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30 November, 2009

Reminder: Sale Ending Today

The 25% Off sale on Mountain House freeze-dried foods at Ready Made Resources ends today, November 30th. Don't forget to mention Backwoods Survival Blog when you place your order.


Food Stamp Use Soars

Food Stamp Use Soars... - NYTimes.com: "With food stamp use at record highs and climbing every month, a program once scorned as a failed welfare scheme now helps feed one in eight Americans and one in four children..."

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the only real reason we aren't seeing the bread and soup lines of the 1930s repeated in living color in the here and now. It isn't that "this is a recession, not a depression" argument we keep hearing, but rather it is because safety nets such as the food stamp program exist now where once they did not. Remove them from the equation and you would quickly see how bad it really is out there right now.

Sadly, we may all get to see it soon enough.

Simple logic tells us that higher unemployment means declining tax revenues at both federal and local levels and that means fewer resources with which to fund social safety nets like food stamps.

Consider for a moment the number of people who are wholly dependent on government aid to feed (and sometimes clothe and house) themselves and their families. Then, compare that number to the numbers of police, etc., who are responsible for keeping order - it isn't even close. In truth, society runs because order is in everyone's best interests; change that paradigm and you will see the facade of polite society torn asunder by the howling mob. Don't believe me? We have seen a preview of what we can expect with the recent debacle over federal aid in Detroit that very nearly degenerated into a full-scale riot.

Personally, I doubt that they would ever simply cut off benefits wholesale; they know all too well that it would very quickly devolve to resemble a scene out of the French Revolution, complete with guillotine and all, only set in modern Manhattan instead of the Paris of yesteryear. Rather, they will continue to inflate the currency through quantitative easing and other dubious practices meant to ensure the continued flow of money, and we will end up in the mire of hyperinflation as a result.


Americans Toss Out 40 Percent of All Food

How did we become such a wasteful society?


Americans Toss Out 40 Percent of All Food: "... a new study finds food waste per person has shot up 50 percent since 1974. Some 1,400 calories worth of food is discarded per person each day, which adds up to 150 trillion calories a year.

The study finds that about 40 percent of all the food produced in the United States is tossed out.

Meanwhile, while some have plenty of food to spare, a recent report by the Department of Agriculture finds the number of U.S. homes lacking 'food security,' meaning their eating habits were disrupted for lack of money, rose from 4.7 million in 2007 to 6.7 million last year.

About 1 billion people worldwide don't have enough to eat, according to the World Food Program..."


Four Police Officers "Ambushed," Killed In Cafe

Just one more harbinger of the senseless violence we will be seeing increasingly as society teeters, I fear.


Four Police Officers "Ambushed," Killed In Cafe: "Four police officers were shot dead yesterday in 'an ambush' at a coffee shop.

The officers - three men and a woman - were about to start a shift and were working on their laptops when they were targeted.

Reports varied as to whether one or two gunmen entered the cafe in Tacoma, Washington state, and shot the four uniformed officers before fleeing on foot.

Pierce County Sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer said they were looking for one male suspect, but had not ruled out an accomplice..."


Anti-WTO Protest in Geneva Turns Violent

Anti-WTO protest in Geneva turns violent: "Violence erupted in the Swiss city of Geneva Saturday as a scheduled peaceful protest of a World Trade Organization conference turned violent and police had to use tear gas and rubber bullets.

Thirty-three arrests have been made and police were on the streets working to maintain order, authorities said..."


29 November, 2009

One Small Step To A New World Order

The debate may evolve soon enough away from whether or not taxpayers should have to bail-out the so-called "Too Big To Fail" in the private sector toward something more like whether they should bail-out neighboring governments that might begin to teeter. Scary.

I could easily see this being how they usher in the one world government we have been hearing the tinfoil hat crowd preach about for years. If such a time comes where whole governments are beholden to other governments and their tax bases for support, we will find ourselves quickly so intertwined that a New World Order kind of scenario might be only one more small step.


If countries like Dubai begin to fail, who will save them? - Telegraph: "As one financial crisis recedes, another may be beginning. In Dubai this week, we've had a foretaste of what may be to come as governments around the globe seek to grapple with the explosive growth of fiscal deficits and public debt.

Like everyone else, my regard for the miracle of Dubai's fast-evolving skyline has always been tempered with a high degree of scepticism. As a monument to the vanity and hubris of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Dubai has long looked like an accident waiting to happen. Such has been the pace of development that nobody could have been surprised by the debt default now threatened. Only the assumed support of Dubai's richer neighbour Abu Dhabi, which is now far from certain, has prevented it happening sooner...

... the issue is whether this folie de grandeur of a desert kingdom is just an isolated, and therefore containable, incident, or a more worrying outrider for a wider sovereign debt crisis which might eventually engulf major, advanced economies. Everyone thought the financial implosion of the last two years was largely behind us – yet Dubai has reminded us that if nations start defaulting, then it may be about to enter a new and even more frightening phase..."


H1N1 Influenza A - Swine Flu: 29 November Brief Update

Big, big happenings this week with H1N1 Swine Flu - Talk of the dreaded mutations we've all feared, among other news. It is a long one, so I advise you jump on in.


Swine flu mutation discovered in Norway: "A new mutation of the swine influenza virus has been discovered in Norway. The mutation found is slightly more dangerous than the original A(H1N1) virus in the sense that it attacks the lungs directly. The normal virus first invades the throat and the upper respiratory passage.

The mutated virus also survives airborne longer than the original strain, but it is slightly less infectious.

Various mutations of the swine flu virus have been discovered before. However, what makes the newly-found strain noteworthy is the fact that it was discovered from the first two victims to die of the disease in Norway..."


Same mutation detected in Hong Kong: "The Department of Health has found the same mutation in a human swine influenza virus sample as the one detected in Norway recently.

The department has examined the genetic sequence of human swine flu viruses in its monitoring system. Out of the 123 sequences studied, one sample showed the same mutation as the Norway strain..."

Explosion of Swine Flu Tamiflu Resistance in the United States
Recombinomics Commentary

Second week of November sees more H1N1 deaths than entire spring: "While health experts say worst is probably over, activity has not yet slowed down..."

