Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Online Food Storage Calculator

I get asked the following question quite frequently: "How much food do I need to store for my family?"  Well, the easy answer is that it depends on the size/ages, etc. of those in your family.  However, a more specific plan can be generated by a good Food Storage Calculator, such as the one linked above.  I don't know a lot about the web site, which is obviously trying to sell products in addition to providing the Calculator, but as a useful tool for figuring out how much food you need to stock it could be a good resource.

Blog: Tens Of Millions Of American Families Are Living On The Edge Of Desperation – And The Economy Is About To Get A Whole Lot Worse

QUOTE: Have you ever been so poor that you had to live in your car?  Have you ever been so low on funds that the only place you could afford to live was a rat-infested motel?  Have you ever spent a night living in a tent city or sleeping in the streets?  If not, you should consider yourself to be very fortunate. 

QUOTE #2: Not only that, 2.6 million more Americans fell into poverty last year.  That was also a new all-time record.  As you read this, one out of every seven Americans is on food stamps and one our of every four U.S. children is on food stamps.  Tens of millions of American families are living on the edge of desperation.  In many communities across the United States, there is so much despair in the air that it is almost tangible.  When you look into the eyes of many Americans these days, it almost seems as if all the hope has been sucked right out of their hearts.  Economic despair is at epidemic levels, and unfortunately the economy is about to get a whole lot worse.

You may have come across this article online as I've seen it in a couple different places.  I can say in regards to the basic theme of the article that in our area we're seeing more and more signs of the desperation talked about. Others must be seeing it as well if the following threads at are any indication (people living out in the woods and increasing crime levels).  At this point you almost have to feel "but for the grace of God go we..." 

Report: Mysterious blast in Iran's Isfahan damaged key nuclear site

QUOTE: According to the Israeli sources, there was "no doubt" that the blast had damaged the nuclear facility, and that the explosion was not an "accident." 

File this one under "hmmmmmm" with everything else going on in the world.  (Related to Monday's post: )

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

1979? 1979? Is That You Again?

Wow.  Talk about history repeating itself.  I was a bit young in 1979 to really grasp what was going on but have seen the ramifications play out over the past 30 years. 
Seems like a definite escalation of the whole Iran Nukes issues, although the conspiratorial-minded will likely wonder if this was encouraged by foreign intelligence services to garner support for military action. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Pakistan Mess....

So much is happening so quickly.  Is this is one of those "catalyst moments" that sometime happen in history?  Pakistan is a nuclear-armed power that doesn't seem to like having its territorial sovereignty questioned (as happened in the Bin Laden raid and the above-mentioned incident).  What will ultimately come of this most recent crisis with Pakistan?  Open conflict?  Safe haven for terrorists?  I'm keeping an eye on news from that part of the world in order to identify any "game-changing" developments that could take place...

FT: The eurozone has just days to avoid collapse

QUOTE: I have yet to be convinced that the European Council is capable of reaching such a substantive agreement given its past record. Of course, it will agree on something and sell it as a comprehensive package. It always does. But the halt-life of these fake packages has been getting shorter. After the last summit, the financial markets’ enthusiasm over the ludicrous idea of a leveraged EFSF evaporated after less than 48 hours.  Italy’s disastrous bond auction on Friday tells us time is running out. The eurozone has 10 days at most.

I noticed the poor results from last Friday's Italy bond auction myself, and wondered if it indicated some near-term problems coming to a head....

Report: Explosion rocks Iran city of Isfahan, home to key nuclear facility

QUOTE: The reported incident occurred about two weeks after Gen. Hasan Tehrani Moghaddam was killed together with 20 other Guard members Nov. 12 at a military site outside Bidganeh village, 40 kilometers southwest of Tehran. 

To the layman it appears that a number of small infiltration operations are taking place in Iran in an attempt to stop their nuclear weapons development.  It will be interesting to see what else develops in regards to Iran over the next few months.  Let's just hope whatever it is doesn't lead into World War III....

Controversal Flu studies demonstrate potential danger

QUOTE: Fouchier's paper is one of two studies that have triggered an intense debate about the limits of scientific freedom and that could portend changes in the way U.S. researchers handle so-called dual-use research: studies that have a potential public health benefit but could also be useful for nefarious purposes like biowarfare or bioterrorism. 

