Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Unfit For Purpose.

Baltic Dry Index. 1359 -17

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

"The history of paper money is an account of abuse, mismanagement, and financial disaster."

Richard M. Ebeling

Another day, another TEPCO admission. And what an admission, Fukushima is now a level 7 event on the international nuclear disaster scale, the highest possible rating, and according to TEPCO might go on to release more radiation over time than even the Soviet Union managed to achieve at Chernobyl. This very likely is the end of nuclear power in the west outside of France. A Bordeaux red anyone? Below, what many US and French experts have suspected for some time.

April 11, 2011, 10:56 p.m. EDT

Japan upgrades nuclear crisis to Chernobyl rank

TOKYO (MarketWatch) — Japanese nuclear-safety authorities Tuesday raised their assessment of the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant to the same level as the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

A Nuclear Safety Commission official speaking on national television said the amount of radiation leaking from the Fukushima plant so far was around 10% percent of that released in the accident in the former Soviet Union.

Japan’s nuclear safety regulators put the crisis at level 7, the highest possible rating on the international scale, which had so far only been assigned to the Chernobyl incident.

The situation had previously been rated at level 5, on par with the U.S. nuclear accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in 1979.

On Monday Japan widened the evacuation area around Tokyo Electric Power Co. damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant on safety concerns over radiation leaking from the facility. Read more on Japan widening nuclear evacuation


APRIL 12, 2011

Japanese Declare Crisis at Level of Chernobyl

TOKYO—The Japanese government raised its assessment of the monthlong crisis at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to the highest severity level by international standards—a rating only conferred so far upon the Chernobyl accident.

Japan's nuclear regulators said the plant has likely released so much radiation into the environment that it must boost the accident's severity rating on the International Nuclear Event scale to a 7 from 5 currently. That is the same level reached by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the former Soviet Union, which struck almost exactly 25 years ago, on April 26, 1986.

"Based on the cumulative data we've gathered, we can finally give an estimate of total radioactive materials emitted,'' Hidehiko Nishiyama, spokesman for Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, said at a press conference Tuesday.

Even as they upgraded their assessment of the situation, Japanese officials went to lengths to say that the problem they are struggling to contain isn't anywhere near the disaster of Chernobyl.

"It is quite different from Chernobyl," said Mr. Nishiyama. "First, the amount of released radiation is about a tenth of Chernobyl," he said, adding that while there were 29 deaths resulting from short-term exposure to high doses of radiation at Chernobyl, there were no such deaths at Fukushima.

"At Chernobyl, the nuclear reactor itself exploded," he said, adding that at the Fukushima plant, the pressure vessel and the containment vessel were largely intact.

Still, Fukushima Daiichi operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. warned Tuesday that since the Fukushima Daiichi plant is still releasing radioactive materials, the total level of radiation released could eventually exceed that of Chernobyl, a spokesman said.



In other news, we focus today on America, still the only super power and still operating the ponzi like fiat dollar reserve standard that has long since become unfit for purpose. Not for much longer, I think. US policy is now getting truly bizarre. On Friday, the US State Department got up on its high horse and called the Chinese kettle black. On Saturday, the Chinese Panda struck back calling Uncle Sam’s pot black. Thus do the world’s largest debtor and creditor spar in the world of global politics. China seems to be getting ready to call time on the seignorage advantage of the US dollar. America seems to be committing slow motion suicide. Nothing good comes from a ponzi like, Vampire Squid controlled, bankster run dollar, yet all of the fiat currency alternatives look worse. Stay long precious metals. This decade will end with a very different currency regime.

"In a country whose currency is not convertible into gold, inflation leads to its continuous devaluation in terms of foreign currencies."

Michael A. Heilperin

China hits back with report on U.S. human rights record

BEIJING, April 10 (Xinhua) -- China retorted the U.S. criticism on its human rights situation by publishing a report of the U.S. human rights record on Sunday.

The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2010 was released by the Information Office of China's State Council, or cabinet, in response to the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2010 issued by the U.S. Department of State on April 8.

The U.S. reports are "full of distortions and accusations of the human rights situation in more than 190 countries and regions including China. However, the United States turned a blind eye to its own terrible human rights situation and seldom mentioned it," China's report said.

The United States has taken human rights as "a political instrument to defame other nations' image and seek its own strategic interests," the report said.

While illustrating a dismal record of the United States on its own human rights, China's report said the United States could not be justified to pose as the world's "human rights justice."

