Fans of the National Geographic Channel hit TV show Doomsday Preppers- remember Peter Larson? Larson appeared in the series pilot back in the summer of 2011. I blogged back then:
The Larson family- Peter Larson lives with his wife, children, and grandchildren in a suburb of Salt Lake City, Utah. Fearing a nuclear strike (it looks as if Peter is describing an electromagnetic pulse attack in the show), the Larsons have constructed a Rocky Mountain retreat for twelve. For those of you who don’t know what an EMP attack is, it’s when a nuclear device is detonated in the atmosphere, where it’s theorized the resulting electromagnetic pulse generated by the blast will “fry” microchips at the heart of electronic devices, rendering them useless.
Well, Mr. Larson is back in the spotlight again these days. From the CNN website last night:
Inside a Doomsday Prepper bunker
Gary Tuchman talks to a peaceful man in Utah who is proud to call himself a survivalist. He built an elaborate $65,000 bunker stocked with supplies, money and weapons. Watch this up close look at his hideout.
“Man builds $65,000 doomsday bunker”
Nice setup. And nicely done by Gary Tuchman and CNN, considering the number of hack-job pieces out there these days on underground shelters and their owners.
By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)
“The Obama administration is warning that the danger of a terrorist attack with nuclear weapons is increasing, but U.S. officials say the claim is not based on new intelligence and questioned whether the threat is being overstated.”
-Washington Times, April 14, 2010
I don’t agree with President Obama on a number of things, but here’s one we do see eye-to-eye on:
The threat posed by nuclear terrorism.
Consider recent events in the former Soviet Union. Desmond Butler of the Associated Press reported back on December 9:
Despite years of effort and hundreds of millions of dollars spent in the fight against the illicit sale of nuclear contraband, the black market remains active in the countries around the former Soviet Union. The radioactive materials, mostly left over from the Cold War, include nuclear bomb-grade uranium and plutonium, and dirty-bomb isotopes like cesium and iridium.
The extent of the black market is unknown, but a steady stream of attempted sales of radioactive materials in recent years suggests smugglers have sometimes crossed borders undetected. Since the formation of a special nuclear police unit in 2005 with U.S. help and funding, 15 investigations have been launched in Georgia and dozens of people arrested.
(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)
And what of the years between 1991 (Georgian independence) and 2005? I shudder to think how much radioactive material might have found their way across the Georgian border and into the hands of the bad guys during those 14 years.
According to the piece, highly-enriched uranium has also recently been seized from smugglers in Moldova, another former Soviet republic.
From the Council on Foreign Relations website:
There have been no confirmed reports of missing or stolen former-Soviet nuclear weapons, but there is ample evidence of a significant black market in nuclear materials. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has reported more than a hundred nuclear smuggling incidents since 1993, eighteen of which involved highly enriched uranium, the key ingredient in an atomic bomb and the most dangerous product on the nuclear black market.
(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)
That portion of the CFR website was last updated in January 2006.
While the Council said there have been no confirmed reports of missing or stolen nuclear weapons, the same can’t be said of nuclear material. Butler added:
Russia maintains that it has secured its radioactive material — including bomb-grade uranium and plutonium — and that Georgia has exaggerated the risk because of political tension with Moscow. But while the vast majority of the former Soviet Union’s nuclear arsenal and radioactive material has been secured, U.S. officials say that some material in the region remains loose.
“Without a doubt, we are aware and have been over the last several years that not all nuclear material is accounted for,” says Simon Limage, deputy assistant secretary for non-proliferation programs at the U.S. State Department. “It is true that a portion that we are concerned about continues to be outside of regulatory control.”
(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)
“U.S. officials say that some material in the region remains loose.”
If smuggling is taking place and the whereabouts of the nuclear material is unknown, I wonder if the above shouldn’t be changed to “some material from the region remains loose?”
Since illegal aliens and drugs routinely manage to find their way into the United States, it requires no stretch of the mind to envision nuclear material for a terrorist weapon also being smuggled in.
Butler’s incredibly-informative piece be read on the Yahoo! News website here.
Season 2 of National Geographic Channel’s Doomsday Preppers TV series continues tonight with episode 6, “Escape from New York,” which airs at 9 PM ET. From the Nat Geo Channel webpage for the TV show:
With recent storms such as Sandy, New Yorkers now more than ever need to have escape plans in case they need to flee. NGC cameras follow three New Yorkers as they plot their routes out of the city, literally escaping the grid to reach safety.
