Saturday, March 12, 2011

#Japan #Earthquake: Before and After Photos by Google

Asahi Shinbun's website has a page with satellite photos taken by Google that show before and after photos of some of the areas and cities hit by the earthquake of March 11.

Photos were taken by Geo-Eye 1 satellite.

Here's one pair: part of Natori City in Miyagi Prefecture

Before (2008):


#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Sea Water Being Poured Into Reactor No.3

After the emergency battery died and the emergency cooling system stopped due to lack of power, the Japanese government decided to pour sea water into the reactor No.3 at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.

There goes another reactor.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (in Japanese, 3:05PM Japan Standard Time, 3/13/2011):

TEPCO started pouring sea water into the reactor No.3 at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant at 1:12PM, March 13.

TEPCO started releasing the radioactive steam from the container at 8:41AM this morning, and the pressure inside the container started to drop at 9AM. The water level then started to rise again, but the pressure began to rise again around noontime. At 12:55PM they discovered that the 1.9 meter of the fuel rods were exposed, and they decided to pour sea water into the container.

70% Chance of Another M7 or Greater Earthquake in Japan Within 3 Days

That's what Japan Meteorological Agency just announced. The Agency also upgraded the earthquake on March 11, 2011 from magnitude 8.8 to 9.0. M9.0 would be the 4th largest (tie) earthquake in the world since 1900.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (original in Japanese, 2:19PM 3/13/2011):

Japan Meteorological Agency announced that there was 70% chance of an earthquake in the magnitude of 7 or greater within 3 days starting 10AM on March 13, 2011, and 50% chance within 3 days starting 10AM on March 16, 2011.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: TEPCO Press Release Doesn't Even Admit

that there was an explosion that blew off half the building that houses the Reactor No.1. If you read the press release, you would think there was an earthquake at 3:36PM on March 12 and as the result there was some sound and smoke somewhere near the Reactor No.1 (they call it Unit 1).

From their 2:00AM March 13, 2011 Press Release in English (their word):

Unit 1(Shut down)
- Reactor has been shut down. However, the unit is under inspection due to
the explosive sound and white smoke that was confirmed after the big
quake occurred at 3:36PM.
- We have been injecting sea water and boric acid which absorbs neutron
into the reactor core.

The same Press Release in Japanese is more explicit (my translation into English):

Unit 1 (Shut down)
- Reactor has been shut down. At 3:36PM yesterday there was a large quake directly under [the Unit 1]. Afterwards, an explosive sound and white smoke were observed near the Unit 1. We are currently investigating the incident.

Their 5:30AM Press Release repeats the same verbage.

Hmmm. Checking the USGS site, I do find an earthquake at 3:36 PM (6:36AM UTC) on March 12. But it is off the coast of Iwate Prefecture.

I think TEPCO is obfuscating by deliberately confusing the order of events - a fine Japanese tradition by the way, you just have to know how to spot it. The correct order of events is: there was an explosion at the Unit 1 -->the earth shook from the explosion --> the explosion was accompanied by a huge sound and white smoke.

#Japan #Earthquake: TEPCO Plans Rolling Blackout to Conserve Electricity

and different frequencies are partly to blame...

Main points from Nikkei Shinbun (original in Japanese, link, emphasis added; 3/12/2011):

TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Co.) announced the rolling blackout [intentionally engineered power outage] to start on Monday March 14, following the shutdown Fukushima I and II Nuclear Power Plants. Electricity supply from other power companies are limited.

Both businesses and households, including the households in metropolitan Tokyo, will be subject to the rolling blackout, which is the first since 1951 when TEPCO was created.

TEPCO's Vice President Fujimoto said in the press conference that for March 14, "The demand is expected to be 41 million kilowatt against the supply of 31 million kilowatt, resulting in 10 million kilowatt shortage". Fujimoto said he expects the rolling blackout to last at least a week.

TEPCO limited the power supply in 2007, when their nuclear power plant in Kashiwazaki with 7 reactors was shut down. However, the measure only applied to big corporate users, and it was only for 150,000 to 200,000 Kilowatts.

Part of the reason why TEPCO cannot count on electricity supply from other power companies is that TEPCO uses 50 Hertz as their line frequency, whereas the power companies unaffected by the earthquake (=southwestern half of Japan) uses 60 Hertz. The capacity of the frequency converter is not enough. The other electric companies that uses 50 Hertz are Tohoku Electric Power whose facilities have been badly damaged, and Hokkaido Electric Power which is too far away.

The Kashiwazaki Nuclear Power Plant [which by the way has the same type of reactors as Fukushima] took 22 months to come back online, and it had a far less severe damage than the Fukushima plants.

Fukushima I and II Nuclear Power Plants generate 9.1 million kilowatt, or over 20% of total electricity generated for TEPCO.

Take a look at this chart that was in the original article. (Y-axis is trillion kilowatt hour.) From the top of the bar chart, the components are: Nuclear, hydro, coal, LNG (liquefied natural gas), alternative energy, and petroleum. Note the high ratio of nuclear power. According to the article, the Japanese power companies were planning to raise the ratio from the current 34% to 70% by the year 2030.

After this quake and the on-going emergency at the Fukushima I, II Nuclear Power Plants, this national plan (both government and industry) of achieving a "low-carbon emission" society through more nuclear power generation may be in serious trouble.

Japan has bought into "global warming" completely, without a shred of doubt as far as I've seen. In its quest for low-carbon, clean and green energy, nuclear power generation has been given an extra help from the government, despite the persistent, strong opposition from the residents who would be affected by the nuclear plants built in their backyards.

#Japan #Earthquake: Foreign Rescue Help Offered So Far

As reported in various Japanese and foreign news media:

South Korea: 5 rescue workers and 2 dogs.

China: 15 rescue workers.

UK: 59 rescue workers, 2 dogs, and a medical team.

Germany: 40 rescue workers.

Singapore: 5 rescue workers and 5 dogs (they are going to Fukushima)

New Zealand: 48 rescue workers

Australia: 72 rescue workers

US: 140 rescue workers (from USAID), dogs (arriving on 3/13, in Aomori's Misawa Base)

Amazing to see in some of the Japanese bulletin boards a deep resentment and hostility against help from South Korea, even in this emergency. I guess these people live safely away from the affected area of Tohoku and Kanto.

Looking at the excellent performance of the Japanese government in bungling up the nuclear plant disaster and reading about lack of food (and I have to assume water), I wouldn't count much on their own government to do much helping.

#Japan #Earthquake: Food Is Running Out at Sendai Airport for 1,400 People

(translation from Yomiuri Shinbun, 9:00PM, 3/12/2011; original in Japanese; emphasis added)

About 1,400 people (700 passengers, 300 airport/airline workers, and 400 residents nearby who fled to the airport after the earthquake) have been taking shelter at the Sendai Airport since the earthquake struck on March 11. All the clocks at the airport stopped at 4:00PM, the time that tsunami hit the airport.

They stay on the 2nd floor, as the 1st floor was flooded. There is no electricity, and there's a long line of people in front of the counter that has a battery recharger for the cellphones.

Airport shops offer food and medicine for free, and airport workers help passengers and residents as best they can. But the temperature drops to sub-zero (Celsius) at night, and there's no heat. The food is running out, and Mr. Junichi Ishimori, director of the airport building, is afraid they will completely run out of food in a day [that's March 13..]. They are waiting for the relief effort to reach them soon.