QUOTE #2:  Some scientists say that's reason enough not to do such research. The virus could escape from the lab, or bioterrorists or rogue nations could use the published results to fashion a bioweapon with the potential for mass destruction, they say. "This work should never have been done," says Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute who has a strong interest in biosecurity issues. 

It is frightening to consider that for all the good things technology has brought us it has also opened up more than one "Pandora's Box".  I am concerned that one way or another an Influenza outbreak is one of the more likely disasters we could face one day, so I strongly recommend you take precautions in advance

Monday, November 21, 2011

Stocks down over 300 due to debt, supercommittee worries

QUOTE: The specter of U.S. lawmakers failing to reach an agreement on debt-cutting measures to avert $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts, coupled with persistent jitters over Europe's debt crisis, sparked a powerful global selloff that knocked American market averages more than 2% to the downside.

QUOTE #2: A congressional Super Committee tasked with crafting a bi-partisan solution to tackle the nation's mounting debt burden appeared stuck at a stalemate with the deadline looming just days away. The 12-member panel was mandated to craft the legislation as part a last-minute agreement over the summer to raise the nation's debt ceiling, staving off what could have been a costly default of American debt.  

First off, I am not particularly in favor of any sort of governmental entity not outlined in the Constitution itself so for me the Supercommittee failure is neither unexpected nor too much regretted.  At the same time, the draconian cuts to the military that are set to kick in at a time of rising tension with Iran and Syria (on top of existing troop operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Central Africa and who knows where else) seems like it could lead ultimately to a game-changing collapse of epic proportions. 
Sort of like Rome in its final years...

What does the surge in farmland purchases/selloffs mean?

QUOTE: Across the Midwest, the dizzying surge in rural land prices is accelerating a fundamental reshaping of the farm sector in the world's biggest food exporter. Instead of digging in to benefit from the boom in grain prices, the next generation is opting to cash out of the small, family-owned farms that harbor centuries of rural wisdom and deep tradition.

QUOTE #2: On the other side are often investors who view U.S. farmland as the latest hot commodity, with prices soaring at a rate not seen since the 1970s, in some cases to record highs.

QUOTE #3: Large-scale farmers and wealthy outside investors - who are weary of Wall Street's roller coaster - are lining up to plow their money into the perceived stability of farmland. Large parcels of good land can be difficult to find in the U.S., and what is out there doesn't tend to come up for sale very often.

Maybe these investors see something down the road that has gotten their attention?  Many in the Survival/Preparedness community have been talking about the "real value" present in farm-able land for, oh decades I suppose.  It's interesting to see that the big money is catching on as well. 
Also, what are those ex-farmers going to do when the value of the money they've been paid with drop precipitously?  Personally, with how things are going lately I'd rather have the land than some digital paper in my bank account although I don't blame them for wanting to get out of the commercial farming business.   Now small-scale farming on the other hand...

BI: Stock Market Is Following A Frighteningly Similar Pattern To 2007/2008

QUOTE: If we review our history back to 2007 we will remember that the mainstream media, analysts and economists were telling us at that time that the "subprime mortgage" issues were "contained" and that the economy would experience a "goldilocks"slowdown. 

QUOTE #2: However, as investors, "hope" is not an investment strategy.   As investors we must focus on what the market is telling us.   We can hope for the best, which is certainly much better on the human psychology than the depression onset by delving in the worst....   Therefore, what the market is telling us today is a story that it told us previously in 2007.

In a way I think the best case scenario is a repeat what happened four or so years ago.  There are a number of indicators across the board in housing, what's happening in Europe, etc. that make the potential for what's unfolding now in the US and abroad potentially far worse.  Lately I've tried to put on my historian's hat and ask the question:

"When did they first know they were in  the Great Depression back in the 1930s?" 

Friday, November 18, 2011

A good prepping Bible verse...

Often I'll come across a Bible verse that seems to have a specific Survival/Preparedness application but usually I forget about sharing it with listeners as this is not a "Religious" podcast.  However, today I was reading the following verse and it reminded me of how some things are out of our hands no matter what we do in our "prepping life".  I'm a believer that we sometimes need to look beyond ourselves for true comfort in facing the unknown future that seems to draw closer every day.

