down, Edano said. Dumping concrete on the plant would serve a second purpose: it would trap contaminated water, said Tony Roulstone, an atomic engineer who directs the University of Cambridge’s masters program in nuclear energy.

“They need to immobilize this water and they need something to soak it up,” he said by phone today. “You don’t want to create another hazard, but you need to get it away from the reactors.”

Toxic Water

Record high readings of contaminated sea water were found near the plant. Radioactive iodine rose to 3,355 times the regulated safety limit yesterday afternoon from 2,572 times earlier in the day, said Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for Japan’s nuclear safety agency. No fishing is occurring nearby so there is no threat, he said.

The three reactors all lost their roofs following explosions and fires in the days following the magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami, which knocked out power and backup systems used to cool nuclear fuel.

Among proposals being considered to contain the disaster, Japan may use a special fabric to cover three reactors to curb the spread of toxic radiation in the air.


Crews are also considering pumping radioactive water in the reactor buildings to a tanker for safe storage. The U.S. has transported robots impervious to radiation and their operators to the plant at Japan’s request, Peter Lyons, acting assistant secretary of the U.S. Energy Department, told a congressional panel yesterday.

Fukushima plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said it can’t rule out the possibility that water may have flowed into the sea from underground trenches outside the reactor buildings.

Work to drain radioactive water from the basement of the No. 1 reactor turbine building was halted because a storage tank is full, Kazuyo Yamanaka, a manager at the power utility, said today. Tokyo Electric plans to move the contaminated water into a condenser within the same building.

The level of contaminated water in the basement of the No. 1 reactor turbine building has been reduced by half to 20 centimeters (7.9 inches), Nishiyama said.

Water in a tunnel outside the No. 2 reactor emitted radiation exceeding 1 sievert an hour, a Tokyo Electric spokesman said. Exposure to that dose for 30 minutes would trigger nausea, and four hours’ exposure might lead to death within two months, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Intolerable Conditions

“Workers can’t work near water with radiation levels exceeding 1 sievert per hour, at least not within a few meters,” said Hironobu Unesaki, a professor at Kyoto University’s Research Reactor Institute. “They may need to remotely remove water or rotate workers for very short periods of time.”

Tokyo Electric Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata apologized for the nuclear crisis today and said the power company will do all it can to prevent the catastrophe from worsening. Katsumata took charge of the utility after President Masataka Shimizu, 66, was admitted to a hospital for high blood pressure.

Dai-Ichi reactors 1 to 4 will be decommissioned after they are stabilized, Katsumata said. Edano announced the closure of all six units at the same news conference.

5-Year Cleanup

Cleanup probably will take at least five years because of the time needed for radioactivity to diminish so experts can assess the damage, Akira Tokuhiro, a professor of mechanical and nuclear engineering at the University of Idaho, said in an interview. That assessment will determine whether the reactors should be entombed or dismantled to eliminate any further radiation risk, he said.

Smoke seen at the No. 1 reactor of the nearby Fukushima Dai-Ni nuclear power plant wasn’t caused by a fire but by a minor problem with equipment, a spokesperson for Tokyo Electric Power Co. said, citing the local fire department. The smoke was seen rising near the plant at 5.57 p.m. today and disappeared shortly after, Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said at a news conference today.

The number of dead and missing from the earthquake and tsunami had reached 27,652 as of 9 p.m., Japan’s National Police Agency said.

New Shocking Video Of The Japanese Tsunami by timbarracuda

TEPCO President Hospitalized in Tokyo

March 30, 2011

AP - The president of the utility that owns Japan's tsunami-damaged nuclear complex was hospitalized with hypertension as setbacks mounted at the plant, where experts Wednesday logged the highest radiation yet in nearby seawater.

Masataka Shimizu, president of Tokyo Electric Power Co., has not been seen for nearly two weeks after appearing at a Tokyo news conference two days after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that hobbled the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant's cooling systems and set off radiation leaks.

Shimizu, 66, was taken Tuesday to a Tokyo hospital after suffering dizziness and high blood pressure, TEPCO spokesman Naoki Tsunoda said.

There had been much speculation about Shimizu's health since he disappeared from public view, with company Vice President Sakae Muto appearing instead at news briefings. TEPCO officials had deflected questions about Shimizu's health, saying he was "resting" at company headquarters.

It was the latest crisis to beset TEPCO, still struggling to stabilize the dangerously overheated power plant and to contain the radiation seeping from the complex and into the sea and soil nearby. The magnitude-9.0 quake spawned a tsunami that knocked out power and backup systems crucial to keeping temperatures down inside the plant's reactors and spent fuel pools.

Elevated levels of radiation, meanwhile, has turned up in vegetables, raw milk and water. Last week, tap water as far away as Tokyo, 140 miles (220 kilometers) to the south, contained levels of cancer-causing iodine-131 considered unsafe for infants.

