Saturday, March 26, 2011

Raid in silver and gold fail/Monday is Day of Judgment for position Limits

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen:

Before proceeding let me introduce to you the latest entrants to the banking morgue:


March
The Bank of Commerce, Wood Dale, IL with approximately $163.1 million in total assets and $161.4 million in total deposits was closed. Advantage National Bank Group, Elk Grove Village, IL has agreed to assume all deposits.
(PR-058-2011).

Monday night will see the options for both gold and silver contracts expire. Also on Monday night, the front month of April gold will go off the board,  However as I explained to you on many occasions, the front month will still trade until all obligations on standing OI are satisfied.  Monday we will see if the CFTC will place position limits and remove those phony exemptions.  I believe that they will do so as 99.9% of those responding  told the CFTC that they must implement these rules and stop the criminal activity of JPMorgan and friends.

Gold closed on Friday afternoon at $1426.10 down $8.70 from yesterday.  The silver price closed at $37.06 down 33 cents. In the access market gold rebounded to settle at $1430.20 and silver got back most of its losses to close at $37.32

Let us head over to the gold comex:
The total gold comex OI on both official sites fell by only 197 contracts to 504,731 from 504,928 despite a mini raid on Thursday.
The bankers were not amused with this.  The front options delivery month of March mysteriously saw its OI rise to 19 from 12 as someone was in need of 700 oz of gold. All eyes will be on the front month of April.  We saw a contraction of 26,714 contracts which is quite normal.  The estimated volume with all of those rollovers came in at 231,403 whereas the confirmed volume on Thursday was 237,806.  This is rather on the high side.

And now the silver comex:

The total silver OI refuses to lower.  Despite the raid, the silver OI rose 607 contracts to 137,642 from 137,035.
All eyes are on the front delivery month of March.  The OI for March fell 85 contracts to 632 from 717.  The deliveries for Thursday registered 80 so we lost 5 contracts due to cash settlements and the remainder of the OI contraction was due to those deliveries.  The next delivery month for silver is May and we saw this month stabilize in OI.  It actually rose from 78,490 from 78,408.  The estimated volume at the silver comex on Friday was 63,114.
The confirmed volume, on the day of the mini-raid , came in at a humongous 100,165 contracts. The bankers threw massive firepower trying to get the silver longs to leave.  They failed on Thursday and they failed on Friday.


Here is a chart for March 26. 2011 on deliveries and inventory changes at the comex:

Silver
Withdrawals from Dealers Inventory
10,185 oz
Withdrawals from customer Inventory
53,363 oz
Deposits to the dealer Inventory
42,140 oz
Deposits to the customer Inventory

5853 oz
No of oz served (contracts ) 236
1180,000
No of notices to be served 396
1,980,000


Gold
Withdrawals from Dealers Inventory
zero
Withdrawals from customer Inventory
zero
Deposits to the dealer Inventory
zero oz
Deposits to the customer Inventory
zero oz
No of oz served (contracts)  12
 1200
No of oz to be served  notices 7 or 700 oz
700 oz.



Let us proceed to the less volatile gold.
The results for yesterday are simply astounding.  There was no activity.
There were no deposits, no withdrawals and no adjustments as we head into first day notice. This is unprecedented in comex history.


The comex folk notified us that 12 contracts were served upon our longs even though only 7 were standing on Thursday night.  I guess a banker needed some gold in a hurry and jumped queque.


The total number of notices sent down so far total 1234 for a total of 123,400 oz of gold.
To obtain what is left to be served, I take the OI at 19 and subtract out the deliveries numbering 12 to give me the same 7 contracts standing.  This guy remains and the deliveries of gold went to a banker to put out a fire elsewhere.


Thus the total number of gold oz standing in this non delivery month is as follows:


123400 (gold oz served) +  700 oz (to be served)  =  124,100 oz or 3.86 tonnes.
On Thursday, we had 3.82 tonnes so we gained a bit more standing.


And now for silver:


The dealer received some silver on Friday totaling 42,140 oz and this silver will be used in the delivery process.  The customer removed 5853 oz.
The dealer also withdrew 10,185 oz and the customer withdrew 53,363 oz.


Thus on a net basis:


the dealer received:  31,955 oz
the customer withdrew:  47,510.


The comex folk notified us that a huge 236 notices to deliver were filed for a total of 1,180,000 oz of silver. The total number of notices sent down so far this month total  1383 for a total of 6,915,000 oz.  To obtain what is left to be served I take the OI at 632 and subtract out the deliveries at 236 which leaves me with 396 or 1,980,000 oz left to be served.


Thus the total number of silver oz standing in this delivery month of March is as follows;


6,915,000 (oz served)  +  1,980,000 (oz to be served)  =  8,895,000 oz
On Thursday we had 8,920,000 so we lost 5 contracts or 25000 oz to cash settlements.


Many have asked my opinion on the newly registered silver vault belonging to JPMorgan.
I strongly believe that this was done to store electronic silver  (SLV paper).  To far, only 30,000 oz of silver have been deposited into the JPMorgan warehouse.
I believe that the silver players who take delivery will be too smart to leave their silver with a JPMorgan vault.  They will move it to other loci with no affiliation whatsoever with JPMorgan.  The internet has provided investors which enough knowledge to know the crime that JPMorgan is perpetrating upon us and will be quite cognizant of events if JPMorgan is the official vault selected to store their silver metal.  


Dave Kranzler of the Golden Truth has given his version which is a little different than mine.  However that is what makes all forums extremely valuable as we exchange our thoughts.  Here is Dave on this issue:



FRIDAY, MARCH 25, 2011


The Comex Goes "Extend And Pretend" On JP Morgan's Paper Silver Short

And in the process has likely perpetrated and enabled the continuation of the biggest fraud in the financial markets.  By now everyone knows about the absurd imbalance between JPM's short position in the silver futures market and the availability of physical silver at the Comex/SLV.  To review, JPM's short position is several multiples of the amount of reported physical silver that is available for delivery at the Comex. For purposes of this commentary, I will set aside any discussion about whether or not the reported inventory is actually there or not.  Of course, you would have to be either ignorant of the facts or an idiot to believe that it is.

It was announced 10 days ago that JPM was approved by the CME to operate a Comex metals storage vault.  While on the surface this is no big deal, the manner in which JPM managed to get around the full review process has raised a lot of knowledgeable eyebrows in the precious metals market, especially in the context that JPM - by far - has the largest short position in paper silver in the universe, in addition to also having the largest proprietary position in OTC gold and silver derivatives.  Again, both states of existence would be no big deal as long as the world could verify with its own eyes that JPM actually has the ability to deliver the underlying physical metal represented by the firm's absurdly massive short position.  That is the crux of the problem.  Show me the metal you can deliver and feel free to make markets and short away. Otherwise there needs to legally enforced scrutiny.  The CME, with its hastened approval of JPM as a vault operator has demonstrated that it is unwilling to enforce legal scrutinyFurthermoreThe JPM Comex vault news tells us all we need to know about the extent to which the bullion banks and their mafia inside the regulatory agencies and even the oval office (Obama's new chief of staff is an ex-JPM guy) will go to fight their problem with precious metals.

