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31 May, 2009

Letter Re: Quick and Easy DIY Compost Bin

The following letter was written in response to this DIY article: Quick and Easy DIY Compost Bin.

"I am new to vermicomposting and decided to use your recipe for a compost bin. Tell me if I am on the right track!

I drilled some small holes (1/2 the size of a toothpick) into the bottom of a 28 lb. cat litter bucket. The bucket with the holes sits nicely into another bucket, leaving about 3” at the bottom for drainage. I also drilled many holes into the tight fitting lid.

Then I added some dried leaves; a layer of kitchen scraps; another layer of leaves; more kitchen scraps; some green material; wet it down and covered it up. These buckets are lightweight enough so I can manage them. Right now, the bucket is about ½ full but am sure it will settle after a day or so. I plan on rotating it daily.

Anything else I should know? My first week with the worms was traumatic … I had many escapees…Want to make the composting easier! Thanks." -- Brenda in Cali.


My Response: Brenda, from the sounds of it you're off to a great start! You might think about adding a little soil to the mixture, but it isn't necessary as the biological material you've already got in there should be plenty. Also, be mindful when you're adding water as the goal is to keep things moist but not too wet.

I especially like your idea about nesting the bucket within another as a way to capture the water that drains out the bottom. I assume you did this to control the mess, but if you were to use that water to feed your garden, I bet those plants would love it!

Thanks for writing!

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H1N1 Influenza A - Mexican Swine Flu: 31 May Brief Update

There isn't much that's newsworthy going on these days with the A(H1N1) Swine Flu, other than its continued spread.

Laboratory confirmed cases now stand at 17,822, nearly a 43% increase over the ending count of 12,495 exactly one week ago. Fatalities now number 119, up from 92 over that same time span. There remain an additional 77 deaths that are listed as "suspected," but are still yet to be officially confirmed. The number of suspected cases are no longer being reported in many instances. (source)

Check out this flu-tracking map:

Flutracker Map: Tracking the progress of H1N1 swine flu

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The Second Crash - On the Way and Unstoppable

Read the full article here. The author does a really good job of detailing how the initial housing crisis came about, explaining the whole Credit Default Swap fiasco, and showing what is in store for the future.

If you invest in real estate and are holding on to properties, hoping to sell them when the market rebounds, I have three words for you: GET OUT NOW.

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30 May, 2009

Gardening Tip: Make a DIY Crop Irrigation System

Creation of the following system or one like it will greatly reduce your workload around the old homestead. No more having to remember to drag the hose over to show your survival garden on hot days or worrying about who is going to do it if you're not at home. This way, the whole process will be automated for you.

The first thing you'll be needing is a faucet hose timer, like one of these:

<---------- *OR* ---------->


You'll notice I gave you two choices here, but they'll both essentially do the same thing. My advice to you is to go with the more expensive one. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I'm sure you're all smart enough to know I get a small commission. Before you accuse me of pushing the more expensive option just because it will make me more $$$, however, consider that it has fancier features and free shipping.

You'll need:
  1. Faucet timer (see above)
  2. Feed hose (1-2 feet should be plenty)
  3. Hose manifold/splitters (up to you how many)
  4. Soaker hoses/sprinkler heads (up to you how many)
  5. Valves/fittings, etc.

Steps:
  1. Attach the faucet timer to any outdoor spigot/faucet.
  2. Run a feed hose from the timer to the hose manifold/splitter setup you chose to match the number of soaker hoses or sprinkler heads you will be using.
  3. Position the far end of your soakers/sprinklers in your garden.
  4. Turn everything on and check your valves, et cetera to be sure all is as it should be.
  5. Set your timer to the desired parameters.
You'll still need to check on things periodically over the next few days to be sure there are no problems, but after that you should be able to forget all about it.

If you need an option that doesn't involves hoses run across the ground, feel free to ammend these plans; how about burying a length of PVC or similar conduit and running the hose that way? Get creative!

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The Mogambo Guru: Insanity gone rampant

Read the full article here.

A quote:
"... Nouriel Roubini has warned that "the Chinese yuan is preparing to overtake the US dollar as the world's reserve currency", which seems a likely next step since the yuan is already being "used as a means of payment in bilateral trade".

Now the Chinese have a new proposal "for a new international reserve currency via the International Monetary Fund," which he sees as China beginning "to take steps to usurp the greenback" by having the yuan included as part of the currency "basket" that constitutes the International Monetary Fund's Special Drawing Rights "money".

Oddly enough, "Prof Roubini argues that China is better placed than the US to provide a reserve currency for the 21st century because it has a large current account surplus, a focused government and few of the economic worries the US faces"!

That exclamation point that I added at the end is so full of important subtleties that even I don't understand them, and instead of wasting a lot of my Valuable Mogambo Time (VMT) to research them to achieve full comprehension, I prefer to take the "easy way out" and merely buy gold, silver and oil because taking the "easy way out" is The Mogambo Way (TMW) and buying gold, silver and oil..."


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29 May, 2009

North Korea rattles her saber once again, resulting in high alert status in South Korea and the U.S.

Not content to settle for getting away with sticking its proverbial thumb in the eye of the international community twice in one week already, North Korea (now get a load of this!) has declared the 56 year old armistice truce with South Korea void, reopened its plutonium extraction facility, and declared that if any of its ships are stopped or searched as part of an American-led operation to intercept vessels suspected of carrying weapons of mass destruction it will launch military strikes against South Korea.

For anyone out there who is unfamiliar with the military capabilities of North Korea, here is a good place to begin your education; it's a few years old, but I just looked over it and all the salient points are still valid. Second, read this.