On Wednesday, nuclear safety officials said seawater outside the plant was found to contain 3,335 times the usual amount of radioactive iodine — the highest rate yet and a sign that more contaminated water was making its way into the ocean.

The amount of iodine-131 found offshore some 300 yards (meters) south of the plant does not pose an immediate threat to human health but was a "concern," Hidehiko Nishiyama, a Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency official, said Wednesday.

He said there was no fishing in the area.

"We will nail down the cause, and will do our utmost to prevent it from rising further," he said. Nishiyama has previously acknowledged that some contaminated water from the plant was seeping into the sea, but it remains unclear what part of the plant is leaking.

Highly toxic plutonium also has been found seeping into the soil outside the plant, TEPCO said. Safety officials said the amounts did not pose a risk to humans, but the finding supports suspicions that dangerously radioactive water is leaking from damaged nuclear fuel rods.

The latest findings on radioactive iodine — based on a sample taken Tuesday afternoon — highlight the urgency of stabilizing the crippled power plant. The mission has been fraught with setbacks, as emergency crews have dealt with fires, explosions and radiation scares in the frantic bid to prevent a complete meltdown.

Workers succeeded last week in reconnecting some parts of the plant to the power grid. But as they pumped in water to cool the reactors and nuclear fuel, they discovered numerous pools of radioactive water, including in the basements of several buildings and in trenches outside.

The contaminated water has been emitting many times the amount of radiation that the government considers safe for workers. It must be pumped out before electricity can be restored and the regular cooling systems powered up.

That has left officials struggling with two crucial but contradictory efforts: pumping in water to keep the fuel rods cool and pumping out contaminated water.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan reiterated in a speech this week to parliament that Japan was grappling with its worst problems since World War II.

More than 11,000 bodies have been recovered, but officials say the final death toll is expected to exceed 18,000. Hundreds of thousands of people remain homeless, their homes and livelihoods destroyed. Damage could amount to $310 billion — the most expensive natural disaster on record.

Kan has faced increasing criticism from opposition lawmakers over the handling of a nuclear disaster stretching into a third week.

Radiation from Japan Spreads to Food and Other Nations

Tainted Seafood Fears Spread as Japan Plant Leaks

March 30, 2011

AP - Fears about contaminated seafood spread Wednesday despite reassurances that radiation in the waters off Japan's troubled atomic plant pose no health risk, as the country's respected emperor consoled evacuees from the tsunami and nuclear emergency zone.

While experts say radioactive particles are unlikely to build up significantly in fish, the seafood concerns in the country that gave the world sushi are yet another blemish for Brand Japan. It has already been hit by contamination of milk, vegetables and water, plus shortages of auto and tech parts after a massive quake and tsunami disabled a coastal nuclear power plant.

Setbacks at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex mounted Wednesday, as the plant's operator, Tokyo Power Electric Co., announced that its president was hospitalized. Masataka Shimizu has not been seen since a news conference two days after the March 11 quake that spawned the destructive wave. His absence fueled speculation that he had suffered a breakdown.

Spokesman Naoki Tsunoda said Shimizu, 66, was admitted to a Tokyo hospital Tuesday after suffering dizziness and high blood pressure.

The problems at the nuclear plant have taken center stage, but the tsunami also created another disaster: Hundreds of thousands of people were forced from their homes after the wave drove miles (kilometers) inland, decimating whole towns. The official death toll stood at 11,362 late Wednesday, with the final toll likely surpassing 18,000.

Japan's respected Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visited disaster evacuees at a center in Tokyo on Wednesday. The visit was marked by a formality that is typical of interactions with the royal couple, but survivors said they were encouraged.

"I couldn't talk with them very well because I was nervous, but I felt that they were really concerned about us," said Kenji Ukito, an evacuee from a region near the plant who has already moved four times since the quake. "I was very grateful."

The emperor and his wife make fairly frequent public appearances, visiting nursing homes and the disabled and attending ceremonies throughout the year. In particular, they are expected to mourn with those affected by natural disasters. Akihito made a similar visit to evacuees after the Kobe earthquake in 1995.

At the Fukushima plant, the fight to cool the reactors and stem their release of radiation has become more complicated in recent days since the discovery that radioactive water is pooling in the plant, restricting the areas in which crews can work. It also puts emergency crews in the uncomfortable position of having to pump in more water to continue cooling the reactor while simultaneously pumping out contaminated water.

That contamination has also begun to seep into the sea, and tests Wednesday showed that waters 300 yards (meters) outside the plant contained 3,355 times the legal limit for the amount of radioactive iodine.

It's the highest rate yet, but Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency official Hidehiko Nishiyama said it did not pose any threat to human health because the iodine rarely stays in fish. There is no fishing in the area because it is within the evacuation zone around the plant.

Radioactive iodine is short-lived, with a half-life of just eight days, and in any case was expected to dissipate quickly in the vast Pacific Ocean. It does not tend to accumulate in shellfish.