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust. Surely He shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.  He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust: His truth shall be they shield and buckler.  Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.  A thousand shall fall at thy side and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.  Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.  Because thou has made the Lord, which is my refuge, even  the most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh they dwelling.  For He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
Psalm 91:1-11

That didn't last long... 'Egyptians fill streets to protest new regime'

QUOTE: Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians rallied Friday in Cairo’s Tahrir square with Islamists in the forefront to protest against what they say are attempts by the country’s military rulers to designate themselves as the guardians of a new Egypt. It was one of the largest rallied in Egypt in recent months. Most rallies in Tahrir have been led by liberal- or left-leaning groups. But Friday’s rally was dominated by the country’s most organized political group, the Muslim Brotherhood, which has rarely come out in full force since the protests that forced President Hosni Mubarak to step down in February. The Brotherhood had until recently avoided confrontation with the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, but now warns of escalating its protest campaign if plans to give permanent political powers to the military are not scrapped.

I remember quite well several months ago when this process first got underway thinking "What if the Islamists rise to power in all these governments being knocked over like dominoes?"  If you do a little research on the 'Muslim Brotherhood' you'll see why that is a concern. 

Massive Reno fire forces thousands of families to "bug out"

QUOTE: A firefighter suffered first and second-degree burns and an elderly man died of a heart attack while trying to flee a sudden wildfire that spread through the Nevada Sierra foothills and roared into Reno on Friday, blanketing upscale houses, horse pastures and mountain roads in smoke plumes, amber flames and flying embers. Authorities said the worst was likely over, but warned a change in the furious northern winds could refuel the sprawling fire that sent thousands of families fleeing their homes in the middle of the night and blanketed the region's mountain roads in flames. At least 25 properties were damaged and destroyed.

 Often it's not the complete economic collapse or the "Mutant Zombie Bikers" that I think are the biggest threats people face.  Instead the mundane issues, such as in this case an out-of-control wildfire, are the events most likely to impact our lives.  As the quote above states thousands of families had to bug out in the middle of the night to get away from this disaster.  How much time do you suppose they had?  How did they travel with "the region's mountain roads in flames"?
Something to think about...

Uh oh... Foreign hackers cause pump at water plant to fail

QUOTE:  Foreign hackers caused a pump at an Illinois water plant to fail last week, according to a preliminary state report. Experts said the cyber-attack, if confirmed, would be the first known to have damaged one of the systems that supply Americans with water, electricity and other essentials of modern life.  Companies and government agencies that rely on the Internet have for years been routine targets of hackers, but most incidents have resulted from attempts to steal information or interrupt the functioning of Web sites. The incident in Springfield, Ill., would mark a departure because it apparently caused physical destruction.

QUOTE #2: "This is arguably the first case where we have had a hack of critical infrastructure from outside the United States that caused damage," Applied Control Solutions managing partner Joseph Weiss told AFP. "That is what is so big about this," he continued. "They could have done anything because they had access to the master station." 

 One of two things will probably come from this: 1) We'll see many more copy-cat issues that could be far more damaging and/or widespread or 2) It will be a wakeup call that PUTTING IMPORTANT INFRASTRUCTURE CONTROLS ONLINE MAY BE  A REALLY STUPID IDEA!

(Glad I got that out of my system...)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Former presidential candidate Steve Forbes: 'Disaster Is Upon Us'

QUOTE: The Europeans have a matter of days, not weeks or months, to take more dramatic action to stem the crisis, Forbes declares. Specifically, he advocates for the ECB to adopt a TARP-style program and make a "massive buy" of Italian and Spanish debt. Absent that, Europe's sovereign debt crisis could turn into a full-blown banking crisis with major "contagion" implications for U.S. banks and the global economy.

QUOTE #2: "This is a very dangerous crisis," he says. "I'm not sure our policymakers here and in Europe fully realize the disaster is upon us."

I guess I'm sounding more and more like a doom-and-gloomer these days, but as I said earlier today if this is becoming the mainstream thought (Forbes is fairly mainstream in business terms, I would say) then what is being whispered amongst the well-connected and monied elite.
Which begs the question, how far away are we from something NO ONE is ready for?  (I apologize for sounding alarmist but the parallels with the events of 1929 are becoming startlingly clear to me).

Mobius: The next financial crisis will be "Hellish"

QUOTE: "There is definitely going to be another financial crisis around the corner," says hedge fund legend Mark Mobius, "because we haven't solved any of the things that caused the previous crisis."  Speaking in Tokyo, he pointed to derivatives, the financial hairball of futures, options, and swaps in which nearly all the world's major banks are tangled up.

