MAR 31 2011 set as No Gas Day

There’s a driving force on Facebook called “No Gas Day.” today March 31 2011.

A North Carolina woman fed up with gas prices is taking the fight online.

Sarah Thompson has created the No Gas Day Facebook page where she is calling on drivers to avoid all gas stations on March 31. So far Thompson’s page has more than 100,000 people planning to participate in the event. (Sara Thompson has reported to WMASSLocal that she in fact has 1.75 Million people planning to participate.) (Check the comments).

She is one of many people that have created campaigns on Facebook in order to shed light on rising gas prices. Thompson says the effort is not about sending gas prices downward for one day but to send a message.

This is about taking a stand together against greedy people whose commodity happens to affect all other commodity prices,” Thompson says.

The page describes the event as a way to reach as many people as possible to have a day designated to boycott all gas stations.

This comes on the heels of already higher pump prices this spring and more increases are expected this summer. Home heating prices in the Northeast were averaging at about 3.60 a gallon. Today the OPEC set price for a barrel of oil is set at about $110.

Conflict in the Middle East and fighting in Libya prompted government analysts to raise expectations for gasoline prices by 50 cents a gallon in its monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook released Tuesday. The Energy Department boosted its per-barrel oil estimate by $9 for the peak driving season.

The report says there is “significant uncertainty surrounding the forecast” and pump prices could spike above $5 this summer, which would threaten the all-time highs reached at the beginning of the recession three years ago.

Users on the site are concerned gas will rise to $5 or even $9 a gallon this summer. The protest was scheduled for today, but there is another one scheduled for April 1st and even ongoing protests which call for boycotting gas on Mondays. By filling up the day before the protest, organizers hope oil companies lose millions if not billions of dollars.

“I think its a good idea, but I don’t think it will make a difference unless they get enough people to do it,” says James Norton. He thinks social networking on sites like Facebook can be a priceless marketing tool. “Were you surprised to see it? Not at all, actually thought about doing it myself. How much do you spend on gas for your truck? $120 a week.”

Meanwhile, drivers like what they’re seeing online, rather than outside at the pump. “I have a small car, takes me 60-dollars to fill this car up. Absolutely Ill enjoy the protest 100-percent.”

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Radiation Found in Massachusetts Rainwater

Radiation from the stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan is now showing up in rain in Massachusetts, health officials announced today.

The state Department of Public Health said low levels of radiation were detected in Bay State rainwater earlier this week. Massachusetts now joins scores of other states from the west to the east reporting higher than normal signs of contamination, all likely from Japan.

The DPH said the radiation — in the form of radioiodine-131– does not pose a health threat to Bay State residents and that the air and public drinking water supplies have tested clean. Radioiodine is a byproduct of nuclear fission and has a half-life of about eight days.

Still, health officials said they will continue to test drinking water supplies. The positive rainwater reading was spotted this week and announced today around noon after confirmation of the findings, officials said.

“The drinking water supply in Massachusetts is unaffected by this short-term, slight elevation in radiation. However, we will carefully monitor the drinking water as we exercise an abundance of caution,” said DPH Commissioner John Auerbach.

Other similar radiation hits have been found in California, Washington and Pennsylvania, according to the DPH. All those positive readings are part of the nation’s RadNet radioactive monitoring system.

The Las Vegas’ Atomic Testing Museum this week also reported detecting low levels of radiation, the Associated Press is reporting this afternoon. Positive readings have also been made in Colorado and Hawaii.

The news comes as courageous Japanese nuclear plant workers desperately try to keep the Fukushima Dai-ichi reactors from falling into a complete meltdown following an 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami March 11. Reports out of Japan today tell of workers being evacuated from one turbine building at the plant due to a spike in radioactivity, only to be told hours later it was a false reading.

Seawater near the plant has elevated signs of radioactivity and officials are saying it could take months to stop the constant radioactive contamination of the environment.

To date, 17 Japanese nuclear plant workers have been exposed to high levels of radiation with two hospitalized, according to reports out of Japan. The country is also warning about infants drinking tap water in Tokyo and produce near the plant — especially spinach and milk — is said to be contaminated.

In Massachusetts, DPH officials said today raw drinking water samples were taken from the Quabbin and Wachusett Reservoirs last week as part of an expanded monitoring system by the MWRA. Those reservoirs supply Greater Boston with its daily drinking water and all tests were negative.

“The initial result of DPH tests on water samples from the Quabbin and Wachusetts Reservoirs – the source of drinking water for 2.5 million Massachusetts residents – is good news,” said state Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr., who chairs the board of the MWRA. “In an abundance of caution, however, MassDEP is sampling additional areas today so that we can be confident that water bodies across the Commonwealth have not been impacted by the nuclear incident in Japan.”

