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Fukushima radiation spreads worldwide

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by Arnie Gundersen
Posted August 24th, 2011

New data supports previous Fairewinds analysis, as contamination spreads in Japan and worldwide

NEWLY RELEASED NEUTRON DATA FROM THREE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA San Diego scientists confirms Fairewinds’ April analysis that the nuclear core at Fukushima Daiichi turned on and off after TEPCO claimed its reactors had been shutdown. This periodic nuclear chain reaction (inadvertent criticality) continued to contaminate the surrounding environment and upper atmosphere with large doses of radioactivity.

In a second area of concern, Fairewinds disagrees with the NRC’s latest report claiming that all Fukushima spent fuel pools had no problems following the earthquake. In a new revelation, the NRC claims that the plutonium found more than one mile offsite actually came from inside the nuclear reactors. If such a statement were true, it indicates that the nuclear power plant containments failed and were breached with debris landing far from the power plants themselves. Such a failure of the containment system certainly necessitates a complete review of all US reactor containment design and industry assurances that containments will hold in radioactivity in the event of a nuclear accident. The evidence Fairewinds reviewed to date continues to support its April analysis that the detonation in the Unit 3 Spent Fuel pool was the cause of plutonium found off site.

Third, the burning of radioactive materials (building materials, trees, lawn grass, rice straw) by the Japanese government will cause radioactive Cesium to spread even further into areas within Japan that have been previously clean, and across the Pacific Ocean to North America.

And finally, the Japanese government has yet to grasp the severity of the contamination within Japan, and therefore has not developed a coherent plan mitigate the accident and remediate the environment. Without a cohesive plan to deal with this ongoing problem of large scale radioactive contamination, the radioactivity will continue to spread throughout Japan and around the globe further exacerbating the problem and raising costs astronomically.

http://www.fairewinds.com/content/new-data-supports-previous-fairewinds-analy

US Government makes Strategic Decision to DOWNPLAY Fukushima (Arnie Gundersen) 8/14/11
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HqmgLOzeKiM

Agenda 21, Read it.
http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/documents/agenda21/english/Agenda21.pdf

*Note: Single radiation dose of 2,000 millisieverts (200,000 millirems) and above causes serious illness.

Fukushima: It’s much worse than you think

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by Dahr Jamail
Posted on al Jazeera on 16 Jun 2011

Scientific experts believe Japan’s nuclear disaster to be far worse than governments are revealing to the public

“FUKUSHIMA IS THE BIGGEST INDUSTRIAL CATASTROPHE in the history of mankind,” Arnold Gundersen, a former nuclear industry senior vice president, told Al Jazeera. Japan’s 9.0 earthquake on March 11 caused a massive tsunami that crippled the cooling systems at the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) nuclear plant in Fukushima, Japan. It also led to hydrogen explosions and reactor meltdowns that forced evacuations of those living within a 20km radius of the plant.

Gundersen, a licensed reactor operator with 39 years of nuclear power engineering experience, managing and coordinating projects at 70 nuclear power plants around the US, says the Fukushima nuclear plant likely has more exposed reactor cores than commonly believed. “Fukushima has three nuclear reactors exposed and four fuel cores exposed,” he said, “You probably have the equivalent of 20 nuclear reactor cores because of the fuel cores, and they are all in desperate need of being cooled, and there is no means to cool them effectively.”

TEPCO has been spraying water on several of the reactors and fuel cores, but this has led to even greater problems, such as radiation being emitted into the air in steam and evaporated sea water – as well as generating hundreds of thousands of tons of highly radioactive sea water that has to be disposed of. “The problem is how to keep it cool,” says Gundersen. “They are pouring in water and the question is what are they going to do with the waste that comes out of that system, because it is going to contain plutonium and uranium. Where do you put the water?”

Even though the plant is now shut down, fission products such as uranium continue to generate heat, and therefore require cooling. “The fuels are now a molten blob at the bottom of the reactor,” Gundersen added. “TEPCO announced they had a melt through. A melt down is when the fuel collapses to the bottom of the reactor, and a melt through means it has melted through some layers. That blob is incredibly radioactive, and now you have water on top of it. The water picks up enormous amounts of radiation, so you add more water and you are generating hundreds of thousands of tons of highly radioactive water.”

Independent scientists have been monitoring the locations of radioactive “hot spots” around Japan, and their findings are disconcerting. “We have 20 nuclear cores exposed, the fuel pools have several cores each, that is 20 times the potential to be released than Chernobyl,” said Gundersen. “The data I’m seeing shows that we are finding hot spots further away than we had from Chernobyl, and the amount of radiation in many of them was the amount that caused areas to be declared no-man’s-land for Chernobyl. We are seeing square kilometres being found 60 to 70 kilometres away from the reactor. You can’t clean all this up. We still have radioactive wild boar in Germany, 30 years after Chernobyl.”

