Government

Would Illinois Governor-Elect Bruce Rauner Ban Assault Weapons?

When Pat Quinn was Governor, Illinoisans knew where he stood on so-called “assault weapons.”

With incoming Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, it’s just not that clear.

So much so I wonder if after a major mass shooting or terrorist attack on U.S. soil and the political winds were blowing in that direction, Governor Rauner would sign off on an “assault weapons” ban.

Think that’s far-fetched? Consider what I wrote back on March 2:

The four Republican candidates for the office- State Senators Bill Brady, Kirk Dillard, State Treasurer Dan Rutherford, and businessman Bruce Rauner- were recently given campaign questionnaires by the Associated Press, in which gun rights was one of the topics.

According to the AP, two of the four candidates may support a ban on so-called “assault weapons.”

From last Tuesday:

In a campaign questionnaire for The Associated Press, the four candidates — state Sens. Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard, state Treasurer Dan Rutherford and businessman Bruce Rauner — all said gun rights need to be protected but that some public safeguards should exist.

The four differed over assault-style guns — high-capacity weapons that have been used in some of the deadliest mass shootings. They currently aren’t illegal statewide, and a proposed statewide ban backed by Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn was pulled from consideration last year in Springfield…

Dillard, of Hinsdale, and Rauner, of Winnetka, both left open the possibility they would support a ban. Rutherford, of Chenoa, and Brady, of Bloomington, oppose such a ban…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

I added later in that post:

So what about Rauner? The Associated Press did think his questionnaire answer was “more vague” than Dillard’s.

Turning back to their piece:

Rauner gave a more vague answer, saying he supports background checks that keep guns away from criminals and people with mental illness.

“Going beyond that requires a very careful balance between promoting public safety and protecting constitutional rights,” Rauner wrote…

Unless Kirk Dillard and Bruce Rauner actually come out and say they are against a state AWB, I would chalk them up as possibly being in support of an “assault weapons” ban if the political winds were blowing in that direction.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

There’s also this from Michelle Manchir on the Chicago Tribune website on October 15:

Rauner would not say whether he supports an assault weapons ban during a debate Tuesday night, instead saying that the “most important thing we can do with guns is to make sure we keep guns out of the hands of criminals and (the) mentally ill.”

On Wednesday, Rauner reiterated that point at a Little Village event where he sipped coffee with Latino clergy and leaders invited by his campaign.

“Pat Quinn has been a failure on crime. Keep the guns away from criminals and the mentally ill and then the real answer for crime is to make sure that the American Dream and opportunity is available to young people in our neighborhoods,” Rauner told reporters when asked whether not speaking out for an assault weapons ban could cost him votes in some segments of the electorate…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Manchir concluded then-gubernatorial candidate Rauner was “back-and-forth on guns.”

A number of Illinois owners of so-called “assault weapons” might feel they’re safe from any ban with Bruce Rauner now at the helm of the state.

But if I had one of these military-pattern semi-automatic long guns in the state, I’m not so sure I would.

Then again, when you consider what (who) the alternative was on November 4…

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

Source:

Manchir, Michelle. “Quinn hits Rauner on gun control.” Chicago Tribune. 15 Oct. 2014. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/chi-quinn-hits-rauner-on-gun-control-20141015-story.html). 5 Nov. 2014.

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Wednesday, November 5th, 2014 Crime, Firearms, Government, Gun Rights, Health No Comments

Cook County Tells Rest Of Illinois: Enact More Gun Control

Last Thursday, I blogged about a gun “control” referendum that was to appear on Cook County (Illinois) voter ballots on November 4. It said:

Shall the Illinois General Assembly enact the Illinois Public Safety Act (Senate Bill 3659) which would require universal background checks for firearm transfers and prohibit the sale and transfer of assault weapons, assault weapon attachments and high capacity ammunition magazines?

As of an hour ago, with 3,690 of 3,742 precincts reporting, the results so far show:

“Yes”: 1,024,722 votes (86.6%)

“No”: 159,028 votes (13.4%)

So there you have it. Cook County voters have spoken, and they overwhelmingly want more gun “control” for the entire state.

Too bad the referendum is non-binding. And it’s not like the rest of the “Land of Lincoln” gives a crap what “Crook County” thinks.

