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U.K. House Prices Increase Most Since 2007, Land Registry Says

May 31, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

““The economic fundamentals are still far from robust for the housing market,” Howard Archer, an economist at IHS Global Insight in London, said in a research note today. “House prices are likely to be erratic over the coming months and at best will make very modest gains over the rest of the year.””

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Henderson Plans 45,000 Housing Units, Lee Says

May 31, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

“Henderson Land Development Co. plans four new residential projects in Hong Kong containing 45,000 units and 32 million square feet, the company’s Chairman Lee Shau-kee told reporters today.”

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The $5 Trillion Debt Tsunami

May 31, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

“All real estate is local. But all mortgage bubbles are national. This is true especially in markets – and we won’t name names – where most of the lending is concentrated in just a few issues. This tells you where lending risk resides in a financial system. In the U.S. subprime bubble, that risk was transferred from the loan originator to investors, via Wall Street’s securitisation machine.”

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Venting Online, Consumers Can Find Themselves in Court

May 31, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

“The plaintiffs are not necessarily expecting to succeed — most do not — but rather to intimidate critics who are inclined to back down when faced with the prospect of a long, expensive court battle.”

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It’s Mandelman on The Real Estate Guys Radio Show!

May 31, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

“The thing is, the show was done last fall, so I wasn’t really sure it would still be relevant today, but luckily for me… we’ve made no progress whatsoever in the loan modification department, so if I did the show today, I’d be saying pretty much the same stuff. How lucky is that?”

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Memorial Day Book List

May 31, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Charles Hugh Smith, OFTWOMINDS

by Charles Hugh Smith

Learning about past and present wars is one way of honoring those who sacrificed so much in those conflicts.

Today we honor those citizens who made sacrifices that are incomprehensible to those of us who have not experienced combat or the horrors of being prisoners of war.

Despite the senselessness and waste of war, it seems that the capacity to wage war is innate in humanity; even usually peaceful chimpanzees will eradicate a weaker nearby troop which is competing for limited resources.

Within any society there is always a latent class of warriors–sometimes reluctant, sometimes not. When there is no war, these citizens must divert their talents into other pursuits; in peace their warrior natures are often under-appreciated or even scorned. And then when war comes, we turn to these citizens.

As incomprehensible as it may be to others, the warrior is not just drawn to war; it is not in his/her nature to miss it for anything in the world.

Even if we hate war with every fiber of our beings, the history of our nation (and most other nations) pivots on wars and even specific battles. Over the years, knowledgeable readers have recommended a variety of books on war, and those who have fought them.

Learning their stories is one way of honoring our warriors, eager and reluctant alike. To know nothing of them and their sacrifices is not just ignorance, it is an insult. With that solemn thought, I offer this list of recommended books.

Like most people, my own interests and family have guided my reading. I read Prisoners of the Japanese: Pows of World War II in the Pacific because it was written by my friend (and eminent historian) Gavan Daws. My father served in the Pacific Theater in World War Two, my uncle served in the European Theater (8th Air Force, B-17s) and my grandfather had served in a “4-stack” destroyer just after World War One, so these eras are naturally engaging. I know so many combat veterans of the Vietnam War that my interest in their stories is also natural.

My wife’s uncle Jackson Tsue served in the storied amd much decorated 442nd Combat Regiment Team–his name is on the monument to the 442nd in downtown Los Angeles, at the “Go For Broke” National Education Center which we visited in 2007.

As for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, a number of readers of this blog, as well as our friends and family members in the Marine Corps and U.S. Army, have served active duty in those conflicts, and it is our obligation as citizens to try to understand what they have experienced and sacrificed, and what memories will remain with them for the rest of their days.

Here are the lists. There are thousands of books on these topics and this is but a tiny selection, but it is a start.