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Real Estate: Spring Buyers Still Reluctant to Make Purchases

Existing home sales plunged nearly 10 percent in February to their lowest level in nine years. It was the largest drop since July. Forty percent of those sales were on distressed properties. And new home sales are on track to come in at just 250,000 this year, the fewest since the Kennedy administration, when there were 120 million fewer people in the United States.

“What is discouraging in many markets is that it appears as if some of the local builders are creating the volume,” says Wayne Yamano, vice president with John Burns Real Estate Consulting.

Across the country, real estate agents are reporting a rise in traffic at open houses. But they say buyers are reluctant because of the shellshock they suffered after the free-money machine blew up in everyone’s face. The foreclosure epidemic. The plague of employment insecurity. The fear that the U.S. is on a downward slide. They’re all playing into buyer commitment phobia, brokers say.

There’s also confusion over the conflicting signals. Prices are low, but unemployment is high. Mortgage rates are attractive, but lending standards are strict. Renting is newly chic. “Everybody is now self-loathing about how we’re greedy Americans and we shouldn’t want to own homes,” says Jonathan Miller, CEO of real estate consulting firm Miller Samuel.

The U.S. will certainly have a spring home buying season this year. But even if sales rise as usual, they won’t pull the zombie housing market out of its stupor. Nationwide, forecasters expect house prices to drop at least 5 percent more this year. And no one in housing land is murmuring about anything like price stabilization until 2012. At least. “We don’t expect a dramatic rebound,” says Paul Ashworth, managing partner at Capital Economics. “We expect stagnation for several more years.”

The housing problems certainly aren’t easing. Foreclosures are expected to peak this year. A third of homeowners owe more than their homes are worth. Normally the number of people with negative equity is 5 percent. And strategic defaults, where people simply walk away, are rising.

The buying that is happening isn’t coming from first-time homebuyers. A recent study by Capital Economics found that 60 percent of sales are to foreigners and investors, most of them paying cash. In fact, in international real estate circles, the U.S. is viewed as the “new emerging market,” says Thomas M. Shapiro, president of global real estate investment firm GTIS Partners.

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Chicopee U.S. Tsubaki Automotive takes over production from quake-ravaged Japan Factory

BIZ Panorama2.jpg
Republican File PhotoA panorama of the U.S. Tsubaki plant in Chicopee

CHICOPEE – Earthquake devastation in Japan has shifted production to the U.S. Tsubaki Automotive plant in Chicopee.

The plant in the Chicopee Industrial Park has added two production workers to its staff of 240 in order to keep up with demand from automotive factories in China and Thailand, said President Mark J. Miller. The company makes timing chains for auto engines.

“Toyota is our largest customer, but we make for all the original equipment manufacturers,” Miller said Tuesday. “We do a lot for Chrysler and Ford.”

Tsubaki also has a roller chain plant in Holyoke that has not been impacted, said Charles Monty, the general manager at the Holyoke plant.

Industrial production in Japan slowed to a crawl after the March 11 earthquake, subsequent tsunami and ensuing damage to Japanese nuclear power reactors. Miller said all the Japanese staff members at Tsubaki here in Western Massachusetts have been in touch with their families and those people are safe.

Tsubaki’s Japanese plant is in Hanno City, West of Tokyo and removed from the devastation, Miller said. But with reactors down, the plant is subject to rolling blackouts that prevent workers there from heat-treating parts needed to make the chains.

“They have been told that the blackouts will continue at least through April,” Miller said.

Miller said the Japanese auto industry is largely shut down at the moment. But some customers are asking the Chicopee plant for daily production updates.

“The Japanese will do everything they have to do to get things back up and running,” Miller said.

According to The Associated Press, experts believe that Japanese auto industry will ramp up production this week.

The Chicopee plant also relies on parts made in Japan. But Miller said there are ample parts in the supply chain. It takes three weeks for the parts to get here which means the parts that are arriving now left before the earthquake.

“I’m more concerned about four to six weeks from now,” he said.

Miller said the new staff at U.S. Tsubaki will likely be permanent. He’d been expecting more work in the fall even before the earthquake and the new employees will stay on board to handle it.

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2012 Doom becomes 2011 Doom as Result of New Comet – ELENIN

Comet Elenin Effects: 2012 Doom becomes 2011 Doom

October 27 2011 is said to be the original ACTUAL DATE the Mayan Calendar ENDS.

December 21 2012 was a date that was later chosen to push out the true time of the Mayan Prediction.

Comet Elenin Interactive Tracking Tool on NASA.Gov Web Site

Coincidence: The Comet Elenin is to be inside of the earths orbit of the sun and lined up on the axis with the sun and the earth on Oct 27 2011. There is likely to be tremendous forces of gravitational pull imposed on the earth and all of it tectonic plates. The result is that one can expect the earthquake activity to increase in number, size and magnitude from where it is presently.