Still, I suspect Governor Quinn might bring it into play the next time a mass shooting or terrorist attack on American soil with a significant number of casualties occurs.

Oh, that’s right.

He gone.

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

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Terrorism, Fear, And Tim Allen

Back when “Dubya” was President, I started to suspect a number of terrorism warnings issued by his administration were being done not to inform the American public of some real danger, but rather to instill fear to achieve an objective.

I believe this use of specific alerts with an ulterior motive has carried over into the Obama administration.

That being said, I think there are warnings which are the “real McCoy,” which makes it all the more tougher to figure out which ones are bogus.

Last Friday, I was watching Tim Allen’s Last Man Standing on ABC when the following video log about fear appeared:


“Mike Explains the Power of Fear”
ABC Video

“Let’s stop believing the fearmongers.” Something to ponder. And when it comes to terrorism, consider the source and context from which the alert was issued before changing routines and such.

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

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Tuesday, November 4th, 2014 Government, Propaganda, Public Safety, Terrorism No Comments

Jihadists Conducting Recon Of British Parliament?

Something tells me our friends in Western Europe might suffer a major terrorist attack before a strike against the United States. Sunday morning I was reading the “Travel” section of my Chicago Tribune when I spotted the following under “World watch”:

United Kingdom: Authorities warned of potential terrorist threats against the Houses of Parliament in London, prompting calls to close the Palace of Westminster to the public. The ISIS-related threat was announced after British intelligence learned of suspected jihadists visiting Parliament for tours in recent weeks. The Palace of Westminster, where the House of Lords and House of Commons meet, is Britain’s most iconic structure, with the attached tower and Big Ben clock being the nation’s most recognizable symbol. Military police are refreshing their training to prevent a terrorist attack, and tourists should follow local media for updates when planning to visit Parliament…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Kids. Big Ben. Parliament. Allahu Akbar!


“European Vacation- Roundabout”
YouTube Video

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

Source:

Burlison, Dani and Habegger, Larry. “World watch: Threats may leave London travelers outside Parliament.” Chicago Tribune. 29 Oct. 2014. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/travel/ct-trav-1102-world-watch-20141029-story.html). 4 Nov. 2014.

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The Civic Federation Analyzes Chicago’s FY2015 Budget

The last time I talked about The Civic Federation (an independent, non-partisan government research organization that provides analysis and recommendations on government finance issues for the Chicago region and State of Illinois) was back on March 4, when they proposed a five-year plan to balance the Illinois state budget, eliminate its huge bill backlog, and reduce income tax rates. But yesterday, the group released a new report on the City of Chicago’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2015. From their press release Monday:

Civic Federation Supports FY2015 Chicago Budget

Recent Progress Threatened by Pension Funding Crisis, Borrowing for Operations

In a report released today, the Civic Federation announced its support for the City of Chicago’s proposed FY2015 operating budget of $7.3 billion but expressed deep concern for how the City will manage rising pension costs and debt service payments in future years. The full 101-page analysis is available here.

The FY2015 budget closes a $297.3 million deficit with reasonable structural changes including targeted tax and fee increases, vacancy eliminations and other operational efficiencies. The budget also reflects significant actions toward long-term stability including the 2014 pension reform law for the City’s Municipal and Laborers’ pension funds and the continued phase out of the City’s retiree health care subsidy and planned transition of most retirees to coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act.

“Mayor Emanuel and his team are continuing to make the reasonable changes and bold decisions necessary to stabilize Chicago’s finances,” said Laurence Msall, president of the Civic Federation. “Two issues, however, threaten to erase all recent progress: the pension funding crisis and the administration’s continued use of borrowing for operations through the issuance of refunding bonds.”

Landmark pension reforms were enacted in June 2014, but only for two of the City’s four pension funds. The City’s Police and Fire pension funds remain dangerously close to running out of funds with market value funded ratios of only 27.0% and 31.7% respectively in FY2013. The Illinois General Assembly passed legislation in 2010 that mandates a sharp $550 million increase in contributions to the Police and Fire funds. This change, even without considering increased contributions to the City’s Municipal and Laborers’ funds, would require a significant increase in the City’s property tax levy, crippling cuts to City services, or both. The Mayor, City Council and State legislators must work together to create a reform framework for the Police and Fire funds that will stabilize the funds at an affordable cost to taxpayers. The Civic Federation also recommends that the City study ways to consolidate its pension funds, including the possibility of merging its Police and Fire funds with suburban and downstate public safety funds.