Once again, the National Geographic Channel provided me with an advanced screening opportunity of the episode, and it didn’t disappoint. As a matter of fact, it really hit close to home as I too live in a large U.S. city (Chicago).
There were three preppers featured in “Escape from New York.” First up was Cameron Moore in Brooklyn, a college student studying for medical school. Cameron told viewers:
I’m preparing for a meltdown at the Indian Point Nuclear Facility.
Next up was Margaret Ling in Harlem, who told viewers:
I’m preparing for a catastrophic hurricane.
Finally, there’s Jay, a Wall Street bond trader, who explained:
I’m preparing for another terrorist attack.
All three preppers fear what might happen in New York City should TSHTF. From the show:
That’s why for these three New York preppers, at the first sign of trouble, survival comes down to one objective.
CAMERON: Get out of New York City.
JAY: Leaving Manhattan as soon as possible.
MARGARET: Grab my bag and just jet out.
They’ve also paired with a mentor to help them refine their plan. Krav Maga instructor Matan Gavish, preparedness expert Aton Edwards, and urban survivalist Shane Hobel. Now, over the course of one night, all three preppers will put their bug out plans into action for the first time and attempt to escape New York.
The first prepper introduced in the episode was Margaret Ling. In this segment, Margaret, who wears a backpack full of survival supplies every day, revealed that she was concerned about a major hurricane hitting the “Big Apple.” Ling told viewers:
I know I don’t want to be sent to a shelter. And I plan to get out of the city and make my way up to the mountains in upstate New York close to Canada. The last and worst case scenario is walking the entire distance to safety up in the mountains.
Margaret is paired with Krav Maga Academy founder and chief instructor Matan Gavish to help get her prepared.
“Doomsday Preppers: Lollipop Lolliprep”
Nat Geo Channel Video
The second prepper the show focused on was Cameron Moore. In this segment, Cameron shared his fears about an Indian Point Nuclear Facility meltdown and the potential for radiation escaping the facility. He informed viewers:
When TSHTF, I will bug out.
Cameron worked with International Preparedness Network executive director Aton Edwards to help him with his preps.
Finally, there’s Jay (no surname given). Jay was in Manhattan on September 11, 2001. And the Wall Street bond trader realizes New York City remains an attractive terrorist target. He told viewers:
I don’t think it’s going to end. I don’t think that we’re going to wake up all of a sudden one day and all of a sudden we’re not going to be a target to terrorists around the world. A dirty bomb is, without question, an option for terrorists out there.
From the show:
If terrorists detonate dirty bombs across Manhattan, as Jay fears, he’s instructed his wife Mindy and their 6-year-old daughter to get ready to flee the city.
Should TSHTF, Jay’s goal is to get out of the financial district and get back to his family as soon as possible. Jay paired up with Mountain Scout Survival School founder and instructor Shane Hobel to come up with a plan to make that happen.
With the three preppers coming from the same area of the country and attempting a simultaneous bug out, this particular episode was more like a TV special. A TV special for urban preppers. According to the U.S. Census earlier this year, more Americans are living in cities now than ever before. And perhaps it’s because I live in a major American city that I found “Escape from New York” particularly interesting. Although that bike “borrowing” bit was a little over the top. Still, good stuff overall.
And I applaud National Geographic Channel for not removing Doomsday Preppers from the air due to some in the press possibly trying to link preppers with last week’s school shooting.
Blamethrowers. Precisely what the world needs more of these days.
Enjoy tonight’s episode. For more information, please visit the Doomsday Preppers page on the National Geographic Channel website here.
I recently watched the latest installment of National Geographic Channel’s Doomsday Preppers TV series, “The Time of Reckoning,” which aired Tuesday night, November 27. Episode 4 of season 2 featured the prepping team of Dr. Tom Perez, a retired chiropractor, and Steven M. Vanasse, a radiation safety officer, both from Houston, Texas.
Dr. Tom Perez
The first part of the show focused on the Perez family. Dr. Perez is married to wife Monica and the couple have thee children, Katarina (17-years-old), Thomas (12), and Matthew (6). According to Tom:
I’m preparing for a terroristic attack.
From the show:
Tom fears the dirty bomb- an everyday explosive like dynamite or TNT packed with radioactive material. Once detonated, its blast can spread radiation anywhere from a city block to several square miles. But that radioactive debris could lodge in buildings, and chemically-bind with concrete and asphalt, making decontaminating a city difficult and possibly forcing affected neighborhoods to be abandoned… A single dirty bomb could contaminate an area 30 times the size of the initial blast site which could cover up to 20 city blocks. The radiation would not be detected by human senses, and the effect of exposure could be immediate.
