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30 April, 2009

Sale At Advertiser Park Seed - Today Only!

Today, April 30th, is the final day for you to take advantage of Backwoods Blog affiliate advertiser Park Seed's current promotion where they are offering $15 OFF $ 75 or More Just in Time For Spring Seed Starting! Shop Now! You'll need to enter Bonus code VICTORY at checkout to get the discount. Park Seed has been in business since 1868 and they offer a nice selection of heirloom varieties for your home garden.

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Mexican Swine Flu: Another Day Closer to Wherever This Thing is Headed

These end-of-day flu recaps are beginning to become a kind of weird routine.

Final Numbers for the Day stand at 189 laboratory confirmed cases, 8 of them fatal. One of today's fatalities was the first recorded death here in the U.S. and Mexico and the U.S. the only two countries with confirmed deaths. In addition, there are currently a total of 153 suspected fatalities worldwide and the number of suspected cases awaiting confirmation is now nearly 3800.

Yesterday, there was mention of another 150+ deaths is Mexico that were being referred to as "possible" rather than "probable" or "suspected," but oddly nothing more was said about that today which seems strange to me. Also, more conspiracy stuff is making the rounds; most it is ridiculous, but Newsweek ran this article about Mexican doctors supposedly being pressured to mislabel death certificates so the statistics don't look as bad.

Texas and California have now declared States of Emergency. All but the most essential parts of the federal government and economy of Mexico will be shut down May 1st-May 5th.

U.S. states now with confirmed/suspected cases of the flu: Alabama, Missouri, California, Idaho, Ohio, Florida, New York, South Carolina, North Carolina, Texas, Hawaii, Idaho, Michigan, Arkansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Arizona, Nevada, Tennessee, Indiana, Illinois, Nebraska, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Colorado, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Washington.

The World Health Organization today raised the Alert Level to 5, signaling that they consider a worldwide pandemic "imminent" and that all world governments should activate their pandemic action plans. This is the stage where final preparations and measures are put in place, so that they will be ready to act without delay should a Alert Level 6 be declared soon.

Further, the article linked here was written by a virologist and echoes my concerns about this thing possibly mutating and becoming more deadly. Of particular concern to me, as I've said before, would be that this flu could mingle at some point with H5N1 bird flu, and apparently I'm not the only one; Egypt announced today they are considering the extraordinary move of culling all the pigs in their entire country. I hope you don't have your money in pork futures, because it sounds like the market is about to be flooded.

In closing, I lifted this in its entirety from an internet forum, so I could get my reader's thoughts on it:

I just got this forwarded to me. No link or anything to go with it. This is in Central Texas. You can google his name. He is a medical doctor. Also, I don't know where to put this. If it needs to be moved, thanks in advance.

Some interesting Info from a local Wimberley Doctor.

Subject: Flu Update from Dr. Gitterle

After I returned from a public health meeting yesterday with community leaders and school officials in Comal County , Heather suggested I send an update to everyone, because what we are hearing privately from the CDC and Health Department is so different from what you are hearing in the media. Some of you know some or maybe all of this, but I will just list what facts I know..

- The virus is infectious for about 2 days prior to symptom onset

- Virus sheds more than 7 days after symptom onset (possibly as long as 9 days) (this is unusual)

- Since it is such a novel (new) virus, there is no "herd immunity," so the "attack rate" is very high. This is the percentage of people who come down with a virus if exposed. Almost everyone who is exposed to this virus will become infected, though not all will be symptomatic. That is much higher than seasonal flu, which averages 10-15%. The "clinical attack rate" may be around 40-50%. This is the number of people who show symptoms. This is a huge number. It is hard to convey the seriousness of this.

- The virulence (deadliness) of this virus is as bad here as in Mexico, and there are folks on ventilators here in the US , right now. This has not been in the media, but a 23 month old near here is fighting for his life, and a pregnant woman just south of San Antonio is fighting for her life. In Mexico, these folks might have died already, but here in the US, folks are getting Tamiflu or Relenza quickly, and we have ready access to ventilators. What this means is that within a couple of weeks, regional hospitals will likely become overwhelmed.

- Some of the kids with positive cases in Comal County had more than 70 contacts before diagnosis.

- There are 10-25 times more actual cases (not "possible" cases -- actual), than what is being reported in the media. The way they fudge on reporting this is that it takes 3 days to get the confirmatory nod from the CDC on a given viral culture, but based on epidemiological grounds, we know that there are more than 10 cases for each "confirmed" case right now.

- During the night, we crossed the threshold for the definition of a WHO, Phase 6 global pandemic. This has not happened in any of our lifetimes so far. We are in uncharted territory.

- I expect President Obama will declare an emergency sometime in the next 72-96 hours. This may not happen, but if it doesn't, I will be surprised. When this happens, all public gathering will be canceled for 10 days.

- I suggest all of us avoid public gatherings. Outdoor activities are not as likely to lead to infection. It is contained areas and close contact that are the biggest risk..

- Tamiflu is running out. There is a national stockpile, but it will have to be carefully managed, as it is not enough to treat the likely number of infections when this is full-blown. I don't think there is a big supply of Relenza, but I do not know those numbers. If I had to choose, I would take Relenza, as I think it gets more drug to the affected tissue than Tamiflu.

- You should avoid going to the ER if you think you have been exposed or are symptomatic. ER's south of here are becoming overwhelmed -- and I mean that -- already. It is coming in waves, but the waves are getting bigger.

- It appears that this flu produces a distinctive "hoarseness" in many victims. The symptoms, in general, match other flu's; namely, sore throat, body aches, headache, cough, and fever. Some have all these symptoms, while others may have only one or two.

- N-Acetyl-Cysteine -- a nutritional supplement available at the health food store or Wimberley Pharmacy, has been shown to prevent or lessen the severity of influenza. I suggest 1200mg, twice a day for adults, and 600mg twice a day in kids over 12. It would be hard to get kids under 12 to take it, but you could try opening the capsules and putting it on yogurt. For 40 pounds and up, 300-600 mg twice a day, for less than 40 pounds, half that.

- Oscillococinum, a homeopathic remedy, has been vindicated as quite effective in a large clinical trial in Europe , with an H1N1 variant. You can buy this at Hill Country Natural Foods, or the Wimberley Pharmacy.

I will try to keep everyone posted if I have any new information. Meanwhile, don't be afraid just avoid infection. The fewer people infected the easier it will be for our public officials to manage it.


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Possibly Disastrous News with Regard to Climate Change

Regular readers of this blog will be no strangers to this subject, as I have covered it here before, but the rapidly-melting Wilkins Ice Shelf is making the news again. As reported in this article, a chunk of ice comparable in size to New York City has broken off recently.

The collapse of these shelves doesn't noticeably contribute to sea level rise, because most of their mass is already floating in the water. The real danger in this stems from the fact these shelves often serve as a stopper, keeping enormous land-based glaciers from sliding into the drink.

