As Fighting in Gaza Strip Flares Up, Hamas Has Nothing to Gain Through Peace

Hamas launched multiple rockets at Israel yesterday, several hours before the temporary cease fire ended.  Israel responded with air strikes and the war — which had been quiet for more than a week — flared up again as rockets and artillery shells soared back and forth across the border.  It appears that the Israeli intelligence operation continues to be quite strong as targeted airstrikes killed three senior Hamas militants, a serious blow to the terrorist organization’s military wing.

The Middle East is a long way away, but we can still draw an important lesson from this conflict: It takes two to negotiate and if one side refuses to negotiate in good faith, then you must press the fight until the only option is negotiation or death.  Even then, some fanatics may prefer death.

israeli soldiersHamas is now in that position: isolated and cut off from resupply, an enemy on one side (Israel) and a hostile government on the other (Egypt), running low on funds, they are blockaded at sea and their smuggling tunnels destroyed.  Israel has the upper hand for the moment and will not give away that position of power through negotiation.  All that remains is for Hamas to realize their options are limited, and their refusal to do so will only harm the civilians in Gaza further.

I am reminded of a quote attributed to U.S. Air Force pilots: ”

“When there is a true enemy, you negotiate with that enemy with your knee in his chest and your knife at his throat”

If only our government still felt this way!

There may come a time in a TEOTWAWKI situation where you are faced with an implacable enemy who will neither give nor ask for quarter.  Perhaps they attack unmercifully because they believe they have no alternative. Perhaps they are simply evil and wish to kill all the men, plunder all your goods, and rape all the women.  When faced with an opponent who will be satisfied only with your destruction, the only way to respond is as Israel has done, with overwhelming strength, until you have “your knee in his chest and your knife at his throat.”

California Policies May Doom The Country

San Gabriel River, CA with low water levels caused from droughtInteresting article from Forbes covers how policies in California may have  lasting negative impact on the rest of the country and our economy as a whole.

The article focuses on the long-term impact of the drought and immigration, but also provides the following tidbits that hint at how bad things already are:

  • “California is the most regulated, highest-taxed, most in-debt state in America.”
  • “California taxes are 42% higher than Texas.”
  • “More than 30% of the nation’s welfare recipients are Californians – even though California has just 12% of the nation’s population.”
  • “California governments have more than $1.1 trillion in debt – much of that tied to pensions.”
Irrigation is critical to farmers in California, yet drought is driving up cost and reducing available water.

Irrigation is critical to farmers in California, yet drought is driving up cost and reducing available water.

California has many things going for it economically —  like Silicon Valley  and ports that are a gateway for Asian imports — yet misuse of water resources endangers what is the breadbasket of America. (Check out how high a percentage of these fruits, vegetables, and nuts are produced in California.) And because California makes up more than one eighth of the United State’s GDP, problems there could result in recession across the country.

Long known for its earthquakes, California can add drought and frequent forest fires to its list of likely natural disasters. Compound this with high debt, high taxes, extraordinarily high poverty rates, lax immigration enforcement, powerful unions, and dysfunctional state government and I cannot see why anyone serious about self-sufficiency and prepping would still be living there.

Ground Beef Hits All-Time High

This article is a nice little follow up to our earlier coverage of emerging inflation in the U.S.  Prices for ground beef have risen 81 percent in the past five years, and we predict the price will keep going up due to the beef shortage and rising inflationary pressures.

Canned Beef for Long term StorageThe U.S. herd of beef cattle has not been this small since the early 1950s,and you can bet there are a lot more fast food restaurants serving hamburgers today than there were then. The cold winter and deep snow killed some cattle, but the extreme drought conditions in Texas and parts of the west have been even worse for cattle.

Speaking of the beef shortage, our supplier for the Survival Cave long term canned foods has informed us that orders for their beef cans are taking an average of three weeks to ship because of supply chain issues.  If you were considering adding any of their canned beef to your long-term storage food program, we suggest you order soon.  It does not look like the supply of beef is going to loosen any time soon.

Ebola Drops from News, But Epidemic Worsens

Now that the two U.S. missionaries have been returned to the U.S. for treatment, Ebola has become less of a news story.  Like the evolving situation in the Ukraine and the progress of ISIS in Iraq, Ebola has been removed from the top of news casts by news closer to home: civil unrest in Ferguson, Mo., where protests against the shooting of an unarmed black man by a white police officer have evolved into looting.