The most pressing danger with respect to North Korea is not that they will use nuclear weapons (at least not for now) and is in no way mitigated by the fact that they would be thoroughly routed in any war pitting them against the U.S.. They don't need to use nukes or be able to win in order to cause grievous damage should open fighting break out. Currently, they have the vast majority of their military already massed near the border as well as somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 conventional artillery batteries and rocket infrastructure. And, all of that firepower is dialed-in on the South Korean capital city of Seoul as well as the American and South Korean positions along the DMZ. They have the very real capability of killing upwards of a million people in the opening hours of hostilities.

One would think it unlikely that North Korea would risk the inevitable backlash that would quickly rein down on them from above should harm come to the roughly 50,000 American soldiers stationed along the DMZ, but it's hard to know what to expect when you're dealing with a semi-maniacal megalomaniac dictator.

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H1N1 Influenza A - Mexican Swine Flu: I Thought It Was Supposed To Fizzle-Out Over The Summer? Part 3

In the first two parts of this article series, we discussed the possibility that the virus may not fade-away over the Summer to return in the Fall/Winter as had originally been theorized, but rather stay with us perpetually and thus have a much greater opportunity to eventually mutate into something more serious; and, then went into greater detail to show that a serious mutation is, in fact, very likely.

As far as any prediction I could make, I have to say I am far from an expert. As I've said previously, however, I am someone who has been reading and researching extensively since this whole thing began and--as such--I imagine I can at least make some educated guesses.

I believe the best case scenario we can expect (should it stay with us throughout the Summer - what happens over the next few weeks will be key) will be that environmental factors result in A(H1N1) infections picking up in the colder months, but we see no immediate increase in the serious illness and mortality ratios. This, of course, will mean greater numbers of people very sick and/or dying, but if that number rises in concert with the ballooning number of overall infections and does not spike, it will also mean that the virus itself is not becoming any more deadly.

One serious problem we could find ourselves faced with is that the higher rates of flu transmission may begin to exert more and more stress on the health care system as a whole. In my opinion, we could see hospitals and clinics in danger of becoming overwhelmed, which could lead to more fatalities than might have occurred if we had succeeded at maintaining a functional system.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. As I said earlier, watching what happens over the next few weeks will be vital to any thought-exercise such as this one. If the virus does seem to fizzle-out later this Summer, all or parts of what I've written here may need to be reexamined.

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World Bank warns of social unrest

Read the full article here. Apparently the World Bank is clued-in to the fact that social stability hangs by a thread in many areas, especially those where the economic crisis threatens to result in failures of the basic social safety nets to which people have become accustomed.

As a vocal emergency preparedness advocate, I find the wisdom evident in the fifth paragraph rather refreshing. Mr. Zoellick is quoted there as saying "In my opinion, in this context, nobody really knows what is going to happen and the best one can do is be ready for any eventuality."

As far as I'm concerned, that is sage advice for any situation.

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28 May, 2009

'Complete Anarchy In Zimbabwe In A Year'

LINK

"Zimbabwe could descend into "complete anarchy" in a year if foreign aid does not bolster its failing economy, a former judge has said.

The nation is battling to pay nurses, teachers, police and soldiers, despite adopting the US dollar as its first currency to combat hyperinflation."


Zimbabwe, formerly known as Rhodesia, is a picture-perfect example of what the scourge of hyperinflation can do to a once prosperous nation. What makes it all the more frightening, is that our current policy of "quantitative easing" (a really nice, fancy way of saying "turning on the presses and printing the bejeebus out of a whole hell of a lot of brand new $$$ that didn't exist 5 seconds ago") has the alarming potential to cause this same kind of rampant devaluing of the money supply right here in the U.S..

Anyone who has read the blog for any amount of time will no doubt remember that hyperinflation is one of the great fears I harbor for what is in store for us here eventually, if more sensible monetary policies are not enacted and quickly.

The problem is getting anyone to actually believe that it could happen here the same way.

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H1N1 Influenza A - Mexican Swine Flu: I Thought It Was Supposed To Fizzle-Out Over The Summer? Part 2

In the first part of this article posted yesterday, I discussed my thoughts on the possibility that the current A(H1N1) Swine flu may defy the expectations of all those thinking it will act exactly like the "normal" seasonal flu and disappear over the Summer, only to return during the colder months that make up the regular Flu Season; conversely, I wondered at the possibility that it will simply remain with us, perhaps posing a bigger problem in the Fall/Winter, but never really going away.

The second question I discussed was, if the thought above proved to be true, might this resiliency on the part of the virus not provide greater opportunities and thus increase the chances that A(H1N1) might recombine with H5N1 Avian Influenza sometime in the not too distant future?

Regarding mutation, officials are watching this virus very closely, and have expressed concern for the fact that it seems that it cannot be subtyped. The following quote from the Pandemic Flu Information (PFI) forum explains: "Failure of subtyping means, that some of the primers are failing. This is bad because the primers are chosen from highly conserved regions. So, at the least, that mutations are making it difficult to identify the new H1N1. It could also mean that the new H1N1 has reassorted with another virus. Finally, it could mean a totally new virus."

I discussed yesterday that there are a growing number of H5N1 cases in various parts of the world that exponentially increases the chances of an infected individual becoming co-infected with that disease and the A(H1N1) strain, thus becoming a breeding ground for a possibly disastrous mutation. Now, recently discovered facts would seem to indicate that the virus itself main contain attributes that will aid in such a recombination. A quote from another recent article tells us the: "... neuraminidase of the 2009 H1N1 influenza A virus strain is more similar to the H5N1 avian flu than to the historic 1918 H1N1 strain (Spanish flu)."