Each of the last three major earthquakes have occurred when Comet 2010 X1 known as Elenin was in direct alignment with the earth and the sun.  The next alignment of the earth the sun and Elenin will be around September 25th 2011.

At this point in time the comet Elenin will be inside of the earth’s orbit of the sun . In other words when this alignment occurs  the comet Elenin and its massive gravitational forces will be positioned directly between the earth and the sun.  This will likely cause a noticeable unsettling of the earths tectonic plates. At the very least expect stronger and more frequent earthquake activity through November of 2011 when the comet begins to head back out to deep space.

Weatern Mass Home Heating Oil Prices

Massachusetts Heating Oil Prices

Average, Highest & Lowest

The prices shown are taken from heating oil dealers across the state and are provided for information purposes only. Contact a local heating oil dealer for current price per gallon and any terms or conditions that may apply.

2011 Massachusetts Home Heating Oil Prices
Date Average High Low
March 15, 2011 $3.90 $4.50 $3.43
March 8, 2011 $3.90 $4.50 $3.49
March 1, 2011 $3.77 $4.40 $3.35
February 22, 2011 $3.64 $4.20 $3.16
February 15, 2011 $3.60 $4.20 $3.07
February 8, 2011 $3.60 $4.20 $3.10
February 1, 2011 $3.53 $4.00 $3.10
January 25, 2011 $3.48 $4.00 $3.04
January 18, 2011 $3.44 $4.00 $3.00
January 11, 2011 $3.36 $4.00 $2.91
January 4, 2011 $3.35 $4.00 $2.92
2010 Massachusetts Home Heating Oil Prices
Date Average High Low
December 28, 2010 $3.32 $3.90 $2.90
December 21, 2010 $3.26 $3.85 $2.80
December 14, 2010 $3.23 $3.86 $2.79
December 7, 2010 $3.19 $3.86 $2.70
November 30, 2010 $3.08 $3.75 $2.62
November 23, 2010 $3.10 $3.75 $2.62
November 16, 2010 $3.12 $3.75 $2.70
November 9, 2010 $3.05 $3.70 $2.54
November 2, 2010 $2.97 $3.60 $2.55
October 26, 2010 $2.97 $3.60 $2.55
October 19, 2010 $2.95 $3.60 $2.50
October 12, 2010 $2.94 $3.50 $2.50
October 5, 2010 $2.89 $3.40 $2.45
September 14, 2010 $2.74 $3.20 $2.38
August 24, 2010 $2.72 $3.20 $2.29
July 27 ,2010 $2.73 $3.20 $2.32
June 22, 2010 $2.77 $3.40 $2.40
May 11, 2010 $2.90 $3.60 $2.38
April 27, 2010 $2.94 $3.75 $2.49
April 6, 2010 $2.90 $3.50 $2.52
March 23, 2010 $2.84 $3.30 $2.43
March 16, 2010 $2.86 $3.50 $2.42
March 9, 2010 $2.88 $3.50 $2.44
March 2, 2010 $2.86 $3.40 $2.29
February 23, 2010 $2.86 $3.50 $2.39
February 16, 2010 $2.81 $3.40 $2.29
February 9, 2010 $2.81 $3.40 $2.26
February 2, 2010 $2.82 $3.40 $2.30
January 26, 2010 $2.85 $3.45 $2.30
January 19, 2010 $2.91 $3.50 $2.42
January 12, 2010 $2.96 $3.50 $2.58
January 5, 2010 $2.88 $3.40 $2.50

Radioactive Iodine found in Tokyo’s Water Supply

FUKUSHIMA, Japan – In the first sign that contamination from Japan’s stricken nuclear complex had seeped into the food chain, officials said Saturday that radiation levels in spinach and milk from farms near the tsunami-crippled facility exceeded government safety limits.

Some amounts of radioactive iodine also were found in tap water Friday in Tokyo and elsewhere in Japan — although experts said none of those tests showed any health risks yet. The accumulation of radiation and poisonous particles from the nuclear plant explosions are likely to occur to the point of rendering the water supply unusable.

The Health Ministry also said that radioactive iodine slightly above government safety limits was found in drinking water at one point Thursday in a sampling from Fukushima prefecture, the site of the nuclear plant, but later tests showed the level had fallen again.

Six workers trying to bring the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant back under control were exposed to more than 100 millisieverts of radiation — Japan’s normal limit for those involved in emergency operations, according to Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the complex. The government raised that limit to 250 millisieverts on Tuesday as the crisis escalated. Read More >>>>