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31 July, 2010

Oil, Oil [Spills] Everywhere...

Okay so, I blogged yesterday about there being 'Yet Another Oil Spill' in addition to the debacle in the Gulf of Mexico, the newest one in Michigan. But now you've got to scratch all that because there's now an even newer newest oil spill and it happened when a train derailed on a National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico.

El Defensor Chieftain: Train derails on refuge, spills fuel oil: "... State Police Sgt. Jason Green said 19 cars went off track, including two carrying petroleum product that spilled into an arroyo and flowed east toward the refuge's wetlands.

'We haven't confirmed the number of cars, but there were a couple of 10,000-gallon petroleum oil tankers,' he said.

Green said one tanker was carrying some type of thick petroleum oil and another contained what was believed to be diesel fuel. The product flowed down the arroyo and crossed Highway 1, approximately 200 yards away.

Green said some of the tankers may not have been full, but 'a substantial amount of oil crossed the road' and more was absorbed by the soil...

... [Tom Melanson, the refuge manager] said some the petroleum flow got within 50 yards of a well. A loader and bulldozer provided by the refuge was used to dam and dike the arroyo to contain the spill, he said.

Inevitably, some of the product seeped into the ground.

'Some of the soil will have to be removed,' he said.

Melanson said he was worried about the potential for the oil and gas getting into the groundwater.

'My biggest concern is that a plume (of petroleum) gets under the wetlands and eventually gets into it — that would be the worst-case scenario

By the way, with regard to the spill in Michigan: we now know that it involves an estimated 19,500 barrels, or 819,000 gallons, of crude oil and spans 20 miles.


Earth On Track For Epic Die-Off, Scientists Say

If the past is any indication of the future, we may already be in the middle of a great dying-off of many mammal species as a result of "habitat destruction, pollution and now global warming." And, I realize what a contentious subject climate change, specifically the so-called AGW or Anthropomorphic (man-made) Global Warming, has become, but even if you discount that factor completely it is hard to deny the deleterious effect human populations have on nature.

Earth on track for epic die-off, scientists say: "... The study of the fossil and archaeological record over the past 30 million years by UC Berkeley and Penn State University researchers shows that between 15 and 42 percent of the mammals in North America disappeared after humans arrived.

That means North American mammals are well on the way - perhaps as much as half way - to a level of extinction comparable to other epic die-offs, like the one that wiped out the dinosaurs..."

And, I realize you might be wondering what all this environmental talk is doing on a blog that caters mostly to emergency disaster preparedness enthusiasts, survivalists and 2nd Amendment supporters. In reply, I remind you that even the best prepared among us will not be able to abide long in a critically broken ecosystem.


How to Build a Log Cabin With Dovetail Notches

Great article over on the Instructables site detailing How to build a log cabin with dovetail notches.


Tight Budgets and Fewer Cops; Time For Citizens to 'Arm Up'

Tight budgets and fewer cops; time for citizens to 'arm up': "... inevitable cutbacks in important public services, including law enforcement, are on the horizon. It is already happening in Oakland, CA where the police chief has announced that officers will no longer respond to a broad list of crimes, if department layoffs go as planned.

What's a citizen to do? Perhaps they will follow the advice of Ashtabula County, OH Judge Alfred Mackey and Hudspeth County, TX Sheriff Arvin West. In the past few months, both have advised their neighbors to arm themselves.

Said the judge, according to a report on WKYC back in April, 'Be very careful, be vigilant, get in touch with your neighbors, because we're going to have to look after each other'...

... Government is supposed to provide certain services, chief among them public safety. Over the years, budget priorities have become whatever self-serving politicians wanted them to be, however. Special programs for key special interest groups have taken priority over basic services, and have become 'entitlement' projects. Some who have made a career of elected office rather than a temporary detour from private enterprise - as the Founding Fathers had originally envisioned public service - evidently never believed that the well would run dry. They were horribly wrong and the public is about to pay the price..."


30 July, 2010

Major Dam in China May Overflow, Impacting and Endangering Millions

China may be in for a load of trouble as the landmark Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze river is feeling the brunt of the terrible weather they've been having over there. In fact, the colossal structure-- that actually caused a small but measurable change in the tilt of the Earth's axis-- is on the verge of a catastrophic failure if the waters it's holding back don't soon recede.

This is China's worst flood season in a long time and the waters recently reached a level just 17 meters from the maximum capacity of the reservoir.

"'Over the next 20 to 30 days, the high water level of the Yangtze River's Jiujiang section and Poyang Lake will continue. The flood situation is very grim,' the provincial government said in a statement...

... The reservoir behind the dam holds around 39 trillion litres of water, but it is now reaching its limit...

... the dam's capacity can only withstand floods that reach up to 83,700 cubic metres per second - only about 18 percent more than the dam's record water flow on Tuesday, the China Daily newspaper reported..."

And now, the continued flooding has carried chemical pollutants to where they could wreck yet another river:
Flooding Tests Three Gorges Dam, Pollutes Songhua River in China


Potomac Aquifer Polluted By Toxic Waste

Toxic waste has polluted the groundwater in Delaware and, even after they swore the deep clay above the aquifer would protect it, the drinking water for much of Delaware, New Jersey and Maryland has been chemically soiled.

In some areas, in fact, chemical concentrations are so high that they represent an immediate health threat.

Ground water use banned in some areas as a result.

What the hell is wrong with us?



Yet Another Oil Spill

As if soiling the Potomac Aquifer and the whole damn Gulf of Mexico wasn't bad enough, now we have another spill to deal with. And, just as happened with the Potomac region, the contaminants are more or less guaranteed to eventually get into the water supply.

What is causing all of these disasters to occur with such rapid succession these days? Is it a result of aging infrastructure or just phenomenally bad luck?


Michigan Oil Spill Among Largest In Midwest History: Kalamazoo Spill SOAKS Wildlife (VIDEO): "As the Gulf Coast deals with the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, the Midwest is now facing an oil spill of its own.

A state of emergency has been declared in southwest Michigan's Kalamazoo County as more than 800,000 gallons of oil released into a creek began making its way downstream in the Kalamazoo River, the Kalamazoo Gazette reports..."


