California

Detroit Police Chief: ‘Good Detroiters Are Armed And Will Use That Weapon’

“Detroit’s police chief has a solution to help drive down crime in one of the nation’s most dangerous cities: arm more citizens.

James Craig made the comments at a police press conference Thursday, when he announced a 7 percent drop in violent crime in 2013, The Detroit News reported. Although urban police typically favor gun control, Craig said his views evolved after working in Los Angeles and Maine, where concealed weapons permits are more easily obtained.

‘I changed my orientation real quick,’ Craig said. ‘Maine is one of the safest places in America. Clearly, suspects knew that good Americans were armed.’

-FOX News website, January 3, 2014

Detroit Police Chief James Craig grabbed national headlines back in July with that comment in support of armed city residents to fight crime. And he’s in the news again today regarding that same topic. George Hunter reported on The Detroit News website:

Detroit has experienced 37 percent fewer robberies in 2014 than during the same period last year, 22 percent fewer break-ins of businesses and homes, and 30 percent fewer carjackings. Craig attributed the drop to better police work and criminals being reluctant to prey on citizens who may be carrying guns.

“Criminals are getting the message that good Detroiters are armed and will use that weapon,” said Craig, who has repeatedly said he believes armed citizens deter crime. “I don’t want to take away from the good work our investigators are doing, but I think part of the drop in crime, and robberies in particular, is because criminals are thinking twice that citizens could be armed.

“I can’t say what specific percentage is caused by this, but there’s no question in my mind it has had an effect,” Craig said.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Too bad the merits of an armed citizenry in the face of significant criminal activity are being recognized after Detroit had already imploded.

Seeing that there’s no shortage of talk about Chicago becoming the next Detroit, perhaps Mayor Emanuel and his City Council are taking note of the “Motor City’s” experiences?

Doubtful.

Detroit West he we come?

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

Source:

Hunter, George. “Detroit police chief gives credit to armed citizens for drop in crime.” The Detroit News. 16 July 2014. (http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20140716/METRO01/307160034/Detroit-police-chief-gives-credit-armed-citizens-drop-crime). 16 July 2014.

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‘Earthquake Lady’ On L.A. Tremblors: ‘We’ve Got To Expect More Earthquakes Than We’ve Seen Recently’

“People have gotten used to L.A. being quiet, and that’s a bit dangerous, because it’s not our long-term future.”

-Lucy Jones, U.S. Geological Survey seismologist, in a FOX News appearance earlier today

“Earthquake Lady” Lucy Jones, who I last blogged about in December, appeared on FOX News earlier today and weighed-in on the recent earthquakes in the Los Angeles area:


“What’s causing increase of earthquakes in Los Angeles?”
FOX News Video

There has definitely been a pick-up of significant seismic activity around L.A. recently. Monday night Rong-Gong Lin II reported on the Los Angeles Times website:

No, it’s not your imagination: The Los Angeles area is feeling more earthquakes this year.

After a relatively quiet period of seismic activity in the Los Angeles area, the last five months have been marked by five earthquakes larger than 4.0. That hasn’t occurred since 1994, the year of the destructive Northridge earthquake that produced 53 such temblors.

Over the next two decades, there were some years that passed without a single quake 4.0 or greater…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

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

Source:

Lin II, Rong-Gong. “Quakes are increasing, but scientists aren’t sure what it means.” Los Angeles Times. 2 Jun. 2014. (http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-la-quakes-20140603-story.html). 4 Jun. 2014.

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Wednesday, June 4th, 2014 Emergencies, Natural Disasters No Comments

Latest Prediction Of What California’s ‘Big One’ Might Look Like

Recently, I’ve talked a bit about what some earthquake experts suspect might happen to California when the “Big One” strikes.

I blogged about Dr. Lucy Jones, the “Earthquake Lady,” in December.

Then I wrote about Dr. Katherine Scharer and a disturbing $200 billion national economic loss projection in March.

A couple of days ago, I came across the following on The Week website. Frances Weaver reported on April 19:

Today, geologists say, there’s a 99.7 percent chance of a Big One of at least magnitude 6.7 striking California within the next three decades, with Southern California most at risk. Fears that a big quake is imminent in Los Angeles were stoked in March when two earthquakes, including a magnitude-5.1 quake in La Habra, cracked walls, triggered landslides, and sent furniture flying. “Sooner or later there’s going to be the Big One,” says U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) seismologist Kate Hutton.