Fatal H1N1 Cluster in Texas Raises Pandemic Concerns: "...Since the vast majority of H1N1 infections are mild, the death of two roommates within 24 hours of each others raises concerns that they were infected with a lethal contagious form of the virus. Recent reports out of Ukraine has raised concerns that H1N1 with the receptor binding domain change D225G, is such a virus..."

Spike in Severe Bacterial Infections With Swine Flu: "'A worrisome spike' in severe bacterial infections is complicating H1N1 swine flu cases, the CDC warned today.

Denver and nine other cities where CDC conducts intensive surveillance are seeing a tripling of cases of severe, life-threatening bacterial infections -- including pneumonia and blood infections -- linked to H1N1 swine flu..."


China expert warns of pandemic flu mutation: "China must be alert to any mutation or changes in the behavior of the H1N1 swine flu virus because the far deadlier H5N1 bird flu virus is endemic in the country, a leading Chinese disease expert said.

Zhong Nanshan, director of the Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Diseases in China's southern Guangdong province, said the presence of both viruses in China meant they could mix and become a monstrous hybrid -- a bug packed with strong killing power that can transmit efficiently among people..."


CDC connects H1N1, severe bacterial infections

Rise in cases expected alongside flu pandemic; Denver is hotbed

By David Brown
Washington Post Staff Writer

French A/H1N1 flu cases exceeds two million: "The number of persons infected with A/H1N1 flu has passed 2.7 million..."

Genetic mutation of A/H1N1 flu found on mainland: "Genetic mutation had been detected in eight A/H1N1 flu cases on the Chinese mainland..."

Probing reports of mutating swine flu virus: WHO: "The World Health Organisation said Thursday that it is investigating reports of mutations in the swine flu virus, after half-a-dozen countries recorded cases in which the virus was transforming.

‘The question is whether these mutations again suggest that there is a fundamental change going on in viruses out there — whether there’s a turn for the worse in terms of severity,’ said Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s special adviser on pandemic influenza.

‘The answer right now is that we are not sure,’ he added following reports from China, Japan, Norway, Ukraine and the United States..."


India's swine flu deaths reach 561
26 November 2009

Russian Region's Universities, Schools Closed Due To Flu
26 November 2009

More Than 1,000 Deaths in Past Week From H1N1: WHO - ABC News: "More than 1,000 deaths from the H1N1 swine flu virus were officially reported in the past week, a sharp rise which brings the global total to at least 7,826, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday..."

Ukraine Hemorrhagic Pneumonia (Mutated H1N1) May Be Spreading.

Two French men die from mutated H1N1 virus: "Two French men have died from mutated A/H1N1 virus recently, the country's Institute for Public Health Surveillance(InVS) announced Friday.

The two victims were total strangers and in different hospitals... The flu surveillance institute said the mutation was similar to the recent cases reported in Norway..."


Rise in pneumonia cases linked to H1N1_English_Xinhua: "Health officials are finding that bacterial pneumonia cases are rising along with instances of the A/H1N1 virus. Doctors are seeing an increase in flu complications leading to pneumonia.

At the same time, cases of seasonal flu are at record levels because of the new A/H1N1 virus. The number of cases is outpacing the typical number of regular flu cases at this time of year..."


Swine Flu Deaths Scar Muslim Holy Pilgrimage: "One of the biggest concerns to Saudi Arabian health authorities has unfortunately become a reality at this year’s Hajj pilgrimage, now underway in Islam’s holiest cities of Mecca and Medina.

This year’s pilgrimage, which began on Saturday, November 21, has already claimed at least four lives to the H1N1 influenza (swine flu) virus, according to an article published in Al Jazeera..."


28 November, 2009

Meteor Impact As Seen In The Skies Over South Africa Saturday Evening

The link comes courtesy of Jim Rawles at www.survivalblog.com, who states, "Listening to eyewitness accounts it was seen from as far away as Maputo (in Mozambique) Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana. The meteor was traveling northwest and was presumed to have landed beyond the Botswana border. This video footage was taken approx 350 kilometers from the border."


John Galt: Arrogance of the Gods (The Day the Dollar Died Part IV)

Here are the links to Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.


John Galt: Arrogance of the Gods (The Day the Dollar Died Part IV): "Tom stirred awake when the alarm on his wristwatch stirred him into a startled look around the room. 'Sigh, thank God, I’m home' he said out loud then calling out to his wife 'Honey, let’s talk sweetheart and I’m sorry I’ve upset you so much.' Sandy walked out of the bedroom smoking a cigarette, something she had not done since they both quit ten years ago and yelled at Tom in a drunken stupor 'Okay you geek, what the hell do you want to talk about now? The end of the world? Obama having alien ears and a forked tail protruding from his butt? The local newsboy spying on us when he delivers the paper? I swear you’re a (burp) loser Tom, why the bleep am I married to you?'..."


IMF: Banks Still Hiding Half Of Their Actual Losses

IMF: Banks Still Hiding Half Of Their Actual Losses: "Banks around the world still haven't recognized half of their losses according to the International Monetary Fund's managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

There could be $1.5 trillion in bad debt remaining on their balance sheets, and losses on these bad loans still threaten the solvency of many institutions..."


Porter Stansberry: The Bankruptcy of the United States is Now Certain

Porter Stansberry: The bankruptcy of the United States is now certain: "It's one of those numbers that's so unbelievable you have to actually think about it for a while... Within the next 12 months, the U.S. Treasury will have to refinance $2 trillion in short-term debt. And that's not counting any additional deficit spending, which is estimated to be around $1.5 trillion. Put the two numbers together. Then ask yourself, how in the world can the Treasury borrow $3.5 trillion in only one year? That's an amount equal to nearly 30% of our entire GDP. And we're the world's biggest economy. Where will the money come from?

