Mainstream Media

Latest New York Times Article On Preppers

“It would be easy to assume that a prepper convention would be peopled with right-wing zealots with a taste for guns and gold, or what survivalists like to call ‘the bullet-and-bullion set.’ But while there was one man standing at a booth handing out business cards for Operation American Spring, a movement to impeach President Obama, there was also a countervailing element of organic gardeners, homeopathic healers and publishers selling books on the commercial uses of hemp…”

-Alan Feuer, The New York Times website, April 6, 2014

Yesterday I came across an article about the third annual National Preppers and Survivalists Expo- a 2-day event focusing on the preparedness, self reliance, supplies and survival skills that are crucial when a catastrophe strikes- on the website of The New York Times.

It was an interesting piece by Alan Feuer, who also wrote “The Preppers Next Door” for the Times back in January 2013.

I blogged back on January 31 of last year:

I was all prepared to read a hack job about modern survivalism, but came away impressed by Alan Feuer’s effort.

This could have something to do with the fact that Feuer himself is a prepper…

“Capitalism of Catastrophe” also seemed to be quite fair.

Which may be surprising to some.

As I mentioned in that January 31 post:

Articles by mainstream journalists in which preppers aren’t portrayed as somewhat to full-blown kooky are few-and-far-between…

You can read Feuer’s April 6 article here on the Times’ website.

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

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Signs Of The Time, Part 74

Any readers know who Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez is?

He was the young man charged with the attempted assassination of U.S. President Barack Obama back in November 2011 when he fired shots at the White House. Thankfully, no one was hurt in the attack.

The other day, I spotted this on the legal news site LawyerHerald.com. A staff writer reported Tuesday:

According to a Bloomberg report, an Idaho man has been sentenced to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to firing an assault rifle at the White House from his car. 23 year-old Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez admitted to shooting at the White House from his car. His lawyers claimed in a memo to presiding US District Judge Rosemary Collyer that their client has the misguided idea that his action would make the public aware that an Armageddon is coming and that Ortega-Hernandez has no intention to hurt anyone nor President Barack Obama…

Ortega-Hernandez’s lawyers had asked Collyer to hand down only a 10-year jail sentence for their client…

According to the memo submitted to Collyer for a reduced sentence, Ortega-Hernandez allegedly fell under the influence of survivalists following a childhood where he has been living in many places and saw his parents separated…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Ah, it was the survivalists’ fault.

Apparently, Judge Collyer didn’t buy that argument.

But it was only a matter of time before someone demonized preppers/survivalists again after the Sandy Hook shootings.

Remember what was being said back then about one of the first victims of the violence- Nancy Lanza? I blogged on December 17, 2012:

I’ve come across two more web articles that don’t paint the modern survivalist movement in a positive light.

In fact, some might argue they’re attempting to connect prepping with the Sandy Hook school shootings.

From The Telegraph (UK) website yesterday:

Connecticut school shooting: Adam Lanza’s mother was preparing for disaster

The mother of the gunman who killed 20 children and seven adults in America’s worst school massacre, was a gun-proud “survivalist” preparing for economic collapse, it has emerged.

Nancy Lanza, whose gun collection was raided by her son Adam for Friday’s massacre at Sandy Hook school, was part of the “prepper” movement, which urges readiness for social chaos by hoarding supplies and training with weapons.

“She prepared for the worst,” her sister-in-law Marsha Lanza told reporters. “Last time we visited her in person, we talked about prepping – are you ready for what could happen down the line, when the economy collapses?”

And then there’s this from The Independent (UK) site this morning:

Mother of Sandy Hook school gunman Adam Lanza was a ‘prepper’ survivalist preparing for economic and social collapse, say reports

Friends and family have portrayed Mrs Lanza as a paranoid ‘survivalist’ who believed the world was on the brink of violent collapse.

“Paranoid.” Regrettably, preppers and survivalists should expect more of the same from the establishment politicians, their “presstitutes,” and low-information supporters going forward.

Whereas I- not a prepper but gleaning ideas and knowledge from them- see these individuals for the most part as simply wanting to carry on with their lives and look after themselves, loved ones, and friends in the event of an emergency or disaster.

Did I mention that by their actions they free up police, fire, and other public safety agencies to attend to those who for some reason or another failed to prepare for a major crisis?

Paranoid, or actually patriots?