Over the last three fiscal years, the City of Chicago reduced its annual debt service payments by refunding bonds that are due to mature and extending the life of these bonds for an additional 30 years, a practice referred to as “scoop and toss.” This practice dramatically increases the cost of providing government services. It also could threaten the City’s ability to issue future debt by filling the out years of the City’s debt service schedule with previously issued bonds. The Civic Federation urges the City to develop a strategy for ending this costly and unsustainable practice.

The Federation’s full report also discusses the creation of the City Council Office of Financial Analysis in 2013. The office was intended to give aldermen access to the independent information and analysis they need to be effective stewards of the City’s finances. A delay in fully implementing the office means aldermen will not have access to this resource before they vote on the FY2015 budget.

You can read the 101-page report entitled City of Chicago FY2015 Proposed Budget: Analysis and Recommendations on The Civic Federation’s website here.

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

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Tuesday, November 4th, 2014 Bonds, Borrowing, Fiscal Policy, Government No Comments

So You Think Your Vote Doesn’t Matter?

A number of eligible American voters won’t be casting a ballot tomorrow because they think their vote doesn’t matter. Here’s something the National Rifle Association has been passing around in an e-mail to members that reinforces the idea that even a single vote is much more important than most people think:

In the 2000 presidential election, George W. Bush defeated Al Gore by only 537 votes out of over 100 million cast.

In 2008, Minnesota Senator Al Franken defeated Norm Coleman by only 312 votes out of over 2.8 million cast.

And in a recent state legislative race in Florida, the election was decided by only 2 votes out of nearly 12,000 cast.

In the upcoming General Election, yours could be the deciding vote in any race or on any issue on the ballot…

A number of eligible voters won’t be casting ballots Tuesday because they’re skeptical of the major national political parties (“one monster with two heads”) or as a protest. I get it. But for those others that think their vote isn’t really necessary because there are lots of other people going to the polls (“how is one vote going to make a difference?”), they might want to keep the above in mind.

And that’s my public service announcement for the day…

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

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One World Trade Center (Freedom Tower) Opens

“They should change the name from the ‘Freedom Tower’ to the ‘Never Going In There Tower.’ ‘Cause I’m never going in there. There is no circumstance that will ever get me in that building. Are you kidding me? My god. What do they have? Does this building duck? What are they thinking? Who’s the corporate sponsor, Target?

-Comedian Chris Rock, on Saturday Night Live this past weekend

One World Trade Center (its legal name/street address, but also called Freedom Tower) is now officially open in Lower Manhattan, New York City:


More ABC US news | ABC Health News
“One World Trade Center Opens, 1st Tenants Move In”
ABC News Video

As much as I hate to say it, there’s no doubt in my mind that the tallest skyscraper in the Western hemisphere (standing 1,776 feet) is a tempting target for terrorists. That being said, concern should really set in once the structure is fully-occupied, terrorism naysayers are trotting out “if it hasn’t been attacked by now it never will be,” and the weather/skies above Lower Manhattan are terrific- so As-Sahab (Al-Qaeda’s media wing) can get clear camera footage of the event.

But’s it’s not an assault directed solely against One World Trade Center that keeps me up at night. Rather, it’s the detonation of a nuclear device above/in Lower Manhattan that’s of grave concern.

If the bad guys can build it, I think there’s a pretty good chance they will use it.

All I can say is, I really hope the American intelligence and anti-terrorism communities can rise to the challenge before/when the time of attack comes.

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

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Chicago Transit Authority Train Passengers Now Being Randomly-Screened For Explosives

Chicago Transit Authority train riders may spot something new at the stations in the coming weeks. From the ABC 7 (Chicago) website this morning:

CTA passengers are now subject to random screening for explosives at train stations across the city.

There is no known threat to the CTA, but Chicago police said the precautionary measure is another layer of security. The screenings went into effect Monday morning.