How bad would it be?
“You would see buildings collapse, you’d see people trapped, you’d see roadways collapse,” said Kelly Huston of California’s Office of Emergency Services. “You’d see widespread destruction.” Under the USGS’s crisis scenario for a magnitude-7.8 temblor in Southern California, the soil-filled Los Angeles Basin would turn into a violently trembling Jell-O, causing major highways and airport runways to buckle, water and sewer pipes to crack, electrical and gas lines to sever, and thousands of fires to break out across the region. Those blazes could then be whipped into a frenzy by the Santa Ana winds. Fiber-optic cables running across the San Andreas would be torn apart, and infrastructure would take months, if not years, to repair. The hospitals would be swamped by 50,000 injured people, and at least 1,800 would die….

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Truly disturbing. And according to Weaver, it’s a fault line other than the San Andreas that could be more costlier and deadlier. She added:

What about other fault lines?
Though seismologists have long dreaded a San Andreas–based quake, experts now fear that a tremor on the Puente Hills fault line could cause as much — if not more — damage. Running from the suburbs of northern Orange County straight through the densest neighborhoods of the Los Angeles Basin, a 7.5 quake on the Puente Hills line would affect millions — including downtown L.A.’s 4 million residents alone — killing up to 18,000 people, causing $250 billion in damage, and leaving as many as 750,000 households homeless, according to the USGS. “This is the fault that could eat L.A.,” said USGS seismologist Sue Hough…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis )

$200 billion national economic loss projection?

Make that $250 billion if ground zero for the “Big One” happens to be on the Puente Hills fault line.

It’s a seismic feature I’ve never heard of until now, but it’s making headlines these days in the midst of all the recent shaking going on in North America. Rong-Gong Lin II reported on the Los Angeles Times website on March 29:

Experts say a major, magnitude 7.5 earthquake on the fault could do more damage to the heart of Los Angeles than the dreaded Big One on the San Andreas fault, which is on the outskirts of metropolitan Southern California…

The Puente Hills fault could be especially hazardous over a larger area because of its shape. Other local faults, like the Newport-Inglewood and Hollywood, are a collection of vertical cracks, with the most intense shaking occurring near where the fault reaches the surface. The Puente Hills is a horizontal fault, with intense shaking likely to be felt over a much larger area, roughly 25 by 15 miles…

One reason for the dire forecast is that both downtown L.A. and Hollywood are packed with old, vulnerable buildings, including those made of concrete, [USGS seismologist Lucy] Jones said.

Lin added that scientists believe the Puente Hills fault has a major earthquake roughly every 2,500 years. Unfortunately, they don’t know when the last major trembler was.

Here’s hoping Californians- particularly those in the southern portion of the state- are not only keeping abreast of all this info (I understand Puente Hills was only discovered in 1999), but acting on it as well.

Thankfully, I know of a few who are

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

Sources:

Weaver, Frances. “When will the Big One strike California?” The Week. 19 Apr. 2014. (http://theweek.com/article/index/260116/when-will-the-big-one-strike-california). 12 May 2014.

Lin II, Rong-Gong. “La Habra quake a reminder about dangerous Puente Hills fault.” Los Angeles Times. 29 Mar. 2014. (http://articles.latimes.com/2014/mar/29/local/la-me-0330-quake-puentehills-20140330) 12 May 2014.

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Status Of West Coast Earthquake Early Warning System

The other week, I was pondering my options for “Resource Of The Week” on Survival And Prosperity.

Considering all the recent headlines about earthquakes, I decided I would look for some sort of earthquake early warning notification system for those living and working on the West Coast.

The best I could do was the U.S. Geological Survey’s Earthquake Notification Service (ENS), “a free service that sends you automated notification emails when earthquakes happen in your area.”

A noble effort, but basically, no earthquake early warning system in place then.

What a shame, considering the warnings of numerous experts about the inevitability of a major trembler striking the West Coast of the United States down the road.

The foundation for such a system is being laid, however. From Tiffany Wilson on the wesbite of San Francisco ABC affiliate Channel 7 yesterday:

UC Berkeley has been working for years to build an earthquake warning system on the West Coast. The same kind of system that helped prevent Mexico’s 7.2 magnitude earthquake on Friday from landing a bigger punch than it did.