Further, we already knew the new strain contained a signature from Eurasian avian flu. It is because of all this that I fear that, if A(H1N1) makes its way into areas where H5N1 is already circulating, the viruses may be able to take advantage of the similarities already evident in their genetic blueprints, thereby GREATLY increasing the likelihood of a new strain.

And, it is not only recombination with H5N1 Avian Influenza (the so-called "bird flu") that could be a danger. Thus far, A(H1N1) has been treated fairly easily with the antiviral drug Tamiflu. We know, however, that the normal seasonal flu is now largely immune to that treatment. If A(H1N1) were to acquire the Tamiflu resistance, it could prove to greatly increase the number of serious illnesses and deaths stemming from this disease. In fact, this has been stated as a major concern of the CDC.

If that sounds unlikely to you, here's a quote from a recent article that provides proof that this flu is prone to mutation: "Viruses isolated from patients during the first two weeks of the current outbreak already have changes on the outer surface on the neuraminidase protein that could interfere with antibodies against the virus or alter the effectiveness of future vaccines." It goes on to say that so far none of the mutations have altered those parts of the protein targeted by antiviral drugs, but leaves no guarantee that this will always be the case.

And sadly, even at this point in the game it seems we aren't even 100% sure how the virus spreads in some cases. Amazing.

............

This discussion will continue here on the blog tomorrow with Part 3 of this article.

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New Warning of Rising Sea Levels in Northeast

Click here to read the full article. Essentially, it is a report of another recent study that points out that sea level will not rise uniformly as Climate Change/Global Warming progresses, but rather ocean dynamics will result in greater increases in some areas. They predict the Northeast coast of the U.S. may see anywhere from a 7-20 inch rise by 2100.

Bye bye Boston, New York, Washington, D.C.. It was nice knowing you.

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The Mogambo Guru: Last hope for survival

Read the full commentary here.

A quote:
"... Just when I thought I would go berserk at such horrific economic news, I see John Stepek at Money Morning newsletter had a subhead that caught my eye, which was "Three sound reasons to own gold."

I admit that I did not read the article, but as far as I know, there are only two good reasons to own gold; to preserve wealth when prices are stable, and to make a lot of fiat wealth when your government acts so stupid as to create, or allow to be created, excess money and credit that eventually destroys the currency, especially when undertaken so as to enlarge the size of government, like now, which makes the problem of inflation worse because those more government weenies have a bigger incentive to save their own phony-baloney jobs, but can only make things worse.

Like, I said, I did not read the article because I am lazy... "


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27 May, 2009

North Korea Threat Continues to Grow

One day after successfully testing what has been reported to have been a weapon in the 1-20 kiloton range- comparable to the bomb the U.S. dropped on the city of Nagasaki to end WWII- as well as three other missiles, North Korea continued to stir international tensions by test-firing two short-range missiles from its east coast. One missile had a range of 160 kilometers, the other 130 kilometers.

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Iran Sends Warships to International Waters

Not to be topped by North Korea, it seems Iran feels the need to stir things up somewhat as well.

"Iranian media say Iran has sent six warships to international waters, including the Gulf of Aden, just days after it test-fired a new ballistic missile. Iran has threatened to block the Strait if it is attacked over its nuclear program."


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H1N1 Influenza A - Mexican Swine Flu: I Thought It Was Supposed To Fizzle-Out Over The Summer? Part 1

Since very early in the start of this whole H1N1 swine flu thing, we've had experts telling us to watch out for it to fizzle-out over the Summer, only to return in the Fall and Winter. The thought was that it would be worse in the colder months (the same as all influenza viruses) because of people's tendency to pile into enclosed spaces together, which I still believe will be the case. What I am unsure of, however, is whether or not we were correct in thinking that it would sort of go to sleep over the warmer months. Thus far, the virus has continued to spread unabated, and so I find myself wondering if it won't be remaining with us indefinitely like a bad house guest.

I'm not sure if I might be calling this too early. I'm by no means an expert. In truth, I have no idea what is GOING TO happen, but I feel as though I've learned enough through reading and researching since this whole thing started to be able to make some fairly educated guesses as to what COULD happen. And, what I'm feeling leads me to wonder if this thing might just keep on trucking, regardless of weather and seasons, and trouble us for years. It could traveling in multiple recurring waves around the globe until it has succeeded in infecting virtually every human being so many times over that we eventually develop a natural immunity to it. The question then being what sorts of things occur in the meantime; does the disease become milder or deadlier in the short run before we begin to develop the aforementioned immunity?

I've written more than once about the dangerous possibilities of A(H1N1) mutating with H5N1 Avian Influenza (the so-called "bird flu"). This type of mutation could result in such a dangerous virus that one leading virologist was quoted as saying, "If that happens, I will retire immediately and lock myself in the P3 Lab." (source) Such a possibility, however, has typically been seen as unlikely due to the low frequency of infection of humans by H5N1. (source)

The problem is that may no longer be the case.

We know that recently there has been an uptick in H5N1 Avian Influenza cases in Egypt, encompassing both recognized as well as possibly silent spread of the disease. Each of these new cases provides one more opportunity for these two viruses to recombine. Further, there has been some discussion that the unprecedented move by Egyptian authorities to cull the pig population in their country may have been more an example of the Muslim government using the flu as an excuse to punish the minority Coptic Christian sect, but I still have to wonder if it wasn't this sort of information that dictated such actions as well.

Such concerns, especially evidence of the silent spread of H5N1, are prevalent in other parts of the world as well.

...............................

This discussion will continue here on the blog tomorrow with Part 2 of this article.

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James Howard Kunstler: Wishes, Hopes, Fantasies

Click here to read the full text.

