Saudi Arabia

Project Prepper, Part 45: Top 3 Threat Priorities

“As a result of my research and this blog, I’m now aware of the myriad of man-made and naturally-occurring threats to my life and lifestyle (and those of my loved ones), and think it’s probably wise to acquaint myself more with ‘prepping’ via a sustained ‘hands-on’ program of learning and doing, which I’ll call ‘Project Prepper.’

Through a series of posts on this blog which I suspect should last for quite some time (years?), I’ll be able to share my preparedness experiences with you…”

Survival And Prosperity, “Project Prepper, Part 1: It Begins,” October 24, 2012

This week’s “Project Prepper” post is going to be a little different. While I’m currently working on a number of projects related to fulfilling seven “innate survival needs” (hat tip Jack Spirko @ The Survival Podcast):

1. Physical Security
2. Financial Security
3. Water
4. Food
5. Sanitation and Health
6. Energy
7. Shelter

Today I’m going to talk about threat priorities. As a forty-something homeowner residing with my girlfriend in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, in 2016, “I’m now aware of the myriad of man-made and naturally-occurring threats to my life and lifestyle (and those of my loved ones).” Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity know I blog about them frequently. But from my vantage point, here are the “top 3” I’m mostly concerned about:

1. Severe Weather
2. Financial Crisis
3. Terrorism

Concerning severe weather, here in the Chicagoland area residents have to contend with spring and summer storms that can consist of high winds, torrential rain, flooding, and tornadoes. Winter can bring along with it ice storms (not too often), significant snowfall/blizzards, and brutally-cold temperatures. Consequently, structural damage, utility outages, hazardous travel conditions, and other threats to life and property accompany such events.

Case in point, prior to my girlfriend and I moving into our house in 2013, a large part of the Chicago metro area suffered significant damage from a “derecho” (widespread, long-lived wind storm) event that left many area homeowners without electricity for several days. A real nuisance for most of those affected, but potentially deadly to those with serious health issues- like my elderly father. And in case readers think I’m talking about those far-off “suburbs” of Chicago here (I remember one real estate agent referring to Rochelle- approximately 80 miles west of Chicago- as a “western suburb” during the housing boom last decade), these extended outages were taking place in near “North Shore” enclaves. I remember watching one furious Northbrook homeowner being interviewed on the local televised news, saying how he had been without power for a number of days and couldn’t understand why it hadn’t been restored yet considering the high taxes he paid to live in such a nice area. Anyway, severe weather tops the list for me. Not as “sexy”- as some would say- as preparing for the “Zombie apocalypse,” but oh well.

Financial crisis. Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity and its predecessor know I’ve been on the lookout for coming “tough times” for some years now. From this blog’s “About” page:

Back in 2004 when SP’s creator/editor Christopher Hill was surveying the economic and investment landscape in support of his own investing activities, he concluded from his own research that the United States was heading towards a financial crash. Deciding that this was something other Americans might want to know about, Mr. Hill launched the independent financial blog Boom2Bust.com, “The Most Hated Blog on Wall Street,” on Memorial Day Weekend 2007 with the purpose of warning and educating others about the approaching U.S. economic crash. He has been credited with calling last decade’s housing bubble and subsequent bust, the 2008 global economic crisis, and the “Great Recession” as a result of his work on this project. Chris wrote over 1,500 posts on Boom2Bust.com during its nearly three-year run, with many of these picked up and republished on the web sites of The Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, Fox News, Reuters, USA Today, the Chicago Sun-Times group, the Austin-American Statesman, the Palm Beach Post, and the West Orlando News, among other media outlets. Chris was also interviewed for a May 2009 MSNBC.com article as a result of his work with the blog.

Since Memorial Day Weekend 2007, I’ve stood by and watched as the bursting of the U.S. housing bubble and subprime mortgage crisis was quickly followed by carnage on Wall Street in the autumn of 2008 and a “Great Recession.” I also observed how the Washington politicians and the Fed responded by “papering up” the mess with massive government and central bank intervention. But as everyone knows, you can only “kick the can down the road” so far. And my concern is that the road is rapidly coming to an end. Visit this blog often enough and you might get that sense as well.