Other radioactive particles have been detected in the waters near the plant, and some have made their way into fish. Trace amounts of radioactive cesium-137 have been found in anchovies as far afield as Chiba, near Tokyo, but at less than 1 percent of acceptable levels.

"We have repeatedly told consumers that it is perfectly safe to eat fish," said Shoichi Takayama, an official with Japan's fishery agency.

Citing dilution in the ocean, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has played down the risks of seafood contamination.

But, as with other reports of radiation levels in food and tap water, fear has begun to override science. Several countries, including China, India and South Korea, have ordered special inspections for or outright bans on fish from areas near the plant.

Ren Cheng, a spokesman for Taiwan's Mitsui Food & Beverage Enterprise Group that operates several upscale Japanese restaurants in Taipei, said his company has seen a 50 percent drop in revenue since the crisis began.

"We are not importing any food products from Japan. All the Japanese ingredients we are using were all procured before the quake," he said. "We have put up signs in our restaurants to reassure costumers about the safety of our food."

Domestic consumption, however, is far more important to Japan, which imports far more seafood than it exports. According to the fisheries agency, the domestic catch typically totals around 5.5 million tons. Less than a million of that gets exported, while another nearly 3 million tons are imported.

In stores near Tokyo's famed Tsukiji fish market, fresh fish was selling poorly.

Instead, customers "are stockpiling" frozen fish, in the hopes it was caught before radiation began to climb, said Hideo Otsubo, who works at a seafood company near the market.

Tourism to Japan has fallen sharply since the disaster, and sushi chef Akira Ogimoto blamed that dropoff for a 30 to 40 percent decline in customers to his restaurant near the market, where the daily tuna auction is a big draw for foreigners.

Add on the radiation fears, and fishermen are worried their livelihoods will be threatened just when they need to rebuild their homes.

"I worry we won't be able to sell our seaweed. If the radiation ruins our fishing, we are lost," said Toshiaki Kikuchi, a 63-year-old innkeeper and seaweed farmer in Soma, a city near the troubled plant.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, meanwhile, reported Wednesday it found radiation in a village outside the evacuation zone at levels that are twice where it would recommend evacuations. Officials emphasized the reading was found in only one spot in Iitate village, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) from the plant, and did not say they were recommending an evacuation. The exclusion zone has a radius of 12 miles (20 kilometers).

About 10 days ago, radiation in the village's tap water spiked, though they remained well below levels that would pose an immediate health risk. The latest reading came between March 18 and March 26, when a series of samples were taken from a wide area, according to a report on the agency's website. Both iodine-131 and cesium-137 were found in the samples.

Richard Morin, a medical physicist with the American College of Radiation, said the agency's evacuation limits are "intended to be extremely conservative," and that none of the levels found would pose a risk to human health. They all fell well below the radiation contained in a heart scan.

The crisis has been marked by such confusion, much of it due to TEPCO's bungling response, which has been severely criticized by the government and the press. The first few days after the quake saw fires and explosions, and the company — whose shares have plunged nearly 80 percent — has frequently retracted or corrected information.

There has also been criticism that safeguards were lax at the Fukushima plant. The nuclear agency ordered plant operators nationwide on Wednesday to review their emergency procedures. The agency told utilities they must have on hand mobile backup generators and fire engines, which have been used at Fukushima to cool the reactors.

The missteps at TEPCO have sparked calls from the opposition for its nationalization, and the Yominuri Shimbun newspaper, citing anonymous sources, said the government was considering it. But Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano has denied those reports.

Low Levels of Radiation Found in U.S. Milk

March 30, 2011

AP - Very low levels of radiation turned up in a sample of milk from Washington state, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday, but federal officials assured consumers not to worry.

The FDA said such findings were to be expected in the coming days because of the nuclear crisis in Japan, and that the levels were expected to drop relatively quickly.

Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power complex began leaking radiation after it was damaged by a devastating earthquake and tsunami earlier this month.

Results from a March 25 milk sample taken from Spokane, Wash., showed levels of radioactive Iodine-131 that were still 5,000 times below levels of concern set by the FDA, including levels set for infants and children.

"Radiation is all around us in our daily lives, and these findings are a miniscule amount compared to what people experience every day," said Patricia Hansen, senior the FDA. "A person would be exposed to low levels of radiation on a round-trip cross-country flight, watching television, and even from construction materials."

EPA said it was increasing the level of nationwide monitoring of milk, precipitation and drinking water.

Spokane, a city of 208,000 residents, is located more than 300 miles east of the Pacific coast. Kim Papich, spokeswoman for the Spokane Regional Health District, said the agency was aware of the EPA report and preparing to issue a statement to residents.

"This is not a major health concern," Papich said.

The United States had already halted imports of dairy products and produce from the affected area of Japan. Other foods imported from Japan, including seafood, were still being sold to the public but screened first for radiation.