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Death by Debt

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by Chris Martenson
Originally posted June 8, 2011

ONE OF THE CONCLUSIONS THAT I TRY TO COAX, LEAD and/or nudge people towards is acceptance of the fact that the economy can’t be fixed. By this I mean that the old regime of general economic stability and rising standards of living fueled by excessive credit are a thing of the past. At least they are for the debt-encrusted developed nations over the short haul – and, over the long haul, across the entire soon-to-be energy-starved globe.

The sooner we can accept that idea and make other plans the better. To paraphrase a famous saying, Anything that can’t be fixed, won’t.

The basis for this view stems from understanding that debt-based money systems operate best when they can grow exponentially forever. Of course, nothing can, which means that even without natural limits, such systems are prone to increasingly chaotic behavior, until the money that undergirds them collapses into utter worthlessness, allowing the cycle to begin anew.

All economic depressions share the same root cause. Too much credit that does not lead to enhanced future cash flows is extended. In other words, this means lending without regard for the ability of the loan to repay both the principal and interest from enhanced production; money is loaned for consumption, and poor investment decisions are made. Eventually gravity takes over, debts are defaulted upon, no more borrowers can be found, and the system is rather painfully scrubbed clean. It’s a very normal and usual process.

When we bring in natural limits, however, (such as is the case for petroleum right now), what emerges is a forcing function that pushes a debt-based, exponential money system over the brink all that much faster and harder.

But for the moment, let’s ignore the imminent energy crisis. On a pure debt, deficit, and liability basis, the US, much of Europe, and Japan are all well past the point of no return. No matter what policy tweaks, tax and benefit adjustments, or spending cuts are made – individually or in combination – nothing really pencils out to anything that remotely resembles a solution that would allow us to return to business as usual.

At the heart of it all, the developed nations blew themselves a gigantic credit bubble, which fed all kinds of grotesque distortions, of which housing is perhaps the most visible poster child. However outsized government budgets and promises might be, overconsumption of nearly everything imaginable, bloated college tuition costs, and rising prices in healthcare utterly disconnected from economics are other symptoms, too. This report will examine the deficits, debts, and liabilities in such a way as to make the case that there’s no possibility of a return of generally rising living standards for most of the developed world.  A new era is upon us. There’s always a slight chance , should some transformative technology come along, like another Internet, or perhaps the equivalent of another Industrial Revolution, but no such catalysts are on the horizon, let alone at the ready.

At the end, we will tie this understanding of the debt predicament to the energy situation raised in my prior report to fully develop the conclusion that we can –and really should – seriously entertain the premise that there’s just no way for all the debts to be paid back.  There are many implications to this line of thinking, not the least of which is the risk that the debt-based, fiat money system itself is in danger of failing.

Too Little Debt! (or, your one chart that explains everything)

If I were to be given just one chart, by which I had to explain everything about why Bernanke’s printed efforts have so far failed to actually cure anything and why I am pessimistic that further efforts will fall short, it is this one:

There’s a lot going on in this deceptively simple chart so let’s take it one step at a time.  First, “Total Credit Market Debt” is everything – financial sector debt, government debt (federal, state, and local), household debt, and corporate debt – and that is the bold red line (data from the Federal Reserve).

Next, if we start in January 1970 and ask the question, “How long before that debt doubled and then doubled again?” we find that debt has doubled five times in four decades (blue triangles).

Then if we perform an exponential curve fit (blue line) and round up, we find a nearly perfect fit with a R2 of 0.99.  This means that debt has been growing in a nearly perfect exponential fashion through the 1970’s, the 1980’s, the 1990’s and the 2000’s.  In order for the 2010 decade to mirror, match, or in any way resemble the prior four decades, credit market debt will need to double again, from $52 trillion to $104 trillion.

Finally, note that the most serious departure between the idealized exponential curve fit and the data occurred beginning in 2008, and it has not yet even remotely begun to return to its former trajectory.

This explains everything.

It explains why Bernanke’s $2 trillion has not created a spectacular party in anything other than a few select areas (banking, corporate profits), which were positioned to directly benefit from the money. It explains why things don’t feel right, or the same, and why most people are still feeling quite queasy about the state of the economy. It explains why the massive disconnects between government pensions and promises, all developed and doled out during the prior four decades, cannot be met by current budget realities.

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Green Shoots, Exit Strategy, No QE3

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by Jim Willie, CB
Posted originally May 25, 2011

www.GoldenJackass.com

An historically unprecedented mess has been created by compromised central bankers and inept economic advisors, whose interference has irreversibly altered and damaged the world financial system, urgently pushed after the removed anchor of money to gold.

