Essential Reading

Chicago-Area Democrats Push To Expand ‘Assault Weapons’ Ban Throughout Illinois

After a federal court upheld an “assault weapons” ban by the City of Highland Park, gun “control” supporters in Chicago’s far north suburbs are trying to expand the ban on these military-pattern semi-automatic rifles throughout the state of Illinois- under the guise of “local control.” Deb McCarver reported on the Illinois Senate Democrats website Tuesday:

In response to a recent federal court ruling in support of Highland Park’s assault weapons ban, state Senator Julie Morrison introduced a measure to restore the right to ban assault weapons to every city and village in the state.

“This is about local control,” the Deerfield Democrat said. “Highland Park decided to protect its citizens by banning assault weapons. Every other city and village in Illinois should have that same right.”

The highly controversial 2013 law that allowed Illinois residents to carry concealed weapons also prohibited local governments from banning assault weapons…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

According to the “synopsis” of Illinois Senate Bill 2130:

the Firearm Owners Identification Card Act. Deletes provision that the regulation of the possession or ownership of assault weapons are exclusive powers and functions of this State. Deletes provision that any ordinance or regulation, or portion of that ordinance or regulation, that purports to regulate the possession or ownership of assault weapons in a manner that is inconsistent with the Act, shall be invalid unless the ordinance or regulation is enacted on, before, or within 10 days after the effective date of Public Act 98-63 (July 9, 2013). Deletes provision that any ordinance or regulation described in the stricken provision enacted more than 10 days after the effective date of Public Act 98-63 is invalid. Effective immediately…

This Tuesday I noted something Robert McCoppin reported on the Chicago Tribune website April 28. From his piece:

A federal court Monday upheld Highland Park’s ban on assault weapons — possibly setting the stage for a showdown over the issue before the U.S. Supreme Court…

Illinois State Rifle Association Executive Director Richard Pearson said he was confident the law could be overturned on appeal to the Supreme Court, but the National Rifle Association would have to decide whether to make a costly appeal.

“The Second Amendment is about the right to keep and bear arms,” Pearson said. “The government doesn’t get to pick the list.”

After Senator Morrison’s action- supported by Highland Park Mayor and Democratic candidate for Congress (10th Congressional District) Nancy Rotering (as evidenced later on in that McCarver piece)- don’t be surprised if an appeal is now launched by pro-gun rights forces- costs be damned.

As for Highland Park, which is making a strong bid for wrestling away the title of “Ground Zero for Gun ‘Control’” from Oak Park, Illinois, these days, I suspect they could be on the hook for some astronomical legal fees after all is said and done.

You can track the status of SB2130 on the Illinois General Assembly website here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (


McCarver, Deb. “Morrison: Illinois should let cities ban assault weapons.” Illinois Senate Democrats. 5 May 2015. ( 7 May 2015.

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Chicago To Be Run By Emergency Financial Control Board Within 2 Years?

Last Wednesday, I reminded Survival And Prosperity readers (local ones in particular) that Chicago- upon reelecting Rahm Emanuel as Mayor- remains in serious financial trouble. From that post:

As Rahm Emanuel enters his second term as Mayor of Chicago, I feel that proverbial brick wall is still fast-approaching.

Perhaps the best Chicagoans can hope for at this point is a controlled crash landing.

I know one thing. If I were still living in the city, I’d be preparing for the coming carnage…

Some readers might feel I was being a little too “sensational” with that statement. Therefore, I’d like to offer up the following for your consideration. Reuters’ Megan Davies and Karen Pierog reported on April 8:

Chicago has not seen the population losses Detroit did and its business and commercial real estate markets remain healthy, but its current circumstances are more dire than any other major American city today, with aggregate debt of $21.4 billion, up 60 percent since 2004.

Although Chicago’s situation isn’t bad enough yet to warrant a bankruptcy filing, that threat is out there if it fails to tackle its problems.

“People say Chicago’s not Detroit,” said Tom Metzold, a senior portfolio advisor at investment manager Eaton Vance. “Not right now. Chicago is Detroit ten years from now. I don’t care how economically strong your economy is. They don’t have a printing press. You can only tax so much.”

Metzold estimated the odds of a Chapter 9 bankruptcy in the next five years are “virtually zero” but said in the next 10 years that could rise to 25 percent if it fails to act

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

In case readers are wondering, Metzold’s s “Street cred” includes serving as VP and Co-Director of Municipal Investments at Eaton Vance (one of the oldest investment management firms in the U.S.- established 1924), and as its Portfolio Manager since 1991.

Not as “optimistic” about Chicago’s financial future is Joe Mysak, Editor of Bloomberg Brief. He warned in an April 8 commentary:

I’m not a betting man. If I were, I’d bet that Chicago is going to be run by an Emergency Financial Control Board, or something like it, within two years, the same as New York City back in 1975 (and until 1986)…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Mysak, who’s been covering the municipal bond market since 1981, pointed out the city’s abysmal Moody’s credit rating (“one step from the basement of investment grade”) and wrote:

So a cut to junk may well be in the cards, and with it diminished and eventually lack of access to capital. Chicago has already creatively used, and some would say abused, the municipal market to subsidize city operations…

When the banks no longer want to lend to Chicago is presumably when the state of Illinois would come in, offering cash, loan guarantees, intercession with the federal government and whatever else the city needs in exchange for external management via an Emergency Financial Control Board…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

The author of the Encyclopedia of Municipal Bonds signed-off with:

Two years. That’s how long I give the city of Chicago. Good luck, Rahm.