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

Source:

“Court hands out a 25-year prison sentence on White House shooter.” Lawyer Herald. 1 Apr. 2014. (http://www.lawyerherald.com/articles/5175/20140401/court-hands-out-a-25-year-prison-sentence-on-white-house-shooter.htm). 4 Apr. 2014.

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Welcome To Cold War 2

There’s been quite a bit of talk in the mainstream media these days about Russia and the United States being in a new “Cold War.”

As if the Syrian crisis didn’t provide a hint.

In “honor” of Cold War 2, I thought I’d bust out this Elton John classic for readers (I’ve never been a big fan of Elton John, but liked this tune since I first heard it back in the mid-eighties):


Elton John, “Nikita” (1985)
YouTube Video

Even though I first saw this video in 1985, it took me 29 years to realize Elton John was operating the windows of the Rolls Royce Corniche as if the convertible top was on. It wasn’t. Funny guy.

And because I didn’t see the film version of Tommy until 1994, I didn’t realize John had reprised his role as The Pinball Wizard when I first watched the music video on MTV 9 years earlier.

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

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Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy On IL Concealed Carry Licenses: ‘Stand By And Watch What Happens’

Many Chicagoans already know that Chicago Police Department Superintendent Garry McCarthy is not a big fan of Illinois Concealed Carry Licenses, or CCLs. And the former New York cop is predicting things will get ugly with these additional guns on the street- despite their being in the possession of vetted, law-abiding residents who’ve received more training than a number of their counterparts in the 49 others states where concealed-carry became legal prior to Illinois. From the website of Chicago CBS affiliate Channel 2 this past Tuesday:

McCarthy, who has been one of the most vocal critics of the law allowing Illinois residents to carry concealed firearms in public, warned there will be confrontations that could escalate into a deadly shooting – similar to January, when a retired police officer shot and killed a man who had been using his cell phones during the previews at a movie theater; or when a Florida man shot four teens – killing one – during an argument over loud rap music in 2012.

“There are going to be confrontation situations. We’re hearing stories across the country about people getting shot over ‘thug music,’ right? Or somebody throwing popcorn in a movie theater,” he said. “These things are going to come, as sure as we’re standing here.”

He said deadly shootings involving people supposedly acting in self-defense will be seen in Illinois now that residents can carry guns in public.

Stand by and watch what happens. The answer to gun violence is not more guns,” McCarthy said…

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

A few things worth noting here…

“We’re hearing stories across the country about people getting shot over ‘thug music,’ right?” Stories? Or story? If we’re talking about recent shootings over “thug music,” I’m only aware of the Jacksonville, Florida, incident that took place on November 23, 2012, which the mainstream media and anti-gun/gun “control” supporters have been desperately trying to equate with the Trayvon Martin shooting.

“Or somebody throwing popcorn in a movie theater?” The individual charged with shooting the popcorn-tosser is a retired Tampa Police Department captain. While studying the gun “debate” these past several years, I’ve observed calls to no longer exempt retired/separated civilian law enforcement officers from those restrictions placed on other civilians (military police personnel I’ve worked in the past were quick to make that point) regarding the ownership/carrying of firearms. The incident involving Captain Reeves may have added fuel to the flames as far as this exemption is concerned. I’m not so sure Superintendent McCarthy wants to keep dragging up the incident involving Captain Reeves, lest more attention be focused on the above (although I understand the retired police officer did possess a valid Florida concealed-carry permit).

“Stand by and watch what happens.” Superintendent McCarthy predicts “deadly shootings involving people supposedly acting in self-defense will be seen in Illinois now that residents can carry guns in public.” Possibly.

To which I add this forecast. Based on the experiences of the 49 others states with legal concealed-carry, there won’t be “blood running in the streets” as the anti-gun/gun “control” crowd would like to make you think is going to happen.

Instead, numerous acts of violence will be thwarted by Illinois CCL holders.

And to tweak what Superintendent McCarthy said earlier, deadly shootings involving people acting in self-defense will be seen in Illinois now that residents can carry guns in public.

Criminals are bound to get perforated by law-abiding citizens in this changed environment more in favor of the victims.

All the while, I’ll be playing the world’s smallest violin…

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

Source:

“McCarthy Warns Of Dangers From Concealed Carry Law.” CBS 2. 4 March 2014. (http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2014/03/04/mccarthy-warns-of-dangers-from-concealed-carry-law/). 7 Mar. 2014.