California still doesn’t have one of these systems in place. Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation that mandates California build one of these systems, however that bill did not include anything about funding

Right now, the UC Berkeley Seismological Lab has a test version of what the earthquake warning system would look like.

The system would send an alert to your cellphone, giving you precious seconds to find safety.

[UC Berkeley Seismological Lab spokesperson Jennifer] Strauss says it would cost about $82 million up front to build and $12 million annually to maintain…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Wilson also added in her piece that Japan, Mexico, Turkey, and Romania have “similar or advanced warning systems” in place already.

In fact, viewers of one Mexico City TV program got to see the system work during last week’s quake:


“Así sintieron el sismo en Foro TV”
YouTube Video

I really hope some sort of earthquake early warning notification system is funded and operational before the U.S. West Coast suffers significant loss of life, limb, and property from a major shake.

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

Source:

Wilson, Tiffany. “UC Berkeley working to build earthquake warning system.” ABC 7. 21 Apr. 2014. (http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/local/east_bay&id=9511499). 22 Apr. 2014.

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‘Earthquake Storm’ To Descend Upon Coastal California?

There’s plenty of talk about California earthquakes right now after two significant seismic events recently struck the southern part of the state. And I happened to come across a real interesting article on The Christian Science Monitor website the other day that speculates the California coast may soon be visited by “earthquake storms.”

Earthquake what?

Randy Dotinga recently talked to geophysicist John Dvorak, author of a new book entitled Earthquake Storms: The Fascinating History and Volatile Future of the San Andreas Fault. From their exchange:

Q: What is an “earthquake storm”?

A: During the last few decades, it has been realized that earthquakes do not occur randomly, nor do they occur like clockwork.

Instead, earthquakes, even large ones, tend to cluster in time and space. An earthquake storm is when there is a cluster of large earthquakes in a region occur over a period of several decades…

Q: How does California fit into the world of earthquake storms?

A: Most of the motion between the Pacific and North American plates occurs along coastal California. In the last hundred years, there has been only one significant earthquake along those plates: the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, also known as the World Series earthquake.

But during the previous hundred years before that, there were five significant earthquakes along the California coast, in 1812, 1838, 1857, 1868, and 1906.

Large earthquakes are the major means by which seismic energy gets released after building up between the two tectonic plates. And so one or more large earthquakes are in California’s future. It is a matter of when…

Back on March 3, I brought up earthquake expert Dr. Katherine Scharer, who warned in a February presentation that an 8.0 Southern California “megaquake” would not only devastate the local infrastructure, but cause a national economic loss potentially surpassing $200 billion.

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

Source:

Dotinga, Randy. “Is California overdue for a big earthquake?” The Christian Science Monitor. 28 Mar. 2014. (http://www.csmonitor.com/Books/chapter-and-verse/2014/0328/Is-California-overdue-for-a-big-earthquake). 1 Apr. 2014.

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Tuesday, April 1st, 2014 Infrastructure, Natural Disasters No Comments

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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Los Angeles Named In Top 10 Most Risky Cities List

Speaking of U.S. metropolitan areas I’d be uncomfortable living in due to some significant threat to life, limb, and property, anyone hear about that overall top 10 most risky cities list just put out by the world’s second-largest reinsurance company, Swiss Reinsurance Company Ltd (Swiss Re)? Chris Michael reported on the website of The Guardian (UK) earlier today:

What are the world’s riskiest cities when it comes to natural disasters? For the insurance industry it seems an ever-more urgent question, so last year one reinsurance company set out to assess 616 cities around the world for their risk of earthquake, hurricanes and cyclones, storm surge, river flooding and tsunami. Here are Swiss Re’s overall top 10 most risky cities…

I’m not going to steal the British newspaper’s thunder here, but get a load of number 9 on Swiss Re’s list:

9) Los Angeles, United States: Its location on the San Andreas Fault makes Los Angeles one of the most earthquake-prone cities – although not as vulnerable to tsunami as might be expected. Subduction zones, where oceanic plates dive underneath the continental crust, generally create much larger tsunamis than so-called “strike-slip” faults such as the San Andreas and Northern Anatolian faults. Small comfort to the 14.7 million residents of the area threatened by earthquake…


“KTLA St Patricks Day Earthquake 3/17/2014”
YouTube Video

While an L.A. megaquake would definitely suck, I’ve been hearing more concern lately about a similar threat much further up the coast- which I’ll blog about in the coming days.