IT IS NOT CLEAR WHETHER THE AMERICAN FINANCIAL COMMUNITY HAS THE ABILITY to observe and conclude that the US Federal Reserve is adrift and relies upon deception as policy in revealing its directions. Its position is to hold steady, inflate to oblivion, support financial markets in heavy volume secretly, and lie about leaving its trapped policy corner. The USFed is a propaganda machine that deals with ruses as a substitute for transparent policy discussion in the public forum. Two years ago the ruse disseminated widely was the Green Shoots of an economic recovery that had no basis at all. The scorched earth showed more evidence of ruin than fresh business creation, at a time when the grotesque insolvency was spreading like a disease throughout the entire US financial system.

On one hand the USFed was busy operating numerous credit and liquidity facilities in order to prevent systemic seizure, busily redeeming the Wall Street toxic bonds at the highest possible prices. On the other hand they were talking about Green Shoots, as insolvency spread across the big banks to the household equity. They lost their credibility in the process. They have lost it completely after two full years of 0% rates, the ultimate in central bank shame. The Jackass dismissed the Green Shoots ploy quickly, regularly, and correctly, as whatever little shoots showing were probably mistaken for some toxic green runoff from a nearby financial office of a corporation.

One year ago the ruse disseminated widely was the Exit Strategy from the 0% monetary corner that had no basis at all. The USFed was well aware that 0% as an official rate was untenable, dangerous, and would produce different maladies. They promoted a phony story of a Jobless Recovery, an utter contradiction and bad joke played upon the American workers. To make the cost of money free encourages speculation in the most general systemic sense. The primary gold market fuel is the price of money being far below the current price inflation rate. Anyone who believes the CPI is actually 2% to 3% is braindead. Even USGovt statistics list the numerous categories with strong price increases, yet the overall CPI is lower than all components. Power to adjustments.

My description has been that the USFed is stuck in the 0% policy corner. The corner has been described since the start of 2009 when it was instituted. If the USFed raises rates, they torpedo the housing market left as derelict adrift at sea, listing badly, taking on more water, weighed down by the inventory burden. Given that the USEconomy was so dependent upon housing for three or four years, and that dependence has turned to deep vulnerability, they cannot hike interest rates and exit the policy corner without sending home prices into a fast acceleration downward. They will bottom out 20% to 30% below construction costs.

Worse, a rate hike would trigger a credit derivative series of explosions from the Interest Rate Swaps. These queer devices hold down long-term rates far below the prevailing price inflation level. That is why the USFed Chairman Bernanke insists on an undying focus of the inflation expectations, the USTreasury Bond yields and TIPS yields (both of which they purchase in monetization operations). They control them using IRSwaps. If the USFed holds steady, as they must, they generate significant rising costs for everything from food to energy to metals to cotton. Even scraps (paper, metal, plastics) are rising in price. Even the toys sector must contend with fast rising prices in time for the Christmas season. See the Li & Fund effect, also called Foxconn in China. They also make i-Pods.

The current path lifts the cost structure to such a level that both businesses and households are experiencing a pinch. The fast collapse of the Philly Fed index is testament to the pinch. Shelves at major retail chains are experiencing a slow decline in volume. It is called the profit squeeze. Business profit margins are shrinking, even as household discretionary spending funds are shrinking. The Jackass dismissed the Exit Strategy ploy quickly, regularly, and correctly, as the monetary policy corner was described consistently and clearly. It was a bluff, but a very bad one. The savvy analysts did not fall for it, since the consequences of ending the 0% rate would be like turning the lights off for the entire USEconomy.

THE BIG RUSE & THE BIG BIND

The USFed is caught in a gigantic bind, cannot raise rates, and must endure the global price inflation problem that festers on the cost side of the equation. They busily deny their role in producing price inflation from debt monetization coupled with 0% rates. They lost more credibility in the process. They are the object of global anger and ridicule. They must hope that the eventual rate hike will keep the speculative juices from overflowing. Gold & Silver do not rest, as they brush aside such a plain ruse of a threatened rate hike. The sovereign bond situation in the entire Western World (with Japan adopted into the fold) is horrendous and worsening. The government deficits are out of control. Few analysts prefer to point out how the foundation for the global monetary system is supported by the gaggle of crippled sovereign bonds. To be sure, the Southern Europe debt is in a ruined state. But the debt of the United States is no better and the same for England, when viewed as annual debt ratio to total budget, when viewed as cumulative debt ratio to GDP (economic size). The graph below shows those two dimensions, and how the United States and United Kingdom are positioned among Spain, Ireland, and Greece, apart from the mass of nations. In the full year since this graph was produced, the US debt situation has grown worse. The reckless socialists seem prudent.