How did we end up with so much short-term debt? Like most entities that have far too much debt - whether subprime borrowers, GM, Fannie, or GE - the U.S. Treasury has tried to minimize its interest burden by borrowing for short durations and then "rolling over" the loans when they come due. As they say on Wall Street, "a rolling debt collects no moss." What they mean is, as long as you can extend the debt, you have no problem. Unfortunately, that leads folks to take on ever greater amounts of debt… at ever shorter durations… at ever lower interest rates. Sooner or later, the creditors wake up and ask themselves: What are the chances I will ever actually be repaid? And that's when the trouble starts. Interest rates go up dramatically. Funding costs soar. The party is over. Bankruptcy is next..."


65% Tax Rates Coming

65% tax rates coming: "... As soon as next year – should the government move up the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, as I very much expect them to – the top tax bracket will go to 39%. On top of that, the current healthcare legislation will add a 5.4% surcharge. Then, add in the Democrats’ proposed 5% war tax. Okay, so straight up we’re talking 49%.

Then there’s a near doubling of capital gains taxes, from 15% to as high as 28%. And, of course, the return of the estate tax.

Of course, that’s just for starters, because everywhere you look states and municipalities are raising taxes and fees...

... At the end of the day, the top tax rate in the U.S., starting as early as next year, will soar way over 50% of income. While further number crunching is required, it is a very safe assumption that top income earners will soon be paying over 65% of their income in taxes."


26 November, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

The holidays are a time to be with family, not prognosticating doom on the internet, so I'm taking the next day or two off. Happy Thanksgiving!


25 November, 2009

Officials: Census Worker Hanged Himself

I just wanted to take a second to follow-up on this bizarre story from back in September. State and federal law enforcement officials are now saying that the Census Bureau employee found hanging from a tree with the word "FED" written on his chest, in fact, killed himself and staged his death to look like a homicide.

Apparently, there were no signs of a struggle, bruises or cuts of any kind on his body; his hands were duct taped loosely; the "FED" on his chest was written upside down; and, the hanging was performed by leaning forward with his knees nearly touching the ground, so that all he had to do to relieve the pressure would have been to stand up straight. Also, the guy believed erroneously that a previous bout with cancer had resurfaced; had an adult son in dire need of money; and, had recently taken out two separate life insurance policies worth about $600,000 each, neither of which would pay off in the event of a suicide. (source)


U.K. Cops Arrest People 'just for the DNA'

It would be difficult to stress just how useful this is from a law enforcement prospective, where many crimes go unsolved even with good evidence simply because the offender has never previously been arrested and placed in the system. The great worry, however, like so many other things, is that this information could also be used for more nefarious purposes.


U.K. Cops Arrest People ‘just for the DNA’: "Britain has built the world's biggest DNA database without proper political debate and police routinely arrest people just to get their DNA profiles onto the system, the genetics watchdog said in a report on Tuesday..."


John Galt - “I Have Been to the Fields of Gettysburg” (The Day the Dollar Died Part III)

Here are the links to Part 1 and Part 2.


John Galt - “I Have Been to the Fields of Gettysburg” (The Day the Dollar Died Part III): "'Citizens of the United States, citizens of the world, I wish to bring you a message tonight of hope and dreams and most of all assurance. Decades ago one of my heroes uttered those famous words of ‘the only thing we have to fear is fear itself’ and to that theme, I too, like Franklin Delano Roosevelt call now on the citizens not just of the United States but of the world to begin a move to restoration, beyond the call to change our ethics and to begin to undertake an immediate and drastic course of action to preserve and enhance the future for billions of people...'"


Payback Time - Wave of Debt Payments Facing U.S. Government

Payback Time - Wave of Debt Payments Facing U.S. Government - NYTimes.com: "The United States government is financing its more than trillion-dollar-a-year borrowing with i.o.u.’s on terms that seem too good to be true.

But that happy situation, aided by ultralow interest rates, may not last much longer.

Treasury officials now face a trifecta of headaches: a mountain of new debt, a balloon of short-term borrowings that come due in the months ahead, and interest rates that are sure to climb back to normal as soon as the Federal Reserve decides that the emergency has passed..."


24 November, 2009

IMF Warns Second Bailout Would 'Threaten Democracy'

IMF warns second bailout would 'threaten democracy' - Times Online: "The public will not bail out the financial services sector for a second time if another global crisis blows up in four or five years time, the managing-director of the International Monetary Fund warned this morning.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn told the CBI annual conference of business leaders that another huge call on public finances by the financial services sector would not be tolerated by the “man in the street” and could even threaten democracy.

'Most advanced economies will not accept any more [bailouts]...The political reaction will be very strong, putting some democracies at risk,' he told delegates..."

Overall, I should say that I agree with the basic statement being made here, before I point out the obvious fact that few groups probably have more invested in the ruination of democracy than the good folks at the International Monetary Fund.

Also, I should point out that -- while it does my heart good to see that they actually *ARE* at least a little worried about the plebes revolting -- it'll never happen. The overlords, sadly, are safe. The reason I know this is because: A.) Too many of us are too invested in our pop culture comas, sitting down to our takeout dinners-in-a-bag from Fatty McFat Burger and settling in to watch Dancing With The Stars religiously as though it had a single redeeming, thought-provoking moment in the entire broadcast; and, B.) We are obviously too retarded to even remember that we don't even practice Democracy! Rather, we live in a Republic where we elect representatives to do our voting for us. The part we don't realize and the part that keeps these vampires-of-the-human-soul that run places like Goldman Sachs safe from the rest of us is, of course, that our so-called representatives are really their henchmen, not ours. And, so, the system has built-in safe guards for them. Why should they worry?


Gunmen Kill 21 in Southern Philippines Massacre

Gunmen Kill 21 in Southern Philippines Massacre: "Military and police in the Philippines are searching for a southern governor and his militia after 21 people, including journalists, family and supporters of his political opponent were found dead. More bodies are expected to be uncovered.

The military in the Philippines says it has deployed more troops and police have set up checkpoints to look for those responsible for the massacre.

The bodies were found shortly after gunmen kidnapped at least 30 people, allegedly to prevent a politician from filing a nomination for upcoming elections..."

If you ever had any doubts at all about how brutal man can be to his fellow man, here is a glaring example. One should also keep in mind that this viciousness occurred within the confines of a functioning societal structure, not some post-apocalyptic Mad Max-ian wasteland.