Luckily, the Wilkins sheet isn't really holding anything back, but others definitely are. One such is the West Antarctic Ice Shelf (WAIS) as well as another in Greenland, and we now know that they are also melting at an accelerated pace that puts us on-course for a possible three-foot rise in sea level by the year 2100.

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4.30.09 Links of Interest

Is 'possible pandemic' a diversion?

Could Food Shortages Bring Down Civilization?

China admits to building up stockpile of gold

GM to cut 21,000 US factory jobs, shed Pontiac

TARP cop sees unstressful bank tests

Fed Using Currency Swaps to Boost the U.S. Dollar

JP Morgan Collapse Could Trigger Next Global Stock Market Crash

BofA, Citi may need to raise more capital

Oil falls as flu adds to demand concerns

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29 April, 2009

Mexican Swine Flu: The Numbers, They Keep a'Changin...

Yesterday turned out to be a stranger than normal day following the ongoing Mexican Swine Flu saga. Earlier, there was an odd discussion batted back-and-forth about how referring to it as swine flu was somehow offensive to Muslims and Jews. Huh? Your people don't eat pork and think it's a filthy animal and are yet offended when the poor beast is maligned by naming a disease after it? I love pork. It is my friend. Shouldn't I be the one offended? Political correctness is so very confusing. They say it should be called simply the Mexican Flu, but then won't that be offensive to Mexicans? Oh, I give up!

As a recap for Tuesday, the World Health Organization talked about raising the Alert Level to 5, but then backed-off. It's still at Level 4 currently. Thankfully, deaths in Mexico seem to be beginning to plateau; there were 149 probable last night versus 92 the night before, but only 10 more to report tonight for a total of 159. The big thing the media is on now is a revision dropping "confirmed" cases from 26 down to only 7 with only 1 "confirmed" death. That to me, though, means very little; the fact remains that something with flu-like symptoms killed 159 people and sickened thousands.

There were two deaths reported today in Los Angeles, but one has since had swine flu ruled out as the cause and the other is expected to go the same way. Still, the state of California went ahead and took the initiative to declare a state of emergency. Good for you, Cali. Better safe than sorry. To me, it is looking more and more like a real possibility that the still-increasing worldwide number of confirmed and probable cases may represent a herald wave, signaling a much more deadly and virulent onset possibly in the late Summer or early Fall. Or, maybe it will just disappear and never be seen again. Either way, that gives us a bit of time perhaps to prepare, just in case I'm right.

I advise you to take a few minutes and watch this video from Dr. Henry Niman; he holds a PhD from Southern Cal, and has spent the last 25 years studying viruses and working on influenza vaccines, etc.

Basically, what he says is that the U.S. is not seeing deaths because it is still very early in the process i.e. Mexico has been dealing with the bug much longer than we have. He reiterates the point that I and others have made previously regarding this virus acting almost identical to 1918, which infected 25% of the world's population and killed 10% of them (in today's numbers nearly 170 million people or more than half the population of the U.S.). He predicts that within 2 weeks, we will be at WHO Alert Level 6, and we will be seeing what they're seeing now in Mexico here in the U.S..

Cheery guy ;-)

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28 April, 2009

Mexican Swine Flu: Another 24 Hours

As another 24 hours passes, we continue to monitor the flourishing Mexican Swine Flu situation with vigilance, always hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. In my opinion, it could be days or even weeks before we'll see if this bug is going to just fizzle-out like the 1976 outbreak did or if it really is something to worry about in earnest. What I do not find encouraging is that more and more cases continue to crop up, both suspected and confirmed, all over the world. To that end, the World Health Organization held an emergency meeting today and raised the Alert Level from 3 to 4, which I argued should have been done yesterday.

At this point, we should probably be at Level 5 in keeping with a strict adherence to the written guidelines. But, then again, I also came across a curious tidbit today about the WHO "revising" the alert scale itself, so who really knows? Just as an FYI, if you think they're above changing the rules in the middle of the game, think again: a few years ago when dealing with a bird flu situation, Level 3 was no human transmission, while Level 4 was for evidence of human transmission; but, as soon as it became obvious that there had been some human-human transmissions, they quickly and rather quietly changed the criteria so that Level 3 would include 'little' human transmission and an increased number of confirmed human-human transmissions were required to bump it to Level 4. Shady bastards.

So, another 24 hours has brought us nearly a 62% increase in the death rate in Mexico, from 92 to 149, and over 1900 overall cases. With respect to confirmed instances elsewhere in the world, there are now at least one in Spain, two in Britain, six in Canada, and forty-eight here in the U.S.. Suspected cases number 212+ in the U.S., 28+ in Canada, 21 in the U.K., 35 in Spain, 66 in New Zealand, 19 in Australia, 12 in Columbia, 11 in Brazil, as well as 30+ spread out over Ireland, France, Denmark, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, South Korea, Poland, Israel, Guatemala, Argentina, Peru, Costa Rica, Russia, and some reports say China. Mexico shut down basically everything today through May 6th in an effort to assist containment, and many countries issued travel advisories not to go there unless the travel was deemed essential. Some went as far as to advise their citizens to avoid the North American continent altogether.

As I've stated before, I still believe it's too early to know what this thing really is. But, let us not discount the fact that even if it passes quietly, there could still be severe economic impacts. Also, there is the very real possibility mentioned in Mike's letter below of it doing exactly what the 1918 flu did: seemingly disappear, mutate, and then return with a vengeance.

In the meantime, watch and prepare, folks.

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Letter Re: "Mexican Swine Flu Update"

Mike in WV wrote:

"In 1918 it was the two-fold nature of the flue that was surprising. It hit in the spring and did very little killing. Then it returned to the swine population, morphed, and then reappeared in the fall as a deadlier strain.

The current situation doesn’t really fit any previous scenarios yet (except 1976). Yet. It needs time to morph and reappear, or to fizzle out and die as the last swine flu did in 76. The current situation is more like 1976 in that people are ramping up for a big bout of swine flu. In 76 we ramped up and the pandemic never materialized. The persons calling for that pandemic were drawn and quartered in the press for creating such a scare and then having nothing materialize. But THAT was because of what happened in 1968. We had a worldwide epidemic in 68 that killed a million people. Having had so many deaths a scant few years earlier still lived in peoples’ active memories. Especially within the governments and world health organizations.

What we DO have now that we didn’t have in 1968 or 1976 is a whole lot of people on the internet. So coverage of this pandemic BEFORE it happens is just off the hook. And why people have died in Mexico, but ONLY in Mexico, while everyone else is just having a light case of the flu, is the perplexing part of the current situation. What we don’t have now is a lack of an early warning system. Or a lack of Tamiflu (which can cause paralysis). Or a lack of blue masks. Or a lack of alcohol-based hand-sanitization products. (remember, antibacterials are worthless as they don’t do anything about VIRII, and the flu is a VIRUS, not bacterial in nature)."


[SM's Response]: The possibility that Mike talks about this bug fizzling-out only to return stronger later is one to which I would pay close attention. That's precisely what happened in 1918 and it was disastrous. Imagine this flu landing in southeast Asia and mutating to take on characteristics of the H5N1 bird flu that is already endemic there. Scary.