Operating a gold and silver vault will now enable JPM to exploit the fact that most metals players who take delivery of their metal typically let it remain at Comex vaults for safekeeping.  Again no big deal, because it is convenient and saves delivery fees, as long as the owners of the metal hold the vault operators accountable.  In other words, if more players stand for delivery than JPM has available to actually physically deliver, JPM can just notify the owner that delivery has been made to its vault without ever having to make the actual delivery unless the owner asks for delivery into a private depository off the Comex.  It has long been suspected that all of the current vault operators, especially HSBC and Scotia, engage in this "fractional" bullion banking scheme, but now that JPM has entered the vault storage game, there is no doubt in my mind that the Comex is running low on deliverable metal.

And by extension, it also serves to reason that SLV is running low on metal (JPM is the vault custodian for SLV - hmmm...), although I do not, like many, believe that SLV is empty.  Again, a lot of commentators out there squawk about SLV being empty without ever having bona fide actual proof.  I think from the standpoint of probability analysis, SLV is at least 1/3 covered (at any given time a large holder can exchange his SLV shares for delivery of metal - my bet is that SLV has enough to cover this present value of this possibility).  I believe the Comex is less than 1/3 covered and this is why JPM had to rush into the vaulting business and jammed thru its approval by skirting the standard rules.

You can read about what just happened here:  LINK  I would recommend that everyone read through that because it is well-written, factual and educational.  Let me just put some meat on the bones there by explaining the signficance of this event.  Everyone who trades this stuff knows that there is a massively inordinantly large amount of outstanding April silver contracts still open with last delivery day being next Thurs, 3/31.  As of today there were still 632 open contracts representing 3.16 million ounces of silver.  I have never seen this large amount of open contracts so late in the delivery process.  And given that the Comex is reporting as of yesterday that over 41 million ounces of silver are available for delivery, it tends to raise a lot of skepticism about the amount of silver that is actually physically there to be delivered. Historically, most open contracts in a delivery month get filled within the first two weeks of that month.  If this view is correct, it would make sense then that JPM wanted to rush through the approval of a licensed vault that it make phantom deliveries into and no one would know the difference unless they ask for delivery out of the vault.  Again, probability analysis would say that very little of that silver will be called upon like that (by the way, anyone can track the reported flows of silver in and out of Comex vaults at the CME website:  LINK - you can also track daily changes in open interest, etc on that site, that's how I know that very little metal that is delivered actually is demanded from the Comex vaults).

JPM's Game Of Chicken

As you can see, JPM likely does not have the resources to make good on the actual phsyical delivery of all of the silver that is standing for delivery.  So the next best alternative is to play the odds and deliver electronic silver into a surrepetitiously approved vault and anticipate that most, if not all, of the deliverees (the "stoppers") will never ask for private delivery.

Our fund, however, stood for delivery of 3 contracts this month.  We were given notice on one of them right after first notice day and that silver was made available by HSBC to be picked up by our carrier and delivered to our private depository within the appropriate timeframe.  HSBC, however, changed the rules on the other 2 contracts.  We were notified that the silver for the other two contracts was being delivered last week.  Why they waited 3 weeks to notifiy us on the other two is open for conjecture.  HOWEVER, this time HSBC informed my partner that in order for us to send a carrier to pick up the bars he had to fill out a bunch of paperwork and send a copy of his driver's license and that it would take HSBC five days to process everything.  Today being the 5th day, we called for a status update. They informed him that he had to send them a copy of his passport because his driver's license had expired.  I'm not sure how long it would have been before they notified us of that fact if we had not called.

The point here is that we are now seeing all kinds of tactics being legally - and illegally - employed in order to make the process of taking delivery of metal from the Comex more burdensome and further enabling the big ponzi scheme to keep going on there.  But the fact of the matter stands that events like the JPM vault and the sudden new delivery requirements of HSBC serve to further amplify the fact that the Comex and SLV are running out of actual physical silver and the desperation to hide this fact is growing stronger.

While I still don't expect that a Comex delivery default will occur this month, or even this year, the cracks in the system are growing wider and one of these days we will wake up in the morning to find gold and silver prices that are several multiples higher than the day before and the bid/ask spread in the markets for these products will be a country mile wide.  THAT is a day that will fun watch...
end

Mike Kreiger of the special silver vigilante group offered this last night:


From: Michael Krieger 
Sent: Thursday, March 24, 2011 4:43 PMSubject: JPM Custodian at the Comex!
As I mentioned a couple of days ago…this is UNREAL. Let’s see the bank that has multiple lawsuits against it for silver price manipulation is the custodian of SLV and now for COMEX silver. What does this tell you about both entities? Full story below. As a friend said: "This JPM vault is unreal. Like OJ owning CSI firm and investigating his own murder." God Bless America! (now who else can we go bomb)
JPMorgan Holding 30,844 Ounces of Silver for Clients
2011-03-24 19:05:17.451 GMT
March 24 (Bloomberg) -- JPMorgan Chase & Co., which accepts physical gold as collateral for trading securities, has become a custodian of Comex silver inventories, according to the owner of the New York exchange.
JPMorgan became a depository on March 17, according to Chris Grams, a spokesman for Comex owner CME Group Inc. The bank had 30,844 ounces of silver eligible for delivery as of March 22, exchange data show. Total holdings in Comex-monitored warehouses were 104.27 million ounces.
Silver prices have more than doubled in the past year and gold reached a record today as investors bought precious metals as a hedge against inflation and turmoil in financial markets.
New York-based JPMorgan said last month it expects to accept additional precious metals and commodities as collateral later this year.
"This is further indication that gold and silver are being treated more like a currency," said Matt Zeman, a market strategist at Kingsview Financial in Chicago.
Silver futures for May delivery rose 17.7 cents, or 0.5 percent, to settle at $37.375 an ounce at 1:51 p.m. on the Comex, after touching a 31-year high of $38.18. The price reached a record $50.35 in 1980.
JPMorgan has also been authorized to hold gold, platinum and palladium for delivery against precious metals contracts traded on the Comex and Nymex, according to Grams, the exchange spokesman.
Jennifer Zuccarelli, a JPMorgan spokeswoman, declined to comment on the inventories.
-END-


I invite your thoughts on this important issue..

end

Let us head to our ETF's and see how they behaved today.