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HSBC: China, Not Investment Demand From West, Now Steering Gold Prices

Sounds like China may be firmly in the driver’s seat these days when it comes to steering gold prices. Yue Li reported in The Wall Street Journal’s MoneyBeat blog this morning:

China’s buying of gold jewelry, coins and bars is now the biggest driver of prices, not investment demand from the West, according to HSBC Global Research.

“We would argue that physical demand trends in the emerging world will largely define gold’s price movements this year,” HSBC analysts James Steel and Howard Wen said in a research note.

China alone can take up the equivalent of half of the global gold mine output, while a possible recovery in Indian demand could also act as a boost for the yellow metal as long as the Indian authorities reduce import tariffs on gold.

Investment demand, typically coming from gold exchange-traded funds, had long been considered the sole reason behind the gold’s decade-long bull run…

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Long-time observers of gold have recognized China’s growing influence in this market.

A question that’s probably on their minds is, will Chinese demand continue to steer prices?

Consider what Jennifer Schonberger wrote on the FOX Business website back on February 21:

China overtook India last year as the world’s largest buyer of physical gold, according to the World Gold Council. In 2013, Chinese demand for gold bars, coins and jewelry soared 32% to a record high, as China imported 1,066 metric tonnes of the precious metal, or more than one third of the 2,968 metric tonnes of gold produced globally.

And last year’s record wasn’t a one-hit wonder. This year, the World Gold Council expects China to remain the world’s largest consumer of physical gold. While down slightly from last year’s record level, the research body projects China will still gobble up a robust 1,000 tonnes to 1,100 tonnes of gold in 2014. China accounts for roughly 25% of global demand for gold and is likely to boost its share in coming years. The stock of gold in China is less than half of India and consumption per head in China is still catching up to other markets.

The Chinese gold rush comes after China’s government lifted restrictions on gold ownership. Until 2002, Beijing barred citizens from owning gold bars and coins. Culturally there’s been an appreciation for gold for a long time in China, but citizens weren’t able to access it to the extent they have over the past 12 years. Now that China has lifted restrictions, the government has unleashed pent-up demand…

I blogged last April what the demand for the precious metal has looked like in China at times.

In the meantime, the financial mainstream media here in the West keeps running pieces about gold’s imminent demise. And no doubt plenty of Americans will keep believing it.

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

Sources:

Li, Yue. “China Now Biggest Driver of Gold Prices, HSBC Says.” MoneyBeat. 4 Mar. 2014. (http://blogs.wsj.com/moneybeat/2014/03/04/china-now-biggest-driver-of-gold-prices-hsbc-says/). 4 Mar. 2014.

Schonberger, Jennifer. “Going for the Gold: Chinese Demand Could Be Gold’s Long-Term Bid.” FOX Business. 21 Feb. 2014. (http://www.foxbusiness.com/investing/2014/02/21/going-for-gold-chinese-demand-could-be-golds-long-term-bid/). 4 Mar. 2014.

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Chicago, The Writing Is On The Wall

The city of Chicago is in for some tough times down the road.

“The Machine” keeps putting a positive spin on the city’s deteriorating financial condition, but the numbers don’t lie. I’ve rattled them off time and time again, the most recent being Tuesday. The Chicago press (sans Fran Spielman over at the Chicago Sun-Times and a few others) has even caught on, publishing articles with more frequency these days that reveal just how ugly the city’s finances truly are. Case in point, a Chicago Tribune editorial entitled “Chicago is on the road to Detroit” that appeared on their website yesterday. From the piece:

By the most recent numbers, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s government owes $13.9 billion in general obligation bond debt, plus $19.5 billion in unfunded pension obligations. Add in Chicago Public Schools and City Hall’s other “sister agencies” and you’re talking billions more in debts that Chicago taxpayers owe. Yet here we are on a Wednesday when the mayor probably will get approval from a derelict City Council to issue another up-to-$900 million in bonds backed by property taxes — and to double, to $1 billion, the amount of short-term bank money his administration can borrow to raise cash…

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

By the way, Mayor Emanuel got that approval. Fran Spielman reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website Wednesday morning:

Without a word of debate, the City Council on Wednesday blindly added $1.9 billion to Chicago’s mountain of debt even though aldermen have no idea how the money will be spent.

The vote was 43-to-4. “No” votes were cast by Aldermen Bob Fioretti (2nd), Scott Waguespack (32nd), Brendan Reilly (42nd) and John Arena (45th)…

Now, I’ve heard/read some Chicagoans say something along the lines of don’t worry about the city’s finances, Governor Quinn and the State of Illinois or President Barack Obama and the federal government will ride to the rescue of their fellow Democrats in control of the “Windy City.”