The victims, many of whom were found beheaded, included 13 women.


Cold War Era Bunker Converted To Luxury Home

The link below will take you to a photo slide-show put together by the folks at the Wall Street Journal highlighting how a Cold War era bunker was converted into a luxury home.

It turned out to be a beautiful home, but would I seem nuts if I said I would have preferred the bunker? ;)

LINK: Photos: From Bunker to Home - WSJ.com


James Howard Kunstler: Courting Convulsion

Courting Convulsion - Clusterfuck Nation: "... What's going on in the US economy is a slow-motion convulsion from which we will emerge as a very different nation with a different economy. The wild irresponsibility of the media in pretending otherwise is only going to make the convulsion worse, more painful, more socially and politically destructive. The convulsion can be described with precision as one of compressive contraction. Historic circumstances are requiring us to change our behavior, to make new arrangements for everyday life in all the major particulars: capital accumulation and deployment; food production; commerce; habitation; transport; education; and health care. These new arrangements must be organized at a smaller and finer scale, and on a much more local basis...

... We are seeing a comprehensive failure of leadership in every sector and every level of American life - in politics, business, banking, education, news media, medicine, and the clergy. All are determined to pretend that we can somehow continue the habits and behaviors of the pre peak oil era. They are all unwilling to face reality, and are all engaged in mutually supporting each other's dangerous fantasies...

... We're now seeing worldwide a kind of race between the assertion of peak oil and the failures of capital management as to which will provoke a widespread convulsion first. They are obviously related and whichever gets us in the most trouble fastest, our destination is the same: the absolute necessity to reorganize how we live. Among the many elements of this is the fact that "globalism," in the Thomas Friedman sense of the word, is over. The urgent need to re-localize economies makes this self-evident. As a practical matter for us, this means committing to import replacement - making things we need in the US, probably much more regionally. "Globalism" now joins the many other fantasies that we can no longer indulge in...."


Red Alert: The Second Wave of The Financial Tsunami

Scary stuff below. Very doomish.


Red Alert: The Second Wave of The Financial Tsunami: "... This is the ultimate poker game and whosoever blinks first loses and will suffer irreparable financial consequences. But who has the winning hand?

The US does not have the winning hand. Neither has China the winning hand.

This state of affairs cannot continue for long, for whatever cards the US or China may be contemplating to throw at the table to gain strategic advantage, any short term gains will be pyrrhic, for it will not be able to address the underlying antagonistic contradictions.

When the survival of the system is dependent on the availability of credit (i.e. accumulating more debts) it is only a matter of time before both the debtor and creditor come to the inevitable conclusion that the debt will never be paid. And unless the creditor is willing to write off the debt, resorting to drastic means to collect the outstanding debt is inevitable.

It would be naive to think that the US would quietly allow itself to be foreclosed! When we reach that stage, war will be inevitable. It will be the US-UK-Israel Axis against the rest of the world...

... The US economy will be spiraling out of control in the coming months and will reach critical point by the end of the 1st quarter 2010 and implode by the 2nd quarter.

The massive US$ trillions of dollars stimulus has failed to turn the economy around. The massive blood transfusion may have kept the patient alive, but there are numerous signs of multi-organ failure..."


23 November, 2009

U.S. Builds Up Its Bases in Oil-Rich South America

U.S. Builds Up Its Bases in Oil-Rich South America: "The United States is massively building up its potential for nuclear and non-nuclear strikes in Latin America and the Caribbean by acquiring unprecedented freedom of action in seven new military, naval and air bases in Colombia. The development – and the reaction of Latin American leaders to it – is further exacerbating America's already fractured relationship with much of the continent...

... The fact that the US gets half its oil from Latin America was one of the reasons the U.S. Fourth Fleet was re-established in the region's waters in 2008..."

You can read some of my thoughts on this subject here in reference to another recent article, but suffice to say in my opinion *IT'S ALL ABOUT THE OIL, BABY!*

In the coming years, look for a very few of the more militarily-capable nations to make moves like this in every geographic theater of the world. It will be not unlike the Cold War between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. when each of the world 'Superpowers' went around the globe, systematically swallowing-up every other small nation they could. Just as then, they won't necessarily annex them and it won't be about philosophical -isms i.e. capitalism, socialism, communism. Instead, it will be all about capitalizing on their oil and other natural resources. And, just as during the Cold War, wherever on the map they butt heads is where you will see war (i.e. the Korean War, Vietnam) or the threat of war narrowly avoided (i.e. the Cuban Missile Crisis).

What you see happening in South America is only the beginning. An erstwhile imperial power, in need of more oil from sources *NOT* half the world away is simply 'setting up shop', if you will.

It is quite apparent that the great chess game over who will control much of what's left of the world's oil reserves has begun. Taking as much as possible out of the Middle East as well as the formerly Russian-controlled -stans via the pipeline in Afghanistan has been the opening move of the game; the U.S. is now readying herself for her second move, which will occur only after Peak Oil becomes so apparent that China and Russia feel the need to introduce themselves into the Middle East as military rivals. The U.S. will then pull-out, having already secured a good portion of the oil reserves that once existed there, and leaving others to fight over the scraps that remain..


Iran Launches War Games to Protect Nuclear Sites

Iran Launches War Games to Protect Nuclear Sites: "Iran's armed forces launched large-scale air defense war games on Sunday to show off the country's deterrence capabilities in the face of pressure from the West over its nuclear program.

The display of military muscle comes at a time of rising tension between Iran and six major powers, which fear Tehran's nuclear program is aimed at producing nuclear weapons. Tehran denies this is the program's purpose..."

I shy away from making predictions because they tend to come back to bite you, in my experience. I won't go as far as to make one now either, but let me just say that with each day this situation gets hairier and hairier.

Israel has already made it clear that they expect heavy duty sanctions to be placed upon Iran by no later than December, which sounds suspiciously like an ultimatum to me. The U.N., however, is unlikely to go anywhere near as far as what they have in mind, in my opinion. Any sanctioning will likely be feeble, in comparison, and Israel will be disappointed and likely feel the need to take some sort of action on their own.

It could be an interesting late December and January, I think. Or not.