Doomsday Scenarios: Is Humanity Prepared for the Worst?

The linked article wastes some space making fun of the folks who were afraid the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland would kill us all when we switched it on. Then, the case is made that we should use the LHC experience as a guide that might save us from some more-plausible threat in the future.

Doomsday scenarios: is humanity prepared for the worst? | The Observer: "... Nick Bostrom, director of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University, says that advances in fields such as weapons technology, artificial intelligence and synthetic biology (which has already given researchers the tools to create viruses from scratch) could lead to what he calls 'existential threats'. These are catastrophes that play out on an unprecedented scale, ones that have the potential to bring an end to the human story, either by wiping us out completely, or by 'permanently and drastically destroying our future potential'.

The creation of a lethal synthetic virus that kills on a global scale is but one potential risk that Bostrom highlights. Breakthroughs in physics could lead to new weapons that increase the dangers of war, he says, while advances in computing could see the advent of machines that can improve their own intelligence, and surpass that of humans. Even attempts to manipulate the atmosphere to combat global warming might backfire and trigger a global disaster..."

According to Bostrom's research, we humans are "doomed only to learn from direct experience. Nuclear reactors were made safer after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. The UN drew up plans for a tsunami warning system in the Indian Ocean a year after 230,000 people died from a devastating wave in 2004. Plans to bolster flood defences around New Orleans are still being thrashed out, five years after hurricane Katrina killed nearly 2,000 and left thousands more homeless. In each case, the risks were known, but they were only acted on after the event.

'Our attitude throughout human history has been to experience events like these and then put safeguards in place,' says Bostrom. 'That strategy is completely futile with existential risks. By definition, you don't get to learn from experience. You only have one chance to get it right.'"

Maybe that explains why it is so difficult to convince people to take off their blinders and prepare for what's coming.


29 July, 2010

Peak Minerals

In addition to Peak Oil Theory and the coming scarcity of clean water, we must also prepare for the fact "that all of the world's important industrial metals are dwindling, and that despite increasing exploration budgets, our sources of them are becoming rare and more concentrated." - Quoted Section from Business Insider

It is true that, even with the meteoric rise of human industry over the past century, we have barely made a dent in the Earth's thick crust. The issue we're about to face is not the result of us using up all of the metals as much as it is a case of there being very little 'low hanging fruit' left for the taking. These metals exist in abundance only in a relatively small number of concentrated pockets, and coming to an end of that easy-to-get supply means we will now have to worker harder and it will cost us more than yesterday. In fact, the metals will still exist in small quantities long after the cost of developing them becomes too exorbitant to bear.

Even if there are still metals out there for the taking, can you imagine how we will get at them with Peak Oil looming? Before oil came along as a force multiplier, mining was done mostly by some guys in a hole with pickaxes and the resulting production was brought up using pulleys and hauled away by mules or some other similar pack animals. How deep do you think they'll be able to dig before having to abandon what's left in the mine as unreachable? Also, oil inputs drive the refining process as well, so that too will be slower, more difficult and more expensive.

Slower and more strenuous mining/transport/refining means fewer materials ready-to-sell, which (with demand unchanged) means higher prices. Consumers, however, will only pay so much, which puts an eventual cap on pricing. At some point in this scenario, mining becomes too expensive and outweighs the profits. All things come back to ERoEI (Energy Returned on Energy Invested); it may be a physics term, but it applies. If something costs you more than you get out of it, then it's a waste of your time. You can use that rule for just about anything and it still applies, and it fits especially well here. So, at that point the mining industry falls apart, and there goes the jobs of whatever few workers wouldn't have already been laid-off by then.

Among the metals that will likely be in short supply very soon is copper. Being used "extensively in electrical power cables, electrical equipment, automobile radiators, cooling/refrigeration tubing, heat exchangers, artillery shell casings, optical fiber, water pipes, drain pipes, plumbing and even jewelery, this reddish-brown metal is a commodity that the world can ill afford to be in short supply of." Quote courtesy of Peak Copper | Silver Analyst | Safehaven.com

From the same article quoted just above, the follow points are made regarding copper:
  • Only 56 new copper discoveries have been made in the last 30 years.
  • He predicts Chilean copper output to peak about 2008 (Chile is the world's main producer). NOTE: This was written Dec. 2005
  • A lack of smelter and refinery supply is creating another bottleneck.
  • 21 of the 28 largest copper mines in the world are not amenable to expansion.
  • Many large copper mines will be exhausted between 2010 and 2015.

Talk of a looming shortage has some folks preparing:
China Corners Over 90% of Market for Rare-Earth Metals.

These so-called Rare-Earth Metals, by the way, are required materials in the making of just about everything being promoted as 'green.' This includes hybrid car batteries, low wattage light bulbs and wind turbine engines. Further, beyond the environmental movement, these minerals are also used in fiber optics, earthquake monitoring devices, computer hard-disk drives, flat-screen TVs and monitors and portable X-Ray machines, plus many other things we take for granted.

Rare-Earth Metals come MOSTLY from China in the first place (source), and they obviously recognize their value.

The good news is that some of these minerals can be recovered through recycling efforts. However, the problem with recycling Rare-Earth Metals "is that the technology is not well developed. For clean segregated scrap, such as segregated Li-ion battery scrap, the process is relatively straightforward. The problems arise when the collection and recycling process is handled by the existing recycling industry. More often than not metallic parts and components will not be segregated by metal type." (source). Therefore, it seems to me that costs will need to rise quite a bit before Rare-Earth recycling will become an economically viable process.


UK Mass Murder Possibly The Result of Overwhelming Debts

A young Father recently murdered his Wife and two daughters, 2 and 1 years old, then hanged himself ostensibly because of mounting debts.

I say 'ostensibly' because the article doesn't say anything about a suicide note or anything being left behind, unless I just missed it.

No matter what the reason, it is sad. Say a prayer, if so inclined.



Schwarzenegger orders worker furloughs - U.S. news - Life - msnbc.com

Schwarzenegger orders worker furloughs - U.S. news - Life - msnbc.com: "Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday brought back furloughs for thousands of state workers until California passes a budget.