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27 April, 2009

Mexican Swine Flu Update

It's been another long day of watching the development of this outbreak, and before I get into updating you on the situation let me just say that I continue to be amazed by the stupidity of the human animal. Sometimes it is truly hard to imagine that we didn't become extinct long, long ago. I say this because there was actually a guy on CNN earlier saying, in his opinion, not only would he not hesitate to travel to Mexico right now, but he would actually recommend it because with fewer people going you'll be treated better, get better deals, etc.. He also said that if people were worried and thinking about canceling already-planned trips that they would have to weigh their misgivings against the fact they would most likely lose their deposits. Yeah, because my deposit is much more important to me than my life and the lives of those around me. I almost put my fist through the TV screen. Oh yeah, and just prior to talking to him, they interviewed a nurse who was traveling to Mexico today and said she wasn't worried at all and that she was just taking the basic precautions. Ummm, no - the most basic precaution at this point would be not to go to Mexico. I mean, I'm not being an alarmist and expecting this thing to necessarily turn into Captain Tripps or anything, but could we just maybe agree that uninfected people ought not be jetting down for a holiday in a possible pandemic hotzone? Boy, I can't wait till those folks fly home next week, can you? (all sarcasm intended) And, the first runner-up prize on the stupidity train goes to Mayor Bloomberg of New York who said today that parents should absolutely send their kids to school even in the midst of all this because the government can better monitor and keep an eye on them when they're in school. We are a truly stupid species.

Well, with respect to the geographic spread of the contagion, the past 24 hours gave us at least one suspected case each in Israel, New Zealand, Australia, Puerto Rico and China, one confirmed case in the U.S. state of Ohio, 3 in Spain, 11 in Columbia, 4 In Nova Scotia, and 2 in British Columbia, Canada. Six children from a Day Care Center in the Bronx, New York are being tested. The good news is the British Airways employee that was isolated yesterday has apparently tested negative; the bad news is there's apparently now an entire family being isolated in Stanwick, England. Also, either 3 or 4 deaths occurred from bird flu in Eqypt within the past week (reports conflict as to the exact number).

Also today the Department of Health and Human Services declared a Public Health Emergency in the United States, and the CDC recommended planning for potential U.S. school closures as a result of the outbreak. The Archdiocese canceled all masses and church services scheduled in the predominately Catholic nation of Mexico; a soccer game was played in Mexico City in an empty stadium.

There are now 20 confirmed cases in the U.S., which is a terribly misleading figure. I say this because witnesses are now reporting that the first sign something was hinky at that private school in Queens, NY was way back on Wednesday (don't you just love how nobody was really talking about this until Friday and the mainstream media is just today getting serious about it?) when there were reportedly somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 kids standing in line at the school nurse's station, sick as dogs and many puking their guts out. And, out of that many sick kids, health officials chose to test only a sample population of nine, eight of which came back positive for this flu. That's right; that's where the 8 cases in New York we keep hearing about came from! Eight out of nine is an 88.9% positive statistic, and when you apply it to the full 200 that means they sent roughly 178 sick kids home, and the majority of people think there were only eight of them because of the way it is being reported by the mainstream media. Thankfully, it is being reported that most of those kids are now showing signs that the worst is over for them, but what remains to be seen is what happens when their parents, the school personnel, and fully every single individual which they've so much as sat next to on the subway comes down with the bug between now and say Wednesday or Thursday of the coming week. If the next generation of the disease is weaker and the people don't get as sick as the kids did, then that is encouraging; if it gets worse, then we may soon see the first death from this here in the U.S.. If and when that happens, all bets are off and panic might ensue that could be even more dangerous than the flu itself.

As I mentioned yesterday, there are reports online now placing the death-toll in Mexico at over 500, despite the official number being 92. These reports claim to be from medical personnel within Mexico and claim doctors are being pressured to downplay the severity of the disease and to falsify paperwork to avoid listing influenza as the cause of death. This, however, must be taken with a grain of salt as it cannot be confirmed. The only reason I mention it at all is that it was covered by the universally-respected BBC news agency and numerous Mexican newspapers.

Lastly, I'm sorry to tell you that apparently money really is more important to these people than all of our lives. I say this because, in reading the descriptions of the different levels that comprise the World Health Organization's Alert Levels (we are currently at alert level 3), I can see no reason that we should not be sitting at level 4 right now... except for economic concerns, that is. The WHO announced Sunday afternoon that they will be waiting until Tuesday to decide if the alert level needs to be raised in an effort to gather more information. But, as I said, if you read the description it appears we already meet the criteria required to be upgraded now. The real reason they want to wait is because some countries have based their response initiatives on the WHO Alert Level, and so if it is upped things begin to occur like border closings and trade restrictions, and they're worried it will tank the already ailing economy.

Also, they may be worried that upping the Alert Level could cause unrest. But, if things do continue to get worse in the next 2 days, then people will undoubtedly go along easier with things like quarantine out of fear for their own safety.

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The Mogambo Guru: Volcker punctures the nonsense:

A quote from the article:

"How in the hell can you talk about purposely creating at least 2% inflation in prices and then talk about the Fed's duty to pursue price stability at the same freaking time, which gives rise to the expression 'talking out of both sides of your mouth at the same time', and also gives rise to an occasion for me to call you a lying halfwit economic ignoramus who thinks that everybody else is so stupid that you can say such utter preposterous crap like this to me and think I am going to swallow it!"

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4.27.09 Links of Interest

Microsoft has first quarterly fall in revenue in 23 years

GM and Chrysler: Goodnight by Karl Denninger

US Marches Toward A Financial Disaster Worse Than Anyone Thinks

IMF predicts world recession will deepen

Roubini: Stock Market Bulls Have Got It Wrong

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26 April, 2009

Mexican Swine Flu: Updates and Speculations

I've been online on news sites and forums all day long as well as bouncing back and forth between CNN and Fox News for the few pitiful updates they've running about the Mexican Swine Flu outbreak. Before you read any further, please be advised that some of what I'm about to write will be speculative on my part, so you should absorb it and then make your own decision as to whether or not the ideas I present hold water. Also, I'm going to be reporting a few things that I don't have links to back-up because I listened-in on a media Q&A conference call with WHO and CDC officials earlier today and took notes.

Now, with that said, allow me to quickly rehash why I find this particular new flu strain troublesome as stated in yesterday's article. My reasoning, as I explained previously, is thus:

  1. This is an entirely new H1N1-series variant influenza that the human immune system has never before gone up against, and therefore we have no natural antibodies with which to attack it. This was also true of the 1918-1920 Spanish flu pandemic.
  2. It has manifested a wide geographical spread, appearing unexpectedly in far-flung places within a short period of time. Again, this was also the case during the 1918-1920 Spanish flu pandemic.
  3. Most of the fatalities have been in adult subjects under the age of 45, which is the group usually most resistant to these types of illnesses. This, once again, mirrors the 1918-1920 Spanish flu pandemic which killed large numbers of seemingly healthy subjects by enducing cytokine storms.
It is now possible to draw a fourth comparison to the 1918-1920 pandemic as it has been confirmed that the virus is recombinant, containing pig, bird, and human genetic material, and is now freely communicable among the human population. Basically, the very thing scientists have feared might one day happen with H5N1 Avian or "bird" flu has now happened (past tense) with H1N1 Swine flu. The only thing that remains to be seen is how far it spreads and how deadly it will be.