Dengue Fever Spreading Like Wildfire

Readers living in tropical or sub-tropical climates throughout the world, which could include the U.S. state of Florida, parts of Texas and other areas in the deep south, should probably take notice of what appears to be a sudden rise in cases of Dengue fever across the globe.

Dengue fever is caused by a mosquito-borne virus. Per wikipedia, "The disease manifests as a sudden onset of severe headache, muscle and joint pains (... that gives it the nick-name break-bone fever or bonecrusher disease), fever, and rash... Some cases develop much milder symptoms which can be misdiagnosed as influenza or other viral infection when no rash is present. Thus travelers from tropical areas may pass on dengue in their home countries inadvertently, having not been properly diagnosed at the height of their illness. Patients with dengue can pass on the infection only through mosquitoes or blood products and only while they are still febrile. The classic dengue fever lasts about two to seven days, with a smaller peak of fever at the trailing end of the disease... A small proportion of cases lead to dengue shock syndrome (DSS) which has a high mortality rate...".

A quick Googling of 'Dengue Fever' produced news of recent, sometimes widespread outbreaks in Cape Verde Tackles 13,000 Suspected Cases, Bolivia, Vietnam, Queensland, Australia, Taiwan and New Delhi, India.


22 November, 2009

John Galt - American Hangover (The Day the Dollar Died, Part II)

Below you will find linked the second installment of the fiction piece I linked-to a few days ago. Please take the time to read it; it describes what would likely happen in the event of a sudden currency crash.

John Galt - American Hangover (The Day the Dollar Died, Part II): "The party is about to end. Let’s take another look to see what the hangover from the party might just look like…

'Ah, Lincoln Avenue exit, Thank You Lord for getting me home!' an exhausted driver named Mike exhaled as he saw the ramp approach. Had had just over a half tank of fuel and could keep the rig running during the icy nights in Minnesota but was more aggravated after today’s events that no one in his office would answer the phone or the Qualcomm communications he had sent. Mike spent seven hours to get fuel in Fargo as the tanks were empty and the last tanker truck the Petro would send did not arrive until three hours ago. As a result, Mike sent a nasty message to his dispatcher about ice, cold and where it needed to be located up his dispatcher’s torso in Atlanta. Here it was six o’clock in the morning on I-94 and the roads were packed with truckers as usual but the CB radio screeching with chattering rumors about bank failures and economic collapse. 'Good thing I have The Highway channel on my Sirius' he thought to himself as he cruised home to some classic Johnny Cash..."


Apocalypse Alert!

Apocalypse alert! - Times of India: "Six months is all it took to flip Europe's climate from warm and sunny into the last ice age, researchers have found. They have discovered the the northern hemisphere was plunged into a big freeze 12,800 years ago by a sudden slowdown of the Gulf Stream that allowed ice to spread hundreds of miles southwards from the Arctic.

Previous research has suggested the change may have taken place over a longer period - perhaps about 10 years.

The new description, more reminiscent of the Hollywood blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow, emerged from one of the most painstaking studies of past climate changes ever attempted..."

My only issue with this article revolves around the mechanism by which the 'conveyor belt' was shut-down in ages past and whether or not conditions exists that would even make that a possibility today. As I understand it, the predominant theory is that a huge body of fresh water was being restrained by an ice shelf, which failed due to melting. This catastrophic failure released zillions of gallons of fresh water into the North Atlantic all at once, shutting down the 'conveyor belt' - Hello, Ice Age within six months.

But today, such a body of water does not exist. Granted, there is compelling proof to say that the Greenland ice sheet is melting, but will that gradual melting have a similar effect as the sudden flood thought to have occurred in the past?

Someone smarter than me will have to answer that question.


H1N1 Influenza A - Swine Flu: 22 November Brief Update

German H1N1 flu cases double in a week: authority | Health | Reuters: "Confirmed cases of H1N1 swine flu infection in Germany have more than doubled in the past week, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases said.

'We now have more than 15,000 reported new cases per week -- and those are just the ones confirmed in the laboratory,' the RKI's Gerard Krause told ZDF television on Monday.

Last Wednesday the institute said 'about 7,000' new cases were being identified in Europe's largest economy per week."


CBC News - Health - Severe vaccine reactions rare: health chief: "Out of 6.6 million H1N1 vaccinations, there have been 36 reported serious adverse reactions to the vaccine in Canada and one suspected death as of Nov. 7, says the chief public health officer..."

BBC News - Tamiflu-resistant swine flu spreads 'between patients': "Health officials say a Tamiflu-resistant strain of swine flu has spread between hospital patients.

Five patients on a unit treating people with severe underlying health conditions at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, were infected.

Three appear to have acquired the infection in hospital.

They are thought to be the first confirmed cases of person-to-person transmission of a Tamiflu-resistant strain in the world."


21 November, 2009

South Carolina Offering Shoppers Tax-Free Weekend On Guns

You just gotta love it down in Dixie...

South Carolina Offering Shoppers Tax-Free Weekend On Guns: "... South Carolina shoppers will get a second chance to buy tax-free guns.

The state Revenue Department sent out a reminder Wednesday of the upcoming 'Second Amendment Weekend.' The 48-hour tax break begins just after midnight the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Shoppers will pay no state or local sales taxes on handguns, rifles and shotguns, which can tally 9 percent..."


Melting Sea Ice Dilutes Water, Endangers Sea Life

Melting Sea Ice Dilutes Water, Endangers Sea Life: "Melting of the Arctic sea ice due to global warming is diluting surface waters and this is endangering some species of shellfish which need minerals in the water to form their shells and skeletons, scientists have found...

... 'It puts the food chain at risk. These organisms are a food source for fish that are a food source for seals and bears. The food chain in the Arctic is quite a short one, so it's quite vulnerable,' she told Reuters by telephone..."

Personally, I think the argument over whether mankind has or has not caused Climate Change/Global Warming (often referred to as Anthropomorphic Global Warming, or AGW for short) through the unchecked release of carbon into the atmosphere is pointless. Neither side of that debate is ever going to convince the other that they have it wrong. What is not up for debate, in my opinion is that the ice *IS* melting. This can be seen plainly by looking at satellite imagery; to deny it is happening is sheer quackery.