In a different article, I read that at the emergency shelter near Fukushima I Nuclear Plant, the evacuees had to share one riceball (onigiri) between two people, and that was their lunch.


More on #Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor No.3: Emergency Battery Died

From Yomiuri Shinbun (original in Japanese, link added; 7:20AM 3/13/2011):

  • The emergency battery power ran out for the High Pressure Core Flooder System, and the system shut itself down at 2:44AM. The cooling water stopped entering the container.

  • At 4:15AM, the fuel rods started to get exposed as the water in the container started to boil and water level started to go down.

  • The No.3 Reactor of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant uses a mixture of uranium and plutonium as fuel (MOX fuel).

The battery died at 2:44AM. They did nothing for 1.5 hours until the fuel rods started to get exposed at 4:14AM. Then, they waited nearly 2 hours to issue a nuclear emergency. What is the matter with these people?

From this read, it sure looks like all they needed was the POWER to run the cooling system.
If that's the case, the solution was, and still is, very simple:


#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor No.3 Loses Core Cooling Mechanism

Translating Nikkei Shinbun's latest (7:10PM Japan Standard Time, 3/13/2011):

TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Co.) announced at 6PM that the cooling mechanism of the reactor No.3 at Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant has been lost. Due to the power outage since yesterday, the High Pressure Core Flooder System shut itself down.

That brings the total number of the reactors with nuclear emergency to 6 (No.1, 2, 3 reactors at Fukushima I, No.1, 2, 4 reactors at Fukushima II).

And remember, ALL of the emergency power generators on site FAILED. Clearly, judging from this news, the Self Defense Force or TEPCO hasn't been able to ship any of the emergency power generators that they supposedly have.

CAN ANYONE HELP? THE US MILITARY? ANYONE? Can anyone help the government of Japan from its stupidity and offer to airlift these generators?

Fukushima I Nuclear Plant: Chief Cabinet Secretary Lets Out the Truth As He Sees Fit

A bit of info I found in an article at Asahi Shinbun (5:30AM, 3/13/2011):

Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano said in his 1st press conference on 3/12 (at 5:45PM, see my previous post) that he didn't really know (or he couldn't tell publicly) whether the fuel core container was damaged or not. After repeatedly questioned, he basically said "all in good time" (my word, not his), when the government had all the information and had thoroughly analyzed the situation.

So the container may have been damaged, and he was going to tell the Japanese and the rest of the world. At the time of this 1st conference, the emergency messages to the residents near Fukushima I Plant were still "there was no explosion" but "don't go outside, just to be safe". (See my previous post.)

The Japanese government's response, exemplified by Mr. Edano, is benignly interpreted as an effort not to cause panic among the populace. But

In his 2nd press conference 2 hours later, he did say the container was intact.

Latest on Cooling Effort on Fukushima I Plant Reactor No.1

(Liar, liar, pants on fire) Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano announced at 1:50 AM Japan Time on 3/13 - that is about 5 hours ago - that the pouring of sea water into the reactor should be done within a few hours. (Yomiuri Shinbun, in Japanese)

This is Mr. Edano, who is doubling as Japan's Foreign Minister. Does he look clueless or what?

So it should be finished by now. Looking for Japanese news sources to confirm one way or another.

They have gone awfully quiet on other reactors at Fukushima I, and on Fukushima II...

The "Extend and Pretend" nature of the Japanese government hasn't changed, despite who or which party is at the top.

Video of Fukushima I Nuke Plant Explosion

Youtube video of the explosion of the reactor No.1 (in Japanese). The news seems to be sometime after the explosion and before 4 PM, because the newscaster says the 4PM press conference by the Atomic Safety Agency has been postponed.

According to this news,
  • At 3PM 3/12/11, about 30 minutes before the explosion took place, TEPCO (the power company) announced that it was successful in relieving the pressure in the fuel core container.

  • The fuel rods are half-exposed, due to lower water level.

  • Cesium and Iodine have been detected in the atmosphere near the plant. [Both are products of nuclear fission.]

  • 4 people were injured.


March 17, 2013 It looks like NHK Took down the video. Here's one of many that are still available:

Explosion at Fukushima I Nuclear Plant, Evacuation Zone Expanded to 20 Kilometers, Government Doesn't Tell the Whole Truth

(Updated with TEPCO's comment)

The Japanese government flip-flopped on the situation at the plant, safety measures, and evacuation plan, leaving the residents confused, and potentially exposed to more radiation.

The government's response may be understandable given the situation, but coming from that country, I think it goes much deeper. It is one of the flaws of the Japanese system: Extend and pretend.

Here's the time line of the explosion and subsequent response from Yomiuri Shinbun (translating from original Japanese, from two articles-here and here, 3/13/2011):

Around 3PM, 3/12:

TEPCO (power company) announced their effort to lower the pressure in the fuel core container was successful.
Around 4PM:
Emergency broadcast system of Minami-Soma City announced that there may have been an explosion in the Fukushima I Nuclear Plant, and warned the residents not to go outside.
The residents, not sure what to do, started to evacuate anyway, to get as far away as possible.
At 4:30PM:
Another emergency broadcast message that the previous news of explosion was WRONG, and that THERE WAS NO EXPLOSION at the plant.

Relieved, some residents went outdoors. However, the TV was showing the building that housed No.1 reactor - the top half of the building had apparently been blown off.

At 5:35PM:
Another emergency broadcast message telling the residents not to go outside, JUST IN CASE. The residents were perplexed. Only fragmented information about the status of the plant from the government or TEPCO (the power company in charge of the plant).
At 5:45PM:

Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano held a press conference and said there had been some sort of "explosion event" at the plant, but declined to comment further when pressed, pending further analysis.
Around 6:30PM:

The evacuation zone was finally expanded from 10 kilometers to 20 kilometers.

At 8:40PM:

Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano held a second press conference, and finally admitted that there had been an explosion, and assured that there was nothing to worry about, everything was under control. He said there was no breach of the container and the reactor core was intact, and the explosion was due to the hydrogen from the released steam combined with the surrounding air (oxygen), which blew up the top half of the building.


It took the cabinet secretary more than 5 hours to even admit there was an explosion at the nuclear plant. And we are to believe his word that the situation is totally under their control, that they know what they're doing.

I sure hope he's right.

(Hope is a dirty word now, I forgot..)

#Japan #Earthquake: 10,000 People Unaccounted for in Minami-Sanriku in Miyagi

(translating from Japanese source)

From Yomiuri Shinbun (3/12/2011):

10,000 people are still missing in a Miyagi town of Minami-Sanriku, whose pre-earthquake, tsunami population was 17,300.

Tsunami that struck Minami Sanriku came 7 kilometers (4.35 miles) inland. The survivors say it was more than 10-meter high (32.8 feet). An ocean buoy was found on top of a three story building.

This is what's left of the town (photos from Yomiuri Shinbun):

Friday, March 11, 2011

Fukushima I Nuclear Plant: Core Melt in Reactor No.1 May Be Already Happening

From Nikkei Shinbun (2:18PM Japan, 3/12/2011) [original is Japanese; link added]:

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency at Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry announced at 2:00PM Local Japan Time that there is a possibility that a core melt in the reactor No.1 at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant may already be happening.

