Thursday, January 31, 2008

Record number of soldiers committed suicide last year

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A record number of active-duty soldiers killed themselves last year, according to The Washington Post.
The paper cites an internal Army study that shows 121 soldiers committed suicide in 2007. That's a 20% increase over the prior year
The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have placed severe stress on the
Army, caused in part by repeated and lengthened deployments," the paper
reports. "Historically, suicide rates tend to decrease when soldiers
are in conflicts overseas, but that trend has reversed in recent years.
From a suicide rate of 9.8 per 100,000 active-duty soldiers in 2001 --
the lowest rate on record -- the Army reached an all-time high of 17.5
suicides per 100,000 active-duty soldiers in 2006
The number of attempted suicides among soldiers is six times higher than it was
The Associated Press is quoting preliminary figures that show more than a quarter of the suicides took place in Iraq
Click here for the warning signs that suggest someone is considering suicide
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Friday, January 25, 2008

She's a one-in-six-billion miracle

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An Australian teenage girl has become
the world's first known transplant patient to change blood
groups and take on the immune system of her organ donor,
doctors said on Friday, calling her a "one-in-six-billion

'The Holy Grail
Of Transplants'

Demi-Lee Brennan, 15, is the first known transplant recipient to adopt the blood type and the immune system of her organ donor, to the amazement of the medical community and Brennan alike. "It's like my second chance at life," she said. "It's kind of hard to believe."
"It's like my second chance at life," Brennan told local
Brennan's body changed blood group from O negative to O
positive when she became ill while on drugs
Her new liver's blood stem cells then invaded her body's
bone marrow to take over her entire immune system, meaning the
teen no longer needs anti-rejection drugs.
they had no explanation for Brennan's recovery, detailed in the
latest edition of The New England Journal of Medicine.
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Generational Housing Bubble on the Way

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IN THE first years of the 21st century, no area of the American economy has excited more emotion than the property market.
America should be bracing itself for the end of the “generational housing bubble”, according to a new study by Dowell Myers and SungHo Ryu of the University of Southern California
The old sell more homes than they buy, according to data covering 1995-2000 (see chart).
The ratio of old to working-age people is expected to grow by 67% over the next two decades.
Young adults make up the bulk of new demand, with most purchasing homes when they reach their early 30s.
The flood of elderly people selling their homes
may lead to a drawn-out buyers' market. Prices may fall further as younger people, perceiving a downturn, delay purchasing.
The mismatch between buyers and sellers may be most acute in the rustbelt, where numbers of young people and immigrants are rising slowly, if at all, says William Frey of the Brookings Institution, a think-tank.
House Bubble
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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Who Are You Jerome Kerviel?

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Before today the world knew very little about Jerome Kerviel
Only one Google reference we could find
Here is what has emerged this morning on the latest entrant into the rogue (trader)’s gallery.
who turned 31 this month,
Societe Generale in 2000
was working as a trader on the futures desk at the bank’s headquarters near Paris, according to The Wall Street Journal.
He was apparently in charge of futures hedging for European equity market indexes
The enormity of the losses caused by the Frenchman is inversely proportional to the size of his pay
Kerviel earned less than 100,000 euros a year ($146,000), including bonus, according to Bloomberg
Kerviel only moved to the trading floor from the back office in 2006
t was there, presumably, that he learned how to game the giant bank’s compliance system and cause a more than $7 billion write-down in the process
A spokesperson for the bank told Bloomberg that Kerviel is “very quiet and a loner
He had made his dream of becoming a trader come true.”
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Home Sellers Competing with Sales of Foreclosed Properties

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The continuing troubles in the housing market — see “Existing-Home Sales Resume Decline” — spell trouble for homesellers, who are competing against the sellers of foreclosed properties. In one example cited in Mr. Hagerty’s story, a four-bedroom house in a Phoenix suburb sold for $775,000 in August 2006. Then a lender acquired the home through foreclosure last year. It sold again in December for $380,000.
It’s getting harder to hide from the housing bust, writes James R. Hagerty in today’s Journal. Even the Pacific Northwest and North Carolina are feeling the pain, both areas until recently had avoided the housing slump. Even Manhattan, Mr. Hagerty writes, is feeling the pinch, thanks to Wall Street’s woes.
Still, Mr. Hagerty points out that local markets vary hugely, according to the Wall Street Journal’s quarterly survey of housing data in 28 major metropolitan areas. Inventories are enormous in Phoenix, Florida, Las Vegas and the Detroit area.
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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Home Prices in California Fall More Than 13%

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The Associated Press is reporting that the median home price in a six-county region of Southern California plunged more than 13 percent in December versus a year ago, according to DataQuick Information Systems.
The average median price in Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino counties hit $425,000 last month, the lowest level since February 2005, when the figure was $420,000, according to DataQuick. December’s median price dropped 2.4 percent from the November figure of $435,000.
housing down
Home sales in the region, one of the hardest hit in the nation by the mortgage crisis, also plummeted compared to December 2006, dropping 45.3 percent to 13,240 — the lowest sales total for any December in more than 20 years
“We’re in the midst of turbulence and we won’t know what really has been going on until things have settled down and we can look back,”
California’s housing market has been hammered by falling sales and home prices
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Monday, January 14, 2008

Kleiner Perkins, Google, Amazon, Netscape back Electric Car

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The race to develop an electric car is heating up and drawing increasing interest from the same venture-capital investors who helped build Silicon Valley.
The latest entrant is expected to be announced today at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit when Fisker Automotive Inc. unveils an $80,000 battery-powered luxury car it aims to begin delivering in late 2009.
The Fisker Karma, a so-called plug-in hybrid, can go 50 miles on electricity before a small gasoline engine kicks in to generate electricity
The company has backing from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, perhaps Silicon Valley's best-known venture-capital firm and a backer of household tech names such as Netscape Communications, Inc. and Google Inc.
Mr. Fisker's vision is to sell 15,000 electric cars a year.
Mr. Fisker believes his company is a couple of years ahead of bigger rivals because the design of the car has been finalized.
The Karma, Mr. Fisker said, will use lithium-ion batteries
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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Gold on its way to $2,130 an ounce?

Gold stocks anyone?
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Gold rose beyond $850 an ounce in
London, breaching the record set more than a quarter-century ago
Prices advanced 31 percent last year, the biggest gain
since 1979, when U.S. inflation was more than 13 percent.
Unless the world suddenly becomes a wonderful place to
be, the gold price will continue to move higher,'' said Jeremy
Charles, global head of precious metals in London at HSBC Bank
Bullion also advanced for a seventh consecutive year in
2007 as investors sought an alternative to the declining value
of the dollar.
Gold rallied 12 percent in the fourth quarter,
climbing to a 27-year high since mid-September, when the U.S.
Federal Reserve cut interest rates.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. predicts gold will strengthen to $950
within six months.
Based on 1980 dollars, the January 1980 record of $850 is
the equivalent of about $2,130 today, according to an inflation
calculator on the Web site of the Federal Reserve Bank of
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