The Multi-Mode Threat Detector is capable of finding trace amounts of explosive compounds, officials said. A team of CPD transit officers will work at one CTA station a day with the machines.

A random number of people will be selected each time. For example, if that number were 10, every tenth person would be approached by an officer and the outside of his or her bag would be swabbed. That swab is then read by the Multi-Mode Threat Detector for the presence of any explosive residue…

“One CTA station a day with the machines.” “A random number of people will be selected each time.” Not exactly airtight security, but it’s a start when it comes to protecting passenger trains and their riders against potential terrorist attacks. And when I say “start,” I mean the bare minimum.

Which makes me wonder if it’s not all just for show- certain politicians and public safety types trying to give Chicagoland the impression they’re doing something to combat potential terrorism, when the reality may be that the measures taken might not be all that effective in stopping a determined bomber.

I hope I’m wrong. But checking around cyberspace, there’s no shortage of critics of the new security screenings. Bill Savage, a Northwestern University professor, wrote in an opinion piece on the Crain’s Chicago Business website last week:

Maybe this plan will deter any terrorist who happens to pick the one station a day being staked out. That terrorist will, of course, be too nearsighted to notice the cops. That terrorist will be randomly selected. That terrorist will be too tongue-tied to refuse the swabbing and then walk the half-mile to the next station that isn’t hosting our crack one-station-at-a-time anti-terror team.

Security Theater will keep us all safe and sound, and everyone will live happily ever after.

Pass the popcorn. This is going to be an entertaining show.

If Chicago is going to perform random screenings for explosives on CTA trains going forward, my wish is that they have a plan in place to develop the program to be truly effective in thwarting a terrorist attack- while ensuring minimal intrusiveness to riders. Otherwise, “Security Theater” might not be able to stop something like this:


Madrid Train Bombings
(Warning: Violent Images)
YouTube Video

God bless those people.

In the meantime, CTA train riders should know the random bomb screenings have now started to take place. It’s probably not a bad idea for commuters to factor in a couple of extra minutes for ride times in case they’re selected to be swabbed.

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

Sources:

“CTA Adds Random Screenings For Explosive.” ABC 7. 3 Nov. 2014. (http://abc7chicago.com/traffic/cta-adds-random-screening-for-explosives-/378414/). 3 Nov. 2014.

Savage, Bill. “It’s not CTA security- it’s street theater.” Crain’s Chicago Business. 27 Oct. 2014. (http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20141027/OPINION/141029821/its-not-cta-security-its-street-theater). 3 Nov. 2014.

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Oak Park And Cook County Referenda For More Gun ‘Control’ In Illinois, U.S.

Here’s the latest from “ground zero” for gun “control” in the United States. Voters in Cook County and Oak Park (Cook County, Illinois) will have the opportunity to vote on the following referenda in next week’s election. For Cook County voters:

Shall the Illinois General Assembly enact the Illinois Public Safety Act (Senate Bill 3659) which would require universal background checks for firearm transfers and prohibit the sale and transfer of assault weapons, assault weapon attachments and high capacity ammunition magazines?

And for Oak Park Township voters:

Shall the Federal Government enact legislation requiring universal background checks of criminal and mental health history records for all transfers of ownership or possession of firearms, including transfers which occur at gun shows, over the internet and privately, as a step toward preventing the ownership or possession of firearms by criminals and those with serious mental illnesses, and as a step toward preventing gun trafficking altogether?

Regarding that Cook County referendum- I understand its primary purpose (along with other referenda appearing on the November 4 ballot) is to energize Democrats to vote in this mid-term election.

As for that Oak Park referendum- Your guess is as good as mine. I’m going to go with making a statement, seeing that both referenda are non-binding.

I will say this though. After the next mass shooting or terrorist attack on American soil with a significant number of casualties, expect the results of both (should voters “approve” them) to be trotted out by various politicians pushing more gun “control.”

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

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Chicago Police Department Manpower Shortage Worse Than Portrayed

Something tells me the popular Chicago police blog Second City Cop is going to have a field day with the following. Hal Dardick and Jeremy Gorner reported on the Chicago Tribune website tonight:

The ranks of the Chicago Police Department are well below full strength, even as the rate of hiring has increased in recent years, according to testimony Thursday before the City Council.