A quote:
"The current wish is that the dregs of GM and Chrysler will hire low-paid elves with no pension or health benefits and pump out hybrid and/or electric cars. It's conceivable that we could "reverse-engineer" a Prius or an Insight, but considering what a lousy job American car companies did on reverse-engineering everything that Japan or Germany pumped out over the past thirty-five years, the odds are pretty high that these new products will be just lame enough to fail against the established competition. What's more, they also present logistical and technical problems. For the hybrid, gasoline is still an issue (and Jevon's Paradox comes into play: the more efficient you make a means for using a resource, the more of that resource you will use). For both the hybrid and the electric car, the issue of how to get enough lithium for the batteries obtains, at least for now, given the current state-of-the-art battery technology. Most of this rare metal now comes from one place, Bolivia, and everybody wants "a piece" of it. Electric vehicles in large numbers depend on either coal or nuclear powered electric generation, each presenting special hazards. Both hybrids and electric cars would depend on the old installment loan purchase system -- at least to work in the current mode of suburban living, long-range commuting, and interstate highway travel."

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26 May, 2009

North Korea tests nuclear weapon 'as powerful as Hiroshima bomb'

Leaders of numerous countries banded together today in expressing their concerns over this new test of North Korea's developing nuclear capabilities. This test, an underground explosion, comes less than two months on the heels of long-range missile tests they conducted in defiance of what turned out sadly to be empty threats that they should not move forward.

At this point, I can see few scarier possibilities than for such a militant, isolationist nation to be allowed to continue on the course of developing such powerful weaponry (only the idea of Iran having them scares me more). Sadly, though, I also cannot see any possibility that they will not eventually have them. We and the other nations of the world, rather than take a stand to see this looming crisis ended, choose instead to bloviate and make pointless political gestures as the threat continues to grow.

We are setting our children up for future wars in both East Asia and the Middle East. Shame on us.

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Russia warns of war within a decade over Arctic oil and gas riches

As climate change proceeds to melt away the thick ice pack that normally covers the arctic, it becomes marginally more feasible to consider harvesting the natural resources there. And Russia, as discussed in this article, seems to be gearing up to press her claim of ownership.

They are claiming rights to a section of the Arctic shelf, the size of Western Europe, which is believed to contain billions of tons of oil and gas. Belief aside, though, no one really knows how much of anything is really there; but, what we do know is that getting at whatever is there is going to be VERY expensive.

And therein lies the most important thing this article is telling us, if we can but read between the lines. Why would Russia go so far as to threaten to go to war to protect some of the most expensive to produce and therefore least profitable resources on the planet?

The obvious answer: we're quickly running out of oil and the pieces are beginning to take their places on the endgame chessboard.

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Re: Evaporation of the Aral Sea

To further the discussion from yesterday about how the Aral Sea is shrinking, here is a link to a video I found on Youtube (embedding was disabled).

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Crisis spurs spike in 'suburban survivalists'

Click here to read the Associated Press article. This is just one more example of the burgeoning movement toward achieving a greater level of self-sufficiency in our everyday lives. I do worry a little about the one fella who talks about having his preps all out in the open for everyone, including the UPS guy, to see. I think he might benefit from reading my article from 4 March of this year entitled, "The Importance of Exercising Discretion with Regards to Your Survival/Emergency Preparations."

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Apocalyptic Film Plot May Be One Step Closer to Reality

Does this article remind you of the plot of I Am Legend?

Or was it just me?

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25 May, 2009

H1N1 Influenza A - Mexican Swine Flu: Economic Versus Health Concerns In Decisions About Pandemic Declaration

I've written more than once wondering why the WHO has yet to raise the Pandemic Alert Level when we so obviously met the written requirements for that stage weeks ago. It has been my opinion all along that their hesitance revolved around economic concerns, which we now know to be true.

I suppose I can see their point-of-view. It's hard to lean toward an idea that makes you feel as though you're saying monetary concerns are more important than people's health, but really it boils down to more than just money. Because of the idiotic way we've set ourselves up for failure as a society, any sort of sudden lockdown could result in many more deaths than the flu itself. I've written before about the fact that, even if the kill ratio of this flu never rises above that of the normal seasonal flu, we could see better than 2 million dead if it really does reach a third of the world's population like the WHO states is possible. (source) But, the sad truth is that the average person's diet in this day and age travels upwards of 1000+ miles before it reaches their plate, thus a lockdown could cause even more upheaval than allowing the disease to spread.

Of coarse, if everyone bothered to follow the pandemic preparedness guidelines published by the government, we would all have a minimum of two weeks worth of food at home and hunkering down wouldn't be such an issue. But, in order to do that we might actually have to go without our $4 lattes and dinners out at Red Lobster and Texas Steakhouse twice a week for a few weeks, so there is no way that's ever going to happen. Craziness. I truly wonder sometimes how we've survived so long as a species. Even squirrels have the good sense to stash away nuts to get through the hard, cold winters and they're only one step above being a damn rat!

And then, as if I wasn't already all worked up about it, yet grudgingly understanding of their reasons, I read that apparently the biggest lesson the WHO has learned from all of this is that they need to rewrite the rules regarding declaring pandemics. I guess since we plebes were smart enough to read the rules and call them out when they failed to follow them, now they need to go fiddling with them. Really, I have a great deal of respect for the people at the WHO and CDC; for the most part, they are selfless people who have dedicated their lives to easing the suffering of others. But, they apparently aren't immune to the same disease that festers in most large bureaucracies: they are managed by-and-large by a small cadre of woefully incompetent political hacks that seem to always find a way to drag the entire organization down.

With all that said, we now know exactly what it is going to take before we see an increase to Alert Level 6 and with it the declaration that we are in the midst of a full-blown pandemic. According to a recent article, an official was quoted as saying, "For Phase 5 to Phase 6 I need to satisfy myself that this is a global phenomenon."