First, let's see what happened to our "non-physical" inventories.

First the GLD: March 26.2011:




Total Gold in Trust

Tonnes: 1,213.96
Ounces:39,029,986.80
Value US$:
56,030,113,163.91


Total Gold in Trust: March 24:


Tonnes: 1,213.96
Ounces:39,029,986.80
Value US$:
56,460,057,054.12



we lost zero oz of gold in our non physical etf

 




How about SLV?  March 26.2011:


Ounces of Silver in Trust358,143,807.200
Tonnes of Silver in Trust Tonnes of Silver in Trust11,139.52

march 24.2011:
Ounces of Silver in Trust358,143,807.200
Tonnes of Silver in Trust Tonnes of Silver in Trust11,139.52


we neither gained or lost any silver "inventory"




And now for our physical ETF's:


The Sprott silver fund:  PSLV:


the premium to NAV fell to a premium of 19.11% .  The premiums on pure silver funds are very high and yet they have not found any silver to take advantage of their high share price.

The Sprott gold fund PHYS:
the premium to NAV rose a bit to 4.52%.

The Central Fund of Canada which is equal parts gold and silver:

 saw its premium to NAV fall a bit to 8.5% in both USA funds and 8.5% in CDN.funds.



end.


Let us head over to the COT report and see what we can glean over there:

First the gold report:



Gold COT Report - Futures
Large Speculators
Commercial
Total
Long
Short
Spreading
Long
Short
Long
Short
231,512
56,675
43,600
162,616
387,415
437,728
487,690
Change from Prior Reporting Period
-9,149
-9,415
12,129
-5,714
-1,069
-2,734
1,645
Traders
199
64
72
52
53
284
163


Small Speculators




Long
Short
Open Interest



71,403
21,441
509,131



4,105
-274
1,371



non reportable positions
Change from the previous reporting period

COT Gold Report - Positions as of
Tuesday, March 22, 2011




Those large speculators that have been long, reduced their longs big time to the tune of 9,149 contracts.
Those large speculators that have been short, reduced their shorts also big time by an almost identical 9414 contracts.

Those commercials that have been long lessened those positions to the tune of 5714 contracts.
Those commercials that have been short from the beginning of time lessened those positions by only 1,069 contracts.
The small specs that have been long added a good size 4015 contracts to their longs and got it right.
Those small specs that have been short lessened their shorts by a tiny 274 contracts.

Summary: we learned nothing.

And now for silver:
Silver COT Report - Futures
Large Speculators
Commercial
Total
Long
Short
Spreading
Long
Short
Long
Short
47,552
10,777
23,992
31,526
86,708
103,070
121,477
262
-1,559
1,718
316
2,077
2,296
2,236
Traders
99
35
42
36
48
156
108

Small Speculators




Long
Short
Open Interest



32,918
14,511
135,988



-1,222
-1,162
1,074



non reportable positions
Change from the previous reporting period

COT Silver Report - Positions as of
Tuesday, March 22, 2011



Those large speculators that have been long added a tiny 262 contracts to their longs.
Those large speculators that have been short, lessened those positions by a rather large 1559 contracts.
And now for our famous commercials;
Those that have been long continued to add to their positions by 316 contracts.
And now for our famous short bankers JPMorgan and company.  They continue to add to their monstrous short positions to the tune of 2077 contracts.
They refuse to cover!!
The small specs that have been long lessened a good size 1222 contracts from their longs.
Those small specs that have been short saw the light and lessened those positions by 1162 contracts.

Summary;  JPMorgan continues to supply the needed paper. The market loved this news as silver jumped once this was released at 3:30 pm Friday

Three weeks ago William Cohan of the New York Times wrote a commentary on the silver fraud.  Now we another another main stream author writing on this very important issue:

J.P. Morgan Chase and HSBC May Have Gained Billions from Influencing the Price of Silver


by Tracy Greenstein
Forbes Magazine
25 March 2011
For most, the Stock Market is a daunting and complex system of numbers and codes. The intricacies of each push, shove and nod toward an investment that is seemingly worthy of buying or selling may be intimidating. But in the case of silver, it’s black and white: when you own the market, you control the market.
Mega-banks J.P. Morgan Chase and HSBC have been under suspicion for manipulating the value of precious metals, particularly silver, since 2008. A recent article in the New York Times alleged the two companies have earned billions of dollars from what could be a gigantic, market manipulation. Allegations state that JP Morgan and HSBC spread a rumor that the value of silver would depress dramatically. Of course, the claims were artificial, but because they owned such a substantial cut of commercial net short silver futures, they were essentially the silver market makers. When the price of silver plummeted based on their continued bearish actions, JP Morgan and HSBC cashed in.
JP Morgan and HSBC together "controlled over 85 percent of the commercial net short positions" and "a market share in excess of 90 percent of all precious metals derivative contracts, excluding gold," according to the New York Times. Short positions are essentially bets that the value of an investment will move downward. For JP Morgan and HSBC, these short positions were a sure thing; when you own 85 percent of the silver market short positions, it’s easy to drive the market down and reap the benefits.
A class-action lawsuit by a Florida futures trader filed charges against JP Morgan and HSBC, claiming that:
"The conspiracy and scheme was enormously successful, netting the defendants substantial illegal profits in billions of dollars between June 2008 and March 2010."
The lawsuit was filed in a federal court in the Southern District in New York, as reported by the New York Times.
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission, an American, federal watch-dog agency, oversees trading in precious metals. In 2008, they received hundreds of complaints that JP Morgan and HSBC were manipulating silver future prices, and began an investigation.
Two and a half years later, no significant action has been taken and no entities or individuals have been prosecuted. The mystery remains unsolved.
-END-



I do not think that JPMorgan has made billions from their silver and gold short.
Collectively all the  G 10 banks are short over 7 billion oz of silver and if imput an average price of say 16.00 dollars  the losses are:  7 billion x   21 =   147 billion dollars.
Say JPM has 40% of this total, then in silver alone they are deficient of  59 billion dollars.
This is just silver.  


In gold the total shortfall of all the G10 banks is around 50,000 tonnes of gold whereby 7000 tonnes is forwards and 43,000 tonnes is naked calls.  (BIS data Nov 2010)


In oz, the total shortfall is 1,600,000,000 oz  (1.6 billion oz) 
with an average input starting point of say 500.00.  The loss in gold would be 1400-500 or 900.00 dollars per oz x 1.6 billion oz or 1.44 trillion dollars.


If the input starting price is 10.00 dollars then the loss increases by 42 billion dollars.
JPMorgan will go down when they cannot deliver upon their silver and gold.


However the banks made piles of money borrowing from the Fed at zero and investing in bonds at 4% etc.

end.