In the event of a dirty bomb detonation in Houston, the family would bug out to their 700-acre compound- “The Alamo”- 300 miles away in Brackettville, Texas.
“Doomsday Preppers: Doomsday Alamo”
Nat Geo Channel Video
Steven M. Vanasse
Later on in the show viewers were introduced to Steven Vanasse, Tom’s prepping partner. Steven is married to Gobriella Gubimelli and they have a daughter, Victoria Vanasse. According to Steve:
I’m preparing for a dirty bomb blast in the city of Houston.
In the event of such an attack, the Vanasse family plans on bugging out of Houston and meeting up with the Perez family at “The Alamo.”
Tom is the firearms expert. Steve is the radiation expert. And both are training the members of their young families to be preppers.
My thoughts about Doomsday Preppers “The Time of Reckoning”:
• Both the Perez and Vanasse families plan on bugging out of Houston in the event of a dirty bomb explosion. A number of viewers probably wondered why they wouldn’t just bug in, seeing that this type of weapon is intended to cause fear more than casualties and fleeing Greater Houston and a good portion of its 6.08 million residents could be very difficult- if not impossible- in such a situation. From the show:
Tom’s bug-out route bypasses over 3,000 miles of Houston’s highways, and once on the open road, they travel due west to their safe house- 300 miles away in Brackettville, Texas… It’s normally a 6-hour drive to Tom’s compound.
I’m guessing that drive would take significantly longer with a lot of other Houstonians on the road after a dirty bomb attack, and that Tom and Steve would rather not shelter-in-place because of the perceived danger from civil strife and other sorts of chaos that could happen in Houston after such an event. Considering the extent these guys have planned and prepped, I’d be surprised if bugging in wasn’t a viable option for them.
• “The Alamo” is an impressive bug-out location. When I first heard that Tom Perez had stockpiled 46,000 rounds of ammunition, I was kind of surprised at the large number. However, upon thinking the situation through (the Perez family alone consists of 5 preppers and their firearms) and being familiar with a number of recommendations being circulated in prepper/survivalist circles as to how much ammo should be stored for a SHTF event, that amount didn’t seem so astronomical anymore.
• On the other hand, when it was revealed that the Perez family only had 9 months of food socked away at the retreat, I was somewhat shocked. Considering all the preps Dr. Perez had already taken care of, I would have thought he’d have at least a year’s worth of food stored- if not more- at “The Alamo.” I’d seriously-consider buying more food before an armored car, as Dr. Perez said they were looking into at the end of the episode.
• When I heard Tom say:
I also have taken the liberty of contaminating 10 percent of my food and water supply if it is ever compromised. I am the only one that knows which supplies are affected.
I was initially surprised (concerned?) here too. But once I thought the situation through yet again, should this prepper network ever get dislodged from “The Alamo” by raiders, it would probably just be a matter of time before the unwelcomed “guests” get sick, giving the Perez and Vanasse families the opportunity to retake their retreat.
• I have to believe there’s a certain amount of distrust among the law enforcement community when it comes to preppers/survivalists. I thought it was a good idea for the Perez family to coordinate their preparedness efforts with local law enforcement. By doing this, not only did they establish a relationship with them- perhaps decreasing the chance they might be seen as dangerous “kooks” by the police- but they even received some helpful advice during their combined drill with the off-duty officers from the local sheriff’s department. For example, Deputy Ramon Gutierrez pointed out that the Perez family are less vulnerable if they stay in the limestone structures during an attack, and Deputy Forrest Spence emphasized family members need to be real aggressive when confronting a threat.
• I was impressed that Tom taught 17-year-old Kat, 12-year-old Tommy, and 6-year-old Matthew how to shoot, among other things. From the show:
Matthew, who’s been shooting since the age of 4, can hit a target from 100 yards away with his child-size sniper rifle.
Cutest little sniper you ever did see.
• Question- What’s up with Matthew’s boots? They look gargantuan on him.
• Another question- Is it just me or does Steven Vanasse look a lot like a younger version of actor Randy Quaid?
• The way the relationship between Steve and daughter Victoria played out in the episode was funny. Steve would say something about how proud he was of Victoria and how she’s coming on board with the prepping, and the young lady would indicate otherwise. In one scene, Steve brought her shooting for the first time at an indoor gun range. Victoria gave it a try- and it looked like she was a natural at it. Steve was just beaming about Victoria’s performance. Victoria tells viewers she probably won’t go shooting again. I had to chuckle when I saw that. A lot of my friends were just like that at that age. I was an angel, of course.
