Showing posts with label japan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label japan. Show all posts

Thursday, May 03, 2012

15 million of world's babies are born prematurely

beautiful babies photos
A mother carrying her unnamed twin baby, 11 days old, in a Care center
WASHINGTON (AP) -- About 15 million premature babies are born every year - more than 1 in 10 of the world's births and a bigger problem than previously believed, according to the first country-by-country estimates of this obstetric epidemic.

The startling toll: 1.1 million of these fragile newborns die as a result, and even those who survive can suffer lifelong disabilities.

Most of the world's preemies are born in Africa and Asia, says the report released Wednesday.

It's a problem for the U.S., too, where half a million babies are born too soon. That's about 1 in 8 U.S. births, a higher rate than in Europe, Canada, Australia or Japan - and even worse than rates in a number of less developed countries, too, the report found.

But the starkest difference between rich and poorer countries: Survival.

"Being born too soon is an unrecognized killer," said Dr. Joy Lawn of Save the Children, who co-authored the report with the March of Dimes, World Health Organization and a coalition of international health experts. "And it's unrecognized in the countries where you could have a massive effect in reducing these deaths."

Sophisticated and expensive intensive care saves the majority of preterm babies in the U.S. and other developed nations, even the tiniest, most premature ones. The risk of death from prematurity is at least 12 times higher for an African newborn than for a European baby, the report found.

Globally, prematurity is not only the leading killer of newborns but the second-leading cause of death in children under 5.

"These facts should be a call to action," United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wrote in an introduction to the report.

Three-quarters of the deaths could be prevented by spreading some simple, inexpensive treatments to the neediest countries, the report concludes. For example, providing $1 steroid shots during preterm labor hastens development of immature fetal lungs. They're standard in developed countries; wider use in low-income countries could save nearly 400,000 babies a year.

Even more lives could be saved by teaching "kangaroo care," in which moms carry their tiny babies nestled skin-to-skin on their bare chests for warmth when there are no incubators.

"To see babies who are 900 grams (about 2 pounds) survive without any technology, it's fantastic," says Lawn, who has watched kangaroo care save lives in countries like Malawi, with the highest preterm birth rate - 18.1 percent.

Also needed: Antibiotics to fight the infections that often kill newborns, and antiseptic cream to prevent umbilical cord infection.

Survival isn't the only hurdle. No one knows how many preemies suffer disabilities including cerebral palsy, blindness or learning disorders.

That's why preventing preterm births in the first place is the ultimate goal, one reason for comparing countries - to learn why some do better and some worse. Previously, the groups had estimated that 13 million babies were born prematurely each year, based on regional data.

About 12 percent of U.S. births are preterm, about the same as Wednesday's report estimates in Thailand, Turkey and Somalia. In contrast, just 5.9 percent of births in Japan and Sweden are premature.

Experts can't fully explain why the U.S. preemie rate is so much worse than similar high-income countries. But part of the reason must be poorer access to prenatal care for uninsured U.S. women, especially minority mothers-to-be, said March of Dimes epidemiologist Christopher Howson. African-American women are nearly twice as likely as white women to receive late or no prenatal care, and they have higher rates of preterm birth as well, he said.

More disturbing, the report ranks the U.S. with a worse preterm birth rate than 58 of the 65 countries that best track the problem, including much of Latin America. Add dozens of poor countries where the counts are less certain, and the report estimates that 127 other nations may have lower rates.

Whatever the precise numbers, "we have a shared problem among all countries and we need a shared solution," Howson said.

One key: Not just early prenatal care but more preconception care, he said. Given that in the U.S. alone, nearly half of pregnancies are unplanned, health providers should use any encounter with a woman of childbearing age to check for factors that could imperil a pregnancy.

"Ensure that mom goes into her pregnancy as healthy as possible," Howson said.

Scientists don't know what causes all preterm birth, and having one preemie greatly increases the risk for another. But among the risk factors:

-Diabetes, high blood pressure, infections and smoking.

-Being underweight or overweight, and spacing pregnancies less than two years apart.

-Pregnancy before age 17 or over 40.

-Carrying twins or more.

-In wealthier countries, early elective inductions and C-sections.