The department has 587 vacancies, with plans to hire 200 more officers in coming months — before accounting for end-of-the year retirements, Superintendent Garry McCarthy said during council hearings on Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s 2015 budget proposal. The city is working to bring the department up to the full authorized strength of 12,533 officers, he said…

About 200 of the vacant posts are among rank-and-file officers, which would reach full strength at 9,608. The rest of the vacancies are among the ranks of detectives and police brass…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Full authorized strength of 12,533 officers”

I seem to recall “full authorized strength” for the Chicago Police Department meant 13,500 officers only a short while ago.

I blogged on October 26, 2012:

The Chicago FOP has argued for the past couple years that the Chicago Police Department should return to its previously budgeted strength of 13,500 officers.

Recently, Mayor Rahm Emanuel presented his 2013 budget to the Chicago City Council. Under “Investing to Enhance Public Safety,” the Mayor called for, “Funding for CPD to hire officers to remain at full strength at all times.”

I blogged back on October 12:

The Chicago Police Department to finally be at “full strength?”

That I’ve got to see.

Why do I suspect the goal posts are going to be moved here?

I was thinking of that 13,500 number when I wrote that.

Apparently, Mayor Emanuel and Superintendent McCarthy were thinking more along the lines of a thousand cops less. Dardick and Gorner added:

Before year’s end, the city plans to hire 263 more officers, city officials said. And the mayor’s proposed 2013 budget calls for hiring an additional 500 officers — four quarterly classes of 125. The goal is to keep the total number of officers at about 12,500.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“12,500.”

Goal posts moved?

Goal posts moved.

And the CPD currently has 11,946 officers, while full-strength amounted to 13,500 just a few years back.

But seeing that “crime is down” in Chicago. Wink wink. Nudge nudge.

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

Source:

Dardick, Hal and Gorner, Jeremy. “Chicago Police Department not at full strength, top cop says.” Chicago Tribune. 30 Oct. 2014. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-chicago-police-budget-hearing-met-1031-20141030-story.html). 30 Oct. 2014

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Thursday, October 30th, 2014 Government, Public Safety No Comments

Chicago-Area Security Heightened After U.S. Terrorism Warning

I saw a segment last night on the Channel 9 (Chicago) evening news regarding the City of Chicago’s response to that security bulletin issued by the FBI and DHS the other day. From the WGN TV website:

A renewed terror warning in the U.S. is prompting security concerns in Chicago.

While acknowledging the city may be a potential target, Mayor Rahm Emanuel stresses local and federal agencies are on the lookout for any terrorist activity.

The head of Cook County’s Department of Homeland Security says there is no sign of a specific, credible threat against the urban area. But in Chicago airports and across the region security has been heightened

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

In the news segment, Michael Masters, Executive Director of the Cook County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, stated:

I think it’s important for people to realize that our first responders are training everyday on the types of threats and issues we see going on around the world.

Reporter Julian Crews added:

Cook County’s homeland security chief says the region is prepared to respond.

Here’s hoping he’s right.

You can watch that entire segment- which also includes comments from former Secret Service special agent Arnette Heintze and DePaul University professor and terrorism analyst Thomas Mockaitis- on the WGN TV website here.

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

Source:

Crews, Julian. “Renewed terror warning in U.S. prompts security concerns in Chicago.” WGN TV. 24 Sep. 2014. (http://wgntv.com/2014/09/24/renewed-terror-warning-in-u-s-prompts-security-concerns-in-chicago/). 25 Sep. 2014.

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FBI, DHS Warn Syria Airstrikes May Embolden ‘Homegrown Violent Extremists’

When I heard last night that the U.S. and its allies had initiated airstrikes against Muslim extremists in Syria, I wondered how long it would be before a retaliatory attack was attempted. It’s nice to see the Feds anticipating the same from the jihadists and/or their sympathizers. From an Associated Press piece today on the FOX News website:

There is no indication of advanced Al Qaeda or Islamic State group terror plotting inside the United States, but airstrikes in Syria may have temporarily disrupted attack planning against U.S. or Western targets, according to a security bulletin Tuesday from the FBI and the Homeland Security Department…

In a five-page Joint Intelligence Bulletin obtained by The Associated Press, the government warned that airstrikes targeting the Al Qaeda-linked Khorasan and Islamic State groups could also embolden homegrown violent extremists inside the United States who already have grievances about the U.S. because of military action in predominantly Muslim countries.