In the meantime, you can view the rest of the list here on The Guardian website.

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

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Tuesday, March 25th, 2014 Insurance, Natural Disasters No Comments

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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Expert: Southern California Megaquake Possible, Economic Loss Could Exceed $200 Billion

Back around the holidays I blogged about what Dr. Lucy Jones- dubbed the “Earthquake Lady” by some- is saying these says about the “Big One” hitting Southern California.

The other day I came across another earthquake expert talking about a potential megaquake along the San Andreas fault line. Dr. Katherine Scharer gave a presentation last Wednesday night at the San Bernardino County Museum entitled “Frequency of earthquakes on the San Andreas Fault: evidence from the trenches.” From Phill Courtney of the Redlands Daily Facts on February 27:

One of the most important questions that’s now being asked, Scharer said, is the length of a possible rupture on the San Andreas, and whether a single quake could extend from the Salton Sea, on through the San Gorgonio Pass, and then to the middle of the Mojave Desert. This is the 8.0 quake that so many of the experts fear.

Current thinking, Scharer revealed, is that it could, with a devastating effect not only on Southern California’s infrastructure, but a staggering national economic loss that might exceed $200 billion.

To drive that message home, Scharer showed a moving graphic with a red glow spreading up the fault over the roughly two minutes of real time that the quake would last, along with a landscape “shaking like a bowl of jelly,” as Scharer described it. The display brought gasps from the audience, mixed with some decidedly nervous laughter.

Scharer concluded by reminding her audience that the patterns reveal trends but no specifics, because quakes “don’t happen like clockwork. The other thing to take home is that it has been a long time since the last earthquake. So are San Andreas Fault earthquakes overdue?”

The answer appears to be yes

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

$200 billion national economic loss. Wow. Just wow.

Like I wrote back on December 12:

Keep those earthquakes preparations going at full throttle, Californians. And visit The Great California Shakeout website- among other earthquake preparedness online resources- if you haven’t already.

After all, it’s only a matter of time before the “Big One” strikes.

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

Source:

Courtney, Phill. “Earthquake presentation shakes up audience at San Bernardino County Museum in Redlands.” Redlands Daily Facts. 27 Feb. 2014. (http://www.redlandsdailyfacts.com/general-news/20140227/earthquake-presentation-shakes-up-audience-at-san-bernardino-county-museum-in-redlands). 3 Mar. 2014.

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MarketWatch On Jim Rogers: ‘Signs Are Suggesting He’s Right In His Gloomy Prognostication On Food Supplies’

I started blogging about investor, author, and financial commentator Jim Rogers back in the summer 2007, right after launching Boom2Bust.com, “The Most Hated Blog On Wall Street.” Rogers- who correctly called the commodities rally in 1999- was already talking up agriculture as a great investment opportunity seven years ago.

Time and time again on this blog, I’ve noted how bullish the former investing partner of George Soros is about the sector.

And yesterday, the financial website MarketWatch concluded the Singapore-based investor might be on to something.

From Karen Friar on The Tell blog:

What makes today’s comments more pointed is that signs are suggesting he’s right in his gloomy prognostication on food supplies.

Severe weather of different kinds, production constraints and other factors are pushing up prices of beef, bread and other staples (read: 10 foods eating into your budget). Plus, California — the U.S.’s agricultural heartland — won’t get any irrigation water this summer, despite being gripped by a drought. That should end up hitting consumer wallets, too. And even the crisis in Ukraine could end up putting pressure on grain markets…

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Naysayers love to bash Mr. Rogers and his investment predictions, trying to “call the game while it’s still in the early innings” (the same happens to fellow “crash prophets” Marc Faber and Peter Schiff- just look at the CNBC.com comments section underneath an article written about any one of the three). But I remember a British publication analyzing the outcome of his investing calls after he made that gloomy British pound forecast a few years back, and determining that more often than not Rogers is correct.

Chalk another one up for the CEO of Rogers Holdings and Beeland Interests, Inc.? I think it’s a little too early still to give Rogers full credit, but based on his track record I have a feeling he’ll get this agriculture call right too.

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

Source:

Friar, Karen. “Jim Rogers: Want to make money? Drive a tractor.” The Tell. 25 Feb. 2014. (http://blogs.marketwatch.com/thetell/2014/02/25/jim-rogers-want-to-make-money-drive-a-tractor/). 27 Feb. 2014.