Forbes: Commercial Real Estate Will Collapse

Commercial Real Estate Will Collapse - Forbes.com: "The commercial real estate market is on its last legs and unless drastic actions are taken, the effects on the broader economy will be catastrophic. The obvious problem is the excessive amount of debt placed on the properties and the amount of debt that has to be refinanced during a relatively short period of time..."

The Forbes article linked above paints an ugly picture, pinpointing the staggering amounts of commercial real estate debt involved that is currently poised to come crashing down soon as the loans come due.

Prep, prep, prep, folks. This is going to ruin, not only the actual debtors, but their investors and the banks involved as well. This is the kind of thing that will no doubt trigger a virtual tsunami throughout the financial world, resulting in bank holidays in the short-term and widespread closures and bankruptcies (of the banks themselves, I mean) in the long-term.


U.S. Housing Crisis Begins to Spread to Conventional Mortgages

And the dominoes continue to fall...


U.S. housing crisis hits new level - The Globe and Mail: "... What began as a crisis among home owners with bad credit and subprime mortgages has spread to the those with traditionally safer fixed-rate mortgages...

... Worsening the problem, millions of unconventional mortgages issued to Americans who didn't even have to prove they had a job are due to reset in the next two years..."


20 November, 2009

John Galt - The Day the Dollar Died

While the following might not be the most well-written piece you'll ever read, let me assure you it is worth your time. It is a fictional account of how an actual full-scale economic collapse would likely unfold and, let me warn you, it is not sunshine and roses. Enjoy the doomy read...


John Galt - The Day the Dollar Died: "Mike was less than an hour from home in Minnesota after dropping his load off in Fargo but knew he needed to top his tank off this Sunday evening to insure his rig would make it home. He pulled into the Petro Truck Stop just outside of Fargo and hopped out of the cab into the bitter twenty below temperatures which he could not believe had already hit at ten o’clock at night. He slid his fuel card into the pump waiting for the next prompt when the “SEE ATTENDANT” message flashed in the screen. He blustered, figured it was another card problem and whipped out his Master Card and slid it in after the pump reset and again the “SEE ATTENDANT” message flashed up. “What the hell is going on?” he thought to himself as he wandered into the long line of drivers boisterously yelling at managers and clerks alike..."


One Million Americans Face Loss Of Jobless Benefits In January – 24/7 Wall St.

One Million Americans Face Loss Of Jobless Benefits In January – 24/7 Wall St.: "The National Employment Law Project says that the public’s perception of what will happen to insurance benefits for the unemployed early next year is flawed. Most press reports on Congressional action on the matter say that one million people have had their benefits extended well into 2010. That apparently is not so.

The NELP released a new analysis which finds that one million workers will become ineligible for unemployment benefits in January 2010 unless Congress reauthorizes the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s unemployment insurance programs by the end of December.

The organization writes 'The critical benefits provided to jobless workers by the ARRA are set to expire at the end of the year, which means that even with the latest 14 to 20 week extension enacted in November, 30,000 workers a day will be left without any jobless benefits in January. By March, the number without federal jobless benefits will swell to nearly three million workers.'..."

For the record, I don't believe for a second that TPTB will allow this to occur, because of its potential for explosiveness. A million+ more angry, disenfranchised and over-stressed gun owners walking the streets with nowhere to go is just about all the current situation really needs to ensure it all ends bloody for everybody.


Another Update Re:"H1N1 'super flu' plague in Ukraine spark concern, conspiracy theories about origins"

Another facet has now entered into the discussion over what is happening in the Ukraine that basically poses the question, with the WHO claiming there is little evidence to support the feared worsening of disease there, that perhaps the whole thing might be being blown out of proportion for political reasons. Apparently, the president's hold on his office is becoming shaky, and so the postponing of election, talk of martial law, etc. could be all about trying to hang on until he can change public perception sufficiently to get himself reelected; the 'hero who bravely led us during harsh times' and all that.

My problem with that explanation is that no amount of political juxtapositioning accounts for fatalities whose lungs, at autopsy, were found to be so black that they appeared burnt and were described as looking more like a liver than lungs. This was a quote from a doctor in Ukraine. And then there is the fact that it took weeks to finally get the sequences from Ukraine samples released to the public, only to have them say very little.

RBD Change D225G in Ukraine Lungs Raises Concerns: "Recombinomics Commentary 21:53
November 18, 2009

... All H and N sequences are typical for H1N1, as indicated in early WHO announcements. There are no large changes. Additional gene segments have been deposited from a subset of these isolates... There are silent changes that are in all or most Ukraine sequences, but the only HA polymorphism was the receptor binding domain change, D225G. This polymorphism was in the three lungs, as well as the one throat sample. It was not in the nasopharyngeal washes or the isolate grown in MDCK cells suggesting the D225G may have a tissue tropism component and may allow for high levels of virus in the lung.

D225G was also found in necropsy lung tissue from fatal cases in Sao Paulo, further supporting tissue tropism associated with this polymorphism. The polymorphism has recently appeared on a series of different genetic backgrounds, supporting acquisition by recombination. The genetic backgrounds were geographically diverse... In addition, it was in isolates from last spring collected in the United States and Mexico.

The appearance of D225G on multiple recent genetic backgrounds raises concerns that the polymorphism is offering a selective advantage in association with multiple genetic backgrounds, and the selective detection of the polymorphism in lung and throat samples may indicate it is more widespread because of its absence from nasopharyngeal washes. Lung and throat sampling may be required for detection and determination of the true geographical reach of this change..

More information on outcomes for these patients, as well as results for lung and nasopharyngeal samples from the same patient, would be useful..."


Then, from comments exchanged later at the Flutracker site, this is Niman explaining what is happening:

"D225G was in all 3 lung samples and the 1 throat samples. I would guess that all four were fatal (they are from the two hardest hit areas). Nasopharyngeal washes were negative, which I would guess are from patients that are alive. If those two assumptions are correct, it would mean that virus with D225G has a MUCH higher CFR than virus without D225G.