When I wrote last night's article (roughly 24 hours ago), there were 68 confirmed deaths in Mexico; the official number is now 81. If you're the tinfoil hat conspiracy type, there are reports online from people who are supposedly in Mexico that claim the number is more like 200+, and the reports being given to the mainstream media are purposefully being low-balled to avoid panic. At least one such claim was picked-up and carried by the BBC earlier today, so who knows if it's accurate or not. Further, last night there were a handful of U.S. cases reported in both Texas and California; now, those cases are confirmed as are two in Kansas and a whole slew in New York. I'm also seeing internet chatter about Chile, Michigan, Minnesota, and Montreal, and about someone on a British Airways flight being isolated after falling ill while in transit, but none of those are yet confirmed. So, I think I'm safe in saying that however severe this turns out to be, it is definitely still going strong and spreading.

Now, before I go any further, you may be thinking that 81 people doesn't sound like a terribly high mortality rate, but keep in mind these are only those that have been confirmed via tissue samples (a somewhat slow, backed-up process) and we were assured that, sadly, the number would most likely continue to rise as there are many more waiting to be tested.

Another question that came up during the Q&A was why does it seem to be so much more deadly in Mexico, as none of the U.S. cases have yet resulted in fatalities? The CDC representative said that they aren't sure about this, but that they fully expect we will see deaths in the U.S., it just hasn't happened yet. It was a bit of a shock because he said it rather matter-of-factly and the call actually went quiet for a few seconds after that; it was very surreal.

Now, here is where I'm going to get into some speculation as a few things have been rattling around my head all day, and I feel the need to flesh them out a bit. While researching the 1918-1920 Spanish flu pandemic today, I realized that one of the characteristics of pandemic influenza is that it comes in waves; the first cases were reported in the Spring of 1918 and were comparably mild. But then, the virus mutated and returned in the Fall with guns-a-blazin', and rampaged around the globe before finally subsiding in the Summer of 1920. It was with that in mind that I came across a post on an internet forum I frequent where the author posed the question: what if the Mexican and U.S. strains are different waves? Now, I'm not sure what to say to that nor am I qualified really. With regard to the seemingly higher levels of mortality in Mexico, though, I have to say it's intriguing. Anyway, that led me to do some further research and I came across some evidence that might back-up the idea that this thing didn't just come out of left field, but has instead been simmering for a few weeks.

First, there's this timeline that points to a man who returned from a trip to Mexico on March 22 sporting an unknown illness, for which he was hospitalized 8 days later. Then, on April 6, "... local health officials declared a health alert due to a respiratory disease outbreak in La Gloria, Perote Municipality, Veracruz State, Mexico. Sources characterized the event as a "strange" outbreak of acute respiratory infection, which led to bronchial pneumonia in some pediatric cases. According to a local resident, symptoms included fever, severe cough, and large amounts of phlegm. Health officials recorded 400 cases that sought medical treatment in the last week in La Gloria, which has a population of 3,000; officials indicated that 60% of the town’s population (approximately 1,800 cases) has been affected. No precise timeframe was provided, but sources reported that a local official had been seeking health assistance for the town since February.

Residents claimed that three pediatric cases, all under two years of age, died from the outbreak. However, health officials stated that there was no direct link between the pediatric deaths and the outbreak; they stated the three fatal cases were "isolated" and "not related" to each other.

Residents believed the outbreak had been caused by contamination from pig breeding farms located in the area."

Read the document for yourself as there is more that I didn't quote. To my mind, this begs the question of whether these occurrences might be linked in some way.

Along the same lines, one should note that mid-March is a popular time for thousands of wild college kids to descend on Mexico for Spring Break, so if this thing was floating around down there at that time then it would have been spread all over the U.S.. And, oddly enough, a few weeks ago there was a rather nasty respiratory infection that made it's rounds through many parts of the country. Reports abound on the internet of individuals claiming to have just recently gotten over a nearly debilitating illness that they just assumed was a particularly bad "summer cold." Could it be that these folks were actually suffering from an early wave of the Mexican Swine Flu?

What if the flu started out milder in Mexico as well, and what we are seeing down there now is when it picks up steam? Is it really difficult to imagine earlier, milder cases going unnoticed and under-reported? The earliest mentions of sickness in Mexico seem to go back to sometime in February, which would point to approximately 2 months between the first and current "more deadly" waves.

With that in mind, could we be in for an interesting month of June, or might it ramp up sooner? Or never? Your guess is as good as mine.

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25 April, 2009

Mexico's Swine Flu Outbreak: Is The Pandemic Beginning?

The big news Friday in emergency preparedness/survivalist circles revolved around the confirmed outbreak of a brand new H1N1-series Swine Influenza that combines genetic material from pigs, humans, and birds in a worrisome way never before seen by researchers.

As of late Friday night, more than 1000 people in Mexico were sick with the new flu suspected as the culprit; sixty-eight (68) are dead with twenty (20) of those thus far having been confirmed as having died of the outbreak. Further, eight (8) cases have ben confirmed in the United States. (source)

Health authorities have not yet reached alarm mode, but the situation remains tense. Mexican officials have canceled school and university classes, and closed libraries, museums, theaters and virtually any other public meeting venue in the capital of Mexico City in an effort to contain the outbreak. The government is warning citizens to skip normal social greetings like handshakes.

The situation in Mexico is being watched closely by health officials worldwide for several reasons. The first, and arguably the most obvious, reason for worry is that this kind of new disease strain popping-up is exactly what experts have feared for years. Over time, we have built up many natural defenses against the influenza virus, but when it mutates into a new, never before seen variant such as has happened in Mexico, the disease has the potential to wreak havoc among the human population. This is what occurred in 1918-1920 and could happen again.

Actually, considering the nearly universal increase in far-flung travel when comparing today's world to that of 1918-1920, the next epidemic or pandemic will undoubtedly be much, much worse. Taking that into account, it is mind-numbing when you realize that the 1918-1920 pandemic spread over virtually the entire world, even to the Arctic and remote Pacific islands, in an era when travel was nowhere near as widespread as today. It is estimated to have infected half the world's population (source) and killed 50-100 million people (Knobler, et al). In today's numbers, that percentage of fatalities would translate to more than 150-300 million dead - and, just in case you're in need of perspective, the population of the entire United States is currently just over 300 million.

The second reason for worry is the apparent geographical spread of the cases: thirteen (13) of the twenty (20) confirmed deaths were in the capital, but the others were spread-out widely across the country. Add to that the handful of cases here in the U.S. and this bug seems to have legs. Coincidentally, the 1918-1920 pandemic was also rather widespread with similar cases being reported in Kansas, France, and Sierra Leone within a very short span (source) and eventually covering the entire globe.