• The National Geographic Channel definitely got their shock value’s worth from this installment. If the Molotov cocktails and slaying of the goat weren’t enough (or Steve’s munching on its cooked eye), Tom Perez almost suffering permanent injury to his hearing from Steve firing his rifle in the hunting blind really took the cake. Cuidado, Esteban!
“The Time of Reckoning” was really interesting to watch, especially as Tom Perez and Steve Vanasse appear to be way ahead of most of their prepping contemporaries. This was apparent in the score they received from Practical Preppers LLC right before the show wrapped-up. But the episode was also painful to watch at times. Even more painful to make by the looks of things.
September 1995. Loyola University of Chicago, Rogers Park campus. My graduate school classmates and I are busy one autumn evening randomly-drawing names of notable political scientists to interview for a class project. I pick Alexander George out of Stanford University (was fantastic and insightful to talk to, by the way). My classmate and good friend Allison ends up with Graham T. Allison out of Harvard. I have no idea at that time how much Dr. Allison, now director of Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, would eventually contribute to my future knowledge about- and concern over- the threat of nuclear terrorism to America. The author of Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe, which was selected by The New York Times as one of the “100 most notable books of 2004” and is now in its third printing, had this to say about the danger in a 2007 debate (also noted in my “About” page):
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.” And Dr. Allison said this in 2007. I’ll have to check with the Harvard professor and administrator to see if he still believes this is the case in light of the progress being claimed by the Obama administration in the “War on Terror.” But based on recent reports about advancements in the nuclear programs of both Iran and North Korea, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s still sticking to his guns here.
Concerning Iran, the Associated Press reported Wednesday:
Iran will step up its uranium enrichment program by sharply increasing the number of centrifuges used to make nuclear fuel, a senior official said Wednesday, in direct defiance of Western demands.
The statement by Iran’s nuclear chief, Fereidoun Abbasi, is likely to escalate tensions…
“Despite sanctions, we will most likely see a substantial increase in the number of centrifuge machines this year. We will continue enrichment with intensity,” Abbasi was quoted by state TV as saying Wednesday. The Iranian calendar year ends on March 20.
His remarks came days after the U.N. agency said Iran is about to double its output of higher enriched uranium at its fortified Fordo underground facility. That could move Iran closer to weapons capability.
Anyone out there still think the Islamic Republic of Iran won’t be getting a nuclear weapon short of a military conflict?
I wonder if the Iranians will be televising the parade from downtown Tehran when that happens?
As for the North Koreans? Reuters’ Fredrik Dahl reported Thursday:
North Korea has made further progress in the construction of a new atomic reactor, the U.N. nuclear chief reported on Thursday, a facility that may extend the country’s capacity to produce material for nuclear bombs.
Pyongyang “has continued construction of the light water reactor and largely completed work on the exterior of the main buildings,” Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said…
North Korea says it needs nuclear power to provide electricity, but has also boasted of its nuclear deterrence capability and has traded nuclear technology with Syria, Libya and probably Pakistan.
At the end of summer, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was already thought to have 23 nuclear weapons in their arsenal.
The world was already a dangerous place, but grows even more so in our time. Especially as it concerns nuclear proliferation.
“Iran nuclear chief: Uranium enrichment to be stepped up with new centrifuges, reactor.” Associated Press. 28 Nov. 2012. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/iran-nuclear-chief-enrichment-to-move-ahead-with-intensity/2012/11/28/98834224-3965-11e2-9258-ac7c78d5c680_story.html). 30 Nov. 2012.
Dahl, Fredrik. “North Korea pushing ahead with new nuclear reactor: IAEA.” Reuters. 29 Nov. 2012. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/29/us-korea-north-nuclear-idUSBRE8AS0OT20121129). 30 Nov. 2012.
As President Obama spoke to world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly this morning and vowed the United States “will do what we must” to prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon, I became curious as to just how close the Western Asia country was to getting a “nuke.”
If you believe the Israelis, the Iranians are several months away from having the capability to build such a weapon. From Matt Spetalnick and Dan Williams on the Reuters website back on September 16:
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Sunday that Iran was just six to seven months away from the brink of being able to build a nuclear bomb, adding urgency to his demand that President Barack Obama set a “red line” for Tehran in what could deepen the worst U.S.-Israeli rift in decades.
