Essential Reading

Latest On Strong Geomagnetic Storm Possibly Hitting Earth

Last night I blogged about the Sun unleashing an X-class solar flare in the direction of our planet, and the potential for a strong geomagnetic storm due to a “likely” coronal mass ejection (CME) accompanying the flare.

Here’s the latest from the NOAA/NWS Space Weather Prediction Center about the likelihood of severe space weather in the coming days. From their website this morning:

2014-09-11 05:01 UTC A Pair of CMEs

G2 (Moderate) geomagnetic storms remain in the forecast for September 12th as a result of the coronal mass ejection (CME) associated with the R1 (Minor) solar flare observed on the 9th. The latest WSA-Enlil model run has the CME associated with yesterday’s R3 (Strong) solar flare arriving mid to late day on that same day. A G3 (Strong) Geomagnetic Storm Watch has been issued for September 13th due to the combined influence of these two events with G1 (Minor) storming anticipated to continue into September 14th. In addition, the S1 (Minor) solar radiation storm that is in progress as a result of the eruption yesterday is expected to persist for the next few days. Keep in mind that the forecast periods listed are in Universal Time so aurora watchers in the northern U.S. should be looking for possible activity both Thursday and Friday nights. Stay tuned for updates…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Okay, so the SWPC is predicting “G2 (Moderate) geomagnetic storms” for Friday, September 12, and issuing a “G3 (Strong) Geomagnetic Storm Watch” for Saturday, September 13.

According to the “NOAA Space Weather Scales” web page under “NOAA Space Weather Scale for Geomagnetic Storms,” G2 (“Moderate”) storms are characterized by the following:

Power systems: high-latitude power systems may experience voltage alarms, long-duration storms may cause transformer damage.

Spacecraft operations: corrective actions to orientation may be required by ground control; possible changes in drag affect orbit predictions.

Other systems: HF radio propagation can fade at higher latitudes, and aurora has been seen as low as New York and Idaho (typically 55° geomagnetic lat.)**.

As for G3 (“Strong”) geomagnetic storms:

Power systems: voltage corrections may be required, false alarms triggered on some protection devices.

Spacecraft operations: surface charging may occur on satellite components, drag may increase on low-Earth-orbit satellites, and corrections may be needed for orientation problems.

Other systems: intermittent satellite navigation and low-frequency radio navigation problems may occur, HF radio may be intermittent, and aurora has been seen as low as Illinois and Oregon (typically 50° geomagnetic lat.)**.

The damage from a G2 or G3 geomagnetic storm doesn’t appear to be too significant. G4 (“Severe”) geomagnetic storm events look like the ones we should be worried about:

Power systems: possible widespread voltage control problems and some protective systems will mistakenly trip out key assets from the grid…

The folks over at the Space Weather Prediction Center seem to think electrical grids aren’t in any real danger from this latest bout of severe space weather. Doyle Rice reported on the USA Today website this morning:

Major disruptions are not expected, even though the flare was classified as an “X-class” flare, which is at the high end of the solar flare scale. Wednesday’s flare followed a weaker flare late Monday.

“We expect geomagnetic storm levels in the G2 (moderate) and G3 (strong) range,” said NOAA space weather forecaster Bill Murtagh.

“G2-G3 geomagnetic storms can cause some problems for the (power) grid but are typically very manageable,” Murtagh said in an e-mail Thursday morning. “We may also see some anomalies with satellites so satellite operators around the world have been notified. And problems with the accuracy of GPS have been observed with this level of storming.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Rice added later:

The worst of the energetic particles streaming from the sun likely will miss Earth this time…

Did the Earth just “dodge a bullet” from the Sun? Guess we’ll know for sure after the weekend.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Rice, Doyle. “Solar storm heading for Earth.” USA Today. 11 Sep. 2014. (http://www.usatoday.com/story/weather/2014/09/10/solar-flare-space-weather/15415827/). 11 Sep. 2014.

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Strong Geomagnetic Storm To Hit Earth In Coming Days?