And now for other stories circulating the globe.
You must always pay attention to whatever an official of China speaks:

(courtesy Reuters)
China sees strong commodities, weak dollar in 2011
BEIJING (Reuters) - Loose monetary policies in developed economies will place more upward pressure on global commodity prices and weigh on the dollar this year, the Chinese central bank said on Friday.
In a report reviewing the performance of global financial markets, the People's Bank of China also warned of a deepening of the European debt crisis, though its broad view was colored with optimism.
"We expect that the world economy will keep recovering, and the foundation for the recovery will be firmer," it said in the 125-page report.
In a brief discussion of risks, it pointed to Europe's debt woes as well as inflation and the potential for asset bubbles in developing markets.
On balance, however, it said that the dollar would fare worse than the euro.
"In 2011, the dollar will be on a downward trend overall, because of the slow recovery of its economy, low interest rates and twin deficits," the central bank said. "The possible spreading of European sovereign debt crisis and geopolitical risks may push up the dollar in some periods."
It noted that short-term interest rates in major economies would gradually rise as their recovery solidifies.
"But as the global recovery momentum is not strong, the increases will not be too large," it said.
Looking at global commodities, it said that wealthy nations were printing money to kick-start their economies and this would inevitable push up prices.
"Developed countries will continue with their loose policies and global liquidity will remain ample, which will keep prices of commodities, especially crude oil and grains at high levels," it said.
Concerns about inflation would trigger demand for gold as a store of value, but the precious metal's bull run may be near its end, it added.
"We need to note that gold prices have reached historical highs, and its downward risks should not be overlooked," the central bank said.
It said the global recovery depended in large part on coordination between major economies.
"All countries should avoid competitive devaluation of their currencies and pay more attention to risks brought by excessively loose policies on the back of a global recovery," it said.
The central bank reiterated that China would make its currency more convertible under the capital account, a long-standing pledge that has resulted in only incremental progress so far.
"We will relax restrictions on cross-border capital transaction activities in a selective and step-by-step manner, making sure that all risks are effectively under control," it said.
-END-


For those of you who think that the rioting is only limited to Arab countries, guess again.
This is London England, yesterday:

Follow London's Biggest Demonstration In A Decade As 300,000 Protest Austerity And Public Sector Cuts

Tyler Durden's picture






After leading to the collapse of the Portuguese government, anti-austerity anger is now ramping up at the very heart of the old continent, where the biggest demonstration in over a decade has struck in London. Per the Guardian: "More than a quarter of a million protesters against public sector cuts are expected to flood central London today in the biggest political demonstration for nearly a decade. Police sources, normally cautious about estimating numbers, said last night they were braced for up to 300,000 people to join the march – far higher than previous forecasts from TUC organisers. More than 800 coaches and at least 10 trains have been chartered to bring people to the capital from as far afield as Cornwall and Inverness. The Metropolitan police, under fire for their use of kettling in previous protests, said "a small but significant minority" plan to hijack the march to stage violent attacks. Organisers, however, insist it will be a peaceful family event. Union members are expected be joined by a broad coalition, from pensioners to doctors, families and first-time protesters to football supporters and anarchists. Ed Miliband said the government was dragging the country back to the "rotten" 1980s. Labour is calling today's event the "march of the mainstream"." Some of the protesters, already pigeonholed as "anarchists", have already become unruly as a splinter group has formed on the iconic Oxford street where it is engaged in altercations with the Police, including throwing smoke bombs, lightbulbs filled ammonia.
The protest can be followed in real time on Sky News below.
The Guardian also has a live blog of the protest that can be followe here:
Some of the most recent entries:
1.44pm: Richard Evans has been talking to PA News about his 166 miles trek from Cardiff to join the march.

Evans, a PCS union rep who was interviewed by the Guardianabout his protest earlier this week, said the walk was worth it although his feet were "very sore".
"I wanted to encourage people to get on a bus. I think the best way to do that is to go a step further.
"The whole point of this is the government looks again at the cuts. I'm hoping there is enough people here to make them realise when you're in the position you're in - in the coalition government - you need to think again. With this number of people, the government have to take notice. "
1.39pm: Paul Lewis has just tweeted about police penning in protesters outside Downing Street.
1.39pm: Paul Lewis has just tweeted about police penning in protesters outside Downing Street.
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Reports of "light kettle" at Downing Street and rolling shop occupations at Picadilly #march26 #26marchless than a minute ago via Twitter for BlackBerry®
1.31pm: Activists from Ukuncut, the peaceful direct action group that has closed down more than 100 high street stores accused of tax avoidance, are moving into position on Oxford Street. They are planning 14 different occupations of high street stores accused of tax avoidance, Matthew Taylor writes.
A spokesman just said there were about 200 people moving towards their various targets with more expected to join in the next half an hour.
Meanwhile the main march just gets bigger. People are still streaming across bridges to join from south London while others are making their way from the north.
Bernard Goyder, a veteran of last year's student protests, said he had been "blown away" by today's turnout.
"This couldn't be any better. I have never seen such a wide diverse group of people together. It dwarves anything I have seen before. It is much much bigger than any of us were expecting"
1.15pm: Tom Wills, a student journalist based in Brighton, has posted a set of photos from the march on Flickr, which give a sense of the mass turnout.
1.10pm: EastLondonLines, a news website run by the journalism department of Goldsmiths, has posted this Twitpic, which shows the protesters marching past police lines near Parliament.
Paul Lewis Paul Lewis Photograph: Sarah Lee
1.04pm: Paul Lewis has sent through an update, describing the wide range of groups who have joined today's protest.
"Standing here watching hundreds of thousands of people stream past, you get a real sense of the broad coalition against the government. I noted down every banner that past through over a couple of minutes.
"Somerset Teachers Association, Vulnerable Chinese Migrants Association, Society of Radiographers, Prison Officers Association, Don't Cut Out The Disabled, Southend On Sea Unison Branch, Ipswich Labour Party, Cut Trident, Nurses Uncut, Met Police Group PCS Union, Calderdale Division of the NUT, Chelsea Anti Cuts Alliance, Colchester NHS SOS, South Ribble Children, The Bohemian Storm is Rising, Parents Alliance of Community Schools, Isle of Wight Uncut."
Matthew Taylor
1.02pm: Matthew Taylor says thousands of people are still joining the march, with the total number estimated at around 400,000.
"I am now on a footbridge overlooking the Embankment and people have been streaming underneath us for about an hour. People are queuing as far back as I a can see and tens of thousands more are still arriving from side streets. Organisers are suggesting there could be as many as 400,000 here today. That is impossible to verify at this stage. But it is clear that this is a very big demo."
1.00pm: While this photo from Mary shows crowds gathering at Embankment.
12.58pm: This photo by Mary Hamilton pokes fun at undercover police officers - whose activities have recently been investigated by the Guardian.
Undercover police assembly point on the anti-cuts march in LondonUndercover police assembly point on the anti-cuts march in London. Photograph: newsmary/twitpic
12.45pm: Journalist Mary Hamilton - aka newsmary - has beenposting photos of the march on Twitpic.
12.35pm: The Public and Commercial Services Union has set up its own live blog of the march.
12.30pm: Here's a map of the march route