Cesium has been detected in the area, which is a byproduct of nuclear fission.
So the Japanese government hasn't been quite forthcoming as to what stage their effort to secure the reactors really is.

For record: Nikkei Shinbun (3/12/2011)











Fukushima I Nuclear Plant: Radiation Level at the Gate Is 70 Times the Normal

Up from 8 times as reported earlier.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (original in Japanese, 3/12/2011):

  • The radiation level measured at the front gate of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, about 1.5 km (about 1 mile) from the plant building was 70 times the normal level.

  • They started the "controlled release" of radioactive steam from the reactors for both Fukushima I and Fukushima II Plants.

  • Chief Cabinet Minister Edano told reporters that people need not panic as the Plants conduct the "controlled release". No impact on the health or the environment, he said.

#Japan #Earthquake: Nuclear Plants Designed to Withstand M.7.9

Main points from Yomiuri Shinbun article (original in Japanese) (3/12/2011):

  • Fukushima I and II Nuclear Power Plants were designed to withstand Magnitude 7.9 earthquakes.

    This earthquake's magnitude (they continue to say 8.8) was simply too much.

  • The ECCS (Emergency Core Cooling System) failed, along with the Emergency Electrical Systems. For Fukushima I, the pumps that circulate sea water into the reactors stopped, because ALL 13 emergency power generators failed within 1 hour of the earthquake.

  • At Fukushima II, two of the three radiation monitors are not operational. The pump to pump sea water to the plant is not operational.

  • TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) is bringing in all of 51 power generator vehicles that it owns to the plants (? not sure which one) in order to cool the reactors

I sure hope Japan's Self Defense Force has Chinook helicopters (or equivalent) to air-lift those vehicles.

By the way, 7.9 happens to be the magnitude that the Japan Meteorological Agency was repeating for a while after the earthquake.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary: Death Toll Will Vastly Exceed 1,000

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said in the emergency cabinet meeting on March 12 that the death toll from the earthquake would vastly exceed 1,000.

(Yomiuri Shinbun, in Japanese)

(#Japan #Earthquake) Reactors in Fukushima's 2nd Nuclear Plant in Trouble

Asahi Shinbun (Japanese) reports that they cannot control the pressure of three reactors (no.1, 2, 4) in Fukushima II Nuclear Power Plant. There is no radioactive leakage into the atmosphere yet.

The Plant is located 7 miles south of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, and it has 4 reactors.

Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant has 8 reactors.

(#Japan #Earthquake) To Trade the Disaster...

I would say rice.

The Tohoku region of Japan is a big, rice-growing region, famous for some of the tastiest short-grain (Japonica) rice. There is absolutely NO WAY that they can grow rice this season (the next season is uncertain at best, I'm afraid).

Rice-planting season usually starts in May, but they start growing seedlings in early April.

And, I hate to say it, but the farmers... I just hope all escaped to safety.

It's not just salt water that swept over the fields. Crude or refined oil, toxic chemicals from big manufacturing plants that dot the region, not to mention debris that will have to be removed. The fertile top soil that has been carefully cultivated for generations may have been swept away, if not heavily contaminated.

This is an unmitigated disaster. On top of Ben's man-made disaster (QE2), a natural disaster like this hits and food prices will skyrocket...

#Japan #Earthquake Shifted Entire Japan Coast by 2.4 Meters, Shifted Earth's Axis by 10 Inches

2.4 meters = 7.87 feet.

From Vancouver Sun, quoting Dr. Dave Applegate of USGS (3/11/2011):

USGS Dr. Dave Applegate says the Japan earthquake ruptured a 180 mile long by 50 mile wide section of the Earth's crust.

Scientists from the United States Geological Service answered questions from the public this afternoon, with some startling revelations made.

* The first tsunami wave in Samoa was reportedly one foot tall, but the seventh wave was much larger, indicating coastal areas shoudl remain on tsunami advisory well after the first wave hits, even if that wave appears small.

* 100+ aftershocks have rated 5.0 magnitude or more in Japan since the initial shake.

* Earth's axis has reportedly shifted ten inches as a result of the quake, and Japan's coast is said to have permanently shifted 2.4 metres.

* The quake was 900 times stronger than the quake that hammered San Francisco in 1989.

* Aftershocks from the Peru earthquake of almost a year ago are still felt to this day.

* Honshu earthquake occurred on ocean floor of the Pacific plate, bumping 250 miles of coastline.

* Shaking was felt as far away as China.

* The Honshu quake was not as large as the 1964 Alaska earthquake, but was comparable to the recent Chile earthquake.

* Tsunami waves that hit California earlier today washed three onlookers out to sea. Two have been recovered.

* St Louis, Missouri media outlets report that city has moved an inch as a result of the quake.

* Waves from the ensuing tsunami reached 32 feet high.

(#Japan #Earthquake) Rikuzen-Takada City May Have Been Completely Wiped Out

According to various Japanese news outlets (here's one), the city of 23,000 people in Iwate Prefecture may have been almost totally wiped out, according to Japan's Fire and Disaster Management Agency (FDMA).

Rikuzen-Takada's website is, understandably, down.

FDMA's website is also down..

(#Japan #Earthquake) NHK Refuses Others to Broadcast Its Videos on the Net

Shame on you, NHK, for being such a stickler for bureaucratic rules in probably the biggest national emergency ever.

From Nikkei Shinbun, who asked NHK (quasi-national broadcasting company in Japan) to let them use NHK's footage, reports (original article in Japanese):

NHK denied other news organizations to distribute its video footage of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami on the Internet, because NHK put much money and man-power into the reporting and so therefore "it is only proper that people watch the videos on our site, and on our site only."

Nikkei Shinbun pleaded with NHK to allow the Internet distribution of the footage in this national emergency for the sake of the general public, but NHK refused.

(#Japan #Earthquake) Avalanches in Niigata, Houses Collapsed in Nagano, Japan

More on the earthquake that hit the inland Japan earlier today (now it's been upgraded from M.6.2 to 6.6 on the USGS site, in Nagano and Niigata prefectures.

According to Nikkei Shinbun (Japanese), the quake triggered snow avalanches in two cities in Niigata prefecture.

There's a nuclear plant in Kashiwazaki City. So far, there's no news of any damage to the reactors.

P.I.G. Countries Plead for Help

Portugal, Ireland, Greece are pleading for more help in their sovereign debt crisis. Considering that Japan is in no shape after the devastating earthquake to make good on their promise to buy euro bonds, I guess they're on their own, at the mercy of Angela Merkl..

From AP (3/11/2011):

BRUSSELS (AP) -- The eurozone's weakest states on Friday pleaded for more help from their richer neighbors at a summit in Brussels, where leaders worked to thrash out a "comprehensive response" to the crippling debt crisis by the end of the month.

Markets remain unconvinced that countries like Greece, the crisis' first victim, will become financially self-sufficient anytime soon, despite a long series of brutal austerity measures.

"We are on track with our program, we have taken the pain to make our economy more viable," said George Papandreou, the prime minister of Greece, as he arrived in Brussels. "But now we need European decisions, strong European decisions to calm the market."

In his call for more assistance and understanding Papandreou was joined by newly elected Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny. "I've come here with two days in government with a very strong mandate from the Irish people for an improvement in the terms of the EU-IMF deal," Kenny told journalists, referring to the country's euro67.5 billion ($93 billion) bailout funded by the International Monetary Fund and other EU countries.

