Category Archives: Survival Manual

A place where we don’t take for granted, what we’ve taken for granted.

Socio-economic decay

(Survival manual/1. Disaster/Socio-economic decay)

Symp·tom: –noun: 1. any phenomenon or circumstance accompanying something and serving as evidence of it. 2. Pathology . a phenomenon that arises from and accompanies a particular disease or disorder and serves as an indication of it.)

 The sign at left is perversely interesting, offering us hope that somehow we can fight the inevitable coming changes by demonstrating or voting for ‘the right congressional or presidential leadership’. But suppose the discussion about national, social and economic decay isn’t about your wishes or my dreams, and isn’t even about America. Looking down from above, seeing the world and times passage from a bird’s-eye view, we might find that, we in the United States and the Western world, are more like a natural resource that has been harvested. “Global wealth” having developed and mined the US population and Japanese work ethic recently moved on to new, more profitable “natural resources”. They’ll develop China, India, and SE Asia, making a huge profit from the development and industrialization of those countries, from the production and sale of all the convenient and enjoyable things that made North America and Japan great — in our past heyday. Eventually, these countries will reach their growth climax and the moneyed powers will move again into fresh, undeveloped resources (populace’s), maybe to South and Central America, maybe Africa.
What remains behind (you, me, our neighborhoods, and cities) are of little consequence to those who control great wealth and develop personal and family power. The previous great nations will need to economically crash (become fallow fields for a few decades), while relearning how to live in relative poverty, while our income expectations are gradually reduced, until we become competitive and frugal again; meanwhile, our infrastructure must degenerate to a point that there is need and demand for a widespread structural over haul.
In maybe a hundred years, maybe 200, or even 400 years,  when the economic wheel has turned full circle, when we have developed true needs, our descendants will see their “Renaissance”.

Until then, your local and state leadership, even our federal elected government has little lasting control over the flux and flow of what is occurring on a global scale.

We can fight our wars for political-industrial-resource-economic positioning, but the money flow and the factories have already left. We are all use to the largess of our incomes and the good life to make the long-term personal and broad economic readjustments; we can however, pretend to bring change with social programs. We are too many people expecting and demanding to receive government subsidies; we have too many tax laws rewarding or punishing groups who are or are not friends of the current political establishment. We have a medical establishment relentlessly sued for every ‘malpractice’ (did you ever get sued for goofing up on your job? Why not?) At the same time, hospitals charge patients and their insurance companies $20+ for a gallon of distilled water, which cost 98 cents at the grocery store, and from which maybe only a pint of that water was used (by the paying patient).

Everyone knows that ‘things’ aren’t right, that someone should give up their advantage — as long as that someone isn’t you. In this manner of thought and action we’ll continue to overgraze the commons, until there is no commons for our combined good, by then all will suffer.
We, the Western nations, the Western Christian culture have simply reached the climax of our civilization, which will now slowly decay/decline. It’s not your fault, nor mine, it’s not the fault of our government, at any level.
It’s nature’s way.
Humans are wired for behavior that replays in rhyme, the same story, told again, and again, across the ages. What works is reused until it doesn’t work, the flow through system eventually breaks, the culture collapses  and social-economic-commodity factors move on to favor another area of the continent/globe.

What arises next will not be petrochemical based, it will not be what were use to today, the conversion will be similar to that which ushered out the ‘horse and buggy days’ of the late 1800s and brought us to the modern era of the 1920s– in the matter of  a few decades. Everything that needs to be done to get us from here, to there, will be done, just not in the order, timing, painlessness, or efficiency that we would prefer. There might occur a major dislocation along the way, something to speed along the conversion, something to reduce the population overburden…global currency collapse, a nuclear war, a few dozen global EMP pulses, a pandemic, a super volcanic eruption…

If for a few moments, we could open our eyes onto the that not so distant future, we’d find our descendants enjoying life’s happiness, as did ours in the centuries leading to us. They may not have iPads or SUVs, but where the sun shines, there is labor, love and  hope for the ‘morrow.
Time marches on.
The Earth abides.
Mr. Larry

A.  American Hellholes
Pasted: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/american-hellholes
The U.S. economy is dying and we are heading for the next Great Depression.  The talking heads in the mainstream media love to spin the economic numbers around and around and they love to make it sound like the economy is improving, but the truth is that it doesn’t take a genius to see what is happening to the U.S. economic system.  All over the nation many of our greatest cities are being slowly but surely transformed into post-apocalyptic wastelands.  All over the mid-Atlantic, all along the Gulf coast, all throughout the “rust belt” and all over the entire state of California cities that once had incredibly vibrant economies are being turned into rotting, post-industrial hellholes. In many U.S. cities, the “real” rate of unemployment is over 30 percent. There are some communities that will start depressing you almost the moment that you drive into them. It is almost as if all of the hope has been sucked right out of those communities.  If you live in one of those American hellholes you know what I am talking about.  Sadly, it is not just a few cities that are becoming hellholes.  This is happening in the east, in the west, in the north and in the south.  America is literally being transformed right in front of our eyes.

If you still live in an area of the United States that is prosperous, do not mock the cities that you are about to read about.  The cold, hard reality of the matter is that economic decline and economic despair are spreading rapidly and they will come to your area soon enough.  Right now we are still talking about
“American hellholes”, but if the long-term economic trends that are destroying this nation are not turned around eventually we will just be talking about one gigantic “American hellhole”.  In the end, no area of the country will completely escape the economic hell that is coming.

B.  So how do you know if your own city has become a hellhole?
Pasted from:  http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/you-know-that-your-city-has-become-a-hellhole-when

Well, a few potential “red flags” are posted below….
1.  You know that your city has become a hellhole when most of the street lights  get repossessed because of unpaid electric bills,
2.  when it announces that it will no longer prosecute domestic violence cases in order to save money.,
3.  when it simply stops sending out pension checks to retired workers,
4.  when it rips up asphalt roads and replaces them with gravel because gravel is cheaper to maintain,
5.  when it eliminates the entire public bus system,
6.  when nearly half of all the people living there can’t read,
7.  when one out of every ten homes sells for under $10,000,
8.  when you can literally buy a house for one dollar,
9.  when you have hundreds of people living in the tunnels underneath your streets,
10.  when three of your past five mayors have been sent to prison for corruption,
11.  when nearly  half of the public schools in the city get shut down because of a lack of money,
12.  when you have dozens of young people rampaging in the streets that are thirsty for revenge and that are armed with bats, pipes and guns,
13.  when it is considered to be one of the 10 most dangerous cities in the world,
14.  when thieves defecate in the back seat after they have broken into your car and taken your things,
15.  when prostitution and drug dealing are two of the only viable businesses that remain in the city,
16.  You know that your city has become a hellhole when the police chief announces that the police department will no longer respond to calls about burglary and identity  theft due to very deep budget cuts.

Let’s take a closer look at what is currently happening in some of the worst areas of the country….
Pasted from: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/american-hellholes

100.  Detroit, Michigan
In the city of Detroit today, there are over 33,000 abandoned houses, 70 schools are being permanently closed down, the mayor wants to bulldoze one-fourth of the city and you can literally buy a house for one dollar in the worst areas.

During the boom days of the 1950s, Detroit was a teeming metropolis of approximately 2 million people, but today the current population is less than half that.  The city of Detroit, once a shining example of middle class America, is now a rotting cesspool of economic decline and it actually saw its population decline by 25 percent during the decade that recently ended.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Detroit lost a resident every 22 minutes between the years of 2000 and 2010.

So why are people leaving Detroit so rapidly?
There simply are no jobs.

At the height of the economic downturn, the mayor of Detroit admitted that while the “official” unemployment rate in Detroit was about 27 percent, the “real” unemployment rate in his city was actually somewhere around 50 percent. Since there are not enough jobs, that also means that not enough tax money is coming in. Detroit is essentially insolvent at this point.

Detroit officials are trying to implement some austerity measures in a desperate attempt to get city finances under control. For example, the state of Michigan recently granted approval to a plan that would shut down nearly half of the public schools in Detroit.  Under the plan, 70 schools will be closed and 72 will continue operating. It has been estimated that the remaining public schools will have class sizes of up to 60 students.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing also wants to cut off 20 percent of the entire city from police and trash services in order to save money. Essentially that would mean abandoning 20 percent of the city of Detroit to the gangs and to the homeless.

[Images above: Left: One of many vacant/abandoned neighborhoods, homes being  raised and lots returned returning to fields. Right: A single example of  the many abandoned industrial and retail buildings in Detroit.]

The mayor of Detroit has also discussed a plan in which authorities would bulldoze one-fourth of the city in order to save money on services.
So with all of this going on, is Detroit a pleasant place to live at this point? No way. Today, Detroit is considered to be the third most violent city in the United States. In fact, crime has gotten so bad and the citizens are so frustrated by the lack of police assistance that they have resorted to forming their own organizations to fight back.  One group, known as the “Detroit 300”, was formed after a 90-year-old woman on Detroit’s northwest side was brutally raped in August.

If you want to see what the future of America looks like, just take a few hours and go driving through Detroit some time.  But please only do this during the day. Do not do this at night.  Detroit is not a safe place anymore, and you cannot count on the police to help you in a timely manner.

Detroit was once one of the greatest cities in the world. But today it is an absolute hellhole.

99.  Camden, New Jersey
So is there any place in America that is worse than Detroit? Well, many would nominate Camden, New Jersey. Many years ago, Camden was actually thriving and prosperous.  But today the city of Camden is known as “the second most dangerous city in America”.

In a recent article entitled “City of Ruins”, Chris Hedges did an amazing job of documenting the horrific decline of Camden.  Hedges estimates that the real rate of unemployment in Camden is somewhere around 30 to 40 percent, and he makes it sound like nobody in their right mind would want to live there  now….

Camden is where those discarded as human refuse are dumped, along with the physical refuse of postindustrial America. A sprawling sewage treatment plant on forty acres of riverfront land processes 58 million gallons of wastewater a day for Camden County. The stench of sewage lingers in the streets. There is a huge trash-burning plant that releases noxious clouds, a prison, a massive cement plant and mountains of scrap metal feeding into a giant shredder. The city is scarred with several thousand decaying abandoned row houses; the skeletal remains of windowless brick factories and gutted gas stations; overgrown vacant lots filled with garbage and old tires; neglected, weed-filled cemeteries; and  boarded-up store fronts.

Gangs have stepped into the gaping void left by industry.  In Camden today, drugs and prostitution are two of the only viable businesses left – especially for those who cannot find employment anywhere else.  The following is how Hedges describes the current state of affairs….

There are perhaps a hundred open-air drug markets, most run by gangs like the Bloods, the Latin Kings, Los Nietos and MS-13. Knots of young men in black leather jackets and baggy sweatshirts sell weed and crack to clients, many of whom drive in from the suburbs. The drug trade is one of the city’s few thriving businesses.
A weapon, police say, is never more than a few feet away, usually stashed behind a trash can, in the grass or on a porch.

But before we all start judging Camden for being such a horrible place to live, it is important to realize that this is happening in communities from coast to coast.  All over the United States industries are leaving and deep social decay is setting in.

Even the criminals in Camden are struggling.  Things have gotten so bad in Camden, New Jersey that not even the drug dealers are spending their money anymore.

So where are the police? Unfortunately, there is very little money for police.  Authorities in Camden recently decided to lay off half of the city police force. So now the gangs and the drug dealers have more room to operate.

Sadly, this is not just happening in Camden.  It is happening all over New Jersey. Of 315 municipalities the New Jersey State Police union recently surveyed, more than half indicated that they were planning to lay off police officers. So why doesn’t the state government step in and help out?

Well, the state of New Jersey is in such bad shape that they still are facing a $10 billion budget deficit for this year even after cutting a billion dollars from the education budget and laying off thousands of teachers.

New Jersey also has $46 billion in unfunded pension liabilities and $65 billion in unfunded health care liabilities.  Nobody is quite sure how New Jersey is even going to come close to meeting those obligations. Meanwhile, cities like Camden are rotting a little bit more every single day.

98.  New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans had a struggling economy even before Hurricane Katrina struck back in 2005.  But that event changed everything.  It is now almost 6 years later and virtually the entire region is still a disaster zone. New Orleans permanently lost 29% of its population after Hurricane Katrina.  There are many areas of New Orleans that still look as if they have just been bombed.

21.5 percent of all houses in New Orleans, Louisiana are currently standing vacant.  Many of those homes will never be inhabited again.

What made things even worse for New Orleans (and for residents all along the Gulf coast) was the horrific BP oil spill last year.  The mainstream news does not talk about the oil spill much anymore, but those living in the area have to deal with the effects every single day.  Some of the industries in the Gulf region were really starting to recover from Hurricane Katrina but the BP oil spill put a stop to that. Before the oil spill, Louisiana produced more fish and seafood than anywhere in the United States except for Alaska.  But now the seafood industry has been absolutely devastated.  It has been estimated that the cost of the BP oil spill to the fishing industry in Louisiana alone could top 3 billion dollars. Some local shrimpers in the region are projecting that it will be about seven years before they can set to sea again.
New Orleans keeps trying to bounce back from all of these disasters, but times are tough down there.

Today, New Orleans is the 13th most violent city in America.  That is actually an improvement.  Before Katrina New Orleans had even more violent crime.
The truth is that other areas along the Gulf coast are doing a lot worse than New Orleans is doing.  A ton of big corporate money has flowed into New Orleans.  Officials are trying to clean up the city and make it a huge tourist destination once again. But in the surrounding areas things are not looking so bright.  There are areas along the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the panhandle of Florida that are some of the most depressing places in the nation.

It is almost as if there are hundreds of thousands of people that time forgot.  In some rural areas along the Gulf coast the poverty is absolutely mind-blowing. There are very few jobs and there is very little hope.  Meanwhile, large numbers of people in the region continue to get sick from the toxic dispersants
used to clean up the oil spill.

Let us hope that we don’t see another major disaster in the Gulf of Mexico any time soon.  As it is, it is going to take decades for that region to fully recover.  There are a lot of really good people that live down there, and they deserve our prayers.

97. Vallejo, California (And Virtually The Rest Of The State Of California)
Almost the entire state of California is an economic disaster zone. Austerity measures are being implemented in city after city as tax revenues have nose-dived.
The following is an excerpt from a recent New York Times article that describes the brutal austerity that has been implemented in Vallejo, California….
“Vallejo is still in bankruptcy. The police force has shrunk from 153 officers to 92. Calls for any but the most serious crimes go unanswered. Residents who complain about prostitutes or vandals are told to fill out a form. Three of the city’s firehouses were closed. Last summer, a fire ravaged a house in one of the city’s better neighborhoods; one of the fire trucks came from another town, 15 miles away. Is this America’s future?”

In California, things don’t ‘look’ as bad as they do in the cities of the  older eastern and midwestern states, however, California is basically insolvent and are home to very large ethnic populations, many of whom are on government assistance.
[Image left: A middle class gated community. Sadly, that is what the future of America is going to look like.]

Public services are being slashed all over the nation due to budget crunches. Unless there is a major jobs recovery, the situation in California is going to continue to degenerate.  The truth is that the state of California needs millions and millions of new jobs just to get back to “normal”.  For example, near the end of last year it was reported that 24.3 percent of the residents of El Centro, California were unemployed.  Not only that, as of the end of last year the number of people unemployed in the state of  California was approximately equivalent to the entire populations of Nevada, New Hampshire and Vermont combined.

In Stockton, CA, with 43 police threatened to be laid off, a group of concerned residents formed an armed militia to patrol the city.
Businesses are closing in California at an astounding pace.  At one point last year it was reported that in the area around Sacramento, California there was one closed business for every six that were still open. As a result of all of this, home prices in many areas of California have completely fallen off a cliff.  For example, the average home in Merced, California has declined in value by 63 percent over the past four years. California also had more foreclosure filings that any other U.S. state in 2010.  The 546,669 total foreclosure filings during the year means that over 4 percent of all the housing units in the state of California received a foreclosure filing at some point during 2010.

Sadly, things don’t look like they are going to turn around in California any time soon.  Forbes recently compiled a list entitled “Cities Where The Economy May Get Worse”. Six of the top seven spots were held by cities in California.

California is becoming a very frightening place.  When you combine high unemployment with unchecked illegal immigration what you get is rampant poverty. Twenty percent of the residents of Los Angeles County are now receiving public aid of one form or another. In particular, the number of children that are considered to be in need of public assistance is truly scary. Incredibly, 60 percent of all the students attending California public schools now qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches.

Poverty and illegal immigration have also caused a tremendous health care crisis in the state.  The hordes of illegal aliens taking advantage of “free” medical care at hospital emergency rooms have caused dozens of hospitals across the state of California to completely shut down.  As a result, the state
of California now ranks dead last out of all 50 states in the number of emergency rooms per million people.

The bozos in Sacramento keep passing hundreds of new laws in an attempt to “fix” the state, but the truth is that for the poorest residents of the state all of those new laws don’t make a shred of difference.

The following is how Victor Davis Hansen[1] describes what he saw during his recent tour of the “forgotten areas of central California”….
“Many of the rural trailer-house compounds I saw appear to the naked eye no different from what I have seen in the Third World . There is a Caribbean look to the junked cars, electric wires crisscrossing between various outbuildings, plastic tarps substituting for replacement shingles, lean-tos cobbled together as auxiliary housing, pit bulls unleashed, and geese, goats, and chickens roaming around the yards. The public hears about all sorts of tough California regulations that stymie business – rigid zoning laws, strict building codes, constant inspections – but apparently none of that applies out here. Hansen also says that he observed that people in these areas are doing whatever they can to get by….At crossroads, peddlers in a counter-California economy sell almost anything. Here is what I noticed at an intersection on the west side last week: shovels, rakes, hoes, gas pumps, lawnmowers, edgers, blowers, jackets, gloves, and caps. The merchandise was all new. I doubt whether in high-tax California sales taxes or income taxes were paid on any of these stop-and-go transactions.
In two supermarkets 50 miles apart, I was the only one in line who did not pay with a social-service plastic card (gone are the days when “food stamps” were embarrassing bulky coupons).”