The extended PIIGS pen of nations, fully ruined and recognized widely as ruined, do not have the tools to prevent rising bond yields. They uniformly rise versus the German Bund benchmark. Their differentiation actually permits the Euro currency to trade more freely, even to rise. The Chinese were responsible for much of the Euro rise from 130 to 150, as they dumped USTBonds in favor of discounted PIGS debt, later to be converted into shopping malls, commercial buildings, and factories. Somehow, that factor did not appear on the US news networks. The USGovt has tools, wondrous electronic tools, which enable them at zero cost to fight off the barbarians at the gate. It is the Printing Pre$$. Unfortunately, its backfire is a powerful rising cost structure that has shown visibly in the high food & gasoline costs. So hardly at zero cost!! A year ago, the USFed folded like a cheap lawn chair. Instead of exiting their 0% corner, and implementing the advertised Exit Strategy, they went one step deeper down the rathole. That was exactly the Jackass forecast, QE to follow 0% stuck. They combined the ZIRP with the QE. They added the debt monetization scourge of Quantitative Easing to the already reckless no cost money of the Zero Interest Rate Policy.

PURE QE3 DECEPTION

The current ruse disseminated widely is the End of QE2 and no continuation of Quantitative Easing (aka debt monetization). The ruse has no basis at all in reality. The USFed would have to find buyers for the USTreasury Bonds. They have been buying 75% to 80% of USTBonds since the end of 2010. They have been supporting the US housing market by purchasing mortgage bonds. In other words, they have been preventing the more complete implosion of the mortgage market. It is one thing for the USTBond to go No Bid. The USFed has the direct responsibility to cover that up quickly and proclaim every USTreasury auction a rip-roaring success with great 2.3 bid to cover ratio. But it is another matter altogether to permit the mortgage rates to fly upward from lack of bids. If mortgage rates move to 7% or the adjustable ARM mortgages reset 3% to 4% higher suddenly, then housing prices will descend by another 10% to 15% quickly, as in with lightning speed.

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An ominous looking market top

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from Comstock Partners
Posted 15 May 2011

http://pragcap.com/an-ominous-looking-market-top

THE MARKET IS GIVING DISTINCT SIGNS THAT THE PREVIOUSLY STRONG RALLY is fading and that investors and speculators alike are paying greater attention to the headwinds that we have been discussing in these comments for the last few months. Last week we pointed out how suddenly everything that was going up turned sharply down and that everything that was going down moved up. On a more gradual basis we note that stocks have made no progress now for almost three months.  The S&P 500 reached 1344 on February 18th and today closed virtually at the same level – 1348. Since investors invariably try to buy on dips what they most recently missed, some bouncing around is likely as the market forms a top.  Nevertheless we believe the groundwork for a big decline is now being set at a time when the vast majority is still bullish.  The following sums up our concerns.

1)  Underlying all of the specific problems is the massive debt, both government and household, built up over the last few decades, but particularly the most recent one.  Household debt has averaged about 55% of GDP over the last 60 years, but recently peaked at 98%, and is now still at 91%.   As a percent of disposable personal income, household debt has averaged 75% with a recent top of 130% and is currently at 117%.  Similarly, government debt has averaged 66% of GDP and is now at a peak of 108%, as government debt has recently risen more than private debt has dropped.  The need to cut back on debt will inhibit economic growth for many years to come.

2)  QE2 is ending on June 30th.  The program will, by that time, have pumped $600 billion into the economy, meeting Chairmen Bernanke’s stated goal of jump-starting the stock market.  The end of the program is a defacto tightening of monetary policy. While the Fed’s balance sheet won’t be reduced anytime soon, the key point is that it won’t be increasing by an average of $3.8 billion a day as it has since mid-November.

3)  Fiscal policy is about to tighten as well. This is obviously what the ongoing discussions in Washington are all about. The fact is, that one way or another, both sides are more or less in agreement that the Federal deficit has to be reduced. So, whatever the merits, both monetary and fiscal policy will be less easy in the period ahead. That is a headwind against economic growth and the stock market.

4)  The European Union’s (EU) sovereign debt problem is not just a headline risk; it’s a real one.  As those who know far more than we do about the situation have pointed out, the EU’s weak sisters are not facing a mere liquidity crisis, but a solvency crisis.  It seems that a restructuring is virtually inevitable, causing severe damage to a number of major European banks. Furthermore, the EU will be lucky if the restructurings are limited to Greece, Ireland and Portugal without spreading further.

5)  China is battling against soaring inflation even on the officially suspect government numbers. It has steadily raised interest rates and reserve requirements over the last six months in an attempt to slow down the economy. Although the pundits, as usual, are looking for a so-called soft landing, the vast majority of government attempts to slow down an economy result in recessions. This would have a major impact on the global economy including the commodities markets, emerging market suppliers and multinational corporations.