Interesting to hear the rhetoric being ramped up, isn't it.  And if this is what's being said in public imagine what things look like behind the scene.  Now would be a good time to look at your financial portfolio and make some decisions about the amount of risk you're exposed to if things start to cascade down.  I'm no financial guru but can say this for certain: If you have an asset you can hold in your hand it's yours (physical gold, tangibles, etc.), otherwise as Gerald Celente just found out you're just holding paper

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

UPDATED: Escalation for 'Occupy Wall Street' Thursday?

QUOTE: “No more talking. They’ve got guns, we’ve got bottles. They’ve got bricks, we’ve got rocks…in a few days you’re going to see what a Molotov cocktail can do to Macy’s.”

Seems like the fading support for the Occupy Movement is causing some to consider violence.  And if there's any truth to the notion that the recent coordinated crackdown in various cities is being organized by the Dept. of Homeland Security...  Well, things could get very interesting very quickly.  Stay safe everyone.

UPDATE: BTW, this article has an interesting take on a possibly related event in D.C, or at least a commentary on the media coverage and spin of the Tea Party/Occupy dynamic.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Just Great: Police say 'Occupy Portland' protesters arming for a fight

In my own neck of the woods, no less....

QUOTE: Portland police warned on Friday that anti-Wall Street protesters in the city were fashioning makeshift weapons with wood and nails, in advance of a planned move by authorities to clear their two encampments over the weekend.

QUOTE #2: Details on possible plans for violence within the camps come from people inside the encampments who are concerned, Portland police Sergeant Pete Simpson said.  There are reports weapons are being made with wood and nails, that a hole is being dug in one of the parks and that pallets are being turned into shields, said police.

My concern about the 'Occupy' movement has always been the potential for it to turn violent.  It would be all the more dreadful if that started in my own backyard...

Search is on for cause of mysterious radiation wafting across Europe

QUOTE: The hunt is on for the source of low level radiation detected in the atmosphere "across Europe" over the past several days, nuclear officials said today.  Trace amounts of iodine-131, a type of radiation created during the operation of nuclear reactors or in the detonation of a nuclear weapon, were detected by the Czech Republic's State Office for Nuclear Safety starting two weeks ago. After the group reported its findings to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Agency released a statement today revealing similar detections had been made "in other locations across Europe." The IAEA said the current levels of iodine-131 are not high enough to warrant a public health risk, but the agency still does not know the origin of the apparent leak and an official with the agency would not say where exactly it has been detected outside the Czech Republic.

It's little more than a hunch at the moment, but I have a feeling this is going to become an important story in coming days (nothing specific, just a 'feeling').  Perhaps I have this sense as this is similar to what happened after Chernobyl melted down, that is radiation detectors began to pick up increased readings and only then did the Kremlin "come clean" about what happened.  I hope it's nothing serious, but for whatever reason it seems worth keeping an eye on.  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Paper: Israel may launch strike on Iran as soon as next month to prevent development of nuclear weapons

QUOTE: Israel will launch military action to prevent Iran developing a nuclear weapon as soon as Christmas, intelligence chiefs have warned. A report by a UN watchdog into Iran’s nuclear ambitions ‘completely discredits’ the Islamic nation’s protestations of innocence, according to Foreign Secretary William Hague.
The International Atomic Energy Agency found that Iran is developing a nuclear test facility, nuclear detonators and computer modelling for a nuclear warhead that would fit on an existing missile.  Sources say the understanding at the top of the British Government is that Israel will attempt to strike against the nuclear sites ‘sooner rather than later’ – with logistical support from the U.S.

If this is true, then (as I said earlier in the week) think about how these developments will affect your country, your region, your city.  We live in a global society now and it's likely that a major conflict "over there" will have ramifications "over here" (wherever that might be). What will happen with oil prices?  Availability of fuel in general?  Food prices?  Will this compel TSA and Homeland Security to tighten up their efforts even more?  What will that mean for ease of travel?  
This is why people prep, folks.  Be prepared.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Reason #7,894 to buy your food locally and grow your own

QUOTE: A third or more of all the honey consumed in the U.S. is likely to have been smuggled in from China and may be tainted with illegal antibiotics and heavy metals. A Food Safety News investigation has documented that millions of pounds of honey banned as unsafe in dozens of countries are being imported and sold here in record quantities.