Are you frightened yet?
You know what they say – “as goes California, so goes the nation”.

What is happening in California now is eventually going to come to your area. Right now California is also having a huge problem with gangs.  Gang violence in America is getting totally out of control.
According to authorities, there are now over 1 million members of criminal gangs operating inside the country, and those gangs are responsible for up to 80% of the violent crimes committed in the U.S. each year. But instead of ramping up to fight crime and fight illegal immigration, police forces all over California are being cut back.

For example, because of extreme budget cuts and police layoffs, Oakland, California Police Chief Anthony Batts has announced that there are a number of crimes that his department simply will no longer respond to due to a lack of resources.  The following is a partial list of the crimes that police officers in Oakland will no longer be responding to….

•  burglary
•  obtain money by false voucher
•  theft
•  fraudulent use of access cards
•  embezzlement
•  stolen license plate
•  grand theft
•  embezzlement by an employee
•  grand theft: dog
•  extortion
•  identity theft
•  attempted extortion
•  false information to peace officer
•  false personification of other
•  required to register as sex or arson offender
•  injure telephone/power line
•  dump waste or offensive matter
•  interfere with power line
•  loud music
•  unauthorized cable tv connection
•  possess forged notes
•  vandalism
•  pass fictitious check

Not that Oakland wasn’t already a mess before all this, but now how long do you think it will be before total chaos and anarchy reigns on the city streets? Today, Oakland is considered the 5th most violent city in the United States. Will it soon become the most violent?

But Oakland is not the only major California city that is facing these kinds of issues. Things have gotten so bad in Stockton, California that the police union put up a billboard with the following message: “Welcome to the 2nd most dangerous city in California. Stop laying off cops.”
Already the police force in Stockton has been stripped down to almost nothing. A while back, the Stockton Police Department dropped this bombshell….
“We absolutely do not have any narcotics officers, narcotics sergeants working any kind of investigative narcotics type cases at this point in time.” Do you think drug dealers will be flocking to Stockton after they hear that? California was once the envy of the world. Now it is becoming one gigantic hellhole.

During one recent 23 year period, the state of California built 23 prisons but just one university.
So is there any hope for California? No, unfortunately there is not.
In another article, I wrote about some of the reasons why millions of people have been leaving California for good….
“Meanwhile, the standard of living in California is going right into the toilet.  Housing values are plummeting.  Unemployment has risen above 20 percent in many areas of the state.  Crime and gang activity is on the rise even as police budgets are being hacked to the bone.  The health care system is an absolute disaster.  At this point California has the fewest emergency rooms per million people out of all 50 states.   While all of this has been going on, the state legislature in Sacramento has been very busy passing hundreds of new laws that are mostly about promoting one radical agenda or another.  The state government has become so radically anti-business that it is a wonder that any businesses have remained in the state.  It seems like the moving vans never stop as an endless parade of businesses and families leave California as quickly as they can.”

But this is not just a “California thing”.  The truth is that what is happening in California, in Detroit, in Camden and in hundreds of other communities is also going to happen where you live.

The U.S. economy is slowly dying. Only 66.8% of American men had a job last year.  That was the
lowest level that has ever been recorded in U.S. history.
People are getting desperate.  There are ten percent fewer middle class jobs than there were a decade ago and the competition for good jobs has become insane.  More than 44 million Americans are now on food stamps and that number grows every single month.  Millions more American families fall into poverty every single year.

It is time to face the truth about what is happening to America.  Our economy is not growing and becoming stronger.  Rather, the cold, hard reality of the matter is that our economy is very sick and it is dying.  The seemingly boundless prosperity that we have enjoyed for decade after decade is coming to an end.  Our communities are being transformed into absolute hellholes.

Those that are telling you that the U.S. economy will soon be better than ever are lying to you.
The U.S. economy is going to go down and it is going to go down hard.

One thing is painfully clear about the housing bubble bursting in Southern California and that is many of the 20 million residents never venture off their beaten path.  Hit the freeway to work, stay inside, clock out, and head back to your segmented area.  Variety is having lunch within a few minutes or miles from the hub.  You have to wonder how many people are blind o the economic destruction that is hitting from all corners like a financial tornado.  Foreclosures are raging and yet you have people gleefully acting as if real estate is heading back to the previous price levels.  Those days are gone.  If people would only venture out a few miles to see what is happening in their own backyard it would add a new level of perspective.
.

C.  How The ‘Progressives’ Ruined The State
Tuesday, February 15, 2011, Good-Bye California, By Victor Davis Hansen
Pasted from: http://www.rense.com/general92/goodd.htm
“The last three weeks I have traveled about, taking the pulse of the more forgotten areas of central California. I wanted to witness, even if superficially, what is happening to a state that has the highest sales and income taxes, the most lavish entitlements, the near-worst public schools (based on federal test scores), and the largest number of illegal aliens in the nation, along with an overregulated private sector, a stagnant and shrinking manufacturing base, and an elite environmental ethos that restricts commerce and productivity without curbing consumption.

During this unscientific experiment, three times a week I rode a bike on a 20-mile trip over various rural roads in southwestern Fresno County . I also drove my car over to the coast to work, on various routes through towns like San Joaquin , Mendota, and Firebaugh. And near my home I have been driving, shopping, and touring by intent the rather segregated and impoverished areas of Caruthers, Fowler, Laton, Orange Cove, Parlier, and Selma . My own farmhouse is now in an area of abject poverty and almost no ethnic diversity; the closest elementary school (my alma mater, two miles away) is 94 percent Hispanic and 1 percent white, and well below federal testing norms in math and English.

Here are some general observations about what I saw (other than that the rural roads of California are fast turning into rubble, poorly maintained and reverting to what I remember seeing long ago in the rural South). First, remember that these areas are the ground zero, so to speak, of 20 years of illegal immigration. There has been a general depression in farming – to such an extent that the 20- to-100-acre tree and vine farmer, the erstwhile backbone of the old rural California , for all practical purposes has ceased to exist.

On the western side of the Central Valley , the effects of arbitrary cutoffs in federal irrigation water have idled tens of thousands of acres of prime agricultural land, leaving thousands unemployed.
Manufacturing plants in the towns in these areas – which used to make harvesters, hydraulic lifts, trailers, food-processing equipment – have largely shut down; their production has been shipped off overseas or south of the border. Agriculture itself – from almonds to raisins – has increasingly become
 corporatized and mechanized, cutting by half the number of farm workers needed.  So unemployment runs somewhere between 15 and 20 percent.

It is almost as if the more California regulates, the more it does not regulate. Its public employees prefer to go after misdemeanors in the upscale areas to justify our expensive oversight industry, while ignoring the felonies in the downtrodden areas, which are becoming feral and beyond the ability of any inspector to do anything but feel irrelevant. But in the regulators’ defense, where would one get the money to redo an ad hoc trailer park with a spider web of illegal bare wires?

Many of the rented-out rural shacks and stationary Winnebagos are on former small farms – the vineyards overgrown with weeds, or torn out with the ground lying fallow. I pass on the cultural consequences to communities from the loss of thousands of small farming families. I don’t think I can remember another time when so many acres in the eastern part of the valley have gone out of production, even though farm prices have recently rebounded. Apparently it is simply not worth the gamble of investing $7,000 to $10,000 an acre in a new orchard or vineyard. What an anomaly – with suddenly soaring farm prices, still we have thousands of acres in the world’s richest agricultural belt, with available water on the east side of the valley and plentiful labor, gone idle or in disuse. Is credit frozen? Are there simply no more farmers? Are the schools so bad as to scare away potential agricultural entrepreneurs? Or are we all terrified by the national debt and uncertain future?

California coastal elites may worry about the oxygen content of water available to a three-inch smelt in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, but they seem to have no interest in the epidemic dumping of trash, furniture, and often toxic substances throughout California ‘s rural hinterland. Yesterday, for example, I rode my bike by a stopped van just as the occupants tossed seven plastic bags of raw refuse onto the side of the road. I rode up near their bumper and said in my broken Spanish not to throw garbage onto the public road. But there were three of them, and one of me. So I was lucky to be sworn at only. I note in passing that I would not drive into Mexico and, as a guest, dare to pull over and throw seven bags of trash into the environment of my host.

In fact, trash piles are commonplace out here – composed of everything from half-empty paint cans and children’s plastic toys to diapers and moldy food. I have never seen a rural sheriff cite a litterer, or witnessed state EPA workers cleaning up these unauthorized wastelands. So I would suggest to Bay Area scientists that the environment is taking a much harder beating down here in central California than it is in the Delta. Perhaps before we cut off more irrigation water to the west side of the valley, we might invest some green dollars into cleaning up the unsightly and sometimes dangerous garbage that now litters the outskirts of our rural communities.

We hear about the tough small-business regulations that have driven residents out of the state, at the rate of 2,000 to 3,000 a week. But from my unscientific observations these past weeks, it seems rather easy to open a small business in California without any oversight at all, or at least what I might call a “counter business.” I counted eleven mobile hot-kitchen trucks that simply park by the side of the road, spread about some plastic chairs, pull down a tarp canopy, and, presto, become mini-restaurants. There are no “facilities” such as toilets or washrooms. But I do frequently see lard trails on the isolated roads I bike on, where trucks apparently have simply opened their draining tanks and sped on, leaving a slick of cooking fats and oils. Crows and ground squirrels love them; they can be seen from a distance mysteriously occupied in the middle of the road.

I did not see any relationship between the use of the (Social Service) cards and poverty as we once knew it: The electrical appurtenances owned by the user and the car into which the (welfare) groceries were loaded were indistinguishable from those of the upper middle class. By that I mean that most consumers drove late-model Camrys, Accords, or Tauruses, had iPhones, Bluetooths, or BlackBerries, and bought everything in the store with public-assistance credit. This seemed a world apart from the trailers I had just ridden by the day before. I don’t editorialize here on the logic or morality of any of this, but I note only that there are vast numbers of people who apparently are not working, are on public food assistance, and enjoy the technological veneer of the middle class. California has a consumer market surely, but often no apparent source of income. Does the $40 million a day supplement to unemployment benefits from Washington explain some of this?

Do diversity concerns, as in lack of diversity, work both ways? Over a hundred-mile stretch, when I stopped in San Joaquin for a bottled water, or drove through Orange Cove, or got gas in Parlier, or went to a corner market in southwestern Selma, my home town, I was the only non-Hispanic – there were no Asians, no blacks, no other whites. We may speak of the richness of “diversity,” but those who cherish that ideal simply have no idea that there are now countless inland communities that have become near-apartheid societies, where Spanish is the first language, the schools are not at all diverse, and the federal and state governments are either the main employers or at least the chief sources of income – whether through emergency rooms, rural health clinics, public schools, or social-service offices. An observer from Mars might conclude that our elites and masses have given up on the ideal of integration and assimilation, perhaps in the wake of the arrival of 11 to 15 million illegal aliens.

Again, I do not editorialize, but I note these vast transformations over the last 20 years that are the paradoxical wages of unchecked illegal immigration from Mexico, a vast expansion of California’s entitlements and taxes, the flight of the upper middle class out of state, the deliberate effort not to tap natural resources, the downsizing in manufacturing and agriculture, and the departure of whites, blacks, and Asians from many of these small towns to more racially diverse and upscale areas of
California.

Fresno ‘s California State University campus is embroiled in controversy over the student body president’s announcing that he is an illegal alien, with all the requisite protests in favor of the DREAM Act. I won’t comment on the legislation per se, but again only note the anomaly. I taught at CSUF for 21 years. I think it fair to say that the predominant theme of the Chicano and Latin American Studies program’s sizable curriculum was a fuzzy American culpability. By that I mean that students in those classes heard of the sins of America more often than its attractions.

In my home town, Mexican flag decals on car windows are far more common than their American counterparts. I note this because hundreds of students here illegally are now terrified of being deported to Mexico . I can understand that, given the chaos in Mexico and their own long residency in the United States . But here is what still confuses me: If one were to consider the classes that deal with Mexico at the university, or the visible displays of national chauvinism, then one might conclude that Mexico is a far more attractive and moral place than the United States. So there is a surreal nature to these protests: something like, “Please do not send me back to the culture I nostalgically praise; please let me stay in the culture that I ignore or deprecate.”  I think the DREAM Act protestors might have been far more successful in winning public opinion had they stopped blaming the U.S. for suggesting that they might have to leave at some point, and instead explained why, in fact, they want to stay. What it is about America that makes a youth of 21 go on a hunger strike or demonstrate to be allowed to remain in this country rather than return to the place of his birth?

I think I know the answer to this paradox. Missing entirely in the above description is the attitude of the host, which by any historical standard can only be termed “indifferent. ” California does not care whether one broke the law to arrive here or continues to break it by staying. It asks nothing of the illegal immigrant – no proficiency in English, no acquaintance with American history and values, no proof of income, no record of education or skills. It does provide all the public assistance that it can afford (and more that it borrows for), and apparently waives enforcement of most of California ‘s burdensome regulations and civic statutes that increasingly have plagued productive citizens to the point of driving them out.

How odd that we over regulate those who are citizens and have capital to the point of banishing them from the state, but do not regulate those who are aliens and without capital to the point of encouraging millions more to follow in their footsteps. How odd – to paraphrase what Critias once said of ancient Sparta – that California is at once both the nation’s most unfree and most free state, the most repressed and the wildest. Hundreds of thousands sense all that and vote accordingly with their feet, both into and out of California – and the result is a sort of social, cultural, economic, and political time-bomb, whose ticks are getting louder.”
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D.  Education: The Dumbing Of America
Call Me a Snob, but Really, We’re a Nation of Dunces
February 17, 2008, By Susan Jacoby
Pasted from: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article19382.htm
“The mind of this country, taught to aim at low objects, eats upon itself.” Ralph Waldo Emerson offered that observation in 1837, but his words echo with painful prescience in today’s very different United States. Americans are in serious intellectual trouble — in danger of losing our hard-won cultural capital to a virulent mixture of anti-intellectualism, anti-rationalism and low expectations.

This is the last subject that any candidate would dare raise on the long and winding road to the White House. It is almost impossible to talk about the manner in which public ignorance contributes to grave national problems without being labeled an “elitist,” one of the most powerful pejoratives that can be applied to anyone aspiring to high office. Instead, our politicians repeatedly assure Americans that they are just “folks,” a patronizing term that you will search for in vain in important presidential speeches before 1980. (Just imagine: “We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain . . . and that government of the folks, by the folks, for the folks, shall not perish from the earth.”) Such exaltations of ordinariness are among the distinguishing traits of anti-intellectualism in any era.

The classic work on this subject by Columbia University historian Richard Hofstadter, “Anti-Intellectualism in American Life,” was published in early 1963, between the anti-communist crusades of the McCarthy era and the social convulsions of the late 1960s.
Hofstadter saw American anti-intellectualism as a basically cyclical phenomenon that often manifested itself as the dark side of the country’s democratic impulses in religion and education. But today’s brand of anti-intellectualism is less a cycle than a flood. If Hofstadter (who died of leukemia in 1970 at age 54) had lived long enough to write a modern-day sequel, he would have found that our era of 24/7 infotainment has outstripped his most apocalyptic predictions about the future of American culture.

Dumbness, to paraphrase the late senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, has been steadily defined downward for several decades, by a combination of heretofore irresistible forces. These include the triumph of video culture over print culture (and by video, I mean every form of digital media, as well as older electronic ones); a disjunction between Americans’ rising level of formal education and their shaky grasp of basic geography, science and history; and the fusion of anti-rationalism with anti-intellectualism.

First and foremost among the vectors of the new anti-intellectualism is video. The decline of book, newspaper and magazine reading is by now an old story. The drop-off is most pronounced among the young, but it continues to accelerate and afflict Americans of all ages and education levels.

Reading has declined not only among the poorly educated, according to a report last year by the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1982, 82 percent of college graduates read novels or poems for
pleasure; two decades later, only 67 percent did. And more than 40 percent of Americans under 44 did not read a single book — fiction or nonfiction — over the course of a year. The proportion of 17-year-olds who read nothing (unless required to do so for school) more than doubled between 1984 and 2004. This time period, of course, encompasses the rise of personal computers, Web surfing and video games.

Does all this matter? Technophiles pooh-pooh jeremiads about the end of print culture as the navel-gazing of (what else?) elitists. In his book “Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today’s Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter,” the science writer Steven Johnson assures us that we have nothing to worry about. Sure, parents may see their “vibrant and active children gazing silently, mouths agape, at the screen.” But these zombie-like characteristics “are not signs of mental atrophy. They’re signs of focus.” Balderdash. The real question is what toddlers are screening out, not what they are focusing on, while they sit mesmerized by videos they have seen dozens of times.

Despite an aggressive marketing campaign aimed at encouraging babies as young as 6 months to watch videos, there is no evidence that focusing on a screen is anything but bad for infants and toddlers. In a study released last August, University of Washington researchers found that babies between 8 and 16 months recognized an average of six to eight fewer words for every hour spent watching videos.

I cannot prove that reading for hours in a treehouse (which is what I was doing when I was 13) creates more informed citizens than hammering away at a Microsoft Xbox or obsessing about Facebook profiles. But the inability to concentrate for long periods of time — as distinct from brief reading hits for information on the Web — seems to me intimately related to the inability of the public to remember even recent news events. It is not surprising, for example, that less has been heard from the presidential candidates about the Iraq war in the later stages of the primary campaign than in the earlier ones, simply because there have been fewer video reports of violence in Iraq. Candidates, like voters, emphasize the latest news, not necessarily the most important news.

No wonder negative political ads work. “With text, it is even easy to keep track of differing levels of authority behind different pieces of information,” the cultural critic Caleb Crain noted recently in the New Yorker. “A comparison of two video reports, on the other hand, is cumbersome. Forced to choose between conflicting stories on television, the viewer falls back on hunches, or on what he believed before he started watching.”

As video consumers become progressively more impatient with the process of acquiring information through written language, all politicians find themselves under great pressure to deliver their messages as quickly as possible — and quickness today is much quicker than it used to be. Harvard University’s Kiku Adatto found that between 1968 and 1988, the average sound bite on the news for a presidential candidate — featuring the candidate’s own voice — dropped from 42.3 seconds to 9.8 seconds. By 2000, according to another Harvard study, the daily candidate bite was down to just
7.8 seconds.