Meanwhile, Portugal -- seen by many as the next most likely candidate for an international rescue -- announced additional tax increases and moneysaving measures to convince other eurozone states that it is doing its part to survive the crisis.

The pleas by now have a familiar ring. More than a year into the debt crisis, Europe still faces much the same problems as a year ago -- except that after endless promises, negotiations, and two bailouts, jittery markets now appear at the end of their tether.

They'd better hope China will come through with their promise..

(#Japan #Earthquake) More Aftershocks, One Inland

Magnitude 6.2 near Nagano;

Magnitude 6.1 off the coast of Morioka.

Major and minor aftershocks every 10-20 minutes..

(#Japan #Earthquake) An Unfortunate "Mistake" by Japan Meteorological Agency

The Japan Meteorological Agency continued to report the March 11 earthquake as "Magnitude 7.9", as strong aftershocks rocked the island nation and even long after the USGS reported it as "Magnitude 8.9".

It then changed it to 8.4, then finally to 8.8. They still say M.8.8, the 7th biggest earthquake since 1900, while in the US it is reported as M.8.9, the 5th largest earthquake.

I fear that some people didn't take enough precautions after the quake when they heard the number like 7.9, instead of 8.9, or even 8.4, either of which is totally outside anything that they had ever experienced.

Yomiuri Shinbun's latest update (in Japanese) says 800 people are trapped in a gym in Minami-Sanriku City in Miyagi Prefecture, and fire is approaching.

(#Japan #Earthquake) Over 1000 Feared Dead

According to Kyodo News English:

A powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 8.8 struck a wide area of northeastern and eastern Japan including Tokyo on Friday, triggering dozens of fires and a massive tsunami that swept away houses, cars and ships, with the death toll likely to rise to over 1,000.

The 2:46 p.m. earthquake was the strongest recorded in the quake-prone archipelago by the Japan Meteorological Agency, the governmental agency said, with its magnitude surpassing the 7.9 registered in the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake in Tokyo and its vicinity, which killed more than 100,000 people.

The Defense Ministry said about 1,800 homes in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, near the Pacific coast, have been destroyed, raising the possibility that the overall quake death toll will top 1,000.

"Network Issues" on NYSE at 10:27AM EST

Uh oh... Watch out below? From Zero Hedge.

(#Japan #Earthquake) Dam Broke in Fukushima, Washing Away Homes

News flash at Kyodo News. 20 minutes ago.

Also, more than 300 people missing in Fukushima, 48 people swept away by tsunami in one city in Iwate.

Death toll is going to rise dramatically.

The US Stock Market Opens Flat, Despite the World Going Down the Toilet

The US stock market opens only slightly down. Nasdaq has already turned green.

Japan had a mega earthquake, Libya is in turmoil, Saudis are protesting, the US government is bankrupt, so let's bid up Neflix!

Makes sense, doesn't it? The economy is expanding rapidly. (Thanks, Ben and PPT.)

The stocks that are levitating on my stock screen:


Wow the entire screen lit up green just now. Thank you JPMorgue for buying all the Emini futures. Now all the indices are GREEN.

I hate to think how many millions of dollars of taxpayers' money got just blown to achieve this miracle.

(#Japan #Earthquake) Death Toll Rising, Now At Least Several Hundred

According to Yomiuri Shinbun (in Japanese).

According to the article:

  • Strong aftershocks continue.

  • In prefectures in northern Japan (Iwate, Fukushima), there are cities and towns that were completely wiped out or flattened by the earthquake and tsunami.

  • Death toll is now at least several hundred.

  • Tsunami went 2km inland in Sendai. 200-300 bodies found in Wakabayashi district of Sendai City were drowned to death.

  • In coastal cities in Iwate prefecture, hundreds of houses were swept away and destroyed by tsunami.

  • 2000 people living near the Fukushima nuclear reactor are ordered to evacuate.

  • Landslide in Fukushima, people are buried alive.

  • A huge fire broke out in Kesen-numa City in Miyagi right after the quake.

  • Oil refineries in Miyagi, Ibaragi, Chiba caught on fire, tanks exploded.

  • In a police headquarter building in Miyagi, the sea water reached the 3rd floor.

(#Japan #Earthquake) 200-300 Bodies Found in Sendai, Japan

From Yomiuri Shinbun's latest on the earthquake (original is in Japanese):

Police in Miyagi Prefecture (that's where the city of Sendai is located) found 200 to 300 bodies in Wakabayashi, one of the districts of Sendai.

"Kitaku Nanmin" in Tokyo after Earthquake

Tens of thousands of "kitaku nanmin" (帰宅難民 literally "going home refugee") - a catchy word for people stranded in Tokyo without means of transportation to go home - are resigned to spend the night in city halls, train stations, and schools. They cannot go home as subways, trains, and buses have stopped after the earthquake, and taxis are impossible to get.

Most are office workers who work in the Tokyo metropolitan area and commute using public transportation. For many, their homes are just too far away to walk back (20-40km away or more). Some cannot figure out the way as they usually rely on the maps for the trains and buses. (That would be me.)

The picture is from Asahi Shinbun: Shibuya train (JR) station at 6PM Local Japan Time. JR Trains are not running.

This one is Shinjuku station, one of the busiest train station in Tokyo, at 3:34PM.

Japanese newspaper sites don't show many photos of extensive damages from the earthquake. The Tokyo Stock Exchange didn't halt trading after the earthquake. Cellphones and landlines, hard to connect sometimes, but they continued to work. Trains may resume operation within today.

Flash Developments Post Earthquake

A good summary from Zero Hedge, citing Reuters' article. I put my comment in [italic] when I have an update from Japanese news source:

A snapshot summary of the immediately known geopolitical and financial consequences of the Japanese earthquake per Reuters:

- At least 50 people killed in the quake and ensuing tsunami, Japanese TV broadcaster NHK says. [Nikkei Newspaper says 60 dead, 56 missing, 241 injured, as of 9:28PM Japan Standard Time.]

- A ship carrying 100 people was swept away by the tsunami, Kyodo news agency reports.

- A train is unaccounted for in one coastal area, Kyodo says.

- "The earthquake has caused major damage in broad areas in northern Japan," Prime Minister Naoto Kan tells reporters.

- Quake triggers tsunami up to 10 metres (30 feet), waves sweep across farmland, sweeping away homes, crops, vehicles, triggering fires. Tsunami of 7 metres later hits northern Japan.

- Strong aftershocks hit northern Japan. ["Aftershock" off the coast of Ibaragi (north of Tokyo) was M7. Seismologists in Japan say "aftershocks" will continue, and tsunami will likely strike repeatedly. This earthquake was "out of the scale", even for them.]

- Tsunami warnings issued for the entire Pacific basin except the mainland United States and Canada.

- Countries covered by the warnings include Russia, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras, Chile, Ecuador, Colombia and Peru.

* Alerts lifted for Australia and New Zealand .

- Taiwan has evacuated some residents from the east coast, but lifted the tsunami warning that had been in place.

* Indonesia had expected tsunami waves to hit the northern coastal areas of Sulawesi, the Moluccas and Papua islands at 1130 GMT, but by 1200 GMT it had not been felt, an Indonesian official said.

- Hawaii orders evacuations of all coastal areas.