Good luck Chicago…

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (


Davies, Megan and Pierog, Karen. “Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel confronts fiscal nightmare as he begins second term.” Reuters. 8 Apr. 2015. ( 12 Apr. 2015.

Mysak, Joe. “Next Stop for Chicago: Emergency Financial Control Board.” Bloomberg Brief. 8 Apr. 2015. ( 12 Apr. 2015.

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Free Online Event: Home Grown Food Summit 2015 From April 6-12

Next week, I’ll be attending the Home Grown Food Summit 2015- from the convenience of my home. From an e-mail I received this morning from Marjory Wildcraft,the “Martha Stewart of Self-Reliance” best known for her Grow Your Own Groceries DVDs:


Welcome to Home Grown Food Summit

Thank you for registering for The Home Grown Food Summit being hosted April 6-12.

Get ready to learn the essentials of food cultivation, harvesting and storage that will prepare you to grow your more organic life.

The Summit offers 30+ presentations to help you get home grown food on your dinner table.

The Summit features the worlds leading experts in backyard food production. These people have dedicated their lives to help you re-establish the skills of organic living as the foundation of good health and environment.

The Home Grown Food Summit is free to attend.

Because we all deserve healthy food.

And while organic food is often unavailable or too expensive at the showcase displays of supermarkets, we are all capable of greater self reliance. A little bit of knowledge –tips and tricks learned from experience– will short-cut your path to being more self reliant.

Like the times that you tried to use a new app on your cell phone… Apps that were explained by a friend were so much easier to pick up.

The presentations of the Home Grown Food Summit are like that.

Here is what you can expect

Starting Monday April 6th and going through to Sunday April 12th, starting at 6:00 am EST four or five presentations will be posted.

The presentations will be up for a full 24 hours for you to watch and enjoy.

An email announcing the presentations for each day will be sent to your email inbox early each morning.

Growing food is more fun in community!

Please spread the word about the “Home Grown Food Summit” to your neighbors, co-workers, friends, and family…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Consider the word spread.

“Home Grown Food Summit 2015 – Welcome!”
YouTube Video

Like Ms. Wildcraft said, this year the Summit is free to “attend” (view).

In addition, when you register for the event you receive four bonus e-books (.pdf format) by e-mail:

How Much Land You Need To Grow All The Food You Want
6 Ways To Keep Chickens And The Best One For You
How To Make Homemade Shampoo
Saving Seeds And Living Free

I already took a quick peek at my copies and they appear to have some pretty useful information.

Interested in attending the Home Grown Food Summit 2015? Click on the banner ad below for more information and to register. Please note that I receive a commission for products purchased via the event.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (

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Latest On Proposed Ban Of Common AR-15 Rifle Ammunition

Back on February 16, I blogged about the push by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) to ban common M855 ball ammunition (or SS109 as it’s sometimes referred to) for the AR-15, a semi-automatic rifle incredibly-popular with America’s shooting community. The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) charged on February 13:

In a move clearly intended by the Obama Administration to suppress the acquisition, ownership and use of AR-15s and other .223 caliber general purpose rifles, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives unexpectedly announced today that it intends to ban commonplace M855 ball ammunition as “armor piercing ammunition.” The decision continues Obama’s use of his executive authority to impose gun control restrictions and bypass Congress…

Earlier today, I tuned in to the Mrgunsngear Channel on, and noticed Mrgunsngear had uploaded a video this weekend in which he discussed the latest developments going on with the proposed ban of “the second-most common ammo sold for the AR-15”:

“Is M855/SS109 5.56 Banned Already?
**Edit—Update With Current Latest Info At End…”
YouTube Video

Personally, I suspect the proposed (current?) ban is simply more “backdoor” gun “control” coming out of the White House. Remember what I wrote back on May 31, 2011:

This report comes after a recent Washington Post piece that was published on April 11th by Jason Horowitz in which President Obama is alleged to have said his administration was working on gun control “under the radar.” Horowitz wrote:

On March 30, the 30th anniversary of the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan, Jim Brady, who sustained a debilitating head wound in the attack, and his wife, Sarah, came to Capitol Hill to push for a ban on the controversial “large magazines.” Brady, for whom the law requiring background checks on handgun purchasers is named, then met with White House press secretary Jay Carney. During the meeting, President Obama dropped in and, according to Sarah Brady, brought up the issue of gun control, “to fill us in that it was very much on his agenda,” she said.

“I just want you to know that we are working on it,” Brady recalled the president telling them. “We have to go through a few processes, but under the radar.”

In the meeting, she said, Obama discussed how records get into the system and what can be done about firearms retailers. Her husband specifically brought up the proposed ban on large magazine clips, and she noted that even former vice president Dick Cheney had suggested that some restrictions on the clips might make sense.

“He just laughed,” Sarah Brady said approvingly of the president. Both she and her husband, she emphasized, had absolute confidence that the president was committed to regulation.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“We have to go through a few processes, but under the radar.”

That’s how this administration is going to roll, especially after those gun and ammunition magazine ban setbacks at the federal level post-Newtown.