Further, a third point of concern is that most of the deaths in Mexico have been subjects in the 25-45 year age range, typically those most resistant to normal influenza strains. Again, this mirrors the 1918-1920 pandemic, which killed many through a process where the immune system overreacts to certain pathogens known as a cytokine storm.

I, for one, will be keeping a close eye on this situation. You should as well.


Print Source: Knobler S, Mack A, Mahmoud A, Lemon S, ed. The Threat of Pandemic Influenza: Are We Ready? Workshop Summary (2005). Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press. pp. 60–61.

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The Mogambo Guru: Black Magic Dollars

A quote from the article:

"... if you are having a hard time understanding my words because I am so outraged that I am actually incoherent, or you are disgusted by the way drops of frothy spittle fly from my hysterical lips as I loudly scream, scream, scream, "We’re freaking doomed!" what I am trying to say is that all of the economic problems we have, and all of the economic problems of everyone around the world, were caused by former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan creating what was, back then, a staggering $10 billion a month in more Total Fed Credit, which was then multiplied dozens of times over by the banks and financial centers, and which drove up asset prices so high that they are now falling, to the dismay of people who own assets and the greedy government..."

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4.25.09 Links of Interest

10 Countries in Deep Trouble

Student Loans: Default Rates Are Soaring

10 Charts Showing a Prolonged Global Recession

Facing the abyss

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24 April, 2009

The Death of Our Mighty Rivers

I'm beginning to notice a lot of water-related items in the news lately, as I'm sure you can tell, this being at least the third one I've commented on here.

The Associated Press reported recently that the volume of water flowing through many of our major river systems has declined significantly when compared to fifty years ago. Quoting a new study that is scheduled to appear in the May 15th edition of the American Meteorological Society's Journal of Climate, the article asserts that the volume of decreased water flow into the Pacific Ocean alone is equal to the Mississippi River vanishing. Overall, the article states, the only area experiencing increased flow is the Arctic, where increased melting is the cause.

Experts quoted by the AP go on to say the obvious: that, while some of this change can be explained by man-made diversions such as dams, the majority of it is the result of climate change; and, fresh water resources are declining as a result.

Once again, I argue that the real issue is overpopulation. Humans have spread out over the globe in such astronomical numbers that we have been forced to settle entire populations of people in areas that, in previous ages, had insufficient resources to support them. This bubble of mild global climate and abundant, cheap energy we have found ourselves in allowed us the capability of mass production of food, which in turn led to nearly a three-fold explosion in population over the last century. That is the reason why we've been forced to build entire cities on barren desert land. That is why hundreds of millions if not billions depend on seasonal melting of glaciers to provide them with fresh water in otherwise arid lands. Now, with those glaciers shrinking more and more each year, what are we to do? No one bothered to tell us that the bubble we've been living in would end one day. What happens when all those people have no fresh water? Remember, we aren't talking about relocating the residents of a dying town here; glaciers in the Himalayan Mountain range are disappearing at an astonishing rate, putting nearly a billion people in South Asia in peril of losing their water supply. and, reports indicate these glaciers could be completely gone by 2035.

Imagine for a moment the humanitarian and political ramifications of a billion or more refugees abandoning their homes and looking for a new place with the resources they need to survive. Simply put, it is mind-boggling.

Get the logistics of your water situation under control ASAP, folks. A drilled well is best. Store some bottled water if you can, and buy my water filters and treatments.

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23 April, 2009

Answering a Common anti-Global Warming ? - Two Theories

Before I begin, let me say I'm an agnostic when it comes to Global Warming or Climate Change or whatever we're calling it this week; I'm not sure what I believe. Suffice to say, as far as I'm concerned there's fairly decent evidence to support both arguments before and against. In truth, I often find myself leaning toward not believing in it simply because I despise the way some proponents of the theory browbeat and try to discredit anyone who shows the slightest hint of questioning its validity much the same way they do with regard to Darwinian evolution. I find they're very much like religious zealots in that way, which is ironic seeing as how the vast majority of that community are professed atheists - in reality, many of them have just replaced one belief system for another, in my opinion. But that's a topic for another conversation. The only reason I mentioned it is to say that, for the purposes of this article, I will be playing devil's advocate and presenting a possible answer for one of the many anti-Global Warming arguments I often hear.

If Global Warming is real then why does it seem to be getting colder? I can give you two possible answers. First, wind patterns and ocean currents can change the way heat is distributed across the globe, leading to some areas warming much faster than average, while others may cool at first. NASA's global temperature maps show that a much greater majority of areas are warming than are cooling. As greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise and warming continues, eventually every part of the world will experience warming.(source)

And, secondly, there is the issue of the quiet sun. For some reason we do not as yet understand, our sun is virtually silent and it is baffling scientists. Currently, we should be entering into the most active period of the eleven-year sunspot cycle, but instead "it hit a 50-year low in solar wind pressure, a 55-year low in radio emissions, and a 100-year low in sunspot activity." (source)

My thought, if you haven't already figured it out, is to theorize that perhaps we are not seeing the full effects of Global Warming or Climate Change due to the retarding influence of a dimmer-than-normal sun. And, to follow through, this would mean that when solar activity picks up again, we could see a drastic increase in temperatures very quickly.

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4.23.09 Links of Interest

Seeking Alpha: Tipping Point for U.S. Treasuries?

Freddie Mac Acting CFO David Kellermann Found Dead

A Crash this way Cometh

I.M.F. Puts Bank Losses From Global Financial Crisis at $4.1 Trillion

Why the bank stress tests are bunk

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22 April, 2009

Please Remember the Backwoods Essentials Store

Please remember the Backwoods Essentials store for all your emergency preparedness needs. You can also support this site by buying from our affiliate advertisers (links in left-hand sidebar) and from Amazon.com through our links (found in right-hand sidebar). Either will ensures that I receive a modest commission on anything you purchase.

By supporting Backwoods Blog, you make it possible for me to continue publishing. Thank you in advance!

Subscribe to my RSS feed. Or, you can have our daily updates delivered directly to you via email.

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Letter Re: "Survivalists 2.0: Regular people get ready for the worst"

In response to yesterday's post, reader TekNik66 wrote:

"I am so glad to hear that I am not the only one nervous about our current state of affairs. Also it's good to know that other people are quietly preparing, just in case. Not because they are fanatics, but because they are truly afraid of the road we are on. Thank you."

[SM's Response]: I too was gladdened in reading the article to find that it seems more and more people are making an effort to set aside some "preps" just in case we find ourselves in hard times.

It has always been somewhat of a difficult undertaking to spread the word to others with regard to the need for emergency preparedness and self-sufficiency, while at the same time heeding my own advice about being discreet. Many times, with me at least, the discretion side of the argument has lost out to what I often consider a more salient point, and it was that same thought that made me thankful when reading the article: the more people who have prepared ahead of time, the less suffering there will be in the event something really bad does occur in our lifetime.