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Evaporation of the Aral Sea

Click here and here to see the amazing photos of this terrible ongoing phenomenon. As I understand it the reasons behind it are less about evaporation and more about the decades-long practice by the Soviets of diverting the rivers which feed the sea to irrigate cotton fields that weren't even suited to being grown in that part of the world. Either way, it is an absolute disaster.

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24 May, 2009

Personal Account of a NO City Paramedic During Hurricane Katrina

LINK

The link above will take you to a thread on one of the forums I frequent that is being serially-posted by a user who was a city paramedic working in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, describing his experiences during the disaster. As I type this, he has posted only the first installment, but there is more coming and you can follow-along with the ensuing discussion about the initial post as well.

The author has stated that some of the information he will be presenting has never been released to the public, but he intends to talk about it all to help folks understand what really happens during a collapse.

It is amazing reading thus far.

[Edited on 6.2.09 due to thread moving and so I had to fix the link. The "ensuing discussion" I spoke of began to drift off-topic and so the EMT's posts were moved to their own locked thread.]

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H1N1 Influenza A - Mexican Swine Flu: 24 May Brief Update

I haven't seen any significant news regarding the flu lately, but I wanted to point you toward a few links you might find interesting and update the numbers since I skipped doing that yesterday.

Laboratory confirmed cases now stand at 12,495, well over a thousand more than the ending count of 11,191 from about 48 hours ago. Fatalities now number 92, up from 87 previously. There remain an additional 101 deaths that are listed as "suspected," but are still yet to be officially confirmed. The number of suspected cases are no longer being reported in many instances. (source)

Check out these flu-related links:

Flutracker Map: Tracking the progress of H1N1 swine flu

Researchers: Swine Flu Genes Swirled for Decades Undetected

Some Older People May Be Immune to Swine Flu

The history of the synthetic H1N1 flu virus and a not-so-rosy future By Wayne Madsen (Be advised, that one's pretty tinfoily)

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Obama “We are out of money”

Here's a link to the interview transcript.

Really the only surprising thing about this is that Daddy Warbucks Obama is the one who said it. I just wish maybe he would've figured it out BEFORE he pushed for and subsequently signed a stimulus bill with so much pork in it that I usually refer to it as the "Baconator."

Of course we're friggin' out of money and will be for years to come... because you spent it, Mr. President.

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The Mogambo Guru: Conjuring monster

Read the full text here.

A quote:
"... the "problem" of inflation was solved by the Founding Fathers and written into the Constitution, which still requires that money be gold and silver so that the money supply could not vastly expand, thus preventing inflation in prices.

Only this can prevent the stinking, filthy government from - with or without the help of a bunch of scumbags known as the Federal Reserve - increasing the money supply and creating the dreaded inflation as a result.

Of course, we are here because all the damnable Supreme Courts since 1933 have agreed that the government can ignore this part of the Constitution, turning back case after case.

And it seems to me that the study of history, as I have gleaned from TV documentaries and movies, is just the same, sad, stupid, selfish story of long-term governmental fiscal and monetary malfeasances that evolve the economy into a cesspool of corruptions and idiocies..."


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"Getting Off the Grid" by Lila Rajiva

Here's a link to another article that highlights the so-called "New Face of Survivalism" or "Prepper Movement" that seems to be underway these days. Scores of people, sensing the impending approach of harder times, are beginning to unplug from their old unsustainable lifestyles, and beginning to embrace a simpler existence where there are invariably fewer flower gardens and more vegetable gardens.

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5.24.09 Links of Interest

Russia Dumps US Dollar As Basic Reserve Currency

Credit bill OK'd with gun provision

Here Comes The Option ARM Mortgage Explosion

Federal Reserve Cannot Account For $9 Trillion

Fannie and Freddie in 'critical' condition

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23 May, 2009

H1N1 Influenza A - Mexican Swine Flu: Political Spin To Ward Off Panic

In response to yesterday's article insinuating that TPTB (see Glossary) were employing means that would allow them to be less than truthful with the public by spinning perception away from aspects they would rather not be delved into too deeply, I received a handful of requests that I should further strengthen my resolve for making such an accusation.

To accomplish that I need only point you toward the article "Pandemics: avoiding the mistakes of 1918" by John M. Barry in which the author writes, "The US government used the same strategy for communicating about the disease that it had developed to disseminate war news. The essence of that strategy was described by its main architect, writer Arthur Bullard: 'Truth and falsehood are arbitrary terms ... There is nothing in experience to tell us one is always preferable to the other ... The force of an idea lies in its inspirational value. It matters very little if is true or false.' Fellow adviser Walter Lippman, another architect of this strategy, sent President Woodrow Wilson a memo saying that most citizens were 'mentally children' and advising that 'self-determination' had to be subordinated to 'order' and 'prosperity'. In 1917, the day after receiving Lippman's memo, Wilson issued an executive order to control all government communication strategy during the war that was premised on keeping up morale." Emphasis mine.

In direct response to the types of behavior described above, trust in the "official" sources eventually becomes eroded, and people begin to look to alternative sources for their news and information. And, as far as I'm concerned, that is exactly how we get to a place where things happen like the rumors of the thousands of Japanese flu cases.

It seems to me fairly obvious that TPTB are deeply engaged in "panic management" mode and are actively attempting to skew the perception of the public through the use of tactics akin to political spin. And, truthfully, it could be that it's for the best. I hate to admit that, because personally I would prefer to always have the best information upon which to base my decisions, but there could be some truth to TPTB's fears. Who knows how much more trouble could be caused were the people to become panicked?