"A healthy baby is worth the wait," Howson said, noting that being even a few weeks early can increase the risk of respiratory problems, jaundice, even death.

The WHO defines a preterm birth as before completion of the 37th week of pregnancy. Most preemies fall in the "late preterm" category, born between 32 and 37 weeks. Extreme preemies are born before 28 weeks. So-called "very preterm" babies fall in between.

Lawn's biggest frustration is how often later preemies die in low-income countries because even the health providers may not know simple steps that might save them - and the fatalism around those deaths.

"If you're in the States and have a preterm baby now, even at 25 weeks you've got a 50 percent chance of survival and people expect that. Whereas in Ghana, if a baby's born 2 months early, people kind of expect the baby to die," she said.

News by AP

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Japanese Hermit Spends 20 Years Naked On Secluded Island Of Sotobanari

naked man
Japanese Hermit
Some might say he's gone nuts.

A 76-year-old man has decided to spend the latter part of his life in almost complete seclusion on the desert island Sotobanari -- and he's been naked almost the entire time.

Masafumi Nagasaki has lived on the island west of Japan's Okinawa prefecture for two decades, and has no plans to leave.

He told a photographer that he used to clothe himself when boats went by out of embarrassment, but now his vow of nakedness is going strong. He said he wanted to live alone -- besides a few trips a month for food and fresh water -- simply to get away from it all.

News by Huffingtonpost

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Places where people live the longest

Monaco, the beautiest city of the world
Top 10 Hotspots for Human Longevity

In 1513, Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León set sail in search of Bimini, a mythical land said to house a spring that restored youth to anyone who drank from it. After scouring the Caribbean and Florida, he returned empty-handed, and the Fountain of Youth remained undiscovered. Perhaps he was just looking in the wrong place.

As part of their data collection for the World Factbook, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) combs through death certificates, recording race, gender, cause of death, and other factors to estimate the life expectancy of a nation's entire population. Calculating the average life expectancy of the world's total population at 67.59 years, the CIA has determined which societies live longer.

In the United states, average life expectancy is 78.49 years, well above the world's norm. Many experts attribute this to ongoing medical developments, which have dealt with conditions that used to mow us down early. Meanwhile, nations without advanced medical care report a much shorter life expectancy. For instance, citizens of the Republic of Chad in central Africa are only expected to live until their late 40s.

Despite the fact that the average American lives into his or her late 70s, the United States ranks 50th on the CIA's life expectancy list. According to the World Factbook, these 10 nations seem to have discovered the secret to longevity--no magical spring water required.
10. Italy


Average Life Expectancy: 81.86 years

Italians live an average of 3.37 years longer than Americans. Many experts draw a connection between their longevity and diet--which is more than just pasta, meat, and cheese. The Mediterranean diet is credited with lowering the risk for all sorts of diseases. The antioxidants found in olive oil and red wine--two key features of an Italian meal--can improve cholesterol, prevent blood clots, and stave off heart disease, according to the American Heart Association. Italians also rely on spices like basil, oregano, and garlic to flavor their cuisine, while Americans depend heavily on salt. As such, Italians improve their odds against high blood pressure and stroke.

9. Australia


Average Life Expectancy: 81.90 years

Australia's long life expectancy can be attributed to several factors, including relatively low smoking and obesity rates, as well as an active lifestyle enjoyed by its citizens. But many Australian medical experts insist that the secret to Aussies' longevity is universal healthcare. While the ability to obtain healthcare in the United States depends heavily on employment status and personal wealth, Australians have access to necessary care no matter how much they make. That said, Aussies shouldn't get too comfortable; the obesity rate is steadily climbing, which could undercut their longevity in years ahead.

8. Hong Kong

Hong Kong
Hong Kong

Average Life Expectancy: 82.12 years

Hong Kongers can expect to live nearly four years longer than Americans. Like Italians, people from Hong Kong can partly attribute their longer lives to their diet--rice, vegetables, and tofu are staples--and active lifestyle. Hong Kong reports a much lower obesity level than the United States does, as well as fewer instances of obesity-related health conditions, like diabetes.