Survival And Prosperity readers across the world- Earth was in the crosshairs of a powerful X-class solar flare earlier today. USA Today’s Doyle Rice reported this evening:

A solar flare that launched off the sun Wednesday afternoon could wreak havoc with communications systems and power systems on the Earth, as well as with satellites in orbit, in coming days.

Forecasters with NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center said the flare already “caused impacts to high-frequency radio communications on Earth today,” according to NOAA. “A coronal mass ejection (CME) associated with this event is likely, but further analysis is necessary to determine whether it will produce geomagnetic storming on Earth.”…

If a CME occurred, Earth’s magnetosphere will likely be disturbed and a geomagnetic storm could result in the next few days, NOAA reports…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Rice added:

Space weather forecaster Bill Murtagh said that scientists will know more about when and where the impacts will be when more data comes in later Wednesday and early Thursday…

I visited the Space Weather Prediction Center website, and here’s their latest on the event:

2014-09-10 23:18 UTC Recent R3 Solar Flare

Active Region 2158, now near center disk, produced a X1 (NOAA Scale R3 – Strong) solar flare today at 10/1745 UTC (Sep 10th at 01:45pm EDT). Impacts to HF radio communications on the daylight side of Earth lasted for a little more than an hour.

Initial information suggests that CME is likely associated with this event, however, further analysis is underway at this time…

Standby for more details.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Now, regular blog readers might remember the TESIS Geomagnetic Activity Forecast I named “Resource Of The Week” back on August 24, 2013. In their “3-day forecast of solar activity,” the Russians are predicting a 1 percent “probability of a strong magnetic storm” Thursday, a 20 percent probability of a strong magnetic storm Friday, and a 5 percent probability Saturday.

Time and time again I’ve blogged about the threat from severe space weather. This latest bout has the potential to be real bad according to what I’ve been reading.

I plan on checking back with the Space Weather Prediction Center (website) later tonight or tomorrow if necessary to find out the results of their “further analysis.”

I suggest you might want to do the same.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Rice, Doyle. “Solar Storm Heading for Earth.” WLTX19.com. 10 Sep. 2014. (http://www.wltx.com/story/tech/science/2014/09/10/solar-storm-heading-for-earth/15418653/). 10 Sep. 2014.

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Retired General And FOX News Analyst: ‘We May Even See On 9/11/14 MH370 Resurface Again’

On Monday, I learned retired United States Air Force Lieutenant General and FOX News military analyst Thomas McInerney had issued a dire warning regarding terrorism directed against the United States. The former commander of the 11th Air Force appeared on the FOX News Channel last Saturday, and told viewers:

On the 7th of September, a major news network and a major publishing network are going to put out a book, and it’s going to be earth-shattering of what’s happening and what happened. And, the fact is, we may even see on 9/11/14 MH370 resurface again. We should be prepared for anything. We should go to DEFCON 1- which is our highest state of readiness- and be prepared as we lead up to 9/11.

When pressed for more details about that September 7 date, McInerney said he couldn’t elaborate. He did add:

It is going to be extremely important, and America should take notice. We are less safe today than we were 6 years ago. General Mike Flynn, the director of DIA who’s retiring now, has pointed out that they have almost doubled the radical Islamic organizations in the last 6 years, and probably a 30 percent increase in the force structure.


“Lt. General McInerney Warns of New 9/11 Event”
YouTube Video

A quick search of the Internet revealed nothing except speculation about General McInerney’s warning. Stay tuned…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Related Reading: U.S. ‘Preparing A Proposal’ For Bail-Ins

From my other blog- Offshore Safe Deposit Boxes- this morning:

Federal Reserve: U.S. Is ‘Preparing A Proposal’ For Bail-Ins

It looks like the United States is putting together a “bail-in” program for its “systemically important banks.” Mark O’Byrne, Executive Director of international bullion dealers GoldCore, wrote on the company’s Gold Blog on August 12:

Speaking about the steps that have been taken internationally in order to “strengthen the financial system” and to reduce the “probability of future financial crisis,” [Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley] Fischer said that the U.S. was preparing proposals for bank bail-ins for “systemically important banks.”