To which I say, I’m not so sure. Is there anyone in America who doesn’t know how much of an economic basket case the “Land of Lincoln” is? A $100.5 billion public pension debt and the worst credit rating of all 50 U.S. states routinely make headlines across the country. As for the federal government, I keep encountering the words “insolvent” and “bankrupt” more and more these days to describe the nation’s finances. And don’t think for a second other economically-challenged cities across the country won’t cry foul to the Oval Office and their elected representatives if Chicago is bailed out. I find it hard to believe the State of Illinois or the Feds could come to Chicago’s rescue without there being serious financial and political repercussions.

Chicago, the writing is on the wall. By the looks of things, that great city where I was born and from which I recently just left is now past the proverbial point of no return, no longer looking capable of effectively navigating the growing financial crisis.

While I don’t foresee the city’s death, I do envision a continuation of its already gradual decline until a point of fiscal implosion is reached. Will it be Detroit-esque in its bottoming out? I don’t know. But it sure as hell won’t be pretty.

Faced with such a scenario, will Chicagoans choose to stay and contend with the almost certain prospect of much higher taxes and fees in conjunction with curtailed city services (public safety comes to mind here), or will they depart the “Second City” like I did?

One might think the latter (going), but I’m sure there will be plenty of the former (staying).

In the interests of surviving and prospering, which is the better choice?

I don’t think the answer is as clear-cut as many readers might think. And it’s something I’ll be exploring and blogging about more in the coming days.

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

Sources:

“Chicago is on the road to Detroit.” Chicago Tribune. 5 Feb. 2014. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-chicago-debt-edit-0205-20140205,0,3757189.story). 6 Feb. 2014.

Spielman, Fran. “City Council OKs going $1.9 billion deeper into debt.” Chicago Sun-Times. 5 Feb. 2014. (http://www.suntimes.com/25398572-761/city-council-oks-going-19-billion-deeper-into-debt.html). 6 Feb. 2014.

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Retired BP Geologist Warns Global Oil Production Declining Over 4 Percent Annually

It’s been a long time since I last talked about peak oil production. Peak what? Yeah, the mainstream media would rather run stories about alternative energy and “unconventional” oil production, as if it will somehow make up for declining “conventional” oil production before we’re hit with another energy crunch.

I’ve been following this topic for close to a decade now. And some pretty informed individuals have deduced not only is the era of “cheap” crude oil gone, but global oil production is in the midst of a steady decline. Dr. Nafeez Ahmed wrote on The Guardian (UK) website on December 23:

A former British Petroleum (BP) geologist has warned that the age of cheap oil is long gone, bringing with it the danger of “continuous recession” and increased risk of conflict and hunger.

At a lecture on ‘Geohazards’ earlier this month as part of the postgraduate Natural Hazards for Insurers course at University College London (UCL), Dr. Richard G. Miller, who worked for BP from 1985 before retiring in 2008, said that official data from the International Energy Agency (IEA), US Energy Information Administration (EIA), International Monetary Fund (IMF), among other sources, showed that conventional oil had most likely peaked around 2008.

Dr. Miller critiqued the official industry line that global reserves will last 53 years at current rates of consumption, pointing out that “peaking is the result of declining production rates, not declining reserves.” Despite new discoveries and increasing reliance on unconventional oil and gas, 37 countries are already post-peak, and global oil production is declining at about 4.1% per year, or 3.5 million barrels a day (b/d) per year

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Dr. Miller, who used to prepare the annual BP in-house projections of future oil supply, not only agrees with the conservative conclusions of an earlier study by the government-funded UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) which predicted “a sustained decline in global conventional production appears probable before 2030 and there is significant risk of this beginning before 2020,” but is dismissive of shale oil and gas preventing a decline in global oil production.

Dr. Ahmed wrote an incredibly insightful piece, which you should read in its entirety over at The Guardian website here, since this really isn’t on the radar of the American press despite EIA data showing it should be a concern.

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

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Chicago At The Tipping Point

“There should be no doubt that I predict tough times ahead for the city. But it’s not just me who harbors such suspicion. Even the Chicago FOX affiliate, Channel 32 News, is running a series called ‘Chicago at the Tipping Point’ these days.”

-Survival And Prosperity, July 24, 2013

FOX 32 News in Chicago has been pretty busy with their “Chicago at the Tipping Point” project since I wrote the above. What is it? Political Editor Mike Flannery wrote on their website back on May 30:

FOX 32 News is starting a new series: “Chicago at the Tipping Point.”

