A 14-year old German boy was hit in the hand by a pea-sized meteorite

Meteor hits Virginia

Meteor hits Virginia

A 14-year old German boy was hit in the hand by a pea-sized meteorite that scared the bejeezus out of him and left a scar.

“When it hit me it knocked me flying and then was still going fast enough to bury itself into the road,” Gerrit Blank said in a newspaper account. Astronomers have analyzed the object and conclude it was indeed a natural object from space, The Telegraph reports.

Most meteors vaporize in the atmosphere, creating “shooting stars,” and never reach the ground. The few that do are typically made mostly of metals. Stony space rocks, even if they are big as a car, will usually break apart or explode as they crash through the atmosphere.

There are a handful of reports of homes and cars being struck by meteorites, and many cases of space rocks streaking to the surface and being found later.

But human strikes are rare. There are no known instances of humans being killed by space rocks.

According to a SPACE.com article on the topic a few years, back:

* On November 30, 1954, Alabama housewife Ann Hodges was taking a nap on her couch when she was awakened by a 3-pound (1.4-kilogram) meteor that crashed through the roof of her house, bounced off a piece of furniture and struck her in the hip, causing a large bruise. * On October 9, 1992, a large fireball was seen streaking over the eastern United States, finally exploding into many pieces. In Peekskill, New York, one of the pieces struck a Chevrolet automobile owned by Michelle Knapp. Knapp was not in the car at the time. * On June 21, 1994, Jose Martin of Spain was driving with his wife near Madrid when a 3-pound (1.4-kilogram) meteor crashed through his windshield, bent the steering wheel and ended up in the back seat.

In 2004, a 2,000-pound space rock bigger than a refrigerator exploded in the late-night sky over Chicago, producing a large flash and a sound resembling a detonation that woke people up. Fragments rained down on that wild Chicago night, and many were collected by residents in a northern suburb.

* Top 10 Greatest Explosions Ever * Natural Disasters: Top 10 U.S. Threats * Photo Galleries: Shooting Stars

* Original Story: Boy Hit by Meteorite

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US Dollar: Will Heavy Event Risk Stem the Bleeding?

Written by John Kicklighter, Currency Strategist

The statistics on the US dollar are ghastly. Through the month of May, the world’s most actively traded currency plunged 547 pips or 6.5 percent on a traded weighted basis to its lowest level this year. With the momentum building, there was no shortage of reason to sell this currency.

Fundamental Outlook for US Dollar: Neutral

– Consumer confidence rises to an eight month high; but is this optimism warranted?
– Durable goods orders jump and housing statistics continue their slow improvement
– Despite a positive revision to first quarter growth, the US economy trudged through its worst six months is 50 years

The statistics on the US dollar are ghastly. Through the month of May, the world’s most actively traded currency plunged 547 pips or 6.5 percent on a traded weighted basis to its lowest level this year. With the momentum building, there was no shortage of reason to sell this currency. The 1Q GDP revisions confirmed the country’s worst six month period of economic activity in 51 years. Policy officials warned that a recovery could be pushed back into 2010. Rising national debt levels intensified speculation that the US sovereign debt rating was in jeopardy. And, once again, international calls to abandon the US dollar as a reserve currency were amplified. All of these are legitimate concerns; but none of them are new or immediate problems. This is what is important to remember heading into the coming week. Risk appetite will no doubt has its influence on the greenback; but a dense list of high-level event risk (from the US docket and abroad) will cast the battered currency in a more objective light as we see where the US really stands in the global scale between economic depression and recovery.

