Is there a bubble about to burst in China? Jim Chanos says yes.

Billionaire  hedge fund manager Jim Chanos, was on CNBC today and made the following statement about China:

“A lot of people are willing to say China will slow down,” he said. “The really scary thing is if you do the numbers and they cut back on construction it’s not a slowdown, and they go negative real fast…The fact of the matter is if they hit the breaks really hard, the economy goes into reverse. It doesn’t slow,” Chanos said. “Nobody will say that publicly because it’s unbelievable. But it happens to be the way the numbers work.”

Chanos is a smart guy, and he has been sounding the bear alarm in China for some time now, though he has never actually been to mainland China (Hong Kong does not count Jim), which I find so incredibly odd.

Leaving that perplexity aside for the moment, the thought of China’s economy going into the tank is something that few speculators seem to be contemplating. Most of us are too busy trying to figure out what the Federal Reserve will do next to worry about a breakdown of growth in China.

If the Chinese economy does go into reverse, then you can kick our deflation expectations into 7th gear.

Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Reactors 1, 2 and 3 Melted down hours after the Earthquake began

Fires blazing after the March 11th quake in Japan

And the truth finally comes out. After lying about an event so serious and crucial to the health of every human being on planet earth, the Japanese government finally got around to admitting that reactors 1 through 3 at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear facility had probably started melting down only hours after the March 11th earthquake began.

According to a recent report from Kyodo News:

An adviser to Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Monday that the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant had failed to inject water into the Nos. 2 and 3 reactors for more than six hours after the March 11 massive earthquake and ensuing tsunami.

Goshi Hosono, tasked with handling the nuclear crisis, said at a press conference that Tokyo Electric Power Co. had not been able to cool down the reactors’ cores due to loss of external power for a long time after the quake, acknowledging that fuel in the vessels might have largely melted ”in the worst-case scenario.”

It is really sad that it took the government and TEPCO this long to tell the Japanese people the truth. There were little children continuing to go to school, drinking the milk and playing outside in the rain for months after these reactors had started to melt down in regions that were only 30 miles outside ground zero according to reports released throughout the period.

With the media blackout of this crisis, it is hard to stay abreast of developments, and it is even harder to get our readers timely facts. Of course, if we get any new information on the fallout, you will be the first to know.

For a backlog of stories on the nuclear meltdown in Japan, just enter “Fukushima” in the site’s search engine, and this should help you pull up most of the relevant materials. You can also visit the site’s archive. Articles start after March 11th.

Seabed radiation 100-1,000 times normal level off Fukushima plant

According to Tokyo Power and Electric Co. (TEPCO), radiation levels on the Pacific seabed off the coast of Fukushima’s nuclear power plant have risen up to 1000 times the “normal.”

I use quotations around normal because, as we have been reporting for months, Japanese officials have consistently raised the levels for what constitutes “normal” whenever it is convenient for them to do so.

What’s most important to note here is that the crisis in Japan is still going on, and no amount of saber rattling in Libya or strategic bombings in Pakistan is going to change this.

The people of Japan are suffering with the most comprehensive nuclear meltdown in history, and the earth is crying as a result. The beautiful Pacific Ocean is being turned into a waste dump.

Why can’t western governments put their plundering on hold, at least until this nuclear catastrophe is resolved?

Radiation leaks from fuel rods suspected at Tsuruga plant

We had reported in the past that other nuclear power facilities in Japan were at risk of meltdown going forward, given the continued threat of more earthquakes and the precarious energy situation that could jeopardize cooling operations across the country.

Well, the latest news out of Japan suggests that this threat is still an issue, as leaks of radioactive substances from fuel rods are suspected to have aoccured at a nuclear power plan in Tsuruga, according to the Fukui prefectural government. The leaks were identified from a rise in the level of radioactive substances in coolant water.

According to Kyodo News Agency, the plant operator, Japan Atomic Power Co., will manually shut down the No. 2 reactor of the plant on the Sea of Japan coast and examine the primary cooling system for it.

Japan Atomic has stated that 4.2 becquerels of iodine-133 and 3,900 becquerels of xenon gas were detected per cubic centimeter Monday, up from 2.1 and 5.2 becquerels, respectively, during previous measurements conducted last Tuesday.

Outlook on Japanese Government Debt Downgraded to “Negative” by S&P

Well, Standard & Poor’s seems to be on a mission these days to rattle the bond market, but so far, it isn’t clear that anyone is listening.

Only a week after downgrading US sovereign debt, the credit rating agency followed suit Wednesday with an equally cautious downgrade for its credit outlook on Japan, slapping a “negative” rating on the government’s bonds, citing likely increases in the country’s fiscal deficits due to emergency public spending following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

The move provides a platform from which further downgrades become more possible in the future ”if fiscal deterioration materially exceeds these (earlier) estimates in the absence of greater fiscal consolidation,” the U.S. rating agency said in a report.

Exactly what would it take for Japan and the US to see their ratings cut to junk? A default? Japan’s debt is already the largest of any in the industrialized world, and the US has only been able to keep its borrowing costs down by having the Fed buy all the excess supply.