The Rhythm of War
by Terence Parker

War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning

The Father of Us All: War and History, Ancient and Modern

The Soul of Battle: From Ancient Times to the Present Day, How Three Great Liberators Vanquished Tyranny

A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War

Brave New War: The Next Stage of Terrorism and the End of Globalization

Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant

The Pursuit of Victory: The Life and Achievement of Horatio Nelson

The Art Of War by Sun Tzu

For God and Glory: Lord Nelson and His Way of War

Vietnam

Big Story: How the American Press and Television Reported and Interpreted the Crisis of Tet 1968 in Vietnam and Washington

About Face/the Odyssey of an American Warrior

Dispatches

Prisoner of War: Six Years in Hanoi

Iraq/Mideast

Through Our Enemies’ Eyes: Osama bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of Americaby Michael Scheuer

The Occupation of Iraq: Winning the War, Losing the Peace by Ali A. Allawi

Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq by Thomas E. Ricks

Licensed to Kill: Hired Guns in the War on Terror by Robert Young Pelton

World War II

Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War
William Manchester

The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill (two volumes)
William Manchester

American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur
William Manchester

With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa
Eugene Sledge

Prisoners of the Japanese: Pows of World War II in the Pacific
Gavan Daws

The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The U.S. Navy’s Finest Hour
James D. Hornfischer

Miracle at Midway
Gordon Prange

Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway
Jonathan Parshall and Anthony Tully

Winds of War\War and Remembrance
Herman Wouk

Unlikely Liberators: The Men of the 100th and 442nd
Masayo Duus and Peter Duus

The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II
Iris Chang

Stones from the River
by Ursula Hegi

I Will Bear Witness 1942-1945: A Diary of the Nazi Years

Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911-45

The Collapse of the Third Republic: An Inquiry into the Fall of France in 1940

World War Two:
recommended by Lloyd L.

Flights of Passage: Recollections of a World War II Aviator Samuel Hynes

We Few: The Marine Corps 400 in the War Against Japan
Bill Dickenson

My Father’s War: A Son’s Journey Peter Richmond

Tennozan: The Battle of Okinawa and the Atomic Bomb George Feifer

Helmet For My Pillow Robert Leckie

Iwo Jima: Legacy of Valor Bill Ross

The Peenemunde Raid: The Night of 17-18 August 1943 Martin Middlebrook

Tarawa: The Story of a Battle Robert Sherrod

Stopped at Stalingrad: The Luftwaffe and Hitler’s Defeat in the East, 1942-1943 Joel Hayward

Saving the Breakout: The 30th Division’s Heroic Stand at Mortain, August 7-12, 1944Alwyn Featherston

Hell in Hürtgen Forest: The Ordeal and Triumph of an American Infantry Regiment Robert Rush

A Bridge Too Far: The Classic History of the Greatest Battle of World War II Cornelius Ryan

The Fall of Berlin 1945 Anthony Beevor

Recommended by John U.

The Forgotten Soldier Guy Sajer

The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom Slavomir Rawicz

I Will Bear Witness 1942-1945: A Diary of the Nazi Years

World War One:

Recommended by John U.

Mud Beneath My Boots: A Poignant Memoir of the Effects of War on a Young New Zealander
Allan Marriott

Recommended by Lloyd L.

Goodbye to All That

The Guns of August

The Great War and Modern Memory

Unknown Soldiers: The Story of the Missing of the First World War

Duffy’s War: Fr. Francis Duffy, Wild Bill Donovan, and the Irish Fighting 69th in World War I

The Doughboys: The story of the AEF, 1917-1918

The First Day on the Somme

The Roses of No Man’s Land

Storm of Steel

The Arms of Krupp

Documentaries/films

Lessons of Darkness
(documentary on the oil fires lit by Iraqi forces in Desert Storm, by Werner Herzog)

Thank you, Raymond W. ($20), for your exceptionally generous donation to the site– I am greatly honored by your support and readership. Thank you, Russ J. ($50), for your second staggeringly generous donation to the site– I am greatly honored by your encouragement and readership.

Go to my main site at www.oftwominds.com/blog.html
for the full posts and archives.


More articles from Charles Hugh Smith….

ECB Conducts Third Sterilization Procedure, To Withdraw Another €35 Billion In Liquidity

May 31, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Zero Hedge


The ECB just can’t make up its mind these days. First it launches a preemptive form of QE, then its directors write lengthy essays against those (cough, Germany, cough) who say its policies are flawed and inflationary, and now after flooding the market with cash, it continues to rush to take the extra liquidity out of the market. As announced earlier on its website, the ECB will withdraw another €35 billion in liquidity in the form of a one-week variable-rate tender capped at 1%, to be conducted on June 1 at 11:30 am. This is the same as the amount of government bonds purchased by the bank in the prior week, thus undoing all temporary QE benefits in the span of 7 days. This is the third and so far largest “sterilization” tender conducted in the past three weeks: the first and second were for €16.5 and €26.5, respectively.