Referring to the dollar’s own calendar, fundamental traders will respond to a wide range of proven market movers. The scope of the list will cover nearly every facet of the US economy and will therefore better qualify speculation as to whether the there are signs of ‘green shoots.’ This is a misleading and perhaps overused term that allude to the beginning signs of growth. Like the rest of the world, the United States if far from growth; and what speculators benchmark now is the deceleration in the pace of contraction. Topping the list for potential impact (as it usually does) is the monthly non-farm payrolls report. The consensus from Bloomberg’s survey economists projects another 521,000 jobs lost through May. It is first interesting to note that the spread on expectations has grown to be relatively tight (forecasts range between a 450,000 and 600,000 drop). More important though is the pace of job losses. If this figure prints as expected, it would mark the second month that the rate of payroll reductions slowed and it would be an overall, significant improvement on January’s record breaking 741,000. As the leading indicator for economic health, a steady improvement of this caliber could single-handedly convert a bulk of the market to believers that the world’s largest economy is on track to recovery ahead of its major trade partners.

Nothing to scoff at itself, the rest of the data crossing the wires over the coming week will cover the health of the individual sectors in a little more detail. Consumers – whose spending accounts for 70 percent of the economy – will evaluated through personal income, spending and credit figures. If we are to expect a genuine economic recovery before the end of the year, we should see a turn in these figures relatively soon. From the business side of things, the ISM manufacturing and services sector surveys are due on Monday and Wednesday respectively. The outlook for factory activity has been negative for 15 months now and services seven – though the reversal since the end of 2008 has been relatively aggressive. Finally, the pending home sales figure will be a lagging indicator for the housing market, but consistent improvements from data in this group will eventually pan out to a true revival.

Alone, the round of US data will gauge how the American economy is performing compared to last month, last quarter and last year. However, for currency traders, the Forex market is a relative game in which the pace of US growth and returns must be set against its global counterparts to gauge the strength of the dollar. In this capacity, we must set the dollar against the backdrop of the major releases from other economies next week. The list of notables includes: the RBA, BoC, ECB and BoE rate decisions; Canadian 1Q GDP; Australia 1Q GDP; Swiss 1Q GDP; Canadian employment; and 1Q Japanese capital spending among others.  – JK

Written by: John Kicklighter, Currency Strategist for DailyFX.com
Questions? Comments? Send them to John at (jkicklighter@dailyfx.com)

Crosscurrents

By Joseph Trevisani

The factors driving the dollar seem to vary with the season. Last fall at the height of the financial crisis safe haven flows trumped all considerations; at one point investors accepted zero return for the security of holding US debt. The dollar rose 17% against the euro in a month and made similar gains versus the Pound Sterling, the Canadian Dollar, the Swiss Franc the Australian and New Zealand Dollars. But even at maximum market panic dollar superiority was not total; the imploding yen carry trade drove the dollar down against the yen to 90 to the dollar despite the huge inward flows to US securities.

The dollar’s virtues last fall were very specific; in a catastrophe everyone’s first choice for safety was American debt. The dollar’s competitive value was not the point, only its supposed security mattered. But those conditions could not last, and as the financial crisis became an economic crisis and the threat of financial system collapse waned the fear of wholesale loss of investment principal ebbed. In moderating circumstances the funds that had been stashed in States for safety (and little or no return) began to be withdrawn seeking other more productive currency and investments.

The degree of panic into the dollar last fall guaranteed a reverse move out of the dollar; but until the recent move that began on May 20th, the euro had stayed below the 38% Fibonacci retracement level of the July to October 2008 collapse

The euro US dollar equilibrium held from mid March until mid May with the pair largely confined to the range of 1.3100 and 1.3600. The original burst through that range on March 18th and 19th was prompted by the Federal Reserve announcement that it would buy Treasury Notes in an effort to keep consumer and mortgage interest rates low; this was the so called ‘quantitative easing’ policy. The Federal Reserve Board knew that the amount of US debt scheduled for sale to the credit markets in the months ahead could undermine its low rate policy.

Mortgage rates are not set by Fed fiat but take direction from the credit markets and the most important market benchmarks are US Treasury rates. The initial market reaction to the Fed quantitative policy was extremely negative for the dollar with the euro gaining seven hundred points in two days. But despite the Fed announcement, traders seemed to forget, the market absorbed that news and the dollar regained all that it had lost after March 18th.