View March for the Alternative Route in a larger map
...
9.15am: Good morning and welcome to the Guardian's live coverage of the mass protest in London against the coalition government's public sector cuts.
Around 300,000 people are expected to join the March for the Alternative organised by the TUC, the biggest union-organised event for over 20 years and the largest in the country since the protest against the Iraq war in 2003. More than 800 coaches and 10 trains have been chartered to bring people to the capital from as far afield as Cornwall and Inverness.
Union members are expected to be joined by a broad coalition, from pensioners to doctors, families and first-time protesters, to football supporters and anarchists. My colleague Matthew Taylor has written a guide to all the organisations - both official and unofficial - who will be taking part.
The Metropolitan Police believe a small minority will try to hijack the anti-cuts march to stage violent attacks on property and the police. The TUC organisers of the event say they have organised a family-friendly demonstration with brass, jazz and Bollywood bands. But there are concerns that unofficial feeder marches, sit-down protests and a takeover of Trafalgar Squarecould turn from peaceful civil disobedience into stand-offs with the police.
The march assembles on the Embankment from 11am but it will still be leaving at 2pm and possibly even later. The TUC has drawn up a set of tips for those planning to join the march. The protest will culminate in a rally in Hyde Park. Guardian reporters Matthew Taylor and Paul Lewis will be out on the streets covering the protest as it happens.
If you're at the demo and want to send me any comments - or share any pictures, audio clips and videos - you can contact me either on david.batty@guardian.co.uk or on Twitter -@David_Batty
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The EU summit yesterday accomplished nothing.  No news on Greece, Portugal, Ireland:


courtesy Leo Kolivakis of zerohedge



Sun Setting on Greece and Eurozone?

Leo Kolivakis's picture






Prime Minister George Papandreou on Friday lauded his government’s efforts to dig the debt-ridden country out of serious economic problems as a meeting of European Union leaders failed to conclude with the agreement of a comprehensive solution to the crisis in the eurozone.

Speaking at the end of a two-day summit in Brussels, Papandreou said that this week’s gathering and the emergency meeting of eurozone leaders earlier this month both highlighted that Greece is on the right track in tackling its mammoth deficit.

“We made big sacrifices,” he said. “The efforts are today recognized by all European partners. The efforts have delivered results. We need time, but we are committed to put Greece on a new path, on a modern path.”

Papandreou said that EU leaders recognized his government’s efforts by rubber-stamping a deal to extend the repayment period for Greece’s 110-billion-euro emergency loan package with the EU and the International Monetary Fund from three to 7.5 and lower the interest rate to 4.2 from 5.2 percent.

“We were not done any favors,” he told journalists. “The decision was reached after solid bargaining. We took some very difficult decisions so we could make our economy viable again… but now we can look to the future with greater hope. Our strategy has been vindicated.”

Meanwhile, European leaders failed to produce the much-anticipated anti-crisis package and delayed until June a final decision on increasing the 27-member bloc’s temporary bailout facility, the European Financial Stability Facility.

The Brussels summit was clouded by Portugal’s financial troubles. Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates quit on Thursday after the country’s parliament rejected austerity measures aimed at staving off a bailout.

There were also concerns about the state of Irish banks, which prompted new Prime Minister Enda Kenny to put off renegotiating the terms of his country’s 85-billion-euro bailout.

Greece and Ireland were warned by German Chancellor Angela Merkel that they both still had a lot of work ahead of them. “The euro has survived a critical test but there is lots of homework to be done,” she said.

“Member states face many years of work to atone for past sins,” she said.
I wish I can tell you that Greece is rising from the ashes but it's not. The Greek economy is being put through the wringer and all these austerity measures have caused a lot of pain. Austerity measures are going to fail in Greece, they're going to fail in Ireland and they're going to fail spectacularly in the UK. Ireland is probably looking at Iceland and thinking about joining them.
What will additional austerity do? It will create more resentment in the periphery and pretty much kill these economies. After they collapse, growth will be easy. But don't worry, they won't collapse. Someone was asking me if they should buy Greek bonds and the National Bank of Greece? NBG just closed a difficult 2010 and is preparing for a perilous 2011. If you believe this is the bottom for the Greek economy and that Turkey will continue doing well, buy NBG and hold it.
As for Greek bonds, I read an interesting comment from Steve Schaefer of Forbes, Why Euro Debt Matters More Than Oil Prices Or Chinese Inflation:
Mike Mutti, Raymond James’ senior credit strategist, keeps a screen with five-year credit default swapsfor European sovereign debt open at all times. That’s because more than any other current crisis facing the world – from the devastating earthquake in Japan to the turmoil in Libya and the Middle East – a severe escalation in Europe’s credit crisis has the capacity to cause a repeat of the 2008 meltdown.

Since the Greek debt crisis erupted nearly a year ago, new issues have cropped up in other peripheral countries (commonly, if not politically correctly, referred to as the PIIGS) every few months. You can almost set your watch to it. Though the disaster in Japan and spike in oil prices put the European debt issue on the backburner for a time, it flared up again this week after Portugal’s Parliament rejected an austerity plan, swiftly followed by downgrades to the country’s sovereign debt ratings.

Mutti acknowledges the challenges facing Portugal, Ireland and Greece, the three PIIGS in the most precarious shape, but believes the bailouts of those nations are essentially priced into the market. Fears crop up every few months, “then the fire is put out when European leaders put another hundred billion euros aside,” he says by way of explaining the ebb and flow in credit markets.

We’ve seen this movie before, he adds, pointing to previous surges in the price of insuring against default on European sovereign debt. What’s notable though, is that while previous spikes in credit default swap prices on Greek, Portuguese and Irish debt were accompanied by similar increases in corporate bond yields, thus far in 2011 increases in Greek CDS have not interrupted tightening in spreads of yields on investment grade corporate bonds to U.S. Treasuries. Of course, as Mutti is quick to point out, that all changes in a hurry if the credit plight of Spain or Italy worsens. (See“Europe’s Debt Crisis: Expect More Flare-Ups, But Breakup Unlikely.”)