From the ECB:

As announced by the Governing Council on 10 May 2010, the
ECB will conduct specific operations in order to re-absorb
the liquidity injected through the Securities Markets
Programme. In this regard, the ECB will carry out a quick
tender on 01 June at 11.30 in order to collect one-week
fixed-term deposits with settlement day on 02 June. A variable
rate tender with a maximum bid rate of 1.00% will be applied
and the ECB intends to absorb an amount of EUR 35 billion.
The latter corresponds to the size of the Securities Markets
Programme, taking into account transactions with settlement
at or before Friday 28 May.
The benchmark allotment amount
in MROs takes into account the liquidity effect of non standard
measures, assuming an unchanged size of the Securities Markets
Programme and full sterilisation of this amount via the above
mentioned liquidity-absorbing operation. Fixed term deposits
held with the Eurosystem are eligible as collateral for the
Eurosystem’s credit operations. The ECB intends to carry out
another liquidity-absorbing operation next week.

The problem is the ECB has no clue what is being percevied as more favorable by the market – the injection of liquidity or the withdrawal. With a 168 hour full cycle from QE to fixed-term tenders, the market basically knows the fully discount any short-term liquidity activity by the schizophrenic bank, which is demonstrating the kind of indecisivness that our own Fed hates, and an on-again/off-again accomodative relationship with Germany, which however may be too little too late.

More articles from Zero Hedge….

Israeli Defense Forces Release Video Of Violence Aboard Turkish Ship

May 31, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Zero Hedge


The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) – Naval Forces has released a recording, and their summarized version of events that transpired in real-time on board the assaulted Turkish ship early this morning. Obviously, this is just one side of the story – we would certainly appreciate Wikileaks’ or some other independent arbiter’s perspective on how the other side was interpreting the situation as it was developing, and resulting in over 16 casualties so far. One wonders how many Israeli soldiers were killed during the clash? Warning: video is graphic.

Here is the official statement from the IDF NF on the tragic events from last night:

Early this morning, IDF Naval Forces boarded six ships attempting to break the maritime closure of the Gaza Strip. This happened after numerous warnings from Israel and the Israeli Navy that were issued prior to the action. The Israel Navy requested the ships to redirect toward Ashdod where they would be able to unload their aid supplies which would then be transferred over land after undergoing security inspections.

During the boarding of the ships, the demonstrators onboard attacked the IDF Naval personnel with live fire and light weaponry including knives and clubs. Additionally one of the weapons used was grabbed from an IDF soldier. The demonstrators had clearly prepared their weapons in advance for this specific purpose.

As a result of this life-threatening and violent activity, naval forces employed riot dispersal means, as well as live fire.

According to initial reports, these events resulted in the deaths of nine demonstrators and seven naval personnel were injured, some from gunfire and some from various other weapons. Two of the soldiers are moderately wounded and the remainder sustained light injuries. All of the injured, Israelis and foreigners have been evacuated by helicopter to hospitals in Israel.

Reports from IDF forces on the scene are that it seems as if part of the participants onboard the ships were planning to lynch the forces.

The interception of the flotilla followed numerous warnings given to the organizers of the flotilla before leaving their ports as well as while sailing towards the Gaza Strip. In these warnings, it was made clear to the organizers that they could dock in the Ashdod sea port and unload the equipment they are carrying in order to deliver it to the Gaza Strip in an orderly manner, following the appropriate security checks. Upon expressing their unwillingness to cooperate and arrive at the port, it was decided to board the ships and lead them to Ashdod.

IDF naval personnel encountered severe violence, including use of weaponry prepared in advance in order to attack and to harm them. The forces operated in adherence with operational commands and took all necessary actions in order to avoid violence, but to no avail.

Early this morning, IDF Naval Forces boarded six ships attempting to break the maritime closure of the Gaza Strip. This happened after numerous warnings from Israel and the Israeli Navy that were issued prior to the action. The Israel Navy requested the ships to redirect toward Ashdod where they would be able to unload their aid supplies which would then be transferred over land after undergoing security inspections.

During the boarding of the ships, the demonstrators onboard attacked the IDF Naval personnel with live fire and light weaponry including knives and clubs. Additionally one of the weapons used was grabbed from an IDF soldier. The demonstrators had clearly prepared their weapons in advance for this specific purpose.

As a result of this life-threatening and violent activity, naval forces employed riot dispersal means, as well as live fire.

