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Why Dig For Gold? Mom Finds Meteorite Worth 20K

Who knew that hunting for meteorites was such big business?

Meteorites landed in California’s Gold Country several days ago, creating a modern day gold rush.

“I’ve been out here my third day now,” said Robert Clark of Grass Valley. “Found one piece, one gram.”

Gold is so 1840s out here. Meteorites are the new treasure.

“I was really excited for this much,” said Rick Nelson of Grass Valley, who found some gold. “I was more excited for my wife’s find. She found a meteor.”

A couple thousand or so people from as far as Australia and Canada have descended to the area, practically doubling the population of Lotus.

Geologists, treasure hunters and scientists all took a look at Brenda’s find.

“As I opened my hand, there was a huge gasp,” she said.

Scientists have told her what she had in her hands could be 4 to 6 billion years old.

Read the article here.

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Senior Official in the State Department: ‘War on Terror is Over’


“In the wake of the Arab Spring, the Obama administration is grappling with how to handle Islamists, radical adherents to Islam. Particularly, the issue has come to the fore in regards to Egypt, which, as Reuel Marc Gerecht notes, “is now certain” to elect “an Islamist” as its leaders the next time the Egyptian people go to the polls.

But some in the Obama administration are now seeing things differently.

The war on terror is over,” a senior official in the State Department official tells the National Journal. “Now that we have killed most of al Qaida, now that people have come to see legitimate means of expression, people who once might have gone into al Qaida see an opportunity for a legitimate Islamism.”

This new outlook has, in the words of the National Journal, come from a belief among administration officials that “It is no longer the case, in other words, that every Islamist is seen as a potential accessory to terrorists.”

The National Journal explains:

The new approach is made possible by the double impact of the Arab Spring, which supplies a new means of empowerment to young Arabs other than violent jihad, and Obama’s savagely successful military drone campaign against the worst of the violent jihadists, al Qaida…”

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Vermont Moves to End Corporate Personhood

Full report

“MONTPELIER, VT – With yesterday’s vote in the state house, Vermont is now the first state to call for an amendment to abolish the doctrine known as “Corporate Personhood” which gives corporations constitutional rights meant to protect people.

Hawaii and New Mexico have passed resolutions against the Citizens United v. FEC ruling by the Supreme Court, but the Vermont resolution goes beyond simply overturning that case and aims to remove corporations from the constitution altogether and make clear that money is not speech and that campaign spending and political contributions can be regulated by government.

Support for the resolution in the state legislature comes from a mandate set forth by Vermont’s citizens. Last month 65 town meetings passed similar resolutions, calling on the legislators in the state to stand up and urging Congress to send an amendment to the states for ratification.

“Americans of all political persuasions are tired of the big money in politics and tired of corporations running the country,” said David Cobb, spokesperson for the Move to Amend coalition, a grassroots national organization spearheading resolution efforts across the country. “We salute the good people of Vermont for standing up first to make clear that an amendment that addresses this issue at its core is what’s needed now.”

While Vermont is the first state to clearly call for an end to corporate constitutional rights, this is far from the first resolution passed. Nearly half of the states have seen passage of resolutions at the local level through city and county councils, and a handful of cities have also passed measures using the initiative process. This week Salt Lake City, Utah became the latest city to join the effort when Move to Amend volunteers turned in 11,400 signatures collected in 60 days to qualify a resolution for the ballot in their town.

“Communities across the country are standing up to show their outrage and to demand that their legislators pass an amendment to overrule the Court,” stated Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, National Field Organizing Director for Move to Amend. “We recognize that an amendment is a big task, but Move to Amend’s volunteers are ready to rise to the challenge.”