The shrinking public attention span fostered by video is closely tied to the second important anti-intellectual force in American culture: the erosion of general knowledge.

People accustomed to hearing their president explain complicated policy choices by snapping “I’m the decider” may find it almost impossible to imagine the pains that Franklin D. Roosevelt took, in the grim months after Pearl Harbor, to explain why U.S. armed forces were suffering one defeat after another in the Pacific. In February 1942, Roosevelt urged Americans to spread out a map during his radio
“fireside chat” so that they might better understand the geography of battle. In stores throughout the country, maps sold out; about 80 percent of American adults tuned in to hear the president. FDR had told his speechwriters that he was certain that if Americans understood the immensity of the distances over which supplies had to travel to the armed forces, “they can take any kind of bad news right on the chin.”

This is a portrait not only of a different presidency and president but also of a different country and citizenry, one that lacked access to satellite-enhanced Google maps but was far more receptive to learning and complexity than today’s public. According to a 2006 survey by National Geographic-Roper, nearly half of Americans between ages 18 and 24 do not think it necessary to know the location of other countries in which important news is being made. More than a third consider it “not at all important” to know a foreign language, and only 14 percent consider it “very important.”

That leads us to the third and final factor behind the new American dumbness: not lack of knowledge per se but arrogance about that lack of knowledge. The problem is not just the things we do not know (consider the one in five American adults who, according to the National Science Foundation, thinks the sun revolves around the Earth); it’s the alarming number of Americans who have smugly concluded that they do not need to know such things in the first place. Call this anti-rationalism — a syndrome that is particularly dangerous to our public institutions and discourse. Not knowing a foreign language or the location of an important country is a manifestation of ignorance; denying that such knowledge matters is pure anti-rationalism. The toxic brew of anti-rationalism and ignorance hurts discussions of U.S. public policy on topics from health care to taxation.

There is no quick cure for this epidemic  of arrogant anti-rationalism and anti-intellectualism; rote efforts to raise standardized test scores by stuffing students with specific answers to specific questions on specific tests will not do the job. Moreover, the people who exemplify the problem are usually oblivious to it. (“Hardly anyone believes himself to be against thought and culture,” Hofstadter noted.) It is past time for a serious national discussion about whether, as a nation, we truly value intellect and rationality. If this indeed turns out to be a “change election,” the low-level of discourse in a country with a mind taught to aim at low objects ought to be the first item on the change agenda.”
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E.  The Dumbing Down of America’s Colleges
April 1996, Phyllis Schlafly Report
Pasted from: http://www.ourcivilisation.com/dumb/dumb2.htm
“Finally, a prestigious group of college professors has come right out and said that the emperor (i.e., the Imperial University) has no clothes. Many have long suspected that college education has been dramatically dumbed down (like the public schools), but few have had the courage to say so.

The National Association of Scholars (NAS), the nation’s leading higher-education reform organization, has just published a devastating 65-page report on its investigation of the courses offered and required at 50 top undergraduate colleges and universities. The NAS used U.S. News & World Report’s annual listing of “America’s Best Colleges” (including both private and public). All figures cited below refer to those 50 elite institutions in the particular years chosen for comparison, 1914, 1939, 1964, and 1993.

The NAS concludes that students no longer learn the common core of knowledge once taken for granted as essential to a liberal-arts education. The universities have simply purged from the curriculum many of the required courses that formerly taught students the historical, cultural, political and scientific basics of our society.

The number of mandatory courses has been dramatically reduced from an average of 9.9 in 1914, to 7.3 in 1939, to 6.9 in 1964, and to 2.5 in 1993. The formerly universal requirement that students take a basic survey course in several important areas has virtually vanished.

Universities now offer very few courses that require prerequisites, which means that very few college courses now require any advance knowledge or preparation. In 1914, universities offered an average of only 23 courses per institution that did not require a prerequisite course; in 1964 the figure had risen to 127; today, the number is 582. Only 12 percent of universities now require a thesis or comprehensive examination to get a bachelor’s degree. As late as 1964, more than half of universities did.

The college year has been shortened by about one-fourth (leaving more time for spring break and other frivolities, but, of course, without any reduction in tuition price or professors’ salaries). In 1914, college classes were in session an average of 204 days a year; by 1939 the number had dropped to 195; in 1964, to 191; and today students and teachers are expected to show up in class only 156 days per academic year.

Maybe the reason why young people can’t write good English is that so few colleges teach writing any more. In 1914, nearly all universities had required courses in English composition; by 1964 the figure was 86 percent; today, it’s only 36 percent.

Ditto for math. In 1914, 82 percent of the universities had traditional mathematics requirements; by 1964 only 36 percent did; now, only 12 percent do. In 1914, 1939 and 1964, more than 70 percent of the institutions required at least one course in the natural sciences; that figure has now fallen to only 34 percent.

Maybe the reason why the federal guidelines on the teaching of American history turned out to be such a travesty was that most college graduates haven’t studied any history. In 1914, 90 percent of our elite colleges required history; in 1939 and 1964 more than 50 percent did; but now only one of the 50 schools has a required history course.

Literature courses were required at 75 percent of the institutions in 1914, and at 50 percent in 1939 and 1964. Today, not one of the “best” institutions has a literature requirement.

Meanwhile, the total number of courses offered at undergraduate institutions has increased by a factor of five since 1914, and has doubled since 1964, but that doesn’t mean more opportunities to become an educated citizen. The majority of these additional courses are on narrow and idiosyncratic subjects of interest to the professors but almost worthless to the students. The total includes such trendy
and trivial courses as Stanford’s “Gender and Science” (which purports to study science free from outdated male assumptions), and Georgetown’s “Unspeakable Lives: Gay and Lesbian Narratives.”

Here are some examples of courses given at Yale University for which students can receive college credit: “Gender and the Politics of Resistance: Feminism, Capitalism and the Third World.” “Gender and Technology.” “Feminist Perspectives on Literature.” “Lesbian and Gay Theater Performance.” “The Literature of AIDS.” “Contemporary Lesbian and Gay Arts and Culture.” “Constructing Lesbian Identities.” Such courses are just propaganda and entertainment masquerading as education.

The result is that our best colleges and universities no longer turn out graduates who have an elementary knowledge of our civilization and its heritage. They do not learn the basic facts of our country’s history, political and economic systems, philosophic traditions, and literary and artistic legacies.

Quite apart from the fraud of charging an exorbitant $100,000 for a devalued diploma is the fact that we are in danger of losing the national cohesion of a known and shared heritage which has sustained and nourished our unique institutions of freedom within a limited, constitutional government.

The New York Times quoted a critic of this NAS report as arguing that “the real agenda of higher education today is the concern with problem solving, critical thinking, communicating and learning how to value.”

But how are students going to engage in all those thoughtful processes when their knowledge is so pathetically limited and their composition and communication skills are almost non-existent?

In addition, there is the dumbing down inherent in giving courses that are not college courses at all, but are designed to teach students what they didn’t learn in high school. Sometimes these courses are called “remedial,” but the institutions prefer euphemisms such as “second tier” and “sub-freshman.” Such courses were unheard of prior to 1939, and only three institutions offered them in 1964. Today such non-college-level courses are offered in 70 percent of the elite universities, and most of them award college credit.

California state legislators recently discovered the high cost to the taxpayers of the remedial education courses given at the state universities. Last year, 60 percent of new students needed remedial help. California legislators assert that students have been the victims of consumer fraud perpetrated on them by the high schools that gave them high grades. The legislators want to send the invoice for the cost of the remedial courses to the high schools that deceived their students by giving them a 3.8 or higher grade-point average.

The 1996 Governors Education Summit at Palisades, New York, spent two days discussing “standards” for what students should learn in public schools. Longtime American Federation of Teachers president Al Shanker gave this concept a reality check. He said that when, as a teacher, he assigned homework to his class, the pupils invariably responded in chorus, “Does it count on our grade?” He pointed out the fact of human nature that standards aren’t going to make any difference if, no matter what students learn or don’t learn, they can still get admitted to nearly all U.S. colleges and universities.  The standards question in the public schools could be resolved if colleges and universities would abolish their remedial courses and admit only students capable of doing college work. But they won’t because of the easy flow of taxpayers’ money, which makes it so profitable for colleges and universities to admit all the students they can and then send the bill to the taxpayers.
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F. Infrastructure: America’s Crumbling Infrastructure
One of the key signs that we are in the early stages of an economic collapse and that we are heading towards another Great Depression is America’s crumbling infrastructure.  The truth is that our infrastructure is literally falling apart all around us.  Thousands of bridges are structurally deficient and there have already been some very high profile collapses.  Over 30 percent of the highways and roads in the United States are in very poor shape.  Aging sewer systems are leaking raw sewage all over the place.  The power grid is straining to keep up with the ever-increasing thirst of the American people for electricity.  There have already been some regional blackouts, and unless something is done quickly things promise to get even worse.  The truth is that a nation’s infrastructure says a lot about who they are.  So what does America’s infrastructure say about us?  It says that we are a rusting, crumbling, decaying leftover from a better, more prosperous time.

Consider the following facts about America’s infrastructure from the Pew Research Center
website…..
*  According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, more than 25 percent of America’s nearly 600,000 bridges need significant repairs or are burdened with more traffic than they were designed to carry.
*  According to the Federal Highway Administration, approximately a third of America’s major roadways are in substandard condition – a significant factor in a third of the more than 43,000 traffic fatalities in the United States each year.
*  The Texas Transportation Institute estimates that traffic jams caused by insufficient infrastructure waste 4 billion hours of commuters’ time and nearly 3 billion gallons of gasoline a year.
*  The Association of State Dam Safety Officials has found that the number of dams in the United States that could fail has grown 134% since 1999 to 3,346, and more than 1,300 of those are considered “high-hazard” – meaning that their collapse would threaten lives.
*  More than a third of all dam failures or near failures since 1874 have happened in just the last decade.
*  According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, aging sewer systems spill an estimated 1.26 trillion gallons of untreated sewage every single year, resulting in an estimated 50.6 billion dollars in cleanup costs.

The following are some additional facts from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce….
*  A decaying transportation system costs our economy more than $78 billion annually in lost time and fuel.
*  The United States must invest $225 billion per year over the next 50 years to maintain and adequately enhance our surface transportation systems. Currently, we’re spending less than 40% of this amount.
*  U.S. transit systems earned a D+ rating from the American Society of Civil Engineers. Transit funding is declining even as transit use increases faster than any other mode of transportation – up 21% between 1993 and 2002.
*  Costs attributed to airline delays – due in large part to congestion and an antiquated air traffic control system – are expected to triple to $30 billion from 2000 to 2015.
*  By 2020, every major U.S. container port is projected to be handling at least double the volume it was designed to handle.
*  Throughout the United States, railroads are projected to need nearly $200 billion in investment over the next 20 years to accommodate freight increases.

Are you starting to get the picture??

America’s aging infrastructure cannot handle the number of people that we have now. With the population of the United States expected to hit 420 million by 2050, there are serious questions about how the national infrastructure is going to hold up under such a strain. Already the infrastructure in many areas of the United States is beginning to resemble that of a third world nation.

So can anything be done about America’s crumbling infrastructure? Of course. State and local governments can spend the money needed to fix and maintain our infrastructure. But that is not going to happen. Why? Because state and local governments are now facing unprecedented financial shortfalls. In fact, it is more likely that expenditures on infrastructure will actually be cut.

According to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, after two years cutting spending on schools, health care, and other public services, U.S. states are preparing to carve even deeper into funding for 2011.

Of course the U.S. government could step in with necessary infrastructure funding, but considering the state of the U.S. national debt, it seems unlikely that state and local governments will be able to count on much more help from the folks in Washington D.C.

So what does that mean? It means that America’s infrastructure will continue to rust, decay and fall to pieces.  Our grandparents and great-grandparents invested a lot of time, energy and money into building up this great nation, but now we are letting it rot right in front of our eyes.
What do you think that says about us?
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G.  Everything Is Falling Apart:  20 Facts That You Will Not Want To Read  If You Still Want To Feel Good About America’s Decaying Infrastructure
5 Jan 2011, TheEconomicCollapseBlog.com, by Michael Snyder
Pasted from: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/everything-is-falling-apart-20-facts-that-you-will-not-want-to-read-if-you-still-want-to-feel-good-about-americas-decaying-infrastructure
If you haven’t noticed lately, America is literally falling apart all around us. Decaying infrastructure is everywhere. Our roads and bridges are crumbling and are full of holes.  Our rail system is ancient.  Our airports and runways have definitely seen their better days.  Aging sewer systems all over the country are leaking raw sewage all over the place.  The power grid is straining to keep up with the ever-increasing thirst of the American people for electricity.  Dams are failing at an unprecedented rate.  Virtually all of our ports are handling far more traffic than they were ever intended to handle.  Meanwhile, our national spending on infrastructure is way down.  Back during the 1950s and 1960s we were spending between 3 and 4 percent of our national GDP on infrastructure, but today we are spending less than 2.5 percent of our national GDP on it.  According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, we need to spend approximately $2.2 trillion on infrastructure repairs and upgrades just to bring our existing infrastructure up to “good condition”.

Does anyone have an extra $2.2 trillion to spare?

If you get the feeling that America is decaying as you drive around this great country of ours, it is not just your imagination.  It is literally happening.

You should not read the list of facts below if you want to keep feeling good about the condition of America’s infrastructure.  There really is no way to sugar-coat what is happening. Previous generations handed us the greatest national infrastructure that anyone in the world has ever seen and we have neglected it and have allowed it to badly deteriorate.

This first set of facts about America’s decaying infrastructure was compiled from a fact sheet entitled “The Case For U.S. Infrastructure Investment” by an organization called Building America’s Future….

#1   One-third of America’s major roads are in poor or mediocre condition.
#2   Traffic on more than half the miles of interstate highway exceeds 70 percent of capacity, and nearly 25 percent of the miles are strained at more than 95 percent of capacity.
#3   Americans waste 4.2 billion hours and 2.8 billion gallons fuel a year sitting in traffic – equal to nearly one full work week and three weeks’ worth of gas for every traveler.
#4   Over the next 30 years, our nation is expected to grow by 100 million and highway traffic will double again. Even if highway capacity grows no faster than in the last 25 years, Americans can expect to spend 160 hours – 4 work weeks – each year in traffic by 2035.
#5   Nearly a third of all highway fatalities are due to substandard road conditions, obsolete road designs, or roadside hazards.
#6   Over 4,095 dams are “unsafe” and have deficiencies that leave them more susceptible to failure, especially during large flood events or earthquakes.
#7   Rolling blackouts and inefficiencies in the U.S. electrical grid cost an estimated $80 billion a year
#8   By 2020, every major U.S. container port is projected to at least double the volume of cargo it was designed to handle. Some East Coast ports will triple in volume, and some West Coast ports will quadruple.
#9   Other countries are leapfrogging past us by investing in world-class ports. China is investing $6.9 billion; the port of Shanghai now has almost as much container capacity as all U.S. ports combined.
#10   By 2020, China plans to build 55,000 miles of highways, more than the total length of the U.S. interstate system.

The rest of these facts were compiled from various sources around the Internet.  The more research that you do into America’s decaying infrastructure the more depressing it becomes….

#11   According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, more than 25 percent of America’s nearly 600,000 bridges need significant repairs or are burdened with more traffic than they were designed to carry.
#12   More than a third of all dam failures or near failures since 1874 have happened in just the last decade.
#13   All across the United States, conditions at many state parks, recreation areas and historic sites are deplorable at best. Some states have backlogs of repair projects that are now over a billion dollars long.  The following is a quote from a recent MSNBC article about these project backlogs….

More than a dozen states estimate that their backlogs are at least $100 million. Massachusetts and New York’s are at least $1 billion. Hawaii officials called park conditions “deplorable” in a December report asking for $50 million per year for five years to tackle a $240 million backlog that covers parks, trails and harbors.Over the past year, approximately 100 of New York’s state parks and historic sites have had to cut services and reduce hours.
#15   All over America, asphalt roads are being ground up and are being replaced with gravel because it is cheaper to maintain.  The state of South Dakota has transformed over 100 miles of asphalt road into gravel over the past year, and 38 out of the 83 counties in the state of Michigan have transformed at least some of their asphalt roads into gravel roads.
So why don’t our state and local governments just spend the money necessary to fix all of these problems? Well, they can’t spend the money because they are flat broke. Just consider some of the financial problems that state and local governments around the nation are facing right now….
#16   One town in Michigan is so incredibly broke that it is literally begging the state to allow them to declare bankruptcy.
#17   One Alabama town is in such financial turmoil that it has decided to simply quit paying pension benefits.
#18   In Georgia, the county of Clayton recently eliminated its entire public bus system in order to save 8 million dollars.
#19   Major cities such as Philadelphia, Baltimore and Sacramento are so desperate to save money that they have instituted “rolling brownouts” in which various city fire stations are shut down on a rotating basis throughout the week.
#20   Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has come up with a unique way to save money.  He wants to cut 20 percent of Detroit off from essential social services such as road repairs, police patrols, functioning street lights and garbage collection.

The truth is that there are dozens of cities across the United States that are on the brink of bankruptcy.  To see a bunch of high-profile examples of this, check out the following article from Business Insider: “16 US Cities Facing Bankruptcy If They Don’t Make Deep Cuts In 2011”. Google it.

But it just isn’t local governments that are in deep trouble right now.  In fact, there are quite a few state governments that are complete and total financial disaster zones at this point. According to 60 Minutes,  the state of Illinois is at least six months behind on their bill payments.  60 Minutes correspondent Steve Croft recently asked Illinois state Comptroller Dan Hynes how many people and organizations are waiting to be paid by the state, and this is how Hynes responded….
“It’s fair to say that there are tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people waiting to be paid by the state.”

Investors across the globe are watching all this and they are starting to panic. In fact, investors are now pulling money out of municipal bonds at a rate that is absolutely staggering. But if states get cut off from all the debt that they need to operate, things are going to get a lot worse very quickly. Already we are seeing all kinds of troubling signs.  For example, the state of Arizona recently decided to stop paying for many types of organ transplants for people enrolled in its Medicaid program.