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Re: "As yet 'unsubstantiated' Banking STRESS TEST information; if true, it is very bad..."

In response to my post yesterday regarding Hal Turner claiming to have gotten his hands on a leaked copy of the banking stress test results and that they were uniformly bad, a friend of mine sent me a little blurb that was released by the Treasury Department earlier today. It was our shared opinion that they were forced to make a statement to offset fears that this news might cause the markets to plunge. Here's a link.

Denied or not, truth or not, a lot of folks did jump on it, and it apparently did have some effect on the market for a while. And now, one day later, the Associated Press is also claiming to have had part of the supposedly "unavailable and unfinished" report leaked to them.

And they wonder why we don't trust them.

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4.22.09 Links of Interest

Hacked or not hacked?

Bank of America's surge in bad loans revives economic gloom

Mexico "implosion" spilling over?

Bank of America triggers new bank fears and hits markets

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21 April, 2009

Survivalists 2.0: Regular people get ready for the worst

Here is a link to a decent mainstream media article that ran in the Charleston Gazette newspaper here in my home state of West Virginia recently.

It's all about the modern survivalist and how folks today are sometimes "preppers" behind closed doors, even as they otherwise lead normal lives. A clear distinction is drawn between these folks and the scary, paranoid bunker-dwellers that personify what the average person thinks when they hear the word survivalist.

I agree, in principal, with most of what is said in the piece. Yes, it's true they take advantage of the above-mentioned stereotype, but at least it's in an effort to show the modern "preppers" in a positive light. By doing so, the writer will strengthen the stereotype for some people, but truthfully the average reader's mind would've went there unassisted anyway. At least the comparison served the greater good in differentiating the subjects of the article from the old prejudices. The one thing I would've rather they had done would've been to make a stronger point that the people they describe in the article represent most survivalists as opposed to being the exception. I guess I should just be happy they said anything positive at all, though, seeing as how the Department of Justice sees most of us as "extremists" nowadays.

On a personal note, I echo the thoughts of the guy who said Katrina was his wake-up call. I have always been a prepper, at least on a small scale, going all the way back to the Blizzard of '93 when my family and I were snowed-in and went without power for three weeks. But, it was watching the aftermath of Katrina unfold that really opened my eyes and showed me that you can't always depend on the government to come and save you.

Every individual should do their best to achieve whatever level of self-sufficiency best suits their own situation.

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As yet "unsubstantiated" Banking STRESS TEST information; if true, it is very bad...

Read it here. A quote:

"The debt crisis is much greater than the government has reported. The FDIC`s "Problem List" of troubled banks includes 252 institutions with assets of $159 billion. 1,816 banks and thrifts are at risk of failure, with total assets of $4.67 trillion, compared to 1,568 institutions, with $2.32 trillion in total assets in prior quarter.

Put bluntly, the entire US Banking System is in complete and total collapse.
"

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20 April, 2009

What's in your water?

The AP ran an interesting article yesterday about chemical compounds being found to be present in varying amounts in the drinking water of over 50 million Americans, and that's just what they discovered in the initial rounds of testing in several cities. A good portion of the contamination discovered was in the form of various pharmaceutical compounds, including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and even sex hormones.

Apparently, these drug ingredients are also used for other industrial purposes as well. (i.e. lithium is a popular treatment for bipolar disorder but is also used in the making of ceramics) It is a fact that industrial factories often legally flush their waste compounds into waterways, but that isn't the only way they could be getting into the water supply; they are also consumed by us and whatever our bodies fail to absorb is flushed into the sewer, only to be treated and recycled later. Further, how many times have we all flushed the leftover meds from some illness we just got over down the toilet?

The scary truth is we all may have been getting dosed with trace amounts of these drugs for years without our knowledge. It's impossible to even guess at how many and what kinds of detrimental health effects this quiet dosing has contributed to among the populace. Without a doubt, I for one will never look at tap water the same way again. Buy my water filters and treatments.

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The Mogambo Guru: Inflation laid bare

Read the full article here. A quote:

"... I am angry about the Federal Reserve creating so much new money and credit that it will allow the Congress to deficit-spend almost US$2 trillion this year alone, which is such an explosion in the money supply that it will cause horrendous inflation in prices, which will (besides turning the world into an unlivable hell and destroying the USA) make the wife and kids ask me for more money, which is a cause of enough familial friction as it is, thanks."

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4.20.09 Links of Interest

IMF warns over parallels to Great Depression

China plans to expand navy [SM adds]: This makes me very nervous.

Why a 50% Drop in Housing Is Not the Bottom

US Foreclosure Filings Jump as Moratoriums End

On the front lines of the U.S. meltdown

Commercial real estate market softens

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19 April, 2009

"Water, water hardly anywhere."

"Water, water hardly anywhere." That is the opening sentence of a very interesting article by Martin Sieff that recently ran on the United Press International site, and I can't think of any better way to capture the reality of the situation than that brief statement.

The article does a superb job of outlining the issue of water shortages that is just beginning to rear its ugly head in some areas and is expected (even by the most optimistic experts) to get exponentially worse in the very near future. The issue is a multi-faceted one, but for me all aspects of the problem have a common source: overpopulation.

In 1939, world population sat at or below 2.3 billion people (source). Now in 2009, just 70 years later, it tops 6.7 billion (source), an increase of 291%. So, not only have we nearly tripled the number of people consuming this resource outright, but we've expanded to the point where our use of water for agriculture in order to feed people has grown to outrageous extents as well. As a result, aquifers are drained quicker than nature can refill them and so on. It all comes back to overpopulation and there is no light at the end of the tunnel; current estimates place world population somewhere around 9.2 billion (source) by the year 2050.

Further, this issue is exacerbated by the fact that as our population continues to balloon, we are forced to extend human habitation into areas where we are totally dependent on modern infrastructure in order to survive. If this infrastructure fails even for a few weeks, and I believe it someday will, cities like Los Angeles and Las Vegas will no longer be habitable at all.

Folks, please take the time to think about your water situation. You should not only have a plan in place, but a backup plan... and your backup plan should have a backup plan. A mere few days without clean water could kill you. A drilled well is best. Store some bottled water if you can, and buy my water filters and treatments.

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Letter Re: "Economic Crises May Buy Us Some Extra Time to Prepare for Peak Oil"

In response to yesterday's post, Clifford J. Wirth, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, University of New Hampshire wrote the following and I agree with his assertions completely:

"This will buy us a year or 2, but oil production is declining and will soon fall below demand.

In 2004, geologist Colin Campbell (retired -- Texaco, British Petroleum, Amoco) cautioned, 'Throughout history, people have had difficulty in distinguishing reality from illusion. Reality is what happens, whereas illusion is what we would like to happen. Wishful thinking is a well-worn expression. Momentum is still another element: we tend to assume that things keep moving in the same direction. The world now faces a discontinuity of historic proportions, as nature shows her hand by imposing a new energy reality. There are vested interests on all sides hoping somehow to evade the iron grip of oil depletion, or at least to put it off until after the next election or until they can develop some strategy for their personal or corporate survival. As the moment of truth approaches, so does the heat, the deceptions, the half-truth and the flat lies.'

