March 28, 2011 Article: Mortgage Reform Storm Is Brewing

Not the happiest of housing stories, sounds like we could see mortgage rates start to rise. Article: Mortgage Reform Storm Is Brewing

Tomorrow morning the FDIC will release and vote on proposed risk retention rules for the mortgage market.

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March 13, 2011

Japan Death Toll Climbs Astronomically As Nuclear Crisis Intensifies

This is a sad article about Japan. Hard to believe this has happened.  How scary this must be for all these people.  

Japan Death Toll Climbs Astronomically As Nuclear Crisis Intensifies

Death Toll Estimate in Japan Soars as Relief Efforts Intensify

Toshiyuki Tsunenari/Asahi Shimbun, via Associated Press

A woman amid the debris in Natori. More Photos »

Published: March 13, 2011

SENDAI, Japan — Japan reeled from a rapidly unfolding disaster of epic scale on Sunday, pummeled by the death toll, destruction and homelessness caused by the earthquake and tsunami and new hazards from damaged nuclear reactors that were leaking radiation. The prime minister called it Japan's worst crisis since World War II.

Japan's $5 trillion economy, the third largest in the world, was threatened with severe disruptions and partial paralysis as many industries shut down and the armed forces and volunteers mobilized for the far more urgent effort of finding survivors, evacuating residents near the stricken power plants and caring for the victims of the record 8.9 magnitude quake that struck on Friday.

The disaster has left more than 10,000 people dead, many thousands homeless and millions without water, power, heat or transportation.

The most urgent worries concerned the failures at two reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, where engineers were still struggling Sunday to avert meltdowns and where some radiation had already leaked. Fukushima Daiichi and another power station, Fukushima Daiini, about 10 miles away, have been under a state of emergency since the quake.

The collective anxiety about Japan caused a rout in the Japanese stock market on Monday morning, with the main index falling 5.5 percent, the worst drop in three years.

Worried about the severe strains on the banking and financial systems, the Bank of Japan pumped about $86 billion into the economy on Monday, and the government was discussing an emergency tax increase to help finance relief and recovery work.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company, which operates the country's crippled nuclear power grid, announced a series of rotating blackouts to conserve electricity — the first controlled power cuts in Japan in 60 years.

The death toll was certain to climb as searchers began to reach coastal villages that essentially vanished under the first muddy surge of the tsunami, which struck the nation's northern Pacific coast near the port city of Sendai. In one town alone, the port of Minamisanriku, a senior police official said the number of dead would "certainly be more than 10,000." That is more than half the town's population of 17,000.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan told a news conference in Tokyo late Sunday: "I think that the earthquake, tsunami and the situation at our nuclear reactors makes up the worst crisis in the 65 years since the war. If the nation works together, we will overcome."

The government ordered 100,000 troops — nearly half the country's active military force and the largest mobilization in postwar Japan — to take part in the relief effort. An American naval strike group led by the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan also arrived off Japan on Sunday to help with refueling, supply and rescue duties.

The quake and tsunami did not reach Japan's industrial heartland, although economists said the power blackouts could affect industrial production — notably carmakers, electronics manufacturers and steel plants — and interrupt the nation's famously efficient supply chain. Tourism was also bound to plummet, as the United States, France and other nations urged citizens to avoid traveling to Japan.

AIR Worldwide, a risk consultant in Boston, said its disaster models estimated property damage to be as high as $35 billion. The company said 70 percent of residential construction in Japan was wood, and earthquake insurance was not widely used. 

Amid the despair and mourning, and the worry over an unrelenting series of strong aftershocks, there was one bright moment when the Japanese Navy rescued a 60-year-old man who had been floating at sea for two days.

The man, Hiromitsu Arakawa, clung to the roof of his tiny home in the town of Minamisoma after it was torn from its foundations by the first wave of the tsunami, the Defense Ministry said. He saw his wife slip away in the deluge, but he hung on as the house drifted away. He was discovered late Sunday morning, still on his roof, nine miles south of the town where he lived and nine miles out to sea.

The quake was the strongest to hit Japan, which sits astride the "ring of fire" that marks the most violent seismic activity in the Pacific Basin.