Consequently, I’ve come to believe that the U.S. financial crash I still see headed our way won’t be like an airplane that suffers a sudden, catastrophic failure and plummets back to Earth like a rock. Rather, taking into account the abilities of the federal government and central bank to keep the aircraft aloft for quite some time, the crash may be more akin to a slow- yet-unavoidable descent into the ground. At which point, Americans might be left pondering what had happened to them, just like Argentines did after their economy crapped out in the early 2000s after prosperous times.

Making matters worse is the fact that I still reside in Cook County and Illinois, whose financial troubles are well-publicized. While I’ve left Chicago, I still haven’t made Wisconsin my permanent home address.

When the “balloon goes up” locally and nationally, I suspect everyday living is going to get particularly gritty around these parts.

As terrorism is concerned, post-9/11 I found myself working in the public safety field. As part of my duties at a local fire department, I catalogued potential terrorist targets in the area in the hunt for money to upgrade the agency’s response capabilities. It was my belief that the threat was real then, and it remains so today. Even more so in 2016, as U.S. border security is quite suspect at a time when those who would wish to harm the “homeland” continually make their operational capabilities and future desires for wreaking death and destruction known.


“Border Patrol Admits US Citizenship Doesn’t Matter”
YouTube Video

Like I’ve repeatedly said before on this blog, I believe it’s only a matter of time before the United States suffers terror attacks possibly resembling what occurred in Beslan (Russia) in 2004, Mumbai (India) in 2008, and more recently in Paris and Brussels. And a terrorist strike rivaling or even surpassing the carnage of September 11, 2011, is not out of the question as far as I’m concerned. New jihadists continue to replace their fallen predecessors in this “War on Terror,” and the religious duty of killing “infidels” remains the same. On May 6, 2011, I wrote:

In 2005, Dr. Paul L. Williams, a journalist and author, published the book The Al-Qaeda Connection, in which he discussed plans for a future nuclear terrorist strike, dubbed “American Hiroshima.” He wrote:

Bin Laden asserts that he must kill four million Americans- two million of whom must be children- in order to achieve parity for a litany of “wrongs” committed against the Muslim people by the United States of America. The “wrongs” include the establishment and occupation of military bases between the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, the support of Israel and the suppression of the Palestinian people, the Persian Gulf War and the subsequent economic sanctions, and the invasions of Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

These days, the Islamic State has stolen the headlines from Al-Qaeda and other Muslim extremists. But such religious fanaticism as a whole remains a top concern for me.

Severe weather, financial crisis, and terrorism are natural and man-made threats that register the most on my radar. But this doesn’t mean I discount other potential dangers to life and property either (pandemic, severe space weather, and war would probably be the next three on the list). As such, an “all-hazards” approach is emphasized in my “Project Prepper” activities.

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

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Jeremy Grantham Explains Oil Price Decline And How He’s Playing It

Jeremy Grantham, the British-born investment strategist and founder/former chairman of Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co. (oversees $120 billion in client assets as of September 30, 2014), has just released his latest quarterly letter on the GMO website. Grantham, whose individual clients have included current Secretary of State John Kerry and former Vice President Dick Cheney, focused on plummeting crude oil prices this time around. He wrote:

The simplest argument for the oil price decline is for once correct. A wave of new U.S. fracking oil could be seen to be overtaking the modestly growing global oil demand. It became clear that OPEC, mainly Saudi Arabia, must cut back production if the price were to stay around $100 a barrel, which many, including me, believe is necessary to justify continued heavy spending to find traditional oil. The Saudis declined to pull back their production and the oil market entered into glut mode, in which storage is full and production continues above demand…

Why did the Saudis choose this route? To drive prices down and force the U.S. fracking industry to put a cork in their operations, Grantham argued. He added:

In my opinion, no economic implosion is likely just yet and, even if the pessimists are right eventually, that crunch era will be ushered in by very volatile and rising oil prices, not three years of abnormal stability followed by a sudden bust! Right now the mad rush to produce fracking oil in the U.S. (one might reasonably say “overproduce”) has given us a global timeout from the inevitable oil squeeze, which in my opinion is now likely to arrive in about five years but which, without U.S. fracking, was already upon us

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

So the “inevitable oil squeeze” comes in approximately five years. But a decade out from now, Grantham penned:

Most likely though, beyond 10 years electric cars and alternative energy will begin to eat into potential oil demand, threatening longer-term oil prices….