Japanese foods make up less than 4 percent of all U.S. imports. The FDA has said it expected no risk to the U.S. food supply from radiation.

Radiation from Japan Reaches Europe

March 30, 2011

EUOBSERVER - Small amounts of radiation thought to come from Japan's crisis-stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant have been detected across Europe.

On Tuesday (29 March), Britain's Health Protection Agency (HPA) said "the minutest" levels of radioactive iodine had been detected at its air monitoring stations in Oxfordshire and Glasgow over the past nine days.

It stressed however that the levels were too low to cause any risk to human health, peaking at 300 micro-becquerels per cubic metre but averaging a much lower 11 micro-becquerels over the nine-day period.

"Levels may rise in the coming days and weeks but they will be significantly below any level that could cause harm to public health," the HPA said in a statement.

Similar amounts of radioactive material have been detected in Germany and Switzerland, as workers in Japan continue their struggle to prevent radioactive water from seeping into the sea.

It emerged on Tuesday that seawater near the damaged Fukushima nuclear reactors is more contaminated that previously reported, with water near reactor 1 containing radioactive iodine at 3,355 times the legal limit, according to Japan's nuclear safety agency.

Iodine 131's relatively short half-life of eight days, the time it takes to halve the radiation through natural decay, reduces the likelihood of risk to humans said an official.

"Even considering its concentration in marine life, it will have deteriorated considerably by the time it reaches people," Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director-general of Japan's nuclear safety agency said.

In the Ukraine, Iodine 131 was blamed for the high occurrence of thyroid cancer among children exposed to radioactivity after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Japanese officials are also fighting to prevent more dangerous radioactive liquid seeping into the sea, after small amounts of plutonium were detected in soil at the plant.

Shipping companies are currently working on contingency plans to prevent boats passing near Japan from carrying contaminated materials across the globe.

The 'MOL Presence' was turned away from a Chinese port this week after Geiger counters detected higher-than-normal radiation levels, reports Financial Times Deutschland. Earlier it had passed within 120 miles of Japan's Fukushima plant.

As the global fallout continues to spread, EU leaders meeting in Brussels last week asked the European Commission and the European Nuclear Safety Regulatory Group (Ensreg) to develop the scope and criteria of safety tests to be conducted on European nuclear power plants.

EU energy commissioner Gunther Oettinger earlier this month suggested the tests were likely to look at the risks posed by earthquakes, tsunamis, terrorist attacks and electricity power cuts, among other variables.

It now appears however that France is unwilling to include the risk from terrorist attacks or planes crashing into nuclear power plants.

"If they are included then this can't be called 'lessons learned from Japan,'" Andre-Claude Lacoste, head of the Autorite de Surete Nucleaire, said on Monday. "I will do what I can to keep risks from planes and terrorism out of the audits."

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is set to become the first leader to visit Japan on Thursday since the country experienced a 9.0-magnitude earthquake on 11 March.

California Gas Prices to Hit $5.00 Per Gallon By Summer

U.S. Gasoline Price on the Rise

March 30, 2011

Press TV - The US state of California has witnessed a daily rise in gasoline prices during the past month, as the state continues to hold one of the nation's highest unemployment rates.

This week, the average price of gasoline in Los Angeles reached its highest average since 2008, climbing to $4.04 per gallon, a Press TV correspondent reported.
“Every time they hit one of these mental thresholds, going from two dollars on average to three dollars on average (per gallon), people are very frustrated for a while. But after a few months their behavior reverts back to what it used to be,” said Economist Suzanne Shu.
US energy analysts say gasoline prices are not expected to drop until the end of the current year.

According to Shu, Californians are accustomed to paying higher gasoline prices than the rest of the nation, even though their state has one of the highest rates of unemployment and foreclosures in the country.

Analysts also predict that gasoline prices will reach five dollars per gallon by summer time. The rapid increase in gasoline prices hits California before the state's refineries make the legally-mandated change to a more expensive blend of cleaner-burning gasoline.

Southern California's Automobile Club has placed the blame of such price hikes on commodity investors concerned about the current turmoils in North Africa and the Middle East.

A recent survey shows that nearly 81 percent of Californian drivers have started eliminating unnecessary trips in an attempt to save on gas.

200 Arrested as Anarchists Fight Police in London

500,000 Hit The Street in London and 200 People were Arrested as Hardcore Anarchists Fight Police (Excerpt)

  • Extremists hijack anti-government cuts demonstration
  • 84 people injured — and at least 31 police officers hurt on day of violence
  • Ritz hotel attacked with paint and smokebombs and 1,000 occupy Fortnum & Mason
  • Protesters surge along Piccadilly, Regent Street and Oxford Street forcing shops to close
  • Lightbulbs filled with ammonia hurled at police officers
  • Labour leader Ed Miliband defends speech to marchers
March 28, 2011

Daily Mail - Over 200 people were arrested as extremists brought violent chaos to central London yesterday after hijacking the much-heralded trade union protest against public spending cuts.