About 80,000 people were ordered to evacuate danger zones around the two compromised atomic facilities in Fukushima Prefecture. Japanese officials reported that 22 people showed signs of radiation exposure and as many as 170 were feared to have been exposed, including some who had been outside one of the plants waiting to be evacuated. Three workers were suffering what medical officials described as full-blown radiation sickness.

In a televised address the trade minister, Banri Kaieda, asked businesses to limit their use of power as they returned to operation on Monday. He asked specifically for nighttime cutbacks of lights and heating. The power company said the rolling blackouts would affect three million customers, including homes and factories.

The Japan Railways Group cut operations at six of its commuters lines and two bullet trains to 20 percent of normal to conserve electricity.

Tokyo and central Japan continued to be struck by aftershocks off the eastern coast of Honshu Island, and United States agencies recorded 90 smaller quakes throughout the day Saturday. A long tremor registering 6.2 caused buildings in central Tokyo to sway dramatically on Sunday morning.

Search teams from more than a dozen nations were bound for Japan, including a unit from New Zealand, which suffered a devastating quake last month in Christchurch. A Japanese team that had been working in New Zealand was called home.

A combined search squad from Los Angeles County and Fairfax County, Va., arrived from the United States with 150 personnel and a dozen dogs that would help in the search for bodies.

Assistance teams also were expected from China and South Korea, two of Japan's most bitter rivals.

Tokyo's acceptance of help — along with a parade of senior officials who offered updates at televised news conferences on Sunday — was in marked contrast to the government's policies after the 1995 Kobe earthquake, which killed more than 6,000 people. Japan refused most offers of aid at the time, put restrictions on foreign aid operations and offered little information about the disaster.

Here in Sendai, a city of roughly a million people near the center of the catastrophe, many buildings cracked but none had collapsed. Still, city officials said that more than 500,000 households and businesses were without water, and many more lacked electricity as well.

Soldiers surrounded Sendai's city hall, where officials were using two floors to shelter evacuees and treat the injured, using power drawn from a generator. Thousands of residents sought refuge inside and waited anxiously for word from their relatives. A line of people waited outside with plastic bottles and buckets in hand to collect water from a pump.

Masaki Kokubum, 35, has been living at the city hall since the quake. He had worked at a supermarket, and his neighborhood lost power and water. He said he had not slept in three days.

"I can't sleep," he said as he sat in a chair in a hallway. "I just sit here and wait."

Martin Fackler reported from Sendai, Japan, and Mark McDonald from Tokyo. Moshe Komata and Hiroko Tabuchi contributed reporting from Tokyo.

Japan Quake Aftermath Remains Hellish: Aftershocks Expected, Towns Disappear, Volcano Erupts [Japan]

My heart goes out to the people of Japan. We are obviously in the "last days" how sad and heart wrenching these pictures.   Our hearts and prayers are with the Japanese People. 

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Japan Quake Aftermath Remains Hellish: Aftershocks Expected, Towns Disappear, Volcano Erupts [Japan]

A car perched precariously on the roof of a small hut. Streets packed curb to rooftop with debris. An unnamed victim's hand, reaching out from the mud. More »

Thanks Billy Bayne

New testament study (gaining a testimony)

John 7:17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.

Testimony comes by faith which is to say that it is in the doing that spiritual confirmation occurs. As we act on spiritual promptings or prove the lord by keeping his commandments we become better able to hear and respond. It is like any practice, as I practice I become better, tasks become easier. If I want a testimony I must practice the underlying principles and then I will gain the testimony.

Missionary letter

This is a great letter to missionaries that would do all good to review.  Thanks to President and Sister Bunker for it. 