Sadly, as much as our politicians try to “fix” our problems, things just only seem to keep getting worse.
One prominent illustration of this is our health care system. Our health care system is absolutely falling apart all around us.  Thanks to the new health care reform law, doctors are flocking out of the profession in droves.  According to an absolutely stunning new poll, 40 percent of all U.S. doctors plan to bail out of the profession over the next three years.

Our economy continues to fall apart as well.  The number of personal bankruptcies in the United States continues to set stunning new highs.  According to the American Bankruptcy Institute, more than 1.53 million Americans filed bankruptcy petitions in 2010.  This was up 9 percent from 1.41 million in 2009.

Not only that, but the housing crisis shows no signs of abating. 382,000 new foreclosures were initiated during the third quarter of 2010.  This was up 31.2 percent from the previous quarter and it was 3.7 percent higher than the third quarter of 2009.

The U.S. banking system is also falling apart.  In 2006, no U.S. banks failed.  In 2009, 140 U.S. banks failed.  So did things get better in 2010?  No.  In 2010, 157 U.S. banks failed. Jan- Oct 2011 another 76 banks failed.

Unemployment continues to remain at depressingly high levels, and in many areas of the country it is getting even worse.  According to the U.S. Labor Department, the unemployment rate rose in two-thirds of America’s largest metro areas during November.Millions of Americans have become so disgusted with the job market that they have given up altogether.  The number of people who are so discouraged
that they have completely given up searching for work now stands at an all-time high.

So who is doing a booming business during these hard times?  Welfare agencies and food banks are.  During this economic downturn, millions of American families have found themselves going to a food bank for the very first time ever. It is getting harder and harder for average American families to feed themselves.  A recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 29 percent of Americans say that it is hard to afford food, and 48 of Americans say that it is hard to afford their heating and electric bills.

So is there any hope for the future?  Well, our new college graduates are supposed to lead us into the future, but most of them are saddled with overwhelming amounts of student loan debt.  Those who graduated during 2009 had an average of $24,000 in student loan debt.  This represented a 6 percent increase from the previous year. Not only that, but these new college grads are not finding jobs.  According to the one recent report, the unemployment rate for recent college graduates was 8.7 percent in 2009.  This was up from 5.8 percent in 2008, and it was the highest unemployment rate ever recorded for college graduates between the ages of 20 to 24.

As if all of this was not bad enough, now the Baby Boomers are starting to reach retirement age.  Beginning January 1st, 2011, every single day more than 10,000 Baby Boomers will reach the age of 65.  That is going to keep happening every single day for the next 19 years.

So where in the world are we going to come up with all of the money to give them the retirement benefits that they are due? The truth is that we are flat broke as a nation and so America’s decaying infrastructure is going to continue to decay. We don’t have the money to repair what we already have, much less add desperately needed new infrastructure. But perhaps it is only fitting.  The decay of our roads and cities will match the deep social, moral and political decay that has already been going on in this country for decades.

So will the American people awaken soon enough to be able to recapture the legacy of greatness that previous generations tried to pass on to us? Unfortunately, the vast majority of our politicians are completely incompetent.
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What Is Outsourcing?
Once upon a time in America, virtually anyone with a high school education and the willingness to work hard could get a good job.  Fifty years ago a “good job” would enable someone to own a home, buy a car, take a couple of vacations a year and retire with a decent pension.
Unfortunately, those days are long gone.  Every single year the number of “good jobs” in the United States actually shrinks even as our population continues to grow.  Where in the world did all of those good jobs go?  Economists toss around terms such as “outsourcing” and “offshoring” to describe what is happening, but most ordinary Americans don’t really grasp what those terms mean.  So what is
outsourcing?  Well, it essentially means sending work somewhere else.  In the context of this article I will be using those terms to describe the thousands of manufacturing facilities and the millions of jobs that have been sent overseas.  Over the past several decades, the U.S. economy has become increasingly merged into the emerging “one world economy”.  Thanks to the WTO, NAFTA and a whole host of other “free trade” agreements, the internationalist dream of a truly “global marketplace” is closer than ever before.

[Images above. Left: Abandoned Firestone textile mill, Gastonia, NC.  Once considered the largest textile mill in the USA. Right: A majestic Methodist church crumbles in Gary IN. Gary, once a major industrial city. When the production jobs went overseas and factories closed, people moved away,  churches were abandoned.]

But for American workers, a “global marketplace” is really bad news.  In the United States, businesses are subject to a vast array of very complex laws, rules and regulations that make it very difficult to operate in this country.  That makes it very tempting for corporations to simply move out of the U.S. in order to avoid all of the hassle. In addition, the United States now has the highest corporate tax rate in the entire world.  This also provides great motivation for corporations to move operations outside of the country.

The biggest thing affecting American workers, however, is the fact that labor has now become a global commodity.  U.S. workers have now been merged into a global labor pool. Americans must now directly compete for jobs with hundreds of millions of desperate people willing to work for slave labor wages on the other side of the globe. So exactly how is an American worker supposed to compete with a highly motivated person on the other side of the planet that makes $1.50 an hour with essentially no benefits? Just think about it. If you were a big global corporation, would you want to hire American workers which would cost you 10 or 20 times more after everything is factored in? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why millions of jobs have been leaving the United States.

Corporations love to make more money.  Many of them will not hesitate for an instant to pay slave labor wages if they can get away with it.  The bottom line for most corporations is to maximize shareholder wealth. Slowly, but surely the number of good jobs in the United States is shrinking and those jobs are being sent to places where labor is cheaper.

According to the U.S. Commerce Department, U.S. multinational corporations added 2.4 million new jobs overseas during the first decade of this century.  But during that same time frame U.S. multinational corporations cut a total of 2.9 million jobs inside the United States. So where are all of our jobs going? They are going to places like China. The United States has lost an average of 50,000 manufacturing jobs per month since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.
In addition, over 40,000 manufacturing facilities in the United States have been closed permanently during the past decade.

What do you think is eventually going to happen if the U.S. economy continues to bleed jobs and factories so badly?

[Images above: Left: Packard Motors, Detroit. Right: One of the sixteen steel plants that closed in Youngstown, OH.]

As the U.S. has faltered, China has become an absolute economic powerhouse. Ten years ago, the U.S. economy was three times as large as the Chinese economy.  At the turn of the century the United States accounted for well over 20 percent of global GDP and China accounted for significantly less than 10 percent of global GDP.  But since that time our share of global GDP has been steadily declining and China’s share has been steadily rising. According to the IMF, China will pass the United States and will become the largest economy in the world in 2016. Should we all celebrate when that happens?
Should we all chant “We’re Number 2”? Our economy is falling to pieces and the competition for the few remaining good jobs has become super intense.

The average American family is having a really tough time right now.  Only 45.4% of Americans had a job during 2010.  The last time the employment level was that low was back in 1983. Not only that, only 66.8% of American men had a job last year.  That was the lowest level that has ever been recorded in all of U.S. history.

Just think about that. 33.2% of American men do not have jobs. And that figure is going to continue to rise unless something is done about these economic trends. Today, there are 10% fewer “middle class jobs” in the United States than there were a decade ago.  Tens of millions of Americans have been forced to take “whatever they can get”.  A lot of very hard-working people are basically working for peanuts at this point.  In fact, half of all American workers now earn $505 or less per week.

[Images: Some of our modern service workers: Left: Flipping hamburgers at a McDonald’s fast food restaurant. Center: Wal-Mart ‘greeter’. Right: ‘Office work’, telemarketers,  etc.]

Things have gotten so bad that tens of thousands of people showed up for the National Hiring Day that McDonald’s just held.  With the economy such a mess, flipping burgers or welcoming people to Wal-Mart are jobs that suddenly don’t look so bad.

Right now America is rapidly losing high paying jobs and they are being replaced by low paying jobs.  According to a recent report from the National Employment Law Project, higher wage industries accounted for 40 percent of the job losses over the past 12 months but only 14 percent of the job growth.
Lower wage industries accounted for just 23 percent of the job losses over the past 12 months and a whopping 49 percent of the job growth. Thanks to the emerging one world economy, the U.S. is “transitioning” from a manufacturing economy to a service economy. But it certainly doesn’t help that China is using every trick in the book to steal our industries.  China openly subsidizes domestic industries, they brazenly steal technology and they manipulate currency rates.

A recent article on Economy In Crisis described how the Chinese paper industry has been able to grow by threefold over the past decade while the U.S. paper industry has fallen apart….“From 2002 to 2009, the Chinese government poured $33.1 billion into what should be an unproductive industry. But, with the help of government subsidies, China was able to ride export-driven growth to become the world’s leading producer of paper products.” In the same time frame that China pumped $33 billion into its paper industry, U.S. employment in the industry fell 29 percent, from 557,000 workers to just 398,000.

So why should we be concerned about all of this?

Well, just open up your eyes.  As I have written about previously, our formerly great cities are being transformed into post-apocalyptic hellholes. In a comment to a recent article, Trucker Mark described what he has seen happen to the “rust belt” over the past several decades….
“I am a product of Detroit’s northwest suburbs and the Cleveland, OH area, where together I lived almost 2/3rds of my 54 years. As a 30-year semi driver, I am intimately familiar with large areas of the industrial Midwest, the Northeast, and even much of central and southern California, and everything in-between. I am also college-educated, in Urban Planning and Economics. What has happened to not just Detroit, but to virtually every city in the southern half of Lower Michigan and northern Ohio is mind-boggling.
When I was 18, it was quite common to head over to a car plant and get hired immediately into a middle-class job. At one time I had dozens of friends from school working at car plants, dozens more in other large factories, dozens more in major grocery warehousing and distribution, and me, I was a semi driver delivering to all of those places. Between 1979, when I started driving semis, and now, I must have seen 10s of thousands of factories across just the southern Great Lakes region close their doors. Some of them were small, and some of them employed 10,000 workers or more.

The former Packard plant from your photo closed in 1957, and at one time it employed 12,000 workers, and my roommate in 1982 in Birmingham, MI had been laid-off from the old Dodge Main plant in Hamtramck, which once employed over 20,000 workers, which closed in 1981. In 1970 just Chrysler had over 40 plants in the Detroit-area, and now there are just 11 left open. The Willow Run plant, which  at one time turned-out a brand-new B-29 bomber every 40 minutes, and employed 50,000 workers, is long dead too, as is the tank plant north of town too. Even fairly new car plants like Novi Assembly are closed, Pontiac’s ultra-modern robotic car assembly plant too. In Cleveland 100 or more huge old plants stand empty, car plants, steel mills, and machine tool builders, in Akron dozens of rubber plants are long gone, Sharon, Warren, and Youngstown have all lost huge numbers of industrial jobs, Canton and Massillon too, where the NFL started, have been reduced to mere shells of their former selves. Along with the plant closings have gone the hopes and dreams of many thousands of retail operators, restaurant owners, and thousands of other small businesses too. Hundreds of entire major shopping malls stand vacant, as seas of potholes consume local roads. The city of Hamtramck, MI a Detroit suburb of 40,000 people, is bankrupt and has had to lay off all but two employees, one of whom works part-time. The traffic lights are shut-off and stop signs now appear at those intersections instead, as the city can’t even pay its power bill. I could go on & on & on for days but I don’t have the time.

I haven’t driven a semi in almost 2 years as my eyesight has begun giving out early. My last 10 years in the industry was spent delivering fresh and frozen meat on a regular multi-stop route through the Chicago-area and throughout southern Michigan. Between 2001 and 2009, my boss lost 14 of 19 major weekly customers in Michigan to bankruptcy, including three major grocery chains, plus numerous
less-frequent customers. The Detroit News reported before Christmas of 2007 a 29% unemployment rate within the city limits of Detroit, with an estimated 44% of the total adult population not working, and another news story reported a 1 in 200 chance of selling a house across the entire metropolitan area, which still has 4 million people total. Since 2003, home prices within the city limits of Detroit have fallen by 90%, and today there are thousands of houses in move-in condition on the market there for $5K to $10K. The suburbs are not immune either.”

You know what?  Detroit and Cleveland used to be two of the greatest cities in the entire world. Today very few people would call them great.  They are just shells of their former glory. Sadly, this cruel economy is causing “ghost towns” to appear all across the United States.  There are quite a few counties across the nation that now have home vacancy rates of over 50%.

Another reader, Flubadub, also remembers how things used to be….
“I am also a product of that generation and remember well the opportunities that existed for anyone with even a high school diploma in those days. Just within a reasonable commute to where I grew up we had US Steel, 3M, General Motors Fisher Body, Nabisco, The Budd Co., Strick Trailer and others providing thousands of jobs that enabled you to provide a decent living for your family. There were also plenty of part time jobs to keep high school students busy enough to avoid the pratfalls of idle youth and afford the 28 cent/ gallon gas for their used cars. Most of it is gone now and I don’t blame the Mexicans or the Chinese for stealing it. I blame the greed of the globalists and their flunkies, the phony free trade advocates in office, who’ve spent the last twenty years giving it all away. Our jobs are being shipped overseas so that greedy corporate executives can pad their bonuses and our politicians are allowing them to get away with it.”

According to a new report from the AFL-CIO, the average CEO made 343 times more money than the average American did last year. Life is great if you are a CEO. Life is not so great if you are an average American worker trying to raise a family.

Another reader, ‘Itsjustme’, says that things are also quite depressing In New Jersey….
“I live in northern NJ in a suburb a very short ride from  NYC. Our region was hit very hard — we once had a very prosperous and booming industrial area; mixed use with many warehouses and commercial buildings, hi-rise and low-rise. The majority of companies that were in those buildings are gone. Long vacant; the signage is left and nobody is inside them.
One large commercial building with 15 floors now is home to 2 tenants: a law firm and a Korean shipping company.
It’s very sad what’s happened out here.
The only “companies” moving into these buildings are small change tenants that are usually Chinese or Middle Eastern; you’ll see them subletting out 2 or 3 offices in these buildings and they operate out of those offices. They’re mostly importers of apparel or soft goods. My guess is that they are there on very short-term  leases. This will not benefit our local and state economy. These groups usually send the money home.
If this is the shape of things to come, we can hang it up right now. No viable companies are moving into our area; if anything new is being built it is retail and service industry garbage, like crummy fast food chain restaurants. No livable wage jobs are entering our local economy.”

As I have written about previously, the standard of living of the middle class is being pushed down to third world levels.  We have been merged into a “global labor pool”, and what that means is that the standard of living of all workers all over the world is going to be slowly equalized over time.

Our politicians never told us that all of these “free trade” agreements would mean that soon we would be living like the rest of the world.

America used to be the greatest economic machine on the planet.  But now we are just another region of the one world economy that has workers that are too expensive to be useful. In the end, there is not some great mystery as to why we are experiencing economic decline as a nation. If millions of our jobs are being shipped overseas, it was basically inevitable that we were going to experience a housing crisis.
Without good jobs the American people simply cannot afford high mortgage payments.
Today we consume far more wealth as a nation than we produce.  We have tried to make up the difference by indulging in the greatest debt binge that the world has ever seen. We have lived like kings and queens, but our debt-fueled prosperity is not sustainable.  In fact, the collapse of our financial system is a lot closer than most people would like to believe.Things did not have to turn out like this, but we bought into the lies and the propaganda that our leaders were feeding us.
Now our economy lies in tatters and our children have no economic future.

[1] Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, the editor of Makers of Ancient Strategy: From the Persian Wars to the Fall of Rome, and the author of The Father of Us All: War and History, Ancient and Modern.

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Solar EMP: Lights Out

(Survival Manual/Prepper articles/Solar EMP: Lights Out)

A.  Near miss: Enormous solar blast could have devastated Earth in 2012
20 March 2014, RT.com
Pasted from: http://rt.com/usa/solar-blast-devastated-earth-2012-161/

EMP flareReuters/NASA

Citizens of Earth had no idea how close the planet was to getting slammed with a devastating solar flare back in July 2012, but scientists claim we only missed the damaging event by nine days.

As noted by Reuters, scientists found that a series of coronal mass ejections – powerful eruptions on the sun’s surface that send waves of magnetized plasma through the solar system – occurred last year sometime between July 22 and 23. The blasts traveled through Earth’ orbit, but narrowly missed colliding with the planet.

According to a new report published in the Nature Communications journal on Tuesday, if the solar eruptions occurred just nine days earlier, they would have likely hit Earth and caused a great deal of damage to the planet’s magnetic field. Fortunately for us, the Earth was on the other side of the sun by that point.

Scientists believe the blast would have equaled the might of the most powerful magnetic storm ever recorded: the Carrington event of 1859, which took down telegraph services around the world.

“Had it hit Earth, it probably would have been like the big one in 1859, but the effect today, with our modern technologies, would have been tremendous,” Janet Luhmann, part of the STEREO (Solar Terrestrial Observatory) team a University of California Berkley researcher, said to Reuters.

Specifically, a blast that powerful could bring down electrical grids, knock down satellites and GPS technology, and ultimately cost nations billions of dollars in damages. Considering modern society’s reliance on such technology to function, it would be extremely disruptive.

EMP sensorAFP photo/EPFL

Last year, a study produced with the Atmospheric and Environmental Research group found that a solar flare equivalent to Carrington could cost the world $2.6 trillion.

“An extreme space weather storm – a solar superstorm – is a low-probability, high-consequence event that poses severe threats to critical infrastructures of the modern society,” said Ying Liu, a physicist at China’s State Key Laboratory of Space Weather to Forbes.

“The cost of an extreme space weather event, if it hits Earth, could reach trillions of dollars with a potential recovery time of 4-10 years,” Liu added. “Therefore, it is paramount to the security and economic interest of the modern society to understand solar superstorms.”

Although flares occur every day during the sun’s solar maximum – a period in the sun’s cycle highlighted by increased solar activity – they are rarely as powerful as the one that struck Earth in 1859. Still, the amount of damage they can inflict means preparation is tough but necessary,

People keep saying that these are rare natural hazards, but they are happening in the Solar System even though we don’t always see them,” Luhmann told Forbes. “It’s like with earthquakes – it is hard to impress upon people the importance of preparing unless you suffer a magnitude 9 earthquake.”