Enter the budget of the new American administration and their plans for the US economy. Treasury rates at the long end of the yield curve have been rising since March. The ten year note has gained 1.5% in yield in that time. The bond market clearly anticipated the impact of the government’s financing plans well before the actual auctions began. But it turmoil in the bond market did not dramatically affect the currency markets until last week.

In a classic economic comparison higher interest rates are one of the prime drivers of a currency’s worth. US rates, though not at the Federal Reserve level, are clearly headed higher but the dollar has moved from strength to weakness. Gone is the expectation that the US economy, under the spur of historically low rates and massive fiscal stimulus, will be the first industrial economy to leave the recession. Gone is the credit to the Fed’s early acknowledgement of the financial crisis and actions to mitigate the recession.

The currency market is now concerned about the US debt, about the degree of Fed quantitative easing and potential for future inflation and not about rising Treasury interest rates. There is little confidence that a government as indebted as Washington will be able to withdraw the liquidity flooding the US financial system. The may even be the suspicion that Washington will realize that monetizing the debt is probably the only politically realistic course to alleviate the debt burden

The same proactive Fed and government policies that only a few months ago were seen as strongly supportive of the US economy and the US Dollar are now the dollars nemesis. Fear for the funding needs of the Treasury, even if that fear produces higher rates, is the new driving force behind the dollar’s fall. The factors driving the dollar seem to vary with the season. Last fall at the height of the financial crisis safe haven flows trumped all considerations; at one point investors accepted zero return for the security of holding US debt. The dollar rose 17% against the euro in a month and made similar gains versus the Pound Sterling, the Canadian Dollar, the Swiss Franc the Australian and New Zealand Dollars. But even at maximum market panic dollar superiority was not total; the imploding yen carry trade drove the dollar down against the yen to 90 to the dollar despite the huge inward flows to US securities.

The dollar’s virtues last fall were very specific; in a catastrophe everyone’s first choice for safety was American debt. The dollar’s competitive value was not the point, only its supposed security mattered. But those conditions could not last, and as the financial crisis became an economic crisis and the threat of financial system collapse waned the fear of wholesale loss of investment principal ebbed. In moderating circumstances the funds that had been stashed in States for safety (and little or no return) began to be withdrawn seeking other more productive currency and investments.

The degree of panic into the dollar last fall guaranteed a reverse move out of the dollar; but until the recent move that began on May 20th, the euro had stayed below the 38% Fibonacci retracement level of the July to October 2008 collapse

The euro US dollar equilibrium held from mid March until mid May with the pair largely confined to the range of 1.3100 and 1.3600. The original burst through that range on March 18th and 19th was prompted by the Federal Reserve announcement that it would buy Treasury Notes in an effort to keep consumer and mortgage interest rates low; this was the so called ‘quantitative easing’ policy. The Federal Reserve Board knew that the amount of US debt scheduled for sale to the credit markets in the months ahead could undermine its low rate policy.

Mortgage rates are not set by Fed fiat but take direction from the credit markets and the most important market benchmarks are US Treasury rates. The initial market reaction to the Fed quantitative policy was extremely negative for the dollar with the euro gaining seven hundred points in two days. But despite the Fed announcement, traders seemed to forget, the market absorbed that news and the dollar regained all that it had lost after March 18th.

Enter the budget of the new American administration and their plans for the US economy. Treasury rates at the long end of the yield curve have been rising since March. The ten year note has gained 1.5% in yield in that time. The bond market clearly anticipated the impact of the government’s financing plans well before the actual auctions began. But it turmoil in the bond market did not dramatically affect the currency markets until last week.

In a classic economic comparison higher interest rates are one of the prime drivers of a currency’s worth. US rates, though not at the Federal Reserve level, are clearly headed higher but the dollar has moved from strength to weakness. Gone is the expectation that the US economy, under the spur of historically low rates and massive fiscal stimulus, will be the first industrial economy to leave the recession. Gone is the credit to the Fed’s early acknowledgement of the financial crisis and actions to mitigate the recession.