7. Guernsey


Average Life Expectancy: 82.24 years

This small island in the English Channel is not a member of the United Kingdom or the European Union, despite being a British crown dependency. Its independence means Guernsey has not been affected by its neighbors' flailing economies. How does this tie into the long life expectancies of Channel Islanders? One theory: Guernsey residents live longer because they are wealthy, which affords them above-average healthcare and better nutrition. Channel Islanders are well-off, thanks to Guernsey's extremely low tax rates and high-paying jobs.

6. Andorra


Average Life Expectancy: 82.50 years

Several factors may explain why Andorrans outlive residents of other countries. First, this tiny nation, sandwiched between France and Spain in the Pyrenees mountains, promotes an active, outdoor lifestyle. Residents have easy access to hiking trails and ski resorts, while clean and well-maintained parks are often used for friendly games of soccer and rugby. Its citizens spend lots of time outside, which experts say can lower stress levels and consequently, cardiovascular problems like high blood pressure. Secondly, the CIA states that 100 percent of Andorra's population is educated. High education levels account for Andorra's extremely low unemployment rate. This means most Andorrans can afford high-quality nutrition and healthcare.

5. San Marino

San Marino, Italy
San Marino

Average Life Expectancy: 83.07 years

Europe's third smallest state--behind Vatican City and Monaco--and the world's oldest republic has a life expectancy that trumps the United States by 4.5 years. Money plays a major role here, as it does in both Guernsey and Andorra, but another key ingredient could be the nation's work environment. This enclave on the Italian peninsula didn't rake in its riches through manual labor. San Marino's primary industries are banking and tourism, with the majority of the Sammarinese working in office settings. This drastically reduces the number of work-related deaths--a big problem elsewhere.

4. Singapore


Average Life Expectancy: 83.75 years

A sound diet and a clean environment contribute to the longevity exhibited by the population of this fast-paced city-state, located on the southern edge of the Malay Peninsula. Like in Hong Kong, Singapore's cuisine centers on rice and vegetables, which are rich in nutrients that help keep residents healthy and active. Singapore's government also enforces a strict code of cleanliness--such as heavily restricted smoking areas--to ensure that all residents live in healthy surroundings. Interestingly, back in the 1980s, the government recognized that the nation's population was aging steadily, and with careful planning, Singapore now features excellent healthcare facilities and programs for the elderly.

3. Japan


Average Life Expectancy: 83.91 years

Japan boasts an impressive obesity rate: 3.1 percent compared with 33.9 percent in the United States. Much of the credit is owed to the Japanese diet, which revolves around fresh vegetables, rice, and most importantly, fish. Fresh fish is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which promote healthy blood pressure levels and reduce the risk of strokes and heart attacks. In addition, omega-3 fatty acids encourage healthy brain function, helping prevent diseases like Alzheimer's. The Japanese also make healthier lifestyle choices: They tend to walk more and not overeat.

2. Macau


Average Life Expectancy: 84.43 years

Like several other nations on this list, Macau can attribute its high life expectancy, at least somewhat, to its fruitful economy. But why this tiny nation in the South China Sea is so prosperous might surprise you: Gambling is its main source of revenue, and 70 percent of the money generated on the casino floor is reportedly invested by the Macau government in public healthcare. The island boasts a variety of casinos, many of which are owned by the same bigwigs who gave Las Vegas its "Sin City" reputation. In January 2012, Macau welcomed 2,461,640 visitors looking to test Lady Luck.

1. Monaco

Average Life Expectancy: 89.68 years

Residents of Monaco live, on average, 5.25 years longer than the second longest-living nation, Macau; that's approximately a decade longer than the average American. Monaco shares several aspects with other long-living nations, including an abundance of wealth and state-funded healthcare. Monaco residents also live on a Mediterranean diet, which is associated with a reduced risk for a variety of health problems, including cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. But many say it's Monaco's relaxing atmosphere that keeps residents hanging on until a ripe old age. Its location along the Mediterranean Sea and clean environment do their part to reduce stress, which can lower immunity and contribute to cardiovascular diseases. Maybe Ponce de León should have stayed closer to home in his search for the Fountain of Youth.