6)  The Japanese earthquake is yet another headwind to the economy. In addition to being a severe blow to the Japanese economy, it is having an important impact on the global supply train.  Since the quake occurred late in the first quarter, it is likely to have a far greater impact in the current quarter.  Indeed, part of the renewed jump in initial unemployment claims may be due to the quake. We’ll find out more when companies start to give warnings about second quarter results.

7)  The Mid-East turmoil is continuing and is showing no sign of slowing down. Although the eventual outcome is unpredictable and can go in any direction, it is not likely to be conducive to further risk-taking in the markets.

8)  The economic recovery appears unsustainable without additional government stimulus, which is politically off the table. Household savings rates have to move higher in order to deleverage debt at a time when only reduced savings rates can induce stronger consumer spending. Home foreclosures in the pipeline are enormous.  This will add to already bloated inventories and sink home prices by another 15% to 20%.  Almost a quarter of all homes with mortgages are underwater, and this number will rise more as prices drop.

All in all, both fundamental and technical factors point to a coming major decline in stock prices at a time when the majority is still bullish and – contrary to conventional wisdom – market valuations are historically high.

Japan Fukushima update: rethink of national energy policy

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from Casey Research
Posted originally May 12, 2011

Fukushima Daiichi disaster prompts closure of another plant, rethink of national energy policy

As workers continue to battle with the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant, more impacts from the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl are starting to arise. The latest impact will hit car manufacturers, with plants in central Japan hit the hardest: power firm Chubu Electric has agreed to shut its Hamaoka Nuclear Plant until it can build better defenses against the kind of massive earthquake and tsunami that hit on March 11, and Hamaoka provides power to at least 15 auto plants.

Now analysts are wondering if the power disruptions – and more generally the lack of clarity around Japan’s future energy policy – might be the final pressure that drives Japan’s famous car makers towards more overseas manufacturing.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan asked Chubu to shut down all of the reactors at Hamaoka, citing studies that say there is a 87% chance the area will be hit by a earthquake of magnitude 8.0 or greater in the next 30 years. That information raised questions about why the plant was built near a major fault line in the first place. Chubu complied with the request within days. The utility said it will look to buy more liquefied natural gas and oil to make up for lost capacity. The company also said it will make efforts to procure energy from another utility in western Japan to try to avoid disruptions in its power supply.

That supply powers half of the 18 Toyota plants in central Japan and all four of Suzuki Motor’s domestic car and motorcycle facilities. The coverage area also includes plants owned by Honda Motor and Mitsubishi Motors, as well as Sharp’s LCD factory and Toshiba’s semiconductor plant.

Japan’s car makers are already hurting from the March 11 disaster. Toyota and Honda have been forced to operate at about half of their planned levels because of a shortage of components. They had forecast a return to normal levels by the end of the year, but now power shortages will make it even harder to recover. More generally, the power issue could give car companies another reason – in addition to a strong yen and cheaper labor abroad – to shrink production volumes in Japan.

The government stressed that Hamaoka was a special case because of its location, and reiterated that other plants would not be singled out for closure. Analysts were less than convinced, however; many pointed out that the request to Chubu came from a government that still had not clarified its energy policy in the wake of the nuclear disaster. Chubu can switch to LNG- and oil-derived power in the short term, but those power sources cost more and increase emissions. In the longer term, no one knows what the government wants to do. And the longer that uncertainty about power supplies continues, the more companies will start thinking about manufacturing overseas.

As if in response to these growing calls for energy policy certainty, on Tuesday the prime minister said Japan will scrap a plan calling for increasing use of nuclear power. Prior to the disaster, Kan’s government planned to increase the country’s reliance on nuclear power from 30% to 50%. Kan said the country needs to “start from scratch” on its long-term energy policy.

Over at Fukushima Daiichi, workers opened the doors of the damaged building around Reactor No.1 on Sunday and, after letting the building air out for eight hours, entered the building for the first time. TEPCO said the airing out released little radiation because an air filtration system installed last week had already removed most of the dangerous particles. The next step is to start replacing the reactor’s cooling systems.

A few days ago, about 100 evacuees were allowed to visit their homes in the exclusion zone around the plant for the first time since the earthquake. Nine towns and villages, usually home to tens of thousands, are subject to the no-go zone order and TEPCO says that, even in a best-case scenario, residents will be not able to return for another six to nine months.