Taking to the television airwaves to make his case directly to the American public, Netanyahu said that by mid-2013 Iran would be “90 percent of the way” toward enough enriched uranium for a weapon.
(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)
6 to 7 months away from being able to build a nuclear weapon.
Pop this device over the continental United States and we could be in a real world of hurt.
Is Netanyahu’s warning credible? Regrettably, it seems so.
Spetalnick and Williams added:
He appeared to be referring to Iran’s enrichment of uranium to 20 percent purity, a level it says is required for medical isotopes but which also is close to bomb-fuel grade. According to an August report by U.N. inspectors, Iran has stockpiled 91.4 kg of the 20 percent material.
Experts say about 200-250 kg (440-550 pounds) would be the minimum required to enrich further into enough material for a bomb, a threshold Iran could potentially reach soon by producing roughly 15 kg (33 pounds) a month, a rate that could be speeded up if it activates new uranium centrifuges.
(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)
Glenn Kessler wrote in the Washington Post’s The Fact Checker blog on September 16:
Israeli officials have a long history of claiming that Iran is close to having a nuclear weapon–indeed, in 1992, Israeli officials suggested Iran was just a “few years” from a nuclear weapon. So with that track record, the latest assertion by the Israeli prime minister might be easy to ignore.
But in this case, Netanyahu is on the right track. In fact, a case could be made that Iran already is ahead of his timeline. Note that he did not say Iran would have a nuclear bomb—just that the Islamic Republic would have the material for a nuclear bomb.
The latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency suggests that Iran already has more than enough uranium enriched to 20 percent that could converted into weapons-grade (90 percent) uranium for at least one nuclear weapon.
(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)
Kessler went on to provide supporting evidence for this fact check.
So 6 to 7 months then.
And I once thought “Atomic Ayatollahs” would be a great name for a rock band.
Not so much anymore.
The allure of having a nuclear weapon is just too great for the Islamic Republic of Iran to let diplomacy get in the way. If anything, they’ll continue using it as a stall tactic to keep on working uninhibited.
Then look for Iran to throw a parade sometime in the near future celebrating its breakthrough.
However, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s an attack on Iran by Israel alone, the United States alone, one or the other as part of a coalition, or some other combination.
Some even believe such a strike might take place before the November election.
If you believe war is in the cards, it’s probably a good idea to start considering the potential repercussions it could have back on Main Street. Higher energy prices? Retaliatory strikes on U.S. soil by Iran and/or its affiliates? I plan on blogging about this in the coming days.
Spetalnick, Matt and Williams, Dan. “Iran on brink of nuclear bomb in six-seven months: Netanyahu.” Reuters. 16 Sep. 2012. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/09/16/us-iran-nuclear-netanyahu-idUSBRE88F06P20120916). 25 Sep. 2012.
Kessler, Glenn. “Netanyahu’s claim that Iran is ‘six months’ from having nuclear bomb material.” The Fact Checker. 16 Sep. 2012. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/netanyahus-claim-that-iran-is-six-months-from-having-nuclear-bomb-material/2012/09/16/7497078e-002f-11e2-b260-32f4a8db9b7e_blog.html). 25 Sep. 2012.
Well here we are.
Post number 1,000 on Survival And Prosperity, “Protecting and Growing Self and Wealth in These Uncertain Times.”
It feels like it was only yesterday when I launched this successor to Boom2Bust.com, “The Most Hated Blog On Wall Street.” In fact, it’s been almost 22 months since its debut. My how time flies. Especially when bad economic news keeps piling on. The Pollyanna gang might argue that Keynesian strategies pursued by Washington and the Fed successfully ended the “Great Recession” and have put the United States on a sustainable path to recovery. I’m of the approach that when a lot of money is poured into the financial system you’re bound to see some sort of pick-up in activity. At least initially. And, as we’ve witnessed, only temporarily, as more “stimulus” is required to keep the whole thing afloat.
But where has that left the country? As of last week, over $16 trillion in debt. And on the verge of yet another “quantitative easing.” And anyone who really believes debt doesn’t matter is in for a rude awakening when the nation’s “financial reckoning day” finally does arrives.
Since the launch of Boom2Bust.com back in May 2007, I’ve been warning about a coming U.S. financial crash. As much as some might credit me for calling it, the maelstrom that blew through the U.S. and global economies back in the fall of 2008 was only a part of the collapse that I still see heading our way. Somewhat surprisingly, Washington and the Fed have managed to “kick the can down the road” for the time being. But the road only goes so far. Will the crash happen all it once, or will it be drawn out over several years? I don’t know. I just know that my interpretation of the available data leads me to believe its coming.