"However, it released the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices year after year to accuse and blame other countries for their human rights practices," the report said.

These moves fully expose the United States' hypocrisy by exercising double standards on human rights and its malicious design to pursue hegemony under the pretext of human rights, it said.

The report advised the U.S. government to "take concrete actions to improve its own human rights conditions, check and rectify its acts in the human rights field, and stop the hegemonistic deeds of using human rights issues to interfere in other countries' internal affairs."



US Human Rights Report Raps China, Iran, Belarus

April 08, 2011

The U.S. State Department’s annual report on human rights expressed hope Friday that the protests against authoritarian rule sweeping the Middle East will yield sustainable democracies in the region. The report included sharp criticism of the human rights records of China, North Korea, Cuba and Belarus, among others.

The report nominally covered human rights in 2010. But it did not ignore the so-called Arab Spring democracy protests this year in Middle East and North African countries and said if they succeed, the region, and with it the whole world, will be improved.

Introducing the State Department’s 35th annual survey of rights conditions world-wide, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said those pushing for reform can count on U.S. support. "The United States will stand with those who seek to advance the causes of democracy and human rights wherever they may live. And we will stand with those who exercise their fundamental freedoms of expression and assembly in a peaceful way, whether in person, in print or in pixels on the Internet," she said.



After the US military scandals of Guantanamo prison, Abu Ghraib, and the Stryker Brigade death squad in Afghanistan, you might have thought that the US military would be embarrassed to be making human rights China’s case. Not a bit of it. Any human rights violation China can do, America’s military can do better, apparently. Below, America’s city on a hill seems to have a broken sewage system.

Bradley Manning: top US legal scholars voice outrage at 'torture'

Obama professor among 250 experts who have signed letter condemning humiliation of alleged WikiLeaks source

Sunday 10 April 2011 20.01 BST

More than 250 of America's most eminent legal scholars have signed a letter protesting against the treatment in military prison of the alleged WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning, contesting that his "degrading and inhumane conditions" are illegal, unconstitutional and could even amount to torture.

The list of signatories includes Laurence Tribe, a Harvard professor who is considered to be America's foremost liberal authority on constitutional law. He taught constitutional law to Barack Obama and was a key backer of his 2008 presidential campaign.

Tribe joined the Obama administration last year as a legal adviser in the justice department, a post he held until three months ago.

He told the Guardian he signed the letter because Manning appeared to have been treated in a way that "is not only shameful but unconstitutional" as he awaits court martial in Quantico marine base in Virginia.

The US soldier has been held in the military brig since last July, charged with multiple counts relating to the leaking of thousands of embassy cables and other secret documents to the WikiLeaks website.

Under the terms of his detention, he is kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, checked every five minutes under a so-called "prevention of injury order" and stripped naked at night apart from a smock.

Tribe said the treatment was objectionable "in the way it violates his person and his liberty without due process of law and in the way it administers cruel and unusual punishment of a sort that cannot be constitutionally inflicted even upon someone convicted of terrible offences, not to mention someone merely accused of such offences".

The harsh restrictions have been denounced by a raft of human rights groups, including Amnesty International, and are being investigated by the United Nations' rapporteur on torture.



In other US news, the last effective Federal Reserve Chairman, Paul Volker, thinks that though the system is broken it’s impossible to fix. The next Lehman is out there and getting closer by the day! The dollar reserve standard is fast failing.

Ex-Federal Reserve chief Paul Volcker says breaking up Wall Street banks 'almost impossible'

Paul Volcker, the former head of the Federal Reserve and a driving force behind financial reform in the US, has said that the task of splitting up Wall Street banks now seems "almost impossible".

By Richard Blackden, US Business Editor 2:13PM BST 11 Apr 2011

"I don't like these banks being as big as they are," Mr Volcker told a conference at Bretton Woods in New Hampshire on Sunday night. But "to break them up to the point where the remaining units would be small enough so you wouldn't worry about their failure seems almost impossible," he said.

The concern about the effectiveness of the reform of Wall Street since the crisis from Mr Volcker, who was chairman of the Fed for almost a decade from 1979 and, more recently, an adviser to President Barack Obama, comes as the Independent Banking Commission (ICB) today delivered its report on the future structure of British banks.

Regulators in the world's financial capitals are wrestling with how to make the financial system safer without prompting banks to leave for jurisdictions where regulation is lighter.

The former Fed chairman's concern over the failure to protect taxpayers and the wider economy from the potential failure of large banks was echoed by George Soros, the billionaire financier and philanthropist.