A massive clear-up operation was underway today after trouble continued to flare late into the night as hundreds of people clashed with officers in Trafalgar Square.

Police confirmed 201 people were in custody and there had been 84 reported injuries during the protests. At least 31 police were hurt with 11 of them requiring hospital treatment.

The suspects are being held in 21 police stations across London. The Metropolitan Police are now reviewing evidence collected from CCTV cameras and officers. Between 200 and 300 people were still in Trafalgar Square late into the night, with some throwing missiles and attempting to damage the Olympic clock within the square.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said officers had 'come under sustained attack' as they tried to deal with the disorder and attempted criminal damage, with officers using 'containment' tactics in a bid to manage those congregating. The area was eventually cleared by around 2.45am.
'A large number from the crowd are throwing missiles and have attempted to damage the Olympic clock within the square,' he said. 'Officers have come under sustained attack as they deal with the disorder and attempted criminal damage.'
All of the injuries were described as 'relatively minor'.

Although much of the debris left by yesterday's carnage had been removed today, Trafalgar Square was still showing signs of what had gone on.

The words 'fightback' and 'Tory scum' were scrawled on one of the four bronze lions, while red paint remained on part of the 2012 Olympics countdown clock.

A placard demanding 'hands off Libya' was placed high on the statue of King Charles I.

John Williamson, 60, a tourist from Whitehaven, Cumbria, said:
'I think it's embarrassing for the country. There's so many tourists here. What are they going to think?'
Splinter groups broke off from the main body of more than 250,000 demonstrators marching from Victoria Embankment to Hyde Park to launch an assault on the capital’s main shopping district. Some were hellbent on storming — or destroying — any London landmarks synonymous with luxury or money. Others targeted companies associated with tax avoidance.

Hundreds laid siege to The Ritz hotel, attacking it with paint and smokebombs. A Porsche showroom was also smashed up and upmarket department store Fortnum & Mason was occupied by about 1,000 activists.

On the streets outside, anarchists battled police. Some officers in Oxford Street were attacked with lightbulbs filled with ammonia, a sinister new weapon that can be assembled by following simple instructions on the internet. Other officers were hit with paint and flying bottles.

Scotland Yard commander Bob Broadhurst said of the rioters:
‘I wouldn’t call them protesters. They are engaging in criminal activities for their own ends. We’ll never have enough officers to protect every building in Central London.’
Several splinter groups brought chaos and violence to what was the largest public protest since the 2003 anti-Iraq war rally. In stark contrast, the daytime demonstration was hailed a 'fantastic success' by trade unions as people from across the UK marched through central London.

Organisers estimated between 400,000 and 500,000 teachers, nurses, firefighters, council and NHS workers, other public sector employees, students, pensioners and campaign groups converged on the capital.

Union officials and Labour leader Ed Miliband condemned the 'brutal' cuts in jobs and services.

But during the good-natured protest, hundreds of activists not connected with the union rally clashed with police in the West End. Officers were attacked as they tried to stop demonstrators smashing their way into banks and shops.

The protesters surged along Piccadilly, Regent Street and Oxford Street, chanting 'welfare not warfare' as they blocked traffic and forced shops to close.

Paint, fireworks and flares were thrown at buildings, while the outnumbered police were attacked with large pieces of wood.

Branches of HSBC, RBS, Santander and Topshop were among those to have their windows smashed.

The police often had to step aside as the activists continued their destruction late into the evening.

Campaign group UK Uncut claimed around 200 of its supporters forced themselves into luxury store Fortnum and Mason — known as the Queen's grocer. A spokesman for the demonstrators said the target was chosen because 'they dodge tens of millions in tax'.

Commander Broadhurst, who led the police operation, added that video evidence would be used in an attempt to make arrests in the coming days.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said he 'bitterly regretted' the violence, adding that he hoped it would not detract from the massive anti-cuts protest.
'I don't think the activities of a few hundred people should take the focus away from the hundreds of thousands of people who have sent a powerful message to the Government today,' Mr Barber said.
'Ministers should now seriously reconsider their whole strategy after last night's demonstration. This has been Middle Britain speaking,' he added.
Mr Barber said unions would now step up pressure on the Government, especially MPs in their constituencies, and launch a series of protests next week in defence of the NHS.

Breaking past a small group of police, nearly 1,000 protesters charged into Fortnum & Mason, famed for its wicker picnic hampers and for delivering tea to the Queen. After forcing themselves through the ground floor doors into the area selling luxury cheese and chocolate at around 4pm, the mob ran amok. Afternoon shoppers, among them dozens of Japanese and American tourists, fled up the stairs, followed by police officers who tried to stop the occupation from spreading.

Activists made speeches on the ornate spiral staircase and baskets full of £5 bags of Easter bunny chocolates were pushed over and spilled on to the floor.