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Which shouldn’t really surprise readers of “Why We Were So Surprised” when the “crash prophet” revealed:

But right now we have a substantial excess of production, and oil demand is notoriously inelastic to price in the short term – people will not be leaping into their cars to celebrate lower gas prices. But with time they may drive an extra 1-2% percent here and elsewhere and the excess will slowly clear: possibly by mid-year and almost certainly by the end of next year. After supply and demand come into balance, the price initially is likely to rise slowly, held in check by the increasing amounts of U.S. fracking oil that can be profitably produced at each new higher price level. It is this rapid response rate that will make the frackers the key marginal suppliers. This is a sensitive and, I believe, unknowable equation as to precise timing, but this phase will likely end only when fracking production, even at much higher prices, tops out, as it most likely will in the next five years. After that, I believe the equation will revert to the relatively more stable and more knowable one of the 2011 to 2013 era, in which the price of oil will be the full cost of finding and developing incremental traditional oil, which by then is likely to be over $100 a barrel. (In the interest of full disclosure I personally have been and will continue to be a moderate buyer of oil futures six to eight years out, for reasons that should be clear from the above. It should also be clear that such a bet can lose easily enough.)

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Once again, good stuff from Grantham, which you can read in its entirety on the GMO website here (.pdf format, starts page 7).

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

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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Sunday, February 8th, 2015 Commodities, Crash Prophets, Energy, Investing, Middle East, Natural Resources, Transportation, Vehicles Comments Off on Jeremy Grantham Explains Oil Price Decline And How He’s Playing It

Saudi MERS Infections And Deaths Underreported

It’s been a couple of weeks since I last brought up Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) on Survival And Prosperity, though I first blogged about the novel coronavirus starting back in February 2013.

But this morning, I stumbled onto something disturbing on the website of the Gulf News (UAE), courtesy of Zawya:

Dubai: The Mers virus has caused nearly 50 per cent more deaths in Saudi Arabia than has been officially reported, a review of medical data by Saudi health authorities shows.

The survey by the Ministry of Health revealed that 282 Saudis and non-Saudis have died in the kingdom from Mers since the disease was first detected in September 2012 — a 48 per cent increase over the previously announced toll of 190.

There also have been 688 confirmed cases of the disease instead of 575, according to the revised figures the ministry issued this week. Its statement, carried by the official Saudi Press Agency, didn’t explain the discrepancy in figures or why it went unspotted…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

In case readers aren’t aware, Ramadan- when large numbers of Muslim pilgrims from around the globe visit Saudi Arabia- begins on June 28.

Last year, 5 million pilgrims and visitors came, according to an Agence France-Presse piece on the Gulf News website.

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

Sources:

“Mers fatalities hugely under reported.” Zawya. 5 Jun. 2014. (http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/saudi-arabia/mers-fatalities-hugely-under-reported-1.1343345). 5 Jun. 2014.

“No Mers infections during Ramadan pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.” Agence France-Presse. 13 Aug. 2013. (http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/saudi-arabia/no-mers-infections-during-ramadan-pilgrimage-in-saudi-arabia-1.1219902). 5 Jun. 2014.

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Thursday, June 5th, 2014 Emergencies, Health, Middle East Comments Off on Saudi MERS Infections And Deaths Underreported

Illinois Public Health Chief On MERS: ‘Risk To The General Public Remains Extremely Low’

“U.S. health officials had recently confirmed the country’s first two cases of MERS, raising fears about the global spread of the virus, which has been responsible for a worsening outbreak in Saudi Arabia. More than 500 cases have been reported worldwide, with about 30 percent proving fatal.

The World Health Organization said on Wednesday that while its concern over MERS had significantly increased, the disease does not yet pose a global health emergency…”

-Reuters.com (India), May 15, 2014

Although one of the country’s two known cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) traveled through Chicago recently, the top public health official in the state of Illinois does not think the virus poses a significant risk to area residents. From an Illinois Department of Public Health news release yesterday:

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Reassures Illinoisans of Vigilance for MERS-CoV

No spread of MERS-CoV from first U.S. case, but second U.S. case identified

CHICAGO – Although there is no transmission of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) related to the first U.S. case who traveled from Saudi Arabia to Indiana on April 24, 2014, Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director LaMar Hasbrouck is reassuring Illinois residents that IDPH, local health departments and health care providers remain vigilant for any new cases of MERS-CoV.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday announced the second confirmed MERS-CoV case in the U.S. in a person who traveled from Saudi Arabia and ultimately to Florida on May 1, 2014. Similar to the first case, the patient is isolated in a hospital, health officials are following up with close contacts to the patient, and out of an abundance of caution, health officials are notifying people who traveled on flights with the patient.