- Ruling and opposition party chiefs agree the government needs to compile an extra budget after the quake.

- Power cut to four million homes in and around Tokyo. Several fires blaze in Tokyo.

- Many sections of Tohoku expressway serving northern Japan damaged. Major fire at Chiba refinery near Tokyo.

- Bullet trains to the north of the country stopped. The government was to dispatch 900 rescue workers to stricken regions. [Partial operation started on bullet trains.]

- Tokyo's Narita international airport resumes some outbound flights after earlier closing, halting flights and evacuating passengers.

- Tokyo underground, suburban trains halted. Sendai airport in the north flooded. [Tokyo's Metropolitan Subway has said it will be able to resume operation on Saturday.]

- All Japanese ports closed and discharging operations halted, shippers report.

- Eight military planes scrambled to survey damage. Prime Minister Naoto Kan asks people to remain calm and orders the military to do their utmost to act. Cabinet to meet. The government says more tsunami possible.

- Tokyo Stock Exchange says it plans to open for trading as normal on Monday.

- Central bank vows to do utmost to ensure financial market stability.

- Government says a cooling function at Tokyo Electric Power's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was not working, but there was no radioactive leakage.

- Television reports a major fire at Cosmo Oil Co's Chiba refinery east of Tokyo, and a fire was reported at JFE's steel plant, also in Chiba.

- Toyota says stopped output at parts factory and two assembly plants in the northeast.

- Mitsubishi Chemical says halts operations of two naphtha crackers at Kashima after a power outage.

- Electronics firm Sony closes six factories, Kyodo new agency reports.

- Asian shares fall after the quake hits while Nikkei still trading; European shares fall to their lowest in three months, with reinsurers Swiss Re , Munich Re and Hannover Re all down more than 4 percent.

Al Jazeera Has Live Blog Japan Earthquake

Thank you, Al Jazeera. The blog is here.

In the blog, I saw this incredible surf that Maverick's surfers would die for (maybe not..).. Go to 2:30 mark.

Giant Whirlpool off the Coast of Ibaragi, Japan after the Earthquake

.... Never seen anything like this .... Click on the pic to go to BBC and view the video.

After the Quake, Japanese Yen Jumps, Gold, Silver, Oil Down

Japanese yen has spiked against US dollars, Euro.

US stock market futures are all down significantly. Dow futures down 80, S&P500 futures down 8.80, Nasdaq futures down 16.25.

Gold is down, silver is down, crude oil is down.

Saudi Arabia's "Day of Rage" is today, and there is no POMO by Bernank today.

Batten down the hatches....

Giant Earthquake Hits Japan

Magnitude 8.9. Huge tsunamis on the Pacific coast side.

Spoke with two family members in Tokyo. No damage to their houses, no damage in the neighborhood as far as they knew. It was a bit difficult to get connected over the international phone line, but I was connected after several tries.

Even in Tokyo, they said it was the strongest earthquake they ever felt. As we spoke, there were at least three after-shocks.

Cannot connect to a friend who lives right on the coast in Chiba on the Pacific Ocean side. I'm afraid her house is gone. I heard the report earlier that they issued a 10-meter (33 feet) tsunami warning for Chiba.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

williambanzai7: Debasing the Debaser

Some irreverent, choice works by williambanzai7, at Zero Hedge... (More at the link.)

"The US government has a technology, called a printing press (or today, its electronic equivalent), that allows it to produce as many U.S. Dollars as it wishes at no cost."

Ben Bernanke, November 21, 2002

"One myth that's out there is that what we're doing is printing money. We're not printing money."

Ben Bernanke, December 6 2010

And from viewers' comment, "The Holey Book of Ben Shalom" by chopper read:

Fiat Origines 1:3-2:4 (Holey Book of Ben Shalom, ©2011)

3 And Lord Ben said, “Let there be cash,” and there was cash. 4 Ben saw that the cash was greed, and he separated the cash from the gold. 5 Ben called the cash “POMO,” and the gold he called “barbaric.” And there were treasury bonds, and there trading for — the first fiat Federal Reserve Note.

6 And Ben said, “Let there be a vault between the people to separate gold from money.” 7 So Ben made the vault and separated the gold under the vault from the money above it. And it was so. 8 Ben called the vault “Federal Reserve Bank of New York.” And there were treasury bonds, and there was trading — Quantitative Easing.

9 And Ben said, “Let the gold under the sky be gathered to one place, and let free money appear.” And it was so. 10 Ben called the free money “liquidity,” and the growing bubble he called “prosperity.” And Ben saw that it was greed.
11 Then Ben said, “Let the land produce houses: extra bathroom-bearing wings and 3-car garages on the land that bear extra stainless steel appliances with Chinese dishes in then, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12 The land produced houses: extra bathroom-bearing wings and garages according to their many cars and extra stainless steel appliances with Chinese dishes in then, according to their various kinds. And Ben saw that it was greed. 13 And there were treasury bonds, and there was trading — Quantitative Easing 2.

14 And Ben said, “Let there be gold in the vault of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to separate the gold from the money, and let them serve as signs to mark ridiculously farcical times, and days and years, 15 and let them be gold bars in the vault of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to give green paper on the earth.” And it was so. 16 Ben made two great liquidity events—the greater quantities of paper to print in the day and the lesser the value of paper overnight. He also made the loans. 17 Ben set them in the accounts of the Too Big To Fails to give fiat money to insider cronies, 18 to print in the day and devalue overnight, and to separate gold from money. And Ben saw that it was greed. 19 And there were treasury bonds, and there was trading—Quantitative Easing 2.5.

20 And Ben said, “Let the Too Big To Fails scheme with thieving creatures, and let green paper fly above the earth from the helicopters in the sky.” 21 So Ben created the thieving creatures of the Too Big To Fails and every thieving thing with which the To Big To Fails scheme and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every loan officer according to its kind. And Ben saw that it was greed. 22 Ben POMO’d them and said, “Be deceitful and increase in number and fill the brothels in NYC, and let the loans increase on the earth.” 23 And there were treasury bonds, and there was trading—Quantitative Easing 3.

24 And Ben said, “Let the Congress produce thieving creatures according to their kinds: the CFR Members, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild interns, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 Ben paid the wild interns according to their kinds, the CFR Members according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And Ben saw that it was greed.
26 Then Ben said, “Let us make ganster banksters in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the Too Big To Fails and the thieving creatures, over the CFR Members and all the wild interns,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27 So Ben created gangster banksters in his own image,
in the image of Ben he created them;
male and female he created them.

28 Ben paid them and said to them, “Be deceitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the Too Big To Fails and the thieving creatures, over the CFR Members and all the wild interns,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
29 Then Ben said, “I give you every house on the face of the whole earth and every extra bathroom, stainless steel appliance with Chinese dishes in it. They will be yours for inventory. 30 And to all the people of the earth and all the helicopters in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the pump of liquidity in it—I give every green paper and cotton fiber for funny munny.” And it was so.
31 Ben saw all that he had made, and it was very greedy. And there were treasury bonds, and there was trading— QE to Infinity.

AIG Offers to Buy Subprime Portfolio from NY Fed for $15.7 Billion

When I saw the headline at CNBC earlier, I couldn't believe my eyes.