(Source: Bloomberg, Citi Indexes, Raymond James)

Mutti doesn’t put too much stock into the bond yields at European sovereign debt auctions. For all the talk about this or that threshold that marks the breaking point for a country like Portugal, the CDS market tells the real story. “I’m a credit derivatives guy,” says the longtime Bear Stearns veteran who joined Raymond James in 2009. “It’s a swift market where people express their opinion on the likelihood of default.” Sure, you could surmise how risky a sovereign default is by looking at bond yields, “but CDS actually has ‘default’ right in the name of the product,” Mutti says.

A chart showing 5-year CDS on European debt clearly shows that while the PIIGS are grouped together, the investment community has delineated the fivesome into three distinct leagues. Mutti shared the chart below, which shows the difference in risk traders see in Greek, Irish and Portuguese debt, when compared with that of Italy and Spain.


(Source: Bloomberg, Raymond James)

If Italian or Spanish CDS rise into the 400 basis point neighborhood currently occupied by Ireland and Portugal, it won’t be easily solved by tossing another hundred billion euro at the problem.

To USAA portfolio manager Arnold Espe, who also believes a European sovereign default is the biggest risk facing the global market, government debt is not an enticing place to be. Owning Greek bonds at current yields is “ridiculous,” he says, particularly when he can buy corporate credits with similar yields and less risk, such as senior secured bonds of TXU (now called Energy Future Holdings) at 82 cents on the dollar with a 12% yield. Though the energy giant is struggling under its heavy debt burden, Espe figures he will still get around 100 cents on the dollar in a bankruptcy filing.

Another area he sees opportunity: subordinated debt in financial institutions. Issued by a wide variety of U.S. banks and insurers, as well as other finance-related firms like General Electric andAmerican Express, some of the bonds offer junk-like yields of 6-7% in return for being a bit lower in the capital structure.

Of course, Europe creates a risk there as well. Unlike other situations unfolding around the world – the aforementioned issues in Japan and the Middle East, but also inflation concerns in emerging markets – Europe’s debt crisis could have a profound impact on the banking system that holds the sovereign bonds.

Just like the crisis of 2008, a major European default could result in a flight from stocks, bonds and any other hint of risk , and lead firms to crack down on counterparties. If things were to escalate to that point, Espe suggests the only port in the storm could once again be U.S. Treasuries, a trade that would get crowded awfully quickly.
Are we heading towards a "major European default"? Are macro funds shorting the euro? Is owning Greek debt "ridiculous"? Of course not. Europe isn't going to collapse and if you think it is, you're going to be waiting forever. Europeans drag their feet but they're not dumb enough to let eurozone collapse. As for Greek bonds, some pretty big sovereign wealth funds, like Norway, own Greek bonds and the FT recently reported on EU debt swaps stating that hedge funds have been buyers of Greek debt, rather than CDS, and the widening in spreads was instead attributed to panic protection buying by overexposed banks.
But I know people prefer jumping on the "Eurozone is doomed" bandwagon thinking that Greece and other periphery economies will implode. I'm not buying this drama. Let me end by wishing my fellow Greeks everywhere a Happy Greek Independence Day. There's one thing you should know about us Greeks. We're warriors, it's in our DNA. We simply never give up. So let the speculators bet against Greece. I know that no matter what happens, Greeks will survive and get passed it just like we have countless times in the past.
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And this from Egypt: (courtesy Jim Sinclair)

Jim Sinclair’s Commentary
The protestors won in Egypt? You have to be kidding.
Egypt to protest against anti-protest law 
The new decree-law issued by the cabinet yesterday draws the ire of activists and labourers who plan to take their objections to the street in massive protests on Friday 
Lina El-Wardani , Thursday 24 Mar 2011
The Egyptian cabinet approved yesterday a decree-law that criminalises strikes, protests, demonstrations and sit-ins that interrupt private or state owned businesses or affect the economy in any way.
The decree-law also assigns severe punishment to those who call for or incite action, with the maximum sentence one year in prison and fines of up to half a million pounds.
The new law, which still needs to be approved by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, will be in force as long as the emergency law is still in force. Egypt has been in a state of emergency since the assassination of former president Anwar Sadat in 1981.
Since former president Hosni Mubarak stepped down on 11 February, Egypt has witnessed escalating nationwide labour strikes and political protests. Amongst those protesting have been university students, political activists, railway workers, doctors, pharmacists, lawyers, journalists, pensioners and the police force.
Many labourers have expressed their shock at the decree. “We really had hopes that the new government will support us and look into our demands. We expected them to say we have all of your legal demands on our desks and there is a timeline of a month or two within which they will be achieved,” said Ali Fotouh, a driver in the public transportation sector.


You will find this Graham Summers release very important as the adjusted monetary base
explodes.  In the graph, the Adjusted Monetary Base is now for the first time above  2.4 trillion dollars.  (courtesy Phoenix capital Research and Graham Summers)
You should always read a Graham Summers paper:

Why You Should be Freaked Out About the Stock Market

Phoenix Capital Research's picture






 I doubt you will see this chart in the mainstream media any time soon... if EVER.



This is a chart of the US monetary base. In simple terms, it charts how much money the Fed has pumped into the system (at least that it admits). So it’s a kind of visual of the Fed hitting the PANIC button: when the monetary base explodes higher, the Fed is FREAKING out.

You'll note that during the Financial Crisis the Fed didn't do much until the autumn of 2008 when it pumped nearly $1 trillion into the system. Think about that, the Fed didn’t go nuts pumping money until the stuff REALLY hit the fan.

You'll also note that there's only one other time when the monetary base went absolutely vertical: TODAY.

Indeed, the Fed has pumped nearly $500 billion into the system since the start of 2011. Don't even try to tell me  this is QE 2. If it was then the monetary base should have spiked in late 2010,NOT in 2011.

No, this is the Fed FREAKING OUT about the financial system again. And it's a freak out on par with 2008.

So if you think that all is well "behind the scenes" you're in for a rude surprise. Something BIG is going down and it's NOT good.

And rest assured, by the time the mainstream media announces what it is, it will already be in full swing.

Prepare Now!

Graham Summers

PS. If you’re getting worried about the future of the stock market and have yet to take steps to prepare for the Second Round of the Financial Crisis… I highly suggest you download my FREE Special Report specifying exactly how to prepare for what’s to come.

I call it The Financial Crisis “Round Two” Survival Kit. And its 17 pages contain a wealth of information about portfolio protection, which investments to own and how to take out Catastrophe Insurance on the stock market (this “insurance” paid out triple digit gains in the Autumn of 2008).

Again, this is all 100% FREE. To pick up your copy today, got tohttp://www.gainspainscapital.com and click on FREE REPORTS.

PPS. We ALSO publish a FREE Special Report on Inflation detailing three investments that have all already SOARED as a result of the Fed’s monetary policy.
You can access this Report at the link above.