According to initial reports, these events resulted in the deaths of nine demonstrators and seven naval personnel were injured, some from gunfire and some from various other weapons. Two of the soldiers are moderately wounded and the remainder sustained light injuries. All of the injured, Israelis and foreigners have been evacuated by helicopter to hospitals in Israel.

?Reports from IDF forces on the scene are that it seems as if part of the participants onboard the ships were planning to lynch the forces.??The interception of the flotilla followed numerous warnings given to the organizers of the flotilla before leaving their ports as well as while sailing towards the Gaza Strip. In these warnings, it was made clear to the organizers that they could dock in the Ashdod sea port and unload the equipment they are carrying in order to deliver it to the Gaza Strip in an orderly manner, following the appropriate security checks. Upon expressing their unwillingness to cooperate and arrive at the port, it was decided to board the ships and lead them to Ashdod.??

IDF naval personnel encountered severe violence, including use of weaponry prepared in advance in order to attack and to harm them. The forces operated in adherence with operational commands and took all necessary actions in order to avoid violence, but to no avail.

Full video:

An “on the ground” perspective provided by Al Jazeera indicates a materially different interpretation of events:

More articles from Zero Hedge….

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan Brands Israel Violence As "State Terrorism"

May 31, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Zero Hedge


From Reuters:

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Monday accused Israel of state terrorism after Israeli marines stormed a Turkish aid ship bound for Gaza.

“This action, totally contrary to the principles of international law, is inhumane state terrorism. Nobody should think we will keep quiet in the face of this,” Erdogan told reporters from Chile, where he was cutting short an official visit to Latin America to deal with the crisis.

More articles from Zero Hedge….

Proof Media in Total Moral Hazard When Forbes Compares BP with Goldman

May 31, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Zero Hedge


By Static Chaos

When a major mainstream media like Forbes compares BP with Goldman Sachs and recommends investors to buy Goldman stocks, you know the world is in total moral hazard and deserved to be doomed as Marc Faber always said.    

Since Forbes is a financial publication, I will refute based on the investment thesis first.  Granted both stocks are high risk plays right now, but I’d venture to say compared to Goldman, BP is obviously oversold and a victim of media hype and Whitehouse populist approach.

This conclusion is based on BP dividend yield (currently close to 7%), a strong average annual compound rate of return of 17.9% since 1977 vs. 10.7% from S&P, the growth prospect of crude oil and low forward P/E ratio of 5.64. 

The in-depth Chart of Day story of BP on May 6 by Bloomberg (Chart below) should more than confirm my conclusion about BP stocks from a technical point of view. 

Throughout its history, Goldman has been shortchanging retail investors by abusing its market position, which by the way, is put in place partly by the taxpayers’ money. Sure, there were a few “official investigations” throughout the years, but basically went nowhere most likely due to the Vampire Squid’s deep pocket, massive legal team, and far reaching influential tentacles into many related government agencies.
 
Now, the SEC finally got the ball to bring a civil suit holding Goldman responsible for misstating and omitting key facts about a financial product tied to subprime mortgages as the U.S. housing market was beginning to falter. I will not go into the detail here of how Goldman knowingly contribute to the subprime crisis, which is the closet point of origin of the financial crisis leading to the current “Great Recession” and the 9.5% jobless rate.
 
This is not to excuse BP for the Gulf oil spill mess. The environmental and economic impact has yet to be fully assessed. But one thing people seem to have chosen to ignore is that BP has paid and will be paying for a long time to come for this mistake ($930 million to date). But where is Goldman on this?? 
 
Almost 1,300 vessels are now involved in the response effort. Other oil companies are also helping BP in the Gulf including the world’s top supermajor–ExxonMobile–by providing personnel and vessels. The entire oil industry will bear the brunt of the public outrage and is already working together to improve safety and engineering process and procedure to prevent any future similar incidents.
 
In contrast, posturing aside, Goldman is yet to even formally acknowledge any misdeed.  The entire financial industry, instead of looking into self reform, is fighting tooth and nail with Washington on the proposed financial reform.  Many are talking about setting up offshore shops to avoid the regulatory “burden”.  

Meanwhile, the swify regulatory backlash is coming down hard on the oil industry as we speak to “reform” the drilling safety standard, while a meaningful financial reform act is yet to materialize in our life time.

So excuse me for being more than outraged when Forbes dares to compare BP with Goldman, and the biased-agenda-motivated moral hazard the mainstream media have been brain-washing upon the public. 

More articles from Zero Hedge….

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