Poverty, Pension Fears Drive Japan’s Elderly Citizens to Crime


Elderly customers shop in a grocery store in Tokyo, Aug. 12, 2005. Photographer: Haruyoshi Yamaguchi/Bloomberg News

Nov. 14 (Bloomberg) — More senior citizens are picking pockets and shoplifting in Japan to cope with cuts in government welfare spending and rising health-care costs in a fast-ageing society.

Criminal offences by people 65 or older doubled to 48,605 in the five years to 2008, the most since police began compiling national statistics in 1978, a Ministry of Justice report said.

Theft is the most common crime of senior citizens, many of whom face declining health, low incomes and a sense of isolation, the report said. Elderly crime may increase in parallel with poverty rates as Japan enters another recession and the budget deficit makes it harder for the government to provide a safety net for people on the fringes of society.

“The elderly are turning to shoplifting as an increasing number of them lack assets and children to depend on,” Masahiro Yamada, a sociology professor at Chuo University in Tokyo and an author of books on income disparity in Japan, said in an interview yesterday. “We won’t see the decline of elderly crimes as long as the income gap continues to rise.”

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Family homelessness rising in the United States


A man sweeps the area outside his tent with a broken broom at “tent city”, a terminus for the homeless in Ontario, a suburb outside Los Angeles, California December 19, 2007. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President-elect Barack Obama has vowed to help middle-class U.S. homeowners facing foreclosure, but he has said little about how he will help low-income families made homeless by a worsening economy.

Obama has spoken broadly about boosting affordable housing and restoring public housing subsidies. But with economists forecasting a deep recession in 2009, he may find it hard to find the money to fulfill those promises soon.

At the same time, advocacy groups and the country’s czar for combating homelessness say immediate action is needed to halt the foreclosures of tens of thousands of homes and rehouse thousands of families amid the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

“President-elect Obama understands the economy will only get back on track if we end the foreclosure crisis. And he realizes that part of ending the crisis is both preventing and ending homelessness for families losing their homes,” said Jeremy Rosen of the National Policy and Advocacy Council on Homelessness.

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World is facing a natural resources crisis worse than financial crunch

• Two planets need by 2030 at this rate, warns report
• Humans using 30% more resources than sustainable

The world is heading for an “ecological credit crunch” far worse than the current financial crisis because humans are over-using the natural resources of the planet, an international study warns today.

The Living Planet report calculates that humans are using 30% more resources than the Earth can replenish each year, which is leading to deforestation, degraded soils, polluted air and water, and dramatic declines in numbers of fish and other species. As a result, we are running up an ecological debt of $4tr (£2.5tr) to $4.5tr every year – double the estimated losses made by the world’s financial institutions as a result of the credit crisis – say the report’s authors, led by the conservation group WWF, formerly the World Wildlife Fund. The figure is based on a UN report which calculated the economic value of services provided by ecosystems destroyed annually, such as diminished rainfall for crops or reduced flood protection.

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Homeless numbers are alarming


Thomas Malinowski, 48, who lived on New York’s streets for 13 years, sits on his cot in the “Safe Haven” shelter in Manhattan on January 21, 2007.

FORECLOSURES INCREASING

A surge in families seeking housing aid or shelter has followed rising home foreclosures nationwide.

Foreclosures Jan.-Aug.

2006: 801,354

2007: 1,341,295

2008: 2,049,782

Source: RealtyTrac

More families with children are becoming homeless as they face mounting economic pressures, including mortgage foreclosures, according to a USA TODAY survey of a dozen of the largest cities in the nation.

Local authorities say the number of families seeking help has risen in Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Minneapolis, New York, Phoenix, Portland, Seattle and Washington.

“Everywhere I go, I hear there is an increase” in the need for housing aid, especially for families, says Philip Mangano, executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, which coordinates federal programs. He says the main causes are job losses and foreclosures.

Other factors have been higher food and fuel prices hitting families with “no cushion,” says Nan Roman of the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

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Hedge Fund Manager: Goodbye and F—- You

From the Scorched Earth Files:

Andrew Lahde, manager of a small California hedge fund, Lahde Capital, burst into the spotlight last year after his one-year-old fund returned 866 percent betting against the subprime collapse.

Last month, he did the unthinkable — he shut things down, claiming dealing with his bank counterparties had become too risky. Today, Lahde passed along his “goodbye” letter, a rollicking missive on everything from greed to economic philosophy. Enjoy.

Today I write not to gloat. Given the pain that nearly everyone is experiencing, that would be entirely inappropriate. Nor am I writing to make further predictions, as most of my forecasts in previous letters have unfolded or are in the process of unfolding. Instead, I am writing to say goodbye.

Recently, on the front page of Section C of the Wall Street Journal, a hedge fund manager who was also closing up shop (a $300 million fund), was quoted as saying, “What I have learned about the hedge fund business is that I hate it.” I could not agree more with that statement. I was in this game for the money. The low hanging fruit, i.e. idiots whose parents paid for prep school, Yale, and then the Harvard MBA, was there for the taking. These people who were (often) truly not worthy of the education they received (or supposedly received) rose to the top of companies such as AIG, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers and all levels of our government. All of this behavior supporting the Aristocracy, only ended up making it easier for me to find people stupid enough to take the other side of my trades. God bless America.