The 2009 G20 global recovery plan is an illusion, and ASPO President Kjell Aleklett explains why in detail:

"Not enough oil for the G20 package," originally published in the Swedish newspaper "Uppsala Nya Tidning," April 4, 2009 and translated into English on his blog here."

Prof. Wirth, by the way, publishes his own very insightful blog. Check it out!

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Re: "Don't Be Lulled Into Complacency By Mainstream Media Cheerleaders"

Just in case you weren't completely convinced by the links I provided yesterday in trying to keep you from falling for all the recent media optimism, I thought it prudent to point you toward a few more to help you see the full economic picture in all its ugliness. The popular opinion, and the one the mainstream media is all pushing, is of an impending miraculous recovery that looms just around the bend. I'm sad to say, though, that an examination of the real numbers just doesn't back that up.

Check out the following links:
Why There will be no other Bubble to Save us from this 40 Year Financial Bubble...
The international monetary system’s breakdown is underway
IMF predicts prolonged, deep global recession

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18 April, 2009

Don't Be Lulled Into Complacency By Mainstream Media Cheerleaders

The media, it seems, is out in full force to tout President Obama's optimism regarding the economy as evidenced by any number of reports recently like the one linked to here. But, honestly, I can't see what they're so optimistic about.

True, the free fall seems as though it may have slowed and that is a promising development, but there are still sectors of the economy that are teetering on the edge and must be watched diligently. A more clear understanding of the situation can be seen, for starters, by reading these two articles: US housing data puts Obama's hopes on hold and A Thought for Tax Day: The Real Fiscal Crisis Is Yet to Come, the latter of which quotes figures so astronomical as to boggle the mind.

Honestly, I'll never understand what it is about most people that allows them to go through life completely oblivious to the very idea that something really bad could happen to them. Oh, it'll happen, but it'll happen to the other guy - not them. The neighbor might lose his job, but not them... until they do, and then they're so devastated that they go batshit crazy and kill half their own family or eight or nine poor folks at a Mcdonalds somewhere. I think that this willing ignorance may be some sort of mental defense mechanism to help the body regulate stressful feelings, but then when the worst does occur people have had no chance to allow the possibility to sink in over time. In the worst case scenario, this makes them snap but even in cases where there isn't such a dramatic outcome it still leaves people in a position where they're now in trouble, having never seen the need to prepare.

As far as the media is concerned, you would think that with all the newspapers going out of business that they would be a little more clued-in to how bad things still are, but instead they just continue their love affair with the new president. And, I hope they're right. I hope things will be taking a turn for the better soon, but I'm just not seeing it with respect to the numbers, and blind optimism is pointless unless you can back it up with facts and figures.

In the meantime, I urge you not to be lulled into complacency by the chearleaders on the nightly news. Hope for the best but always, always prepare for the worst.

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Economic Crises May Buy Us Some Extra Time to Prepare for Peak Oil

A recent article regarding the "demand destruction" taking place due to the current economic crises made me wonder what affect it would have on the timing of Peak Oil, which many agree is (essentially) now.

As the article explains, OPEC is being forced to consider cutting back on production in order to prevent a drop in the price-per-barrel in the face of lower demand for oil (i.e. less consumption would effectively flood the market with a glut of oil and result in a steep drop in the price-per-barrel). The lower consumption levels are, of course, a result of the poor economy.

The reason it should be of interest to you and I is that this kind of move will basically guarantee that gas prices will remain at or around the current level throughout the summer; and, the production of less oil means more of it is staying in the ground longer, thus temporarily staving off the adverse effects of Peak Oil.

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17 April, 2009

Secession, Populist Rage and Mainstream Media Bias

These last few days, everyone has been so up-in-arms over the comments made by Texas Governor Rick Perry indicating the possibility that his state might choose to secede from the Union, but in truth this is nothing new. Groups calling for Texas Independence have been around for a long, long time. Similar movements have existed and still do with regard to other states as well; Vermont and Alaska immediately come to mind.

These movements have typically operated on the fringe of the greater political discourse and have represented a decidedly minority opinion. With respect to the current hard times being more and less universally-experienced as a result of the economic crises, however, I for one am beginning to sense an ominous change in the air.

To that end, you can now add Georgia and New Hampshire to the list of states talking about seceding. And, let us not forget the "Made in Montana" exemption law that was just signed by the Governor up there and the Christian Exodus to South Carolina, a state whose legislature is in the process of passing a "state sovereignty" resolution.

Never in my lifetime has there existed such widespread populist anger at the government and its arrogant, wasteful spending. And, contrary to what the leftist/progressive mainstream media would have you believe, it has very little to do with Obama. Sure, there are right-wing whackos who would denounce even the best policies just because they happened to be his policies, but those folks are the minority. The discontent that is seething in the underbelly of America is, for the vast majority of us, not a 'Down with Obama' sentiment but rather it is about short-sighted, poorly thought-out policies that are on the verge of ruining us!

I do so love to hear the mainstream media protect their little darling Barry. Check out this condescending, rude bitch on CNN:



NEWS FLASH: This gentleman isn't interested in zoning out on a $400 shot of government-approved heroin that his daughter and her children will be stuck paying for after he's dead and gone. Mind you, these were the same people who were absolutely fit-to-be-tied when Bush gave away stimulus checks, but now they intend to use the very same kind of tactics as a proverbial carrot, all the while shoving the stick straight up the collective ass of the next generation.

What really fires me up is that they were right about Bush. I wasn't doing the blog yet back then, but in conversations with friends I compared Bush's stimulus payments to the bread and circuses that were used to placate the citizens of ancient Rome while their empire was disintegrating just beyond their view. But now, because it's Obama making the retarded decision to try and fix the economy by setting the dollar aflame instead of mean ol' Bush, suddenly it's a great idea and, according to CNN and the rest of the mainstream media, we're all moonbat crazy for speaking out against it. I'm sorry, but that is hypocrisy at its very worst.

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How To Handle The Pirate Situation

A rather elegant and level-headed suggestion, courtesy of Congressman Ron Paul.

Basically, he and a growing number of experts are suggesting that congress issue letters of marque and reprisal, a little-known power written into the Constitution that allows the United States to hire private citizens to keep international waters safe.

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16 April, 2009

States Slashing Social Programs for Vulnerable

Amid the ongoing financial crises, many state governments are currently or will soon be entering into a rather terrifying period of abject insolvency. And, in these hard times, it will be the weakest among us who suffers most.

Read the article here.

Basically, what the article is referring to is that cash starved states are now having to cannibalize their own social programs, such home care for the elderly, in order to remain afloat. The stimulus is helping, but it is replacing only 40% of lost revenue, and that alone ought to tell you something; when you throw over half a trillion dollars at a problem and all it accomplishes is to get you 40% of the way back to where you need to be, you have serious problems.