We know — as you do — that Chicago is at a critical point, where things can either get better, or much worse. We want to know what you think about which way things will go.

Joblessness and violent drug gangs? Lousy schools and families fleeing? We’ll be looking at those connections in our city…

Recently, I happened to catch a series special entitled “Special Report: Jobs And The Economy.” Released at the end of November and hosted by Flannery and former FOX 32 News anchorwoman Robin Robinson, this production further confirmed for me that Chicago faces some major economic headwinds going forward, potentially making the city’s financial position even more precarious than it already is:

Chicago News and Weather | FOX 32 News
“Special Report: Jobs And The Economy”
FOX 32 Video

The special is worth checking out when you can spare 33 minutes and change.

In the meantime, for more information about the “Chicago at the Tipping Point” project, visit the FOX 32 News site here.

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

Source:

Flannery, Mike. “Chicago at the Tipping Point: New FOX 32 News Series.” FOX 32 News. 30 May 2013. (http://www.myfoxchicago.com/story/22463117/2013/05/30/chicago-at-the-tipping-point-flannery-violence-drugs-schools-economy-jobs). 24 Dec. 2013.

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Tuesday, December 24th, 2013 Employment, Mainstream Media No Comments

Quote For The Week

“It’s been a bad week for MSNBC, and a bad week for serious journalism. First, the network learned to regret giving Alec Baldwin a job after he called a photographer a word that is more than a little homophobic. MSNBC have since suspended his show for two weeks. Now, Martin Bashir has scraped the bottom of the proverbial barrel after launching a tirade against Sarah Palin (“America’s resident dunce”) that has to be seen to be believed. And you’re warned: it is stomach churning.

The beloved liberal journalist used his afternoon TV show to deliver a somewhat justified critique of a comparison Palin made between national debt and slavery. His analysis starts crudely and rudely enough, but it ends with a truly shocking suggestion that someone defecate in the former governor’s mouth to teach her a lesson. I’m not making this up. Quote:

Given her well-established reputation as a world class idiot, it’s hardly surprising that [Palin] should choose to mention slavery in a way that is abominable to anyone who knows anything about its barbaric history.

So here’s an example. One of the most comprehensive first-person accounts of slavery comes from the personal diary of a man called Thomas Thistlewood, who kept copious notes for 39 years. Thistlewood was the son of a tenant farmer, who arrived on the island of Jamaica in April 1750, and assumed the position of overseer at a major plantation. What is most shocking about Thistlewood’s diary is not simply the fact that he assumes the right to own and possess other human beings, but is the sheer cruelty and brutality of his regime. In 1756, he records that a slave named Darby ‘catched eating kanes; had him well flogged and pickled, then made Hector, another slave, s-h-i-t in his mouth.’ This became known as ‘Darby’s Dose,’ a punishment invented by Thistlewood that spoke only of inhumanity. And he mentions a similar incident in 1756, his time in relation to a man he refers to as Punch. ‘Flogged Punch well, and then washed and rubbed salt pickle, lime juice and bird pepper. Made Negro Joe piss in his eyes and mouth’. I could go on, but you get the point. When Mrs. Palin invokes slavery, she doesn’t just prove her rank ignorance. She confirms if anyone truly qualified for a dose of discipline from Thomas Thistlewood, she would be the outstanding candidate.

‘If anyone truly qualified for a dose of discipline from Thomas Thistlewood, she would be the outstanding candidate.’ Wow.

There’s a popular myth that all the hate in US politics comes from the Right. Here’s proof that there’s plenty on the Left, too.”

-Dr. Tim Stanley, British historian and author, writing on The Telegraph (UK) website Saturday.

By the way, from Dr. Stanley’s personal website:

I love America deeply and I suspect she is the last hope for mankind (I really don’t want to have to learn Chinese).

Too funny.

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

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Signs Of The Time, Part 70

You may have heard of the following wacky story out of the Nisqually Indian Reservation some 60 miles south of Seattle. Eric M. Johnson of Reuters reported yesterday:

A 93-year-old Washington state man, whose dog returned home with a human leg it had found, buried it in his back yard on an Indian reservation to avoid being suspected of a crime, a local official and media reports said…

Bill Flowers picked up the leg brought home by his dog, Liberty, and thought of calling the police, he told KOMO-TV at the weekend. But fearing they would suspect him of foul play, he buried it in his backyard, where it remained for several days until he told his daughter, who urged him to call the police.