The currency market is now concerned about the US debt, about the degree of Fed quantitative easing and potential for future inflation and not about rising Treasury interest rates. There is little confidence that a government as indebted as Washington will be able to withdraw the liquidity flooding the US financial system. The may even be the suspicion that Washington will realize that monetizing the debt is probably the only politically realistic course to alleviate the debt burden

The same proactive Fed and government policies that only a few months ago were seen as strongly supportive of the US economy and the US Dollar are now the dollars nemesis. Fear for the funding needs of the Treasury, even if that fear produces higher rates, is the new driving force behind the dollar’s fall.

Forex Trader’s Weekly Update 0601

Forex Trader’s Weekly Update (June 1 2009 to June 5 2009) by Daniel Su

EUR/USD

EUR/USD’s rally extended further to as high as 1.4167 last week, meeting mentioned target of 100% projection of 1.2456 to 1.3737 from 1.2884 at 1.4165. There is no sign of topping yet and initial bias remains on the upside this week. Further rally could be seen to trend line resistance at 1.4449 next. On the downside, below 1.4064 will turn intraday outlook neutral and bring pull back. But short term outlook will remain bullish as long as 1.3793 support holds.

In the bigger picture, there is no change in the view that the rise from 1.2456 is the third leg of medium term consolidation that started at 1.2329. Such consolidation is probably developing into a triangle pattern. Having said that, upside of the current rise from 1.2456 should conclude between 100% projection of 1.2456 to 1.3737 from 1.2884 at 1.4165 and 138.2% projection at 1.4654. Focus starts to be on reversal signal as EUR/USD now enters into this resistance zone. Break of 1.3793 support will be the first signal that EUR/USD has topped out and will turn focus to 1.2884 support for confirmation.

In the long term picture, outlook is rather unclear for the moment. While 1.6039 is no doubt an important long term top, there is no clear answer on whether subsequent price actions from 1.6039 are unfolding as sideway consolidation, deep correction, or a reversal in trend. Nevertheless, note that another fall is still in favor as long as 1.4867 resistance holds and in such case, EUR/USD should at least have a test of 1.1639 long term support.

Pips Mover’s Weekly Pivot Point for this week: 1.4042

Historical Levels up to date: 1.4865, 1.4675, 1.4420, 1..4090

From my Weekly chart, the pair is on a major down-trend as indicated by the three moving average lines and the Long MACD. This week, the pair is bearish as it falls to below the support at 50.0% Fib Level but manages  to rebound above it. It remains below the 1.4000 level and above the rising red channel which indicates that it is in the process of undergoing a bullish reversal. The Stochastic has risen to 87%.

GBP/USD

GBP/USD’s rally extended further to as high as 1.6196 last week, taking out mentioned resistance of 1.6045/50 (38.2% retracement of 2.0158 to 1.3503 at 1.6045 and 161.8% projection of 1.3503 to 1.4984 from 1.3654 at 1.6050). 55 Weeks EMA (now at 1.6242) is in proximity but there is no signal that GBP/USD is losing momentum yet. Short term outlook remains bullish as long as 1.5848 support holds. Further rise might be seen to 38.2% retracement of 2.1161 to 1.3503 at 1.6428 next. On the downside, below 1.5848 will indicate that a short term top is likely formed and will bring decline to test trend line support (now at 1.5061.)

In the bigger picture, GBP/USD’s rally is admittedly much stronger than expected but there is no change in the view that rise from 1.3503 is corrective in nature. Though, it might be correcting the whole fall from 2.1161 rather than that from 2.0158. Having said that, current rise might extend further into resistance zone of 38.2% retracement of 2.1161 to 1.3503 at 1.6428 and 50% retracement at 1.7332 before completion. Nevertheless, focus will remain on reversal signal as the rally continues. Break of the mentioned near term trend line support (now at 1.5061) will suggest that the rise from 1.3503 has finally completed and should turn outlook bearish for a retest of this low.