“Additional steps have been taken in some countries. For example, in the United States, capital ratios and liquidity buffers at the largest banks are up considerably, and their reliance on short-term wholesale funding has declined considerably. Work on the use of the resolution mechanisms set out in the Dodd-Frank Act, based on the principle of a single point of entry–though less advanced than the work on capital and liquidity ratios–holds the promise of making it possible to resolve banks in difficulty at no direct cost to the taxpayer.

As part of this approach, the United States is preparing a proposal to require systemically important banks to issue bail-inable long-term debt that will enable insolvent banks to recapitalize themselves in resolution without calling on government funding–this cushion is known as a “gone concern” buffer.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

At least someone at the Fed now recognizes the “probability of future financial crisis.”

You can read the entire post on that other blog here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Thursday, August 14th, 2014 Banking, Essential Reading, Federal Reserve No Comments

Fernando ‘FerFAL’ Aguirre’s 2005 Essay: ‘Thoughts On Urban Survival’

I first brought up Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre on Survival And Prosperity within days of launching the blog. I wrote on December 1, 2010:

Last week I mentioned that I follow a couple of blogs on a regular basis. Surviving In Argentina is one of those and is authored by an Argentine named Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre who, like Orlov, has first-hand experience of what a financial collapse looks like. In his blog, Aguirre (who has lived in the U.S.) talks about how he and his young family survived the economic crisis in Argentina and how they’re coping now. It’s a rich source of information for surviving tough times, so much so FerFAL went ahead and wrote The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse in 2009.

I have a copy of The Modern Survival Manual. I’ve found it so relevant to my circumstances (living in Chicago and now its suburbs), I’ve referred back to it on a regular basis.

FerFAL has a new survival-themed book out. From an e-mail I received from him on June 29:

Hello Everyone!

My New Book, “Bugging Out and Relocating” is now available in Amazon!!

“Bugging Out & Relocating” is the “homework” I did for leaving Argentina. Unlike many prepper books floating around these days, this is about what I actually did, picking up a couple suitcases each, leaving everything behind and moving to a country I had never set foot on before. I basically did so by doing what I explain in this book…

Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying Put is not an Option sounds real interesting. I can’t wait to read it.

Now, did any readers know that Fernando Aguirre also published a pretty lengthy essay on urban survival back in 2005? I discovered it while reading his blog. It’s long- divided into seven parts- and chock-full of information and lessons gleaned from actual experiences. Remember, Northern Ireland-based FerFAL lived through an economic collapse in modern times. Even though I read the essay some years back, there’s one part in Thoughts on Urban Survival that still blows my mind. Aguirre wrote:

It happened 4 years ago, almost a year after the December 2001 crisis. It was a social studies class and this teacher, don’t remember if it was a he or a she, was explaining the different kinds of social pyramids. God! Now I remember more! We even had a text book with those darn, cruel pyramids! The first pyramid explained the basic society. A pyramid with two horizontal lines, dividing those on top (high social class) those in the middle (middle class) and the bottom of the pyramid (the poor, proletarian). The teacher explained that the middle of the pyramid, the middle class, acted as a cushion between the rich and the poor, taking care of the social stress. The second pyramid had a big middle section, this was the pyramid that represents 1st world countries. I which the bottom is very thin and arrows show that there is a possibility to go from low to middle class, and from middle to the top of the social pyramid. Our teacher explained that this was the classic, democratic capitalist society, and that on countries such as Europeans one, socialists, the pyramid was very similar but a little more flat, meaning that here is a big middle section, middle class, and small high and low class. There is little difference between the three of them.

The third pyramid showed the communist society. Where arrows from the low and middle class tried to reach the top but they bounced off the line. A small high society and one big low society, cushioned by a minimal middle class section of pyramid. Then we turned the page and saw the darned fourth pyramid. This one had arrows from the middle class dropping to the low, poor class.

“What is this?” Some of us asked.

The teacher looked at us. “This is us”

“It’s the collapsed country, a country that turns into 3rd world country like in pyramid five where there is almost no middle class to speak, one huge low, poor class , and a very small, very rich, top class.”

