Friday, 1 April 2011

The Truth, The Whole Truth…

Baltic Dry Index. 1530 -15

LIR Gold Target by 2019: $30,000. Revised due to QE.

"The final thing is that the reactors will have to be closed and the fuel removed, and that is 50 to 100 years away.

"It means that the workers and the site will have to be intensely controlled for a very long period of time."

This morning I think it safe to assume that we are not getting anything like the truth about the nuclear disaster at Fukushima. I expect the weekend media to start reporting on just how bad the Fukushima catastrophe really is. Below, this morning’s dismal update from Japan.

SRS pump will head to Japan

By Rob Pavey Staff Writer Thursday, March 31, 2011

The world's largest concrete pump, deployed at the construction site of the U.S. government's $4.86 billion mixed oxide fuel plant at Savannah River Site, is being moved to Japan in a series of emergency measures to help stabilize the Fukushima reactors.

"The bottom line is, the Japanese need this particular unit worse than we do, so we're giving it up," said Jerry Ashmore, whose company, Augusta-based Ashmore Concrete Contractors, Inc., is the concrete supplier for the MOX facility.

The 190,000-pound pump, made by German-based Putzmeister has a 70-meter boom and can be controlled remotely, making it suitable for use in the unpredictable and highly radioactive environment of the doomed nuclear reactors in Japan, he said.

"There are only three of these pumps in the world, of which two are suited for this work, so we have to get it there as soon as we can," Ashmore said in an interview Thursday. "Time is very much a factor."

The pump was moved Wednesday from the construction site in Aiken County to a facility in Hanahan, S.C., for minor modifications, and will be trucked to Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, where it will be picked up by the world's largest cargo plane, the Russian-made Antonov 225, which will fly it to Tokyo.

The move to Atlanta, he added, will require expedited special permits from Georgia's Department of Transportation, because of the weight of the equipment. If all goes well, the pump will be en route to Japan next week.


Up to 1,000 bodies left untouched near troubled nuke plant

TOKYO, March 31, Kyodo

Radiation fears have prevented authorities from collecting as many as 1,000 bodies of victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami from within the 20-kilometer-radius evacuation zone around the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant, police sources said Thursday.

One of the sources said bodies had been ''exposed to high levels of radiation after death.'' The view was supported by the detection Sunday of elevated levels of radiation on a body found in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, about 5 km from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.

The authorities are now considering how to collect the bodies, given fears that police officers, doctors and bereaved families may be exposed to radiation in retrieving the radiation-exposed bodies or at morgues, according to the sources.

They initially planned to inspect the bodies after transporting them outside the evacuation zone, but the plan is being reconsidered due to the concerns over exposure.

Local residents have been forced to leave the zone since the current nuclear crisis began unfolding at the Tokyo Electric Power Co. plant, which is leaking radioactive materials as its cooling systems for its reactors and nuclear spent-fuel pools have been knocked out by the disaster.

Even after the bodies are handed over to the victims' families, cremating them could spread plumes containing radioactive materials, while burying the victims could contaminate the soil around them, according to the sources.

The authorities are considering decontaminating and inspecting the bodies where they are found. But the sources said that cleansing decomposing bodies could damage them further.


March 31, 2011

Japan plant radioactivity 10,000 times standard

TEPCO: Elevated levels of iodine-131 found in groundwater below stricken nuclear plant; Japan seeks French, US expertise


TOKYO - Officials with the company that operates Japan's tsunami-stricken nuclear plant say radioactive contamination in groundwater underneath a reactor has been measured at 10,000 times the government health standard.

A spokesman for plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. says the company doesn't believe any drinking water supply is affected.

Contaminated water has been pooling at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power complex since it was damaged by the devastating earthquake and tsunami. It has already leaked into the ocean.

Spokesman Naoyuki Matsumo says the elevated levels of iodine-131 were measured in groundwater 15 meters underneath one of six reactors at the plant. Iodine is a radioactive substance that decays quickly, with half disappearing in eight days.

----Meanwhile, Japan is increasingly turning to other countries for help as it struggles to stabilize its stricken nuclear plant and stop radiation leaks that are complicating efforts to recover the bodies of some of the thousands swept away by the towering wave.

French, American and international experts — even a robot — are either in Japan or on their way, and French President Nicholas Sarkozy visited Tokyo on Thursday to meet with the prime minister and show solidarity.

----"The amount of water is enormous, and we need any wisdom available," said nuclear safety agency spokesman Hidehiko Nishiyama.