While the intelligence community hasn’t viewed Islamic State an immediate threat to the U.S. homeland, officials have been very concerned about Khorasan operatives plotting attacks against the U.S.

The Khorasan group is a cadre of veteran Al Qaeda fighters from Afghanistan and Pakistan…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

If “homegrown violent extremists inside the United States” do in fact strike, how will they carry out their assault? Bombing, mass shooting, poisoning some restaurant salad bar? Who knows? But keep the following in mind- something I blogged back in April 2011:

Consider what Gabe Suarez, a decorated veteran of Southern California law enforcement and president of the personal safety training outfit Suarez International, wrote in his blog Warrior Talk News on May 6, 2010:

Put yourself in the enemy’s shoes….err, sandals…..which option would YOU pick? Which offers the easiest implementation, least chance for detection, greatest chance for success – bombs or bullets?

The mass shooting and not the improvised and unsuccessful bomb is the “easy button”, and that fact cannot be ignored by us as it will not be overlooked by the enemy.

So what do we do?

1). We must identify who the enemy is. Please go back and peruse the list of events above, both failed and successful. What is the common thread connecting the attackers?

2). Carry your gun everywhere…..a REAL fighting gun….not some sissy “suitable for CCW” 5 shot “self defense gun”. The times are not such that concern over a mugger is the issue anymore. Carry extra ammo with you. It is not difficult at all to carry a full sized pistol with a couple of extra magazines. I have done so since 1983.

These are not the times to be seeking political correctness over public safety. It is not the time to fear false labels created and assigned by the mass media. The Israelis learned that lesson long ago. After all is said and done, it is better to be a live “intolerant racist” (as the MSM would call us) than a dead “co-existing”, tolerant “paragon of political correctness”. I suspect that had Shahzad’s bomb been successful, lots of tolerant, “co-exist” types would have died right alongside us “intolerant racists”. The times call for careful profiling and suspicious curiosity as well as daily preparation.

Dress everyday as if you had a business meeting in Mumbai on 26 November 2008 with a bunch of Jews, Christians, and atheist Americans at a cafe right across the street from the Jihad School Of Terrorism.

Be ready or be a victim.

“Be ready or be a victim.” Great words to live by.

Add to readiness a healthy dose of situational awareness, and I suspect those practicing both are leaps and bounds ahead of most Americans in being prepared to anticipate and react to the violent acts of some jihadist or sympathizer the Feds are warning about in that latest security bulletin.

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

Source:

“DHS says Syria airstrikes may have temporarily ‘disrupted’ terror plotting.” Associated Press. 23 Sep. 2014. (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/09/23/dhs-says-syria-airstrikes-may-have-temporarily-disrupted-terror-plotting/). 23 Sep. 2014.

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Chicago Faces $297 Million Budget Shortfall In 2015, $588 Million Deficit By 2017

I’ve been wanting to blog about the latest City of Chicago annual financial analysis for some time now. This afternoon I’m finally getting that chance. From Fran Spielman (who’s done a terrific job breaking those analyses down the past couple years I’ve been paying attention to them) on the Chicago Sun-Times website back in August:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has ruled out a pre-election increase in property or sales taxes, but he’ll have to find another way to close a $297.3 million budget gap that assumes the Illinois General Assembly will lift the pension hammer hanging over Chicago.

State law requires the city to make a $550 million contribution to shore up police and fire pension funds that have assets to cover just 30 and 24 percent of their respective liabilities.

If Emanuel chooses to fund the payment with property taxes, the city’s levy must be raised in 2015 so bills issued the following year reflect the increase.

Instead of including that payment in the financial analysis now used as a substitute for Chicago’s preliminary budget, the mayor left it out, assuming he will get both revenue and reform before the payment is due

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

$297.3 million budget shortfall for Chicago in 2015- assuming the city gets “relief” from that State of Illinois-mandated $550 million pension fund contribution.

From what I’ve read, that looks to be a big assumption.

Still, the projected 2015 budget gap that’s being advertised by City Hall is significantly rosier than a year ago (big election coming up in February 2015 you know).