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Disaster Preparedness And Response Funding Has Plummeted Since 2008

Any police, fire, or public health officials reading this who have been on the job since the early 2000s? Remember after 9/11, when the federal government made tons of money available to state and local governments to bolster disaster preparedness and response capabilities? I remember it clearly, as I used to help obtain these funds for the fire department I used to work at.

Since leaving the public safety field, I’ve heard a lot of this funding has dried up. According to a UPI piece I just finished reading, it looks like I heard right. From their website on January 9:

U.S. disaster funding distribution is deeply inefficient, with huge cash infusions disbursed after a disaster, only to fall abruptly later, researchers say.

Dr. Jesse Pines, director of the Office of Clinical Practice Innovation at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences… said the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in New York City and Washington prompted large increases in government disaster preparedness funding to help communities respond and recover after man-made and natural disasters. However, this funding has dropped considerably since 2008

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

How considerable? I pulled up a paper from The Institute of Medicine Forum on Medical and Public Health Preparedness for Catastrophic Events (January 7 final submission date) which Dr. Pines helped author. From the piece entitled “Value-Based Models for Sustaining Emergency Preparedness Capacity and Capability in the United States”:

The Department of Homeland Security administered 5 key grant programs to state and local governments during the period 2002-2007. These programs were to include the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI), the State Homeland Security Program (SHSP), the Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program (LETPP), the Metropolitan Medical Response System (MMRS), and the Citizen Corps Program (CCP). The total appropriation for these five programs increased from $315.7 million in federal year (FY) 2002 to $1.66 billion in FY 2007…

In addition to the five key DHS-funded programs, HHS administered the Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) program and the Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP). From FY 2006 to FY 2007, these programs received more than $2.1 billion in grants to all 50 states in addition to U.S. territories and 4 metropolitan cities (New York, New York; Washington, DC; Los Angeles, California; and Chicago, Illinois)…

From FY 2008 to FY 2013, appropriations have been falling for emergency preparedness. For example, in FY 2010, Congress appropriated $3.05 billion to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for preparedness grants to “strengthen out nations’ ability to prevent, protect, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks, major disasters and emergencies.” In FY 2012, this appropriation was reduced to $1.35 billion- a 56 percent cut. During the same period, FEMA pre-disaster mitigations grants declined from $100 million to $35.5 million- a 65 percent cut. SHSP funding was reduced from $2.06 billion in FY 2003 to $354.64 million in FY 2013- an 82 percent cut. UASI was less affected but nevertheless was reduced from $596.35 million in FY 2003 to $558.74 million in FY 2013. Funding for seven key initiatives in DHS totaled $3.08 billion in FY 2003. By FY 2013, DHS funding was focused on only three categories of funding totaling $968.38 million- a total percentage cut of almost 70 percent…

The decline in [PHEP] funding from 2008 to 2013 has been slightly more than 17 percent, with a total of 31 percent since FY 2004…

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Disasters don’t wait until there’s money in the till again, so it’s incredibly disappointing to hear of these cutbacks. As was pointed out earlier in the paper:

Since the September 2011, 2001, attacks, there have been periodic but unremitting public health emergencies across the United States. Weather events such a Hurricane Sandy, H1N1, the Boston marathon attack, and outbreaks of foodborne illness from Salmonella and E. coli serve as examples of major local and national public health emergencies demonstrating that no community is immune…

And what if a major terrorist attack occurs? Fine time for funding to be cut with that prospect looming. Consider what a distinguished Harvard professor whose work I first became familiar with back in graduate school said at a forum in April 2007. From Graham T. Allison, director of Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and author of Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe:

This debate asks how likely is it that terrorists will explode a nuclear bomb and devastate a great American metropolis. In the judgment of former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, the likelihood of a single nuclear bomb exploding in a single city is greater today than at the height of the Cold War. Nuclear Terrorism states my own judgment that, on the current trend line, the chances of a nuclear terrorist attack in the next decade are greater than 50 percent. Former Secretary of Defense William Perry has expressed his own view that Nuclear Terrorism underestimates the risk.

