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dkf's Journal
dkf's Journal
July 30, 2012

The World’s Gold Is Moving From West To East

The World’s Gold Is Moving From West To East

Did you know that, according to Capgemini and the Royal Bank of Canada’s latest World Wealth Report, there are now more millionaires in Asia than North America…?

An estimated 3.37 million individuals in the Asia-Pacific region have a liquid net worth of over US$1 million. That compares to 3.35 million in North America.

The same trend is evident in the gold market.

While the current world hubs for gold trading and storage are London, Zurich, and New York, stores of physical metal are also beginning to migrate east. Gold storage facilities are springing up all over Asia like mushrooms after a summer rain.


July 26, 2012

More Weather Extremes Leave Parts of U.S. Grid Buckling

WASHINGTON — From highways in Texas to nuclear power plants in Illinois, the concrete, steel and sophisticated engineering that undergird the nation’s infrastructure are being taxed to worrisome degrees by heat, drought and vicious storms.

On a single day this month here, a US Airways regional jet became stuck in asphalt that had softened in 100-degree temperatures, and a subway train derailed after the heat stretched the track so far that it kinked — inserting a sharp angle into a stretch that was supposed to be straight. In East Texas, heat and drought have had a startling effect on the clay-rich soils under highways, which “just shrink like crazy,” leading to “horrendous cracking,” said Tom Scullion, senior research engineer with the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University. In Northeastern and Midwestern states, he said, unusually high heat is causing highway sections to expand beyond their design limits, press against each other and “pop up,” creating jarring and even hazardous speed bumps.

Excessive warmth and dryness are threatening other parts of the grid as well. In the Chicago area, a twin-unit nuclear plant had to get special permission to keep operating this month because the pond it uses for cooling water rose to 102 degrees; its license to operate allows it to go only to 100. According to the Midwest Independent System Operator, the grid operator for the region, a different power plant had had to shut because the body of water from which it draws its cooling water had dropped so low that the intake pipe became high and dry; another had to cut back generation because cooling water was too warm.

The frequency of extreme weather is up over the past few years, and people who deal with infrastructure expect that to continue. Leading climate models suggest that weather-sensitive parts of the infrastructure will be seeing many more extreme episodes, along with shifts in weather patterns and rising maximum (and minimum) temperatures.


July 23, 2012

Batman Colorado shooting: James Holmes fixated by altered states of mind

James Holmes, the alleged "Joker" gunman, described his fascination with altered states of mind in a lecture to other students, and dosed up on prescription medication before the atrocity, it emerged on Sunday.

The first video footage of the suspect showed him as an awkward, nervous 18-year-old giving a talk at a science summer camp in San Diego on "temporal illusions". It also emerged that in the days before the attack, Holmes, a cannabis smoker, joined a dating website seeking women for "sexy times" and also tried to join a gun club.
After the massacre Holmes calmly told detectives he had taken 100mg of the prescription painkiller Vicodin, and identified himself as "The Joker". The same drug was found in the system of actor Heath Ledger when he died of an accidental overdose of prescription drugs in 2008. Ledger played The Joker in the previous Batman film The Dark Knight. Vicodin side-effects can include euphoria, paranoia and, in rare cases, hallucinations.

The video footage of Holmes was taken at Miramar College in San Diego and showed him explaining that "temporal illusions" are "an illusion that allows you to change the past". Holmes said he had been working on "subjective experience, which is what takes place inside the mind as oppose to the external world".


July 21, 2012

If Holmes didn't have guns I bet he would have done a Tim Mcveigh.

Let's face it...the guy had the smarts to do even more damage than he did. The only way he could have been stopped is the way we stop terrorists, intense surveillance.

You may be willing to give up a supposed right to own a gun but are you ready to give up your privacy and let the government spy on all of us?

July 21, 2012

Mass murderers often not mentally ill, but seeking revenge, experts say

Those who commit mass murders are often angry and isolated, but usually aren't mentally ill, violence experts said Friday after a shooting during the midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater. James Holmes was arrested as a suspect in the shooting that killed 12 people and wounded 59 others.

“It takes a certain degree of clear-headedness to plan and execute a crime like this,” said James Alan Fox, a criminal justice professor at Northeastern University in Boston, who has written several books on mass murder and school violence.

There are exceptions – Jared Loughner, who shot and killed six people in Arizona in 2011, gravely injuring then-member of Congress Gabrielle Giffords, was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Mental health experts say people with mental illness are not any more likely than anyone else to become violent, however.

Mass murderers “often times feel that they are right and everybody else is wrong,” Fox said in a telephone interview. “They really tend to externalize blame, to see other people as responsible for their problems."


