China’s Remarkable $3 Trillion in Reserves; What Will China Do With Them?

Here’s what will eventually happen, because it simply must work this way mathematically: With its US dollar reserves, China will buy USA assets, not Japanese equities, not Euro-based assets, not the Italian stock market or Italy’s national debt.

Likewise, with its Euro reserves, China will buy EuroZone assets, not Japanese equities, not US or Canadian assets.

China right now has its US reserves parked in US treasuries. The logical spot for some of those reserves is US corporations and US assets, returning the dollars where they mathematically must return.

Now imagine the shock in Congress were China to make an offer to buy Exxon-Mobile, Boeing, Apple and a basket of technology companies, and every toll-road and bridge in the country. If China wants gold, it could put in a bid for US mining companies.

At some point, such a shock will come. Mathematically it must.

via Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis: Future Shock: China’s Remarkable $3 Trillion in Reserves; What Will China Do With Them?.

more new proof of Vitamin D’s importance

A lack of vitamin D, even in generally healthy people, is linked with stiffer arteries and an inability of blood vessels to relax, research from the Emory/Georgia Tech Predictive Health Institute has found.

The results add to evidence that lack of vitamin D can lead to impaired vascular health, contributing to high blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease. Study participants who increased their vitamin D levels were able to improve vascular health and lower their blood pressure.

Even after controlling for factors such as age, weight and cholesterol, people with lower vitamin D levels still had stiffer arteries and impaired vascular function, Al Mheid says.

“We found that people with vitamin D deficiency had vascular dysfunction comparable to those with diabetes or hypertension,” he says.

via Vitamin D levels linked with health of blood vessels | BreakThrough Digest Medical News.

Plutonium is forever … Why Japanese “face-saving” is dangerous

TEPCO just this morning announced that four of the six Daiichi reactors can never be repaired. I wrote that right here less than 24 hours after the earthquake and tsunami before the emergency batteries had even run out. It was instantly obvious to even a moderately informed observer like me, yet why did TEPCO take two weeks to come to the same conclusion? Internal politics, which can only increase public danger.

But wait, there’s more! Now we have reports of water contaminated with plutonium at the plant and possible plutonium ground water contamination. Radioactive cesium and iodine are bad enough, though that water can be stored in pools for a few months while the radiation decays then carefully diluted for disposal. But plutonium contamination is forever — at least 10,000 years.

There are right now two plutonium remediation technologies on offer to the Japanese government and TEPCO that I know about — one from Russia and one from the USA. One approach uses nanotech and the other uses biotech but both are novel and unique. Both have been offered to the Japanese through government channels and in both cases the Japanese government or TEPCO have yet to respond.

I know about these technologies because the Russian one is represented by a friend of mine and the American one comes from a Startup America company so I took it straight to the White House myself.

I think it would be smart for TEPCO to adopt both technologies in case one works better than the other. But my sense is that if an answer ever comes from Japan it will be months from now and will probably be “no thanks.”

Think about this as you read about that plutonium-contaminated water, because it is going to be in the news for years to come. If only there had been a technology available to clean up that stuff early in the crisis, the pundits will say, lives could have been saved. There was such a technology available — two of them in fact.

via I, Cringely » Blog Archive » Plutonium is forever – Cringely on technology.

The Apple/Android multitouch story gets murkier

There’s been a lot of chatter these past few weeks about Steven Levy’s new Google book In the Plex, and particularly some revelations in the book about Steve Jobs — specifically, that Larry Page and Sergey Brin wanted him to be the first CEO of Google, and that Jobs mentored the two founders until he later saw pinch-to-zoom in Android and everything went to hell. The acrimony was so deep, we’re told, that Jobs kept the iPad a secret from Eric Schmidt even though Schmidt was still on Apple’s board of directors while it was being developed. (Schmidt would later step down, of course.) It’s juicy stuff, and it nicely feeds right into the current iOS vs. Android narrative of the day.

via Nilay Patel • The Android multitouch story gets even murkier.

White House rebuffs Syrian opposition

The Obama administration has turned down a plea from Syria’s democratic opposition to step up diplomatic pressure on President Bashar Assad, who has violently repressed peaceful anti-government protests.

President Obama has not personally condemned the regime. The White House has not yet issued sanctions against officials who ordered soldiers to fire on peaceful demonstrators. The White House will not say whether they will pursue a Syria specific resolution at the U.N. Human Rights Council,” Mr. Abdulhamid said.

The White House on April 8 issued a written statement from Mr. Obama that said, “It is time for theSyrian government to stop repressing its citizens and to listen to the voices of the Syrian people calling for meaningful political and economic reforms.”

Radwan Ziadeh, director of the Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies who attended both meetings with White House officials, told The Washington Times that the administration’s response for more pressure on the Assad regime has been “lukewarm.”

“They told us they do not have the same leverage with Syria that they do with Egypt,” he said. “We asked them to use stronger language on Syria. We want Obama to say something himself in his own words.”

David Schenker, director of the Arab politics program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said Mr. Obama has straddled the fence onSyria in the past month.

“This administration does not want to be seen right now as joining the movement for regime removal in Damascus,” he said.

“Nevertheless the atrocities are mounting. It is clear now that Assad will continue to repress violent protests on Friday. The administration should move ahead with the last of the Syria Accountability Act sanctions which would be to suspend all U.S. investment in Syria.”

via White House rebuffs Syrian opposition – Washington Times.

Google making HHGG’s Babel Fish

If you’ve never read  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, know three things – the guide is this really cool book that knows everything about the universe, everyone in that universe can communicate with each other, and you’re really missing out on a great story. What’s that have to do with anything?

Google today added even more languages to Google Translate for Android and it reminded us of how much closer we are getting to a reality where smartphones will break down language barriers in real-time as we wend our way through the world.

So, back to the book. In the book, the  Babel fish enters the plot early and solves that whole pesky intergalactic language thing that happens in sci-fi books. Of course, translation is a pesky problem in the real world too and it’s something Google has been furiously attacking for a while now. Today’s update is just another step on the road to our own, real-world plot device, err,  universal translator.

Today, the company that wants to index all the world’s knowledge added three more languages – Japanese, Arabic and Korean – to the list of 15 languages that it now offers text-to-speech support for on Android phones. This means, you can directly input text in your language, choose the language to translate it to, and then have the phone say it for you. Of course, you could use it to help learn too, but that’s not nearly as interesting as the ability to wander the world and let your phone do the talking. (Have you ever tried to ask “Where’s the subway?” in Mandarin? I’m willing to bet that anyone, including my Android phone, could pronounce Mandarin words better than I can.)

via Google Keeps Building the Tower of Babel, Floor by Floor.