News by Yahoo

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Monday, March 12, 2012

Stunning images of Japan, a year later

Same place after one year of tsunami in Japan (Top and Bottom)
The tsunami-devastated Yamada town in Iwate prefecture is seen in two images taken on March 14, 2011 (top) and March 1, 2012, in this combination photo released by Kyodo on March 7, 2012, ahead of the one-year anniversary of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Mandatory Credit REUTERS/Kyodo

News and Photos by Yahoo, Credit to Reuters

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Friday, March 02, 2012

Oil price falls back from 43-month high

Oil price falls back from 43-month high
Last Updated at 02 Mar 2012, 10:15 GMT

Oil prices have dipped from a 43-month high after Saudi Arabia denied reports that a key pipeline had exploded.

Brent crude fell back to $125.6 a barrel after jumping almost $6 to $128.40 in New York on Thursday. US light crude fell slightly to $108.5.

A number of factors had pushed prices to their highest level since July 2008, including tensions over Iran's nuclear plans and regional unrest.

Thursday's high beat the level seen during the Libyan civil war last year.

'Market nervousness'

The problem facing the oil market at the moment is that events in a number of countries could have an impact on supply and demand, often causing traders to react more quickly to speculation and increasing volatility.

On Thursday, the trigger was a report in Iranian media that an explosion had occurred at a pipeline in Saudi Arabia.

The report came at a time when there has been a steady increase in friction between Iran on one side and the United States and its allies on the other.

The US has imposed fresh sanctions against Tehran targeting the country's oil exports, while the European Union has announced a ban on imports of Iranian oil.

For its part, Iran has threatened that it will close the Straits of Hormuz, a vital trade route for oil from the Gulf - including Saudi oil - if the West were to impose more sanctions.

Analysts said all these issues had created an uncertainty over oil supplies and the latest reports had only fanned those fears further.

"The sharp move up on the pipeline story points to the market nervousness on anything related to supply problems," said Gene McGillan of Tradition Energy.

Sufficient capacity

Among the biggest buyers of Iranian oil are Asian economies such as China, Japan, India and South Korea.

The US has been trying to convince these nations to reduce their imports of Iranian oil, to put further pressure on Tehran.

Earlier this year, US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner visited China and Japan to drum up support for US sanctions.

But there have been concerns that if nations stop buying oil from Iran they will have to turn to other oil producers in order to meet their demand, pushing up prices and hurting global economic growth.

However, US authorities tried to allay those fears, saying that global oil producers were well placed to make up for any shortfall in Iranian oil.

"I think there is sufficient spare capacity," said Steven Chu, US Energy Secretary.

At the same time, some analysts said that change in global weather may also help in keeping oil prices in check.

"Oil prices have overshot in the short-term, and with warmer temperatures as we move from winter to spring, oil demand could start to fall, starting in March," said Gordon Kwan, head of energy research at Mirae Asset Management in Hong Kong.

"Brent could fall back below $120 (per barrel) if Iran doesn't flare up."  

 News By BBC

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Japan relaxes decades-old arms exports ban

japanese fighter
Japanese Fighter
(Reuters) - Debt-riddled Japan Tuesday relaxed its self-imposed decades-old ban on military equipment exports in a move that will open new markets to its defense contractors and help the nation squeeze more out of its defense budget.

The government's security council agreed to the relaxing of the ban to allow Japan to take part in the joint development and production of arms with other countries and to supply military equipment for humanitarian missions, Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said at a news conference.

"The new standards (on weapons exports) are a result of the government considering measures that required attention amid recent changes to the environment surrounding international defense equipment," Fujimura said, referring to rising arms costs that could put strain on the government, with public debt twice the size of its economy.

The rule adopted in 1967 banned sales to communist countries, those involved in international conflicts or subject to United Nations sanctions.

It later became a blanket ban on exports and on the development and production of weapons with countries other than the United States, making it impossible for manufacturers to participate in multinational projects.

"The regulations on weapons exports are based on the concept that as a pacifist country Japan should aim to avoid fanning international conflicts, and we will keep a close watch on exports," Fujimura said.

The relaxing of the rules does not mean Japan will begin openly selling its military products to the world -- exports will be limited to strategic allies like the U.S.