That being said, gun “control” supporters will be ready to breach the “front door” with the next major mass shooting/casualty event. Readers may recall my February 18 post about the Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act (bans ammunition magazines accepting more than 10 rounds) already introduced in the U.S. House and Senate (H.R. 752 and S. 407, respectively).

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (

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Chicago Tribune: ‘As Many As 40 Oil Trains Come Through Chicago And The Suburbs Each Week’

My girlfriend likes the popular getaway destination of Galena, Illinois (never been there myself). So she was concerned last week when breaking news appeared on the TV screen about a BNSF Railway train carrying 103 tank cars laden with crude oil derailing and exploding in that northwest part of the state.

Luckily, the incident occurred in a sparsely-populated area (no injuries reported).

But it’s been revealed that the tank cars that burst into flames had already been retrofitted with protective shields to meet a higher safety standard than federal law requires.

Richard Wronski reported in my Sunday paper (the Chicago Tribune) yesterday:

The fiery train derailment Thursday near Galena should serve as a wake-up call for the state and the Chicago area to be better prepared in the event of a similar incident in the metropolitan area, officials said…

Had the incident occurred in the city or suburbs, it would have forced the evacuation of thousands of people and caused enormous damage, officials said…

Documents filed with the state and obtained by the Tribune last year show that as many as 40 oil trains come through Chicago and the suburbs each week

Few Chicago-area fire departments have enough firefighting foam and equipment to respond effectively to the kind of roaring infernos that have resulted from tank car derailments, the Tribune reported last year…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Well that’s disturbing to read (hat tip Wronski and the Tribune for digging this info up).

As regular readers may remember, my girlfriend and I moved out of the city a year-and-a-half ago to one of the northwest suburbs, where a set of railroad tracks (frequently used by freight) is located about a half-mile away.

This event has indeed been a “wake-up call.” I really need to investigate if a potential hazardous materials incident exists with that rail line. And plan accordingly.

Chicago-area readers might want to do the same if they haven’t already.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (


Wronksi, Richard. “Galena derailment should put Chicago on alert, officials say.” Chicago Tribune. 8 Mar. 2015. ( 8 Mar. 2015

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The ‘Fearmongers’ Will Get The Last Laugh

I haven’t had much to blog about recently when it comes to the “crash prophets”– Marc Faber, Jeremy Grantham, Jim Rogers, and Peter Schiff.

I have noticed one thing though. These individuals appear to be coming under a growing barrage of attacks in the mainstream media and elsewhere lately. Following them as I have for a number of years (anyone remember when I used to be the editor of, “Tracking The World’s Greatest Investors,” from 2008 to 2010?), the harsh atmosphere feels a lot like it did in the middle of the last decade, when these four were calling for the bottom to fall out of the housing and stock markets, the economy, and larger financial system- and were subsequently ridiculed for it.

We all know what happened next. And the initial pain could have been a hell of a lot worse if Washington and the Fed hadn’t papered up that debacle and kicked it down the road a few years into the future.

As for their antagonists back then? Well, a particular line from “Grace” the school secretary in the 1986 film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off comes to mind when I think of their fate:

Well, makes you look like an ass is what he does, Ed.

These days, it’s an all-out assault again on Faber, Grantham, Rogers, and Schiff by the financial Pollyannas, emboldened by some positive economic/investment data in an overall lame recovery, historically-speaking. Case in point, a February 26 Yahoo! Finance article in which Jeff Macke wrote:

The Dow Jones Industrial Average made a fresh high, joining its cousin the S&P 500 and now we await the Nasdaq to push above 5,048. Instead of celebrating prosperity here’s what the media is likely to do which is the wrong attitude.

Trot out the usual cast of fearmongers to tell everyone why a biblical crisis is in our immediate future. This week it was Nobel Prize winning Yale Professor Robert Shiller…

I’m not picking on him. Quite the opposite. As fear mongers go Shiller is the best of them. The worst is probably Marc Faber who emerges from a cave in Switzerland periodically to call for “an 1987 level crash”. Faber started making that explicit prediction in spring of 2012 when he said the chances of a global recession that year or 2013 were 100%. He was wrong of course but that was a better call than his 2009 prediction that the U.S. would suffer hyperinflation levels only seen in Zimbabwe. For the record Zimbabwe experienced 231 million percent inflation that year. If Faber isn’t wrong on that call he is very, very, very early…

A couple of things came to mind reading Macke’s piece:

When did high stock prices become interchangeable for “prosperity”? I’d like to see the evidence demonstrating real economic prosperity and a booming stock market go hand-in-hand each and every time. Last I heard, the White House and the Fed were still on their knees praying this happens.
• Robert Shiller a “fearmonger”? If I’m not mistaken, didn’t Dr. Shiller spot both the dot-com bubble and the housing bubble? Fearmonger? Try a damned good economist. And a public servant for warning anyone who would listen about these financial debacles.
• “The worst is probably Marc Faber…” The same Dr. Faber that became well-known for advising clients to get out of the U.S. stock market one week before the October 1987 crash, for predicting the 2008 global financial crisis, for calling the March 2009 U.S. stock market bottom and subsequent rally, in addition to correctly-forecasting the rise of commodities, emerging markets, and China in the 2000s? Yeah, he’s the worst.