Currently, we're talking about a bug whose fangs are fairly small compared to what they could have been, but we are just one rather unlucky mutation away from all of that changing. Mass panic in the event of a truly nasty disease outbreak could be a disaster.

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1981 Film with Interesting Parallels to the Current Economic Crisis



Rollover (1981 film) at wikipedia and the Internet Movie Database.

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The Mogambo Guru: Very bad - and getting worse

Read the full text here.

A quote:
"'Consumer credit in the US contracted by a record in March after the jobless rate reached its highest level in a quarter century and banks
made it harder to get loans in an effort to buttress their balance sheets.'

So, how far did consumer credit fall? It fell by "$11.1 billion, almost three times more than forecast and the most since records began in 1943", which is not only a long time ago, but is also chickenfeed when you compare it to the remaining $2.55 trillion in outstanding consumer credit! Hahaha! We're freaking doomed!"


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Root Cellar Plans

Here are what appear to be some pretty nice plans for a root cellar. Just click here.

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22 May, 2009

Terrorist Plot Foiled in New York

LINK

The four jabronis were ordered held without bail Thursday, and are being accused of trying to car-bomb two New York synagogues and planning to fire surface-to-air missiles at U.S. military planes at an Air National Guard base.

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H1N1 Influenza A - Mexican Swine Flu: The Dangers of Muddling The Truth

I was thinking of the issue with the news "satire" site and the erroneous reports of huge swine flu outbreaks in Japan, and it occurred to me that things like this are bound to happen in an environment where people know, instinctively, that they aren't being told the whole story.

Bear with me.

What I'm referring to, specifically, are things like the authorities waffling back and forth about the meaning of "community spread" with reference to whether or not to declare this a full-blown pandemic the way ol' Slick Willy did with the definition of "sex" during the Monica Lewinsky scandal; and, the fact that virtually every flu-related death is being presented as having been solely the result of the patient's pre-existing "underlying health conditions." The latter, of course, being an obvious attempt to quell any thought that just maybe it could be dangerous to you should you catch the virus by making it sound as though these were people already in a weakened state, suffering from exotic illnesses you don't have. The problem is that the plan goes all to hell when the folks research the truth and discover that the so-called "underlying health conditions" are actually often things like gout that millions of people have.

So now, having been lied to, they flock to the internet for their news. The internet is a hotbed of information on every topic known to man, the only problem being that all of the information is not good. Thus, you get situations like the one involving Japan and the flu.

What can you do?

Laboratory confirmed cases now stand at 11,191, nearly a thousand more than the ending count of 10,380 from about 48 hours ago. Fatalities now number 87, up from 82 previously. There remain an additional 101 deaths that are listed as "suspected," but are still yet to be officially confirmed. The number of suspected cases are no longer being reported in many instances. (source)

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Climate Change Odds Much Worse Than Thought

If Global Warming turns out to be real and the findings from this article are accurate, the next handful of decades could be fairly precarious.

For the record, I'm still an agnostic on this subject, but lately I'm leaning toward the school of thought that believe Climate Change *IS* occurring, *BUT* either it has already progressed past the point where any but the most drastic actions on our part will be able to stem its effects *OR* it was beyond our control in the first place and our behavior simply sped up the processes involved.

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Survivalblog: Any Widespread Flu Will Overwhelm America's Emergency Medical Services

Here's a link to a great article over at Jim Rawles site regarding the likelihood that the infrastructure of EMS services in the U.S. will quickly become overwhelmed in the event that the A(H1N1) flu goes nuclear as a full-blown pandemic.

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21 May, 2009

Iran tests missile with range that can hit Israel

Click here to read the Associated Press article.

For my part, I cannot imagine any greater threat (putting aside Peak Oil and other disasters we can do little about) than to allow Iran to possess nuclear weapons. This is a nation that is currently under the thumb of a man who is an admitted follower of a Muslim splinter sect that calls for the violent conquest of the entire world and has been accurately described by many as an apocalyptic death cult.

"Most Shiites await the return of the 12th Shiite Imam, Muhammad ibn Hasan, the last direct male descendent of the Prophet Mohammed’s son-in-law Ali, who disappeared in 874AD and is believed to be in an invisible, deathless state of existence, or “occultation”, awaiting his return. ... His reappearance will usher in a new era of peace as Islam vanquishes all of its enemies. ... But rooted in the Shiite ideology of martyrdom and violence, the Hojjatieh sect adds messianic and apocalyptic elements to an already volatile theology. They believe that chaos and bloodshed must precede the return of the 12th Imam, called the Mahdi. But unlike the biblical apocalypse, where the return of Jesus is preceded by waves of divinely decreed natural disasters, the summoning of the Mahdi through chaos and violence is wholly in the realm of human action. The Hojjatieh faith puts inordinate stress on the human ability to direct divinely appointed events. By creating the apocalyptic chaos, the Hojjatiehs believe it is entirely in the power of believers to affect the Mahdi’s reappearance, the institution of Islamic government worldwide, and the destruction of all competing faiths." (source)

Further, "The Hojjatieh movement is considered to be so radical that it was banned in 1983 by the Ayatollah Khomeini and is still opposed by the majority of the Iranian clerics, including the Supreme Leader of the Supreme National Security Council, Ayatollah Ali Khamanei." (source)

Now, does that really sound like a guy you want with his finger on a nuclear button?

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H1N1 Influenza A - Mexican Swine Flu: New Fears Involving the Possibility of H5N1 Recombination in Egypt

Even as just about everyone once again has the flu comfortably off their radar, it's nice to see I'm not the only one who still gets a bad feeling when I think about it. Apparently, health officials also remain troubled by the patterns the disease seems to be following, namely that it seems prone to affect a disproportionate number of children, teenagers and young adults and is doing so at a time of year when normal flu bugs are beginning to ramp down. These concerns have been discussed at length here on the blog previously, but it's nice to see there are others out there who are not content to just turn a blind eye to this thing.