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B.  What Would You Do If The Lights Went Out? American Power Grid Danger – 2014! EMP? Terrorists?

tv news3See the 37 minute news video with Judge Jeanine, at:
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=8zc10Wpqqk0&gt;

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Solar EMP: The threat

(Survival Manual/ Prepper articles/ Solar EMP: The threat)

A.  NASA Plans for Large Scale Failure, Power Grid is “Particularly Vulnerable to Bad Space Weather”
7 June 2010, SHTFPlan.com, by Mac Slavo
Pasted from: https://www.shtfplan.com/emergency-preparedness/nasa-plans-for-large-scale-failure-power-grid-is-particularly-vulnerable-to-bad-space-weather_06072010

empthreat sunFor many it’s either tin foil conspiracy theory or an action packed Hollywood Armageddon flick. For the National Aeronautics and Space Administration it’s a serious threat, with the potential to wipe out the technologically driven lives we’ve become so used to.

Our sun is approaching a period of high turbulence, referred to as the solar maximum, with many scientists suggesting a peak in activity around 2013. The cycle occurs every 11 years, and the next time around it is predicted to be one of the weakest in decades. However, some contrary opinions hold that the next solar maximum may be stronger than we expect, citing a 26,000 year galactic alignment cycle, scheduled to occur on or around 2012, eerily coinciding with the end of the Mayan calendar.

One organization that isn’t taking any chances is NASA. As the sun begins to awaken, scientists are keeping a close eye on space weather:

“The sun is waking up from a deep slumber, and in the next few years we expect to see much higher levels of solar activity. At the same time, our technological society has developed an unprecedented sensitivity to solar storms. The intersection of these two issues is what we’re getting together to discuss.”

The National Academy of Sciences framed the problem two years ago in a landmark report entitled “Severe Space Weather Events Societal and Economic Impacts.” It noted how people of the 21st-century rely on high-tech systems for the basics of daily life. Smart power grids, GPS navigation, air travel, financial services and emergency radio communications can all be knocked out by intense solar activity. A century-class solar storm, the Academy warned, could cause twenty times more economic damage than Hurricane Katrina.

A 132-page NASA funded report titled Severe Space Weather Events Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts, suggests that the right magnitude storm could be devastating:

The problem begins with the electric power grid. “Electric power is modern society’s cornerstone technology on which virtually all other infrastructures and services depend,” the report notes. Yet it is particularly vulnerable to bad space weather. Ground currents induced during geomagnetic storms can actually melt the copper windings of transformers at the heart of many power distribution systems. Sprawling power lines act like antennas, picking up the currents and spreading the problem over a wide area. The most famous geomagnetic power outage happened during a space storm in March 1989 when six million people in Quebec lost power for 9 hours.

According to the report, power grids may be more vulnerable than ever. The problem is interconnectedness. In recent years, utilities have joined grids together to allow long-distance transmission of low-cost power to areas of sudden demand. On a hot summer day in California, for instance, people in Los Angeles might be running their air conditioners on power routed from Oregon. It makes economic sense, but not necessarily geomagnetic sense. Interconnectedness makes the system susceptible to wide-ranging “cascade failures.”

To estimate the scale of such a failure, report co-author John Kappenmann of the Metatech Corporation looked at the great geomagnetic storm of May 1921, which produced ground currents as much as ten times stronger than the 1989 Quebec storm, and modeled its effect on the modern power grid. He found more than 350 transformers at risk of permanent damage and 130 million people without power. The loss of electricity would ripple across the social infrastructure with “water distribution affected within several hours; perishable foods and medications lost in 12-24 hours; loss of heating/air conditioning, sewage disposal, phone service, fuel re-supply and so on.”

“The concept of interdependency,” the report notes, “is evident in the unavailability of water due to long-term outage of electric power–and the inability to restart an electric generator without water on site.”

empthreat power sys

What if the May 1921 superstorm occurred today? A US map of vulnerable transformers with areas of probable system collapse encircled.

The potential for major disruptions to our lives and our modern day just-in-time delivery systems could lead to total chaos in affected areas:

“A contemporary repetition of the Carrington Event would cause extensive social and economic disruptions,” the report warns. Power outages would be accompanied by radio blackouts and satellite malfunctions; telecommunications, GPS navigation, banking and finance, and transportation would all be affected. Some problems would correct themselves with the fading of the storm: radio and GPS transmissions could come back online fairly quickly. Other problems would be lasting: a burnt-out multi-ton transformer, for instance, can take weeks or months to repair. The total economic impact in the first year alone could reach $2 trillion, some 20 times greater than the costs of a Hurricane Katrina or, to use a timelier example, a few TARPs.

Had the report(s) come from a random SHTF Planning and Preparedness site, we could understand skepticism from the general public. But, since the warnings are coming from NASA, we suggest that citizens interested in preserving their well being, safety and security take note.

While the Quebec incident was a short-term, nine hour down-grid scenario, the US power grid is very much susceptible to a cascading, domino effect across our electrical infrastructures. As suggested by NASA, this would not be limited to your inability to watch television or turn on the lights, but could be much more widespread, affecting critical utility and transportation systems that deliver our food and fuel.
It is quite reasonable to suggest that any significant adverse solar weather event could lead to mass chaos across the entire country as people scramble to acquire necessities like food, water, medicine and secure shelter.

And if the response from our federal, state and local government officials is anything like Hurricane Katrina or the BP oil spill, an event of such magnitude may take weeks, perhaps months to mitigate.

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B.  9 Electric Power Grid Substations Will Bring It All Down
17 March 2014, ModernSurvivalBlog.com, by Ken Jorgustin
Pasted from: http://modernsurvivalblog.com/systemic-risk/9-electric-power-grid-substations-will-bring-it-all-down/

empthreat usa

Attackers could bring down the entire power grid of the United States in just a few moves, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.
Federal analysis says sabotage of just nine key substations is sufficient for a broad power outage from New York to Los Angeles.

The U.S. could suffer a coast-to-coast blackout if saboteurs launch a coordinated attack and knock out just nine of the country’s 55,000 electric-transmission substations on a hot summer day while the systems are under a strained load, according to a previously unreported federal analysis.

The study’s results have been known for months to select people in federal agencies, Congress and the White House, but were reported publicly for the first time Wednesday (MAR-12). The WSJ did not publish a list of the 30 most critical substations identified by the FERC study.

The study by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission concluded that coordinated attacks in each of the nation’s three separate electric systems could cause the entire power network to collapse, people familiar with the research said.

Electric substations are critical to the functionality of the electric grid. Their transformers boost the voltage to very high levels which enables efficient transmission across long distances. The levels are then brought back down to usable levels by similar transformers. On a hot summer day, with the grid operating at high capacity, FERC found that taking out the right amount of substations could lead to a national blackout lasting months.

One particularly troubling memo reviewed by the Journal described a scenario in which a highly-coordinated but relatively small scale attack could send the country into a long-term literal dark age. “Destroy nine interconnection substations and a transformer manufacturer and the entire United States grid would be down for at least 18 months, probably longer,” the memo said.

Informational Source: The Wall Street Journal
See at: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304020104579433670284061220
The fact that the mainstream media is reporting this, is itself ‘telling’.

If we were to experience an event as described here, tens of millions would perish in today’s modern ‘dependent’ society. Breaking out of our normalcy bias and preparing ones-self for such a catastrophe would be life altering, with a tremendous dedication of time and resources to adapt a fundamental change to how and where we live our lives.

tv news3See Fox news video story at:
http://foxnewsinsider.com/2014/03/13/rpt-small-scale-attack-us-power-grid-could-cause-nationwide-blackout

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Food and water during SHTF

 (Survival Manual/ Prepper articles/ Food and water during SHTF)                  

RainManPost SHTF Food for thought
13 Sep 2013, TheSurvivalistBlog.net, by M.D. Creekmore
Pasted from: http://www.thesurvivalistblog.net/post-shtf-food-for-thought/

This is a guest post by M. Dotson and entry for our non-fiction writing contest.

We are in the post SHTF era, current timeframe, late spring/early summer. Electricity and water are still available and flowing for now. Stores have been picked clean and the population is beginning to get hungry. Most people aren’t working, but looking for food. The inner city population have begun the exodus out of their normal haunts in search of food. Their population is thinning due to the few police and determined resistance from homeowners, but they still present a huge danger. I don’t know how close I am to being right in this, but I’ve been thinking about it for a while now. Pick this scenario apart so we all learn from it.

From your perspective…You and yours have managed to escape the immediate danger. You have bugged in with your food, weapons and knowledge in Suburbia, USA. Your kid and spouse has shown up at your door with their kids and the spouses parents wanting refuge. The kids in-laws cannot stay. You tell them they can stay the night, but they have to move on in the morning.

Next morning the electricity goes out. No problem for now, but how long will that last? You pick up your cell phone to call the problem in to the electric company. Great! They’re working on it, but there are issues everywhere you’re told. It may be a while before service is restored. After breakfast, the in laws of your kid make their teary goodbyes and leave.

Break out the handy-dandy solar cell phone recharger and set it outside in the sun. Check the landline phone and it’s still working. Starting to get warm so let’s get a drink of water… uh oh, no water now. No problem, you break out a jug of water from your stores to quench your thirst.

Curious, you move up and down your street, knocking on doors trying to find out if this water outage is local to you, or the immediate area, or the suburb, or the town. You don’t know all your neighbors, just the ones next door, a few doors down or across the street. Most people have left by now searching for food. Very few people come to answer the door. The few who do don’t know you and demand you leave their property immediately.

Returning to the house you enter a heated argument between the kid and their spouse. It has escalated to your spouse, as well. Why did the in laws get sent away? They have no place to go. That’s why they came here. You didn’t have to do that, there’s plenty of food. You’ve been preparing for years!! Wonderful!

It’s starting to get hot. The AC is off and everyone is cranky and sweating like crazy. Your bodies, used to the wonder of AC, has difficulties adjusting your core temperature and is trying to find balance. You’re hot and the only thing the body knows to do is sweat. AC is also the same thing that drove people inside so they didn’t get to know their neighbors on those warm summer nights. Folks used to sit on their front porch, go for walks or visit friends who had some cool lemonade. AC took care of that.

You have plenty of water, but with all the sweating, it’s going at an alarming rate. The toilets got flushed early in the day and now are not functional other than a container. Lid down, door closed and a towel at the bottom of the bathroom door to keep the smell down. You plan to use the water from the hot water tank to flush once a day. Urinate in the back yard. Girls over there behind the tarp, boys over there by the tree. There’s about 40 gallons of water in the tank. Takes about 3 or 4 gallons to flush the commode so you have ten days or so. Surely the water will be flowing again by then.

You call to find out when the water will be coming back on. You’re told that the electric water pumps will return to service when the electricity comes back on. When will that be? When the lights come on at your house you may get water then. The person hangs up on you angrily. They’re in worse shape than you. They didn’t prepare for this. Their kids are hungry, too, and they are only at work on promises of overtime pay when all this stuff settles down in the next day or two.

Several days go by and still no water or electricity. You have to make plans for the sake of your family. Flushing water from the hot water tank is low. You decide to raid the homes next to you, if the occupants are gone. You don’t consider it stealing, per se. The occupants aren’t going to use it, the only damage you’ll do is to break a window to gain entry and you’ll pay for that in silver or food. By now the water in the tanks is cooled off enough to supplement your drinking water supply. It’s going to rain so everyone is ready with a bar of soap, boys on one side of the house, girls on the other. You set out buckets and pans to catch as much as possible. You use suspended tarps to channel rainwater into anything that will hold water. You get to flush the toilets early today.

‘You gave up calling anyone because no one is manning the phones. The cell phone don’t work now – no service. The only service available to you is the landline and it’s worthless. It’s beginning to smell terrible in the house. The trash is piling up. You don’t want to waste water cleaning out all those empty #10 cans of food. You really don’t want to pile them outside to give away the fact you have food, so you put them in the garage. You have some solar ovens to cook with, but they don’t work so well on cloudy days. So, you make some rocket stoves out of the cans and use cardboard for fuel. Takes care of some of the smell and most of the combustible trash. You have to open windows to let the smoke out.

f&w food1You’re beginning to see activity in your neighborhood. Men are roaming the streets picking over the remains hoping to find some food. They’re kicking in doors in the middle of the night and taking what they can. Your house has been approached several times, but your faithful dog has alerted you every time. You met force with force. You’ve shot at a few and even hit one pretty hard judging by the blood trail you found the next morning. Makes you feel kinda queasy knowing you may have just killed a man, but it was him or you and you were protecting your family.

Late one night you hear your dog howl in pain. Running outside you see men have used a fishing rod and treble hook with a piece of meat. The dog ate the meat, they set the hook and had reeled the animal where they could club him to death. He was going to be several meals, otherwise they would have just used antifreeze or some other poison. You fire several shots to scare the men off.

You wait til morning to bury your friend. While digging the grave a shot rings out and a bullet misses you by mere inches. Retreating to the house, you post your family to have a 360 degree view of the outside of the house and surrounding area. A window is smashed in with a brick and the glass has lacerated your wife pretty badly. She’s bleeding profusely so you have to stitch her up. You break out the first aid kit, clean and dress the wound. You worry about infection. She’s in a great deal of pain and lost a lot of blood so all the self-defense training she has with guns, knives and clubs is pretty much useless for the time being.

More bricks come into the house through the windows. You see a man and open up on him, dropping him in the street. A shot is fired in your direction and ricochets off your homes’ brick siding. You holler out to the assailants that there are children in the house, you have no food and to leave you alone. You’re told to come out with your hands up, get into your vehicle and leave, now. You won’t be harmed.

f&w food2From my perspective….I’m hungry. I’ve been hungry before so used to it. I grew up poor and got mean quick. I was in a gang for a while but they’re mostly gone now. Only a few of us left. The only food we’ve been able to find is when we kick in doors out in the suburbs. Even then food is scarce. We caught a cat once and cooked him. Tasted like crap, but it filled the belly. One of the guys’ grandmothers used to live on a farm so she told us how to do it.

One night while ‘shopping’ at a house one of my guys got shot pretty bad. He died a few days later. We knew where the shot came from so we got to watching the place. Two men, two women, and a couple kids…piece of cake. They also have a dog, a big sucker. Gotta get rid of him before anything else. Hey, I know! I watched Swamp People once where they catch alligators with a big fishing hook. I bet it’d work on a stupid dog.

Went to Wal-Mart and got a big fishing pole. I found out they make some fishing hooks with three points called treble hooks. Then we found an old dead rat and chopped some meat off him for bait, just like in the show. I threw the bait into the backyard. That stupid dog found it and ate it whole. I reeled him in like a fish. He howled a couple of times, but we clubbed him good to shut him up. The old man of the house came running out shooting and yelling at us. We had to run. I didn’t think the dog would howl…the alligators didn’t.

Next morning I was on the roof of a house so I could see into their back yard. The old man came out with a shovel to bury the dog. I shot at him, but missed. My crew was watching the house from the street so we pretty much had the place surrounded. One guy threw a brick into a window. He heard a woman scream in pain. He didn’t know if had hit her or cut her with the broken glass, but everyone grabbed bricks and started throwing them into the windows.

Some shots came from the house and one of my guys went down. He didn’t move again. The old man is a pretty good shot so I open up on him, but miss again. I guess I should have practiced more. I ain’t too good a shot, but he has to be lucky all the time, I only have to be lucky once.

The old man yells out the window he ain’t got any food, but I know he’s lying. I can smell cooking food coming from his house now. I’ve smelled the odor of his cooking fire and seen the smoke coming out of his windows. Let’s see what happens if I offer him a deal….

 .

 B.  Hard core water conservation for when the taps run dry
21 Feb 2014, The DailySheeple, by Lizzie Bennett (Undergound Medic at http://undergroundmedic.com/)
Pasted from: http://www.thedailysheeple.com/hard-core-water-conservation-for-when-the-taps-run-dry_022014

f&w water

At this point drought conditions are devastating crops and even causing shortages of drinking water in California. Texas has also recently experienced a crippling drought that killed tens of thousands of cattle who had no access to drinking water. There are things other than drought that can cause a massive and rapid reduction in the amount of water we have available to us. Water will be a major problem post-collapse, we all know this, and we store water accordingly but we can never, ever have enough stored water to keep us going indefinitely. We are going to have to become very savvy about how we use what we have whilst still trying to maintain enough to drink, to maintain basic bodily hygiene and to prevent major contamination in our homes. This is going to be a major challenge, possibly the biggest challenge we will face in a collapse situation and anything we can do to seek out our supply will be a major boon in what will surely be very difficult times.

We all know the rule of three, three minutes without air, three days without water and three weeks without food. Assuming the air is good enough to breathe water becomes the first thing on the priority list. As much of this precious liquid as possible needs to be saved for drinking so what measures can we employ to make our water last longer and go further?

We all know a good bit about water conservation, showering with a friend, a brick in the toilet cistern and turning off the tap when cleaning out teeth, all saves on our usage. I am interested in what we can do when lowering our usage of what comes out of the tap is not enough, because nothing is coming from the tap.

Rainwater collection methods usually centre around a water butt collecting what comes off the roof, and this is the most effective way of collecting rainwater, but there are other ways. Every drop of rain that lands on your car, the pavement or anywhere else that’s not harvested for watering edibles, drinking or washing is wasted. Children’s paddling pools should be set upon any ground not used for growing, cheap car washing sponges can be put on  shed roofs, brick walls, children’s  play  equipment or anywhere else that will be hit by rain showers and these can be wrung out giving a decent amount to use elsewhere.

People living in low rainfall areas need to be much more mindful of having everything in place for when rain does occur than those of us living where it is pretty much guaranteed  on a regular basis. A decent rain storm or even a heavy shower can prove a Godsend if you are ready to collect it in any way you can.