To complicate matters, these days Americans must take into account other threats besides an economic crash. Depending on what one believes, these could include:
• Global warming
• Nuclear terrorism
• Peak oil production
• Resource shortages
• Solar flares
There are others. Nevertheless, a lot of threats exist these days which endanger our survival and prosperity.
So in 2012, are we looking at the end of the world? Probably not. But most likely the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI), particularly as it relates to the U.S. economy and larger financial system. Accordingly, life in America is about to get a whole lot tougher for most (if it already hasn’t). A number of really smart individuals who predicted the 2008 global economic crisis and “Great Recession” suggest we could see:
• Civil strife, including rioting and looting
• Currency controls
• Martial law
• Much higher taxes and fees
• Rampant crime
• “Second Great Depression”
There’s more, but I think you get the picture.
Despite all this, I must remind you that I’m not talking about the end of the world here. Remember, even at its worst unemployment during the Great Depression ran somewhere around 25 percent. While that really sucked for those without a job, not everyone found themselves in a soup kitchen line. The economy and society, though hobbled, still functioned.
I’m a big believer that, despite the coming crash, things will turn out okay for America in the long-run.
I also believe that focusing on one’s personal and financial safety and growth right now will go a long way in helping you and your loved ones come out on the other side of the approaching storm in reasonably good shape.
Wishing you all the best now, and down the rocky road I see in store for us,
Christopher E. Hill
At first I thought the following from the land of ABBA may be an attempted act of nuclear terrorism, but upon reading further, I’m not so sure. Still, the event should probably serve as a wake-up call for the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies tasked with protecting our energy infrastructure. From the Associated Press this morning:
Security was ramped up at Sweden’s three nuclear power plants Thursday after explosives were found on a truck at the southwestern Ringhals atomic power station. Police said they were investigating possible sabotage.
Bomb sniffer dogs detected the explosives during a routine check Wednesday afternoon by security staff while the truck was in the power plant’s industrial area near its high security enclosure. Police declined to describe the amount or type of explosive material found.
Bomb technicians said the material lacked a detonating device, meaning there was no danger of an imminent explosion.
Four nuclear reactors are at Ringhals, 70 kilometers (45 miles) south of Sweden’s second-largest city, Goteborg.
According to MSNBC.com, Ringhals’ four reactors produce nearly 20 percent of the Scandinavian country’s electricity.
“Sweden on alert, explosives found near nuke plant.” Associated Press. 21 June 2012. (http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/06/21/explosives-found-near-swedish-nuclear-plant/). 21 June 2012.
“Suspected explosives seized at nuclear plant in Sweden.” MSNBC. 21 June 2012. (http://worldnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/06/21/12330952-suspected-explosives-seized-at-nuclear-plant-in-sweden?lite). 21 June 2012.
On Monday night, April 30, Training For The Apocalypse premiered on the National Geographic Channel. From the Nat Geo Channel website:
Training For the Apocalypse chronicles the journeys of survivalists, truth-seekers and prophets united in their quests for personal peace as they prepare for global cataclysm and the near-extinction of humanity. In an era when rumors, prophecies and theories have often eclipsed various evident realities at hand, TFA serves to humanize, enlighten and inform, with a cautious respect for the words and deeds of our subjects rather than a capitalization on vague fears or subjective judgments. Practical discoveries are made while distinct personal stories develop about those striving and struggling to live their best, while preparing for the worst.
Training For The Apocalypse starred the following:
Fernando Antonio Salguero, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Founder, Survive And Thrive (Meetup.com group)
Mission: Teach self-reliance
Leland Freeborn, Parowan, Utah
Exiled Mormon, the “Parowan Prophet”
Mission: Prepare for nuclear war
Brian Johnson, Parowan, Utah
Parowan Prophet congregant
Mission: Total independence
Anonymous, Los Angeles, California
Viewers were introduced to the small town of Parowan, Utah, where the “Parowan Prophet,” Leland Freeborn, and his congregation were meeting and reading scripture in their leader’s home. The footage was shot just before Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. The Parowan Prophet predicted that a nuclear weapon would be detonated in Washington, D.C., on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2009.
The congregation also talked about Mayan prophecy and December 21, 2012.
Mayan descendants in Lake Atitlán, Guatemala, don’t seem to attach much importance to the date. Some fishermen were interviewed and one said:
We’ve had big disasters from volcanoes. When we get to 2012, we don’t know, we’ll be working and fishing. But thanks to God and to you, for giving this news to us.