Do not for as second think that Ebola is less of a threat than it was two weeks ago.  If anything, things have grown worse as the disease has spread further and become more difficult to contain in Africa.  While cases have yet to be found in the developed world, it will not be Here are just a few stories to keep you up to date:

 

EMP Attack Could Lead to 90 Percent Die Off

In an article entitled “The Growing Threat from an EMP Attack,” a former CIA Director warns that an EMP attack by Russia, China, North Korea or another country could lead to a countrywide black out and that “up to 90% of the U.S. population could possibly perish from starvation, disease and societal breakdown. ”

Harmles Satellite or EMP Bomb?

Could a North Korean EMP bomb disguised as a satellite knock out power to the U.S.?

While the article discusses the need for legislation to require surge protectors and other technical changes that would lessen the impact of an EMP attack, it fails to address what each of can do as individuals to be prepared.  If the danger is “starvation, disease and societal breakdown” then the prescription should be is long-term storage food, stored medicines, firearms, and a place to gather with friends to share resources and find strength in numbers.

Prepping.  It can save your life.

 

Gun-Friendly Restaurants

I am happy to seethis article about more and more restaurants welcoming customers who carry guns. Gun owners are welcome in our walk-in store, whether they are carrying concealed or practicing open carry.

I think the following paragraph in the article is worth discussing:

Some gun-control activists call the pro-gun efforts irresponsible. “Restaurants routinely protect their patrons from second-hand smoke, so it makes sense they would go out of their way to protect them from bullets as well,” said Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which has pressured larger companies to adopt more-restrictive policies on guns.

Watts equates guns to second hand smoke — and the author lets her get away with it —  but a smoker can still bring his or her cigarettes into the smoke free zone, they just can’t light up. Citizens exercising their second amendment rights should be allowed to carry their guns in a gun free zone, just recognize that there are consequences to firing them.

Gun Free Zone SignIn some cases, the consequences of NOT firing your weapon may be greater than the consequence of shooting a criminal actor. That decision should be the individual’s, not some corporate executive working a building with electronic access controls and armed security.

When I go to a restaurant with a “no guns” sign in the window, I do one of two things: I go somewhere else rather than spend my hard-earned cash in a place that does not support my rights or, if I am meeting someone or have to eat there, I simply ignore the sign. In either case, I try to avoid going to that restaurant in the future; not because of their sign, but because I have a fundamental disagreement with their fear of gun owners.1911 in an N82 Holster

Ignoring the sign works just fine because 1) if my weapon(s) is properly concealed, no one will know I am carrying, 2) they don’t have metal detectors and I have not yet been patted down prior to entering a restaurant, and 3) I hold my personal safety and the safety of my friends and family above the restaurant’s misguided belief that a “gun free zone” is either desirable or safe. Here’s just one example from a local restaurant of how effective those “no guns” are at keeping criminals out.  Google “robberies in gun free zones” for thousands of other examples.

If you carry, let me take a moment to plug the popular N82 holsters we sell that provide a comfortable way to conceal your pistol.  Our customers for the N82 (pronounced Nate Squared) holsters range from off-duty cops to grandmothers, and they get rave reviews.  We also have a range of clothing options designed for concealed carry.

 

New York Hospital May Have Ebola Patient

Earlier today, the Wall Street Journal published an opinion piece by W. Ian Lipkin, who is professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Infection and Immunity at the Mailman School of Public Health and College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University.

Among his salient points are these that should be of interest to those concerned about a pandemic in the U.S.:

  • Ebola requires “Intimate contact with bodily secretions such as vomit, blood or feces,” while viruses like the flu and SARS are “primarily transmitted through droplets in the air and on surfaces, droplets released when an infected person coughs or sneezes.” So Ebola is harder to transmit.
  • There won’t be animal vectors like pigs, rats, or mosquitoes, which will mitigate transmission.

Of course, it was only a few hours later when they reported that the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York was testing a patient for Ebola. He had just returned from West Africa and had a high fever and “symptoms consistent with the Ebola virus.” Results are expected in 24 to 48 hours.

My guess is that they are doing everything they can to expedite the test. If it turns out to be Ebola, we’ll get to see the accuracy of Dr. Lipkin’s hypothesis with a real-world experiment on how well the virus spreads.  Could be the beginning of a significant health crisis or tit could be a false alarm.

Ready for Inflation? Here it Comes

 

Ever since the Federal Reserve started qualitative easing, or QE, I have been wondering when it would cause inflation.   I think the answer is “right now!”