----Experts from French nuclear giant Areva, which supplied fuel to the plant, are helping figure out how to dispose of the contaminated water that has begun leaking into the ground and the sea.

-----Officials from TEPCO said they welcome the help.

"U.S. nuclear plants aren't by the ocean, unlike Japanese ones, so we think the French may be able to help us more than the Americans," said TEPCO Manager Teruaki Kobayashi.

Officials with his company also said they expect to use a remote-controlled robot sent by the U.S. within a few days to evaluate areas with high radiation. They are also setting up a panel of Japanese and American nuclear experts and American military personnel to address the crisis.

Tens of thousands of people have been displaced by the tsunami and magnitude-9.0 earthquake. Some saw their homes destroyed by the wall of water, while others have been ordered to leave a 12-mile zone around the plant because of radiation leaks. Authorities have recommended that people in a 20-mile band might also want to leave.

Frustrated evacuees had begun trickling back into the smaller zone to gather belongings and check on their homes, but officials in Fukushima prefecture posted warnings at evacuation centers telling them not to go back for any reason.

"There is not only a risk that you may be contaminated, but also that you could contaminate others in the evacuation centers when you return," the warnings said. "The national government is now considering whether to allow brief return visits, so please bear with us."


In other news, a warning on inflation from Wal-Mart’s CEO. While he was specifically talking about the USA, I think it equally applies to the UK and Europe. Stay long precious metals.

Wal-Mart CEO Bill Simon expects inflation

U.S. consumers face "serious" inflation in the months ahead for clothing, food and other products, the head of Wal-Mart's U.S. operations warned Wednesday.

The world's largest retailer is working with suppliers to minimize the effect of cost increases and believes its low-cost business model will position it better than its competitors.

Still, inflation is "going to be serious," Wal-Mart U.S. CEO Bill Simon said during a meeting with USA TODAY's editorial board. "We're seeing cost increases starting to come through at a pretty rapid rate."

Along with steep increases in raw material costs, John Long, a retail strategist at Kurt Salmon, says labor costs in China and fuel costs for transportation are weighing heavily on retailers. He predicts prices will start increasing at all retailers in June.

"Every single retailer has and is paying more for the items they sell, and retailers will be passing some of these costs along," Long says. "Except for fuel costs, U.S. consumers haven't seen much in the way of inflation for almost a decade, so a broad-based increase in prices will be unprecedented in recent memory."

Consumer prices — or the consumer price index — rose 0.5% in February, the most since mid-2009, largely because of surging food and gasoline prices. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy costs, rose a more modest 0.2%, though that still exceeded estimates.

In European news, the bank bailout follies continue. Austerity wracked Ireland needs another massive tranche of cash from Berlin. Euros anyone. Anyone with half a brain knows that this folly ends with Ireland and much of Club Med restructuring, a word so much nicer than defaulting. In Ireland’s case the default is expected late this year or early next. In Portugal’s caselate next year or early 2013. All bets are off though if Italy sinks with Libya’s Gaddafi.

"Nothing changes – same debts, same credit backstop – the Irish state," said Gary McCarthy, head of Collins Stewart Quest. "It's amazing that the state, which has tax income of just €30bn, is now being asked to shoulder liabilities well over 10 times that amount."

Ireland forced into new £21bn bailout by debt crisis

Irish finance minister Michael Noonan said country had been left with an 'appalling legacy' as a result of the banking crisis

Thursday 31 March 2011 21.17 BST

Europe's debt crisis deepened on Thursday night as Ireland was forced into another €24bn (£21bn) rescue of its banking system and jittery financial markets pushed Portugal closer to a bailout.

In a furious attack on the previous government, the Irish finance minister Michael Noonan said the country had been left with "an appalling legacy: a legacy of debt, of unemployment, of emigration, of falling living standards and of low morale" as a result of the banking crisis.

After stress tests to assess the vulnerability of the banks to a drastic worsening of the economy, Noonan announced that the government would take a majority stake in all the major lenders. These are to be radically reduced in size and focused on just two players.

Ireland's banks have been crippled by the bursting of a house price and commercial property bubble, created when they took advantage of the country's membership of the single currency to lend recklessly on low interest rates. The collapse caused an economic crisis that has seen output shrink for three years in a row.

"We are now in the third year of the banking crisis. The previous government failed to act. They ducked and dived and procrastinated as they lurched from one crisis to the next. They went through periods of denial and periods of self justification. They paved the road to disaster with good intentions," Noonan said. "They never fixed the broken banks, however."