There are far too many people for me to sincerely thank for my success. However, I do not want to sound like a Hollywood actor accepting an award. The money was reward enough. Furthermore, the endless list those deserving thanks know who they are.

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Lahde quits hedge funds, thanking “stupid” traders for making him rich.

NEW YORK, Oct 17 (Reuters) – Andrew Lahde, the hedge fund founder who shot to fame with his small fund that soared 870 percent last year on bets against U.S. subprime home loans, has called it quits, thanking “stupid” traders for making him rich.

In a biting, but humorous letter to investors posted on the website of Portfolio magazine on Friday, Lahde told investors last month he will no longer manage money because his bank counterparties had become too risky.

Lahde ripped his profession in the letter. He noted another hedge-fund manager who recently closed shop and was quoted in The Wall Street Journal as saying: “What I have learned about the hedge fund business is that I hate it.” To which Lahde responded, “I could not agree more with that statement.

“The low-hanging fruit, i.e. idiots whose parents paid for prep school, Yale and then the Harvard MBA, was there for the taking,” said Lahde, who according to the website birthdates.com is 37.

“These people who were (often) truly not worthy of the education they received (or supposedly received) rose to the top of companies such as AIG, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers and all levels of our government. All of this behavior supporting the Aristocracy, only ended up making it easier for me to find people stupid enough to take the other side of my trades. God bless America.”

Read moreLahde quits hedge funds, thanking “stupid” traders for making him rich.

Police clash with police in Brazil violence

Striking police officers were embroiled in a mass-melee with hundreds of their own colleagues in riot gear who policed their protest, amid bizarre scenes in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo.

The clashes between state police and plainclothes investigators last night came after the demonstrators tried to break through a barrier protecting the state government palace. Officers fired shots, tear gas and shock bombs, and the scuffles broke out.

Critics will highlight the incident as another example of the chaotic and dysfunctional nature of policing in Brazil. Last year, the UN pointed out that very low salaries – over which officers are currently striking – encourage widespread corruption, with many police units forming their own vigilante groups, death squads and militias.

It also sharply criticised Brazilian police for major human rights violations, pointing out that many of the 694 deaths caused by officers between January and June 2007 in Rio were likely to have been extra-judicial killings.

Officers are also known to engage in gunfire with Rio’s heavily armed drug gangs. Innocent civilians are often caught in the crossfire.

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Glenn Beck: There is a global meltdown coming. It is a global depression.

CNN’s Glenn Beck warns of the New World Order

“There is a global meltdown coming. It is a global depression. And one world currency and one world financial system is the endgame… China said last week they want one global currency. France said yesterday they want one world order – a ‘New World Order’ at the end of this event.”


Added: Oct. 09, 2008

Source: YouTube

With Spotlight on Pirates, Somalis on Land Waste Away in the Shadows


Above, a severely malnourished baby lay unresponsive on Thursday as the mother and father sat nearby in a feeding center in Afgooye, Somalia.

AFGOOYE, Somalia – Just step into a feeding center here, and the sense of hopelessness is overwhelming.

Dozens of women sit with listless babies in their laps, snapping their fingers, trying to get a flicker of life out of their dying children.

Little eyes close. Wizened 1-year-olds struggle to breathe. This is the place where help is supposed to be on its way. But the nurses in the filthy smocks are besieged. From the doorway, you can see the future of Somalia fading away.

While the audacity of a band of Somali pirates who hijacked a ship full of weapons has grabbed the world’s attention, it is the slow-burn suffering of millions of Somalis that seems to go almost unnoticed.

The suffering is not new. Or especially surprising. This country on the edge of Africa has been slowly, but inexorably, sliding toward an abyss for the past year and a half – or, some would argue, for the past 17. United Nations officials have called Somalia “the forgotten crisis.”

Read moreWith Spotlight on Pirates, Somalis on Land Waste Away in the Shadows

India terrorised by holy war

A holy war in India has left tens of thousands of Christians crammed into relief camps, too scared to return home following weeks of clashes with Hindu mobs in which at least 35 people have died.

More than 40,000 Christians have had to flee their homes in Kandhamal district, one of India’s poorest, in the eastern state of Orissa. Their homes have been systematically attacked, looted and burned down by Hindu mobs since the end of August as the local police have looked on helplessly.

“Villagers have threatened to kill me because I am a Christian. They have said I will be welcome back only if I change my religion and become a Hindu,” said Jibit Kumar Digal, 30, who has spent over a month in a relief camp at Baliguda, 200 south west of the provincial capital Bhubaneswar.

Aligned to the radical Hindu Opposition Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), the marauding mobs supported by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad or World Hindu Council, are alleged to have killed Christians by burnign them alive, gang-raped a nun and destroyed over 140 churches and orphanages across Kandhamal.

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