Obviously, the reason why people are so eager to do just that is because, as it stands, this virus just isn't deadly enough to shake people out of their complacency. And, therein lies the danger: complacency is a powerful thing and it's difficult at times to get out from under it. In truth, this pansy little disease has probably done us more harm than good. It has been my fervent hope that these last weeks would've served as a wake up call to the woefully unprepared and the blissfully uninitiated, but I fear now that perhaps it has had the exact opposite effect. Now, when the real monster does come to the door, most people won't pay a bit of attention until it gets so bad that there end up being runs on all the stores, mass panic, et cetera.

And, it's somewhat terrifying when you realize that that monster could be brewing and getting ready to pounce as I write these very words.

Practically since the very beginning of all of this hoopla, those of us who've bothered to follow it at all have been ruminating on what a mess might ensue should this virulent, promiscuous, recombo-happy little whore of a bug get into one of the countries where "bird flu" is a problem. We've gotten wind of a few confirmed cases and tons of rumors of others, but all in all very little information is shared by the folks in charge of those kinds of places. So, we wait and we watch and we read foreign news translated rather poorly by a googlebot at 5 o'clock in the morning. But what keeps us warm at night is the comforting realization that the dreaded "bird flu"--even in countries where it is a problem--never seems to spread very far and so there aren't that many cases running around in danger of actually coming into contact with A(H1N1). Of course, one should probably take pause to reevaluate the very nature of the comfort we feel as a result of this, considering the reason it isn't more widespread is because H5N1 Avian Influenza kills the host so quickly that it actually helps to keep it from spreading. Kinda gives you a little chill, huh?

Unfortunately, our luck might be running out. There is now evidence that H5N1 human infections may be escalating in Egypt which, as you'll no doubt recall, is the same country that initiated the unusual measure of culling their entire population of pigs a few weeks back. That policy, largely derided as having gone too far, is a telling clue as to whether or not the folks at the top have thought of these possibilities as well or are we just being extremist. The bottom line truth that the World Health Organization fears that H5N1 may mutate in Egypt, causing a pandemic that could kill millions, and regarding the possibility of someone suffering from it coming into contact with A(H1N1): "... there are suggestions asserting the virus will soon hit the Arab world. Some unconfirmed reports indicate that some cases of swine flu have already been detected in Egypt." (source)

Another comforting bit of news came to light recently which confirms that, if and when we do find ourselves in the midst of a full-blown pandemic, there are not even close to enough face masks to go around here in the U.S.. According to the article, there is about one mask per every three Americans, so look at the person to your right and the person to your left and know that two of you are screwed.

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NBC Developing New Doomer Show for the Fall 2009 Line-Up

Okay, most folks would probably consider it sci-fi, but Day One clearly sounds like a quazi-survivalist show to me. From the wikipedia page:

"Day One is an upcoming NBC Universal 13-episode sci-fi television series about apartment residents that survive an unknown world-wide cataclysm."

Now, only time will tell if they'll bother to show anything at all about how the character's have to adapt to survive after the water stops running and the power goes out.

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5.21.09 Links of Interest

Possible military implications of Flu pandemic

Economic crisis proves very profitable for Bank of England

Lookout - Capitalism's dead - US going Bankrupt and War coming

The Economy’s Search for a "New Normal"

If You're Not Petrified of Obama, You're Not Paying Attention

Don't count on China to rescue world economy


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20 May, 2009

5.20.09 Daily Update

Today's flu update is a short one again as I am still gathering information on the subjects I told you about yesterday, and I want the article to be a good one (or maybe even two). For today, you'll have to be satisfied with some good ol'-fashioned economic doom! ;-)

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

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China holds sway over U.S. Economy

To quote expert John Ing from this article, "The U. S. should be afraid, very afraid. China is questioning the dollar's status as a reserve currency and, at US$1,000 an ounce, gold has become the world's de facto currency."

Yep, that about sums it up.

In addition to gold (which I don't think will ever truly be the standard in which the world monetary system denominates its trades, at least not as long as bankers and shady finance men run the world), there's talk of China's yuan replacing the dollar as the world's reserve currency.

And, in all truth, I'm not sure if our own leaders don't support this behind closed doors. Now, before you go fitting me for a tinfoil hat, I don't have some nefarious conspiracy theory cooked up in my head to support that statement; I'm not even necessarily saying it's true. I'm at a loss to see how it would benefit the players in Washington (truly the hallmark of any great conspiracy). It just seems fishy to me that when first broached for his comments about the dollar's shaky status as the world's go-to currency, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner seemed pretty okay with the idea. It wasn't until later, after obviously being spanked by his handlers, that he started dancing around the issue and carefully qualifying his statements. Of course, maybe he's just an idiot and hadn't been schooled on what his answer should be, but I find unscripted replies are almost always closer to the truth.

None of this should really be news to any of you by now anyway. If you're reading my blog, I imagine you've already taken steps to at least begin to break away from the propaganda hounds in the mainstream media, and you are beginning to look beyond the focus group approved headlines to get at the real meat of the news. You've, no doubt, picked up on the little tidbits you've been fed enough to realize China has been quietly preparing to ease away from us financially for a while now. They've gone so far as to "express deep concern" over our economic policies and all but issue direct warnings to us about being careful not to devalue the dollar. Who could blame them? They're knee deep in U.S. debt investments that could turn out to be worthless if the dollar endures a significant crash, and Big Daddy wants his money.