My guess is that D225G directs the virus to the lung and allows it to grow to high levels, leading to cytokine storm and death. I don't think that these patients are dying because of delayed treatment. I think they are dying because they got the virus with D225G."


Earthquakes Off the Coast of British Columbia

CBC News - British Columbia - 2 earthquakes hit B.C.'s coast: "An earthquake and at least two aftershocks struck off the coast of British Columbia on Tuesday morning, shaking houses and scaring some residents throughout the North Coast region.

The first quake had a magnitude of 6.6 and was recorded just off the southern tip of Haida Gwaii, also known as the Queen Charlotte Islands, around 7:30 a.m. PT.

It was followed seven minutes later by a second quake with a magnitude of 5.7., and shortly afterward by a third of about magnitude 3.0.

So far there are no reports of any damage, but residents reported the tremors from the first quake were felt for about 15 to 30 seconds..."


U.S. Mortgage Delinquencies Reach a Record High

U.S. Mortgage Delinquencies Reach a Record High - NYTimes.com: "... more homeowners than ever are having trouble making their monthly mortgage payments, according to figures released Thursday..."


19 November, 2009

Rice Prices Set To Skyrocket

Rice to Return 100% as Typhoons, Drought Roil Asians (Update3) - Bloomberg.com: "Rice prices have nowhere to go but up as drought in India and cyclones in the Philippines cripple harvests, according to the world’s biggest importer and the top exporter.

Rice may double to more than $1,000 a metric ton as dry El Nino weather shrinks output and the Philippines and India boost imports... Prices won’t peak until March...

... Global rice supplies are likely to be tighter than last year, when food shortages sparked riots from Haiti to Egypt..."

Now would be a good time to stock-up ahead of the rush and to guarantee you get yours at today's prices. Rice can be stored long-term using several different methods. If you want to go all out, you can use the dry ice method recommended by Rawles and others; just google it for instructions. For my money, however, I prefer to freeze the rice for a few days to kill any insect larvae that might be hitchhiking inside the bags, and then pack it in airtight buckets with oxygen absorbers. Works like a dream.


Letter Re: My Thoughts on 2012

Corey Pein of the Santa Fe Reporter sent me the following link to a piece he had printed in that publication recently regarding all the 2012 hoopla that is making the rounds right now. It is worth your time to give it a read.

Personally, I've spent some time debunking 2012 here at Backwooods Survival Blog as well.

See the following:
2012 is B.S.!!!


The State of Missouri Trampling On The Rights of Its Citizens

I got wind of this interesting case through a write-up in Creekmore's Survivalist Blog, in which stated: "... It seems to me that the public has an interest in a person not carrying a firearm in public while intoxicated, but the state’s power to reach into the home ought to be considerably diminished.

Should someone be charged because they are intoxicated at home, but have a loaded pistol in the bed stand upstairs, or have a rifle in the closet? - I don't think so, but apparently the Mo. Supreme Court thinks otherwise..."

And I must say that I wholeheartedly agree with his assessment. This is an absolute sham and I cannot imagine it being upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.


Serious Issues In Both India and Pakistan

India puts nuclear plants on alert-report | U.S. | Reuters: "India has put its nuclear power plants under alert and tightened security around them after intelligence about possible attacks, a report said on Monday.

The step comes after a man arrested in the United States on charges of plotting attacks in India was found to have travelled to Indian states that have nuclear installations.

The Press Trust of India quoted unnamed sources in the home ministry as saying that state governments had been asked to step up security around their nuclear plants as a 'precautionary measure'..."



Wave of bombings hits Pakistan’s north west: "... the Pakistani Taliban, is carrying out an intense campaign of almost daily suicide bombings and assassinations in retaliation for the military offensive against its strongholds in the tribal agency of South Waziristan.

Under pressure from the US, President Ali Asif Zardari ordered 30,000 troops into the agency on October 17 to prevent Afghan insurgents using it as a safe haven for their guerilla war against American and NATO forces. As a result, Pakistani Islamists now consider themselves at war with the government and its security forces. Army installations, police stations and military intelligence facilities are being targeted, primarily in the country’s north-western region near the tribal areas.

Yesterday, a suicide bomber detonated a pick-up truck full of explosives outside the entrance of a police station in Badhaber, a suburb of Peshawar, the capital of Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province. At least four people were killed and more than 26 seriously wounded. Indicative of the nation-wide character of the Taliban insurgency, police in the city of Lahore, far from the fighting in Waziristan, captured a truck en route to Peshawar filled with 38 boxes of high explosives..."


French Bank Tells Clients How to Prepare for 'Global Collapse'

Not exactly the type of prepping I had in mind, but at least they're talking about the possibility of a collapse. That alone puts them leaps and bounds beyond the "green shoots" crowd.


French bank tells clients how to prepare for 'global collapse' - Telegraph: "[French bank] has advised clients to be ready for a possible 'global economic collapse' over the next two years, mapping a strategy of defensive investments to avoid wealth destruction..."


Rioting in Greece

Greek police clash with protesters in Athens: "Greek riot police and anarchist protesters have clashed in the capital Athens during a march to commemorate an uprising in the 70s. A number of people were injured and up to 200 people were arrested.

The march in central Athens began peacefully, with more than 12,000 people taking part in the procession to commomorate the 1973 pro-democracy uprising against the military junta of the time.

The event turned violent when hundreds of self-styled anarchists began to throw stones at police, set fire to garbage cans and destroy cars. Police retaliated with tear gas and detained around 200 people..."


18 November, 2009

Threat of War Breaking Out Between Venezuela and Colombia Continues To Increase

War threat between Venezuela and Colombia increases - Telegraph: "... Venezuela's president is angry at an agreement signed earlier this month between Bogota and Washington under which Colombia allows the US military to use seven bases across the country, turning the Andean nation into America's regional military hub.

Mr Chavez, who accused Washington of being behind a 2002 coup attempt, insists that the US is planning to attack Venezuela to secure control of massive oil reserves. The Venezuela leader believes that Colombia will now be the launch pad for any US attack..."