“While this second confirmed case of MERS-CoV is unwelcome, it is not unexpected and we anticipate seeing additional cases imported to the U.S.,” said Dr. Hasbrouck. “We will continue to watch for additional cases of MERS-CoV and are at-the-ready to conduct laboratory testing should it be needed. I want to reassure Illinoisans that the risk to the general public remains extremely low as MERS-CoV has not been found to spread easily from person to person in community settings.”

(Editor’s note: Bold in body text added for emphasis)

There is no available vaccine or specific treatment recommended for MERS, according to the CDC.

You can read the entire news release on the IDPH website here.

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

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Wednesday, May 14th, 2014 Health, Middle East Comments Off on Illinois Public Health Chief On MERS: ‘Risk To The General Public Remains Extremely Low’

Deadly MERS Virus Lands In Chicago, Discovered In Indiana

Uh-oh. MERS- which I’ve been blogging about for a while now- is here in the United States. And it traveled via international airlines to Chicago, then by bus to Indiana. From a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention press release about an hour ago:

CDC announces first case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus infection (MERS) in the United States
MERS case in traveler from Saudi Arabia hospitalized in Indiana

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) was confirmed today in a traveler to the United States. This virus is relatively new to humans and was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

“We’ve anticipated MERS reaching the US, and we’ve prepared for and are taking swift action,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “We’re doing everything possible with hospital, local, and state health officials to find people who may have had contact with this person so they can be evaluated as appropriate. This case reminds us that we are all connected by the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink. We can break the chain of transmission in this case through focused efforts here and abroad.”

On April 24, the patient traveled by plane from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to London, England then from London to Chicago, Illinois. The patient then took a bus from Chicago to Indiana. On the 27th, the patient began to experience respiratory symptoms, including shortness of breath, coughing, and fever. The patient went to an emergency department in an Indiana hospital on April 28th and was admitted on that same day. The patient is being well cared for and is isolated; the patient is currently in stable condition. Because of the patient’s symptoms and travel history, Indiana public health officials tested for MERS-CoV. The Indiana state public health laboratory and CDC confirmed MERS-CoV infection in the patient this afternoon.

“It is understandable that some may be concerned about this situation, but this first U.S. case of MERS-CoV infection represents a very low risk to the general public,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general and director of CDC’s National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases. In some countries, the virus has spread from person to person through close contact, such as caring for or living with an infected person. However, there is currently no evidence of sustained spread of MERS-CoV in community settings.

CDC and Indiana health officials are not yet sure how the patient became infected with the virus. Exposure may have occurred in Saudi Arabia, where outbreaks of MERS-CoV infection are occurring. Officials also do not know exactly how many people have had close contact with the patient.

So far, including this U.S. importation, there have been 401 confirmed cases of MERS-CoV infection in 12 countries. To date, all reported cases have originated in six countries in the Arabian Peninsula. Most of these people developed severe acute respiratory illness, with fever, cough, and shortness of breath; 93 people died. Officials do not know where the virus came from or exactly how it spreads. There is no available vaccine or specific treatment recommended for the virus…

It’s a shame, but global air travel makes it easier for a nasty virus from overseas to spread to other parts of the world- including here. Let’s hope the public health officials are correct in their stated belief about there not likely being any more infected individuals running around out there, and that they successfully contain this bug.

You can read the entire CDC press release on their website here.

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

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Friday, May 2nd, 2014 Health, Middle East, Travel 2 Comments

While Ebola Grabs The Headlines, Coronavirus Makes A Comeback In The Middle East

While I’ve been blogging about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa (121 dead last last I heard), I’ve noticed a different virus that I’ve talked about before is making a comeback further east. Deema Almashabi and Oliver Staley reported earlier today on Bloomberg.com:

The government of Saudi Arabia is trying to reassure its citizens that the most recent outbreak of a respiratory virus isn’t a cause for alarm following 16 new cases, including two deaths, reported in the last nine days.