Little of the rainwater that lands on a tree actually waters the roots of that tree, the branches cause it to drip onto the ground some distance from the trunk, and as little edible produce is grown in the shadow of a tree again the water is wasted. Plant edibles that like cooler shadier conditions in these areas to make better use of the land and the water that drips from the branches. Small raised beds work well as the soil is often impoverished in these areas. All varieties of lettuce do well in cooler conditions and their soft leaves prefer some shade.

Paper plates and plastic cutlery are often sited as they reduce the amount of water needed for washing up. This can be taken a step further by using dry sand to clean out saucepans and skillets as many people in desert countries do. Dry sand is put into and rubbed around a scraped out pot absorbing liquid and acting as a scourer to remove debris. Cleaning done the pot is left to dry out at which point any sand left behind is easily dusted out.

Removing the trap under the sink and placing a bucket underneath means no water at all is wasted transferring from one receptacle to another. A sponge stuffed up the pipe will filter out any debris. You can do several things with this water:

* Flush the toilet (with bleach added)
* Wash down outdoor areas soiled by pets (with bleach added)
* Water the garden
* Soak heavily soiled clothes to remove the bulk of the dirt (with laundry soap added)
* Mop hard floors(with bleach added)

Gardening is going to become the mainstay of survival post-collapse.  The growing season also tends to be the warmest time of year and much of the water we put on the garden is lost to evaporation. Weep pipes that allow water to constantly seep through their sides reduce this, but not enough in a situation where every drop saved may make the difference between life and death. Watering plants where they need it, under the soil is optimum, and this is very easy to achieve cheaply.

Connect a regular hose pipe to a water butt, this can be filled with grey water that has been previously used, or be allowed to fill with rainwater, or even a mixture of both. The hose should then be laid in a trench some six inches deep around the plants you are aiming to water.  That done, cut the hose and make small holes on both sides of it, covering the entire length that will be buried. Using a funnel fill the portion of the hose that will be buried with grit and that done block the open end. Put the hose back in the trench and cover with soil. Turning the tap on the butt (slowly) will allow water to be delivered underground, the grit stops the wet soil from getting into the hose and blocking it. This method prevents water being lost to evaporation and significantly reduces the amount used for irrigation. The same method can be used with a funnel in the end of the pipe allowing for manual watering.

A similar set up can be used in the centre of a group of fruit bushes or near trees. Dig a hole the size of the large lidded buckets that are often used to store rice and grain in. It should be three inches shallower than the bucket so it stands proud making refilling easier. Make some small holes in the bottom, a heated fine knitting needle works well. Put an inch of grit in the bottom and top that with a couple of inches of damp sand, dry sand would just fall between the grit and leach out. Put the bucket in the hole and fill with water before putting the lid on. The water will slowly seep out keeping the roots watered but saving an immense amount as you have not had to wet the top eighteen inches of soil before it gets to them.

A smaller version of this can be made using soda bottles. Make a hole in the cap, fill with water and invert into a hole in the ground, this supports the bottle as well as getting the water deeper into the soil where the plants can better utilise it.

Much is made on survival programmes of building a solar still to produce clean drinking water, and the principle is great and it works. Problem is it takes up a lot of space, has to be dismantled to get to your half cup of water, and there is more condensate on the underside of the plastic than is in your cup. A soda bottle still is far easier, takes less space, involves no digging and is easy to move around.

Take several soda bottles and cut them in half. Set the bottoms aside. Make a few vertical cuts about an inch long from the cut edge of the top section of the soda bottle, this will enable the top to fit easily into the bottom of your still. Put a small container of whatever liquid you are going to evaporate into a small container placed in the bottom of the soda bottle and then slide the top section into it, making sure the slits you have made go down inside the bottom section so water does not seep through them.

Condensate will run down the inside of the bottle into the reservoir…the bottom section of the soda bottle. Just like any other solar still you are never going to have enough to take a bath but when every drop counts it is a way of getting a drink from dirty water.

Anything you like can go into the central pot to be evaporated, coffee grounds, grey water, rain water even urine will evaporate giving clean drinkable condensate. Larger stills will work using organic matter such as grass, leaves and even faeces, all will produce safe drinkable water that requires no boiling or treatment before consumption. Knowing that anything organic, even water from a polluted stream, or stagnant water you have found, can be utilised for a still, is something that could prove very useful long term in areas that are rain deprived, but have sunshine in abundance.

If you are fortunate enough to have trees they too can provide you with drinking water. Strong clear plastic bags, such as large zip locks slipped onto the end of a leafy branch and duct taped or tied with string to hold them there and seal them will cause a decent amount of water to collect in the bag if left over night. To harvest your water make a small hole in the bag near where it is taped/tied and tip the bag up collecting the water as it trickles out. Fold the bag over the hole and hold the fold closed with a paper clip, taping the hole will rip your bag when you go back to it. The water droplets left on the inside of the bag will act like liquid in the still and will form even more condensate than the tree produces on its own, adding to the amount you collect the next day.

Dew collection may sound ridiculous, but it can produce quite a volume of liquid. Most of us have walked through dew covered grass at some point and come out of it wet up to our knees. Laying a sheet or large towel over dew covered grass will collect  enough moisture to have a sponge bath. Rolling across the grass and then using the wet towel may be the nearest thing to a shower we can get if the water supply is compromised.

Where water is concerned nothing should be discounted. We need to think laterally regarding its collection in order to procure as much as possible for drinking. Methods of getting clean drinkable water without having to use fuel to boil it before consumption is the optimum as that also may be in short supply.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but just suggestions that may help trigger ideas that would work in your own locations. Innovation is going to be key to surviving in a post-collapse society. Thinking about these things now may well save your life in the future.

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Filed under Prepper articles, Survival Manual

Solar flare EMP (electromagnetic pulse)

(Survival Manual/1. Disaster/Solar flare EMP)

Solar Flares, Coronal Mass Ejections and the Carrington Effect
The ‘Super Solar Flare’ of 1859
6 May 2008, Science1.NASA.gov, Authors: Trudy E. Bell & Dr. Tony Phillips
Excerpt pasted from: http://science1.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2008/06may_carringtonflare/
At 11:18 AM on the cloudless morning of Thursday, September 1, 1859, 33-year-old Richard Carrington—widely acknowledged to be one of England’s foremost solar astronomers—was in his well-appointed private observatory.
 Just as usual on every sunny day, his telescope was projecting an 11-inch-wide image of the sun on a screen, and Carrington skillfully drew the sunspots he saw. On that morning, he was capturing the likeness of an enormous group of sunspots. Suddenly, before his eyes, two brilliant beads of blinding white light appeared over the sunspots, intensified rapidly, and became kidney-shaped. Realizing that he was witnessing something unprecedented and “being somewhat flurried by the surprise,” Carrington later wrote, “I hastily ran to call someone to witness the exhibition with me. On returning within 60 seconds, I was mortified to find that it was already much changed and enfeebled.” He and his witness watched the white spots contract to mere pinpoints and disappear. What Carrington saw was a white-light solar flare—a magnetic explosion on the sun.

It was 11:23 AM, only five minutes had passed.

Just before dawn the next day (2 September), skies all over Earth erupted in red, green, and purple auroras so brilliant that newspapers could be read as easily as in daylight. Indeed, stunning auroras pulsated even at near tropical latitudes over Cuba, the Bahamas, Jamaica, El Salvador, and Hawaii.
Even more disconcerting, telegraph systems worldwide went haywire. Spark discharges shocked telegraph operators and set the telegraph paper on fire. Even when telegraphers disconnected the batteries powering the lines, aurora-induced electric currents in the wires still allowed messages to be transmitted.

The auroral current could be used for transmitting and receiving telegraphic dispatches. This was done between 8:30 and 11:00 in the morning, on September 2, 1859, on the wires of the American Telegraph Company between Boston and Portland, and upon the wires of the Old Colony and Fall River Railroad Company between South Braintree and Fall River, among others. The length of time during each positive wave was only, however, 15 to 60 seconds. The following account came from between Boston and Portland.

Boston operator (to Portland operator): “Please cut off your battery [power source] entirely for fifteen minutes.”
Portland operator: “Will do so. It is now disconnected.”
Boston: “Mine is disconnected, and we are working with the auroral current. How do you receive my writing?”
Portland: “Better than with our batteries on. – Current comes and goes gradually.”
Boston: “My current is very strong at times, and we can work better without the batteries, as the aurora seems to neutralize and augment our batteries alternately, making current too strong at times for our relay magnets. Suppose we work without batteries while we are affected by this trouble.”
Portland: “Very well. Shall I go ahead with business?”
Boston: “Yes. Go ahead.”

At which point, the Boston operator began transcribing 19th Century Vintage erotica (ok, just kidding on that one).
The conversation was carried on for around two hours using no battery power at all and working solely with the current induced by the aurora, and it was said that this was the first time on record that more than a word or two was transmitted in such manner.

Meanwhile on the early morning of 2 September 1859.
The clipper ship Southern Cross was off Chile when, at 1:30am, it sailed into a living hell. Hailstones from above and waves from all around whipped the deck. When the wind-lashed ocean spray fell away to leeward, the men noticed they were sailing in an ocean of blood. The color was reflected from the sky, which, they could see – even through the clouds – was wreathed in an all-encompassing red glow.
The sailors recognized the lights as the southern aurora that usually graced the skies near the Antarctic Circle, just as their northern counterparts cling to the Arctic. To see them from this far north was highly unusual. As the gale subsided, they witnessed an even more astonishing display. Fiery lights loomed against the horizon as if some terrible conflagration had engulfed the Earth. Vivid bolts flew across the now clear sky in spiral streaks and exploded in silent brilliance, as if the very souls of all humanity were fleeing whatever cataclysm had befallen the planet.
Upon their arrival at San Francisco, the ship’s company discovered that theirs was not an isolated experience. Two thirds of the Earth’s skies had been similarly smothered.

Effects of past ‘modern era’ storms on older, less sensitive electronics technology
“…..Fast-forward one hundred and fifty-three years to late 2012 or 2013 . A globalized world is extremely dependent upon electronic communications to operate banking, communications, health care, computers, transportation systems, and a massive electric grid serving billions of people. A super solar flare on the scale of the one in 1859 could shut down modernity for days, weeks, perhaps months depending on the size of the white solar flare eruption from within a sunspot. One could equate such a possible episode as a Cosmic Katrina-like event on a nearly global scale happening in say less than twenty-four hours and possibly affecting millions of people.

A giant solar storm is expected in the range of every one-to-five hundred years, but scientists today have no means to predict them only observe them hours before the electric charge hits the upper atmosphere of Earth. There may be sufficient time to power-down a few hundred of the orbiting satellites but electric power would probably be lost and the hard-drives of computers and servers may crash without hardened back-ups somewhere underground or otherwise properly shielded from the magnetic field….”

Still, more recent examples include the events of March 13, 1989, in which Hydro-Quebec’s power output was completely shut down within 92 seconds, courtesy of two solar CMEs. Power was restored in nine hours and a large transformer in New Jersey was destroyed. There was also the supply disruption that took place on Halloween 2003, including the destruction of 14 transformers in South Africa, which contributed significantly to that country’s long-running struggle to adequately provide its people and industries with electricity.

Aurora-induced power surges even melted power transformers in New Jersey. In December 2005, X-rays from another solar storm disrupted satellite-to-ground communications and Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation signals for about 10 minutes. That may not sound like much, but as Lanzerotti noted, “I would not have wanted to be on a commercial airplane being guided in for a landing by GPS or on a ship being docked by GPS during that 10 minutes.”

Unfortunately, current projections by NASA suggest that we may soon be due for a CME on the scale of the 1859 event. According to Dr Richard Fisher, director of the agency’s heliophysics division, solar flare activity varies in accordance with an 11-year cycle and is currently emerging from a quiet period, while the sun’s magnetic energy peaks every 22 years. As a result, solar activity is set to reach its maximum during the 2012-2015 period.
The point of greatest vulnerability in our electricity networks is the transformer.
A simulation conducted by Metatech indicated that a geomagnetic storm roughly 10 times the strength of that seen in 1989 could melt the copper windings of around 350 of the highest voltage transformers in the US,  effectively knocking out a third of the entire US power grid and impacting an area 10 times that of the 1989 storm. Furthermore, the large size of the damaged transformers would effectively prevent field repairs and in most cases, new units would have to be shipped in from abroad, ensuring that their replacement would take weeks or even months. Given that other countries could also be adversely affected and that the majority of transformers are manufactured in Brazil, China, Europe and India, there is no guarantee that the US would be the first priority for resupply in such an event.

Although the industry has weathered geomagnetic storms of the highest (K9) classification since 1989 with little impact on performance, thanks to specialized operating procedures, all these storms were much less intense than the 1989 storm.
Vulnerability has been increased by the fact that in the US, there has been a marked increase in the voltages used in today’s networks. Now, networks operate at around 345-765kV, compared to the 100-200kV design thresholds seen in the 1950s. The higher the voltage, the lower the resistive impedance per unit distance and the higher the geomagnetically-induced currents (GICs) generated in the event of an EMP.

Solar Flare Classifications
Class                         Effects
A                                   none
B                                   none
C                                   C flares are small with few noticeable consequences here on Earth. (think, rain)
M                                  M flares are medium-sized; they can cause brief radio blackouts that affect Earth’s polar regions. Minor radiation storms sometimes follow an M-class flare. (think, thunderstorm)
X                                   X flares are big; they are major events that can trigger planet-wide radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms. (think, hurricane)

Some notable events
1)  ‘Valentine’s day’ X2.2 flare occurred Tue. 15 Feb 2011, particles began arriving at Earth Fri. 18 Feb 2011. This was kind of a small one, it wasn’t a big solar eruption, about one-tenth of the biggest that we have ever seen. *It wiped out radio communications in the Western Pacific Ocean and parts of Asia and caused airlines to reroute some polar flights to avoid radio outages.
2)  X28  The largest measured solar flare occurred on November 4, 2003, fortunately this flare only grazed Earth. The x-rays from this storm were so powerful that it overloaded the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) that was measuring the sun.
3)  X20 Flares on April 2, 2001 and August 16, 1989. Had these flares been pointing at the Earth, the damage to the satellites and power systems could have been substantial.
4)  2 September 1859: There was a solar storm (discussed above) that hit in the late 19th century; had it occurred today would probably take out most of the world’s power grids, it could induce electrical currents that would knock out at least 300 of the USA’s main transformers cutting off power to 130 million people, all within 90 seconds.

The solar flare events
•   Solar Flares: Arrival Time: Instantaneous, Effect Duration: 1-2 hours
•   Solar Proton Event: Arrival Time: 15 minute to a few hours, Effect Duration: Days
•   Coronal Mass Ejection: Arrival time: 2 or 4 days, Effect Duration: Days
•   The UV and light effects of a solar flare arrive at Earth in about 8 minutes traveling at the speed of light. Particles ejected from a powerful, concentrated explosion may arrive in as soon as 12 hours and are referred to as a plasma bullet’. Typically, the technology disrupting CME’s charged particle storm front take about 3 days to travel the 93 million mile intervening distance.
• Each category for x-ray flares has nine subdivisions ranging from, example, C1 to C9, M1 to M9, and X1 to X9+.
• Solar Flares are not visible from earth with the naked eye.

Solar Tsunami Responsible for Higher Incidence of Sneezing Around World
The latest solar flare, one of the strongest felt in decades, has been likened to a solar tsunami that seems to be coming in waves and crashing into the earth’s atmosphere.
What was originally thought to be nothing more than a nuisance causing an hour or two of mild electronic disruptions on the morning of August 4th, 2011 has now turned a bit more sinister. There continue to be intermittent outages of radio and television broadcasts as well as cell phone and internet services well into day two of the flare.
The most bizarre by-product of the solar tsunami seems to be an unusually high amount of sneezing going on all over the world. People are calling clinics and emergency rooms asking if there is anything that can be done about the non-stop sneezing they are experiencing when outdoors…
Residents in extremely sunny locales around the globe are cautioned to remain indoors until the threat of solar flare-induced sneezing has passed. Symptoms include an itching in the nostrils and then a sneeze, sometimes coming in rapid succession. It is not know how the solar flare is affecting the outer body but residents are warned against going outdoors without wearing protective clothing until more information can be gathered on this most unusual occurrence.

What happens if the industry fails?
Assuming a CME of sufficient magnitude was to knock out power supplies across the US for a period of several weeks, the most pressing immediate issue, particularly in arid states such as Nevada would be the loss of water supplies, due to the lack of electricity to pump water. In terms of time scale, the UK’s National Risk Register, points out that loss of mobile communications occurs within one hour of disruption, water and sewerage within six hours.
Other important concerns include the knock-on effects in terms of primary fuels. Coal mining operations require electricity supplies as do oil and gas extraction. As of writing, the US has around 23 days of crude oil and gasoline supply in hand (and ~44 days of distillates). However, electric pumps are needed to deliver oil and gas via pipelines and even to deliver petrol at the pumps.

There are also the massive logistical issues that energy companies would be faced with in the event of a long-lasting power disruption. In the absence of computers and electronic records, ensuring steady deliveries of fuel would become a nightmare, not least due to the horrors of processing transactions when all major financial institutions are effectively compromised. Furthermore, the potential for civil disorder would create an unwelcome dilemma for any workers, given the conflict between keeping watch over their families and reporting for duty.

In the case of the UK, the National Risk Register, which was revised this April, warns that organizations should “prepare for the possibility of total loss of electricity for an entire region for up to 24 hours, and to some rural areas for up to one week.” It somewhat confidently states that “if there is an unexpected shutdown of the grid, power will begin to be restored across the grid over three days.” Given the issues associated with transformer replacement as detailed, earlier, this suggests that UK contingency plans may be inadequate in the event of a major GMD (geomagnetic disturbance).

The ice storm that affected Eastern Canada in 1998 and its immediate aftermath is a good example of what happens when electricity supplies are disrupted. It left 4 million people without electricity and resulted in the cessation of almost all economic activity for weeks. Only the continued operation of a single power line to the Montreal island prevented the need to evacuate 1m people due to water shortages. The disruption  is estimated to have cost US$5-7bn for all affected areas. In contrast, a similar outage in 1961 had much less of an effect, as the transition to IT-based systems for infrastructure had yet to take place.