Background on state resolution effort: The Vermonters Say Corporations Are Not People partnership, which worked together on town meeting proposals, also has worked to pass the resolutions at the state legislative level. The effort includes Move to Amend; Public Citizen; Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, a Move to Amend affiliate; Vermont Peace & Justice Center; VPIRG; Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, founders of Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc.; Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility; Rural Vermont; Vermont Workers Center; Common Cause Vermont; Occupy Burlington; Vermont Action for Peace; and the Safe and Green Campaign. ”


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$EBAY Hits a Six-Year High. Should You ‘Buy It Now’

Great article about Ebay from Bespoke


So with the stock already up 15%, should you ‘Buy it Now’ or keep it on your watch list?  The table below shows the 24 days since it came public in 1998 that EBAY rose more than 15% in a single day.  For each day we calculated the stock’s average and median returns over the next week and month.  As shown, the average returns over the next week and month are both convincingly positive.

Read the rest here.

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Happiness in America

[youtube://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuKeuN1GU8U&feature=relmfu 450 300]

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Nomura Forecasts Japan Climbing Out From Over a Decade Worth of Inflation

“Japan is poised to exit more than a decade of deflation as a strengthening yuan bolsters China’s buying power, fueling Japanese production and buoying prices, according to Nomura Holdings Inc. (8604)

Demand from China will propel continuous gains in Japanese consumer prices next year as companies ramp up production with factories now running at about three quarters of capacity,Takahide Kiuchi, Nomura’s chief economist, said in an interview on April 13. The yuan has gained 5.2 percent against the yen this year, making Japanese products more affordable in China, which became Japan’s biggest overseas market in 2009.

Premier Wen Jiabao last month said China will adopt policies to encourage domestic consumption and wean the country from its dependence on exports. The shift may help Japan absorb a glut of unused factory capacity and unwind a cycle of declining prices that has weighed on economic growth. Deflation has driven wages down 16 percent since a 1997 peak and caused tax revenues to fall by about 20 percent in the same period, according to government data compiled by Bloomberg.

“Even mild deflation is a bad thing,” Kiuchi said. “When people expect deflation, wages tend to decline more rapidly. That means real wages decline and that undermines consumption.”

Japanese companies are using about 73 percent of their factory capacity, according to trade ministry data released yesterday. An increase in capacity utilization to about 85 percent in August 2007 preceded Japan’s last period of inflation, a 15-month stretch of price gainsbetween October 2007 and December 2008….”

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U.S. Gasoline May Have Peaked at $3.9671 a Gallon, Lundberg Says


“The average price for regular gasoline at U.S. filling stations increased 3.74 cents over the past two weeks and may have peaked, according to Trilby Lundberg, the president of Lundberg Survey Inc.

The price jump to $3.9671 a gallon covers the period ended April 6 and is based on the Camarillo, California-based company’s survey of about 2,500 stations.

“Price hikes at the pump have been losing steam for weeks,” Lundberg said yesterday in a telephone interview. “Crude oil prices have slipped and if they don’t rebound in the very near future, gasoline prices will peak very soon, if they haven’t already.”

The highest price in the lower 48 U.S. states among the cities surveyed was in Chicago, where the average was $4.45 a gallon, Lundberg said. The lowest price was in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where customers paid an average of $3.66.

On Long Island, regular gasoline was $4.14 a gallon, while Los Angeles-area retail stations averaged $4.27, according to Lundberg.

“The price spikes had been led by places like Chicago and Los Angeles,” Lundberg said. “Now, we see some of these prices tumbling.”

Gasoline on the New York Mercantile Exchange fell 1.3 percent to $3.3405 a gallon in the two weeks ended April 5.

Crude Prices

“Compared to the magnitude of recent price spikes, this is small,” Lundberg said. The increase was the smallest rise for the motor fuel since the two weeks between Jan. 6 and Jan. 20, according to Lundberg Survey. A decline in U.S. oil prices over the past two weeks has helped, she said.

The front-month crude contract on the Nymex fell $3.56 to $103.31 a barrel during that period, while Brent oil in London declined $1.70 to $123.43. Nymex trading was closed April 6 for the Good Friday holiday.