The Saudi health ministry sent text messages through local carriers yesterday asking the country’s 30 million residents to check its website, call a free hotline and check its official Twitter account for updates on the coronavirus, which causes Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome or MERS…

Almost 230 people are known to have been infected since the virus emerged in Saudi Arabia two years ago, and 92 of them have died, according to the World Health Organization. Much about the disease and how it’s transmitted is still unknown…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

The first time I discussed the coronavirus on Survival And Prosperity, the attention hadn’t yet focused on the Middle East. Rather, it was on Europe. I blogged on February 18, 2013:

Novel coronavirus (NCoV). A SARS-like virus I’ve been hearing more of recently. And of particular concern to the World Health Organization (WHO). From a February 16 posting on the “Disease Outbreak News” section of their website:

The United Kingdom (UK) has informed WHO of another confirmed case of infection with the novel coronavirus (NCoV). This is the third case confirmed in the country this month and is in the same family cluster as the two recently confirmed cases.

The latest confirmed case does not have recent travel history outside the UK. The case is recovering from mild respiratory illness and is currently well.

The confirmation with NCoV in this case with no recent travel history indicates that infection was acquired in the UK. Although this new case offers further indications of person-to-person transmission, no sustained person-to-person transmission has been identified

As of 16 February 2013, WHO has been informed of a total of 12 confirmed cases of human infection with NCoV, including five deaths…

WHO does not advise special screening at points of entry with regard to this event nor does it recommend that any travel or trade restrictions be applied.

WHO continues to closely monitor the situation.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

12 confirmed cases of this new coronavirus. 5 deaths.

The vibe I’m getting from public health circles is that human-to-human transmission of NCoV is pretty difficult, so there’s not much worry of a pandemic at this point in time.

Still, like the WHO suggested in their bulletin, it’s something worth keeping an eye on. People infected with the novel coronavirus have developed acute respiratory illness with symptoms of shortness of breath, cough, and pneumonia. There are no specific treatments for the illnesses caused by the virus.

By last summer, the coronavirus that now had a foothold in the Middle East was being called MERS, or MERS-CoV on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Coronavirus/Novel coronavirus/MERS/MERS-CoV- something to keep an eye out for in addition to Ebola.

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

Source:

Almashabi, Deema and Staley, Oliver. “Saudi Arabia Seeks to Ease Concerns After New MERS Cases.” Bloomberg.com. 15 Apr. 2014. (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-15/saudi-arabia-seeks-to-ease-concerns-after-new-mers-cases.html). 15 Apr. 2014.

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Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 Africa, Europe, Health, Middle East Comments Off on While Ebola Grabs The Headlines, Coronavirus Makes A Comeback In The Middle East

Quote- No, Headlines- For The Week

Something different for readers this week. Instead of a quote, here’s two news headlines which made my eyes roll upon spotting them this weekend…

“Dow 20,000 here we come: It’s different this time”

-MarketWatch.com, November 22, 2013

“It’s different this time.”

I’ve lost count how many times I’ve heard this phrase uttered over the years as some asset bubble was being inflated.

It’s not just me either.

From Michael Kling on the Moneynews website back on May 23, 2013:

Time and again, as stock prices continue rising to unsustainable heights, stock enthusiasts have preached, “This time is different.”

And it’s not just stocks either.

From Charles Hugh Smith on LewRockwell.com this past Halloween:

Defenders of current real estate valuations can draw upon an array of justifications, but they boil down to the same one used to justify valuations in every asset bubble: this time it’s different.

As for my two cents? Like I commented on a Chicago Tribune article last week, it’s my belief that after the economic crisis reared it’s ugly head in the fall of 2008, home prices nose-dived, and the “Great Recession” took hold, Washington and the Fed only managed to paper over the situation and monetary policy was designed to inflate a new asset bubble (or two, what the hell) to “save” the U.S. economy and larger financial system. Subsequently, we find ourselves immersed in QE Infinity and what some of those who correctly-predicted the “Panic of ’08” and housing crash see as new bubbles forming in residential real estate and equities.

I don’t envision this ending well.