I blogged back on August 1, 2013:

The latest financial analysis is out, and the budget gap in 2014 is projected to be $339 million. Still crappy, but a lot better than what could be in store for the “Windy City” by 2015. Hal Dardick reported on the Chicago Tribune website this morning:

The day of financial reckoning for Chicago is not far off, with the city budget shortfall expected to near a record $1 billion in 2015 if major changes are not made to the government worker pension systems, city officials said Wednesday.

That stark assessment, contained in the annual financial analysis prepared by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s top budget officials, overshadowed the fact that the city needs to close an expected $339 million budget gap predicted for next year.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Returning to that Sun-Times piece from this August, Spielman added:

As for the more manageable, $297.3 million gap, sales and property taxes are off the table. But [Budget Director Alexandra] Holt refused to rule out other tax and fee hikes after exhausting further cost-cutting that might include layoffs

Last year’s financial analysis projected a $338.7 million shortfall that would balloon to $994.7 million in 2015 and $1.15 billion in 2016 without a painful mix of employee concessions and new revenues. This year’s version takes the 2017 shortfall down to $587.7 million, but only if the mayor’s risky assumptions are correct.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

That classic Benny Hill skit about why one shouldn’t assume things comes to mind right now.

Okay. Looking at the actual 2014 annual financial analysis on my laptop screen right now, I see that $297.3 million budget shortfall projected for Chicago in 2015, a $430.2 million gap in 2016, and that $587.7 million deficit in 2017 that Spielman mentioned.

The trend is definitely not Rahm’s and the City’s friend in this instance.

Here’s what I see going down for the “Windy City.” The Machine will mobilize as many kissing cousins (Democrats elsewhere in the state) as it can to get Mayor Emanuel his much-desired pension “reform.” Basically “kicking the can down the road.” If full reform isn’t achieved, perhaps partial “relief”?.

Of course, the City of Chicago will still have those snowballing budget shortfalls to contend with. At first, I anticipate a lot of stupid spending still going on, with only some belt-tightening and layoffs here and there (“Kiss Your Clout’s Ass” Day soon to be a much celebrated event?). And fees, fines, and taxes will be heading up (but not property and sales taxes initially). But I suspect as Chicago’s “day of reckoning” gets closer, all these measures will be intensified.

Think major cost-cutting in conjunction with a much stronger attempt to increase incoming revenues.

Like my forecast for the rest of the nation- regrettably, I see things getting a lot worse before they get better again.

You can view the entire 2014 City of Chicago Annual Financial Analysis on the City of Chicago website here (.pdf format).

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

Source:

Spielman, Fran. “City budget puts off day of reckoning until after election.” Chicago Sun-Times. 1 Aug. 2014. (http://politics.suntimes.com/article/chicago/city-budget-puts-day-reckoning-until-after-election/fri-08012014-1210am). 23 Sep. 2014.

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Survivalism ‘Shouldn’t Come With A Bad Reputation’

“Survivalism: The stark ideology that may have led to killing of a Pennsylvania state trooper”

-Actual headline on the Washington Post website, September 17, 2014

“I love publishing material that readers can sink their teeth into and learn a lot from. I hope to do a lot more of it when things calm down on my end. At the same time, I will blog about some topics that might not be so informative- like prepping as a form of insurance, for example. Why’s that? It depends on the situation really. But in the case of “Prepping As Insurance,” I’m disappointed in how the mainstream media often portrays preppers/survivalists. Many times, the so-called Fourth Estate equates preparedness with anti-social behavior, paranoia (sound familiar?), and/or domestic terrorism. I like to point out that emergency preparedness (something Uncle Sam/other levels of government actively push- even while demonizing it in some instances) can be thought of as another form of insurance and one of our civic duties as American citizens (the emphasis on self-reliance/sufficiency frees up public safety resources in major emergencies) by its practitioners. Letting the idea fester in our society that prepping is BAD could ultimately result in way too many helpless Americans in a SHTF situation. My intention with this post- while not really one that is chock-full of knowledge- is to help torpedo that dangerous idea with hopes (dreams?) of a more resilient society once again.”