July 16, 2012

Retail Purchases In U.S. Unexpectedly Decrease 0.5%

Retail sales in the U.S. unexpectedly declined for a third straight month in June, a sign limited employment gains are taking a toll on the biggest part of the economy.
The 0.5 percent drop followed a 0.2 percent decrease in May, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. The decline was worse than the most-pessimistic forecast in a Bloomberg News survey in which the median projection called for a 0.2 percent rise. Purchases last fell for three or more months in July through December 2008.

A weakening job market is sapping households of the confidence and income gains needed to boost expenditures, which account for about 70 percent of the economy. Without gains in spending at retailers such as Target Corp. and Macy’s Inc. (M), the expansion will have a difficult time gaining momentum.

“People are just pulling back, and you’re not likely to see a significant pickup from here,” said Michael Carey, chief economist for North America at Credit Agricole CIB in New York. “This was certainly a slowdown from the first quarter.”


July 16, 2012

IMF Cuts Global Outlook As EU Ensnares Emerging Economies

The International Monetary Fund cut its 2013 global growth forecast as Europe’s debt crisis prolongs Spain’s recession and slows expansions in emerging markets from China to India already facing weaker domestic demand.

Growth worldwide will be 3.9 percent next year, less than the 4.1 percent estimate in April, the fund predicted in an update of its World Economic Outlook. Spain’s economy will contract 0.6 percent instead of a prior forecast for 0.1 percent growth, and India’s projection for next year was reduced 0.7 percentage point to a 6.5 percent expansion, it said.

Central bankers from London to Seoul have lowered borrowing costs or increased bond buying in recent weeks in a round of international stimulus echoing the response to the 2007-08 global financial crisis. The fund said a U.S. rebound is moderating, the outlook is deteriorating for developing economies and global growth could suffer further if European policy makers put off measures agreed at a June summit to arrest the region’s instability.

“In the past three months, the global recovery, which was not strong to start with, has shown signs of further weakness,” the Washington-based IMF said in the report. “Downside risks continue to loom large, importantly reflecting risks of delayed or insufficient policy action.”


July 16, 2012

Worst-In-Generation Drought Dims U.S. Farm Economy Hopes

A worst-in-a-generation drought from Indiana to Arkansas to California is damaging crops, rural economies, and threatening to drive food prices to record levels. Agriculture, though a small part of the $15.5 trillion U.S. economy, had been one of the most resilient industries in the past three years as the country struggled to recover from the recession.

“It might be a $50 billion event for the economy as it blends into everything over the next four quarters,” said Michael Swanson, agricultural economist at Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) in Minneapolis, the largest commercial agriculture lender. “Instead of retreating from record highs, food prices will advance.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture declared July 11 that more than 1,000 counties in 26 states are natural-disaster areas, the biggest such declaration ever. The designation makes farmers and ranchers in affected counties -- about a third of those in the entire country -- eligible for low-interest loans to help manage the drought, wildfires or other disasters.

Farm income, which has underpinned the growth of many rural states, will be under “significant downward pressure,” Goss said.


July 14, 2012

Visa, Mastercard may allow retailers to charge customers more to use credit card in lawsuit settleme

Retailers will be able to charge their customers more for paying with credit cards under the terms of a multibillion-dollar settlement announced late in the day Friday.

MasterCard, Visa and major banks, including JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America, agreed to pay more than $6 billion to settle accusations that they engaged in anticompetitive practices in payment processing.

The settlement is the culmination of a lawsuit brought in federal court on behalf of roughly 7 million merchants in 2005.

Merchants said that the companies engaged in price-fixing to charge high fees for processing credit and debit card payments.
In addition, the merchants claimed, the payment processors unfairly banned stores from compelling their customers to use less expensive methods of payments like cash and checks.


July 13, 2012

New York Fed Says It Knew Barclays Was Underreporting Libor

New York Fed Says It Knew Barclays Was Underreporting Libor
Caroline Salas Gage, ©2012 Bloomberg News
Published 08:57 a.m., Friday, July 13, 2012

July 13 (Bloomberg) -- The Federal Reserve Bank of New York said it became aware that Barclays Plc was underreporting borrowing costs for the London interbank offered rate as early as 2007.

A Barclays employee explained to a New York Fed staffer in April 2008 that “Barclays was underreporting its rate to avoid the stigma associated with being an outlier with respect to its LIBOR submissions, relative to other participating banks,” the New York Fed said in a statement posted today on its website.

“The Barclays employee also stated that in his opinion other participating banks were also under-reporting their LIBOR submissions.”


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