The National Academy of Sciences puts the total economic cost of a widespread power disruption triggered by solar activity at 20 times that of Hurricane Katrina, which after devastating New Orleans, racked up damages equivalent to around US$125bn. At US$2.5tn, this would be roughly equivalent to 17.5 per cent of entire US annual GDP. It also warns that such an event could knock out GPS navigation, air travel and emergency radio communications, adding to the difficulties in bringing an appropriate response to bear.

Space storm alert: 90 seconds from catastrophe
(Excerpts) – “IT IS midnight on 22 September 2012 and the skies above Manhattan are filled with a flickering curtain of colorful light. Few New Yorkers have seen the aurora this far south but their fascination is short-lived. Within a few seconds, electric bulbs dim and flicker, then become unusually bright for a fleeting moment. Then all the lights in the state go out. Within 90 seconds, the entire eastern half of the US is without power.
“A fierce solar storm could lead to a global disaster on an unprecedented scale.”
“A year later and millions of Americans are dead and the nation’s infrastructure lies in tatters. The World Bank declares America a developing nation. Europe, Scandinavia, China and Japan are also struggling to recover from the same fateful event – a violent storm, 150 million kilometers away on the surface of the sun.
“It sounds ridiculous. Surely the sun couldn’t create so profound a disaster on Earth. Yet an extraordinary report funded by NASA and issued by the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in January this year claims it could do just that.”
“We’re moving closer and closer to the edge of a possible disaster,” says Daniel Baker, a space weather expert based at the University of Colorado in Boulder, and chair of the NAS committee responsible for the report.
“From time to time,” the report says, the solar wind “carries a billion-ton glob of plasma, a fireball known as a coronal mass ejection. If one should hit the Earth’s magnetic shield, the result could be truly devastating.”
“The incursion of the plasma into our atmosphere causes rapid changes in the configuration of Earth’s magnetic field which, in turn, induce currents in the long wires of the power grids. The grids were not built to handle this sort of direct current electricity.”
“A severe space weather event in the US could induce ground currents that would knock out 300 key transformers within about 90 seconds, cutting off the power for more than 130 million people.”
First to go – immediately for those in high-rise buildings – is drinkable water.
With no trains, no trucks, no cars (filling stations wouldn’t be able to pump gas) supermarket shelves would empty very quickly.
Back-up generators would run out of fuel in less than 72 hours. After that, hospitals shut down. No more modern healthcare. And with the factories shuttered, no more medications.
And forget nuclear power. The stations are programmed to shut down in the event of serious grid problems and are not allowed to restart until the power grid is up and running, the report says.
With no power for heating, cooling or refrigeration systems, people could begin to die within days.
“It could conceivably be the worst natural disaster possible,” the report says, “a planetary disaster.”  “It is questionable whether the US would ever bounce back.”
See entire article by Michael Brooks.

Solar flares: the threat to come
8/1/10, Alt-Country.org, by Dr Samuel Fenwick
Excerpt from: http://alt-country.org/Thread.aspx?ID=3048352
Recent warnings by NASA that the Sun’s current lack of activity may soon come to an end with dire implications for the world’s power sector have refocused attention on the effort being made to harden the world’s electricity networks against electromagnetic interference.
Current projections by NASA suggest that we may soon be due for a CME on the scale of the 1859 event. According to Dr Richard Fisher, director of the agency’s heliophysics division, solar flare activity varies in accordance with an 11-year cycle and is currently emerging from a quiet period, while the sun’s magnetic energy peaks every 22 years. As a result, solar activity is set to reach its maximum during the 2012-2015 period.
The point of greatest vulnerability in our electricity networks is the transformer. A simulation conducted by Metatech indicated that a geomagnetic storm roughly 10 times the strength of that seen in 1989 could melt the copper windings of around 350 of the highest voltage transformers in the US,  effectively knocking out a third of the entire US power grid and impacting an area 10 times that of the 1989 storm.
Furthermore, the large size of the damaged transformers would effectively prevent field repairs and in most cases, new units would have to be shipped in from abroad, ensuring that their replacement would take weeks or even months. Given that other countries could also be adversely affected and that the majority of transformers are manufactured in Brazil, China, Europe and India, there is no guarantee that the US would be the first priority for resupply in such an event. Although the industry has weathered geomagnetic storms of the highest (K9) classification since 1989 with little impact on performance, thanks to specialized operating procedures, all these storms were much less intense than the 1989 storm.

Massive Solar Storm Could Cause Catastrophic Nuclear Threat in US
6 August 2011, International Business Times, By Satya Nagendra Padala
Excerpt pasted from: http://www.ibtimes.com/massive-solar-storm-could-cause-catastrophic-nuclear-threat-us-825205
“A severe solar storm could cause global chaos, wrecking satellite communications and would take down the most important power grids in the world for a period of years.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasts four “extreme” and many “severe” solar emissions which could threaten the planet during the current decade. NASA has warned that a peak in the sun’s magnetic energy cycle and the number of sun spots or flares around 2013 could generate huge radiation levels.
This is a special problem in the United States and especially a severe threat in the eastern United States. Government studies showed that “extreme” solar flare emissions can cause blackouts for weeks, months or even years, in very large areas of the nation.

An extremely large solar storm would induce geomagnetic currents that could destroy a substantial fraction of the very largest transformers on the power grid.  If this happened, electric power loss due to a large solar storm would be out for a period of years and possibly decades.

Last month, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said that U.S. plants affected by a blackout should be able to cope without electricity for atleast eight hours and should have procedures to keep the reactor and spent-fuel pool cool for 72 hours.
Nuclear plants depend on standby batteries and backup diesel generators. Most standby power systems would continue to function after a severe solar storm, but supplying the standby power systems with adequate fuel, when the main power grids are offline for years, could become a very critical problem.

If the spent fuel rod pools at the country’s 104 nuclear power plants lose their connection to the power grid, the current regulations are not sufficient to guarantee those pools won’t boil over, exposing the hot, zirconium-clad rods and sparking fires that would release deadly radiation.

A recent report by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory discloses that over the standard 40-year license term of nuclear power plants, solar flare activity provides a 33 percent chance of long-term power loss. This is a risk far greater than most other natural disasters, including major earthquakes and tsunamis…”

Hope n’ Change
Our highly technological modern society is great in a lot of ways…and really, really bad in one specific way: it’s very delicate.   The electronics, computers, and circuit boards that run everything in our lives could be instantly fried by either a naturally occurring solar flare, or the “electro-magnetic pulse” of a single nuclear weapon fired high in our atmosphere.  Electricity would be shut off. Water, pumped from afar, would stop coming out of faucets. There would be no communications. Most recent cars wouldn’t run. Access to food and emergency care would be cut off. And in the resulting chaos, there are estimates that as much as 90% of Americans could die.
As if that wasn’t scary enough, we’re now entering a new period of strong solar activity – with a major X2 coronal ejection 15 February 2011.  The good news is that scientists have determined we could “harden” our electrical grid for $100 million dollars, and the House unanimously passed a resolution saying “Yes! Let’s do it! Quick!”
But in the Senate, they said “where are the votes for us if we fund this?” and, not finding any, they killed it. And maybe us. Of course, $100 million is a lot of money. But it’s only 1/1650th of what congress added to our debt in just one week. And only 1/260th of what the Democrats just decided to give to teachers’ unions to buy more votes for November.
By comparison, potentially saving the Earth seems like it could have been a pretty good deal. But since it didn’t happen, we can all continue to look toward the sun…and hope for no change.

 An Overview of Solar Activities
The Sun provides the energy needed for life to exist on Earth. Every so often, sunspots and solar flares occur on the Sun’s surface and can cause disruptions in our daily lives. From the invention of the telescope in the 17th Century to NASA’s Nimbus-7 satellite, innovations have allowed us to gaze into space and study the sun and moon in amazing detail. The sun is constantly changing and we have been studying sunspots, solar flares and other solar phenomena for hundreds of years.

The sun emits radiation across the entire electromagnetic spectrum.
• Visible: This part of the spectrum, which we can detect with our eyes, allows us to see and provides the energy for plants to produce food by photosynthesis.
• Ultraviolet (UV): We cannot see this part of the spectrum, but it can damage unprotected skin, producing anything from a mild to severe burn to skin cancer.
• Infrared: This part of the spectrum is made up of invisible rays that provide the heat that helps keep the Earth warm.
• Charged Particles: The sun continuously emits energy and particles that make up the solar wind. When the charged particles interact with the Earth’s magnetic field, particularly near the poles, the result is the aurora borealis, which is a spectacular display of color in the night sky.

1.  A gusty solar wind
The solar wind has a speed ranging from 300 to more than 1000 km/s, with an average of about 400 km/s. Its composition is very similar to the solar one, i.e., it’s 80% hydrogen with 20% Helium. However, as the outer solar atmosphere (solar corona) has an extreme temperature of about 1 million K, this highly rarefied gas is fully ionized, a condition called a gas plasma. Therefore, the solar wind is made mostly of protons (hydrogen nuclei) and free electrons (>50% of solar wind particles). This vast medium permeated by this steady outward stream of particles is often called the heliosphere, and extends to about 170 times the Sun-Earth distance where its merges with the interstellar medium.
Despite its very low density (about one particle per cubic cm at the distance of the Earth), the solar wind exerts a substantial dynamical pressure on the Earth magnetic field. The Earth magnetosphere thus takes the shape of an elongated “bubble” floating in the solar wind, with a bow shock on the Sun-facing side and a very long magneto tail away from the Sun. Acting as magnetic bottle, the magnetosphere stores particles originating in the solar wind in toroidal radiation belts, the so-called Van Allen belts, a few solar radii above the Earth Equator. One can then easily understand that any change in the speed, density and direction of the wind will cause deformations and compressions of this magnetic container with various drastic consequences that we will describe soon.

2.  Sunspots
Sunspots are dark areas that form and disappear on the surface of the Sun over periods of days or weeks. Sunspots are caused by concentrated magnetic fields that reduce the amount of energy flow to the surface of the sun from its interior. The reduced energy flow causes the area to cool from about 10,800 ºF (the average temperature of the Sun’s surface) to 7,600 ºF. Because sunspots are cooler than the rest of the Sun, they appear dark on the Sun’s surface. Sunspots are so big that all of planet Earth would fit into a sunspot.

3.  Solar Flares
Solar flares are the release, in a single burst, of energy in many forms – electro-magnetic (from radio waves through the visible spectrum to gamma rays and x-rays), energetic particles (protons and electrons), and matter that is so hot it is in the form of plasma. Flares are characterized by their brightness in x-rays. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration monitors the x-rays from the Sun with detectors on some of its satellites. Observations for the last few days are available at NOAA’s website, Today’s Space Weather.
Flares are closely related to the cycles of the Sun’s magnetic field, and they emerge from relatively cool, intensely magnetic regions of the solar surface – sunspots.
The energy released during a flare is typically ten million times greater than the energy released from a volcanic explosion. Even then, it only releases a fraction of the total energy emitted by the Sun every second. The radiation and radioactive particles released during solar flare activity can damage satellites and interrupt radio communications on Earth. Coronal mass ejections are the sudden release of large masses of plasma from the very hot corona, which is the atmosphere just above the surface of the sun. CMEs expand away from the Sun at speeds as high as 4 million miles per hours! The light and x-rays accompanying a CME reach earth in a few minutes. The mass of particles may take three to five days to arrive. Solar flares are occasionally accompanied by Coronal Mass Ejections.

4.  Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs)
A typical CME is composed of 1-10 billion tons of particles and combined with solar flares are the biggest “explosions” in our solar system, roughly approaching the power in ONE BILLION hydrogen bombs! See image at left.
Coronal mass ejections are the sudden release of large masses of plasma from the very hot corona, which is the atmosphere just above the surface of the sun. CMEs expand away from the Sun at speeds as high as 4 million miles per hours! The light and x-rays accompanying a CME reach earth in a few minutes. The mass of particles may take three to five days to arrive. (The associated picture, taken by the SOHO [Solar and Heliospheric Observatory] spacecraft, shows a CME.
Coronal mass ejections are more likely to have a significant effect on our activities than solar flares because they carry more material into a larger volume of interplanetary space, increasing the likelihood that they will interact with the Earth. CMEs typically drive shock waves that produce energetic particles that can be damaging to both electronic equipment and astronauts that venture outside the protection of the Earth’s magnetic field.

5.  Geomagnetic Storms
While a flare alone produces high-energy particles near the Sun, a CME can reach the Earth and disturb the Earth’s magnetosphere, setting off a geomagnetic storm. Often, these storms produce surges in the power grid and static on the radio, and, if the waves of energetic particles are strong enough, they can overload power grids and drown out radio signals. This type of activity can also affect ground to air, ship to shore, and navigational communication, military detection, and early warning systems.
Observing the ejection of CMEs from the Sun provides an early warning of geomagnetic storms. Only recently, with SOHO, has it been possible to continuously observe the emission of CMEs from the Sun and determine if they are aimed at the Earth.

“Solar Shield” experimental forecasting system studied
NASA has created a new project called “Solar Shield” in an effort to prevent damage to key transformers in the case of a severe solar storm.
Unfortunately, a report composed by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) and the U.S. Department of Energy in 2009 warns that modern power systems, though several utilities have taken the necessary steps to strengthen and secure their power grids, have a “significantly enhanced vulnerability and exposure to effects of a severe geomagnetic storm.”
To protect power systems in the event that another powerful solar storm should occur, NASA has developed a project called “Solar Shield,” which has the potential to shelter high-voltage power lines that crisscross over North America. Considering the length of these power lines has “increased nearly 10 fold” since the beginning of the Space Age, it is critical to consider the effect a solar storm could have on power systems in the United States and throughout the world.
“Solar Shield is a new and experimental forecasting system for the North American power grid,” said Antti Pulkkinen, project leader and Catholic University of America research associate currently working with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “We believe we can zero in on specific transformers and predict which of them are going to be hit the hardest by a space weather event.”
Geomagnetically induced currents (GICs) are the main problems when it comes to power grids during geomagnetic storms. When a CME approaches Earth’s magnetic field, it causes the field to shake. This quiver causes currents from the ground to Earth’s upper atmosphere, and powerful GICs can trip breakers, overload circuits and melt the windings of transformers. Transformer damage leads to large-scale blackouts, and these transformers cannot be repaired in the field. They must be replaced, which is both expensive and time consuming.
“Solar Shield springs into action when we see a coronal mass ejection (CME) billowing away from the sun,” said Pulkkinen. “Images from SOHO and NASA’s twin STEREO spacecraft show us the cloud from as many as three points of view, allowing us to make a 3D model of the CME, and predict when it will arrive.”
The CME typically takes 24 to 48 hours to cross the Sun-Earth divide. During this time, NASA researchers at the Goddard Community Coordinated Modeling Center (CCMC) are gathering physics-based computer programs to model the CME. Thirty minutes before impact, ACE, a spacecraft stationed 1.5 million km “upstream from Earth,” uses its sensors to make in situ measurement’s of the CME’s magnetic field, density and speed, then sends the data to the Solar Shield team on Earth. The data is fed into CCMC computers where models predict currents and fields in Earth’s upper atmosphere and transmit this information to the ground. The Solar Shield team is then prepared to send alerts to utilities with details about the GICs.

ACE Spacecraft
The Earth is constantly bombarded with a stream of accelerated particles arriving not only from the Sun, but also from interstellar and galactic sources. Study of these energetic particles, or cosmic rays, contributes to our understanding of the formation and evolution of the solar system, as well as the astrophysical processes involved. The Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) spacecraft carries six high-resolution sensors and three monitoring instruments to sample low-energy particles of solar origin and high-energy galactic particles.
From a vantage point approximately 1/100 of the distance from the Earth to the Sun, ACE performs measurements over a wide range of energy and nuclear mass, under all solar wind flow conditions and during both large and small particle events including solar flares. ACE provides near-real-time solar wind information over short time periods. When reporting space weather, ACE can provide an advance warning (about one hour) of geomagnetic storms that can overload power grids, disrupt communications on Earth, and present a hazard to astronauts.
ACE orbits the L1 libration point which is a point of Earth-Sun gravitational equilibrium, about 1.5 million km from Earth and 148.5 million km from the Sun. The elliptical orbit affords ACE a prime view of the Sun and the galactic regions beyond.

Sun’s protective heliosphere ‘bubble’ is shrinking
The protective bubble around the sun that helps to shield the Earth from harmful interstellar radiation is shrinking and getting weaker, NASA scientists have warned.
By Richard Gray, Science Correspondent 1:30PM BST 18 Oct 2008
New data has revealed that the heliosphere, the protective shield of energy that surrounds our solar system, has weakened by 25 per cent over the past decade and is now at it lowest level since the space race began 50 years ago.
Scientists are baffled at what could be causing the barrier to shrink in this way and are to launch mission to study the heliosphere.
Dr. Nathan Schwadron, co-investigator on the IBEX mission at Boston University, said: “The interstellar medium, which is part of the galaxy as a whole, is actually quite a harsh environment. There is a very high energy galactic radiation that is dangerous to living things.
“Around 90 per cent of the galactic cosmic radiation is deflected by our heliosphere, so the boundary protects us from this harsh galactic environment.” The heliosphere is created by the solar wind, a combination of electrically charged particles and magnetic fields that emanate a more than a million miles an hour from the sun, meet the intergalactic gas that fills the gaps in space between solar systems. At the boundary where they meet a shock wave is formed that deflects interstellar radiation around the solar system as it travels through the galaxy.
Without the heliosphere the harmful intergalactic cosmic radiation would make life on Earth almost impossible by destroying DNA and making the climate uninhabitable. Measurements made by the Ulysses deep space probe, which was launched in 1990 to orbit the sun, have shown that the pressure created inside the heliosphere by the solar wind has been decreasing.
Dr David McComas, principal investigator on the IBEX mission, said: “It is a fascinating interaction that our sun has with the galaxy surrounding us. This million mile an hour wind inflates this protective bubble that keeps us safe from intergalactic cosmic rays. “With less pressure on the inside, the interaction at the boundaries becomes weaker and the heliosphere as a whole gets smaller.”
If the heliosphere continues to weaken, scientists fear that the amount of cosmic radiation reaching the inner parts of our solar system, including Earth, will increase.