“But that was a better call than his 2009 prediction that the U.S. would suffer hyperinflation levels only seen in Zimbabwe. For the record Zimbabwe experienced 231 million percent inflation that year.” Did Dr. Faber predict Zimbabwe-like hyperinflation would strike the U.S. between January 1, 2009, and December 31, 2009 (which seems to be insinuated by the inclusion of that second sentence), or did Faber make this forecast during 2009 that it would eventually occur here? I see the haters have latched on to the former. In which case, produce the evidence he said hyperinflation would strike the U.S. in that particular year.

You see, here are the problems with such attacks on Marc Faber, Jeremy Grantham, Jim Rogers, Peter Schiff, and others.

• First, the “crash prophets” have a pretty solid track record over time when it comes to making correct market/investment calls. Over the years I’ve read material by journalists confirming this. Plus, I’ve catalogued it on the “Crash Prophets” page. That being said, no one’s perfect, and bad calls happen once in a while.
• Second, unless specifically stated, since I started observing Marc Faber, Jeremy Grantham, Jim Rogers, and Peter Schiff a decade ago, I get the impression they take a long-term approach to many of their forecasts. Yet, the attacks often consist of trying to call the outcome of the ball game while it’s still in the early innings, so to speak. I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve heard/read attempts to discredit these guys because something they predicted still hadn’t materialized. Perhaps it’s because the forecasted event is still unfolding?
• Third, investigating where and from whom the attacks are coming from often reveals the real motives behind the trash-talk. And many times, “where you stand depends on where you sit.” In other words, lots of obvious self-interest out there.

I expect attacks on Marc Faber, Jeremy Grantham, Jim Rogers, Peter Schiff, and other “crash prophets” to intensify as the nation’s “financial reckoning day” grows closer. It’s an evitable consequence of not donning rose-colored goggles and playing ball with the Pollyannas.

But like in the period of time after the housing crash, the “Panic of ’08,” and subsequent “Great Recession,” I’m pretty sure these esteemed investors/money managers will be having the last laugh.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (

(Editor’s note: I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein)

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Illinois Democrat Introduces Statewide Gun Registration, Ammo ‘Control’ Bill

“A list, record, or registry of legally owned firearms or law-abiding firearm owners is not a law enforcement tool and can become an instrument for profiling, harassing, or abusing law-abiding citizens based on their choice to own a firearm and exercise their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed under the United States Constitution. Further, such a list, record, or registry has the potential to fall into the wrong hands and become a shopping list for thieves.”

-State of Florida Statutes, 790.335 Prohibition of registration of firearms; electronic records

The push for more gun “control” is on the march in the “Land of Lincoln.”

Last year around this time, State Representative Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) spearheaded statewide gun registration and ammunition “control” in Illinois with HB4715. Creating the “Firearms Registration Act,” the legislation eventually went nowhere.

This time around, State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago) is the torch-bearer of more gun and ammo “control” in the Midwestern state, filing the resurrected Firearms Registration Act legislation in the Senate (SB1413) on February 20. From a synopsis of the bill over on the Illinois General Assembly website:

Creates the Firearms Registration Act. Provides that every person in the State must register each firearm he or she owns or possesses in accordance with the Act. Provides that a person shall not purchase or possess ammunition within this State without having first obtained a registration certificate identifying a firearm that is suitable for use with that ammunition, or a receipt demonstrating that the person has applied to register a suitable firearm under the Act and that the application is pending. Provides that the Department of State Police must complete a background check of any person who applies for: (1) a registration certificate for a firearm that was lawfully owned or possessed on the effective date of the Act, was brought into the State by a new resident, or was acquired by operation of law upon the death of the former owner; or (2) a renewal of a registration certificate unless, within 12 months of the date the renewal application is submitted, the applicant passed a background check conducted by the Department in connection with the applicant’s acquisition of another firearm. Provides exceptions. Amends the Criminal Code of 2012. Provides that it is a Class 2 felony to sell or transfer ownership of a firearm to another person without complying with the registration requirement of the Firearms Registration Act.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Before Illinois gun owners dismiss the chances of such legislation becoming law in the state, it should be noted that:

• 2014 was as an election year for state senators and representatives
• Illinois Democrats maintain a veto-proof supermajority in both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly in 2015- 71 Democrats to 46 Republicans in the House and 39 Democrats to 20 Republicans in the Senate
• A future mass shooting along the lines of Newtown or some other mass casualty event on American soil “featuring” firearms could be all it takes for the public to get behind the Firearms Registration Act

For more information about Illinois Senate Bill 1413 and to track its status, you can visit the Illinois General Assembly website here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (

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How To Survive A Mall Shooting

If you’ve been following the news the last couple of days, you might have heard about the threat by the terrorist group Al-Shabaab against a particular “family” of shopping malls (blogged about this Sunday). The more I thought about the potential for a mall shooting, the more I wondered if there was anything out in cyberspace that might assist readers in surviving an active shooter situation within this type of environment. Enter SPIKE’s TV series Surviving Disaster from a couple of years back (blogged about here). In particular, the episode entitled “Mall Shooting.” For those of you who’ve never heard of the television series, from the SPIKE website:

What will you do when disaster strikes? Spike TV’s new original series Surviving Disaster, led by Navy SEAL Cade Courtley, vividly takes viewers through catastrophic scenarios and arms them with the knowledge needed to survive the unthinkable. Courtley tackles worst-case scenarios and equips viewers with the practical information needed to save their own lives and the lives of their loved ones. Whether the threat is natural or man-made or on a national or personal level, Courtley speaks directly to the viewers and guides them through a comprehensive, step-by-step process to not only survive the big picture disaster, but endure the many dangerous obstacles that may occur within each catastrophic event. While leading viewers out of danger, Courtley not only provides helpful tips and hands-on instruction, but swiftly points out common misconceptions and fatal mistakes. Unlike any other series, Surviving Disaster may actually save lives by providing actions that anyone can perform.