Here's a more sarcastic headline from Zero Hedge (3/10/2011):

AIG Goes For Re-Broke, Offers To Repurchase Toxic Subprime Portfolio From Fed For $15.7 Billion

When a bankrupt zombie company offers to purchase from the Fed the very instruments that put it in bankruptcy in the first place, and which the Fed was forced to put on US taxpayers in order to perpetuate the status quo farce, you know the words Banana republic don't even start to begin to express the describe the lunacy we live in.

From Reuters:

  • Submits offer to buy all of rmbs owned by Maiden lane II for $15.7 billion in cash
  • If accepted, this offer will substantially reduce the amount of outstanding government assistance to AIG
  • If accepted, offer will guarantee frbny earns a profit on its interest in Maiden lane II
  • Says total outstanding assistance from U.S. government will be reduced by about $13 billion to total of about $26 billion
  • Says conditions that necessitated Maiden lane II have been resolved
  • Aig's outstanding assistance from the U.S. government totals approximately $39 billion
  • Says is offering to purchase all of the approximately 800 rmbs owned by Maiden lane II in a single transaction
  • Anticipates more than 98 percent of Maiden lane II securities will be classified as naic 1 securities by regulators
  • Says does not expect the transaction to have a material effect on its ratings
  • Says set aside the cash necessary to pay the purchase price in full

Incidentally, $15.7 billion is below the value the Fed has Maiden Lane II marked at as of today, which is $15.9 billion. We are confident that this will not prevent the Fed from doing everything in its power to bend over to the nationalized insurer's demands.

Read the whole article at the link, which also reminds us why Maiden Lane II was created to begin with.

What's really hilarious about it is that AIG believes 98% of the toxic crap will be classified as "naic 1" securities. Here's the definition of "naic 1" according to NAIC (National Association of Insurance Commissioners):

NAIC `1' - Assigned to obligations exhibiting the highest quality. Credit risk is at its lowest and the issuer's credit profile is stable.

Now let's laugh out loud, rolling on the floor laughing our a-- off! LOLOLOLOLOL....

It is surreal. AIG is 79.9% owned by the US government, by the way.

(#Libya) What's Stopping Us From ....?

Doing the citizen-level military intervention?

(Image from Al Jazeera Libya Blog 3/10/2011)

By "us", I am talking about "the rest of us" outside the national governments. Private citizens of the world who want the Libyan opposition forces to win over Gaddafi's forces.

What's stopping us from chipping in and having someone, some entity, arrange to purchase Stinger missiles and anti-tank missiles and deliver them to the Libyans fighting against Gaddafi? Maybe we could find cheap Chinese or Russian knockoffs...

Instead of signing petitions calling for the UN or NATO or the US and its allies to impose a no-fly zone, when a no-fly zone implemented by such an international coalition in the past was an abysmal failure, couldn't we donate whatever money we feel like it and buy ammo and missiles and give them to Libyans so they can fight?

We could deliver them relatively safely and quite effectively by scattering them from an airplane, instead of sending them in a convoy overland, which might attract attacks from Gaddafi's forces.

Gaddafi's air force can only effectively destroy clusters of buildings - city centers, oil refinery complexes. But to use his Migs and Mirages to pick out the opposition fighters scattered on the vast expanse of Libyan desert? Opposition fighters can take them out with Stingers.

We could even pitch in to hire "mercenaries" for the opposition. The US has fine outfits like Blackwater.

About the only thing that the national governments should do, I think, is what France did: establish formal diplomatic ties with the opposition council.

That's my thought, or fantasy, as an arm-chair strategist who has never fired a gun...

Stratfor Red Alert: #Saudi Police Fire on Protesters in Oil Hub

That's Qatif. Major oil pipelines that go to the world's largest oil port, Ras Tanura, go directly through Qatif, according to Stratfor.

Uh oh...

I guess CNBC didn't know that; they rather dismissed the incident by saying "oil prices slipped back on word that the unrest was driven by protesters in the eastern city of Qatif, home to a Shiite minority". It's just against the Shi'ite minority there, what's the big deal?

Stratfor seems to think it could be a very big deal, big enough for them to send out a red alert:

Red Alert: Saudi Police Fire On Protesters In Oil Hub


Saudi police have reportedly opened gunfire on and launched stun grenades at several hundred protesters March 10 rallying in the heavily Shiite-populated city of Qatif in Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern Province.

The decision to employ violence in this latest crackdown comes a day before Friday prayers, after which various Saudi opposition groups were planning to rally in the streets. Unrest has been simmering in the Saudi kingdom over the past couple weeks, with mostly Sunni youth, human rights activists and intellectuals in Riyadh and Jeddah campaigning for greater political freedoms, including the call for a constitutional monarchy. A so-called “Day of Rage” of protests across the country has been called for March 11 by Facebook groups Hanyn (Nostalgia) Revolution and the Free Youth Coalition following Friday prayers.

What is most critical to Saudi Arabia, however, is Shiite-driven unrest in the country’s Eastern Province. Shiite activists and clerics have become more vocal in recent weeks in expressing their dissent and have been attempting to dodge Saudi security forces. The Saudi regime has been cautious thus far, not wanting to inflame the protests with a violent crackdown but at the same time facing a growing need to demonstrate firm control.

Yet in watching Shiite unrest continue to simmer in the nearby island of Bahrain, the Saudi royals are growing increasingly concerned about the prospect of Shiite uprisings cascading throughout the Persian Gulf region, playing directly into the Iranian strategic interest of destabilizing its U.S.-allied Arab neighbors. By showing a willingness to use force early, the Saudi authorities are likely hoping they will be able to deter people from joining the protests, but such actions could just as easily embolden the protesters.

There is a strong potential for clashes to break out March 11 between Saudi security forces and protesters, particularly in the vital Eastern Province. Saudi authorities have taken tough security measures in the Shiite areas of the country by deploying about 15,000 national guardsmen to thwart the planned demonstrations by attempting to impose a curfew in critical areas. Energy speculators are already reacting to the heightened tensions in the Persian Gulf region, but unrest in cities like Qatif cuts directly to the source of the threat that is fueling market speculation: The major oil transit pipelines that supply the major oil port of Ras Tanura — the world’s largest, with a capacity of 5 million barrels per day — go directly through Qatif.

There you go, Ben and Timmy. Your PPT has the work cut out tomorrow. Better start right now, buying up all S&P400 Eminis...

Or, they could use this occasion to instill "fear" in the populace that would justify QE3; in that case they might want the stock market to flash crash...

Here's the map of Qatif and Ras Taruna:

View Larger Map

Oh wait, what's near by? Zoom out, and look southeast. It's Bahrain.

And US Resonse to #Saudi's Firing at Protesters

is as lame as it can possibly get. From Guardian's Libya Live Updates:

And what is that "set of universal values", pray tell?

#Saudi Police Fires at Protesters in Qatif

from AP:

Saudi police have opened fire at a rally in the kingdom's east in an apparent escalation of efforts to stop planned protests.

Government officials have warned they will take strong action if activists take to the streets after increasing calls for large protests around the oil-rich kingdom to press for democratic reforms.

A witness in the eastern city of Qatif says gunfire and stun grenades were fired at several hundred protesters marching in the city streets Thursday. The witness, speaking on condition of anonymity because he feared government reprisal, said police in the area opened fire. The witness saw at least one protester injured.

I bet there's going to be a DEAD SILENCE from the US.