Schwarzenegger released a new executive order requiring state workers to take three unpaid days off per month starting next month. State workers were furloughed a total of 46 days when Schwarzenegger issued a similar order in February 2009, which translated to a pay cut of about 14 percent for workers.

It's unclear how long the latest round of furloughs could last as Schwarzenegger and lawmakers enter the fifth week of the new fiscal year without a balanced budget..."


28 July, 2010

Chevy Volt Pricing Announced

The heavily-hyped Volt will cost $41,000. Subtract from that the federal tax credit of $7,500 and the actual price will be $33,500. This is interesting from the prospective of getting most of the way off the oil teat. I say "most of the way" because it still eats electricity, and has a four cylinder motor that kicks in any time you drain the batteries by traveling more than 40 miles. Still, I imagine it is still an improvement since most people commute less than 40 miles, meaning they would use no gasoline whatsoever.


America is 234 Years Old - Is It Finished?

America is 234 Years Old Today - Is It Finished? | Phil’s Stock World: "'The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through this sequence. From bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance, from abundance to complacency; from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back into bondage.' - Professor Joseph Olson

Is America, then, living on borrowed time?..."


21 Missing in China After Flooding Triggers Landslide

Flood-triggered landslide in China leaves 21 missing - INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos: "A landslide in southwestern China left 21 people missing Tuesday as torrential rains forced officials to shut boat traffic through the Three Gorges Dam as they braced for a new flood crest.

China has struggled for weeks with deadly flooding that has killed at least 823 people, left 437 missing and caused at least $22 billion in damage, and authorities have warned of more destruction.

The 21 villagers went missing when Tuesday's landslide struck Hanyuan county in the southwestern province of Sichuan, destroying or damaging dozens of houses, the local government said on its website..."


City Giving Away Free Land

Homesteads and Other Sources of Tax Income - NYTimes.com: "Give away land to make money?

It hardly sounds like a prudent scheme. But in a bit of deja vu, that is exactly what this small Nebraska city aims to do.

Beatrice was a starting point for the Homestead Act of 1862, the federal law that handed land to pioneering farmers. Back then, the goal was to settle the West. The goal of Beatrice’s “Homestead Act of 2010,” is, in part, to replenish city coffers.

The calculus is simple, if counterintuitive: hand out city land now to ensure property tax revenues in the future..."


Four Shocking Bombshells Bernanke Did NOT Tell Congress About Last Week

Four Shocking Bombshells Bernanke Did NOT Tell Congress About Last Week - HoweStreet.com: "In his testimony before Congress last week, Ben Bernanke lifted the Fed's skirt and gave us a glimpse of the disasters now sweeping through the U.S. economy.

But there are four bombshells he did NOT talk about:

FIRST and foremost, what's CAUSING the economy to sink? The stock market has not yet crashed. Interest rates have not yet surged. Gasoline prices have not skyrocketed. There has been no recent debt collapse, market shock, or terrorist attack.

So what is the invisible force that's suddenly gutting the housing market, driving consumer confidence into a sinkhole, and killing the recovery that Washington was so avidly touting just a few months ago?

Bernanke won't say. But the answer is clear: The recovery had very little substance to begin with. Rather, it was, in essence, a mirage — a dead cat bounce bought and paid for by Washington's massive bailouts, stimulus programs, and money printing..."


Crowd of Thousands Descends Upon Community Food Pantry

Thousands show up at Tulsa food pantry Friday | Tulsa World: "The line started forming at 6:30 a.m. outside the food pantry...

... [The program's Executive Director] attributed the crowd to false information sent via group e-mails and Facebook regarding supplemental food boxes, 30-pound food boxes paid for by a $2 million federal stimulus grant to the Community Food Bank...

... The message that was circulating was that the food boxes were free for anyone, however they’re actually restricted to families with children younger than 18 and there is an income restriction as well.

Through the program families can receive one 30-pound food box for each child and one box for every two adults. Families also receive one household box (toilet paper, soap, shampoo, toothpaste) for every two people younger than the age of 18 in the household. Families may receive these boxes each week..."


27 July, 2010

Water, or the Lack Thereof, is Again Enjoying a Spotlight

But that spotlight needs to get a lot brighter if we are to ever influence the masses and make them understand what is coming.

Now, here at Backwoods Survival Blog, we've spoken at length before about water-related issues, but it is a subject that bears repeating over and over. Always remember the Survival Rule of Threes.

It is difficult to survive beyond:
- 3 minutes without air
- 3 hours without shelter (in harsh weather)
- 3 days without water
- 3 weeks without food

cryptogon.com - U.S. Company Set to Ship Billions of Gallons of Water from Alaska to India: "India is hurting for water. With rapidly growing populations of people and a rising middle class that is mimicking the wasteful water consumption habits well known here in the United States, coupled with poor water management practices, India is set to be one of the first parts of the world hit by a major water crisis. Still, does that mean shipping water from Alaska all the way to India is a smart solution? One Texas-based water supply management company, S2C Global Systems, thinks it is — at least, it’s smart for their bottom line, if not for the environment. They’re all lined up to ship billions of gallons of water annually from an Alaskan city to India, and other parts of Asia and the Middle East...

... Fresh water is set to be the next “big oil” of the world, with supplies in some areas growing exceedingly tight. Technologies from smart metering to irrigation management to purification all seem to be slower to reach areas like India than tankers of exported water. However, while businesses are dashing to find a profit in water exportation, water management will need to become far more popular globally if we’re to avoid a worldwide water shortage.

S2C is set to start shipping water within eight months, using tankers that have a 'Ozonating' system onboard to keep the water clean..."


The Global Warming/Climate Change folks are also weighing in:

Desdemona Despair: More than one third of US counties face water shortages due to climate change: "More than 1,100 U.S. counties -- a full one-third of all counties in the lower 48 states -- now face higher risks of water shortages by mid-century as the result of global warming, and more than 400 of these counties will be at extremely high risk for water shortages, based on estimates from a new report...