"I certainly consider they haven't addressed the problem correctly," Mr Soros said. "The whole issue of living wills and resolution authorities is not convincing."



We end for the day looking at one version of America’s future. Fiat reserve currency US dollars anyone? Disney dollars? Portuguese or Greek euros?

Obama faces a new Republican Trump card

By David Usborne, US Editor Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Donald Trump, the property developer and reality TV powerhouse who insists he may run for the Republican nomination for the White House next year, is on a roll. Polls now put him in second place in the race to secure the Republican nomination and not even his local paper, which yesterday Photoshopped him to look like a dozy clown, can slow his momentum.

Dismissing "the Donald" as a possible contender has become more difficult even if he seems preoccupied almost exclusively by the so-called "birther" conspiracy that says President Barack Obama was not born in Hawaii, as he claims. A recent Wall Street Journal poll of possible Republican runners showed him tied in second place with Mike Huckabee and only four points behind Mitt Romney.

Last night Mr Romney formally signalled his intention to run by forming an exploratory committee, a body to raise campaign funds. He is the second Republican to do so, following former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty.

But the White House is now training its guns on Trump. "I saw Donald Trump kind of rising in the polls. Given the spectacle of the last couple of weeks, I hope he keeps on rising," David Plouffe, Mr Obama's senior political adviser, sniped. "There's zero chance that Donald Trump would ever be hired by the American people to do this job."

The tycoon has also got the attention of The New York Times, which saw fit to publish a letter in which he attacks its star columnist, Gail Collins, for lambasting him over the birth certificate issue. "I have great respect for Ms Collins in that she has survived so long with so little talent," he hisses. "Her storytelling ability and word usage (coming from me, who has written many bestsellers), is not at a very high level. More importantly, her facts are wrong."

In recent interviews, Mr Trump has suggested that Mr Obama may have pulled of the "greatest scam" in US history by pretending to be an American when he is not. Speaking on CNN at the weekend, Mr Trump claimed that Mr Obama's grandparents had placed an advert in a Hawaii newspaper saying that he had been born in the US "for hospitalisation, for welfare, for this, for that, for all of the other assets you get from being a US citizen".

The producer and puppet master of contestants on his Apprentice programmes also points to a tape recording in which Mr Obama's grandmother says she witnessed his birth in Kenya. However, researchers say she misunderstood the question and quickly corrects her mistake. He also makes much of the fact that, while Mr Obama has a so-called "certificate of live birth" that identifies the Hawaii hospital in which he was born, he has never produced a more formal birth certificate. That families would have the former and not the latter in Hawaii is far from unusual, however.


In European news, Germany marches on to a different beat. Does anyone still really believe that eventually Greece, Ireland, Portugal and even Spain, won’t have to restructure their debt? Does anyone really believe that the European Currency Union is going to be around for all time, and they all lived happily ever after? Stay long precious metals.

Germany Reignites Debt Concerns With Greek Warning as Portugal Seeks Aid

By James G. Neuger and Rainer Buergin - Apr 11, 2011 12:01 AM GMT+0100

Germany warned that deficit-scarred Greece might need more financial relief, reviving European debt concerns just as Portugal seeks an 80 billion-euro ($116 billion) aid package.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said it is unclear whether Greece, the root of the year-old debt crisis, will need another cut in its bailout rate or a further extension of repayment terms to return to fiscal health.

“We, also the Greek government and the Greek colleague, can’t say for good today whether that’s enough,” Schaeuble told reporters after an April 9 meeting of European finance officials in Godollo, Hungary. “Whether that is enough and how this continues will have to be monitored closely.”

Germany’s doubts conflicted with official assertions that Greece is on the right track, defying efforts to put an end to the crisis that threatened the survival of the euro, postwar Europe’s signature economic achievement. Last week’s increase in European Central Bank interest rates for the first time in almost three years throws a further cloud over weaker economies.

Bond investors are charging Greece 938 basis points more than Germany to borrow for 10 years. The spread for Ireland, the second country to obtain aid, is 577 basis points. Portugal, aiming for a relief plan by mid-May, pays an extra 518 basis points.



"Gold bears the confidence of the world's millions, who value it far above the promises of politicians, far above the unbacked paper issued by governments as money substitutes. It has been that way through all recorded history. There is no reason to believe it will lose the confidence of people in the future."

Oakley R. Bramble

At the Comex silver depositories Monday, final figures were: Registered 41.24 Moz, Eligible 62.72 Moz, Total 103.96 Moz.