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Now, we see the St Louis Fed Bullard, state that there is no need for QEIII.
We are also hearing that Charles Prosser of the Philly Fed and the Fisher of the Dallas Fed echo Bullard  and Jeffrey Lacker of the Richmond Fed:


After reading this, refer back to the Graham Summers article:
(in a nutshell QeIII will be upon us in real form or disguised)



Fed's Bullard Says ‘Pretty Good’ U.S. Economy May Allow Early End to QE2

U.S. Federal Reserve policy makers should review whether to complete a second round of quantitative-easing purchasing due to end in June because of strong U.S. economic data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard said.
“The economy is looking pretty good,” Bullard told reporters in Marseille, France, today. “It is still reasonable to review QE2 in the coming meetings, especially this April meeting, and see if we want to decide to finish the program or to stop a little bit short.”
While the economy is clearly stronger than last summer and fall and QE should be reviewed, uncertainties remain, including Japan, Middle East political tensions, the U.S. fiscal position and the European sovereign debt crisis, Bullard said. U.S. first-quarter gross domestic product may not be as strong as anticipated several weeks ago, and some strengthening may get pushed into the second quarter, he said.
The U.S. economy grew at a 3.1 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter, led by a jump in consumer spending that will be hard to match early in the year as energy prices surge. Surging oil prices sparked by turmoil in the Middle East may erode consumers’ purchasing power, and supply constraints caused by the Japan earthquake and its aftermath slow the pace of recovery this quarter.
“The oil price increases so far is not enough to derail the U.S. recovery at this level,” Bullard said. “If oil prices stabilize where they are, we’ll be fine.” Prices would have to go substantially higher for there to be a “significant and material effect,” he said.
“We have to weigh those in the decision” on whether to stop the Fed’s QE2 program earlier than planned, Bullard said.

Interest Rates

U.S. central bankers have said they will keep interest rates near zero for an extended period. In contrast, European Central Bank officials indicated this month that uncertainty caused by Japan’s earthquake may not deter them from raising interest rates next month.
“We’re far away from normal policy,” Bullard said. “I think it’s important to take a few steps back to normality. Even if you make a few small moves, monetary policy will still be accommodative for some time to come.”
While the economy may still suffer shocks, the “balance sheet should be contingent” and the Fed should be ready if the economy turns down, he said.
“If the economy is as strong as I think it is then I think it may be reasonable to send a signal to markets that we’re going to start withdrawing our stimulus, and I’d start by pulling up a little bit short on the QE2 program,” Bullard said. “We can’t be as accommodative as we are today for too long, we’ll create a lot of inflation if we do that.”

Balance Sheet

If the Fed opts to start withdrawing stimulus and tighten policy, it should start with the “balance sheet” by selling bonds first, then changing its wording about keeping interest rates near zero for an “extended period” and then raising interest rates, Bullard said.
Bullard has warned since last July about a risk of Japanese-style deflation in the U.S. while calling for purchases of Treasury securities to reduce the threat. Bullard, 50, voted in favor of the Treasury purchase program in November and has rotated this year into an annual non-voting position.
Bullard said last month the U.S. central bank may need to reduce the amount of purchases in light of stronger U.S. economic data. Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser and Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker have also urged a review of the purchases in light of a strengthening economy and concern over future inflation.
“It looks like inflation is bottoming out and if we continue that, I think we will have gone past” the worst, he said. “We seem to be turning the corner there, but I would want to see more data on that.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Scott Hamilton in London at shamilton8@bloomberg.net
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Wellisz at cwellisz@bloomberg.net

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I guess that about does it for today.
I wish you a grand weekend and I will try and answer all questions late tonight or tomorrow
all the best
Harvey

Here is a summary of what has transpired with respect to radiation leaks over in Japan:

No, the Amount of Radiation Released from the Japanese Nuclear Reactors is NOT "Safe"

George Washington's picture





Just as with the Gulf oil spill - where BP, government spokesmen and mainstream talking heads spewed happy talk about how "benign" the dispersants were and how all the oil had disappeared - there is now an avalanche of statements that the radiation is at "safe" doses for everyone outside of the immediate vicinity of Fukushima. 

For example, Japanese government call-in advice lines are tellingpeople to simply rinse off any produce covered with radioactive dust.



Ann Coulter claims that radiation is good for you

It is not very confidence-inspiring that:
EPA officials, however, refused to answer questions or make staff members available to explain the exact location and number of monitors, or the levels of radiation, if any, being recorded at existing monitors in California.

Or that the EPA has pulled 8 of its 18 radiation monitors in California, Oregon and Washington because (by implication) they are giving readings which seem too high.

What Levels of Radiation Are Being Released?

So what levels of radiation are being released at Fukushima?

New Scientist reports that the radioactive fallout from Japan is approaching Chernobyl levels:
Japan's damaged nuclear plant in Fukushima has been emitting radioactive iodine and caesium at levels approaching those seen in the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident in 1986. Austrian researchers have used a worldwide network of radiation detectors – designed to spot clandestine nuclear bomb tests – to show that iodine-131 is being released at daily levels 73 per cent of those seen after the 1986 disaster. The daily amount of caesium-137 released from Fukushima Daiichi is around 60 per cent of the amount released from Chernobyl.


Tyler Durden points out that - when you consider the fact that the amount of Caesium-137 released at Fukushima in the first 3-4 days of the crisis amounted to 50% that released by Chernobyl over 10 days - the real run rate of the radiation released at Fukushima is now about 120-150% the figure released by the Chernobyl explosion.

There are other signs of high levels radiation. See this and this. And it is important to remember that the amount of radioactive fuel at Fukushima dwarfs Chernobyl.


This Could Continue for a While 
Many experts say that it could take months to contain Fukushima. See this and this. And therefore, high radiation levels might continue to be released for some time.

Evidence for the fact that a quick fix is unlikely is widespread. For example, reactors 1, 2, 3 and 4 were all leaking steamyesterday.


There was some indication that reactors 5 and 6 are leaking as well. As Kyodo News reports:
The firm [Tokyo Electric Power Company] also said it found both iodine-131 and cesium-137 in a sample taken from near the drain outlets of the plant's No. 5 and No. 6 reactors that stabilized Sunday in so-called ''cold shutdown.''

CNN notes today:
Authorities in Japan raised the prospect Friday of a likely breach in the all-important containment vessel of the No. 3 reactor at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, a potentially ominous development in the race to prevent a large-scale release of radiation.


The cores of reactors 1 and 3 appear to be leaking as well.

This is not to say that there will be a full meltdown which sends radioactive plumes high into the stratosphere. I am assuming that will not happen. But the release of radioactivity is severe and ongoing.