The Dollar Crisis – What you can expect…

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from FutureMoneyTrends
Posted originally April 6, 2011

GOLD makes a new high of $1,467 per ounce.
SILVER touches $39.79 per ounce.
OIL breaks the $109 per barrel mark, with a high of $109.15
DOLLAR INDEX is currently at 75.76

AS A MAJOR CURRENCY CRISIS LOOMS IN THE WEST, there are some things that we should all expect. Lifestyle changes that we don’t have to imagine, but ones we can see happening right in front of us today. Now the catalyst for the beginning of a major currency crisis could be several things. To note just a few, QE2 ending would cause a spike in interest rates, banking crisis, and inevitably a debt crisis that would lead to a dollar crisis. Unfortunately for those living in America, the extension of more QE, a QE3 will only delay the inevitable and actually make things much worse in the end. QE3 will signal to the world that there is no hope for the U.S. to ever manage its debt crisis, an admission that our economy is propped up by fiat magic money, and global price inflation will occur as a result of an increase in the global reserve currency.

An oil spike, which could be the most likely as we write this today, could literally be the final nail in the coffin sparking massive price inflation, shortages, and a renewed debt crisis as consumers default on credit cards and mortgages in order to buy fuel and other household needs.

Why a currency crisis is inevitable? When U.S. debt growth started to outpace our economic growth, that’s when the problem crossed an invisible line into a coming crisis, however, when U.S. debt growth started to be funded by the Federal Reserve creating currency, that’s when the problem crossed the point of no return. So, now the Fed is in a situation where they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Private GDP hasn’t risen in 14 years, GDP has been rising because of two factors, government spending and government manipulation. Obviously, everyone sees the problem with the government spending, especially when it comes from borrowed money. Remember, when the government borrows money, that money is not going into the private sector and when government spends money, it is creating unsustainable demand.

Now when it comes to the manipulation of the numbers, it’s widespread. Hedonics, a low inflation application, and other government tricks have made our GDP number pretty much worthless. One of the big frauds was just discussed on 60 minutes last week, they discussed all of the money entering the economy from people not paying their mortgages. Billions and billions of dollars are entering the economy boosting GDP from people defaulting, yet it gets worse. The government in order to help GDP, creates a fake number to include into our GDP an application that includes imaginary income as if homeowners were paying themselves rent, so not only do these mystical rent payments enter our GDP number, but so does all this money from strategic defaults and honest defaults.

So, when the government, especially the White House which is in re-election mode, comes out to celebrate a positive GDP, it’s really a complete fraud, nothing more than window dressing. If you were to get rid of the window dressing, fraudclosures, hedonics, and an understated inflation application, you would see that our economy has been in a real downturn since the year 2000. Yes 2000, not 2007, and it continues because it never ended in 2009 as reported by the media.

You see, by having artificially low interest rates and government backed mortgage lenders, the housing bubble made it look as if we actually had a growing economy when in reality almost all economic growth was credit driven. Especially towards the end of the housing bubble, we had waitresses making $1,200 a month buying houses in California. Now this keeps  construction workers, realtors, loan officers, and all types of people working. The more money that was borrowed, the more money that entered the economy which spilled over into every industry.

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India halts all food imports from Japan after Fukushima fish found with excess radioactivity

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by Tyler Durden
Posted Zero Hedge, April 5, 2011

After dumping thousands of tons of radioactive water in the sea, Japan appears to have been stunned to find that the radioactive content of various fish has surged and is now above just imposed radiation safety thresholds.

From Kyodo: “Japan hastily set a legal limit Tuesday for the permitted level of radioactive iodine in seafood as safety concerns spread overseas in the wake of continuing leaks contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The limit of 2,000 bequerels per kilogram set by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare for radioactive iodine in marine products such as fish and shellfish is the same as that already adopted for vegetables, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a press conference.

The imposition of the limit followed the detection by Japanese authorities 4,080 bequerels per kilogram of radioactive iodine in young sand lance caught Friday off Kitaibaraki in Ibaraki Prefecture, which prompted the health ministry to consider setting a limit for fish and clams.

Different young sand lance, also caught near Kitaibaraki, were found to be contaminated with 526 bequerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium, exceeding the legal limit of 500 bequerels already set by Japan.” And now that Japan has another crisis scenario fall out to deal with, other countries no longer have faith that Japan has any control over the situation and are imposing complete bans on Japanese food imports: first India, and soon everyone else. Expect sushi prices to surge momentarily.

From Kyodo:

India said Tuesday it will suspend food imports from Japan for about three months to prevent food contaminated with radioactive substances leaked from the crisis-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant from entering the country, Press Trust of India news agency reported.

Specific food items subject to the suspension were not immediately disclosed, but marine products and fresh fruits are expected to be among them. India’s health ministry said the import suspension will last until it can obtain reliable data proving that the levels of leaked radioactive substances are safe, according to PTI.

Not to be outdone, Japan once again has proven it is completely clueless, and is dealing with the catastrophe in the only way it knows – denial:

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano dismissed the need for an immediate ban on shipments of marine products from the affected areas, but he pledged to toughen inspections to ensure that contaminated products do not reach markets.