By the time the rating agencies get around to downgrading the debt of these countries in any serious matter, the currencies will have completely disappeared and we will be in a new ice age of frozen credit and economic depression.

The Inflation Dragon Fuels Wage Protests in China

From ZeroHedge:

A two-day strike over rising fuel prices turned violent in Shanghai on Thursday as thousands of truck drivers clashed with police, drivers said, in the latest example of simmering discontent over inflation. About 2,000 truck drivers battled baton-wielding police at an intersection near Waigaoqiao port, Shanghai’s biggest, two drivers who were at the protest told Reuters. The drivers, who blocked roads with their trucks, had stopped work on Wednesday demanding the government do something about rising fuel costs, workers said.”

Japan Raises Nuclear Threat Level to 7 and Prepares to Expand Evacuation Zone

Fukushima Radiation Zone

After maintaining a parsly 20-km radiation zone for the past month, despite the urgings of many experts from around the world (including the IAEA), the Japanese government is finally admitting publicly that leaks from the plant pose dangers to people located in vicinities  far closer than had been previously conceded. No decision on exactly how large the expanded evacuation area will be has been announced yet, but local media in Japan is reporting that the zone will be extended to 30km.

This is still insufficient, if the word of international nuclear experts can be believed. In fact, such an evacuation zone would fly in the face of the government’s own calculations regarding how much radiation people are being exposed to in the area around Fukushima, and is inconsistent with their recent raising of the INES level 7 – the highest rating possible.

According to preliminary data released by the Japanese government, the cumulative amount of external exposure to radiation in areas extending more than 60 kilometers northwest of the plant already exceeds the yearly limit of 1 millisievert. In the face of these numbers, it behooves the government to expand the zone to at least 60km.

As we have been reporting for the past month, you cannot trust a thing that comes out of any government, let alone this one. The Japanese government has proven that it is completely untrustworthy, and I feel really awful for all those people who have and continue to make their personal health and safety decisions based on official recommendations.

Speaking of New Homeland Security Measures…

Check out what the Japanese are sporting in Tokyo…

Concerns mount over Contamination of Water and Sea life beyond Japan

 

With the fallout in Japan continuing into its forth week, people are starting to become anxious about the potential for food and water contamination, not only within Japan but elsewhere as well. Bowing to public pressure, the government of Japan finally set a legal limit today for the permitted level of radioactive iodine in seafood. The limit the Japanese government has picked for iodine-131 contamination in marine products such as fish and shellfish is 2,000 bequerels per kilogram, according to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano.

The government of South Korea has also become increasingly vocal about the safety of not only food products coming out of Japan, but of the contamination of sea water in the pacific as well, in light of the fact that so much of the water being pumped in to cool the reactors is being dumped right back into the ocean.

And concerns are mounting across the pacific as well. A rooftop water monitoring program managed by UC Berkeley’s Department of Nuclear Engineering detected substantial spikes in rain-borne iodine-131 during torrential downpours a week ago, according to an article published by the Bay Citizen. The levels measured by the department exceeded federal drinking water thresholds, known as maximum containment levels (MCL), by as much as 181 times. This water is also being ingested by cows that are then passing it through their milk, where above normal levels of iodine-131 have already been measured.

Although the half-life for radioactive iodine is only 8 days (meaning that it dissipates quickly and does not remain in the environment for long, as is the case with plutonium and uranium) it’s effects on the human body can be devastating. One of the most common cancers associated with Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Chernobyl was thyroid cancer, which can be caused by excessive exposure to iodine-131. Eating kelp and other sea vegetables that are rich in iodine are a great and natural way to protect yourself against low levels of exposure to the radioactive isotope, but given the fact that so much of the contamination is taking place in the pacific ocean, it is hard to know if what you are eating is actually helping or hurting you.

Blue Flash of Light seen above Nuclear Reactor

YouTube Preview Image

 

The important part of this story that was not really covered by the reporter but that was mentioned by the anchor is the “blue flash of light.” This is associated with an accidental increase of nuclear chain reactions in fissile material, which can lead to a surge in neutron radiation. It is what is known as a “criticality accident.”

This is not the first time we have heard of this news. In fact, over a week ago, Kyodo news in Japan reported that a Neutron beam had been observed 13 times at Fukushima:

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Wednesday it has observed a neutron beam, a kind of radioactive ray, 13 times on the premises of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant after it was crippled by the massive March 11 quake-tsunami disaster.

TEPCO, the operator of the nuclear plant, said the neutron beam measured about 1.5 kilometers southwest of the plant’s No. 1 and 2 reactors over three days from March 13 and is equivalent to 0.01 to 0.02 microsieverts per hour and that this is not a dangerous level.

The utility firm said it will measure uranium and plutonium, which could emit a neutron beam, as well.

In the 1999 criticality accident at a nuclear fuel processing plant run by JCO Co. in Tokaimura, Ibaraki Prefecture, uranium broke apart continually in nuclear fission, causing a massive amount of neutron beams.

In the latest case at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, such a criticality accident has yet to happen.

But the measured neutron beam may be evidence that uranium and plutonium leaked from the plant’s nuclear reactors and spent nuclear fuels have discharged a small amount of neutron beams through nuclear fission.