... The report uses publicly available water use data across the United States and climate projections from a set of models used in recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) work to evaluate withdrawals related to renewable water supply... In particular, in the Great Plains and Southwest United States, water sustainability is at extreme risk..."


Our Once Fine Infrastructure Is Crumbling

First it was the bridges, now the dams are apparently just as rickety in places.

Dam fails in eastern Iowa, causing massive flooding - CNN.com:

"A dam on an eastern Iowa lake suffered a 'catastrophic' failure Saturday, sending a massive amount of water into nearby communities and forcing residents to flee, officials said.

The Lake Delhi dam, about 45 miles north of Cedar Rapids, failed as a result of 'massive rain -- a very unusually high amount this season,' according to Jim Flansburg, communications director for Gov. Chet Culver.

Culver told CNN that nearly 10 inches of rain had recently fallen in a 12-hour period in the area and was 'too much water for the dam to hold.'

The roads on either side of the dam -- which were part of the cement dam's containment measures -- apparently gave out as a result of the rainfall, Flansburg told CNN.

The National Weather Service reported a 30-foot-wide gap in the berm alongside the dam..."


26 July, 2010

Town Disbands Police Force to Save Money, Now Riddled with Crime

This is for all of you out there still harboring your naive ideal of how people will all band together and act when law and order is removed from the situation. Some will take the high road, but the majority will not, so you had better be ready to defend you and yours.

Were this my town, I would see it as a great excuse to institute an open-carry neighborhood watch program!


Logan Daily News - With no police, village faces crime wave: "A rash of burglaries in New Straitsville has some local residents concerned, especially since a police officer no longer patrols the area.

New Straitsville Police Chief Kevin Ginsell was laid off from his position last Monday, July 12, and since then there have been four burglaries in the downtown area. Council Member Chris Tigner says the village can no longer afford to pay for police protection..."


A Growing Number of People Are Growing Their Own Groceries

Bluegrass Moms | Growing number people growing their own groceries: "It's been a long time since Annette Cottrell regularly saw the inside of a grocery store.

Her yard is an explosion of produce and herbs, with almond trees and honeybees and hops for making beer. The pantry teems with garden riches - roasted peppers, pickled beets - and there's homemade bread and caramel syrup in the fridge made with grains she ground and goats she milked.

She makes her own cheese, cures her own meats, and with summer here and the kids craving hot dogs, she complied - with garden-fresh ketchup, mustard and relish, buns built from Methow Valley grains, bratwursts fashioned from the meat of a pig she herself butchered at Everett's Ebey Farms.

It's a lifestyle you might equate with a more rural life, but Cottrell and her family live 15 minutes from downtown Seattle. Until 18 months ago, she'd never made pancakes from scratch or shopped at a farmer's market, but her frustration with food labels bearing questionable ingredients, and all the talk of pesticide-sprayed vegetables and the drawbacks of factory farms finally got to her.

She realized: The only way to know what she was feeding her kids was to make it herself. Now, she's one of a growing number of urban residents weaning themselves off traditional food systems, some driven by economics, distrust of big food companies, environmental concerns or fears about the future..."


25 July, 2010

Lorimer Wilson: Probability of US Hyperinflation or Debt Implosion

Kitco - Commentaries - Lorimer Wilson: "'The collapse of U.S. economy is a certainty - only the manner of the economic collapse has yet to be determined. In time the global derivatives bubble will produce the same result which has occurred to every other currency not backed by gold throughout history: those currencies, our 'money', will become worthless.'

Those were the alarming words of Jeff Nielson of BullionBullsCanada.com in a recent speech...

... 'Warren Buffett once described derivatives as ‘financial weapons of mass destruction’ - and for a very good reason. While U.S. ‘unfunded liabilities’ are larger than the entire global economy, the derivatives market is 20 times larger than the entire global economy – at an astonishing $1 quadrillion. Yes, you heard me correctly - $1 quadrillion! And get this - this derivative market is totally unregulated. It is totally lacking in transparency, meaning that all we know about this $1 quadrillion mountain of banker-paper is what the bankers tell us.'

Nielson pointed out that 'During the 2008 U.S. financial crisis, the Wall Street banks required $10 trillion in loans, hand outs and guarantees just to temporarily prevent their bankruptcy – more than all other bail-outs for all the rest of the world, for all of history, combined - and the entire crisis was based upon settling the derivatives positions of just one Wall Street investment bank, namely, Lehman Brothers - and even that $10 trillion was not enough to prevent the collapse of the U.S. financial sector.'

Furthermore, 'The Wall Street banks also needed to have the U.S. accounting rules changed, so that they could assign their own ‘fantasy valuations’ to the debts/assets on their books, instead of the actual market value of those assets' said Nielson. 'Without those most radical accounting changes in history the Wall Street banks would have been reporting their own bankruptcies rather than reporting their supposed ‘record’ profits.'

All Is NOT As It Seems..."


Affordable Solar Lamp Four Times Brighter Than Kerosene Wins Prestigious Award

Affordable Solar Lamp Four Times Brighter Than Kerosene Wins Ashden Award - Planet Green: "... Called the Kiran, it is not only (in the company's words) the world's most affordable solar lamp, but it is four times brighter than kerosene lamps, which in India and many places where there is likely to be demand for this kind of technology, is the most common sources of light.

From the Ashden Awards announcement:

'Each year 1.6 million women and children die as a result of indoor air pollution, much of it from kerosene lamps. But for the 1.6 billion people across the world without electricity there has been little alternative. D.Light has provided that alternative thanks to a cheap, reliable solar lamp. Over 220,000 units have already been sold in over thirty countries via a network of rural entrepreneurs. As one of these entrepreneurs says, 'this will do to kerosene what mobile phones did to letters''..."


Almost Invisible Mirrored Tree House Built in Sweden

An interesting curiosity when viewed from an OPSEC perspective.


Almost invisible mirrored tree house built in Sweden | Yahoo! Green: "... The four-meter glass cube looks as spectacular in reality as it did in the rendering. Kent Lindvall, co-owner of the TreeHotel, has been quoted as saying: 'Everything will reflect in this -- the trees, the birds, the clouds, the sun, everything. So it should be invisible nearly in the forest.'