Black-clad anarchists, wearing face masks to hide their identity, shouted abuse at customers and launched into tirades about class war. One threatened to attack a customer in a restaurant, outraged that they were carrying on eating salmon sandwiches.

A group of menacing extremists stood under the crystal chandeliers and hung posters from metal stair-rails. They threatened to smash display cases full of luxury goods if the police tried to drag them out. Two others daubed anarchist symbols on the dark pink walls as smartly-dressed shop assistants tried to bring order by restacking upturned shelves. Some activists from the group called UK Uncut, which protests against tax avoidance, helped clean up the mess.

Police finally cleared the store of protesters just before 7pm.

Campaigners claimed they targeted the 300-year-old store because its owners are at the centre of a £40million tax avoidance row. Protesters also occupied Vodafone, Boots and BHS stores on Oxford Street for the same reason.


Further along Piccadilly, extremists laid siege to The Ritz hotel. The building was pelted with paint, fireworks and smoke bombs.

Police forced back a hardcore of around 30 protesters, whose faces were covered by balaclavas and scarves, after several of the ground floor windows were smashed. Unable to get inside, they instead daubed the words ‘fat cats’ on the walls and launched paint missiles through open windows on the first floor. Bins and a temporary traffic light were upturned on the street outside.

Around 50 people were evacuated to a function room at the back of the building. Windows of the restaurant’s Rivoli Bar were also pelted with paint while those of Ritz Fine Jewellery were smashed. The famous afternoon tea was cancelled, and walls of the building were daubed with anarchy symbols.


Around 300 extremists tried to storm a branch of HSBC in Cambridge Circus. They threw paint at police officers and smashed windows. Some of the group painted slogans such as ‘smash the banks’ and ‘thieves’ on the building before trying to get inside.

The building was quickly surrounded by riot police and it is thought that one protester was questioned inside.

A Piccadilly branch of Santander was also targeted by rioters who tried to break in. The bank’s glass front doors and windows were smashed and paint bombs were thrown at the building.


Owned by retail tycoon Sir Philip Green,Topshop was another main target. For several hours shoppers were trapped inside the Oxford Street store as masked protesters pelted police who were defending it with rocks and paint bombs. Elsewhere along the shopping street, black-clad activists smashed windows and left officers ducking for cover and spattered in paint.

Topshop customers — mainly teenage girls — were still going in and out of the front door seconds before the missiles started flying. Many of them were trapped inside as chaos erupted outside.

The protesters chanted,
‘Pay your tax Philip Green’.
The tycoon has saved an estimated £285million in tax by paying a £1.2billion bonus to his Monaco-based wife, Tina...

Message to Obama from Farrakhan: 'Be Careful Brother, How You Handle This Situation, Because It is Coming to America'

Farrakhan: ‘America Will Be Bathed in Blood’

March 29, 2011 - Whether you love him or hate him, agree or disagree, Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan has some interesting views worthy of your time. Some you may agree with, some you may dismiss outright, and some you may find offensive. Whatever the case, Farrakhan’s comments should not be taken lightly, as it is becoming more clear (regardless of the racial spin Minister Farrakhan inserts into the discussion) that opinions about our government’s actions, both domestically and abroad, are aligning across the religious, racial and socio-economic spectrum.

Minister Farrakhan directs the following comments regarding Libya and US foreign policy at President Obama:

You can’t order him to step down and get out. Who the hell do you think you are? That you can talk to a man who built a country over 42 years and ask him step down and get out? Can anybody ask you — well, there’s a lot now gonna ask you to step out of the White House ’cause they don’t want no black face in the White House. Be careful brother, how you handle this situation, because it is coming to America. It has already started.

Look at Wisconsin. Look in Ohio. Look at what’s going on in your country and remember your words, because the American people are rising against their own government.

It’s not Muslims. It’s not black people. It’s white militia that are angry with their government, and they are well armed.

Are you gonna’ tell them ‘put your arms down, and let’s talk it over peacefully’? I hope so. But if not, America will be bathed in blood. Not because Farrakhan said so, but because the dissatisfaction in America has reached the boiling point.

Be careful how you manipulate the dissatisfaction in Libya and other parts of the Muslim world.

While we agree that dissatisfaction in America is quickly approaching 212°F, Mr. Farrakhan seems to have lumped the entire movement into one group, which he refers to as ‘militia.’

It isn’t just white people that are dissatisfied. Mr. Farrakhan likes to make these separations to serve his own agenda and cater to his audience, but the fact of the matter is, what we’re talking about is all Americans. People of all races, creeds and economic backgrounds are fed up.

Many are realizing the hypocrisy of our government — and we’re not just referring to President Obama’s most recent military action in Libya, but the imperialistic tendencies held by many of our politicians and so-called leaders, past and present. Moreover, as pointed out by the Minister in his interview (video below), while our government is focused on fixing other countries’ problems, we are in dire straits right here at home with over 44 million people now on food stamps, millions unable to pay their mortgages, depression level unemployment, and the largest national debt in the history of mankind.

