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March 18, 2011

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Page 4 POST-GAZETTE, MARCH 18, 2011 JAPAN EARTHQUAKE-TSUNAMI KILLS THOUSANDS by Sal Giarratani "-:'----;' An 9.0 earthquake off- shore triggered a huge tsunami that hit Japan's eastern coast with death tolls expected to rise sharply. Flooding and fires were wide- .spread. The government ordered a damaged nuclear plant to vent radiation, which has surged to 1,000 times normal. Waves reached U.S. shores but caused minor damage. Most people were killed by the waves that followed the quake. The strongest ever recorded in Japan. Retail sales were hot in February, rising 1%. Con- sumer confidence has tumbled. Retail sales rose in February by the most in four months on broad -based demand, the Commerce Department reported. Soar- ing gas prices impact on consumer spending raises concerns about consumer spending. Fears that vio- lence in Libya and elsewhere that crude prices which have soared above $100/bar- rel. The US price for a gal- lon of gasoline is $3.55/gal- Ion versus $3.15, a month ago. Retail sales were up 8.9% in February. The best since July 2005. Core retail sales, which exclude autos, gas and building materials rose a modest 4.5%, the smallest gains from July. Rising pump prices boosted sales of gasoline stations by 1.6%. Auto and building ma- terial sales rose .6% in Feb- ruary and U.S. electronics sales rose .9%, department store sales .9% and apparel up .8%. President Obama's administration isn't opposed to new drilling although the Interior Department is ap- pealing a judge ruling that it act on several deep water permit applications. Obama blamed big oil for not using existingpermits, which the industry denies. With gas prices soaring, the latest poll found majorities favoring a wide range of drilling with support higher than when oil peaked at $1.42/gallon in 2008. Tax stimulus mostly ior people who pay low taxes get paid like they did in 2008- 2009 and 2010. The 2% tax cut took effect on January 1% The tax cut should help as a cushion for working fami- lies providing $80/week on average according to Presi- dent Obama. In February that tax stimulus helped power a 10% retail sales gain according to the Commerce Department. The stimulus helped last year with the stimulus playing some part. In 2011, the stimulus could be a help on rising gas prices the next four months. Low income families can rely on an annual tax on spending of nearly $90 billion. They can react to higher gas prices by reducing other spending or saving less. Friday's Uni- versity of Michigan study, gas fell divided 15.6% to 43 /gallon the lowest .since October 2008, far below views. The run up in gaso- line prices will cause con- sumer prices to "fall enough to send the economy back into recession," said Mary Vitner, an economist at Wells Fargo. Core retail sales rose a modest 4.5%, the smallest gain since January's 1.4% gain. Auto sales rose 1.3%. Building material grew 8.6%. In the 2 "d half of the year fiscal tightening. The Federal Reserve's 8600 bil- lion bond buying program is set to expire in June 2011. At next Tuesday's Fed meet- ing we will know more. The five biggest Japanese plants all fell in heavy trading after the quake. Toyota, Nissan, Honda and parts maker Borg Werner, all shot down. Infrastructure firms should benefit from damage claims. Ann Taylor said Q4 EPS nearly quadrupled to .19/ share from .02/share, bet- ter than estimated. Sales rose 19% to $505.3 million. Same store sales jumped 11%. Shares rose 12.7% to 27.20. Steel prices also rose on increased demand for new steel for structures. The quake could cause problems for chip production, con- sumer electronics and PC industries. About 40% of the world's NAMD and DRAMBS. They anticipate video price swings and shrinkage in result of the quake. It could have been much worse. The area it hit was not a big tech area. The earthquake was centered 230 miles from Tokyo. It will disrupt the supply chain. There will be difficulties getting raw materials and distributing shipping products out. The plant maker Blue Ray discs and tapes was not effected. Sony has several plants in the area. The Twitter and internet worked well after the damage. Google also was reliable and took action immediately. It's time to call your financial advisor or call me at 617-261-7777. Our Fearless Leader Meets Their Fearless Leader Our president recently met with Mexican President Felipe Calderon who came with his agenda of free mar- kets, U.S. treaty obligations and our helping in the Mexi- can drug wars. Our Fearless Leader did announce that we would restore Mexican trucking rights inside the U.S.A. after Capitol Hill let a pilot program expire, report- edly largely due to pressure from the Teamsters' Union. That mistake cost U.S. com- panies some $2.4 billion in by Sal Giarratani retaliatory Mexican tariffs, and a loss of countless U.S. jobs. Mexico is after all America's third largest trad- ing partner. The two years of pointless tariffs hurt American companies and ending them can only in- crease U.S. jobs once again. However, on another mat- ter, Our Fearless Leader was apparently too fearful to change the rules on Ameri- can security forces