He offered up that last part with a smile on his face.
Back in the States, “Anonymous” from Los Angeles, California, responded:
You can laugh now, but we’ll see who’s … laughing when the mushroom cloud finds its way over the horizon. You’re gonna look back on this and you’re gonna think wow, I’m a … idiot.
Dr. Robert Sitler, Director of Latin American Studies, Stetson University, expanded on the discussion about the ancient Mayans and December 21, 2012. Dr. Sitler said:
People in the West, I think, often look to indigenous cultures as a source of inspiration, because our cultures, in a sense, I would say are spiritually uninspired for the most part. The ancient Maya said next to nothing about the year 2012. But as it turns out, many different oral traditions do speak of an imminent period of radical transformation of one form or another. Actually, every single elder that I’ve spoken to in Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico has said virtually the same thing. There is this sense of pending, massive societal transformation.
Pedro Cruz Garcia, a Mayan Elder Shaman, added:
For the Maya, there is no world ending. There is a constant change.
Next, viewers were shown Parowan Prophet congregants preparing for the predicted nuclear holocaust. Underground/fallout shelters are central to their preparations.
Leland Freeborn and his followers were then shown watching the 2009 Inauguration Day ceremony. It’s revealed the Parowan Prophet is not a big Barack Obama fan- to say the least.
Fast forward to Thanksgiving Day, 2009. By the way, no nuclear blast in Washington D.C. earlier in the year.
One of the congregants, Brian Johnson, was shown teaching his son how to shoot firearms. Johnson shared with viewers:
I think the defining moment’s almost here where we’re either for good or for bad. You know, there’s just a tenseness in the air. I mean, it’s the same story, a different millennium. The rise and fall of society.
The family man eventually had a falling out with the congregation, and was making plans to move his family to Idaho in hopes of achieving complete self-sufficiency.
“Armed For The Apocalypse”
Hey guys- don’t forget to use hearing and eye protection!
Nat Geo Channel Video
Anonymous from Los Angeles chimed in:
Some people say they’re visionaries. I think they’re … wackos. But I have a vision, which is, it goes like this: Pick one room, just one room out of your place and just fill it to the brim with food, supplies, water, get yourself a gun. …, you ain’t gonna do it with a sword … Before the … comes down get yourself a … load of … bullets, and then just get yourself a …, whatever you believe in, and keep it close. Keep it … close. What else do you want to know about being badass?
Shortly thereafter, three Parowan Prophet congregants- Danny, Sam, and Caroline- were interviewed. Caroline shared something that I thought was particularly insightful:
You don’t cease being a normal person because you decide you want to prepare for something that might happen.
The next part of the show focused mainly on Fernando Antonio Salguero and the Survive And Thrive group out of Philadelphia. Salguero revealed:
As we go through cataclysmic change, suffering is a part of life. With that being said, I see my role as easing suffering… I started that Survive And Thrive Meetup Group specifically to welcome in everyone.
It’s revealed Salguero’s early years were really bad- which helps explain this emphasis on inclusivity.
The documentary next focused on a Survive And Thrive wilderness training event. One of the participants, a young African-American girl by the name of Sarah, said:
Survivalism, you might not need it at first, but it’s a good tool to have maybe if the world’s not going to end, but maybe we’ll actually, like, lose our homes and we’ll actually have to live in the wilderness like we did millions and millions of years ago.
Very cool to see youngsters learning these skills. One of the adult participants by the name of Joanne added:
Well, my friend asked me the other day if I was preparing for Armageddon, and I said even just 100 to 150 years ago people were homesteading a lot more than they are now, and knew how to do 95 percent of the stuff they needed on their own. And we’ve come so far from that, and I think it’s a very dangerous place to be.
John, a Survive And Thrive instructor, shared this with viewers:
Every new year’s, somebody thinks the world is going to end. Sometimes I get caught up in it. But everything happens for a reason. Whether or not I survive doesn’t matter. It’s how I live every day that matters. I try to keep that in mind. The emergency could be as simple as a small hurricane- or the Apocalypse with Four Horsemen. It all comes down to will- if you want to live or if you want to give up. You can be a hero, you can be a villain, you can be a victim. It’s your choice.
As this part of the show was coming to a close, Salguero admitted:
I started this group not having a whole lot of faith in humanity as a whole. So I started this group without having too much expectation of its ability to work together. Honestly, I still consider most people to be flakes. Honestly.