From the technical side, Richard Garwin, a designer of the hydrogen bomb who Enrico Fermi once called, “the only true genius I had ever met,” told Congress in March that he estimated a “20 percent per year probability with American cities and European cities included” of “a nuclear explosion—not just a contamination, dirty bomb—a nuclear explosion.” My Harvard colleague Matthew Bunn has created a probability model in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science that estimates the probability of a nuclear terrorist attack over a ten-year period to be 29 percent—identical to the average estimate from a poll of security experts commissioned by Senator Richard Lugar in 2005.

“The chances of a nuclear terrorist attack in the next decade are greater than 50 percent.”

By the way, Nuclear Terrorism was published back in July 2005.

I wonder what Dr. Allison would say America’s odds are now eight-and-a-half years on?

It’s only a matter of time before the next major man-made or natural disaster happens on U.S. soil. While public safety and public health personnel will strive to do all they can to lessen the impact of such events, ongoing cutbacks could have possibly impacted planning and preparedness for the incident and the overall response.

Keeping all this in mind, there’s probably no better time than the present for Americans to step up and take charge of their own emergency preparations.

You can read that paper (.pdf format) over on the Institute of Medicine website here.

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

Source:

“Experts: U.S. disaster funding deeply inefficient.” UPI.com. 9 Jan. 2014. (http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2014/01/09/Experts-US-disaster-funding-deeply-inefficient/UPI-52981389329033/). 16 Jan. 2014.

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Attack On California Power Substation Just A ‘Dress Rehearsal’?

Speaking of the fragile U.S. power grid this morning, I’ve been itching to discuss the following incident that took place in April and which I’ve been hearing more about as time goes on. Shane Harris reported on the Foreign Policy website back on December 27:

Around 1:00 AM on April 16, at least one individual (possibly two) entered two different manholes at the PG&E Metcalf power substation, southeast of San Jose, and cut fiber cables in the area around the substation. That knocked out some local 911 services, landline service to the substation, and cell phone service in the area, a senior U.S. intelligence official told Foreign Policy. The intruder(s) then fired more than 100 rounds from what two officials described as a high-powered rifle at several transformers in the facility. Ten transformers were damaged in one area of the facility, and three transformer banks — or groups of transformers — were hit in another, according to a PG&E spokesman.

Cooling oil then leaked from a transformer bank, causing the transformers to overheat and shut down. State regulators urged customers in the area to conserve energy over the following days, but there was no long-term damage reported at the facility and there were no major power outages. There were no injuries reported. That was the good news. The bad news is that officials don’t know who the shooter(s) were, and most importantly, whether further attacks are planned.

“Initially, the attack was being treated as vandalism and handled by local law enforcement,” the senior intelligence official said. “However, investigators have been quoted in the press expressing opinions that there are indications that the timing of the attacks and target selection indicate a higher level of planning and sophistication.”


Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office
“PG&E Substation Surveillance Video”
(Sparks from bullets @ 1:54, 2:07, 2:10, 2:57, and 3:01)
YouTube Video

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is now in charge of the case. Even though the shooting took place one day after the Boston Marathon bombing, Harris wrote the FBI “has no evidence that the attack is related to terrorism, and it appears to be an isolated incident.”

However, there’s this later on in the piece:

“These were not amateurs taking potshots,” Mark Johnson, a former vice president for transmission operations at PG&E, said last month at a conference on grid security held in Philadelphia. “My personal view is that this was a dress rehearsal” for future attacks.

Wackjob(s)? Terrorist(s)? The authorities may never find out just who was behind the attack. But I can only imagine if this had taken place in the Chicago area during a brutal cold spell like the one we’re in now.

Should a similar attack be successful here in Chiberia-like conditions and the region plunged into an extensive and extended power outage, chaos and carnage could easily ensue.

Extreme weather (space weather included). Cyber attacks. Physical attack. I wished Washington would take steps to significantly harden the national power grid. But they won’t any time soon (other spending priorities, no immediate/substantial political “return” from doing so).

Regrettably, the bad guys have almost certainly figured this out as well.

Yep. Alternative/backup electricity and heating is starting to sound real good right now.

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

Source:

Harris, Shane. “‘Military-Style’ Raid on California Power Station Spooks U.S.” Foreign Policy. 27 Dec. 2013. (http://complex.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/12/24/power-station-military-assault), 8 Jan 2014.

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Gun ‘Control’ Forced On Boston, Chicago Cops?

I think Survival And Prosperity readers might find the following two firearm-related stories as they concern local law enforcement interesting. From the popular Chicago police blog Second City Cop this morning:

There is (or soon will be) not a single person in the State of Illinois who has to register a firearm anymore.