A Letter From President Bunker

A Letter From President Bunker

A Letter From President Bunker

March 6, 2011
Dear California Santa Rosa Missionaries,
It was wonderful to see all of you last week in zone conference.  I hope that some of what was discussed during our time together was of benefit to you and to your work.  I hope that we will each contemplate what we might do to better "cleanse the inner vessel" in order to more fully qualify for the trust of our Heavenly Father.  I also hope that we will receive the blessings that have been poured out on us and on our mission with great humility and gratitude.  Let us never become casual or immature with our callings and with our privilege to represent the Lord as a missionary, and to be a son or daughter of Heavenly Father.  I remember Elder Perry powerfully testifying to us in the MTC that as wonderful a person as the prophet was he was still not the head of the church, but rather the Lord Jesus Christ himself was the leader and that in essence, He was not an absent leader.  President Monson has an important role to be sure, but make no mistake about whose church this is and whose name you carry as you go forth to serve and represent both pre and post mission.   This is not the church of a man but of the Lord, Jesus Christ.  Let's all make it our quest to honor Him with our very best efforts.
I would like to talk with you about accountability and responsibility.  In DC 72:3-4 it reads:
"And verily in this thing ye have done wisely, for it is required of the Lord at the hand of every steward to render an account of his stewardship, both in time and in eternity.  For he who is faithful and wise in time is accounted worthy to inherit the mansions prepared for him of my Father."
Wouldn't it be a wonderful occasion to have the Lord pleased with our service by praising us as being wise and faithful?  I think those attributes are closely related and associated with being trusted and obedient.   It also appears from this scripture that we will always be accountable and responsible, even into the eternities!  Some people view accountability and responsibility as pressure and therefore something to be avoided.  While it is true that we can at times be too hard on ourselves to the point of self-deprecation, it is also part of our opportunity on earth to push ourselves beyond that which might just be comfortable.  Our loving and wise Heavenly Father did not send us to this earth so we can avoid hard things, but rather so that we can learn from them in preparation for what we must, and are yet to become. 
We must be able to "see afar off" and also to "see the end from the beginning".  There is purpose to every commandment, covenant, and responsibility that is required by the Lord, and we must have the end vision or result in mind before we begin our choice of decisions we make in life.  Elder Hafen has said that, "We can have eternal life, but only if there is nothing else we want more."  That concept is true of every decision and choice in our life.  We may not have control over our circumstances in life, but we have total control in how we choose to respond or react to our circumstances.  We also know that the Lord will give us no temptation or trial that we cannot bear or endure.  It is Satan who wants us to believe that our responsibilities are too much and that it is just not realistic to think we can live up to the standards of the Lord.  That is the great lie of Satan.  Never fall for it even if the world does!  
As you think about where you are in your life and as you contemplate your choices of today and in the future, remember this important process for not only your missionary service but also as a blueprint for your entire life:
"A goal without a vision is a drudgery, and a vision without a goal is day dreaming."  
Vision — the why we do.
Goals — the what we do.
Plans  – the how and when we do.
I know that there are times in your mission when you get tired, discouraged, and wonder if you are really doing any good.  You will experience some of those same feelings in your life post-mission too.  I promise you that you are doing a great deal of good—more than you will be able to fully know and understand while you are yet here!  Blessings come after the trial of our faith and the Lord asks us to go the second mile because that is where all the blessings are, and yet many times we can't fully see the blessings or understand them until some time has passed.   Most of the time we are able to see things as they really are and as they really will be with a little time and perspective.  In the meantime, we must believe and obey with love and faith.
Establish a vision in your mind of your mission, your areas, your companions, and your investigators.  Then set goals and make plans.  Use this pattern with every phase of your life including your future spouse, your vocation, your schooling, and most importantly your relationship with your Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.  See your end from your beginning and do not allow Satan to distract you and keep you from your eternal destiny.  Do not lose hope or faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ.  Hold steady and fast to the iron rod and pray with earnest for strength and for the spirit.  Do not despair if you have sin and weakness.  Do not despair if the twist and turns of life give you circumstances that you weren't expecting or that you want.  Have the courage and the love for yourself and your future to always confess, repent, and to turn away from the darkness and come back again into the light of the gospel.  Elder Boyd K. Packer has said that the man who is one mile from hell but is turning his life around and heading in the opposite direction is better off than a man who is 100 miles from hell but heading straight towards it.
Let's not be afraid of responsibility and it's accompanying accountability.  It is a privilege to be blessed to know what we know and to bring to the world the gospel.  Don't worry about your inadequacies and weakness.  The Lord will magnify you and quicken you.  In fact, He already has and continues to do so.  See yourself as He sees you.  Have a vision, set goals, and make plans.  Never forget who is leading this church and who has called you.
I love each of you dearly and I pray for your continued success and happiness.
All my love,
President Bunker 

Former Google CEO Issues Dire Warning About China

Concerning article. The double edge of globalization. Guns and butter can be so complicated.  Former Google CEO Issues Dire Warning About Ch...