Speaking of the Tribune, here’s another headline that made me cackle in disbelief.

“Breakthrough deal curbs Iran’s nuclear activity”

Chicago Tribune website, November 24, 2013

All I can say about this hopium-infused headline is that I expect one of two scenarios down the road:

1. Downtown Tehran packed to the gills as the Islamic Republic of Iran parades its first nuclear weapon for the entire world to see. Those in the know understand state actors in this region of the world can only salivate over the prospect of having a nuke in their arsenal- Iran included. Realpolitik, people.

2. A mushroom cloud over an Israeli or U.S. city. If the technology/opportunity presents itself, an electromagnetic pulse originating from a nuclear device detonated in the atmosphere over one of these countries (more bang for the buck).

Of course, all bets are off over these two scenarios taking place if some one (the Israelis?) take out Iran’s growing nuclear capabilities with military force.

Question is, is that even possible anymore given the time Iran has had?

Again, there’s others who think the claim that the interim pact reached betwen Iran and China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Russia, and the United States “curbs Iran’s nuclear activity” is one big joke.

Enter Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, “the world’s foremost value investor” with a net worth of $20 billion as of March 2013 according to Forbes magazine. Here’s what the Saudi royal had to say about a potential deal with Iran. From Jeffrey Goldberg on Bloomberg.com Friday night:

“There’s no confidence in the Obama administration doing the right thing with Iran,” he told me, with a directness that would make Benjamin Netanyahu blush. “We’re really concerned — Israel, Saudi Arabia, the Middle East countries — about this.”

It is quite something for a Saudi royal to state baldly that his country is part of a tacit alliance with Israel, but Saudi leaders, like Israel’s leaders, are frantic with worry that an overeager Obama will accede to Iran’s desire to become a threshold state, one whose nuclear program is so advanced that it would only need several weeks to assemble a deliverable weapon. Alwaleed, like Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, believes that Iran, in its ongoing negotiations with the world’s major powers, will pocket whatever sanctions relief it gets without committing to ending its nuclear program. “Why are they offering relief?” he asked. “Keep the pressure on. Sanctions are what brought about the negotiations to begin with! Why not keep the pressure up?”

Obama, Alwaleed says, is a man who is in desperate political straits and needs a victory — any victory — to right his presidency. “Obama is in so much of a rush to have a deal with Iran,” he said. “He wants anything. He’s so wounded. It’s very scary. Look, the 2014 elections are going to begin. Within two stamonths they’re going to start campaigning. Thirty-nine members of his own party in the House have already moved away from him on Obamacare. That’s scary for him.”

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Note Goldberg’s headline for his Bloomberg piece:

“Iran Is Playing Obama, Says Saavy Saudi Prince”

Iran is “playing” Obama and many others, judging by the buzz being reported in the mainstream media this Sunday.

Not me. I just can’t see Dow 20,000 being sustained just yet or Iran’s nuclear aspirations being curbed through diplomacy any time soon.

Sources:

Kling, Michael. “New Yorker: No Stock Bubble- This Time Is Different.” Moneynews.com. 23 May 2013. (http://www.moneynews.com/InvestingAnalysis/stock-market-bubble-different/2013/05/23/id/506002). 24 May 2013.

Smith, Charles Hugh. “What Real Estate Bubble? Oh, You Mean the One That’s Bigger Than the 2007 Bubble?” LewRockwell.com. 31 Oct. 2013. (http://www.lewrockwell.com/2013/10/charles-hugh-smith/what-real-estate-bubble/). 24 Nov. 2013.

Goldberg, Jeffrey. “Iran Is Playing Obama, Says Savvy Saudi Prince.” Bloomberg.com. 22 Nov. 2013. (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-22/iran-is-playing-obama-says-savvy-saudi-prince.html). 24 Nov. 2013.

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

(Editor’s note: I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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Sunday, November 24th, 2013 Banking, Bubbles, Federal Reserve, Government, Housing, Investing, Middle East, Military, Monetary Policy, Quote For The Week, Recession, Stimulus, Stocks, Terrorism, War Comments Off on Quote- No, Headlines- For The Week

MERS May Be More Contagious, Deadly Than SARS

Last week, I blogged about the World Health Organization having urged health workers around the world to be on the alert for symptoms of the deadly Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, or MERS.