And what about the birds?... Lindvall says that a special film that is visible to birds will be applied to the glass..."


24 July, 2010

Infowars.com Poll: Majority Believe Road Warrior Depression Coming

Infowars.com Poll: Majority Believe Road Warrior Depression Coming: "An Infowars.com poll posted last week reveals that nearly 60% of respondents believe the United States is headed for a 'road warrior' economic depression. 17% believe the country is headed for a depression no worse than the Great Depression, while 13% think the economic crisis will continue along its current trajectory and not get worse. 5% of respondents believe the economy will turn around as Obama and the government promises..."


Report Blasts Military For Not Being Nuke-Proof

Report Blasts Military For Not Being Nuke-Proof | Danger Room | Wired.com: "If, by some chance, you end up surviving the nuclear apocalypse, don’t count on the U.S. military to be around to help you rebuild. Or don’t expect all its fancy electronics and communications equipment to work, at least.

That’s the strongly worded, rather ominous assessment from a joint Defense Science Board/ Threat Reduction Advisory Committee Task Force, which warns in a recent report that the military needs to wake up to its vulnerability to nuclear attack.

“Actions — both by others and of our own doing — are combining to create potentially tragic consequences on military operations involving the effects of nuclear weapons on the survivability of critical [military] systems,” notes the report, spotted by InsideDefense.com..."


Economic Meltdown: The Final Phase

Neithercorp Press: Economic Meltdown: The Final Phase: "In the financial life of every culture built upon faulty monetary policy, there are points at which the thin thread of economic faith; the thread that ties the entire failing system together, the thread made tangible by the hopes (and sometimes ignorance) of the general populace, finally snaps. From Ancient Rome, to Weimar Germany, to Argentina, to modern day America, no society fueled by unsustainable debt and fiat inflation can duck the ‘Fiscal Reaper’ for very long. The U.S. alone has survived since the early 1970’s (after Nixon removed the last vestiges of the gold standard) on nothing but questionable credit practices and baseless optimism, but there is a limit to the power of fantasy. This is a fact that most mainstream financial analysts and some in the American public refuse to grasp..."


Death Toll at Festival in Germany Rises to 17

This is a prime example of why one should always be aware of their surroundings.


Death toll at festival in Germany rises to 17 - Yahoo! News: "DUISBURG, Germany – A stampede inside a tunnel crowded with techno music fans left 17 people dead and 80 injured at the famed Love Parade festival in western Germany on Saturday.

Other revelers initially kept partying at the event in Duisburg, near Duesseldorf, unaware of the deadly panic that started when police tried to prevent thousands more from entering the already-jammed parade grounds.

Authorities were still trying to determine exactly what happened at the event, which drew hundreds of thousands of people, but the situation was 'very chaotic,' police commissioner Juergen Kieskemper said.

Emergency workers had trouble getting to the victims in the wide, 500- to 600-meter-long (500- to 600-yard) tunnel that led to the grounds. The area was a hectic scene, with bodies lying on the ground as rescue workers rushed to aid them..."


Letter Re: "Observations From A Vacationing Reader"

Reader Jack wrote:

"It really is sad. I travel all over for work, and everywhere I go, I see a large number of homes for sale, and a large number of small businesses struggling or closed down. To me, it is a testament to how bad the economy really is.

In addition, a couple weeks ago I was at the shore/beach in NJ, and the traffic is the heaviest I have ever seen it going to and from. I think there are more people taking those mini day trips because they cannot afford to otherwise take that extended vacation.

It is a sad state of affairs."

China Dumping The Dollar?

China may link yuan trade to currency basket Emerging Markets Report - MarketWatch: "A top Chinese central bank official suggested switching away from the U.S. dollar as a benchmark for the yuan's foreign-exchange rate, switching instead to a basket of currencies, according to remarks published Thursday.

In comments posted to the People's Bank of China Web site, the central bank's Deputy Gov. Hu Xiaolian said using a basket of currencies from the nation's top trading partners would allow the Chinese yuan to better reflect trading fundamentals..."


Nothing Was Sacred: The Theft of the American Dream

Jesse's Cafe Americain: Nothing Was Sacred: The Theft of the American Dream: "America must decide what type of country it wishes to be, and then conform public and foreign policy to those ends, and not the other way around. Politicians have no right to subjugate the constitutional process of government to any foreign organization.

Secrecy, except in very select military matters, is repugnant to the health of a democratic government, and is almost always a means to conceal a fraud. Corporations are not people, and do not have the rights of individuals as such.

Banks are utilities for the rational allocation of capital created by savings, and as utilities deserve special protections. All else is speculation and gambling. In banking, simpler and more stable is better. Low cost rules, as excessive financialisation is a pernicious tax on the real economy.

Financial speculation, as opposed to entrepreneurial investment, creates little value, serving largely to transfer wealth from the many to the few, often by exploiting the weak, and corrupting the law..."


Chicago Cop: 'Scary' Growth of Gangs in the U.S. Military

Chicago cop: 'Scary' growth of gangs in war zones :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Chicago Crime: "Being in a street gang is now forbidden for members of the U.S. armed forces. But you might not guess that if you were to visit U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to soldiers who have recently served there.

Jeffrey Stoleson, a Wisconsin corrections official, returned from Iraq in January with photos of gang graffiti on armored vehicles, latrines and buildings. Stoleson, a sergeant with a National Guard unit, was there for nine months to help the Army set up a prison facility outside Baghdad...

... A Chicago Police officer -- who retired from the regular Army and was recently on a tour of Afghanistan in the Army Reserve -- said Bagram Air Base was covered with Chicago gang graffiti...

... Now back in Chicago, the officer said he has arrested high-level gang members who have served in the military and kept the 'Infantryman's bible' -- called the FM 7-8 -- in their homes. The book describes how to run for cover, fire a weapon tactically and do the 'three- to five-second rushes' seen in war movies..."


23 July, 2010

New Source For Emergency Seed Banks

Jeff, the Berkey Guy of Directive21, one of our most loyal sponsors, asked me to pass on the news that they now carry Emergency Seed Banks as part of their inventory.