Crooks and Scoundrels Corner.

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

Today, has TEPCO Fuku’d MOX? Below the NY Times and the UK’s Indie rather think TEPCO’s nuked MOX.

New Doubts About Turning Plutonium Into a Fuel

By JO BECKER and WILLIAM J. BROAD Published: April 10, 2011

On a tract of government land along the Savannah River in South Carolina, an army of workers is building one of the nation’s most ambitious nuclear enterprises in decades: a plant that aims to safeguard at least 43 tons of weapons-grade plutonium by mixing it into fuel for commercial power reactors.

The project grew out of talks with the Russians to shrink nuclear arsenals after the cold war. The plant at the Savannah River Site, once devoted to making plutonium for weapons, would now turn America’s lethal surplus to peaceful ends. Blended with uranium, the usual reactor fuel, the plutonium would be transformed into a new fuel called mixed oxide, or mox.

----But 11 years after the government awarded a construction contract, the cost of the project has soared to nearly $5 billion. The vast concrete and steel structure is a half-finished hulk, and the government has yet to find a single customer, despite offers of lucrative subsidies.

Now, the nuclear crisis in Japan has intensified a long-running conflict over the project’s rationale.

One of the stricken Japanese reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant uses the mox fuel. And while there has been no evidence of dangerous radiation from plutonium in Japan, the situation there is volatile, and nuclear experts worry that a widespread release of radioactive material could increase cancer deaths.

Against that backdrop, the South Carolina project has been thrown on the defensive, with would-be buyers distancing themselves and critics questioning its health risks and its ability to keep the plutonium out of terrorists’ hands.

The most likely customer, the Tennessee Valley Authority, has been in discussions with the federal Department of Energy about using mox to replace a third of the regular uranium fuel in several reactors — a far greater concentration than at the stricken Japanese reactor, Fukushima Daiichi’s Unit No. 3, where 6 percent of the core is made out of mox. But the T.V.A. now says it will delay any decision until officials can see how the mox performed at Fukushima Daiichi, including how hot the fuel became and how badly it was damaged.



Government's doomed £6bn plan to dispose of nuclear waste

One month after the Japanese tsunami, the world's biggest reserve of plutonium waste is reaching crisis point. It was meant to be reprocessed and sold – but now no nation will take it. So where is this vast stockpile? Not Fukushima, but Sellafield, Cumbria

By Steve Connor, Science Editor Monday, 11 April 2011

The nuclear crisis in Japan threatens a carefully choreographed UK Government plan to tackle the world's biggest mountain of plutonium waste stored at the Sellafield site in Cumbria.

Japanese nervousness about nuclear power following the near-meltdown at the Fukushima plant has led to a freeze in the international trade of reprocessed nuclear fuel that the Government sees as critical to solving Britain's own plutonium problem.

The Government's preferred strategy to eliminate the UK's growing plutonium stockpile centres on a technology that was developed to meet the demands of the Japanese market, yet there are now fears that Japan is about to turn its back on the enterprise.

It was hoped that Japanese contracts with Sellafield to make mixed oxide (Mox) nuclear fuel would underpin the economic and political case to tackle Britain's plutonium stockpile with a second multi-billion-pound Mox fabrication plant on the Cumbrian site.

However, Japanese power companies have told Sellafield that concerns about Fukushima have forced them to indefinitely postpone a shipment of French-made Mox nuclear fuel that would have been transported on British vessels operated from Sellafield.

The postponement is significant because the Mox shipment was not destined for the stricken reactors at Fukushima operated by Tokyo Electric, but for the unaffected Hamaoka reactors operated by Chubu Electric, the same company that was supposed to be one of the first customers of the existing Sellafield Mox Plant (SMP).

Chubu Electric and nine other Japanese power companies have also indicated that because of long-term production problems that have dogged the SMP, they will not now be taking any reprocessed fuel from Britain until at least the end of the decade – nearly 20 years after the plant was opened to serve the Japanese market.

This would mean that the existing Mox plant at Sellafield, which was designed to supply more than 1,000 tons of Mox over 10 years, is likely to produce a tiny fraction of this before it is due to be decommissioned, at enormous cost to the British taxpayer.

The setback is seen as a huge blow to the business of making and selling Mox fuel, touted by the Government as the best way of dealing with Britain's stockpile of civilian plutonium, which is itself the product of nuclear-waste reprocessing at Sellafield.



"Whom the gods would destroy, they first subsidize."

George Roche

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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