If Cade Courtley looks familiar, it may be that you recognize him from another survival TV series called America Unplugged that recently aired on the New Berlin, Wisconsin-based TV network The Sportsman Channel (blogged about here– good stuff). Or it could be from a different project of his.

“Who is Cade Courtley?”
YouTube Video

Getting back to Surviving Disaster’s “Mall Shooting,” from the SPIKE website:

A highly trained terrorist cell takes over a crowded mall in a military style siege. Navy SEAL Cade Courtley shows you how to survive a firefight using SEAL Team tactics and take on this well armed enemy by constructing improvised weapons, smoke bombs and night vision gear.

It’s been a few years since I watched the 42-minute production. But I think it still has a lot to offer should readers ever find themselves in a similar predicament. For example, I jotted down the following from the first part of “Mall Shooting,” after the terrorists had commenced their attack:

• Don’t play dead
• Spread out
• Priority is to clear the “kill zone” as fast as possible
• Move away from the kill zone, from cover to cover, avoiding mere concealment if possible
• If no clear exit nearby, escape through the back of a store to the fire-escape hallways
• If the exits from the hallways are blocked/booby-trapped, search for a different escape route from the mall, utilizing those “you are here” maps if necessary
• One possible exit could be the loading dock area, which might be difficult for the terrorists to seal off and a potentially-good spot for law enforcement/other rescuers to gain entry into the facility

Now, some of this might sound “basic” to a number of readers. However, Courtley did cover more “advanced” topics like:

• Individual/group movement (keep at least a foot off of walls because bullets could ricochet down their length)
• Obtaining makeshift weapons and gear from within the mall
• Ambushing terrorists
• Operating an AK-type rifle acquired from the bad guys
• Constructing a makeshift silencer for the captured firearm

There’s plenty more material in Surviving Disaster’s “Mall Shooting,” which you can view in its entirety over on the SPIKE website here.

Personally, I hope readers never have to utilize this information. That being said, I’m real glad SPIKE TV and Cade Courtley put it out there for the general public.

Know of other “how to survive a mall shooting” resources? Feel free to share it with everyone via the comment section.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (

Courtley’s SEAL survival guide…

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Chicago-Area Shopping Malls Targeted By Terrorists?

Muslim extremists are calling for terror attacks directed against Western malls. From the website of Chicago CBS affiliate Channel 2 Saturday night:

A terror group with ties to al-Qaeda released an online video Saturday appearing to call for attacks on Western malls, including at least one U.S. shopping center.

There is no credible, serious threat to a location in the Chicago region, but CBS 2’s Chelsea Irving reports one area police agency is taking the message seriously.

In the 75-minute video released Saturday, Islamic extremist group al-Shabaab calls for lone followers to attack Western targets.

The speaker specifically mentions the Mall of America in Minnesota. In the last five minutes of the video, the logo of Westfield shopping centers appears. The addresses in the video are for Westfield malls in England, but the speaker calls for attacks on any Westfield mall.

In the U.S., Westfield has 38 malls in eight states. Three are in the Chicago region: in Aurora, Skokie and Vernon Hills…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Specifically, those Chicago-area shopping malls are Westfield Fox Valley (Aurora), Westfield Old Orchard (Skokie), and Westfield Hawthorn (Vernon Hills).

Keep in mind authorities say “there is no credible, serious threat to a location in the Chicago region.” Personally, I’d just as soon visit these three malls as any other these days, maintaining optimal situational awareness during those “shopping sprees.”

You can read the entire CBS 2 piece on their website here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (

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East Coast: Last-Minute Snow, Ice Removal Info From Consumer Reports

“The first flakes ahead of a potentially historic blizzard began swirling through New York City on Monday morning, with forecasters predicting up to 3 feet (90cm) of snow in the coming day and millions of people facing snarled transportation.

The National Weather Service (NWS) issued a blizzard warning for New York City and surrounding areas beginning 1 p.m. EST on Monday, and warned of two days of winter storms across the East Coast, from Pennsylvania to Maine.