Ireland's central bank governor, Patrick Honohan, said the country was saddled with "one of the costliest banking crises in history". The total bill has now reached €70bn – equal to €17,000 for each citizen.

Analysts said that while Ireland's latest bank bailout had provided the country with breathing space, time was running out for Portugal, where the government admitted that it would miss its target for deficit reduction in 2010 and revised up its budget deficit figure from 7% of GDP to 8.6%.

The poor figures triggered a fresh sell-off of Portuguese bonds and analysts said it would now be cheaper for the country to borrow from the International Monetary Fund and EU, as Ireland is doing, rather than access the international markets. Ireland pays 6% interest on its seven-year loans while bond investors want to charge Portugal 9% to borrow for just five years.

At the Comex silver depositories Thursday, final figures were: Registered 41.70 Moz, Eligible 63.79 Moz, Total 105.49 Moz.


Crooks and Scoundrels Corner.

The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over.

Today, the biggest crook of all, the Madoff States of America. Fiat dollars anyone?

Rampant spending has put U.S. in dire financial shape


ROME— From Thursday's Globe and Mail Published Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2011 6:52PM EDT

----The euro zone has at least admitted that spending a lot more than you earn is unsustainable. Not so the United States. For graphic and painful evidence, look at the mother of all PowerPoint presentations – the nearly 500-page “USA Inc.” report prepared last month by Mary Meeker, the former Morgan Stanley analyst who was dubbed “Queen of the Net” in the mid-1990s, when she predicted that the World Wide Web would take over the planet. She is now a partner at venture capital powerhouse KPCB and her report analyzes the United States as if it were a corporation.

Her picture is compelling, and not pretty. U.S. spending is going from the excessive to the obscene. She calculates that USA Inc.’s cash flow (the difference between government’s cash intake and outflow) was negative $1.3-trillion (U.S.) last year, equivalent to $11,000 per household. Cash flow has been negative for nine consecutive years, totalling $4.8-trillion.

----She puts the United States’ net worth at negative $44-trillion. That’s assets minus liabilities, including the unfunded liabilities of Social Security and Medicare over the next 75 years (which the Treasury Department considers an “off balance sheet” item). The figure is absurd in the sense that it is based on wild assumptions, such as interest rates and the theoretical value of natural resources. Still, it’s meant to make a point and the point is that the epic spending has put the United States in dire financial shape.

While no financial crisis is the same, excessive debt from unsustainable spending has played a factor in more than a few of them. New York City, in 1975, Argentina, in 2001, and Greece, in 2010, were all taken down in good part by unfunded entitlement spending (Dubai’s crisis in 2009 was a property bubble; Ireland’s last year was a property bubble mixed with a bank meltdown).

On the unfunded entitlements front, the United States stands out. Spending on Medicare and Medicaid (the insurance programs for low-income families and the elderly) reached $724-billion last year, equivalent to 21 per cent of government expenses, up from 5 per cent 40 years ago. U.S. government spending on health care now consumes 8.2 per cent of gross domestic product, up from just 1.3 per cent half a century ago. According to the Congressional Budget Office, entitlement spending and interest payments would exceed total government revenues by 2025, assuming current policy goes unchanged.


Another weekend, and here in the south of England spring is in full swing. The hedgerows and woods are bright with the while blossom of the blackthorn trees. New born lambs fill the farmers fields, while trees of all types are bringing forth their bright green new season leaves. The days are much warmer, and the drudgery of countryside winter walks with the dog are replaced by the joy of spring walks watching God’s countryside come back to life. Even some of the winter’s fallen trees have re-rooted and are regenerating as several trees from one. The bluebell plants are just about to shhot up their flower stem. For us in the northern hemisphere, there’s no season quite like spring. Have a great weekend everyone. Enjoy the changing season as you can.

Stranger as thou canst, lessen the evils of life.

Memorial to an 18th century R.N. ships surgeon. Bath Abbey.

The monthly Coppock Indicators finished March:

DJIA: +160 UP 06. NASDAQ: +216 Down 01. SP500: +163 UP 6.

The Dow and SP 500 have reversed albeit by tiny margins, while the NASDAQ barely moved down. The Fed’s rigging of the indicators seems to have worked. Note: like all indicators, they were devised for normal markets not markets where the central bank is flooding the economy with new cash. In current conditions where risk is suspended by too big to fail, I doubt any indicators are showing more that where the Fed’s new cash is flowing in our world of casino capitalism.

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