inside Mexico assisting in the war against the drug cartels. Our f NOBILE INSURANCE ALBANO F. PONTE, CEP Financial and Estate Planning Emai/ afponte @ Phone 617-320-0022 MICHAEL F. NOBILE, CPCU ARLINGTON 148A Massachusetts Avenue Arlington, MA 02474 (781) 646-1200 Fax (781) 646-1148 MEDFORD 39 Salem Street Medford, MA 02155 (781) 395-4200 Fax (781) 391-8493 BOSTON 30 Prince Street Boston, MA 02113 (617) 523-6766 Fax (617) 523-0078 WWW.BOSTON POSTGAZETTE.COM agents inside Mexico must remain unarmed. The long standing consensus between the two countries on this gun issue must end. Last month, two agents from Im- migration and Customs En- forcement were assaulted by mmed Mexican cartel thugs and Special Agent Jaime Jorge Zapata, 32, was left dead as a result. If we are willing to help Calderon, he should be willing to let us arm our agents inside his country in a fight we both support. Too often it seems Our Fearless Leader only sees anything Mexican as a way to reap U.S. Latino votes for himself in 2012. ST. JUDE AND ST, ANTHONY NOVENA May the Sacred Heart of Jesus be adored, g!orified, loved and preserved throughout the world now and for- ever. Sacred Heart of Jesus pray for us. St. Jude, worker of miracles, pray for us. St. Jude, help of the hopeless, pray for us. St. Anthony, most loving protector and wonder worker, pray for us. Say this prayer 9 times a day and by the 8th day your prayer will be answered. It has never been known to fail. Publication must be promised. My prayers have been answered. Favor received. LM.D. Death by Red Line Train Recently, I read a small newspaper story concerning a nameless man who was killed by an on-coming Red Line train at the Central Square station. According to witness statements to the MBTA police, the guy alleg- edly lowered himself down from the platform into the track pit as a train was approaching the station. You hear about these sui- cides much too often. I still remember the aftermath of a suicide at old Northampton station back when I was a kid living in the South End. People gathered around Washington Street watching emergency folks respond to this tragedy I remember watching firefighters carry- ing the victim on a stretcher down the long stairway to the street below. I wondered then as a 10-year-old why someone would so violently choose to end his life. I assumed then that it was a guy but I never found out either way. However, I was bothered by the gawkers who seemed attracted to watching it all like some TV show. I shouldn't say this but I prob- ably was gawking too. Look- ing back on that event and reading of an endless string of additional suicides by train, I'm not a gawker any- more. Nor would I like to witness such a tragedy in the making. When it comes to complete hopelessness, the more things change, the more they stay the same. I have worked in the men- tal health profession since 1972 and sadly I have known many folks who apparently sought a quick and violent end to their internal miser- ies. What leads folks to decide their own fates? Are they in that much pain that jumping in front of on- coming trains or traffic, or taking a dive off a tall build- ing seems like the perfect exit from their agony? What are their latst thoughts before CRASH happens. This indi- vidual who reportedly low- ered himself off a platform in front of an on-coming MBTA train left no room for possible rescue. He meant to die and he received his wish. Many folks who walk among us can show happy faces while living with pain and their heads crowded with voices making them often wish they would never wake up. Did a person wake up on Tuesday, February 22 and decided to make his way over to Central Square sta- tion to check out of this life? Did he make his bed that morning and have his last meal? Did he know when he arrived at the T station that he wasn't taking the train? Or did the voices within his head start screaming at him while waiting for his train? Our lives are often more fragile than we think. Often under our strong exteriors, we mask our deepest fears. Hiding them and wanting to be better than we think we are. We play pretend. Smiling on the outside and crying inside the dark walls of our emotions. We used to say only crazy people kill themselves. When I was younger, folks who killed themselves were denied a Catholic funeral Mass be- cause they ended life in mortal sin. Folks who kill themselves aren't sinning and are not necessarily that crazy either. People you least stspect sometimes do them- selves in and we never know why. In over 38 years, I have known 31 or so people kill themselves. It goes with the territory of working in this field of mine. I mourn for those I knew and hope God grants them the happiness they sought here on Earth. Once I even saved someone from a suicide attempt. About 15 years later, that same woman met me again and thanked me for saving both her life and her future. I laughed and told her, "No one ever dies on my watch because there's too much paper work involved. She laughed. I laughed. She walked away with her future still in her living hands. It is a long way from that day looking up at the train at Northampton station. I both understand better and still not at all. 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