Airlines have canceled more than 2,000 flights so far…”, January 26, 2015

Considering the ongoing warnings of severe winter weather for the East Coast, I thought I’d get the following last-minute information regarding snow and ice removal out to Survival And Prosperity readers in that area of the country. I hope a number of you find it useful. From the Consumer Reports website:

“Find the best snow shovel”
The right model can take some of the work out of winter cleanup

February 14, 2014

“All you need to know about clearing snow”
Get the most from your snow blower by working with the weather

January 21, 2015

“Snow removal shortcuts that save time and energy”
How to get the most out of your snow blower and snow shovel

March 3, 2014

“Best ice melts review: Top products for your driveway, walkways, and steps”
Use Consumer Reports’ five steps for smarter, safer deicing

February 2014

On the topic of ice melts, while I’ve got a bag in my arsenal, lately I’ve been using sand instead so as to minimize damage to the newer concrete driveway and older sidewalks at my house in the Chicago suburbs. QUIKRETE All-Purpose Sand (bought a 50-lb. bag last week for a little under $3 at the nearby Home Depot) is the brand I went with- and it works really good as traction is concerned. Just be sure to keep the stuff away from drains.

Good luck out there in the eastern United States, stay warm, and stay safe.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (

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Monday, January 26th, 2015 Emergencies, Essential Reading, Weather No Comments

NotifyChicago: The City Of Chicago’s Emergency Alert Program

Back when I was living in Chicago I remember reading that the city had a system in place where residents could receive alerts about emergencies going on.

I never signed up for the program, but if I were still living at my old pad on the Northwest side today, I’d give it a try.

Enter NotifyChicago. Via the City of Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management & Communications web page, under “Notification Program Overview”:


Notification Program Overview

Welcome to NotifyChicago, the City of Chicago’s tool for providing residents with direct emergency and non-emergency information. NotifyChicago is a city service that supplies residents with text messages and/or e-mail alerts for incidents/conditions such as severe weather emergencies, hazardous materials, traffic impacts, etc. Preparedness and being informed is key in an emergency. The Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) urges residents to subscribe to receive alerts sent directly to mobile phones or email accounts to stay informed. Signing up for NotifyChicago is FREE. However, depending on your service plan, you may be charged for messages and data on your devices. Contact your mobile service provider for details on costs in your plan.

How Does Notify Chicago Work?

In the event of an emergency, the city’s designated personnel will send text messages and/or e-mail alerts directly to the registered phones or email accounts using this NotifyChicago system. Non-emergency alerts may be issued for traffic disruptions to keep public informed of related major street closures or events impacting traffic. Those registering for texts/emails can choose to receive both emergency and non-emergency notifications or just emergency notices. Once registered, alerts will be sent to the mobile phone/email address designated as situations arise…

NotifyChicago sounds like a terrific tool for a Chicago worker, resident, and visitor to have access to during an emergency. I tried to find out if Cook County and the State of Illinois had similar emergency alert programs, but didn’t see any advertised on their respective web sites (I plan to investigate more).

Interested in finding out more about NotifyChicago? Head on over to the program site here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (

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Britain’s MI5 Chief, Former CIA Deputy Director Issue Terrorism Warnings

There’s no doubt in my mind that terrorism will soon be coming to our doorstep again.

Conducted both “lone wolf” style and via organizational activity.

And two high-profile members of the U.S. and U.K. intelligence communities are suggesting the same. From the Agence France-Presse (AFP) website yesterday:

The head of Britain’s domestic spy agency MI5 warned on Thursday that militant Islamists in Syria were planning “mass casualty attacks” in the West and that intelligence services may be powerless to stop them.

“We know… that a group of core al-Qaeda terrorists in Syria is planning mass casualty attacks against the West,” Andrew Parker told journalists in London a day after an Islamist attack in Paris claimed 12 lives.

“Although we and our partners try our utmost, we know that we cannot hope to stop everything,” he added…

“We still face more complex and ambitious plots that follow the now sadly well-established approach of al-Qaeda and its imitators — attempts to cause large-scale loss of life, often by attacking transport systems or iconic targets,” he said.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

There’s also this from former CIA Deputy Director and CBS News Senior Security Contributor Michael Morell back on December 15, 2014. From an exchange between CBS This Morning co-host Norah O’Donnell and Morell (speaking about the Australian lone-wolf terrorist event going on that day):

O’DONNELL: Michael, when other countries will look at this incident, perhaps as ISIS succeeding in some way in encouraging lone wolves to carry out these types of attacks. What concerns you the most?

MORELL: What concerns me the most is that we’re going to see this kind of terrorism around the world, and we are going to see it here, Norah. We are going to see this kind of attack here. And we need to be prepared for that. It shouldn’t surprise people when this happens here sometime over the next year or so- guaranteed.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“When this happens here sometime over the next year or so- guaranteed”

Yikes. That’s the first time I’ve ever heard a timeframe being attached to a threat like that.

And a guarantee to boot.

Does Morell know something you and I don’t?

Considering his background- probably.

CBS Video

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (

(UPDATE: The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security issued a terrorism-related intelligence bulletin Friday to 18,000 U.S. law enforcement agencies in the wake of the Paris terrorist events. However, it did not specify any specific threat to the U.S. homeland connected to the incidents in France.)


“Militants planning mass casualty attacks against West.” Agence France-Presse. 8 Jan. 2015. ( 9 Jan. 2014.

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Marc Faber, Jeremy Grantham, Jim Rogers, And Peter Schiff All Sound The Alarm

I find it both funny and disturbing that the financial types who missed the U.S. housing bubble/bust and global economic crisis that was readily-visible by the second half of 2008 are now claiming the U.S. economic “recovery” is on solid footing and there are no asset bubbles in sight.

Meanwhile, the few individuals who correctly-predicted that carnage- including Marc Faber, Jeremy Grantham, Jim Rogers, and Peter Schiff- are sounding the alarm again.