Oil Has Just Gone Vertical on News that Shots Were Fired in #Saudi Arabia

Here's the chart of USO, an ETF that tracks crude oil price.

Saudi's Day of Rage is tomorrow, Friday.

Obama Makes a Remark at Bullying Prevention Conference

While the president of France is acting like the president of France, the president of the United States is hosting a conference on school bullying, at the White House. That's almost all of precious little he does today.

I guess he has to recover from the TV-viewing party last night.

From the White House schedule for today:

10:00 am
The President and the First Lady meet with students and parents from the Conference on Bullying Prevention
Oval Office

10:35 am
The President and the First Lady deliver remarks at the Conference on Bullying Prevention
East Room

2:05 pm
The President holds a meeting on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act
Roosevelt Room

3:05 pm
The President meets with Secretary of the Treasury Geithner
Oval Office
Closed Press

(Libyans, you DO NOT want this guy to get involved in your fight against Gaddafi. It's near-impossible to get him involved in anything serious. Stick with the French.)

(#Libya) France Becomes the First Country to Officially Recognize Libya's Opposition

Good for France!

France 24 reports, citing AP (3/10/2011):

France is the first country to formally recognise the legitimacy of Libya's rebel National Transitional Council and will open an embassy in Benghazi, the government announced after meeting with NTC representatives in Paris Thursday

Libya’s opposition battled for military and diplomatic advantage against Moammar Gadhafi’s embattled regime on Thursday, winning official recognition from France and hitting government forces with heavy weapons on the road to the capital.

France became the first country to formally recognize the rebels’ newly created Interim Governing Council, saying it planned to exchange ambassadors after President Nicolas Sarkozy met with two representatives of the group based in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi.

Meanwhile, the NATO hemmed and hawed but no action other than wringing their collective hands and move some ships in the Mediterranean.

According to AFP, French president Nicolas Sarkozy will propose air strikes on Libya:

French President Nicolas Sarkozy will propose air strikes on Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's command headquarters to EU leaders, a source close to discussions has told AFP.

At an EU summit on the Libyan crisis, he will propose "striking an extremely limited number of points which are the source of the most deadly operations" by forces loyal to Gaddafi, the source, who asked not to be named, said on Thursday.

The three sites being considered are Gaddafi's Bab al-Azizia command headquarters in Tripoli, a military air base in Syrte, east of Tripoli and another in Sebha in the south, the source said.

Sarkozy's office declined to confirm the claim when contacted by AFP.

I'm not that sure about the air strikes, unless they can be carried out by France alone. I simply do not want the US to be involved in any way, given the track record in the past 50 years.

One thing that is decidedly against the opposition forces is not the lack of air power or training (they seem to be learning very quickly); it's the flat terrain of Libya. It offers hardly any cover for the opposition fighters. Conventional, open battles favor the Gaddafi forces with tanks and jets.

Guerrilla warfare, which has marked many revolutionary wars including that of Afghanistan and of the United States, is not really possible on a flat land.

Guest Post: Delay and Pray

Move over "Extend and Pretend"; we're about to past that merry stage, says Kliguy38, fellow ex-SKFer, on his post yesterday. He says we're about to enter a new stage of....

"Delay and Pray" (3/9/2011) [Emphasis is mine]:

We have Extend and Pretend....but we are about to enter into another phase of the "Bernank Experiment"...Delay and Pray. This will be another marvel of financial engineering that will amaze you. It will occur when QE 2 ends. There are warning shots from several Fed Govenors that have indicated there will be an abrupt cessation of QE. If this occurs then the hope is the economy will have enough momentum by June to begin to carry itself. That employment by then will be growing at over 250K month over month. Of course longer term rates will nose higher slightly but this will hardly be felt by the housing industry and consumer. Now who will be buying those know....ANYTHING over a year or two in maturity. I know I just can't wait with all of that money sloshing around that we've shoved into the system. Just waiting to wash back on top of us like a giant tsunami.

Are you starting to get the picture? We will still have a damaged and fragile economy in June and withdrawing QE is going to have very predictable consequences and Ben knows it. So the question posed is really how is he going to implement QE 3 in the face of an increasingly "tough" Republican congress led by the stalwart fiscal money manager John Boehner. How could anyone face odds like this and expect to be successful with getting a money printing scheme like QE 3 through?

Let me think....I believe I shall go to my Rolodex and look under "mass sucker play" and WALA! I found it........FEAR!....It says very clearly on my card that the sheep shall line up for anything if we bring in this little product. So there you have it. It is a self fulfilling game here. Stop QE and guess what is going to happen. Of course you will have some predict this economy will fly on its own as we draw near but it cannot and will not. If you also thing that the barometer of the economy "the market" is going to drop off a cliff then THINK AGAIN. They cannot let it. So you will see an engineered market drop just like last years pull back, but this one will need to have a little more volatility and FEAR in it so expect some better fireworks. NOT to mention they need to knock down some commodity prices with the temporary "withdrawal of liquidity". Hehehehe. Of course bonds will magically show money flowing into them as the dollar strengthens and gold and especially silver take hits. A caveate may not actually take much of a hit though so your core will survive. AGAIN...this will be managed as they let the sheep baaa for help. Ben will calmly and confidently reinstitue QE 3 and proclaim that just as QE 2 was successful so will 3. Saaaaved!!!!!

We can return to American Idol and I can find out who the next Idol is. Just remember little devil children.......nothing is for free.

So I predict you get to play in the Casino awhile longer just don't sit at the table too long. I have given you the plan. I cannot promise you they will keep the market up all the way through May....but then who knows.

This is the nastiest market you will ever trade and everything you hear on CNBS is intended to obfuscate and move you in a desired direction. Just learn how to interpret it. BTW gold will see 1650 before June and silver will see over 40.

Well, the slamming of commodities seems to have already started. Precious metals, base metals, oil are all down significantly, partly due to US dollar's sudden strength on bad economic numbers (unemployment up, trade deficit up). Commercial net long positions of US dollar futures have been increasing since February 2011 (speculators flipped to net long in October 2010, and after a jump flipped briefly to net short in November 2010 - see this chart from Breakpoint Trades guys).

I hope his gold and silver predictions are correct. (My portfolio is suffering a paper-loss today, as they are slamming gold and silver hard...) His post have a very interesting video about silver. Go there and watch.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

China Reports Biggest Trade Deficit in 7 Years, Shanghai, Hang Seng Drop

So what's the spin here from China? That China is successfully transitioning from an export-led economy to an economy based on domestic demands? Also to deflect criticism of trade imbalance from the trading partners? (Answers: yes and yes.)

From Bloomberg (3/9/2011):

China reported an unexpected $7.3 billion trade deficit, the biggest in seven years, buttressing the government’s case against U.S. arguments for faster gains in the yuan.

Exports rose 2.4 percent in February from a year before, the least since 2009 as Lunar New Year holidays disrupted shipments, and imports climbed 19.4 percent, customs bureau data showed today. Central bank adviser Li Daokui said that the full- year trade surplus will shrink from the 2010 level.

Yuan forwards dropped after today’s release as investors pared bets on the appreciation of China’s currency against the dollar. Premier Wen Jiabao aims to spark domestic demand and reduce the role of exports in the economy through wage increases, rather than the exchange-rate gains sought by the Obama administration.