The move could still allow companies such as Mitsubishi Heavy (7011.T) to join the development of Lockheed Martin's (LMT.N) F-35, which Tokyo picked last week as its next frontline fighter, planning to buy 42 machines at an estimated cost of more than $7 billion.


Although Japan is the world's sixth-biggest military spender, it often pays more than double other nations for the same equipment because local export-restricted manufacturers can only fill small orders at a high cost.

Removing the ban would stretch its defense purse further as military spending in neighboring China expands.

This year, Beijing raised military outlays by 12.7 percent. That included money for its own stealth fighter, the J-20, which made its maiden flight in January.

In contrast, Japan's defense budget has been shrinking in past years as ballooning costs for social security and servicing its growing debt pile squeeze other spending.

Given fiscal restraints, Tokyo is keen to make its defense program more efficient to maintain its military capability in the face of China's rise and growing uncertainties in the region.

The relaxation of the ban, that has been modified in the past to allow sharing of military technology with the U.S., could also be a boon for Japanese manufacturers as the strong yen weighs on their civilian exports and weak domestic demand and budget constraints restrict growth at home.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Top Gold Owning Countries of the World - 2011

Gold Bar
Central banks are contributing to world gold demand. The latest data from the World Gold Council indicate even more changes among the nations holding the most in gold reserves. Those are also some of nations whose creditworthiness is now under question during the debt crisis in Europe. 24/7 Wall St. looked at the 13 nations with the highest gold reserves, as well as two institutions, to see how each might affect future gold demand.

While investment demand was the key driver to increased gold demand during the past quarter, it is central bank gold buying and selling that is going to be a key factor for demand ahead. The council projected that central bank demand is expected to continue as creditworthiness woes of western governments has come front and center. In fact, the council also cited many new central bank entrants have emerged as they move to diversify reserves. Further, the council sees this increased central bank activity trend continuing into 2012.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed the top 13 nations that hold the lion’s share of the world’s gold reserves, according to the World Gold Council’s International Financial Statistics. Of course, many nations will have new gold reserve data in 2012. And some of the data remained unchanged from prior months. Our aim here is to show which nations probably are increasing or lowering their gold reserves into 2012 and why.

The European credit crisis and emerging market weakness are what is likely behind central banks’ demand. Total gold demand rose 6% in the third quarter from a year earlier to 1,053.9 tonnes. This equates to roughly $57.7 billion — an all-time high in value terms. Investment was the large driver for increased gold demand, while jewelry demand was soft.

These are The 13 Countries That own The World’s Gold.

13) Venezuela holds 365.8 tonnes.
Venezuela increased its gold reserves by nearly 5%. Hugo Chavez may be no friend to the United States, but oil sales and business nationalization (or seizure) has continued to add more wealth to the nation’s government. Venezuela’s population is only 27 million and it is the sole Latin American country among the top nations holding gold. In 2010, Venezuela bought 3.1 tonnes, according to the World Gold Council. That’s after buying 4.1 tonnes locally in 2009. Venezuela has continued adding gold, and if history is an indicator it is likely to keep adding gold.

12) Portugal holds 382.5 tonnes.
Surprisingly, one of the PIIGS nations (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, Spain), Portugal, is also a top holder of gold. The European nation has a population of almost 11 million people. Does this go back to the days of its empire building ambitions, or is it because the nation was able to remain neutral in World War II? If Portugal is really in such dire straights, perhaps the Europeans could start demanding that Portugal pledge some of its gold reserves to bolster its finances. Portugal has already been a part of the prior Central Bank Gold Agreement as a seller in recent years, so it seems logical that the nation would be selling to hold up on its debt and entitlement obligations.

11) Taiwan holds 423.6 tonnes.
Taiwan is another surprise as one of the world’s largest gold holders. It has a vast electronics sector, and maybe its high gold holdings help it stay financially relevant in its long ongoing confrontation with China. The nation is already considered wealthier than many neighboring countries on a per capita basis. The accumulation of gold by China makes it unlikely Taiwan would sell much gold now.

10) India holds 557.7 tonnes.
India’s gold holdings are still officially the same as they were at the beginning of the year, but it seems likely that it will increase its central bank holdings. The nation has about 1.2 billion people and its economy is growing — even though the government has fought inflation in 2011. Gold is entrenched in Indian culture that India is likely to continue accumulating more gold. Almost one-third of the world’s jewelry demand comes from India, and the country acquired 200 tonnes of the IMF gold sales in late-2010. India would seem to be a buyer of gold not just in 2012, but in the years ahead.