-One of my comments in a discussion about last Friday’s Survival And Prosperity post entitled “Prepping As Insurance”

I’ve always thought any negative associations with prepping/survivalism stemming from related “reality” TV shows like National Geographic Channel’s Doomsday Preppers were essentially harmless. As they were rolling out a couple of years ago, I trusted people would be able to figure out it’s only entertainment television- with some useful knowledge thrown in to keep more “demanding” viewers coming back for more. Entertainment TV with a good deal of shock and awe to ratchet up ratings and score as many advertising dollars as possible.

Several years on, and plenty of critics- particularly in the mainstream media- of preparedness/survivalism base their view at least in part of what they’ve seen on TV.

Doomsday Preppers Toilet Paper

Doomsday Preppers Toilet Paper


They just don’t get it. And if you ask me, in many cases it’s because they’ve haven’t researched the subject thoroughly enough (either by choice or lack of time).

And the ones that do but who still try and push the goofy idea that most- if not all- preppers/survivalists are authority-hating, machine gun-toting, wannabe special forces types who are two sandwiches short of a picnic and long for the end of the world (note I’m not including “as we know it” here) to remake it in their own image- well, don’t forget they’ve got newspapers/other media products to sell.

So it was with some relief that I encountered the following article yesterday on the WFMZ-TV 69 News (Allentown, Pennsylvania) website. Talking about the ongoing manhunt for alleged cop killer Eric Frein, 69 News staff wrote:

This weekend, 69 News spoke with the chief of the Greater Philadelphia Search and Rescue about survivalists.

Mark Hopkins believes Frein will be able to evade police for a period of time, but police will catch up with him.

He says to a degree, everyone is a bit of a survivalist, and that description shouldn’t come with a bad reputation.

“I wouldn’t want to see that lumped together and think that all survivalists or all people that are doing this prepping stuff want to hurt people, because that’s not the case; this is clearly an outlawry,” Hopkins said…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Everyone is a bit of a survivalist, and that description shouldn’t come with a bad reputation.”

Something the “haters” would do well to remember. But probably won’t, or choose not to out of self-interest or something else.

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

Source:

“Survival expert believes police will catch up with Frein.” 69 News. 21 Sep. 2014. (http://www.wfmz.com/news/Regional-Poconos-Coal/survival-expert-believes-police-will-catch-up-with-frein/28175968). 22 Sep. 2014.

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Jim Rogers: North Korea Now Where China Was In 1980

While at my parents’ place last weekend, I happened to catch the FOX News show Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo. Well-known investor, author, and financial commentator Jim Rogers was on, and what he said about a particular East Asia country was so much different than the picture that’s being painted of them in the mainstream media. From a transcript of the exchange between Bartiromo and Rogers:

BARTIROMO: Jim, you just returned from North Korea.
ROGERS: Yes.
BARTIROMO: And you say that North Korea is now where China was in 1980. Washington has yet another country completely wrong.
ROGERS: Absolutely. It’s where Myanmar was in 2010. Washington has this as wrong as they have the Middle East. Listen, North Korea is changing very, very dramatically. Very fast. And it’s very exciting…
(CROSSTALK)
BARTIROMO: What about Americans being held there hostage?
ROGERS: Yes, listen, if somebody comes into my country and tears up his visa and says, I want asylum, maybe he’s a little nuts. I don’t know the guy, I don’t know what he did. But I know what we read in the press — the Western press, it sounds very, very strange.
Many Americans — by the way, many Americans go there. Not all — I went there. I’m not in jail.
BARTIROMO: When you were there, was it completely dark?
ROGERS: What?
BARTIROMO: Were the lights on when you were in North Korea?
ROGERS: Yes, there were there lights on. People were in the markets buying and selling food. All this stuff about starving North Koreans, I didn’t see any of them. There were markets everywhere, all sorts of goods. I didn’t even understand what some of the goods were, they were so modern.
YORK: Was what you were allowed to see controlled by anyone?
ROGERS: No. I went into the market, the market with thousands of people, thousands of North Koreans buying and selling day in and day out.

The former investing partner of George Soros touched on other subjects as well, including the American response to the Islamic State and the 2016 U.S. presidential election, which you can read about in that transcript on the FOX News website here.

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

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; 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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Christopher E. Hill, Editor
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