Unless you’re a Chicago Police Officer.

Read the linked order here, right on page two:

H. Sworn members will register all duty and nonduty firearms with the Department

“Register all… nonduty firearms with the Department”

Sorry, but I can’t see many rank-and-file Chicago police officers registering their personally-owned firearms.

I wonder who came up with this idea, and if they actually expect sworn CPD members to comply with the order.

Regardless, as regular Survival And Prosperity readers already know, gun registration often leads to confiscation.

Then there’s this out of the East Coast. Antonio Planas reported on the Boston Herald website yesterday:

Mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh is shooting down the plan to arm some Boston patrol officers with military-style rifles – setting up a potential showdown with the department which has backed the controversial measure, citing a need for high-powered weapons in light of school shootings and the marathon bombings.

“Mayor-elect Walsh is opposed to the AR-15 rifles,” his spokeswoman Kathryn Norton said in a short statement yesterday. “Unless otherwise convinced by the Boston Police Department, he does not think they are necessary.”

Walsh would have to approve a budget for 33 AR-15 rifles at a cost of $2,500 each. Police were in the planning phases of acquiring the rifles to put in the cruisers of two specially trained beat cops in each of the city’s 11 districts…

Other local elected representatives oppose BPD patrol officers having access to AR-15s. From the website of Boston’s FOX affiliate Sunday:

City Councilor Charles Yancey is not for the plan and said active-shooter incidents are better left to specialized SWAT team units and the use of assault rifles actually put the public in more danger.

“I don’t believe arming them with assault weapons is going to make them any safer,” he said.

I haven’t heard/read anywhere as to exactly why the Boston mayor-elect is opposed to a limited number of AR-15 rifles going out on patrol.

Has he drunk the “scary black rifle” Kool-Aid being offered up by anti-gun/gun “control” types?

Perhaps he’s ignorant of the 1997 North Hollywood shootout and body armor, and the 2008 Mumbai (India) massacre, where patrol officers armed with semi-automatic rifles could have tipped the scales in favor of the good guys. I’ll never forget those scenes of Mumbai police officers armed with Lee Enfield bolt-action rifles seeking cover as bursts of automatic rifle fire came their way.

Or maybe Mayor-elect Walsh is more shrewd than he’s letting on, having concluded a Kalashnikov can do the same (if not better) job as the AR-15 for a fraction of price. Got to be frugal when it comes to utilizing taxpayer money these days, right?

In all seriousness, I’m guessing it’s probably only a matter of time before Boston experiences an incident where their patrol officers are outgunned at the onset of contact with the bad guys and where SWAT is too late to help. If Boston’s mayor-elect doesn’t want BPD patrols to have access to AR-15s in such a situation, so be it. Just be prepared for the consequences when such an event takes place and police officers and innocent Bostonians are wounded/killed.

By the way, using the excuse “no one could have ever seen this happening” probably won’t cut it.

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

Sources:

SCC. “Once Again, Second Class Citizens.” Second City Cop. 30 Dec. 2013. (http://secondcitycop.blogspot.com/2013/12/once-again-second-class-citizens.html). 30 Dec. 2013.

Planas, Antonio. “Walsh shoots down rifle plan.” Boston Herald. 29 Dec. 2013. (http://bostonherald.com/news_opinion/local_politics/2013/12/walsh_shoots_down_rifle_plan). 30 Dec. 2013.

“Walsh comes out opposing rifle plan for Boston police officers.” FOX 25. 29 Dec. 2013. (http://www.myfoxboston.com/category/233063/about-us). 30 Dec. 2013.

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Monday, December 30th, 2013 Crime, Firearms, Government, Gun Rights, Public Safety No Comments

‘Earthquake Lady’ Warns ‘Imagine America Without Los Angeles’

The past couple of articles I’ve read that mentioned major earthquakes and California seemed to imply that the state was somewhat ready for such an event. I understand “The Golden State” has improved its earthquake readiness and response capabilities over time. However, I get the feeling there’s some complacency going around, with a lot more work still needing to be done.

Here’s what one earthquake expert- the “Earthquake Lady”- had to say this week about the “Big One” striking the southern portion of the state. From the website of CBS Los Angeles affiliates Channel 2/Channel 9 last night:

A leading earthquake expert has issued a dire warning to Californians about the expected impact of a major disruption to the San Andreas fault line.