Thanks to the government changing the way in which they track inflation, I do not have any proof that inflation is starting, unless you count my grocery bill or the reports from Shadow Stats. Based on purely personal and anecdotal evidence, however, I believe we are starting to see early warning signs of rising inflation. Here are just a couple pieces of evidence:

  • According to this article from the Wall Street Journal, ground beef was 10.4% higher in May 2014 than it was a year ago. Pork chops went up 12.7%.
  • The same article argues that restaurants are not raising prices, but my experience is the opposite. A local burger place where I grab a basic meal every week or so, the cost of my standard fare has gone from $4.95 to $5.35 to $5.49, all in the space of a year. That’s a 10% increase.
  • And food is not the only thing increase. Electricity costs are higher than ever, according to this article.

Inflation, High inflation and Hyperinflation

We almost always have some inflation, but it is usually “under control,” meaning it is low. Governments prefer a little inflation because it means they can pay off old debts with money that is worth less than it was when they borrowed it.

Inflation Going UpHigh inflation is more dangerous. Experts consider an annual rate of inflation between 30 and 50 percent to be high. For the record, I consider that to be too freaking high, although rates in that realm have been seen recently in Venezuela and Argentina, (along with civil and political unrest and other troubles). In my opinion, anything over about 6 percent (as we count it now, or 12 percent if we still used the old government formula) will be painful enough to send the country into an economic tail spin. The Fed must agree with me, because they want to keep inflation at around 2 percent, maybe 3 percent at the outside.

What’s so bad about inflation? Well, inflation will drive up the cost of everything, including food, fuel, utilities, housing, and healthcare. This puts the squeeze on everyone who lives paycheck-to-paycheck or is on a fixed income. Even for those who are better off, there is less money to spend on discretionary items, leading to lower company earnings and a subsequent devaluation of the stock market. When costs go up, wages usually lag, meaning people will have less money to eat out or go on vacation. They hold off on buying new vehicles, repair the washer instead of buying a new one, and defer spending. This will lead to business closures, layoffs and rising unemployment. Consumer spending is the driving force of our economy. Without it, we will slide back into a recession.

Inflation will also make sustaining the $17 trillion U.S. debt much more expensive as the country’s borrowing costs rise and will result in higher taxes and a cut back of services. I see this as are largest threat as it could lead to the U.S. defaulting on its bills or using the Fed to create even more money out of thin air. In a high inflation scenario, the government could not tax or confiscate enough money to pay the interest on its past debts.

Hyperinflation is generally considered to be an inflationary rate in excess of 50 percent per month, which is the equivalent of 12,875 percent per year. I’m no expert, but I think they set the bar too high. Anything over 50 percent a year is frighteningly high and will probably spiral out of control.

To put this in perspective, think of a burger that costs $5. At 100 percent inflation, that burger will cost $10 in one year. In inflation like Germany experienced in 1922, where prices doubled an average of once every 28 hours, that $5 burger would cost $10 the next day, $20 the day after, and about $160 at the end of the week. Now imagine that your hourly range remains unchanged and you see the extent of the problem…

What is usually the cause of hyperinflation? According to Wikipedia, it is nearly always “caused by government budget deficits financed by money creation.” Hmm. Sound familiar?

By the way, the Wikipedia entry has lots of interesting historical information on hyperinflation and if you are worried about this, it’s probably worth a read.

Inflation Devalues MoneyBy the time hyperinflation hits, it’s really too late to do anything about it. It is too late for individuals to prepare, and too late for governments to change their ways. It’s already a crisis that is spiraling out of control and the hole will quickly be so deep you cannot climb out of it. The best you can do is to hunker down and try to get through it alive. Expect bank runs early on and ineffective rules to prevent them. Expect soaring prices and price controls that achieve nothing but cause shortages. Expect that government programs will not keep up with inflation and everyone on food stamps, welfare, social security and a pension will be unable to afford food. Expect protests and civil unrest. In short, be prepared for a massive collapse of the financial situation and everything that relies on it, including our society.

Warning Signs

  • If you see the price of something you buy regularly (whether it be a gallon of milk, cup of coffee, or a Diet Coke) start to cost more every few months, you are probably living in inflationary times. When you see it increase weekly, it’s too late to do anything about it.
  • When the price of gasoline hits new highs, over and over again, and the price never dips, you are probably living in inflationary times. When it costs more to fill up the tank than you paid for the car, it’s too late to do anything about it.
  • When the Fed raises interest rates by 1 percent or more outside of a regularly scheduled meeting, you might be living in inflationary times. When the interest rate for a 30-year mortgage is over 10 or 15 percent, it’s too late to do anything about it.
  • When you can no longer afford your normal beer and have to buy a case of that cheaper brand, you may be living in inflationary times. When a single bottle costs as much as a case used to, it’s too late to do anything about it.
  • If you start to see lots of news coverage about inflation, you may be living in inflationary times. If they start to describe it as “soaring” and then move on to “galloping,” it might be time to clean out your bank account, buy some supplies, and head for your retreat.