“What are those arrows that go from the middle to the bottom of the pyramid?” Someone asked.

You could hear a pin drop. “That is middle class turning into poor”.

I won’t lie, no one cried, though people rubbed their faces, held their heads and their breath.

No one cried, but we all knew at that very moment that all we thought, all we took for granted, simply was not going to happen.

“You see, the income from the middle class is not enough to function as middle class any more. Some from the top class fall to middle class, but the vast majority of the middle class turns into poor” Said the teacher.

I don’t know how many people in that room suddenly understood that he/she was poor.

The teacher continued “You see, we have a middle class that suddenly turns to poor, creating a society of basically poor people, there is no more middle class to cushion tensions any more. Middle class suddenly discovers that they are overqualified for the jobs they can find and have to settle for anything they can obtain, there for unemployment sky rockets, too much to offer, too little demand. You see they prepare, study for a job they are not going to get. You kids, you are studying Architecture because you simply wish to do so. Only 3 or 4 percent of you will actually find a job related to architecture.”

We all sat there, letting it all sink in. After a few months, it all proved to be true. Even the amount of students that dropped out of college increased to at least 50%. They either so no point in studying something that would not make much of a difference in their future salaries, had no money to keep themselves in college, or simply had to drop college to work and support their families…

Any of this strike a chord with readers? I’m guessing it might.

Anyway, check out the rest of Fernando Aguirre’s Thoughts on Urban Survival on his Surviving In Argentina blog here.

Just be sure to set aside a large block of time- or several smaller ones- to read it and take it all in.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: Link added to “Resources” page)

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Severe Weather, Tornadoes Predicted This Weekend

I’m rather concerned about severe weather- including tornadoes- a number of meteorologists have been warning about since yesterday. From the Weather Channel website tonight:

As is typical of spring, the threat of severe weather is ramping up from the Plains into the Mississippi Valley, Ohio Valley and parts of the South through early next week.

This weekend, the next weather system will begin to kick into gear and spark multiple rounds of severe thunderstorms and possible tornadoes from Saturday through at least Tuesday. In fact, we could see an outbreak of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes on multiple days…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

And then there’s this from Alex Sosnowski, Expert Senior Meteorologist, on AccuWeather.com this evening:

A multiple-day outbreak of severe thunderstorms, including tornadoes, is set to begin this weekend. The outbreak is likely to be the worst of the season so far and may end up being one of the top severe weather events for the season

People will need to keep a close eye on the weather, watch for rapidly changing weather conditions and pay careful attention to severe weather and tornado warnings as they are issued.

Now is the time to review tornado safety measures with your family…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Not to be a worry-wart, but I think Sosnowski is on to something here. Please keep a close eye on the weather for the next couple of days. Get a weather radio (I bought a Midland WR-100 a couple of years back- and love it) if you don’t have one already.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: The Midland WR-100 is discontinued. The Midland WR-120B looks like its replacement- and a very good one according to Amazon.com reviews .)

Sources:

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Resource Of The Week: The Great Northern Prepper’s ‘Prepper Resources’ Page

I recently stumbled on a preparedness blog- The Great Northern Prepper, “Where Preparedness is a state of mind as well as a style of life”- by ex-Marine and security contractor Richard Morgan.

The Alaska native has amassed a large number of prepping resources (in .pdf format) on his aptly-named “Prepper Resouces” page.

“Over 570 and counting!” according to Morgan.

The resources fall under the following categories:

-General Preparedness
-Homesteading
-Wilderness Survival
-Food Preps
-Water
-First Aid/Medical
-NBC- (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical)
-EMP
-Military Field Manuals
-Prepper Tech
-Gardening (lots here)
-Building Plans (tons here)
-Work Magazine
-Natural Disaster Preparedness

I took a look at a few of these .pdf files, and most were teriffic.

Anyone looking to populate a flash drive or other storage device with freely-available prepper resources in an electronic format might want to start here on The Great Northern Prepper blog.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: Link added to “Resources” page)

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Reports: Chicago Manipulating Crime Statistics

“Downgrade and reclassify.”