The title of Dr. Lucy Jones’ lecture this week to the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco was “Imagine America without Los Angeles”.

As KCAL9′s Dave Bryan reports, Jones, a Science Advisor for Risk Reduction at the U.S. Geological Survey, says when the “Big One” hits Southern California, the damage could be much greater, and could last much longer, than most of us ever imagined.

“Loss of shelter, loss of schools, loss of jobs and emotional hardship. We are risking the ends of our cities,” she said during the presentation…


“Expert Warns LA Isn’t Ready For Major Earthquake”
CBS Los Angeles Video

Now, a lot of comments on the piece are saying something along the lines of “can’t wait until L.A. slides off into the Pacific Ocean.”

I know they are either kidding or haven’t thought through such statements, as only a fool could think such wholesale destruction in Southern California wouldn’t have widespread repercussions for the rest of the nation.

Anyway, keep those earthquakes preparations going at full throttle, Californians. And visit The Great California Shakeout website- among other earthquake preparedness online resources- if you haven’t already.

After all, it’s only a matter of time before the “Big One” strikes.

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

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Thursday, December 12th, 2013 Natural Disasters, Preparedness 4 Comments

Gun Registration Often Leads To Confiscation, As New Yorkers Find Out Once More

Why Gun Rights Advocates Oppose Gun Registration

A centralized registration system is the one usually proposed by gun control activists, and it is the type most feared by gun rights advocates. At the heart of resistance to registration is the belief that it encourages firearm prohibitions and ultimately leads to confiscation. (It is also why many choose not to comply and register weapons already owned.)

Those who favor more gun control often accuse gun owners of being paranoid, but the track record of firearms registration is not a good one.”

-GunCite.com, popular firearms information website, August 24, 2007

Supporters of more gun “control” in the United States routinely push for the registration of firearms.

And, “Don’t worry,” they like to say, “No one is going to take away your guns.”

Problem is, history repeatedly shows otherwise.

I blogged backed on January 14, 2013:

Gun registration often leads to confiscation. From the latest edition of Gun Facts, a popular firearm reference book:

Myth: Registration does not lead to confiscation

Fact: It did in Canada. The handgun registration law of 1934 was the source used to identify and confiscate (without compensation) over half of the registered handguns in 2001.
Fact: It did in Germany. The (before the Nazis came into power) required all firearms to be registered. When Hitler came into power, the existing lists were used for confiscating weapons.
Fact: It did in Australia. In 1996, the Australian government confiscated over 660,000 previously legal weapons from their citizens.
Fact: It did in California. The 1989 Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Control Act required registration. Due to shifting definitions of “assault weapons,” many legal firearms are now being confiscated by the California government.
Fact: It did in New York City. In 1967, New York City passed an ordinance requiring a citizen to obtain a permit to own a rifle or shotgun, which would then be registered. In 1991, the city passed a ban on the private possession of some semi-automatic rifles and shotguns, and “registered” owners were told that those firearms had to be surrendered, rendered inoperable, or taken out of the city.
Fact: It did in Bermuda, Cuba, Greece, Ireland, Jamaica, and Soviet Georgia as well.

Now, you can add the “Big Apple” to that list for a second time. Edmund DeMarche reported on the FOX News website earlier today:

The New York City Police Department is taking aim at owners of shotguns and rifles capable of holding more than five rounds, demanding such guns be surrendered, altered or taken out of the city.

The demand came in the form of some 500 letters mailed out to owners of registered long guns that are in violation of a 2010 city ordinance. The first option for the letter’s recipient is to, “Immediately surrender your Rifle and/or Shotgun to your local police precinct, and notify this office of the invoice number. The firearm may be sold or permanently removed from the City of New York thereafter.”

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

“Surrendered, altered or taken out of the city.”

Sound familiar?

“Question: Why is it, every time I buy and register a gun in New York City, it gets confiscated?

Man, funk dat!”


Sagat, “Funk Dat” (1993)
YouTube Video

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

Sources:

Smith, Guy. Gun Facts Version 6.1. Guy Smith, 2012.

DeMarche, Edmund. “NYPD cracks down on long guns that hold more than five rounds.” FOX News. 5 Dec. 2013. (http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/12/05/nypd-targets-owners-multi-clip-shotguns-rifles/?intcmp=latestnews). 5 Dec. 2013.

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