9) The Netherlands holds 612.5 tonnes.
Another fairly small nation with only 16.6 million people is ranked as a top holder of gold. The nation used to hold even more gold but it was a seller of gold from at least 2003 to 2008 under the Central Bank Gold Agreement in Europe. Maybe Holland could help to create a Dutch-led bailout for the PIIGS in Europe. The country’s gold holdings seem unlikely to change very much in 2012.

8 ) Japan holds 765.2 tonnes.
Japan has had to deal with two decades of a sluggish economy and its currency is currently considered a safe-haven for international investors. The Japanese people are known for keeping cash under their mattresses. The yen feels inflated with its huge debt-to-GDP and no growth. Prices for Japanese goods are getting too expensive for foreigners due to the strength of the Yen. The country is also still recovering from its tsunami and nuclear incident from earlier in 2011. Perhaps Japan will have proven to be a seller in 2011 rather than trying to bolster its foreign currency reserves. If not, it should be.

7) Russia holds 851.5 tonnes.
Russia has been gobbling up gold to bolster the ruble in the past and this appears to be the case this year as well. The new figure of 851.5 tonnes of gold compares to a previous figure earlier this year of 784.1 tonnes. The council had also noted earlier that Russia accumulated some 120 tonnes during the first 10 months of 2010, and that was after adding over 100 tonnes in 2009 and almost 70 tonnes in 2007. The new figure was due to increased purchases after the prior cut-off date. With Russia having vast oil and commodity reserves and with Russia aiming to increase its clout in the world as a financial powerhouse, it seems a shoe-in that it will have proven itself as a buyer of gold into 2012.

6) Switzerland holds 1,040.1 tonnes.
Switzerland already had to take measures earlier this year to halt the appreciation of the Swiss franc. It is hard to imagine that the nation would be buying gold to prop up its currency even after considering reports in recent years that it ran out of places to securely store gold. Switzerland sold gold under the Central Bank Gold Agreement from 2003 to 2008 before the great gold rush. With a mere 7.6 million people, how much gold does the nation really need? This country could easily lighten up on its gold reserves without its benchmark currency status being challenged.

5) China holds 1,054.1 tonnes.
China has added and added to its gold reserves. There is no reason to expect that to abate, particularly after Barron’s pointed that China is seeking a reserve currency status in the generation ahead. China has a population of 1.3 billion people and a fast-growing economy. The country also bought more than 450 tonnes of gold from 2003 to 2009 and 200 tonnes or more during 2010. With the pressure to get away from the dollar peg, assuring the value of the yuan only leaves the purchase of gold or other hard assets.

4) France holds 2,435.4 tonnes.
The French are not in the same boat as Italy and the rest of the PIIGS, but predicting what will happen with France’s gold reserves is very difficult. With a debt rating downgrade possibly coming down the pipe, France is the second largest foundation of the euro and of the European Union. The nation was part of the Central Bank Gold Agreement as a seller, but this was all before the major run-up in gold and before its own finances have come under question during the European debt crisis. It seems that more light selling is expected, although maybe the nation needs more hard assets as a reserve.

3) Italy holds 2,451.8 tonnes.
Italy was in the Central Bank Gold Agreements as a seller, but now it is the largest concern of Europe and of the PIIGS. It would seem that the Italians are unlikely to sell off their gold reserves. However, it is also likely that to fend off weakness some would argue for asset pledges. The nation has a new government and its economic growth is expected to be limited at best. Releasing gold might address some of Italy’s budget gaps and economic problems. Because Italy’s debt problems are quite large, it is likely that it would be a gold seller into 2012. If not, perhaps pledging those holdings is a runner-up scenario.

2) Germany holds 3,401.8 tonnes.
Germany remains the foundation of the European Union and of the euro. The nation was a seller of gold for coins under the Central Bank Gold Agreements from at least 2003 to 2008, but the sales were not really enough to put a serious dent in its gold reserves. It is hard to see Germany being a buyer of gold, but it likely cannot be a large seller either because it is the largest foundation of the euro. Selling too much gold could further pressure the troubled euro. Still, euro bailout funds have to come from somewhere and Germany could sell some additional gold without challenging its No.2 position among the nations holding gold reserves.