It’s something I’ve heard leveled against the City of Chicago with increasing regularity since I started this blog in 2010.

I really became aware of it from reading the popular Chicago police blog Second City Cop.

From a July 24, 2013, post:

Again, here is where CompStat really shines. Reclassify the crimes from “Strong Arm Robbery” to “Theft from Person” and –tada!!!– Instant drop in violent crime. You don’t think they’re doing it? How about those juveniles that got caught the other day? The one had another smart phone and was charged with “Theft of Lost/Mislaid Property” probably because no one could identify who committed the actual robbery. Or the lack of police that is emboldening the robbers? If someone has to wait an hour for a police report, they might as well head home and do it over the phone….or not do it at all. –Tada!!!— another drop in crime!

Downgrade and reclassify? That’s just tin-foil hat talk, right?

Apparently not.

David Bernstein and Noah Isackson wrote on Chicago magazine’s website yesterday:

Chicago conducted a 12-month examination of the Chicago Police Department’s crime statistics going back several years, poring through public and internal police records and interviewing crime victims, criminologists, and police sources of various ranks. We identified 10 people, including Groves, who were beaten, burned, suffocated, or shot to death in 2013 and whose cases were reclassified as death investigations, downgraded to more minor crimes, or even closed as noncriminal incidents—all for illogical or, at best, unclear reasons.

This troubling practice goes far beyond murders, documents and interviews reveal. Chicago found dozens of other crimes, including serious felonies such as robberies, burglaries, and assaults, that were misclassified, downgraded to wrist-slap offenses, or made to vanish altogether. (We’ll examine those next month in part 2 of this special report.)

Many officers of different ranks and from different parts of the city recounted instances in which they were asked or pressured by their superiors to reclassify their incident reports or in which their reports were changed by some invisible hand. One detective refers to the “magic ink”: the power to make a case disappear. Says another: “The rank and file don’t agree with what’s going on. The powers that be are making the changes.”

Granted, a few dozen crimes constitute a tiny percentage of the more than 300,000 reported in Chicago last year. But sources describe a practice that has become widespread at the same time that top police brass have become fixated on demonstrating improvement in Chicago’s woeful crime statistics

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Two words come to mind here about these claims:

Truly disturbing.

The alleged manipulation of crime statistics goes beyond downgrading, reclassifying, and fudging.

Frank Main and Stefano Esposito reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website yesterday:

About one-quarter of victims of aggravated assault and battery failed to get counted in Chicago Police statistics for 2012, according to a city Office of the Inspector General report released Monday.

That’s because police didn’t count each person in a crime involving multiple victims as a separate offense, the inspector general’s office said.

The audit reviewed a sample of 383 assault-related incident reports out of a total of 83,480 for 2012.

Because of the findings, Chicago Police officials have agreed to review every aggravated assault and battery in 2012 and 2013 — and count each victim…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Remember, Chicago isn’t due to release the second part of its special report until next month.

If I were certain Chicago Police Department brass, I’d be seriously concerned about my job right now, as this developing situation looks to be a major blow to what credibility the City still has left with residents and others.

I know one thing. From now on, every time a City official brings up crime statistics, eyes will be rolling… long after heads may have due to this debacle.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Bernstein, David and Isackson, Noah. “The Truth About Chicago’s Crime Rates.” Chicago. 7 Apr. 2014. (http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/May-2014/Chicago-crime-rates/). 8 Apr. 2014.

Esposito, Stefano and Main, Frank. “Chicago Police underreported number of 2012 aggravated assault and battery, audit finds.” Chicago Sun-Times. 7 Apr. 2014. (Chicago Police underreported number of 2012 aggravated assault and battery, audit finds). 8 Apr. 2014.