And, as the article states, what little they're saving now may simply cost them more in the long run. The example they use of the elderly having to try to make do without their home health aides is particularly heartbreaking and accurate as I wager many will end up injured and thus requiring full-time care as a result of being abandoned in such a way. Most will have no choice but to fall back on family, I would imagine. But, what will become of those who lack such a support system?

We truly live in testing times.

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L.A. Unified moves to cut 5,000 teachers and others

Ditto the above article, but here we're talking about cutting teaching jobs. The two articles I presented today involved Arizona and California, but many other states are feeling the pinch as well and that number will continue to rise.

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Why Our Credit Crunch Mirrors the Weimar Hyperinflation from 1919-1923

A quote:

"The mass 'throwing of money' has already resulted in a stealthy transfer of wealth, from those who earned it, to those who have political clout. This process is inherently destructive to the long term health of the economy, and it will get worse. This is the same insidious series of events that occured in post World War I Germany. Hyperinflation is a greater evil than economic depression. It is evil in nature, insidiously immoral in that it rewards misbehavior and is fundamentally destructive of our economy and the fabric of our society. It will eventually wipe out the American middle class."

Read it here.

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15 April, 2009

WWF Scotland boss calls for energy wasters to be prosecuted

The gist of this article is that people who waist energy by not increasing their home's insulation are bad because their failure to do so is harmful to the planet and therefore bad for their fellow man. Now, don't get me wrong, I agree with part of what he's saying here, but then he loses me a bit when he basically says the government should forcibly re-insulate your home, whether you agree or not, and then fine you as a means of paying for the program.

That's the just the kind of radical European sentiment that gives me chills when people say we should look to the socialist governments over there and try to be more like them.

Here's a link.

This is the same kind of mindset that will eventually lead us to the veiled tyranny of the smart grid. Do we need to upgrade our electrical grid? Yes, we absolutely must, but what we do not need is for the government to try to save the planet by dictating the temperature in your home via coercion i.e. charging you a tax by means of a higher graduate rate per KWH for every degree over 68 that you set your home's thermostat to.

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Warning that Pakistan is in danger of collapse within months

It's difficult to imagine many things scarier than the idea of a country being taken over by muslim extremists the way Afghanistan was by the Taliban, but one nightmare that fits the bill would be for that to occur in a country with nuclear weapons.

And now, it appears exactly that is on the verge of happening, as Pakistan continues to falter.

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Celente Calls For 'Revolution' As The Only Solution

Quote from the full article by Gerald Celente:

"Taxed to death, angry at government bailouts, outraged by Wall Street greed, and bitterly resentful of a system that rewards the undeserving rich, the American public is ready to revolt.

'The Tea Parties and Tax Protests sprouting across the nation, which we had predicted, are harbingers of revolution,' said Gerald Celente, Director of The Trends Research Institute. 'But they are not enough. Much stronger and directed action is required. Our call for 'Revolution' will galvanize the people, destroy the corrupt ruling systems, and produce a prosperous and more just nation.'"


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14 April, 2009

Incoming Asteroid Under Close Watch

Discovered by astronomers in 2004, Apophis is expected to make a close pass with us in exactly 20 years. Close, in fact, fails to do it justice - it will throttle past the Earth in 2029 at a distance closer to us than the communications satellites which orbit the planet.

But luckily, even at such a close proximity, there is virtually no chance of an impact event. The expert's calculations show, however, that Apophis will return seven years later, and it is anyone's guess as to what might happen then. Having been affected by earth's gravitation during its first pass, will this rock the size of a 25-story building impact us in 2036?

Here is a link with more information.

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Family Harvests 6000lbs. of Produce From 5000sq.ft. Yard

Check out these Youtube videos.

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13 April, 2009

Should Obama Control the Internet?

Apparently, Senator Jay Rockefeller thinks so, seeing as how he is co-sponsoring a Bill that lays the groundwork for that very possibility. It would give the President emergency authority to halt web traffic and access private data. By the way, Senator Rockefeller represents my home state of West Virginia and has for many years seemed to be an intelligent, thoughtful and level-headed centrist. But then last year he, out of nowhere, tastelessly attacked John Mccain's military record in a fit of obvious and grotesque political chicanery. And now, after this, it's clear to see he still hasn't gotten the train back on the rails yet.

The proposed legislation allows the president to "declare a cybersecurity emergency" and shut down or limit traffic over the Internet in "critical" information networks "in the interest of national security." The bill does not define what constitutes a critical information network or a cybersecurity emergency, but rather leaves that distinction to whomever is in the Oval Office.

In addition, should this Bill become law, it grants the Secretary of Commerce "access to all relevant data concerning [critical] networks without regard to any provision of law, regulation, rule, or policy restricting such access." This makes it perfectly legal for them to monitor and access your data whether it be on private or public networks. Privacy laws will not apply.

Be careful what you do on the net kiddies. Big Brother may be watching soon.

Here is the actual text of the most current draft I could locate.

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How To Grow 100 lbs. Of Potatoes In 4 Square Feet

I saw this link over at Survivalblog.com and wanted to pass it along. It seems like, if done correctly, this could greatly increase production of a very versatile and satisfying food crop. Potatoes have always been a favorite of mine. You can fix them a gazillion different ways or just eat them raw, they'll grow even in infertile soil where other veggies absolutely refuse to, and they're a staple food capable of keeping people alive during the hardest of times.

Anyway, here's the link.

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12 April, 2009

It Sounds Like Something Out Of A Science Fiction Novel...

... and yet, to the utter surprise of those of us few sane human beings left, it has actually been the topic of serious discussion between President Obama and his science advisors.

To what am I referring, you ask? I'm talking about the contingency plan to be used in the fight against Global Warming wherein we would shoot pollution particles directly into the upper atmosphere, purposely blanketing the planet in a sort of nuclear winter-esque soup in an effort to reflect sunlight back out into space and thus cool earth's air.

Yeah. I'm not kidding. Here's a link to prove I'm not pulling your leg.

I could say a lot. I could say what a colossally stupid idea that is; and, I could point out that if they screw up they could fairly easily cause the extinction of our entire species. But, I fear if I linger on the subject that this article might quickly devolve into a hair-pulling, eye bleeding, expletive-laden rant. So, instead, I'll just ask a question: weren't these jokers were supposed to be the smart ones?

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4.12.09 Links of Interest

USA Today: Federal budget deficit sets March record as it soars to $192.3B

Whiskey and Gunpowder: Move Your Money Out of America and Soon

New food crisis looms

New York Magazine: Broke Bankers

Economic Crisis - No End In Sight: Worse Than The Great Depression

Vanity Fair: Wall Street on the Tundra

Social Security Bomb About To Explode

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11 April, 2009

Plant Hardiness Zone Update

If you've tried your hand at gardening or micro-farming or you'd like to soon, one thing that will be important to you will be to identify which Plant Hardiness Zone you are located in. This will dictate which crops will grow best in your area.

The available information on this topic was last updated by the USDA in 1990. Recently, however, arborday.org published a new map that you need to check out as some areas have changed as the climate has fluctuated. The new map also presents itself as an animation, showing the changes over time.

You can view it here.

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