The government will make further efforts to provide sufficient information to other countries through diplomatic channels regarding its efforts to contain the leak of radioactive substances from the plant, the top government spokesman added.

Given that radioactive substances exceeding safety limits have only been found in a small number of samples so far, Edano said, ”We want to proceed by monitoring (contamination) closely and grasping the broader situation rather than immediately regulating” shipments.

And while the diplomatic wrangling over who is right and who is wrong is about to spike in earnest, Japan can kiss its fishing industry goodbye, as well as scrap food exports for the indefinite future.

What they’re covering up at Fukushima

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by Hirose Takashi
Posted originally March 22, 2011
http://www.counterpunch.org/

Introduced by Douglas Lummis

HIROSE TAKASHI HAS WRITTEN A WHOLE SHELF FULL OF BOOKS, MOSTLY ON THE NUCLEAR POWER industry and the military-industrial complex. Probably his best known book is Nuclear Power Plants for Tokyo in which he took the logic of the nuke promoters to its logical conclusion: if you are so sure that they’re safe, why not build them in the center of the city, instead of hundreds of miles away where you lose half the electricity in the wires?

He did the TV interview that is partly translated below somewhat against his present impulses. I talked to him on the telephone today (March 22 , 2011) and he told me that while it made sense to oppose nuclear power back then, now that the disaster has begun he would just as soon remain silent, but the lies they are telling on the radio and TV are so gross that he cannot remain silent.

I have translated only about the first third of the interview (you can see the whole thing in Japanese on YouTube), the part that pertains particularly to what is happening at the Fukushima plants. In the latter part he talked about how dangerous radiation is in general, and also about the continuing danger of earthquakes.

After reading his account, you will wonder, why do they keep on sprinkling water on the reactors, rather than accept the sarcophagus solution  [ie., entombing the reactors in concrete. Editors.] I think there are a couple of answers. One, those reactors were expensive, and they just can’t bear the idea of that huge a financial loss. But more importantly, accepting the sarcophagus solution means admitting that they were wrong, and that they couldn’t fix the things. On the one hand that’s too much guilt for a human being to bear. On the other, it means the defeat of the nuclear energy idea, an idea they hold to with almost religious devotion. And it means not just the loss of those six (or ten) reactors, it means shutting down all the others as well, a financial catastrophe. If they can only get them cooled down and running again they can say, See, nuclear power isn’t so dangerous after all. Fukushima is a drama with the whole world watching, that can end in the defeat or (in their frail, I think groundless, hope) victory for the nuclear industry. Hirose’s account can help us to understand what the drama is about. –Douglas Lummis

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“You get 3,500,000 times the normal dose. You call that safe? And what media have reported this? None!”

Hirose Takashi: The Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Accident and the State of the Media
Broadcast by Asahi NewStar, 17 March, 20:00

Interviewers: Yoh Sen’ei and Maeda Mari

Yoh: Today many people saw water being sprayed on the reactors from the air and from the ground, but is this effective?

Hirose: If you want to cool a reactor down with water, you have to circulate the water inside and carry the heat away, otherwise it has no meaning. So the only solution is to reconnect the electricity. Otherwise it’s like pouring water on lava.

Yoh: Reconnect the electricity – that’s to restart the cooling system?

Hirose:  Yes.  The accident was caused by the fact that the tsunami flooded the emergency generators and carried away their fuel tanks.  If that isn’t fixed, there’s no way to recover from this accident.

Yoh: Tepco [Tokyo Electric Power Company, owner/operator of the nuclear plants] says they expect to bring in a high voltage line this evening.

Hirose: Yes, there’s a little bit of hope there. But what’s worrisome is that a nuclear reactor is not like what the schematic pictures show (shows a graphic picture of a reactor, like those used on TV).  This is just a cartoon.  Here’s what it looks like underneath a reactor container (shows a photograph). This is the butt end of the reactor. Take a look. It’s a forest of switch levers and wires and pipes. On television these pseudo-scholars come on and give us simple explanations, but they know nothing, those college professors. Only the engineers know. This is where water has been poured in. This maze of pipes is enough to make you dizzy. Its structure is too wildly complex for us to understand. For a week now they have been pouring water through there. And it’s salt water, right?  You pour salt water on a hot kiln and what do you think happens? You get salt. The salt will get into all these valves and cause them to freeze. They won’t move. This will be happening everywhere.  So I can’t believe that it’s just a simple matter of you reconnecting the electricity and the water will begin to circulate. I think any engineer with a little imagination can understand this. You take a system as unbelievably complex as this and then actually dump water on it from a helicopter – maybe they have some idea of how this could work, but I can’t understand it.

Yoh: It will take 1300 tons of water to fill the pools that contain the spent fuel rods in reactors 3 and 4. This morning 30 tons. Then the Self Defense Forces are to hose in another 30 tons from five trucks. That’s nowhere near enough, they have to keep it up. Is this squirting of water from hoses going to change the situation?