In the longer term picture, as discussed before, the corrective nature of the multi-decade advance from 1.0463 to 2.1161 as well as the impulsive nature of the fall from there suggests that GBP/USD is now in an initial stage of a long term down trend. Current rebound from 1.3503 is treated as a correction in the larger down trend only, rather than the start of a new up trend. Hence, the long term down trend is still expected to resuming after completing such correction. However, sustained break of 50% retracement of 2.1161 to 1.3503 at 1.7332 will argue that the long term trend in GBP/USD is indeed already changed and we’ll reassess the bullish potential in that case.

Pips Mover’s Weekly Pivot Point for this week: 1.6081

Historical Levels up to date: 1.9445, 1.8490, 1.7520

From my Weekly chart, the pair is on a major down-trend as indicated by the three moving average lines and the Long MACD. This week, the pair is bullish as it manages to remain above the support at 1.5880 but in a narrow range. It is trending above the rising red channel which indicates that it is in the process of undergoing a bullish reversal. The Stochastic has risen to 91%.


White House: General Motors to file for bankruptcy

By JIM KUHNHENN and KEN THOMAS, Associated Press Writers Jim Kuhnhenn And Ken Thomas, Associated Press Writers

WASHINGTON – General Motors, the humbled auto giant that has been part of American life for more than 100 years, will file for bankruptcy protection on Monday in a deal that will give taxpayers a 60 percent ownership stake and expand the government’s reach into big business.

It would be the largest industrial bankruptcy in U.S. history, and the fourth-largest overall. In addition, a GM bankruptcy would be unprecedented as the federal government would pump billions more into the company.

Underscoring the government’s extraordinary role, President Barack Obama planned to announce his support for GM’s restructuring strategy at a midday appearance at the White House, much as he did in April when Chrysler sought court protection.

GM president and CEO Fritz Henderson planned to hold a press conference in New York immediately following Obama’s announcement.

Administration officials said late Sunday the federal government would pump $30 billion dollars into GM as it makes its way through bankruptcy court. That’s besides the $20 billion in taxpayers’ money that the Treasury already lent to the automaker.

The money would come from what remains of the $700 billion rescue fund for the financial sector.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity in advance of Obama’s public remarks, said the administration expects the court process to last 60 to 90 days. If successful, GM will emerge as a leaner company with a smaller work force, fewer plants and a trimmed dealership force. The company will stick with its four core brands — Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC.

“There is still plenty of pain to go around, but I’m confident this is far better than the alternative,” Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said Sunday after being briefed about the developments by the president. “It’s a new beginning, it’s a rebirth, it’s a new General Motors.”

The government’s ownership stake and huge financial injection represents yet another remarkable intervention into the American private sector. The Treasury has stepped in to help banks, it has taken majority ownership in insurance conglomerate American International Group and it has guided Chrysler through bankruptcy protection proceedings.

Despite its sizable ownership, administration officials said the government intends to stay out of day-to-day management decisions. It says it intends to shed its ownership stakes “as soon as practicable.”

“Our goal is to promote strong and viable companies that can quickly be profitable and contribute to economic growth and jobs without government involvement,” a fact sheet issued by the White House and the Treasury Department said.

Still, it was the Obama administration that instructed GM to trim itself to a point that it could break even by selling 10 million cars a year. It’s current break even point is 16 million cars.

GM plans to name turnaround executive Al Koch to serve as its chief restructuring officer to help the company through bankruptcy protection, said a person familiar with the matter. The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity, was not authorized to speak about the appointment publicly.

Koch, a managing director with AlixPartners LLP, is a veteran turnaround specialist who helped Kmart Corp. through its Chapter 11 reorganization. He will lead the separation of the automaker’s assets into a “New GM” and the remaining parts of the company that will form “Old GM.” Koch will lead the management team that winds down the “Old GM” company once the automaker emerges from bankruptcy.