....... “I think this is probably the end of the currency wars,” Tim Condon, Singapore-based head of Asia research with ING Groep NV, told Bloomberg Television. He said the deficit was “a move everyone wants to see” and addressed key concerns of the Group of 20 nations relating to economic imbalances.

#Libya, Fight On

Watching Al Jazeera's streaming live coverage on my PC. The reporter on the front line of the battle in Ras Lanuf, rockets and mortars flying over her head. "We'd better move." The crew hastily run for safety. They go back to the pickup truck. As they ride away, the camera shows the face of a young man on the back of the truck, smiling beatifically. He looks so happy and excited to do what he's doing - fight.

Fight on. As long as you do not stop fighting, there's hope.

Here's the report from Jacky Rowland of Al Jazeera, from Ras Lanuf:

(#Libya) US Denies Landing of the Plane Carrying Gaddafi's New UN Ambassador, Invites Gaddafi's Envoys to EU/NATO Meetings

and Obama is hosting a TV-viewing party to cheer for his favorite basketball team.

What's wrong with this picture?

The US is picking the sides on Libya by denying the landing of the plane carrying Libya's ambassador to the UN, not to the US, just because he was appointed by Gaddafi. Has the US severed diplomatic ties with Libya? No, it hasn't. There was a talk of "reviewing" the diplomatic ties, but that was as far as it went, reviewing.

Then the same US is apparently behind inviting the Gaddafi's envoys to the EU and the NATO meetings, according to Al Jazeera, while the liberal wing of the European Parliament has invited the opposition envoys.

Can you say "incoherent"? Can you scream "What'cha doin'??"

That's nothing new ever since Obama somehow became the president of the US, but this guy never ceases to disappoint.

(#Libya) BBC Arabic Team Detained, Beaten, Mock-Executed by Gaddafi's Forces

After the SAS, now it's BBC's turn. But the BBC Arabic team wasn't as lucky as the SAS, who were caught by the opposition forces.

From BBC Africa (3/9/2011):

Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi's security forces detained and beat up a BBC news team who were trying to reach the strife-torn western city of Zawiya.

The three were beaten with fists, knees and rifles, hooded and subjected to mock executions by members of Libya's army and secret police.

The men were detained on Monday and held for 21 hours, but have now flown out of Libya.

......The three of them were taken to a huge military barracks in Tripoli, where they were blindfolded, handcuffed and beaten.

One of the three, Chris Cobb-Smith, said: "We were lined up against the wall. I was the last in line - facing the wall.

"I looked and I saw a plain-clothes guy with a small sub-machine gun. He put it to everyone's neck. I saw him and he screamed at me.

"Then he walked up to me, put the gun to my neck and pulled the trigger twice. The bullets whisked past my ear. The soldiers just laughed."

They also report on the Libyan detainees and how badly they were treated:

Koraltan said: "I cannot describe how bad it was. Most of them [other detainees] were hooded and handcuffed really tightly, all with swollen hands and broken ribs. They were in agony. They were screaming."

Killani said: "Four of them [detainees] were in a very bad situation. There was evidence of torture on their faces and bodies. One of them said he had at least two broken ribs. I spent at least six hours helping them drink, sleep, urinate and move from one side to another."

A senior Libyan government official later apologised for the BBC team's ordeal.

Just a slight misunderstanding. What of some beating between good friends, anyway? Show of affection, can't you see?

Libyan Oil Output Down by More Than Two-Thirds to 500K Barrels Per Day

although the FT article from March 4th has put the number much lower at 225K.

Reliance on oil from #Libya as percentage of domestic needs:

Italy: 25%
Austria: 21%
France: 15%
UK: 8.5%

From AFP (3/8/2011):

TRIPOLI — Libyan oil output is down by more than two-thirds from 1.6 million barrels per day to just 500,000 amid the uprising against Moamer Kadhafi's regime, National Oil Corporation boss Shukri Ghanem said Wednesday.

"Of course, the production is down drastically, or it is only half a million a day down from 1.6 million a day," Ghanem, who is both chairman and CEO of the state-owned firm, told a news conference in the capital Tripoli.

"The foreign workers went back to their countries, the Libyans to their families, and of course oil production went down and oil exports went down," said Ghanem.

"We are concerned that the porduction goes down in a orderly manner rather than damage the installations... and so far we have succeeded."

Heavy fighting between rebels and regime loyalists on the battleground central part of Libya's Mediterranean coast has left a string of key oil pipelines and installations in flames.

Huge blazes were reported on Wednesday in the oil towns of Ras Lanuf and As-Sidra after air raids and heavy shelling.

But Ghanem insisted the As-Sidra explosion caused no damage to oil installations.

"Fortunately, the explosion today was in a small storage supply facility in Sidra... it has not affected the production," Ghanem said, adding: "It was diesel, it's not crude oil."

Ghanem also played down the impact of the rebel's capture of virtually all of the east, including key oil fields, during their more than three-week-old uprising.

"The whole industry is still working as one, the most important thing is the integrity of the industry and safety of the people," he said.

(#Libya) Opposition Meeting with Swiss, French, Gadaffi's Envoy Meeting Portuguese

(Update) The opposition's meeting with France was with Alain Juppe, foreign minister of France, and they were invited by the liberal faction of the EU Parliament, according to Reuters Africa.


(Note to the Opposition: Demand Stingers...)

Swiss, French meeting the Opposition;

EU, NATO (and Portugal) meeting the Gaddafi government.


Tweets from Sultan Al Qassemi:

Al Jazeera: the French President will receive representatives of the Libyan National Council tomorrow.

Al Jazeera: AFP: the Swiss President receives a representative of the Libyan National Council.

Meanwhile, Al Jazeera reports:


Portugal's Foreign Minister Luis Amado has met an envoy from Tripoli in Lisbon, according to a statement emailed to reporters.

The meeting was arranged in agreement with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and was part of preparations for a meeting of EU foreign ministers later this week to discuss the situation in Libya, the
ministry said.

Most Popular Investments by the US Congress Members

Dow Jones Industrial heavy, with smattering of tech stocks. No Netflix, though.

From, as of 2009:

Rank Organization Total
1General Electric1065254
2Procter & Gamble783543
3Cisco Systems733439
3Bank of America733538
5Microsoft Corp703337
6AT&T Inc652540
7Pfizer Inc633132
8Intel Corp532528
9Johnson & Johnson522031
9Coca-Cola Co522428
11Exxon Mobil511536
11JPMorgan Chase & Co512130
13IBM Corp501831
13Verizon Communications502228
13Wells Fargo502326
16PepsiCo Inc492524
17Apple Inc472126
19Home Depot411922
20Walt Disney Co392118
21McDonald's Corp381721
21Merck & Co381820
23Berkshire Hathaway371819
24Abbott Laboratories321022
25Bristol-Myers Squibb311021
25CVS/Caremark Corp311120
25Wal-Mart Stores311219
28Citigroup Inc301317
28Monsanto Co301119
31Apache Corp281018
31Comcast Corp281216
31Goldman Sachs28721
31Oracle Corp281315
35Qualcomm Inc271215
35Chevron Corp271017
38Dow Chemical261610
38United Technologies261016
40Google Inc25916
403M Co251411
40Nokia Corp251114
43Amgen Inc241113
43Caterpillar Inc241113
43EMC Corp241311
43Teva Pharmaceutical Industries241113
43Time Warner241410
49Devon Energy23815
49Kraft Foods23914