Immediately thereafter, his German Shepherd dog got loose. Neighborhood kids assisted Salguero with rounding up his canine companion. But not before the Survive And Thrive joked:
You know what I need as part of my survival kit? A … tranquilizer gun. How about that?
It’s at this point that Training For The Apocalypse really started to humanize the four individuals who starred in the documentary.
Salguero reflected on what just happened and admitted:
That’s a perfect example of where I think that I can be wrong. I’m willing to be wrong. In fact, in many cases I hope that I am wrong about so much of what I believe. I pray that I’m wrong. So the idea of not relying on other people, the idea of keeping neighbors at a distance. When the reality is, it’s most likely a tribe, it’s most likely teamwork, that will actually get us through tough times. And this is an example of where I am open to the experience, I am not grounded in my ego, and I am willing to change. I pray for change.
Salguero added later:
My daughter is really what ended my suicidal self-loathing for most of my life.
Speaking of daughters, one of Leland Freeborn’s stopped by. The way Camisha and her father interacted seemed to be really not much different from how other dads and their adult daughters might.
The Parowan Prophet’s neighbor, Lisa, added this:
I think he’s prepared, but I don’t think he knows what for.
Brian Johnson admitted:
I just basically want to be able to do things according to the dictates of my own faults, conscience.
And then there was Anonymous, who was shown having problems reassembling a handgun. Hey, we’re all human.
Overall, I liked Training For The Apocalypse. While I was initially afraid the production company and the National Geographic Channel were using the popular, shallow stereotypes of people preparing for Armageddon, the documentary went on to attempt to point out there was much more to these individuals- fellow human beings, fellow Americans, each on their own journey to prepare not for the end of the world, but for the end of the world as they (we) know it (TEOTWAWKI). Remember what was written on the Nat Geo Channel website about the show:
TFA serves to humanize, enlighten and inform, with a cautious respect for the words and deeds of our subjects rather than a capitalization on vague fears or subjective judgments. Practical discoveries are made while distinct personal stories develop about those striving and struggling to live their best, while preparing for the worst.
I feel the documentary successfully carried this out.
Training For The Apocalypse is scheduled to be re-broadcast on Monday, May 7, 6 PM Eastern Time on the National Geographic Channel.
Like with that Quote For The Week post, there’s been an awful lot of chatter these past few days about the “War on Terror” possibly being over. A lot of it seems to stem from recent statements made by members of the U.S. intelligence community. AP’s Kimberly Dozier wrote on the ABC News website on April 27:
U.S. intelligence officials say almost a year after the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden, al-Qaida is essentially gone, but its affiliates still present a threat to the U.S. homeland.
One official says core al-Qaida’s new leader Ayman al-Zawahri still aspires to hit the U.S., but the threat of a sophisticated, multi-pronged attack has “substantially decreased.” The official was authorized to speak only on condition of anonymity.
Robert Cardillo of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence says an attack by chemical, biological or nuclear weapons by any al-Qaida-related terror group also seems less likely in the coming year.
(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)
Fact? Election-year PR? Woeful underestimation of the terror group’s existing capabilities? I wrote last fall:
While there’s been lots of talk recently about Al-Qaeda’s operational capabilities being severely crippled, one expert on the organization points out they still pose a significant threat. Retired CIA veteran Michael 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, told Ali Moore of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in an interview that was broadcast last Friday that:
Well they’re capable of any number of things. They’re certainly capable of car bombs or any of the Hamas-style attacks are something that they’ve been capable of since 9/11 or before. And something they’ve deliberately chosen not to do.
But in the last four or five years we’ve seen during the end of bin Laden’s career, a deliberate effort on the part of Al-Qaeda to recruit U.S. citizen Muslims to begin to try to incite operations within the United States.
Anwar al-Awlaki, Adam Gadahn- who’s known as al-Amriki- a number of other people who are intent on encouraging U.S. citizen-Muslims, English-speaking Muslims, to attack in the United States.
So they have the capability of sending people from abroad, our borders are wide open, and they also have an increasing number of U.S. citizen-Muslims who are willing to take action.
(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)
All I know is this. While I hope our intelligence officials are right, I wouldn’t go parking the P-40’s wingtip-to-wingtip just yet, if you know what I mean.
Dozier, Kimberly. “US Officials: Core Al-Qaida ‘Essentially Gone’” ABC News. 27 Apr. 2012. (http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/us-officials-core-al-qaida-essentially-16230817#.T58GcdlxH8k). 30 Apr. 2012.
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