“I was afraid to call. I’m 93 years old. I didn’t want to have to go to the pen for something I didn’t do,” Flowers told the television station.

Many people will probably just dismiss this story as being another one of those weird tales frequently encountered on the Internet.

However, I find it disturbing that a 93-year-old-man is afraid to contact local law enforcement about his pooch’s gruesome find.

“I didn’t want to have to go to the pen for something I didn’t do.”

A case of someone watching too many movies/too much TV, or is this how Americans have come to view the police?

All I know is, what’s shown on the nightly news doesn’t exactly conjure up images of “Officer Friendly” for those on Main Street:

Shemagh Cop

Is that a shemagh that sheriff’s deputy is wearing?

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

Source:

Johnson, Eric M. “Dog finds human remains, owner buries leg in backyard.” Reuters. 12 Nov. 2013. (http://news.yahoo.com/dog-finds-human-remains-owner-buries-leg-backyard-094716764.html). 13 Nov. 2013.

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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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What Effect Have (Post-) Apocalyptic-Themed TV Shows And Films Had On The Prepping Movement?

“i friggin LOVE “doomsday preppers”!”

-Milla Jovovich, American model and actress of Resident Evil-fame, Facebook post, November 24, 2012

Back in February 2012, the Daily Mail (UK) reported that “as many as three million Americans now fall into the category dubbed ‘preppers’- people who are making detailed plans for the end of the world as we know it.”

(Editor’s note: Most mainstream media outlets drop that “as we know it” bit out, which is a shame as there’s an important distinction to be made between preparing for the “end of the world as we know it” as opposed to the actual “end of the world” where such activity may be thought of as futile. Kudos to the the British publication for keeping this scenario “intact.”)

That the ranks of individuals taking up preparedness have grown significantly in the last couple of years while (post-) apocalyptic-themed television shows and big screen productions simultaneously exploded in popularity is probably not coincidence. As a matter of fact, it’s something the National Geographic Channel, as part of an upcoming “Blog Carnival,” is currently exploring. The American cable and satellite television channel wants to know what effect these TV shows and films have had on the prepping movement.

I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a strong correlation between the two. As more shows and movies of the (post-) apocalyptic genre were aired/released for public viewing, I can’t help but suspect increasing numbers of Americans bought into the idea of prepping.

I have a feeling the seed for prepping was already planted before watching such shows and films in many cases. Scientific and technological advancements in the Information Age have increased Americans’ knowledge of potential man-made and natural disasters beyond events fresh in the mind of many such as 9/11, 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, the Panic of ’08, 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, and April’s Boston Marathon Bombings. Viewing such productions on a TV in the family room or at a local movie theater might have made such threats feel closer to home, thereby prompting action.

So the TV shows and films may have served as some sort of prepping recruitment vehicle. Yet at the same time, the preppers portrayed in such media have more often than not been of the extreme sort. These individuals probably aren’t a good representative of your typical prepper, if only because there are many different kinds of preppers out there.

Not surprisingly, I’ve noticed a number of production companies and cable/satellite television channels have come under fire because of the way preppers are portrayed. I can understand why this is, as some believe such depictions only serve to fuel ridicule and potential persecution of preppers by a number of parties including the mainstream media and the government. However, keep in mind that cable/satellite television channels and production companies are part of the entertainment industry, where these extreme prepper types can be quite entertaining to watch (cha-ching!). Those behind the ridiculing and potential persecution of American citizens for merely fulfilling the federal government’s recommendations as it concerns household emergency preparedness should keep this in mind as well.

At the end of the day, it must be pointed out that preppers actually perform a major public service in the event of a community/regional/national emergency. That’s right. Think about it. Preppers strive to be able to take care of themselves, family, friends, and even neighbors in many cases in the event of a real crisis. That’s one less person or group of people public safety agencies need to attend to in a significant emergency, where resources are typically stretched thin already. Because preppers can assume this “sheepdog” role, police, fire, and other groups can focus their limited amount of resources on others (more often than not, those who didn’t prepare).

One might even argue here it should be the civic duty of Americans to prep if they can.

Imagine if every American household had a couple of weeks of emergency food, water, and other supplies socked away in case of emergency. The next time a man-made or natural disaster reared its ugly head, think how much smoother the emergency response might be, especially when compared to those recent events I listed earlier.