And, it isn't just China. Recently, the opposition party in Japan promised that, if elected, they would begin the process of divesting away from U.S. assets as well. (source) There is, however, another school of thought that holds the belief that such a move wouldn't really be a boon for them either in the long run, so it's anyone's guess what may occur. And, now we can add Brazil to the list of nations that may dump the dollar as well.

Recently, even President Obama has been talking about it. He said, "The long-term deficit and debt that we have accumulated is unsustainable. We can't keep on just borrowing from China or borrowing from other countries. We have to pay interest on that debt and that means that we're mortgaging our children's future with more and more debt. What's also true is at some point they're just going to get tired of buying our debt. And when that happens, we will really have to raise interest rates to be able to borrow and that will raise interest rates for everybody."

Okay. Number 1: They are "tired" of buying our debt now. It. Is. Happening. Right. Now. Not. Some. Time. In. The. Far-off. Future. (source) And, number 2: aren't you the genius who just fell all over yourself to effectively quadruple the yearly U.S. budget deficit over ANY other year EVER with the help of just about everybody in Washington from both sides of the aisle?

Pipe down, Grasshoppers! You are all the reason we're in this mess in the first place!

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H1N1 Influenza A - Mexican Swine Flu: Just a Short Update

Today's update will be a short on as stated above, but I thought you might find this article interesting as it follows closely with the subject I blogged about yesterday: namely, a forthcoming A(H1N1) vaccine.

That aside, laboratory confirmed cases now stand at 10,380, more than a thousand more than yesterday's ending count of 9,319. Fatalities now number 82, up from 78 yesterday. There remain an additional 101 deaths that are listed as "suspected," but are still yet to be officially confirmed. The number of suspected cases are not available at this time; there was a rather dramatic explosion of sickness reported in Japan yesterday that numbered in the thousands of cases, but it appears now that those reports may have been a hoax. (source)

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GPS Satellites Could Begin to Fail as Early as 2010

GPS system 'close to breakdown' that may result in "regular blackouts and failures – or even dishing out inaccurate directions to millions of people worldwide" beginning as early as next year.

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5.20.09 Links of Interest

Dead People Get Stimulus Checks

Hot in recession: Cheaper wine, chocolate, Spam

US prices fall most since 1955

Police: Man said 30,000 bullets were for target practice


Navajos largely unscathed by recession

Critics Deride Bill Designed to Keep Weapons Out of Terrorists' Hands

US backing for world currency stuns markets

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19 May, 2009

H1N1 Influenza A - Mexican Swine Flu: To Take The Shot Or...

As the current flu outbreak crawls along and yet continues its methodical spread, one of the sentiments I've heard widely expressed is that folks shouldn't give much thought to the whole thing, because it will begin to die out soon; and, should it reemerge in the Fall/Winter, it won't be a big deal then either because we will have a vaccine by then.

I must say that does sound rather comforting. The problem is it is a load of hooey.

For one thing, there is no way to be sure that a vaccine made to treat the current strain of influenza going around will be effective should the virus mutate, which is a good bet seeing as how we know it is a novel strain we've never seen before and it is recombinant. It's just about a guarantee that further mutation WILL occur; our hope is that it mutates into something even milder. Either way, though, a vaccine made now may offer only minimal protection.

And, who says for sure it IS going away for the Summer? That is typical flu virus behavior, but it seems this bug may not play by the rules.

Coming up with a new vaccine is not exactly an overnight endeavor either.

As I understand the process (and someone please correct me if I'm wrong), they have to pinpoint a strain that will successfully mutate with H1N1 *AND* grow in eggs (human-2-human bugs like H1N1 apparently don't do well in the egg medium). Once they zero in on one that will do both, then they essentially force them to make sweet virus love and the resulting "offspring" are then used to formulate the vaccine. I know. Gross. And fascinating.

Plus, in all the talk about a future vaccine saving us should the disease begin to turn ugly, I have to say that wouldn't make me feel better at all were I one of the poor folks living in the southern hemisphere, whose flu season is just getting underway.

The good news, I suppose, is we're now being told fewer than a third in the U.S. would get a swine flu shot if one was developed, putting it just about in line with estimates I've read regarding the normal seasonal flu shots that come out every year. So, at least maybe that means there won't be some crazy run on people demanding shots out there.

As for today's numbers, laboratory confirmed cases now stand at 9,319, up again from yesterday's count of 8,855. Fatalities now number 78, up from 76 yesterday. One hundred additional deaths remain listed as "suspected," but are still yet to be officially confirmed. The number of suspected cases ballooned dramatically to well north of 5000 today from only 846 yesterday due to a surprising explosion of sickness in very flu-conscious and hygienic Japan. (source)

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Scouts Train to Fight Terrorists, and More

LINK

First off, the Explorer program is not the Boy Scouts per se, they're just affiliated. And, their express, STATED purpose is to provide youngsters interested in pursuing careers in law enforcement and firefighting with advanced training. It's no different than ROTC is for the military. This training scenario with the pellet guns, et cetera, is just one part of it. They spend most of their time running things back and forth from one department to the next and sweeping up at the station house.

Please stow the inevitable cries of 'indoctrination'. This is completely harmless.

Of course, if your attitude is that every police officer everywhere is nothing but a jackbooted goon then that's your own highly skewed perspective. Most people, by and large, still consider these to be honorable professions.

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The Mogambo Guru: Long and short of bond insanity

Click here to read the full article.

A brief quote:
"... this brings us to "Why You Should Be Worried About The Bond Market" by Dominic Frisby at Money Week, and instead of going over that old stuff about how bond prices move inversely to interest rates, I will skip right to the crux of the matter, which he notes is that "A collapsing bond market means higher interest rates," which is weird because I just said I would skip that part!

It must be more important than I thought!"

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