(Editor’s note: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention refers to the virus as MERS-CoV)

This morning, I came across a worrisome Associated Press piece on the FOX News website. The AP reports:

A mysterious new respiratory virus that originated in the Middle East spreads easily between people and appears more deadly than SARS, doctors reported Wednesday after investigating the biggest outbreak in Saudi Arabia.

More than 60 cases of what is now called MERS, including 38 deaths, have been recorded by the World Health Organization in the past year, mostly in Saudi Arabia. So far, illnesses haven’t spread as quickly as SARS did in 2003, ultimately triggering a global outbreak that killed about 800 people.

An international team of doctors who investigated nearly two dozen cases in eastern Saudi Arabia found the new coronavirus has some striking similarities to SARS. Unlike SARS, though, scientists remain baffled as to the source of MERS.

The team of doctors published a report about the MERS cases on June 19 on The New England Journal of Medicine website. In “Hospital Outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus,” the physicians noted:

Acute viral respiratory tract infections cause considerable morbidity and mortality and pose a risk of outbreaks in health care settings. We describe a cluster of MERS-CoV infections and report health care–associated human-to-human transmission of MERS-CoV. The 65% case fatality rate in this outbreak is of concern.

Not only did the team find MERS spread easily among humans and within hospitals in the cases they investigated, but that 65 percent death rate was much higher than for SARS back in 2003, in which 9 to 12 percent of those diagnosed perished, even when taking into consideration people over 65, where the SARS death rate was higher than 50% (source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services).

Keep an eye on this deadly, pandemic-potential virus.

You can read the entire report on the NEJM website here.

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

Source:

“Mysterious new MERS virus spreads easily, deadlier than SARS.” Associated Press. 20 June 2013. (http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/06/20/new-mers-virus-spreads-easily-deadlier-than-sars/?test=latestnews). 20 June 2013.

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Thursday, June 20th, 2013 Health, Middle East Comments Off on MERS May Be More Contagious, Deadly Than SARS

WHO To Health Workers: Be On Alert For Viruses With Pandemic Potential

Prior to Survival And Prosperity’s two-week hiatus, I’d been tracking and blogging about viruses that have pandemic potential. This included the H7N9 bird flu virus in China and the novel coronavirus (nCoV) in the Middle East. While compiling material to blog about I stumbled on the following yesterday on the FOX News website. From Reuters:

The World Health Organization on Monday urged health workers around the world to be on the alert for symptoms of the deadly Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS), which has the potential to circle the globe and cause a pandemic.

The United Nations agency, which issued new, long-awaited guidance to countries on influenza pandemics, said the world was also in the same “alert phase” for two human strains of bird flu – H5N1, which emerged a decade ago, and H7N9, first detected in China in March.

So the novel coronavirus in the Middle East is now being called MERS.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have published information about the virus on their website (they refer to it as MERS-CoV). I found the most important to be:

Q: What are the symptoms of MERS?
A: Most people who got infected with MERS-CoV developed severe acute respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. About half of them died. Some people were reported as having a mild respiratory illness.

Q: Does MERS-CoV spread from person to person?
A: MERS-CoV has been shown to spread between people who are in close contact. Transmission from infected patients to healthcare personnel has also been observed. Clusters of cases in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the UK, France, Tunisia, and Italy are being investigated.

Q: Is CDC concerned?
A: Yes, CDC is concerned about MERS-CoV. The virus has caused severe illness in most infected people, and about half of them have died. Also, the virus spreads from person to person and has spread between countries. CDC recognizes the potential for the virus to spread further and cause more cases and clusters globally, including in the United States.

Q: Has anyone in the United States gotten infected?
A: So far, there are no reports of anyone in the United States getting infected with MERS-CoV.

Hopefully, it stays that way, as there is no vaccine available to fight MERS-CoV.

Of the 55 recorded cases of MERS-CoV, 31 of those infected with the virus have died.

More information about MERS-CoV can be found on the CDC website here.

As for H7N9, yesterday China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission reported there are only 14 patients from the outbreak still in hospitals (via The Japan Times). Warmer weather following the end of winter in China is thought to have helped contain the outbreak.

Of the 131 recorded cases of H7N9, 39 of those infected with the virus have died.