Returning to the National Geographic Channel’s question as to what effect (post-) apocalyptic-themed TV shows and films have had on prepping, despite often portraying more extreme prepper types (it’s just show business!), it’s my belief such productions have increased the ranks of preppers in the United States, thereby assisting public safety agencies across the United States in the event of a real disaster as preppers should be able to take care of themselves and a number of other individuals in many cases, freeing up limited resources to be applied elsewhere in the emergency response.

Thank you for doing this preppers!

And production companies and cable/satellite TV channels like the National Geographic Channel- go ahead and give yourselves a nice pat on the back as well.

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

Source:

Brady, Tara. “Fill the pool with fish and stockpile the guns: Up to THREE MILLION ‘Preppers’ in the U.S. are prepared for for the end of the world.” Daily Mail. 11 Feb. 2012. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2099714/Meet-preppers-Up-3-MILLION-people-preparing-end-world-know-it.html). 20 Oct. 2013.

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D.C. Navy Yard Shootings Suspect African-American Male Entering With Only A Shotgun?

I only recently heard about the tragic shootings that took place at the Washington, D.C., Navy Yard earlier today. While information about the incident is still coming in- and a lot of nonsense is already being spouted-off (“declare the NRA a terrorist organization!”)- I read the following on the website of NBC4 Washington, D.C. a short time ago:

At least 12 people are dead after a shooting Monday morning in a heavily secured building at the D.C. Navy Yard, and authorities now say they have identified the gunman.

That gunman, 34-year-old Aaron Alexis of Fort Worth, Texas, is among the 12 dead. Officials said he recently began working as a civilian contractor.

On the home page of the NBC affiliate, a young, African-American male sporting a bald/shaved head is shown superimposed on a banner which reads:

“Gunman ID’d in Navy Yard Shooting That Killed 13″

Hmm. A number of people were probably real disappointed that it wasn’t a “creepy cracker” that was shown.

In addition, there’s this:

Survellance video shows the gunman entered the building at the Naval Sea Systems Command Headquarters, at 1336 Isaac Hull Ave., with a shotgun, News4’s Jackie Bensen reported.

He shot the security guard in the head, killing him. The shooter then continued through the building, and seemed to target his victims, who were mostly on the third and fourth floors.

D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department and several other law enforcement agencies responded, Bensen said. During that response, a MPD officer was shot in the leg.

The gunman was then shot by a FBI hostage response team, Bensen said.

According to what witnesses are telling investigators, by the time the shootings ended, the gunman was seen with a semiautomatic 9 mm pistol and an AR-15 assault rifle. Authorities are investigating whether the gunman took the security guard’s service weapon – likely a 9 mm pistol – and hid in wait for the first responding D.C. police officers, who would be specially armed with AR-15s.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

An African-American male suspect possibly armed with just a shotgun initially?

No “assault weapon” or “scary” handgun?

(Editor’s note: Some have already suggested this account of the incident may get “sanitized” real quick once the mainstream media get their marching orders from the powers-that-be)

Something tells me the hopes of the anti-Second Amendment crowd in furthering their agenda with the Navy Yard shootings will fade pretty fast if what NBC4 Washington is reporting this afternoon is found to be true.

In the meantime, my prayers go out to all those affected by this violence.

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

Source:

“Gunman ID’d in D.C. Navy Yard Shooting That Killed 13.” NBC Washington, D.C. 16 Sep. 2013. (http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Confirmed-Shooter-at-Navy-Yard-One-Person-Shot-223897891.html). 16 Sep. 2013.

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Retired CIA Al-Qaeda Expert Michael Scheuer’s May Prediction: ‘Obama Will Intervene Militarily In Syria’

“We have looked at all the evidence, and we do not believe the opposition possessed nuclear weapons on – or chemical weapons of that sort. We do not believe that, given the delivery systems, using rockets, that the opposition could have carried out these attacks. We have concluded that the Syrian government in fact carried these out. And if that’s so, then there need to be international consequences.”

-U.S. President Barack Obama, in a PBS NewsHour interview earlier today

As the Middle East threatens to boil over yet again, I thought I’d search out retired Central Intelligence Agency veteran Michael Scheuer to hear his take on the situation in Syria. Regular readers of this blog may remember Scheuer, who tracked Osama bin Laden as Chief of the Bin Laden Issue Station (“Alec Station”) from 1996 to 1999 and later as a special advisor to the unit from 2001 to 2004, as I’ve talked about him from time to time.