Here’s what each of these “crash prophets” have been saying lately (the following statements have all been blogged about previously on Survival And Prosperity).

Swiss-born investor and money manager Marc Faber warned CNBC Squawk Box viewers on September 19, 2014:

Today, the good news is we have a bubble in everything, everywhere– with very few exceptions. And, eventually, there will be a problem when these asset markets begin to perform poorly. The question is- what will be the catalyst? It could be a rise in interest rates not engineered by the Fed, because I think they’ll keep interests rates at zero on the Fed funds rate for a very long time… We could have essentially a break in bond markets at some point. We also could have a strong dollar. A strong dollar has already happened in the last two months signifies that international liquidity is tightening. And when that happens, usually it’s not very good for asset markets.

“A bubble in everything, everywhere.” Reminds me of what British-born investment strategist Jeremy Grantham said right before the asset bubbles popped during the “Panic of ’08.” Speaking of Grantham, he penned in his November 2014 quarterly investment letter entitled “Bubble Watch Update”:

I am still a believer that the Fed will engineer a fully-fledged bubble (S&P 500 over 2250) before a very serious decline…

My personal fond hope and expectation is still for a market that runs deep into bubble territory (which starts, as mentioned earlier, at 2250 on the S&P 500 on our data) before crashing as it always does. Hopefully by then, but depending on what the rest of the world’s equities do, our holdings of global equities will be down to 20% or less. Usually the bubble excitement – which seems inevitably to be led by U.S. markets – starts about now, entering the sweet spot of the Presidential Cycle’s year three, but occasionally, as you have probably discovered the hard way already, history can be a snare and not a help.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Fully-fledged bubble (S&P 500 over 2250) before a very serious decline…”

The S&P 500 stands at 2,058 this Sunday- only 192 points away from Grantham’s bubble “target.”

There’s also investor, financial commentator, and author Jim Rogers, who was talking U.S. equities on RT’s Boom Bust on December 26, 2014, when he remarked:

I know the bear market will come… The next bear market, Erin, is going to be much worse than the last one because the debt has gone through the roof. Debt worldwide, including the U.S., has skyrocketed, and we’re all going to have to pay a terrible price for all this money printing and all this debt.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Finally, there’s Euro Pacific Capital’s Peter Schiff, who argued on The Schiff Report YouTube video blog on Halloween 2014:

When this illusion collapses, this fantasy of a U.S. economic recovery- because everybody believes there’s no recession anywhere in sight, that we’re years away from a U.S. recession- when in fact, another recession is right around the corner. And in fact, it will be worse than the recession that we had in 2008, 2009, if the Fed does not come in with QE 4…

I expect Janet Yellen to react to this coming recession the way Ben Bernanke reacted to the last one. The way Alan Greenspan reacted to the last one. Because that’s the only playbook we’ve got. And remember, when this recession starts, they can’t start with rate cuts. Rates are at zero. You can’t cut from zero. All they can do is revamp QE. And believe me, it’s going to have to be a lot bigger than QE 3. QE 4 is going to have to be bigger than QE 3 for the same reason QE 3 had to be bigger than QE 2- the economy builds up a tolerance. The more addicted to QE, the more QE you need to get any kind of result. And this last result was minimal in the real economy. I mean, yes- the Fed was able to get the stock market to go up, but the real economy never experienced any real economic growth. The average American is worse off today than when QE began. By far. Incomes are down. Real employment is down. Net worth is down. Poverty is up. Government dependency is up. The cost of living is up. Nothing has improved, except maybe the level of optimism on Wall Street…

This crisis is not really going to be about a credit crisis. Not private credit. It’s going to be about debt. Sovereign credit. It’s going to be about the dollar. A currency crisis. A sovereign crisis. Which is going to be very different than the crisis we had in 2008. It’s a crisis of an excess of QE. Of an overdose of QE. That’s the one that’s coming. That’s the one that we have to prepare for. That’s the one that I have been warning about since the beginning…

Schiff, who’s also a financial commentator and author, has been the most vocal of the four in warning of economic pain dead-ahead of us.

Jim Rogers talking the day after Christmas about the coming bear market alerted me to the fact that all these “crash prophets” whom I regularly-follow on this blog are now sounding the alarm at the same time. To summarize their recent warnings:

Marc Faber- “A bubble in everything, everywhere.” Actually, I believe he still likes Asia and Asian emerging economies.
Jeremy Grantham- “I am still a believer that the Fed will engineer a fully-fledged bubble (S&P 500 over 2250) before a very serious decline.”
Jim Rogers- “The next bear market… is going to be much worse than the last one because the debt has gone through the roof.”
Peter Schiff- “An overdose of QE. That’s the one that’s coming. That’s the one that we have to prepare for. That’s the one that I have been warning about since the beginning.”

At the start of 2015, it will be interesting to see how the next couple of years play out, for I believe Americans will get the chance to experience quite a bit of the above in that time period- whether they want to or not.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (

(Editor’s notes: I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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Largest Sunspot In 24 Years Pointed At Earth

There’s the potential for severe space weather directed at Earth in the coming days. Calla Cofield reported on the website this morning:

The largest sunspot to appear on Earth’s nearest star in more than two decades is once again pointed at the planet, and it will likely kick-start solar storms, NASA scientists say.