It contains 37,000 seeds, including Non-Hybrid seeds, Heirloom Vegetables, etc.. It weighs 1.4 Lbs and comes packaged in a sealed, airtight military-grade Seed Vault.


Observations From A Vacationing Reader

LOCATION: Centerville, MA (Cape Cod)

It had been about five years since we were last here. As we drove the two miles down on North Main Street towards an Osterville restaurant, I observed a distressing sign (or actually MANY signs). The high-end houses and estates-NOT beach houses or bungalows- were up for sale. The number of FOR SALE signs (16 of them!) in just two miles was very unusual for this area and for its type of residents; full time residence homes with expensive lush green yards and some with wrought iron security fencing. The preeminent high end Realtor- Sotheby’s International Realty- was found amongst the majority of properties listed on this two mile street. Only one property listed for sale was a newly build house and one other was a business for sale (a financial firm office building).

But, as we explored other streets and roadways in the Hyannis, Barnstable, Centerville area, many other realtor signs or closed businesses were present. One facility up for sale that was not far from our hotel was a time share housing complex lying just across the street from the beach. Speaking of hotels; most that we observed on the busy Route 28 and Route 6 highways, were displaying VACANCY signs; unusual for the peak vacation season in mid-July.

These views spoke reams to me. The finances of many-upper class- to middle class- were suffering amidst this “Great Recession” (aka “Great Depression”). The tax base and financial base were crumbling in synchrony with the financial problems experienced across the state of Massachusetts. Here, the casualties were the many hard working individuals and the related industries and businesses dependent on not merely the tourist vacation dollars, but the demand for local arts, seafood industries, and local cuisines.

Sadly, this is one report of many across our nation; but, seeing it close up makes me think that the slowing of the economy (or decent into the abyss-if you wish) is merely one aspect of this sad vacation scene. Rather, for high income and middle class residents, it is the loss of property value; the collapse of bank loans and liquidation at cut rate prices of long time family held properties and business assets; as well as the loss of value of locally produced products and goods as the consumer (or tourist) demand evaporates.

Many will suffer as the economy continues to contract and the hard earned labors and properties will evaporate into the vacuum of economic misery.

Food for thought.

Copyright 2010: Lawrence F. Roberge


Tropical Storm Bonnie Forms, Spill Work on Hold

Tropical Storm Bonnie forms, spill work on hold - Disaster in the Gulf - msnbc.com: "A Caribbean storm system grew to become Tropical Storm Bonnie Thursday evening, as officials working on the BP spill weighed whether to evacuate all ships and crews at the offshore site.

Earlier Thursday, the federal government's oil spill chief said the ruptured well will remain capped if ships evacuate.

Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said growing confidence in the cap's security convinced scientists it was safe to leave it unmonitored for a few days.

Noting that 'some significant impacts' were expected from the storm, Allen added that he'd decide Thursday evening whether ships and crew at the spill site will evacuate..."


Cities Rent Police, Janitors to Save Cash

Cities Rent Police, Janitors to Save Cash - WSJ.com: "Faced with a $118 million budget deficit, the city of San Jose, Calif., recently decided it could no longer afford its own janitors. So the city's budget called for dropping its custodial staff and hiring outside contractors to clean its city hall and airport, saving about $4 million.

To keep all its swimming pools open and staffed, the city is replacing some city workers with contractors...

... After years of whittling staff and cutting back on services, towns and cities are now outsourcing some of the most basic functions of local government, from policing to trash collection. Services that cities can no longer afford to provide are being contracted to private vendors, counties or even neighboring towns.

The move saves cities budget-crushing costs of employee benefits like health insurance and retirement. Critics say contracting means giving up local control and personalized services.

Cities say they have little choice. Municipalities across the U.S. will face a projected shortfall of $56 to $86 billion between 2010 and 2012...

... Maywood, a tiny city southeast of Los Angeles, is taking contracting to the extreme. The city of around 40,000 is letting go of its entire staff and contracting with outsiders to perform all city services. The city is disbanding its police force and handing public safety over to the Los Angeles County Sheriff. Its neighbor, the city of Bell, will take over running Maywood's City Hall..."


22 July, 2010

Nearly Half of N.C.'s State-Chartered Banks 'Troubled'

Do you have sufficient cash and/or logistics to sustain you and yours in the event of a bank run?


Nearly half of N.C.'s state-chartered banks 'troubled' :: WRAL.com: "Nearly half of the 86 banks chartered in North Carolina and overseen by state regulators are troubled institutions hurt by sliding real estate values, overdue loans and weak loan demand, regulators said.

The state-chartered banks considered troubled have increased to 40 from 23 in October, The Charlotte Observer reported Monday. Regulators are barred from naming troubled banks or their ratings to prevent a run on deposits that would worsen their ability to resolve problems..."


The Real Unemployment Rate: Is It 9.5%, 16.5%, 22%, or Higher?

The Real Unemployment Rate: Is It 9.5%, 16.5%, 22%, or Higher? - DailyFinance: "... the headline number shows the U.S. unemployment rate today is 9.5%, with a total of 14.6 million jobless people.

However, Mayur's polls continued to find much worse figures. The June poll turned up 27.8% of households with at least one member who's unemployed and looking for a job, while the latest poll conducted in the second week of July showed 28.6% in that situation. That translates to an unemployment rate of over 22%...

... For years, many economists have pointed to evidence that the government data undercounts the unemployed. Economist Helen Ginsburg, co-founder of advocacy group National Jobs For All Coalition, and John Williams of the newsletter Shadow Government Statistics have been questioning these numbers for years.

In fact, Austan Goolsbee, who is now part of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, wrote in a 2003 New York Times piece titled 'The Unemployment Myth,' that the government had 'cooked the books' by not correctly counting all the people it should, thereby keeping the unemployment rate artificially low. At the time, Goolsbee was a professor at the University of Chicago. When asked whether Goolsbee still believes the government undercounts unemployment, a White House spokeswoman said Goolsbee wasn't available to comment..."