In my opinion, Chavez is an idiot if he thinks the U.S. will openly attack another country without serious provocation... not after the debacle in Iraq. It is *VASTLY* more likely, in my opinion, that he himself will be goaded into attacking Colombia, triggering a U.S. peacekeeping response (occupation).

Such an occurrence would allow us to get rid of that blowhard Chavez and secure Venezuela's considerable supplies of oil while keeping our hands (sort of) clean, at least as far as the average mainstream media watching sheeple are concerned. Heck, you gotta admit it is a lot better than all that WMD mess leading up to the Iraq invasion, which was also really just about getting at all that yummy, sticky oil and also had the fringe benefit of getting rid of a thorn in our collective heel (Saddam). Ditto the pipeline that runs through Afghanistan that allows us access to the oil in the former Russian -stans without having to go through middle-men that is keeping us stubbornly mired in the quagmire of a country.

What? You didn't really think it was all about terrorism, did you? That was just a convenient excuse to get us into the region with boots on the ground. From now on, it is all a chess game about securing oil as the Peak looms.


Update Re:"H1N1 'super flu' plague in Ukraine spark concern, conspiracy theories about origins"

Something about the situation in eastern Europe has me a little on edge. It could be nothing, but it just feels odd.

First, the WHO is saying that the H1N1 swine flu samples from Ukraine showed no significant mutations, but-- as Dr. Niman of Recombinomics.com points out-- their "comments did not rule out small changes, such as receptor binding domain changes seen in other swine H1N1 isolates such as... [those that] had recently been isolated from Sao Paulo fatal cases... [and] found in lung samples, which were of concern because of reports of total destruction of lungs in Ukraine." Of further concern was their use of such words as 'similar', 'preliminary' and 'significant', all of which can foster differing interpretations.

Meanwhile, the President of neighboring Georgia seem as though he isn't buying it.

And, for what it's worth, a link posted on the popular Flutracker website claims the officially-announced numbers in Ukraine are BS: "Ukrainian authorities hide the truth about swine flu in the country. Number of registered flu and ARVI cases grew 2.5 times – said Tymoshenko, but it’s not real situation. Real number of victims is much higher. Doctors say, that in Ukraine has already died over 1000 people. Some hours ago Prime Minister of Ukraine Yulia Tymoshenko says, that the number of registered flu and ARVI cases in Ukraine on November 8-10 grew again more than 2.5 times, experts believe in more than 2 million ill.

“On November 8-10 we see the increasing of registered flu and ARVI cases 2.5-3 times. It indicates that epidemic not to be abating”, announced Tymoshenko, but people don’t believe her."

As I said before, it may be nothing. Something just feels off about it though.


Winter Crisis Could Result In The UK Running Out of Gas 'In Hours'

Winter crisis could see UK 'run out of gas in hours' | Business | The Observer: "The UK could run out of gas within six hours this winter, the Observer has learned. The revelation has sparked a row between the Conservatives and Labour over who is doing more to keep the heating on. Last winter, the UK was left with only three days of reserves when foreign energy companies started exporting gas to supply their European customers after Russia cut supplies that used a pipeline through Ukraine.

A spokeswoman for Ed Miliband's energy and climate change department said that under a civil contingency act he had the power to halt exports from the UK if the Queen had signed the order.

Charles Hendry, the shadow energy minister, told the Observer that the current minimum requirements on companies to keep gas in storage were not tough enough to safeguard the security of the UK's energy supplies..."


17 November, 2009

Strategically Defaulting On Debt

I am highlighting the New York Times piece linked to below, not because I am suggesting anyone should go this route, but rather because I see this as nothing less than people beginning to become disenfranchised by the current debt-driven system we have in place and deciding to take action.

There is a quote in the article about how when people see the government bailing-out whomever they choose it results in them no longer feeling any personal accountability to pay their debts, but I believe it goes much deeper: if you sign-up for a credit card at 9% interest and two years later the bank has raised that interest rate to 24%, why wouldn't you be justified in feeling cheated?

Once upon a great long ago, usury was illegal. No. Check that. It still *IS* illegal for you or I. If I put my money to work for me, loaning it out and charging interest on the streets, they call it a shylock business and me a loan shark. Banks, however, do it every day in the form of credit cards and no one even bats an eyelash.

Interesting also is the fact that defaulting on debt(s) once carried with it a certain level of shame, but as more and more people seem to be coming around to the unfairness of it all, that seems to be changing as well.

LINK: When Debtors Decide to Default - NYTimes.com.


Energy security body calls for 'urgent' review of impact of oil shortages

Apparently, this article and this other article has finally lit a fire under some folks.


Energy security body calls for 'urgent' review of impact of oil shortages | Business | guardian.co.uk: "An industry organisation that includes Virgin and Yahoo has called on the government to 'urgently' reassess its dismissive view about the potential threat and impact of oil shortages.

The call from the UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security comes after revelations in the Guardian that there is dissent inside the International Energy Agency (IEA) about how soon the world may run out of supplies..."


H1N1 "super flu" plague in Ukraine spark concern, conspiracy theories about origins

H1N1 "super flu" plague in Ukraine spark concern, conspiracy theories about origins: "... Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has issued emergency quarantine orders for nine of the country's regions and ordered the deployment of mobile military hospitals. He announced that the nation had been simultaneously hit with two different seasonal flu strains plus H1N1 -- and then hinted that all three might have recombined into the deadly new Ukrainian super flu...

... On November 6, Ukraine's Deputy Health Minister Zinovy Mytnyk announced that over 600,000 citizens had already caught the new flu. British scientists are now conducting tests on the new viral strain to find out why it appears to be so deadly..."

In retort, the WHO reported, "The initial analysis of information indicates that the numbers of severe cases do not appear to be excessive when compared to the experience of other countries and do not represent any change in the transmission or virulence of the virus."

So, who knows what to think?


49 Million Americans Going Hungry, Programs Initiating To Raise Food Security

49 Million Americans Going Hungry, Programs Initiating To Raise Food Security: "According to a new government report, the number of Americans who lack adequate, consistent access to food rose to a new high of 49 million last year. Especially discouraging is the number of children who live in households with low food security, which rose from 12 million to 17 million in just over a year..."