While we empathize with the people of Libya, Syria, Iraq and the greater middle east, our primary concern is the impoverished, enslaved and enraged people in These United States — and so too should it be the concern of of our three branches of government.

Watch the full video interview:

Battle in Seattle Against the WTO, November 1999

Battle in Seattle Against the WTO, November 1999

Five Western nations — the USA, the UK, France, Italy, and Canada have participated in "Operation Odyssey Dawn" — air and missile strikes against Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Operation Odyssey Dawn is supposed to create a no-fly zone over Libya as mandated by Resolution 1973 of the UN Security Council approved Thursday. Several countries have declared themselves against the foreign military operations in Libya including Russia and Venezuela, whose President Hugo Chavez is known to have close ties with Gaddafi.

According to the UN: "Demanding an immediate ceasefire in Libya, including an end to the current attacks against civilians, which it said might constitute "crimes against humanity," the Security Council imposed a ban on all flights in the country’s airspace — a no-fly zone — and tightened sanctions on the Qadhafi regime and its supporters."

In Obama's speech at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. on March 28, 2011, he was not clear as to whether or not the United States would intervene to help every nation in the region, but Obama said: "Born, as we are, out of a revolution by those who longed to be free, we welcome the fact that history is on the move in the Middle East and North Africa, and that young people are leading the way." Without naming other nations in the region where protests are going on, Obama noted that, "a new generation is refusing to be denied their rights and opportunities any longer."

Obama and the other criminals in Washington, D.C. are hypocrites. They will not hesitate to send in the National Guard against the U.S. citizens, as they have done in the past (Democratic and Republican national conventions, G20 summits, Katrina, etc.)

Who will protect U.S. citizens from our government when they turn on us again?

If you don't think they will, then watch the 2008 film "Battle in Seattle," which is a fictitious account of events in Seattle that occurred over five days beginning in late November 1999, when citizens protested the World Trade Organization talks. The protest was prompted by the first American gathering of the WTO. Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in protest. What began as a peaceful protest intended to stop the WTO talks quickly escalated into a full-scale riot and eventual State of Emergency that squared off peaceful and unarmed protesters against the Seattle Police Department and the National Guard.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is a broad-based, extremely powerful institution that wants to influence and/or trump the rules sovereign governments have created to run their nations. The WTO favors wealth and profit over things such as the environment, human rights, and unionized labor. The WTO has operated behind closed doors since its inception in 1995 and, unfortunately for all of us, it has never developed anything resembling a conscience.

Actual footage from the Seattle riots in 1999:

A documentary on the event is available also: "30 Frames a Second: The WTO in Seattle."

This event in Seattle 1999 was before the "war on terror" began, before the signing into law of the Patriot Act, and before the Department of Homeland Security was created; therefore, the reaction from government officials was tame compared to what it would be if that event were to occur now.

Fellow citizens, beware of the U.S. Northern Command:

U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) was established Oct. 1, 2002 to provide command and control of Department of Defense (DOD) homeland defense efforts and to coordinate defense support of civil authorities. USNORTHCOM defends America's homeland — protecting our people, national power, and freedom of action.


the Department of Homeland Security, established by the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (taking advantage of an opportunity to do things you couldn't do before by never letting a serious crisis, 9/11, go to waste):

Title I - Department of Homeland Security

Sec. 101. Executive Department; Mission

(a) Establishment. - "There is established a Department of Homeland Security, as an executive department of the United States within the meaning of title 5, United States Code.
(b) Mission
(1) In General. - The primary mission of the Department is to
(A) prevent terrorist attacks within the United States;
(B) reduce the vulnerability of the United States to terrorism; and
(C) minimize the damage, and assist in the recovery, from terrorist attacks that do occur within the United States."

[From the Homeland Security Act of 2002]

"You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before." - Rahm Emanuel, November 21, 2008

We Will Have World Government, Whether By Conquest or Consent

There will be no date, no particular point in history where you can say, “On this date, the New World Order was ushered in.” To a very large extent, we’re already in it. We’ve been in it for a long, long time. What they’re really doing is just building the walls a little bit at a time with the passage of each day, and we’re in it. We will never be able to say, “Gee, it started on this date.” If there was to be a date that historians might want to put on the arrival of this monster, I suppose it would be the date on which all of the nations of the world surrendered control over their money and over their military, because those are the two legs on which national sovereignty stands. If you’ve got a strong military and a strong money system, you’re a sovereign nation. If you don’t have those things, you’re nothing. You’re just a territory that is controlled by someone who does have strong money or a strong military. So we’re very close to the surrender of our money right now. I suppose that would be a date that historians might choose for the crossover point. - G. Edward Griffin, Restore the Republic's Reality Report, May 17, 2009 (video below)

Klaus Warns Euro Pact Will Lead to Full Political Union

March 29, 2011

EUOBSERVER - Vaclav Klaus, the Czech Republic's famously eurosceptic president renowned across Europe for holding up passage of the Lisbon Treaty for months, has launched an attack against a fresh EU target: the ‘Euro-plus-pact'.