While what the CIA veteran has had to say recently about the crisis on the website of Foreign Policy Journal has been insightful, it’s something Scheuer wrote back on May 21 which really sticks out:

As three administration-wrecking scandals — Benghazi, the IRS, and the AP phone records — continue to unfold, it will become increasingly clear that President Obama is: (a) stupid; (b) unable to control his felonious subordinates; or (c) a liar and a trimmer. And as this clarity evolves, Obama will engineer a U.S.-NATO military intervention in Syria…

Odds are that we are going to see the same old story: Obama will intervene militarily in Syria, get Americans worried about the safety of their soldier-children, stoke their patriotism and fierce support for the troops, and — voila — the Obama-butt-kissing media will refocus the victims of the Obama-ites’ domestic felonies on an unnecessary war in the Levant.

The saddest part of the foregoing scenario is that it probably will work.

Time will tell if Scheuer is correct.

Source:

Scheuer, Michael. “As scandals deepen, Obama, his party, and Republicans will militarily intervene in Syria.” Foreign Policy Journal. 15 May 2013. (http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2013/05/21/as-scandals-deepen-obama-his-party-and-republicans-will-militarily-intervene-in-syria/). 28 Aug. 2013.

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Chicago Homicide Study: ‘The City Is Way Safer!’ Part 1

(Editor’s note: Part 2 has been published and is located here)

I came across an interesting post earlier this evening on the Greg Hinz On Politics blog on the Crain’s Chicago Business website. Hinz talked about a recent Chicago homicide study conducted by Daniel Kay Hertz, a master’s student at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago. Kay Hertz compared homicide rates in Chicago Police Department districts from 1990-1993 to rates from 2008-2011. Utilizing two colored maps, Kay Hertz wrote in his blog City Notes back on August 5:

The areas in dark green are the safest; the ones in dark pink are the most dangerous. The colors are calibrated so that green areas are safer than average for the early 90s, and pink ones are more dangerous than average for the early 90s. The 2008-2011 map keeps the same calibration: green is safe compared to the early 90s, so that you can see change in the levels of violence over time.

And, indeed, the first thing that jumps out from these maps is that there’s way more green nowadays, and it tends to be darker. The city is way safer!

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

“The city is way safer!”

Kay Hertz continues to equate “safe” with lower homicide rates in the remainder of his blog post. The grad student writes later:

The North Side is unbelievably safe, at least as far as murder goes.

And then flames the mainstream media with this:

This is a complicated state of affairs, and probably goes at least part of the way to explaining why, in the face of a 50% decrease in homicides citywide over the last two decades, many people persist in believing that the opposite is true: because in their neighborhoods, it is. It’s a dynamic that defies an easy narrative, and makes me slightly less angry (though only slightly) at all those journalists who have written in the last year or two about murder in Chicago without mentioning that the city is, in fact, safer on the whole than it has been in fifty years.

“The city is, in fact, safer on the whole than it has been in fifty years.”

I’m assuming he’s still equating “safe” with lower murder rates here.

Now, Crain’s Hinz also mentioned the word “safe” when referring to the part of Chicago where he lives. From his post earlier today:

Overall, Mr. Hertz’s statistics are a good thing for most of the city. I and more than a million others live on the North Side and in adjacent areas, and they’re as safe as any other patches of urban real estate in the country.

“They’re as safe as any other patches of urban real estate in the country.”

Is Hinz also equating “safe” with lower homicide rates?

To each, their own.

And seeing I’m a big picture kind of guy, if its safety “on the whole” in the “Windy City” that’s being talked about, I suggest violent crime- which includes homicides- is examined instead. According to the Chicago Police Department, violent crime consists of:

• Homicide, 1st and 2nd Degree
• Criminal Sexual Assault
• Robbery
• Aggravated Assault
• Aggravated Battery

(Editor’s note: I’m aware of the allegations of “downgrade and reclassify” regarding these types of incidents. For example, downgrading/reclassifying a robbery as theft in the books to paint a better picture as it concerns crime. I’ll keep that in mind.)

A comparison of violent crime numbers in Chicago Police Department districts from 1990-1993 to 2008-2011. That’s what I think is needed here if we’re going to have a serious discussion about safety in the city of Chicago.

Time to crunch some numbers.

More tomorrow…

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

Source:

Hinz, Greg. “When it comes to murder rates, Chicago is two cities.” Greg Hinz On Politics. 14 Aug. 2013. (http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20130814/BLOGS02/130819920/when-it-comes-to-murder-chicago-is-two-cities). 14 Aug. 2013.

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