A majority of the Detroit automaker’s unsecured bondholders have accepted a deal viewed as crucial to reorganization, and Germany agreed to loan $2 billion to GM’s German unit, Opel, as part of its acquisition by a Canadian auto parts supplier.

The moves don’t change much for GM, but better prepare it for a bankruptcy protection filing, said Rebecca Lindland, an auto analyst for the consulting firm IHS Global Insight.

“The more agreements GM has with its interests, the better the bankruptcy is going to go,” she said. “It’s not a game changer at all.”

It would be the largest industrial bankruptcy in U.S. history, and the fourth-largest overall. In addition, a GM bankruptcy would be unprecedented as the federal government would pump billions more into the company, and take a 72.5 percent interest in the automaker.

On Sunday a group of large, institutional bondholders, representing 54 percent of GM bondholders, agreed to exchange their unsecured bonds for a 10 percent stake in a newly restructured company, plus warrants to purchase a greater share later. They had balked at an earlier offer, that gave them 10 percent of the company without the warrants.

Beyond the bankruptcy announcement Monday, GM is expected to reveal 14 plants it intends to close and name the buyer of its Hummer division. One of those plants, however, will reopen as a new small car factory. The decision to build the new car in the United States appears to address previous labor and congressional concerns that GM was considering importing a small car from its plants in China.

By building the car in the U.S., the share of U.S. produced cars for U.S. sale will increase from 66 percent to more than 70 percent.

In Germany on Sunday, the government agreed to loan GM’s Opel unit $2.1 billion, a move necessary for Magna International Inc. to acquire the company.

The Canadian auto parts supplier Magna will take a 20 percent stake in Opel and Russian-owned Sberbank will take a 35 percent, giving the two businesses a majority. GM retains 35 percent of Opel, with the remaining 10 percent going to employees.

The German funds are available to Opel immediately, as it attempts to shield itself from cuts if GM files for bankruptcy protection. Opel employs 25,000 people in Germany, nearly half of GM Europe’s work force. Under the deal, four factories in Germany would stay open saving jobs.

But jobs in other European countries may not be safe, Lindland said.

“As those (German) jobs are becoming protected, other jobs in other parts of Europe are put at risk,” she said.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who was traveling to China, followed the developments closely. The Treasury on Thursday offered bondholders 10 percent of a newly formed GM’s stock, plus warrants to buy 15 percent more to erase the debt. Last week, GM withdrew an offer of 10 percent equity after only 15 percent of the thousands of bondholders signed up.

The current 54 percent acceptance represents only $14.6 billion, but by lining up support in advance of a bankruptcy protection filing, GM is likely to find it easier to persuade a judge to apply terms of the sweetened offer to the rest of its unsecured debt.

It could also help the automaker get through the court process more quickly, said Robert Gordon, head of the corporate restructuring and bankruptcy group at Clark Hill PLC in Detroit.

“The more consensus you have, the more likely it is you’ll be able to move through the bankruptcy process in an expeditious fashion with less resistance,” Gordon said.

The company made a huge stride toward restructuring Friday when the United Auto Workers union agreed to a cost-cutting deal.

GM’s fate and the federal government’s intervention was scrutinized on several Sunday morning talk shows.

“I think the government auto bailout was a big mistake,” said Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. “We could have let these companies go through the bankruptcy process much earlier…without all of the additional government money, and ended up in the same place.”

In a typical Chapter 11 bankruptcy case, the company files a plan of reorganization that must be voted on by creditors. In each class of creditors, the plan would have to be approved by holders of two-thirds of the claims and a majority of the number of individual creditors who vote.

But the GM case is anything but ordinary, and it appears the company will sell some or all of its assets to a new entity that would become the new GM, rather than submit a plan to reorganize the old company.

GM’s stock tumbled to the lowest price in the company’s 100-year history on Friday, closing at just 75 cents after trading as low as 74 cents. In a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, the shares would become virtually worthless.

___

AP Auto Writers Kimberly S. Johnson and Tom Krisher in Detroit and AP Business Writer Harry Weber in Atlanta contributed to this report.