21 July, 2010

Relief Effort Fails Many At Risk of Foreclosure

Relief effort fails many at risk of foreclosure - Yahoo! Finance: "The Obama administration's effort to help those at risk of losing their homes is failing to aid many and could spur a rise in foreclosures that would further depress the housing industry.

More foreclosures would force down home prices and that would deter already-ailing homebuilders from starting new projects.

As a result, the economic rebound could suffer. Each new home built creates, on average, the equivalent of three jobs for a year and generates about $90,000 in taxes paid to local and federal authorities, according to the National Association of Home Builders..."


Desperate Retail Stores Pushing Summertime 'Christmas' Sales

Stores push summertime 'Christmas' sales - Business - Retail - msnbc.com: "Santa in the summer?

Retailers are pumping still more energy this year into trying to get shoppers to loosen their purse strings early for Christmas with sparkly ornaments, holiday music and special prices. In July....

... Janet Hoffman, global managing partner at Accenture's retail practice, called July holiday sales 'a risky bet.' Shoppers could be inspired to buy more, but summer promotions also can hurt back-to-school buying and depress December business..."


20 July, 2010

Competing Currency Being Accepted Across Mid-Michigan

Competing currency being accepted across Mid-Michigan : News : WEYI NBC25: "New types of money are popping up across Mid-Michigan and supporters say, it's not counterfeit, but rather a competing currency.

Right now, you can buy a meal or visit a chiropractor without using actual U.S. legal tender.

They sound like real money and look like real money. But you can't take them to the bank because they're not made at a government mint. They're made at private mints.

'I sell three or four every single day and then I get one or two back a week,' said Dave Gillie, owner of Gillies Coney Island Restaurant in Genesee Township.

Gillie also accepts silver, gold, copper and other precious metals to pay for food.

He says, if he wanted to, he could accept marbles.

'Do people have to accept dollars or money? No, they don't,' Gillie said. 'They can accept anything they want or they can refuse to accept anything.'

He's absolutely right..."


Has Civilization Gone Full Circle?

Has civilization gone full circle?: "... Now, in the 21st century, we have become more like Greeks and Romans than we like to think, less Greek than Roman — not ... of the Classical Age but ... of faded glory and decaying grandeur, Greeks and Romans in the social sense, in decline.

The English author Ferdinand Mount's 'Full Circle: How the Classical World Came Back to Us' suggests an 'astonishing' similarity between current Western life-styles and those of the Romans of the late republic and early empire...

... Like Greco-Romans, we obsess over bodily things: bathing, fitness, gymnastic training. Not since the Romans have so many people been employed as providers of such.

Our attitudes toward sex and food are very like those of pagan aesthetes. In short we obsess over sex and eating ... We exalt celebrities; the Romans gladiators and charioteers - we athletes, actors and rock stars ... Romans were desperate for entertainment, so are we, with TV and bloodless arenas. Religion as in Rome is in definite decline...

... the average Roman enjoyed a standard of living not again reached in Europe until about 1850. Political tyranny, as Tacitus wrote, did not bother a people hooked on 'bread and circuses' so long as they were fed and entertained. Only hired hands (soldiers) and a (paid) political elite served the state, a vast change from the days of Greek democracy and the early republic...

... the question ... is this: If history hardwires us into cultural regressions, will we do a new Dark Age?"


The Flight of the Money - Where Has It Gone?

The Flight of the Money - Where Has It Gone?: "Two months ago, the 'new' General Motors made possible by government bailouts, theft of shareholders’ equity for forced re-distribution to unions, and managerial change at government’s gunpoint, was held up as shining example of success – it was even repaying its debt to Uncle Sam early.

But the week of the Independence Day, GM announced its urgent need to borrow five billion dollars, to use in re-paying debt (ie. paying its VISA bill with a new MasterCard) and as cash reserves to counter anticipated slumping sales.

As Arte Johnson used to say on 'Laugh-In:' v-e-r-y interesting.

If you go to a movie set, you will see perfect-looking streets, each building front rich in detail, looking as real as real can be. Yet its only facade. One thin piece of painted sheetrock propped up. Walk around behind it, there’s nothing there.

That’s GM. State pension funds in 30-plus states people are counting on, upside down in toto by trillions. Obama’s stimulus. There are signs stuck here or there with his logo on them, proclaiming the dirt mound or torn up street his “stimulus at work.” The sign-maker was stimulated. Who else? That’s this entire economy. A fa├žade. Walk around behind it: there’s nothing there. No real job creation, no business investment, no real estate investment, nothing much happening but very un-hopeful hoarding. Where has all the money gone?..."


Hedge Funds Accused of Gambling With Lives of the Poorest as Food Prices Soar

Hedge funds accused of gambling with lives of the poorest as food prices soar | Environment | The Guardian: "Financial speculators have come under renewed fire from anti-poverty campaigners for their bets on food prices, blamed for raising the costs of goods such as coffee and chocolate and threatening the livelihoods of farmers in developing countries.

The World Development Movement (WDM) will issue a damning report today on the growing role of hedge funds and banks in the commodities markets in recent years, during which time cocoa prices have more than doubled, energy prices have soared and coffee has fluctuated dramatically.

The charity's demands for the British financial watchdog to follow the US in cracking down on such speculation comes against a backdrop of cocoa prices jumping to a 33-year high as it emerged that a London hedge fund had snapped up a large part of the world's stock of beans...

... A 150% rise in cocoa prices over the past 18 months has forced many chocolate-makers to raise their prices and often to use less cocoa.

The WDM's Great Hunger Lottery report says 'risky and secretive' financial bets on food prices have exacerbated the effect of poor harvests in recent years. It argues that volatility in food prices has made it harder for producers to plan what to grow, pushed up prices for British consumers and in poorer countries risks sparking civil unrest, like the food riots seen in Mexico and Haiti in 2008..."


Gulf Oil Leak

Temporary cap in place — now what for the Gulf? - Yahoo! News: "After three long months, the bleeding from the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico has been finally, mercifully stanched. But in so many ways, the prognosis remains uncertain.

Which species will rebound, and which have been pushed beyond the brink? Has the oil accelerated the die-off of marshlands that protect one of America's great cities and make this the nation's second most-productive fishing region? What effect will the BP spill have on the future of deep-sea drilling — at once boon and bane — in the Gulf?