 How to Protect Yourself

During high or hyperinflation, you do not want to hang on to your cash; you want to spend it as soon as it hits your account. You are better off liquidating your savings account and buying hard assets that will retain their value.

If you have cash on hand and you start to see those warning signs, consider converting it into goods that you 1) will eventually need, consumer or use, or 2) can easily sell or barter, such as: canned food, dried food, over-the-counter medications, alcohol, cigarettes, diapers, guns, ammunition, tools, etc. (And note that all of these items would be useful in a survival situation.)

If you really don’t need that much canned food, then buy gold or silver. I personally recommend “junk silver” or American Eagles. (We’ll do a post on this subject in the future.) Just remember: You can’t eat gold.

You can also preserve your spending power or “wealth” by buying and holding real estate (especially farm land and single-family homes), high-end jewelry or precious stones, fully-automatic firearms, and other assets that can be sold after the crisis is over for “new dollars” or whatever currency is being used. If you are mega rich, invest in artwork; if you can’t cash it in, at least you can enjoy looking at it.

Once inflation kicks in, don’t lend money to anyone and spend your cash on hard goods as soon as you get it.

If you can, transfer your funds into a more stable currency, such as one backed by gold or commodities. (This is much harder than it used to be.) Usually, the U.S. Dollar is the currency in which people living in countries with high inflation wish to invest, so we’ll have to look at the Canadian dollar or the Australian dollar. I expect currencies tied to our and from countries that have large investments in U.S. debt and/or depend on us for an export market will suffer along with us. This includes the European Union and China.

Take advantage of the inflation by paying down any debt you had from before inflation hits. If you have a mortgage or school loans, wait until inflation has been high for a while and it will be very easy to pay them off.

Take steps to protect yourself from a societal collapse. If you plan to bug out, leave before things collapse. Read Captain Dave’s Survival Guide or some of our recommended books for more information on how to prepare.

 

What To Do if an Ebola Outbreak Reaches the U.S.

I think it is quite possible that we will see cases of Ebola in the United States within the next 90 days. I expect it will be like SARS, only a small outbreak that will be contained but there could be hot spots where there are a concentrated number of cases, especially in urban areas where. Health care workers may be the most likely to get it, followed by family members of those who are already ill.

This disease reportedly has an incubation period of two to 20 days, with most cases developing in 8 to 10, but it is not believed to be contagious during this incubation period. This means that people who might be exposed would have to be quarantined for three weeks to be sure they are not carrying the disease. And if you are quarantined with someone who does have it, the odds of you walking out not something a betting man would wager on.

Ebola Warning SignFrom what we know if of it, the Ebola virus is spread by blood, fecal matter , saliva and semen, but is much harder to catch than the flu or the common cold. Symptoms present like the flu with fever, weakness, headaches, diarrhea and vomiting, Then the hemorrhaging starts and you bleed from every orifice. This Is when it is highly contagious because you are leaking, vomiting, coughing and pooping a spray of highly contagious, bodily fluid.

How to protect yourself: Unless you strongly believe you are a victim, try to stay out of hospitals and other medical facilities where sick people will go to seek treatment. Stay far away from people who are sick and their caregivers. Don’t travel by air. Do not go to crowded locations like the state fair, concerts, malls, etc. Buy lots of rubber gloves, surgical masks, and goggles. Stock up on food before an epidemic strikes.

Self-quarantine yourself and your family at the first sign of an outbreak in the U.S. This means that you withdraw from society and stay away from those who may have it or have been exposed to it. Ideally, you will have stored food, but if not, make on last trip to the grocery store or club store and buy enough food for six or eight weeks. Then lock your doors and talk to people via phone or skype rather than in person. Don’t have contact with anyone for at least 28 days after the outbreak is over.

In Liberia, where the outbreak has killed hundreds, schools have been closed and public events cancelled. This is a good idea, but it is too late. Self quarantine means taking yourself out of school, work and public activities well before the government takes action. Preferably, you would withdraw before the disease reaches your area of the country.

Keep your spirits up! Remember that SARS was an ugly disease with a high rate of death and today we barely remember it. Chances are, an Ebola outbreak in the U.S. will be small and contained. In any case, we’ll know pretty quickly if it starts to spread.