1) United States holds 8,133.5 tonnes.
The U.S. has already lost its prized AAA credit rating and it has magically created a vast amount of dollars to support the bailouts and stimulus packages. The U.S. could always try unloading some gold to fight future commodity price pressures, but the U.S. has now reached the point of leverage and deficits that it has to hold hard assets to fend off another challenge to the dollar as the world’s top reserve currency. Any gold sales today would likely have to be countered by large gold purchases in the future.

Looking from 2011 to 2012, Central Banks, Investment and More
The International Financial Statistics on the World Gold Council’s November report shows that the IMF holds 2,814 tonnes of gold. This technically puts the IMF somewhere between Germany and Italy. If the IMF is going to support bailouts and stabilization efforts, it is easy to consider where that money will come from. After all, the IMF cannot exactly print currency. The IMF’s Executive Board approved the sale of 403.3 tonnes in September 2009, which came to about one-eighth of its total gold holdings at the time.

The European Central Bank had some 502.1 tonnes of gold, according to the same November report. This is more than Taiwan, but less than India.

There are some key statistics to consider as 2011 comes to an end. Investment demand rose 33% from a year ago to 468.1 tonnes in the third quarter, worth about $25.6 billion. Central bank demand in the third quarter added 148.4 tonnes, an obvious effort to support currencies and credit ratings.

The world gold supply was up only 2% to 1,034.4 tonnes in the third quarter over a year earlier. Mine production was up 5% to 746.2 tonnes, while recycling activity was up 13% to 379.1 tonnes.

The investment segment showed that ETFs and investments accounted for 77.6 tonnes, but this was dwarfed by actual gold bars at 294.2 tonnes. Official coins came in a close third place at 76.2 tonnes and another 20 tonnes were for medals and imitation coins. European investment demand reached a record quarterly value of 4.6 billion Euros for 118.1 tonnes, a gain of 13%.

Also, watch Chindia. Chinese jewellery demand was 13% higher year-on-year at 131.0 tonnes; China’s investment demand for gold bars and coins rose 24% to 60.2 tonnes. Indian jewellery demand was down 26% in its seasonally slow quarter and it was compounded by high inflation and gold price volatility, although yearly demand at the end of September was called “very close to the record levels seen in 2010.”

If you tally up the top 15 entities here, the total is close to 26,000 tonnes of gold before counting any of the ETF products. The total tonnes of gold reserves from the International Financial Statistics cited by the World Gold Council is 30,708.3 tonnes. The SPDR Gold Trust (NYSE: GLD) lists some 1,277.36 tonnes worth over $71.5 billion today, but that is live data rather than just third quarter data released by the World Gold Council.

News by AOL

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Japan: a minister gives up his salary after a mistake of an official

Goshi Hosono
Japanese Environment Minister

AFP - Japanese Minister of the Environment announced Friday that he renounced his monthly salary of 15,000 euros after some employees of his ministry were thrown on a vacant contaminated soil sent by a resident of Fukushima for that it is tested. Goshi Hosono, a rising star of the Democratic Party of Japan (in power), said it would affect more than his salary for the duration of its mandate to assume the fault of his subordinates. The minister, who is also responsible for the management of the accident at the nuclear Fukushima, however, will continue to receive his parliamentary allowances, which amount to about 13,000 euros a month.

"I have a heavy responsibility as head of that department," he said, following the announcement of stupidity committed by an official. A resident of the city of Fukushima, located about sixty miles from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident, sent last week to the Department of Environment package containing soil taken from his garden so that it is analyzed . The samples taken showed a rate of 0.18 mSv of radiation per hour, roughly the same as that tested in the vicinity of Tokyo.

After that discussion to the package, an employee offered to unload the contents of a vacant lot near his home in Saitama prefecture, northeast of the capital. The land has since been recovered and the employees involved and their superiors, have received disciplinary sanctions, including temporary salary reductions, transfers and warnings, said Hosono.

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