XIAM007

Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Saturday, April 9, 2011

New home sales are at lowest level in almost 50 years - Home construction in the US is all but coming to a halt -

New home sales are at lowest level in almost 50 years - Home construction in the US is all but coming to a halt - 




Home construction in the United States is all but coming to a halt.
Americans are on track to buy fewer new homes than in any year since the government began keeping data almost a half-century ago. Sales are just half the pace of 1963 — even though there are 120 million more people in the U.S.
The sliding sales show how far the housing market has fallen since the bubble burst four years ago. And they're a blow to the economic recovery as it draws strength from other places.
Diminished sales have driven the median price of a new home down to about $202,000, the lowest since 2003. If the sluggish sales continue, analysts say, small homebuilders will fold, meaning less competition as the market improves and higher prices later.
"The longer it goes on, the more builders will drift away from the industry altogether," said Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist of Capital Economics.
Ashworth noted that a surge in foreclosures is forcing down prices for previously occupied homes even faster than they're falling for new homes. As a result, new homes are less attractive to buyers.
"That's not going to change for at least another year or two," Ashworth said. "Under these conditions, you can't really see homebuilders willing to ramp up, and that's bad for buyers."


Read more - http://www.tennessean.com/article/20110324/BUSINESS02/103240333/1003/BUSINESS#searchbox

Canadian navy has wrong torpedoes for subs - 13 year later, they still haven’t got around to the “weaponization” part -

Canadian navy has wrong torpedoes for subs - 13 year later, they still haven’t got around to the “weaponization” part -




The Canadian navy plans to keep the country safe, just as soon as they get the torpedoes working.
The country’s stock of second-hand submarines – already beleaguered with repairs and upgrades — is incapable of firing the MK-48 torpedoes they currently own.
When Canada purchased its current fleet of four submarines from Britain in 1998, they were fitted for British torpedoes. At the time, Canada was heavily invested with the modern MK-48 torpedo system and did not want to abandon it.
Like any shopper trying to justify a second-hand purchase in the face of an obstacle, they figured it was still a good deal. They “Canadianized” the submarines, but, 13 year later, they still haven’t got around to the “weaponization” part.
“The Canadian Forces has always intended for the Victoria Class submarines to carry and fire the Mark 48 torpedo,” wrote Denise LaViolette, the director of navy public affairs, in an email. “Initial weapons certification will be progressed early in 2012 in HMCS Victoria for Pacific operations followed that year by HMCS Windsor for Atlantic operations.”
In late March, Canadians discovered their government has been cross-border window shopping for 36 “Torpedo Conversion Kits” when the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency issued a release. These kits come with spare parts and logistical support to upgrade the current stock of MK-48 torpedoes from Mod 4 to Mod 7. The estimated cost is $125 million, but the sale hasn’t been completed yet.
The Mod 7 torpedo, developed by the U.S. Navy and the Royal Australian Navy in 2006, is optimal in deep water and has advanced “counter-countermeasure capabilities,” according to the U.S. Navy. The Canadian navy already has some in stock but is hoping to upgrade all those dusty Mod 4 torpedoes they’ve unable to fire because of an engineering issue.
“We are re-using major portions of our existing weapons to create an inventory of newer, more capable and more cheaply maintained weapons,” wrote LaViolette.
The HMCS Corner Brook is the only submarine that is currently operational, and is lurking somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. On its maiden voyage, the HMCS Chicoutimi caught fire when power cables immersed in seawater sparked a deadly fire. One sailor died. The other submarines are undergoing refits.
At the time of the 1998 purchase, the submarines were the best non-nuclear technology available, said Roger Sarty, a naval historian at Wilfrid Laurier University.
“Within the limits on our defence budget there isn’t the possibility of keeping all of them operational all the time,” he said. “My guess is the navy would probably like to have one operational on each coast.”
When was the last torpedo fired by a Canadian ship?
Naval historian Roger Sarty said the last time the Canadian navy fired a torpedo in battle was likely during the most intense part of the Normandy campaign in 1944, or during the Allied convoy transports to Russia in 1945.
“We didn’t fire many torpedoes from our warships. In the Second World War torpedoes weren’t all that dependable. Officers all preferred gunfire,” he said.
Of course, those torpedoes did not come from submarines since the Canadian navy did not own submarines until the 1960s. Sarty didn’t think the navy would have fired any torpedoes during the Korean War because the enemy didn’t have major naval forces.
Sarty said the main purpose of owning submarines is to deter aggressors and keep stock of underwater resources.