"The Brussels summit on 25 March was not about anything else but the further integration of Europe towards fiscal ... union," he wrote in an opinion piece in Czech daily newspaper Pravo on Monday, referring to the meeting of EU premiers and presidents where 23 out of the bloc's 27 member states signed up to a pact that aims to boost European competitiveness.

"It was a radical reduction of the sovereignty of other EU countries."

However, while trade unions and the left criticise the pact for its institutionalisation of fiscal retrenchment, limits to public spending and demands for wage constraint, Klaus, an ardent free-market liberal, attacked the document for delivering the opening steps towards a "redistribution union" between rich and poor states.

The pact, along with other far-reaching measures endorsed by the summit last Friday, intends to deliver ever closer ‘economic governance' where the economic polices of each member state are co-ordinated centrally and supervised by Brussels.

The hair-shirt approach to fiscal policies contained in the pact are the quid pro quo demanded by Germany in particular in return for boosting the size of eurozone rescue funds. Klaus believes this is the beginning of large-scale financial transfers between states.

The Czech president, the last EU leader to sign on to the Lisbon Treaty on 3 November, 2009, after months of stonewalling, accused EU leaders of using the economic crisis as an excuse to push for deeper integration.

"A few years ago when these people managed to pass the Lisbon Treaty — a European constitution — they knew that at the time this probably moved forward too fast and that there should now be a pause," he said.

"They even told me personally when trying to convince me to sign up to the Lisbon Treaty that there would now be a pause [from further integration moves] for an interval of at least ten years."

"By using the economic and financial crisis of 2008-2009 and the subsequent crisis of the euro in 2010 — still continuing — it gave them a wonderful excuse to get back to pushing forward with the further deepening of European integration."

He worries that the fiscal integration that is occurring today will inevitably be followed by full political integration.

He wrote that the European Economic Community later became just the European Community, then along came European Monetary Union and the European Union.

"Sooner or later, this will be followed by other developments," he wrote, saying that a European fiscal union, or ‘EFU' as he terms it, will be followed by an ‘EPU'.

"Where an EFU has been agreed in Brussels agreed ... an EPU is the final stage — the European Political Union."

Softer position from prime minister

The Czech government for its part has said, similar to the position of the UK, Sweden and Hungary, that it does not intend to join for the time being.

It has said that while it has little problem with most of what is contained in the pact, there are two reasons why Prague could not join at the moment.

The government is wary that language contained in the document encouraging "consistency among national tax systems" is the first step towards tax harmonisation across the bloc. Ireland and Slovakia, already in the eurozone and signatories to the euro-pact, as well as Hungary, which lies outside both, also have strong reservations about a shake-up of tax policies.

The second concern is more easily resolved, in that the government being outside the eurozone had only had a few days to glance at the document before being pressured to sign on.

Government sources say that a consultation with other coalition members and the full parliament will be required before any endorsement can be given. Once this consultation is completed and should sufficiently mollifying language on tax issues be found, Prague, like Budapest, could well join.

Sweden has also indicated that it would like to join but cannot so long as there is no majority in parliament in favour.

It is unlikely, say analysts, that the Czech Republic will choose to be left out in the cold for long.

"The prime minister welcomes the opportunity to still be able to join at a later stage," said one Czech source.

Klaus however indicated he will resist pressure on his country to sign up to the pact.

"The position of [Czech] Prime Minister Necas — I wish this was the attitude of the whole of the government — in not entering the EFU, is certainly right and we should support him in it," he wrote.

On 18 March, Klaus gave another speech in the Italian Tyrol attacking fiscal integration.

"In the first historical phase of European integration, liberalisation trends prevailed. In the second phase, especially in the last twenty years, unfortunately, centralisation, harmonisation, standardisation and regulatory trends have dominated."

A source close to the president said he is unlikely to drop his campaign against the pact any time soon.

Czech diplomats stress however that the president was speaking in a personal capacity and that his arguments may not be the official position of the government.

Bulgarian central bank, finance ministry oppose euro-pact

In related news, EUobserver has learnt that Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov spurned advice from his finance minister and the head of the central bank last week, who recommended against the country joining the euro-pact.

Bulgaria has a flat income and corporate tax rate of 10 percent, the lowest taxes in the EU. Like the Czechs, Hungarians and Irish, it hopes to retain its ultra-low tax burden.

But the prime minister felt that if he signed on despite the opposition of his colleagues, he would guarantee entry to the euro for his country.

A government spokesperson confirmed the "negative stance of the finance ministry and the central bank", adding however:

"The whole of the government participated in analysis of the pact, and all opinions were considered, but the final decision was taken by the prime minister."