And, of more immediate concern to people along the nation's southern coast, where will the millions of as-yet uncollected, unburned, unseen gallons of oil from the blown-out Deepwater Horizon well end up?..."


The Associated Press: Feds: Cap on ruptured BP's oil well leaking: "The federal government Monday allowed BP to keep the cap shut tight on its ruptured Gulf of Mexico oil well for another day despite news the well is leaking at the top and something is seeping from the sea floor nearby.

The Obama administration's point man for the spill, retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, said early Monday that the company promised to watch closely for signs of new leaks around the mile-deep well, which has stopped gushing oil into the water since the experimental cap was closed Thursday.

Late Sunday, Allen said something was detected seeping near the broken oil well and demanded in a sharply worded letter that BP step up monitoring of the ocean floor. Allen didn't say what was seeping. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Monday afternoon the seepage was about two miles from the well head. He also said the well head is leaking..."


580 CFRA News Talk Radio: "The US Government’s spill chief says an oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico is no reason for alarm.

The containment cap will remain in place despite oil and gas leaking from the broken well for the first time since BP announced last week it capped the gusher.

Retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen says small amounts of oil and gas started coming from the cap on Sunday, but added “we do not believe it is consequential at this time.”

Seepage was detected from the seafloor over the weekend less than two miles away, but Allen said it probably had nothing to do with the well.

BP will keep the cap closed for at least 24 hours."


The Leak in the Gulf Has Stopped, But the Pipeline between Industry and Interior Still Flows - The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) Blog: "This is gross. Providing yet another example of how important it is to close the revolving door between the Interior Department and industry, an industry advocacy group has just named a former Bureau of Land Management (BLM) field manager to be their president...

... this of course raises questions about whether the former regional office manager was serving taxpayer interests when he was on the General Schedule..."


19 July, 2010

1,200 National Guardsmen to the Border

Border to get 1,200 national guardsmen Aug. 1 - U.S. news - Security - msnbc.com: "National Guard troops will head to the U.S.-Mexican border Aug. 1 for a yearlong deployment to keep a lookout for illegal border crossers and smugglers and help in criminal investigations, federal officials said Monday.

The troops will be armed but can use their weapons only to protect themselves, Gen. Craig McKinley, chief of the National Guard Bureau, told a Pentagon news conference. The troops will undergo initial training and be fully deployed along the nearly 2,000-mile southern border by September..."


1.65 Million Properties Receive Foreclosure Filings in First Half of 2010

1.65 Million Properties Receive Foreclosure Filings in First Half of 2010: "RealtyTrac (http://www.realtytrac.com), the leading online marketplace for foreclosure properties, today released its Midyear 2010 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report, which shows a total of 1,961,894 foreclosure filings — default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions — were reported on 1,654,634 U.S. properties in the first six months of 2010, a 5 percent decrease in total properties from the previous six months but an 8 percent increase in total properties from the first six months of 2009. The report also shows that 1.28 percent of all U.S. housing units (one in 78) received at least one foreclosure filing in the first half of the year..."


Jitters Have Investment Fund for UT, A&M Buying Gold

Jitters have investment fund for UT, A&M buying gold | Business | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle: "Fearing unstable international financial markets and the possibility of high inflation, Texas' higher education investment managers have bought more than $500 million in gold.

The gold purchases represent only 3 percent of the University of Texas Investment Management Co.'s $22.3 billion in investment funds, but it indicates how deeply the fund managers are concerned about the global financial future..."


More Spent On Jobless in U.S., But Benefits Near End

More is spent on jobless in U.S., but benefits near end - USATODAY.com: "More than 3 million Americans could lose unemployment benefits by the end of July even as the government spends record amounts to compensate the jobless, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

The growing number of unemployed workers without benefits comes as Congress argues whether to again extend jobless benefits.

The number of people collecting benefits will fall from 10.5 million to 7 million at the end of July if Congress doesn't extend the payments.

About 400,000 Americans are exhausting their benefits every week..."


Bomb/Fallout Shelters


18 July, 2010

Economic Crisis Forces Local Governments to Let Asphalt Roads Return to Gravel

Just one more example of the erosion of our society. It isn't surprising either considering a whole slew of cities are shutting off street lights *BECAUSE THEY'RE NEARLY BANKRUPT!* See here, here, here, and here if you don't believe me.

Also, I was going to point it out myself but the author smartly makes the connection to higher oil prices being the basis for asphalt being increasingly expensive. Resource Depletion, anyone? Peak Oil again rearing its ugly head.

BTW, to the city-ots out there who are all up-in-arms about getting their Bentleys all dusty and icky on gravel roads: try *NOT* barreling down the road at 60mph and you'll notice it really cuts down on the muck you toss up.

Or, better yet, sack up and buy yourself a real man's car.


Economic Crisis Forces Local Governments to Let Asphalt Roads Return to Gravel - WSJ.com: "... Paved roads, historical emblems of American achievement, are being torn up across rural America and replaced with gravel or other rough surfaces as counties struggle with tight budgets and dwindling state and federal revenue. State money for local roads was cut in many places amid budget shortfalls.

In Michigan, at least 38 of the 83 counties have converted some asphalt roads to gravel in recent years. Last year, South Dakota turned at least 100 miles of asphalt road surfaces to gravel. Counties in Alabama and Pennsylvania have begun downgrading asphalt roads to cheaper chip-and-seal road, also known as 'poor man's pavement.' Some counties in Ohio are simply letting roads erode to gravel.

The moves have angered some residents because of the choking dust and windshield-cracking stones that gravel roads can kick up, not to mention the jarring 'washboard' effect of driving on rutted gravel.

But higher taxes for road maintenance are equally unpopular...

... Rebuilding an asphalt road today is particularly expensive because the price of asphalt cement, a petroleum-based material mixed with rocks to make asphalt, has more than doubled over the past 10 years. Gravel becomes a cheaper option once an asphalt road has been neglected for so long that major rehabilitation is necessary..."

Photobucket<----- Lived His Whole Damn Life on a Gravel Road!