The massive sunspot, previously known as Active Region 12192, was turned toward Earth in October and early November, but rotated out of view. While it was on the Earth-facing side of the sun, the sunspot did not produce any coronal mass ejections — hot bursts of material ejected into space at 4 million mph (6.4 million km/h) — which have the potential to damage satellites and power grids. Now the active region has rotated back around to face Earth again, and although the sunspot has shrunk in size, it will likely be disruptive, NASA scientist Holly Gilbert told during a video interview about the massive sunspot…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

I watched that video interview with Dr. Gilbert about AR 122090 (formerly AR 12192). From the exchange between Gilbert and Cofield:

COFIELD: So why should we pay attention to sunspots?
GILBERT: Sunspots are the regions where space weather is born. Basically, where solar flares originate and these storms called coronal mass ejections, where tons of billions of material is being blown- sometimes towards the Earth- at over 4 million miles an hour. This can affect satellites, our technology. It can cause power grid outages…
COFIELD: Are you able to predict what are the odds of this sunspot having a major solar ejection or coronal mass ejection?
GILBERT: We’re not at the point at predicting when it will happen, but we have a good idea based on the structure of that magnetic field at the sunspot that it’s very possible that it will create some midlevel flares right now. When it was on the side of the Sun facing us a few weeks ago before it rotated around, it actually led to six massive solar flares and multiple smaller flares. So we know that based on the size and the complexity of the magnetic field that there’s potential for these flares to occur.

The chief of the Solar Physics Laboratory at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center added:

The coronal mass ejections did not occur along with those large solar flares. This time around, it’s more likely to have some coronal mass ejections associated with it even though the flares themselves might be smaller.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Massive Sunspot Returns- What’s the Solar Forecast?” Video

Back on July 23, the NASA Science News website discussed the potential damage from a coronal mass ejection as strong as the infamous Carrington Event of 1859. From the article:

A similar storm today could have a catastrophic effect. According to a study by the National Academy of Sciences, the total economic impact could exceed $2 trillion or 20 times greater than the costs of a Hurricane Katrina. Multi-ton transformers damaged by such a storm might take years to repair

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

No mention of what that could mean for human life in the affected region of the planet…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (


Cofield, Calla. “Monster Sunspot May Unleash Powerful Solar Flares (Video).” 25 Nov. 2014. ( 25 Nov. 2014.

Phillips, Tony. “Near Miss: The Solar Superstorm of July 2012” NASA Science News. 23 July 2014. ( 25 July 2014.

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Fixed? Illinois Public Pension Gap Surpasses $111 Billion

“The Illinois General Assembly barely passed legislation yesterday that’s been touted to ‘fix’ the state’s $100 billion public pension crisis.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, who has promised to sign SB0001, declared in a press release Tuesday:

Since I took the oath of office, I’ve pushed relentlessly for a comprehensive pension reform solution that would erase a $100 billion liability and restore fiscal stability to Illinois.

Today, we have won. The people of Illinois have won.

Not so fast, big guy…”

Survival And Prosperity, December 4, 2013, post

I remember when Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed off on Illinois Senate Bill 1 (or 0001, take your pick) on December 5 of last year, talk about the State’s monstrous public pension funding gap practically disappeared overnight. But yesterday, Benjamin VanMetre of the Illinois Policy Institute- “an independent research and education organization generating public policy solutions aimed at promoting personal freedom and prosperity in Illinois”- dredged up that nightmare for Illinoisans over at their website. That “$100 billion liability” that was supposed to be “erased.” It’s now more than $111 billion. VanMetre wrote:

Illinois’ unfunded pension liability grew to more than $111 billion this year, according to official estimates. That’s a $48 billion increase just since 2009.

That $111 billion pension shortfall means the state now has only 39 cents of every dollar it should have in the bank today to pay for future benefits. In the private sector, these funds would be deemed bankrupt…

Illinois Senate Bill 1, which was touted to reduce the State’s annual pension payment by more than $1 billion, is currently facing a legal challenge. VanMetre added:

But as we wait for a decision, Illinois’ pension debt continues to grow. The state’s pension payment for the current budget year totals $6.9 billion, and without reform, that pension payment will balloon to $7.6 billion for the 2016 budget year; an increase of $681 million…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

So what’s the likelihood of the courts shooting down this new public pension law? As I wrote in that December 4, 2013, post:

This legislation is almost certainly headed to court, as in the Illinois Supreme Court. As I noted on December 1, a provision of the 1970 Illinois Constitution defines public pension benefits as “an enforceable contractual relationship” that “shall not be diminished or impaired.”

And even if it passes constitutional muster, consider what I also added in that post:

As I blogged yesterday, the Wall Street Journal recently picked apart the legislative “fix,” and concluded not only was it “fake” but:

Even under the most optimistic forecasts, these nips and tucks would only slim the state’s pension liability down to $80 billion- which is where it was after Governor Quinn signed de minimis fixes in spring 2010 to get him past that year’s election…

“$80 billion.”

Stay tuned…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (


VanMetre, Benjamin. “Illinois’ Pension Debt Balloons To $111 Billion.” Illinois Policy Institute. 17 Nov. 2014. ( 18 Nov. 2014.

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