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Must-Watch Speech: Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke On Responsibly-Armed Americans

Heading north past the state line, Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke, Jr., is in the headlines again. Sheriff Clarke’s name may ring a bell with regular readers of Survival And Prosperity due to a memorable Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office PSA he recorded around the beginning of 2013. I blogged back on January 27, 2013

North of “Madiganistan,” there’s a new ad being aired on the radio:

I’m Sheriff David Clarke and I want to talk to you about something personal- your safety. It’s no longer a spectator sport- I need you in the game. But are you ready? With officers laid off and furloughed, simply calling 911 and waiting is no longer your best option. You could beg for mercy from a violent criminal. Hide under a bed. Or you can fight back. But are you prepared? Consider taking a certified safety course in handling a firearm so you can defend yourself until we get there. You have a duty to protect yourself and your family. We’re partners now. Can I count on you?

This safety message brought to you by the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office.

At a recent United States Concealed Carry Association Open House Event held in West Bend, Wisconsin, Sheriff Clarke spoke of that PSA and subsequent ones, including the support and disdain he received from them. Clarke told the USCCA open house audience:

I got tired of seeing the Second Amendment becoming the bastard child of the Bill of Rights. As far as I’m concerned, the Second Amendment is as important as the First Amendment, it’s as important as the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable searches and seizures, it’s as important as the Fifth Amendment right to counsel, it’s as fundamental as the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, and on and on and on.

And but for the Second Amendment, the other ones are not possible.

Because what leads to despots in our history- you first disarm people, you gain control of the media.

That gives rise to despots. And that’s the importance of an armed citizenry…

It’s a terrific speech about responsibly-armed Americans, which you can watch in its entirety (less than 15 minutes) below…

“Gutsy Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Delivers Unforgettable Speech at USCCA Event”
(Speech from 2:46 to 17:07)
YouTube Video

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Chicago Money Smart Week: Over 500 Free Financial Classes, Events

This morning, I opened up my Sunday paper to find a small booklet- a “special advertising section”- about something called Money Smart Week. From the inside page:

Are You Money Smart?

It’s too bad money doesn’t come with instructions because we all need to know how to spend it, save it and borrow it wisely. That’s why financial institutions, not-for-profits, schools, libraries and lots of others are joining together to help support financial education during Money Smart Week, April 5-12.

More than 500 free educational classes, seminars and activities will take place around Chicagoland and focus on financial topics for people of all walks of life

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)


“Money Smart Week – Public Service Announcement with Jeffrey Brown”
YouTube Video

According to the event website, the program was started by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in 2002.

The hundreds of free offerings are broken down into 22 topics, including Investing & Wealth Building, Personal Finance 101/Budgeting, and Savvy Shopping & Bargain Hunting, to name a few.

Looking to further your financial education? Head over to the Money Smart Week website here to explore what’s available.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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USDA: Food Prices Expected To Rise 2.5 To 3.5 Percent In 2014

It’s not only prices at the pump that are going up these days where I live.

From what I’ve seen, food prices keep rising as well (while portions continue to shrink).

And it looks to continue that way in 2014. Ros Krasny reported on the Reuters website Tuesday:

U.S. food prices are expected to rise more rapidly this year after a very tame 2013, led by gains in beef, poultry and egg prices, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Tuesday.

The food price inflation outlook assumes normal weather, the USDA said, adding that the California drought poses a risk of bigger increases in many food categories, and that high supermarket prices for beef are “here to stay.”

Various measures, including overall food, food-at-home and food-away-from-home prices, are expected to rise by 2.5 to 3.5 percent in 2014. The consumer price index for all food prices rose by 1.4 percent in 2013…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Krasny added that according to the USDA, prices at the supermarket have risen by an average of 2.8 percent annually since 1990.

I blogged about potential avenues for saving in this area back on March 10, 2011, and March 23, 2013.

Seeing that a landscaper is scheduled to stop by tomorrow, now’s as good a time as any to formulate a plan for fighting higher food costs while moving towards food self-sufficiency here in the Chicago suburbs. I’ll fill you in on what I’ve come up with in a future “Project Prepper” post (starting up again next week).

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Krasny, Roz. “Pricier beef ‘here to stay’ as food costs seen higher: USDA.” Reuters.com. 25 Mar. 2014. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/25/us-usa-agriculture-inflation-idUSBREA2O13Q20140325). 27 Mar. 2014.