More information about H7N9 can be found on the CDC website here.

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

Sources:

“WHO: MERS coronavirus has potential to cause pandemic.” Reuters. 10 June 2013. (http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/06/10/who-mers-coronavirus-has-potential-to-cause-pandemic/). 11 June 2013.

“China H7N9 patients dwindle to 14: report.” The Japan Times. 10 June 2013. (http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/06/11/asia-pacific/china-h7n9-patients-dwindle-to-14-report/#.Ubd0c9g4yeY). 11 June 2013.

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Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 Asia, Emergencies, Europe, Health, Middle East Comments Off on WHO To Health Workers: Be On Alert For Viruses With Pandemic Potential

Pandemic Potential? H7N9 Bird Flu And Novel Coronavirus

Back on April 19, I asked if readers were paying attention to the spread of the H7N9 bird flu virus in China.

That followed a similar post from February 18 about the novel coronavirus (nCoV).

Here’s the latest regarding these deadly respiratory viruses. From the CBS News website Monday morning:

Two outbreaks of new, deadly respiratory infections in two different parts of the world have international health officials on edge, actively researching how to stay head of the new diseases.

In recent months, an outbreak of a new strain of bird flu called H7N9 has hit China while a new coronavirus that first appeared last year has been infecting an increasing number of people in the Middle East — and now Europe.

Last week, the coronavirus related to SARS spread to France, where one patient who probably caught the disease in Dubai infected his hospital roommate. Officials are now trying to track down everyone who went on a tour group holiday to Dubai with the first patient as well as all contacts of the second patient. Since it was first spotted last year, the new coronavirus has infected 34 people, killing 18 of them. Nearly all had some connection to the Middle East.

CBS ran a follow-up article about the novel coronavirus this afternoon. From that later piece:

Saudi Arabia has confirmed four new cases of a deadly new respiratory virus related to SARS that appears centered in the Arabian Peninsula but that has also been reported in Europe…

Other cases have appeared in France, Germany and Britain, possibly linked to travel in the Gulf region.

While the novel coronavirus has infected 34 and killed 18 since last September, the H7N9 bird flu strain in China has infected 131 and killed 32 since March.

So, do either of these viruses have pandemic potential? Possibly. Consider what the World Health Organization (WHO) said in Monday’s CBS piece:

WHO, which is closely monitoring the viruses, says both have the potential to cause a pandemic — a global epidemic — if they evolve into a form easily spread between people.

So far, that doesn’t seem to be the case. And luckily for us, there are no reports of anyone in United States getting infected and sick with either H7N9 or the novel coronavirus.

Just as well, as there are no specific treatments for illnesses caused by the novel coronavirus, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. However, the CDC does say this about treating illnesses caused by the H7N9 avian flu:

CDC received an H7N9 virus sample from China on April 11. Antiviral resistance testing on the first virus isolate at CDC has been completed and indicates that this virus would be sensitive (susceptible) to the two influenza antiviral drugs that are used to treat seasonal flu: the neuraminidase inhibitors oseltamivir (Tamiflu®) and zanamivir (Relenza®)

For more information about these viruses, you can visit the CDC website here (novel coronavirus) and here (H7N9).

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

Sources:

“Coronavirus and bird flu: Scientists tracking outbreaks of two new infections.” Associated Press. 13 May 2013. (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-204_162-57584184/coronavirus-and-bird-flu-scientists-tracking-outbreaks-of-two-new-infections/). 14 May 2013.

“New coronavirus infects four more in Saudi Arabia.” Associated Press. 14 May 2013. (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-204_162-57584412/new-coronavirus-infects-four-more-in-saudi-arabia/). 14 May 2013.

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Tuesday, May 14th, 2013 Asia, Europe, Health, Middle East Comments Off on Pandemic Potential? H7N9 Bird Flu And Novel Coronavirus
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  • Degussa Singapore Launches YouTube Channel
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  • Next Degussa Numis Day To Take Place May 4, 5
    Degussa, a leading international player in the precious metals world which also offers safe deposit boxes (for customers) at branches in Germany, Singapore, Spain, and Switzerland, has just posted information about their next Numis Day (first blogged about here) at their Geneva and Zurich showrooms. From their website: The Next Numis Day We appreciate and […]