"Honey-smuggling"?  You've got to be kidding, right? 
Unfortunately, according to this article there is a lot to be concerned about.  And if this is happening with honey what other foods might it be happening with?
Yet another reason to get as much of your food as possible from Farmers Markets and your own backyard.

Stocks slump on more Euro fears, DOW down 300 at one point

QUOTE: “The problem is, we’ve reached the domino phase, so it’s not about Greece anymore—it’s Italy and if Italy has a problem, then France has a problem too,” said Brian Battle, vice president of trading at Performance Trust Capital Partners. “The hope that there would be a solution is now non-existent.” 

As someone who monitors financial developments with an eye on seeing what they can tell us about upcoming events I can say that things are beginning to unfold more quickly, as evidenced by the following news articles covering the same basic set of developments: 

And then there's this happy, encouraging (yeah, right!) article also from CNBC: 65% Chance of Banking Crisis by End November

Oil going to $200 a barrel on Iran concerns?

QUOTE: In the first hours of the attack prices would surge, on average, by $23 a barrel, according to the survey. Under the worst case scenario, including the closure of the Strait of Hormuz, prices could increase, on average, by $61 a barrel, lifting Brent crude to an all-time high of $175 a barrel. Some traders warned that the increase could be much bigger, pushing oil prices up by $175 a barrel to a dizzying $290 a barrel. 

It wouldn't be that big of a surprise to see it go to that higher number of $290 a barrel the way things are going these days...

Other factors to keep in mind:

QUOTE #2:  The supply glitches continue to plague the market. Although Libya’s oil output has recovered to about 550,000 b/d, it remains well below the prewar level of 1.6m b/d. At the same time, oil production in Yemen and Syria has dropped by a combined 200,000 b/d due to unrest in both countries. In addition, production is running below the expected level in the North Sea, Nigeria and Azerbaijan. 

Definitely worth keeping your gas tank topped off, correct?  And if you have a way to store some extra fuel in a safe way (gas cans or holding tanks specifically designed for that purpose) it might not be a bad idea to do so as well.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Major storm to hit Alaska?

Wow!  This looks like it could be a doozy.  I'll be doing another episode later this week on Winter Survival issues, but the simplest things to keep in mind are making sure you have ways of staying warm (duh!) that don't require electricity, adequate food and water reserves, and some kind of backup communication plan in case things start to become problematic beyond what you're ready for. 

QUOTE: "This is an extremely dangerous and life-threatening storm which will be one of the worst on record over the Bering Sea and the west coast," NWS forecasters said in a bulletin Monday afternoon.

QUOTE #2: Winds near hurricane force of 74 mph were expected to generate seas as high as 25 feet in the northern Bering Sea, forecasters said. The winds were expected to raise sea levels as much as 9 feet in the Norton Sound. Those levels combined with the high waves were expected to cause significant coastal erosion and major flooding. The winds may also push sea ice on shore, adding to the dangers, NWS forecasters said.

I would not be surprised if some folks in Canada are also impacted by this event too, so keep an eye on the weather if you're along the periphery of that region as well.  In the first forum I read about this in someone referred to the movie "The Day After Tomorrow", which may not be too far-fetched.

Russia warns against striking Iran

QUOTE: Among its findings are that Tehran was helped by nuclear experts from two countries, believed to be Russia and Pakistan. The Washington Post reported that key assistance was provided by Vyacheslav Danilenko, a former Soviet nuclear scientist, hired by Iran's Physics Research Centre. 

Why is this a survival issue? Consider the following part of the article:

QUOTE #2: A raid on Iran's nuclear facilities would be likely to provoke Tehran into disruptive retaliatory measures in the Gulf that would sever shipping routes and disrupt the flow of oil and gas to export markets. Some analysts have said it could backfire and bolster the theocratic regime to the detriment of the pro-democracy movement, and spawn terror attacks on Israeli and US targets around the world. 

 Not to mention the potential for sparking World War III....

Monday, November 7, 2011

Back to Blogging!

Now that I've been making some progress on the plans for the podcast, etc. moving forward I'll be restarting this blog as a daily "Survival News" aggregation site interspersed with occasional articles about various topics.
Thanks for your patience and here's to the next phase of the Chip Monk Family Survival Podcast. :)