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Al-Qaeda Magazine Lists Willis (Sears) Tower, Chicago Board Of Trade As Potential Car Bomb Targets

I spotted the following on TV the other night while watching the news on Chicago’s ABC affiliate ABC7. Investigative reporter Chuck Goudie wrote Saturday on the station’s website:

Two Chicago landmarks are called out by name as suggested car bomb targets for al Qaeda sympathizers in a newly-released Inspire magazine, the publication considered required reading for American jihadists.

“America is our first target” are the un-minced words in the Spring 2014 edition of Inspire, the first publication from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in nearly one year.

The magazine offers a detailed, illustrated recipe for constructing a car bomb “in a few hours,” securing it in a vehicle and then detonating it. “It allows Muslims to train at home instead of risking dangerous travel abroad” explains the just-posted online instruction manual that requires easily purchased components.

“This type of car bomb is not usually used to destroy buildings, but is very effective in killing individuals.”

Two Chicago buildings are listed prominently by al Qaeda as locations where car bombs could accomplish that:

1. Sears Tower (now the Willis Tower), 108-story skyscraper, it held the title tallest building in the world for about 25 years.
2. The Chicago Board of Trade Building

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

In the ABC7 I-Team report, Goudie pointed out other suggested U.S. car bomb targets included Washington, D.C, Northern Virginia, New York, and Los Angeles.

I think it’s only a matter of time before Al-Qaeda, an affiliate, or devotee(s) carries out another terrorist attack within the United States.

That being said, as long as there’s still a sizable U.S. troop presence in the Middle East, I can’t help but feel that presents a much more “attractive” target to the jihadists.

Once they come home however, I suspect we’ll see attention shift to the “homeland.”

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Goudie, Chuck. “Chicago targets in terrorist crosshairs, new al Qaeda magazine Inspire says.” ABC7. 15 Mar. 2014. (http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/iteam&id=9467587). 20 Mar. 2014.

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Economic Fiction

Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity may have noticed I didn’t blog much last week. Truth be told, I was reading and watching a lot of blog-related material that I want to address in the coming weeks. I didn’t pay as close attention to the news as I would a “normal” week. But it was hard not to notice all the “rosy” talk about the U.S. economy. Sure, some decent economic reports have come out. Problem is, I don’t have much faith in them as I saw some years back how they can- and subsequently have been- manipulated to be more positive than if the numbers hadn’t been fudged.

As far as I’m concerned, the United States economy and larger financial system are still in big trouble at the end of 2013. The so-called “recovery”?- primarily the result of massive amounts of “stimulus” and new debt that the Federal Reserve and Washington chose to employ to paper-over an economic disaster that reared its ugly head in 2008.

Come to think of it, the “recovery” reminds me a lot of that scene from the 1994 film Pulp Fiction, where Uma Thurman’s character receives a healthy dose of adrenaline after she OD’s:


(Warning: Squeamish readers may not want to watch)
YouTube Video

Just substitute the economy for Ms. Thurman and massive amounts of “stimulus” for the adrenaline, and you might get an idea of what I’m talking about.

Euro Pacific Capital’s Peter Schiff remarked some time ago about all the stimulus going into the economy. He basically pointed out that since there’s been so much of it, it’s only reasonable to expect the recipient would appear to be recovering. Perhaps even full of vitality. However, remove the stimulus and regression eventually sets in.

And that’s where I think we’re heading.

Now, I’m not just talking about a recession. It’s a little bit more complicated.

As I mentioned before, not only has there been a tremendous amount of stimulus being deployed, but trillions and trillions of dollars worth of new debt accrued as well. The United States was a financial “house of cards” before. All this new debt heaped on top of it has made it even more unstable. Worse- Washington has demonstrated time and time again they have no serious intention of putting a halt to the nonsense.

Therefore, not only am I expecting a U.S. recession, but a financial crash as well.

Regrettably, I just can’t see any way around it at this point in time.

I don’t know how much time we have left before the nation hits the proverbial brick wall, but our “financial reckoning day” is coming.