But Low Doses of Radiation Are Safe ... Aren't They?
While most would dismiss as crackpot ramblings Coulter's claim that radiation is good for you, what about the pervasive claims that the amount of radiation which has been released is so low that it is "safe" for people outside of the immediate vicinity of Fukushima?

Physicians for Social Responsibility notes:
According to the National Academy of Sciences, there are no safe doses of radiation. Decades of research show clearly that any dose of radiation increases an individual’s risk for the development of cancer.

“There is no safe level of radionuclide exposure, whether from food, water or other sources. Period,” said Jeff Patterson, DO, immediate past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility. “Exposure to radionuclides, such as iodine-131 and cesium-137, increases the incidence of cancer. For this reason, every effort must be taken to minimize the radionuclide content in food and water.”


“Consuming food containing radionuclides is particularly dangerous. If an individual ingests or inhales a radioactive particle, it continues to irradiate the body as long as it remains radioactive and stays in the body,”said Alan H. Lockwood, MD, a member of the Board of Physicians for Social Responsibility. 
*** 
Radiation can be concentrated many times in the food chain and any consumption adds to the cumulative risk of cancer and other diseases.


John LaForge notes:
The National Council on Radiation Protection says, “… every increment of radiation exposure produces an incremen­tal increase in the risk of cancer.” The Environmental Protection Agency says, “… any exposure to radiation poses some risk, i.e. there is no level below which we can say an exposure poses no risk.” The Department of Energy says about “low levels of radiation” that “… the major effect is a very slight increase in cancer risk.” The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says, “any amount of radiation may pose some risk for causing cancer ... any increase in dose, no matter how small, results in an incremental increase in risk.” The National Academy of Sciences, in its “Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation VII,” says, “... it is unlikely that a threshold exists for the induction of cancers ....”

Long story short, “One can no longer speak of a ‘safe’ dose level,” as Dr. Ian Fairlie and Dr. Marvin Resnikoff said in their report “No dose too low,” in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.


And Brian Moench, MD, writes:
Administration spokespeople continuously claim "no threat" from the radiation reaching the US from Japan, just as they did with oil hemorrhaging into the Gulf. Perhaps we should all whistle "Don't worry, be happy" in unison. A thorough review of the science, however, begs a second opinion.


That the radiation is being released 5,000 miles away isn't as comforting as it seems.... Every day, the jet stream carries pollution from Asian smoke stacks and dust from the Gobi Desert to our West Coast, contributing 10 to 60 percent of the total pollution breathed by Californians, depending on the time of year. Mercury is probably the second most toxic substance known after plutonium. Half the mercury in the atmosphere over the entire US originates in China. It, too, is 5,000 miles away. A week after a nuclear weapons test in China, iodine 131 could be detected in the thyroid glands of deer in Colorado, although it could not be detected in the air or in nearby vegetation.

The idea that a threshold exists or there is a safe level of radiation for human exposure began unraveling in the 1950s when research showed one pelvic x-ray in a pregnant woman could double the rate of childhood leukemia in an exposed baby.Furthermore, the risk was ten times higher if it occurred in the first three months of pregnancy than near the end. This became the stepping-stone to the understanding that the timing of exposure was even more critical than the dose. The earlier in embryonic development it occurred, the greater the risk.

A new medical concept has emerged, increasingly supported by the latest research, called "fetal origins of disease," that centers on the evidence that a multitude of chronic diseases, including cancer, often have their origins in the first few weeks after conception by environmental insults disturbing normal embryonic development. It is now established medical advice that pregnant women should avoid any exposure to x-rays, medicines or chemicals when not absolutely necessary, no matter how small the dose, especially in the first three months.

"Epigenetics" is a term integral to fetal origins of disease, referring to chemical attachments to genes that turn them on or off inappropriately and have impacts functionally similar to broken genetic bonds. Epigenetic changes can be caused by unimaginably small doses - parts per trillion - be it chemicals, air pollution, cigarette smoke or radiation. Furthermore, these epigenetic changes can occur within minutes after exposure and may be passed on to subsequent generations.

The Endocrine Society, 14,000 researchers and medical specialists in more than 100 countries, warned that "even infinitesimally low levels of exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals, indeed, any level of exposure at all, may cause endocrine or reproductive abnormalities, particularly if exposure occurs during a critical developmental window. Surprisingly, low doses may even exert more potent effects than higher doses." If hormone-mimicking chemicals at any level are not safe for a fetus, then the concept is likely to be equally true of the even more intensely toxic radioactive elements drifting over from Japan, some of which may also act as endocrine disruptors.

Many epidemiologic studies show that extremely low doses of radiation increase the incidence of childhood cancers, low birth-weight babies, premature births, infant mortality, birth defects and even diminished intelligence. Just two abdominal x-rays delivered to a male can slightly increase the chance of his future children developing leukemia. By damaging proteins anywhere in a living cell, radiation can accelerate the aging process and diminish the function of any organ. Cells can repair themselves, but the rapidly growing cells in a fetus may divide before repair can occur, negating the body's defense mechanism and replicating the damage.

Comforting statements about the safety of low radiation are not even accurate for adults. Small increases in risk per individual have immense consequences in the aggregate. When low risk is accepted for billions of people, there will still be millions of victims. New research on risks of x-rays illustrate the point.

Radiation from CT coronary scans is considered low, but, statistically, it causes cancer in one of every 270 40-year-old women who receive the scan. Twenty year olds will have double that rate. Annually, 29,000 cancers are caused by the 70 million CT scans done in the US. Common, low-dose dental x-rays more than double the rate of thyroid cancer. Those exposed to repeated dental x-rays have an even higher risk of thyroid cancer.

***

Beginning with Madam Curie, the story of nuclear power is one where key players have consistently miscalculated or misrepresented the risks of radiation. The victims include many of those who worked on the original Manhattan Project, the 200,000 soldiers who were assigned to eye witness our nuclear tests, the residents of the Western US who absorbed the lion's share of fallout from our nuclear testing in Nevada, the thousands of forgotten victims of Three Mile Island or the likely hundreds of thousands of casualties of Chernobyl. This could be the latest chapter in that long and tragic story when, once again, we were told not to worry.


Note: People who rationally discuss the hazards from nuclear accidents are dismissed as "anti-nuclear". However, that is like saying that people who are against pilots drinking tequila during flights are anti-flying. As Bloomberg points out, the operator of the Fukushima reactors faked safety tests and results and cut every corner in the books for decades, just as BP cut every safety corner prior to the Gulf oil spill. Moreover, the Fukushima reactors were not designed to withstand an earthquake or a tsunami, and their peculiar design makes the spent fuel rods an even greater danger than the reactors themselves. 
Demanding a safer design - e.g. thorium reactors - and ongoing maintenance and safety tests doesn't mean one is anti-nuclear.
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