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Land of the Setting Sun

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by Jim Quinn
Originally posted March 28, 2011
(Apologies to Mr Quinn, his article is slightly condensed here.)

THE LINEAR THINKERS THAT DOMINATE THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA and the halls of power in Washington D.C. are assessing the series of disasters in Japan without connecting the dots of history. Their ideological desire to convince people that things will go back to normal in short order flies in the face of the facts.

It makes me wonder whether these supposed thought leaders lack true intelligence or whether their ideological biases convince them to lie. At the end of the day it comes down to wealth, power and control. If those in power were to tell the truth about the true consequences of demographics, debt, disasters, and devaluation, their subjects would revolt and toss them out. Before the multiple disasters struck Japan last week, the sun was already setting on this empire. The recent tragic events will accelerate that descent.

Japanese Beetle Meet Windshield

Smart financial minds have been expecting a Japanese economic tsunami for the last few years. John Mauldin described Japan’s predicament in early 2010:

“I refer to Japan as a bug in search of a windshield. I am not so sure about the timing, however, as the economic and fiscal insanity that is Japan may be able to go on for longer than many think possible. But to me it is not a question of whether there will be a crisis, but when there will be one. This year? 2011? 2012? I doubt Japan makes it to the middle of the decade with a very serious and sad day of reckoning.”

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard expected a 9.0 debt earthquake to strike Japan in 2010:

“Weak sovereigns will buckle. The shocker will be Japan, our Weimar-in-waiting. This is the year when Tokyo finds it can no longer borrow at 1% from a captive bond market, and when it must foot the bill for all those fiscal packages that seemed such a good idea at the time. Every auction of JGBs will be a news event as the public debt punches above 225% of GDP. Finance Minister Hirohisa Fujii will become as familiar as a rock star.

Once the dam breaks, debt service costs will tear the budget to pieces. The Bank of Japan will pull the emergency lever on QE. The country will flip from deflation to incipient hyperinflation. The yen will fall out of bed, outdoing China’s yuan in the beggar-thy-neighbor race to the bottom.”

Mr. Pritchard was either wrong or early, depending upon your point of view.

Debt & Demographics

Japan is a one trick pony that just broke two legs and is waiting to be put down. They have experienced a two decade long recession. Their stock market is still 70% below its 1990 peak. They have no natural resources. They allow virtually no immigration. And their population is in a death spiral. The one and only thing they have going for them is their phenomenal ability to manufacture high quality products and export them to the rest of the world. The earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan severely damaged their ‘just in time’ manufacturing machine. A surging yen would destroy their export machine by making their products more expensive. Hundreds of high tech Toyota, Honda, and Sony factories are shut. Four hundred miles of ports and harbors have been wiped out. There are rolling blackouts, with one million households without electricity. Over 500,000 people are still homeless.

The short-term impact of this disaster will push Japan into recession. The rebuilding efforts over the coming years will create a positive GDP figure, but will not do anything to benefit Japan over the long haul. The billions designated to rebuild will be money not invested in a more beneficial manner. The linear thinkers conclude that over the long-term Japan will be OK. These people are ignoring the double D’s – Debt and Demographics. When Japan entered its two decades of recession and experienced the Kobe earthquake in 1995, its government debt stood at 52% of GDP. Today it stands at 225% of GDP.

Twenty one years ago, the Japanese population was still relatively young, with only 12% of the population over 65 years old. The population of Japan peaked in 2004 and now is in relentless decline. Over 23% of the population is over 65 and the median age is 45 years old. For comparison, the median age in the U.S. is 37 years old, with only 13% over 65. The population of Japan is aging rapidly and will decline by 4.4 million, or 3.5% in the next ten years.

The question I pose to the mainstream thinkers is, “How can a country with a rapidly aging population and nearly one quarter of its population over 65 years old generate the necessary dynamic enthusiasm for rebuilding a shattered country?” Youthful enthusiasm and hope for a brighter future is essential to any enormous rebuilding effort. Japan does not have it in them. News reports already indicate a lethargic and seemingly insufficient response by emergency workers. The devastation seems to have overwhelmed this aging country. The psychological impact of this type of natural disaster will likely have two phases. Psychology professor Magda Osman describes the expected human response:

“After a disaster, typically small communities become incredibly co-operative and pull together to help each other and start the rebuilding process. There’s an immediate response where people start to take control of the situation, begin to deal with it and assess and respond to the devastation around them. The problem is that we aren’t very good at calculating the long-term effects of disasters. After about two months of re-building and cleaning up we tend to experience a second major slump when we realize the full severity of the situation in the longer term. This is what we need to be wary of because this triggers severe depression.”

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