Gasoline futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange have climbed 24 percent this year, the best performance in the Standard & Poor’s GSCI index of 24 commodities.

Prices had surged on speculation that refinery closings would tighten supplies and as crude rose on concern that tensions with Iran over its nuclear program would reduce oil supplies. New York-traded West Texas Intermediate crude is up 4.5 percent in 2012, and Brent oil on the ICE Futures Europe exchange has gained 15 percent.

Summer Driving Season…”

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Companies Begin to Spend That Huge Cache of Cash


“It’s one of the many ironies of the last few years: The Federal Reserve lowered interest rates in order to (among other things) compel businesses to spend their cash rather than save it. And yet, the pile of corporate cash has grown astronomically in the face of interest rates kept near zero. According to Moody’s (MCO), U.S. corporations were sitting on $1.24 trillion of cash at the end of 2011. That’s more than 8 percent of the entire U.S. economy.

It’s not hard to understand why companies are hoarding cash. With growth tepid and demand low, there’s a decent chance a new factory built in the last couple of years would end up being an idle factory. And let’s not forget one of the key lessons of the financial crisis: It’s always better to have too much cash than not enough.

Nearly a quarter of that giant cash pile belongs to just five companies. Apple (AAPL), Microsoft (MSFT), Cisco (CSCO), Google (GOOG), and Pfizer (PFE) have a combined $276 billion in cash and cash equivalents. And more than half of the whole thing is parked overseas, thanks to our 39 percent corporate tax rate, the highest in the world now. While it’s true that firms have been putting some of that cash to use, a lot of it has gone toward things like dividend hikes and stock buybacks over the last couple of years, which don’t exactly kick the economy into gear.

Some recent data indicate firms are finally starting to spend their cash on things that will actually grow the economy. The latest survey of small businesses by the National Federation of Independent Business shows that 57 percent of firms have made a capital expenditure over the last six months, the largest percentage since March 2008. Much of that appears to be going toward big-ticket items. A combined 63 percent of firms report spending on new equipment and vehicles. Nineteen percent of firms reported having spent $10,000 to $49,000 over the last six months, while 11 percent said they spent $100,000 or more.

new survey of 2,200 executives of companies with up to 499 employees found that they expect to increase spending by 5.9 percent this year. That’s likely a lowball estimate, since last year the same study by American City Business Journals predicted a 4.7 percent rise, when in fact spending increased 15.3 percent.

In a March 30 report, Citigroup’s (C) chief U.S. equity strategist, Tobias Levkovich, points to a “clear acceleration” in the capital spending intentions of the 735 nonfinancial public companies covered by Citi’s equity research analysts. “[I]t is very clear that business has stepped up, even from levels considered in early January,” Levkovich writes. “Indeed, the capital spending intentions are now up almost 11% for 2012 versus 2011, as compared with the previously planned 6% increase.”

Said Levkovich in a phone interview on Tuesday afternoon, “Despite the fair amount of uncertainly related to China and Europe, there is a willingness among businesses to invest when it makes sense to do so, which is quite encouraging.”

Some business sectors are spending more than others. According to Citi’s research, gas utilities are expected to increase their aggregate capital expenditures by a whopping 82 percent this year from 2011—driven no doubt by the boom in natural gas supplies. Multiline retail firms, which include department and general merchandise stores, are expected to increase investments by 62 percent, while IT companies are set to spend 35 percent more this year on communications equipment and computers.

This should all bode well for the jobs picture, since increases in capital spending tend to be accompanied by hiring. After all, if you’re going to buy a new piece of equipment, you’re probably going to need someone to operate it. Levkovich refers to the NFIB’s Hiring Plans Index as a strong leading indicator of the unemployment picture 12 months later, which he points to as evidence for a continued decline in the jobless rate through the rest of 2012. As noted by Tuesday’s Chart of the Day on Bloomberg.com.”


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