Washington and the Fed got lucky when they were able to kick the can down the road back in 2008. Eventually, that luck will run out.

Here’s hoping as many Americans as possible are prepared for that inevitable occasion.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Updated: Chicago Laws Concerning Self-Defense Tools

Phew! It took me a couple of hours this morning, but I just completed updating a number of posts and an entry on this blog’s “Resources” page related to Chicago laws concerning self-defense tools (firearms, knives, pepper spray, etcetera). When I wrote that material, the resource I used- the Municipal Code of Chicago as displayed on the American Legal Publishing Corporation website- did not reflect changes enacted by the City of Chicago on September 11, 2013, in Substitute Ordinance SO2013-6015. However, the revisions have now been addressed in the following posts:

Chicago-Area Laws Concerning Self-Defense Tools
Is Pepper Spray Legal In Chicago, Illinois?
Are Expandable Batons Legal In Chicago, Illinois?

Be advised that the City of Chicago did quite a bit of revising.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Legal disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact an attorney to obtain such advice.)

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Chicago’s Debt Crisis Finally Gets Major Exposure

Early Sunday morning, I mozied on down to the end of my driveway to pick up my Chicago Tribune. After eating a little breakfast, I busted out the paper and saw the following headline in big, bold letters on the front page:

City’s debt splurge: ‘It’s like a cancer’

Well, it’s about time Chicago’s debt crisis gets major exposure in a mainstream media outlet.

Of course, Survival And Prosperity readers have known about this growing debacle for some time now (a big hat tip goes out to Fran Spielman over at the Chicago Sun-Times). Back in July 2012 I noted Chicago’s long-term debt was over $27 billion. This July, I blogged that this figure was now up to nearly $29 billion, or $10,780 for every city resident ($780 more per Chicagoan in just one year). So the debt splurge wasn’t just a feature of the Daley regime.

Regarding that Tribune piece, Patricia Callahan, Heather Gillers, and Jason Grotto reported:

A reckless pattern of borrowing by city leaders has undermined Chicago’s future by ignoring the most basic tenets of municipal finance and piling billions of dollars of debt onto the shoulders of future generations, a Tribune investigation has found.

Chicago officials abused a powerful financial tool intended to build for the future — issuance of bonds backed by property taxes — as they spent nearly $10 billion in 13 years with few restrictions and virtually no oversight.

The Tribune’s unprecedented examination of city finances reveals that Chicago built mountains of long-term debt from thousands of problematic short-term purchases including software that was soon obsolete, spare parts for vehicles and items you might find on a weekend shopping list: trash bins, flowers, even bags for dog waste…

When the Tribune analyzed $9.8 billion in proceeds from general obligation bonds issued from 2000 to 2012, it found that nearly half of the money went to paper over growing budget problems.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Any doubts I still may have had about Chicago being in serious financial trouble were dispelled when I read that last bit about half the bond money going to “paper over growing budget problems.”

As to the culprits in this financial caper? Callahan, Gillers, and Grotto added:

Most of Chicago’s debt woes can be traced to the long reign of former Mayor Richard M. Daley, but the borrowing he relied on so heavily has continued under Rahm Emanuel as his administration gropes for ways to deal with the financial problems it inherited…

There is no limit on the city’s general obligation debt, and the sole check and balance is the City Council, a body that rarely pushes back on major mayoral decisions. Since 2007, aldermen have authorized $7.6 billion in general obligation bond issuances without a single dissenting vote. And each year they get millions in bond proceeds to dole out for projects in their wards.

While it would be easy to blame Richie Daley, Rahm Emanuel, and the alderpeople for this big mess, at the end of the day, many Chicagoans need only look into the mirror to see who’s really to blame for letting the city’s finances get this far out of hand.

As to what “Windy City” residents might want to do now seeing that “a reckless pattern of borrowing by city leaders has undermined Chicago’s future”? Perhaps start looking at ways to mitigate the current and coming damage- something I’ll be talking more about in the months to come.

A good place to begin would be read the article to get a sense of how bad the problem really is, which can be found on the Chicago Tribune website here.

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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