Potential Health Effects
Solar flares and coronal mass ejections result in the release of radiation across the spectrum, from x-rays to light waves to fast-moving protons to plasma. We know that satellites can be affected (even made non-functional) and astronauts need to be aware of the risk and seek shelter during these storms. Astronauts on the Space Station receive increased exposure during these solar phenomena. The energetic particles from a flare or CME would be dangerous to an astronaut on a mission to the Moon or Mars. As for sunspots, they are merely cooler regions of the sun and do not cause any particular harm.
Out of all of the Sun’s activities, it is actually the Sun’s UV rays that pose the greatest risk to human health.

What you can do to protect yourself (on a normal, daily basis)
UV rays pose a much greater risk to human health than the radiation from the Sun’s other activities. Here are some of the ways in which you can better protect yourself from the Sun’s harmful UV rays:
•  Cover Up: Wear tightly woven, loose-fitting, and full-length clothing.
•  Wear Sunglasses that Block 99-100% of UV Radiation: Sunglasses that provide 99-100% UVA and UVB protection greatly reduce sun exposure that can lead to cataracts and other eye damage.
•  Always Use Sunscreen: Apply a broad spectrum sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 or higher liberally on exposed skin. Reapply every 2 hours, or after working, swimming, playing, or exercising outdoors.
•  Check daily the UV Index: The UV Index provides important information to help people plan outdoor activities in ways that prevent overexposure to the sun. This information is commonly found near weather predictions in newspapers and on the internet sites, like EPA’s Sunwise UV Index site.

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Trapping

(Survival manual/3. Food & Water/ Trapping)
See also my post: (Survival manual/ 3. Food & water/ Food resources for extreme hardship: Dog, cat, roadkill… )

A.  Rat Traps
In order to get your head around the concept of  ‘rat for  supper’, read, When All Hell Breaks Loose © 2007 Cody Lundin, published by Gibbs Smith, Publisher, Layton, UT, 450 pages.
•  Victor rat (not mouse) traps are good for squirrels and rabbits when properly placed and they cost under $3.50 each.
•  For survival purposes, a rat trap will work for ground squirrels too
•  Use soft cat food or peanut butter as bait as it seems to work best, just make sure you dig a small hole and cover it with leaves and you should be good.
•  A rat trap will provide dinner in a pinch.
•  You may also use them to trigger bigger traps with a pressure plate and a stiff wire to the rat trap – when the rat trap goes off it springs the larger trap.
•  Use peanut oil to grease the traps.

Dressing rat:
(squirrel, ground squirrels)
Excerpted from: http://www.earthportals.com/Portal_Messenger/ratfordinner.html
I was very unprepared on how to react to these rats on the table directly in front of me. But there they were, big brown furry rats just lying there awaiting to be prepared for a delicacy.
The cleaning and preparation for cooking rat is quite a process. The small feet and tail are first cut off on a wood chopping block. Then a cut is made behind the ear so that it is possible to pull the fur off of the main body. After that is done the head is cut off as the head is held onto when pulling the fur off of the body.
The rat is then washed in water and a cut is made along its belly to remove all the intestines. The liver and the heart are kept inside the body.

The rat is then spread open and placed either on a grill, for cooking over an open flame, or the smaller rats are ready for the wood chopping black. The smaller rats are left on the grill just long enough for the meat to be cooked, but still medium rare.
Then the small rats are chopped up very finely on the chopping block, small bones and all, until a sort of fine ground meat is made into a paste.
The heart and liver are removed before it is chopped up and placed in a separate dish. [Image at right: BBQ rat.]

Before the rats are prepared for cooking, about two small cups of red chili peppers are ground up with a mortar and pestle until a red chili paste is made. It is this chili paste that the finely chopped rat meat is added and then cooked in oil in a wok. A great deal of garnish and other spices are added which are mentioned in the recipe at the end of this short story. The larger rats were completely fried with a burnt like look to them as they were also basted with a chili sauce. Once at the dinner table I had to keep in mind I was going to eat a Thai delicacy so my first bite was accompanied by a strange feeling that I was not going to like this delicacy at all. Once the rat meat was in my mouth I began to chew. The first taste I experienced was the very distinctive hot chili flavor, which was a welcomed friend to my taste buds, but I knew the rate meat was about to make its appearance on my tongue. The meat was very tender and not at all wild game tasting. In fact the meat was very sweet, very much like rabbit meat or frog legs. I was satisfied I could continue eating my first piece of rat meat, and went about picking every last piece of meat off of the small bones.
It amazes me how we all grow accustomed to food from cultures we are familiar with and how uncertain we feel when approached with a new cultural taste treat.

Recipe for ground rat meat and chili paste:
Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup fish oil
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1-1/2 cups of dried red chili peppers
  • 4 long green peppers
  • 8 large bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup holy basil leaf
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 4 chopped garlic cloves
  • 4 small rats

Initial Preparation:

  • With a mortar and pestle place the 1-1/2 cups of dried red chili peppers, and begin to mash until a red paste is achieved. Add a tablespoon of water to make moist.
  • Chop garlic cloves.
  • Place bay leaves in a small bowl of water. Roll two bay leaves at a time and then thinly shred and place in dry dish. Do for all 8 leaves – two at a time.
  • Place holy basil leaves in a small bowl of water.
  • Dice long green peppers. Do small cross sections so look like wheels and place in dry dish.
  • Skin 4 small rats. Clean and place heart and liver in separate bowl.

Cooking preparations:

  • Place oil in a wok over an open flame and heat
  • Place small rats on a grill, and lightly cook over an open flame on both sides until medium cooked. Do not cook well done.
  • Mix red chili paste with hot oil and stir well.
  • Finely chop rats on a wood chopping block over and over until makes a smooth ground meat texture. Be sure to chop all the bones well.
  • Add chopped rat meat to the red chili paste and oil and stir well.
  • Add diced green peppers and stir well. Let cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add 1/2 tablespoon of salt.
  • Add whole liver and heart and sir in.
  • Add holy basil leaves to mixture and stir in well and let cook for another 5 minutes. Be sure not to burn the chili paste – add a little water if necessary to keep moist but not runny.
  • Add chopped garlic cloves
  • Add shredded bay leaves and stir in and cover and let simmer for 5 minutes or more to let all the flavors mix well.

Serving:
Serve ground rat meat on an oval dish with livers and heart on the top. Circle with garnish of basil leaves and halves of lime. Serve with white rice. The flavor will be hot and tangy with a mild crunchy chew to it. It is not to be considered the main dish, but a nice hot and spicy accent to other prepared dishes. Very good on crackers.
.

.B. Conibear Traps
From Captain Dave’s Survival Center, Buckshot’s Trapping Tales, see:  http://www.captaindaves.com/buckshot/110.htm
#110 conibear, this trap is 4-1/2 by 4-1/2 ” with a single spring. It’s very popular among trappers because they’re easy to use and reliable quick kills for muskrat, mink, rabbit, squirrel, and some of the larger weasels. [Image below: a #110 Conibear trap]

#220 conibear, this trap is 7″ by 7″ with double springs and requires a setting tool to compress the springs. The #220 is popular among the raccoon trappers and is also used to catch raccoon, otter, muskrat, mink, squirrel, rabbit, and ground hog (woodchucks). Care must be used with this trap because if a dog or house-cat sticks his head in there, they will die quickly just like a raccoon. Some states have regulated this trap, so if set on land they may need to be in dog proof boxes or at least 4 feet off the ground.

#330 conibear, this trap is 10″ x 10″ square with double springs, this is the most powerful and is NO kids toy. The same setting tool that can be used for the #220 will work for the #330. What a wonderful beaver trap. I have trapped 100’s of beaver with this trap. The trap was designed for beaver but can also be used for otters, raccoons, and snapping turtles.

Just as there is no one perfect gun, what trap that suits you best depends on where you are in the country. What animal has the highest population in your area? In general, a great survival set-up would be 6- #110 for the smaller animals, 4- #220 for medium size animals and 2-#330 for beaver size animals. This batch of only 12 traps should keep you in meat and fur just about anywhere in America.

The #110 Conibear is a wonderful little trap. I caught my first muskrat with one back in 1975. The trap is 4 1/2″ by 4 1/2″ with a single spring. To set the trap you squeeze the spring down and open the jaws bringing them together. The trigger is made out of two thin pieces of wire connected to a folded piece of metal on the top jaw. There is a slot in the middle of this piece of metal where the second piece of the trigger hooks on. There are three settings and I generally used the middle one. You flip the top trigger and hook on the middle setting, now before you release pressure from the spring make sure your hand is clear. The easiest way is to set it down on the ground upright and hold your finger on the top trigger and release the pressure from your other hand. Now the trap is set. Just play around with it for a while until you get use to setting them. Take a stick about 18 inches long hold one end and with the opposite end push on the trigger. The trap may fire or it might fall over. Try it both ways holding the trap spring to keep the trap from falling over and unsupported. The reason I wanted you to do this, is so you could see first hand why the trap HAS TO BE STABILIZED. This is very, very, important on Conibear style traps. I don’t care what size, you have to stabilize them! What this means is the trap is designed for the animal to stick his head in. Well, the trap has to be supported or it will fall over and spring off without catching the animal. Now, you just educated that animal to be scared and trap-shy of traps and he will be much harder to capture.

One way to make a great stabilizer for the #110 Conibear is either buy lath boards, or if you know of someone remodeling an old house and their ripping out the old lath board, so they can put up drywall, they will probably give you all the lath board for the asking. I cut mine 12-18″ long (it is not critical), sharpen one end to a point, let them weather if they are new, you now have an easy-to-use stabilizer. Remember , this is for stabilizing the trap and not to be confused with a stake.
[Image left: #220 Conibear trap, staked and stabilized.]
Take the lath board and at about a 45 degree angle, push the stake into the ground between the compressed spring and the open part of the two jaws. You want a downward pressure on the trap to keep it from being knocked over. Now, try pushing the 18″ long stick on the trigger. The trap should fire, closing on the stick. Remember to keep your hands back — these little trap hurt if they whack you one.
Of course, there are several ways to stabilize these traps, you can use two sticks and form a X over the top of the trap, you can weld a 6″ long piece of 1/4″ stock to the rivet, or if setting in boxes you can notch the box, etc.

 Where to set the #110
The #110 can be used three different ways: den entrance, trail set, and bait set.

1.  Den entrances for cottontail rabbits. The best way to learn how to trap, is wait until first snow and track the rabbit to its den hole. Then place the #110 over the hole at whatever the angle of the hole is. You may have to make a small stabilizing stick on the spot. Place two 2-3″ long approximately 1″ diameter sticks on the bottom jaw this will keep the trapping from freezing to the ground. Take the chain off to one side, out-of-the-way and wire it to a tree or handy branch. The next time a rabbit comes out or in the hole, he is caught.
2.  Heavy brush piles will have a beaten path in the snow where the rabbits run and hide. Pick the spot with the most tracks and find a spot that is just about the size of the trap, all narrowed down with a top stick to keep the rabbits from jumping over. Place the trap there, if you have to you can add a couple of side sticks to help narrow it down and a top stick. Set the trap upright, so if the rabbit wants to get in the brush pile his only choice is through the trap.
3. Another way to get rabbits — and this will work on all rabbits — is with an old stove-pipe 6″ in diameter. Take a piece 12″ to 24″ long and cut a notch in the side for the spring to slide in, about 3″ long, then bend the pipe down a little smaller, then the trap on both ends. Now, you slide the trap in making sure it fits snug, two traps, one on each end. Test to make sure there is enough room for the trigger to fire. Always test your pipe with a trap in it first. You may have to take a stick or two to close off the end opposite the spring, just make sure that the only way to get in the pipe is through the trap.

This stove-pipe trap will work on squirrels , muskrats, ducks, rabbits, anything that can fit in the pipe and your bait attracts. Now wire the chain off to something solid. Place near berry bushes in the woods for rabbits and game birds. Around marshes, lakes, river, streams, etc. for muskrats, ducks, etc. All you do is take bait such as corn and make a trail going in each end to a pile of corn in the middle of the pipe. Of course, remove the trap before you place the corn in!! Pheasants, grouse, quail, etc. will go in for the corn, so will coons , so make sure you wire it off to something solid or the coon will run off with the trap. A big coon will just power his head out but smaller coons will be alive and in a bad mood when you arrive. I don’t think the trap would kill a pheasant, but I know it will flatten the smaller game birds. Check the trap once a day. Mice will steal the bait so don’t get upset, just re-bait or move the trap.
Pasted from: http://www.captaindaves.com/buckshot/110.htm

 New traps
When you buy new traps they are coated in a grease. You need to remove this. I wash them well with dish soap and scrub, others simply place new traps in the dishwasher.

After removing the grease, adjust the traps. The pan is the part an animal steps on to fire the trap on their paw. There is a screw that adjusts how much pressure is needed to fire the trap. You need to adjust this so the pressure is not too light and not too heavy. You will want it a little heavy for coyotes though, and very light for raccoons and between this for foxes. Foxes – take 1-2 pounds of pressure to fire the trap, raccoons 1 pound or less, coyotes 3-4 pounds except small coyotes such as Texas ones, same as fox.

The dog is the metal piece that fits into the notch on the pan that holds the trap in the set position until an animal steps on the pan. The dog must fit into the notch properly and allow the trap to fire quickly. The pan notch can be filed to make the notch much smaller, this allows a crisper firing of the trap. Also the pan must be level with the set jaws, not sticking up or too low. If the pan is setting too high when set, bend the base that the dog is attached to, inward.

After making these adjustments, set the traps outside to get a light rust coating. Once rusted you can dye in walnut hulls or logwood crystals. Logwood can be purchased from a trap supplier and has directions on the bag. Walnut hulls- just collect a bunch of them and put in a big pot of water. Put your light rust coated traps in the pot with either the logwood or walnut hulls and simmer for 30-45 mins.

Once they have taken the dye you can remove the traps and hang them up to dry. After dry you can either use as is or wax them as well. Waxing helps keep the dye on and resists further rusting if the traps are set in the ground a while to try to catch an animal. Waxing involves clean white paraffin wax melted down and kept below the boiling point, and the traps are immersed in it until the traps have taken the wax on as a thin coat, and no more white shows on the traps in the wax dip, from the wax. Remove the trap and hang to cool, when cooled, remove the wax on the tip of the dog and the trap pan notch.

Staking traps
In areas where coyote may be caught – always double stake or use a large grapple with long chain or heavy drag ( both of which require some tracking of a caught animal and also require suitable brush for said animal to tangle in), or a cable stake such as sold in the supply catalogs. Make sure all staking connections are strong. Do not just wire the end of the trap chain to something.
Foxes– a single 24″ rebar stake with a welded nut or washer top is all you need,driven through the swivel end on the trap chain, unless there are some coyotes in your area, then see above.
Raccoons, same as fox, however in water I use the trappers tie wire sold in the catalogs, 11 ga or 14 ga (use 11 always if you have big coons such as in New England or the lakes). I will wire the trap chain end to a drag such as a cement block.
Bobcats– often coyotes live in the same area, so stake as for coyotes, or use the grapple or drag system if you have the brush and extra time to track.

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.For further information read: Buckshot’s Complete Survival Trapping Guide © 2009 by Bruce ‘Buckshot’ Hemming, published by Bruce Hemming, Gackle, ND, 157 pages.
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C.   Simple Survival Snares
Pasted from: http://www.simplesurvival.net/snares.htm
When it comes to procuring meat in the wild, you will have to work for your next meal. Usually, it takes a lot of work and then you will most likely have to lower your meat standards a bit. You may prefer beef, but in the field, you will be lucky if you dine on squirrel or rabbit. Animals are difficult for the inexperienced hunter to catch. They are very shy of man and often their senses are highly tuned toward survival. However, you can trap most small game, if you know what you are doing.

There are all kinds of traps that can be made in the bush. Some use boulders, huge logs, deep pits, and so on. Those are more work than they are worth. Well, at least they are for the average person who needs meat quickly and is not hoping for a lion, bear or other large game. We will concentrate on small game. Mainly because they are easier to trap and they are more abundant. Not to mention, they are less dangerous to catch.

The most common method of catching small game is by using snares. Snares can be made using line, cord, wire, or even vines. I can tell you from experience, it will take a lot of traps to yield one animal. Unless you get lucky and discover a place that is full of small game! I recommend you set them out by the dozens and check them first thing each morning. Try to find small game trails, which are small trails through the grass and weeds. Often, rabbits and other small game use the same trails over and over to move to food and water sources. Like man, they are creatures of habit. You may also find trails that lead into briar patches, thorn bushes and other types of brush. Small game uses those types of places as protection, or places to hide. They are good places to put a snare as well.

Snares can be purchased ready-made, with a locking loop. Or, if you prefer, you can make you own from wire, string, cord or vines. I have found wire to work the best and as you may have guessed, vines work less effectively. But, in a survival situation, if you don’t have an item with you, then you must use what Mother Nature provides, or do without. I carry about 50 feet of snare wire and about 25 feet of parachute 550 cord. The parachute cord is nylon and has strands of smaller “string-like” cords inside. I simply cut the cord and remove a single strand of the smaller cord and use it to make my snares with. It is small, light, and very strong.

When making a snare there are two very common designs. One type of design simply holds the animal at ground level and may or may not strangle the victim. The second design will flip the animal into the air and hold the carcass off of the ground. Of course as the animal is held off of the ground it is strangled to death. While they are both are easy to make, each design has strengths and weaknesses.

Both designs require the loop in the wire, cord, string, or vine, to tighten and hold the animal. The loop (see the illustration) should be free moving. This free movement allows the loop to tighten as the animal struggles or moves forward into the snare. With the flip-up design, movement of the wire will trigger the device and fling the animal into the air, which using the animal’s body weight tightens the loop. Make sure the loop has free movement.

In both types of snares you should set the loop diameter for the type of animal you hope to catch. I am using the most common small game here, due to the fact that they are most abundant. Additionally, keep in mind that different animals require the loop diameter to be different sizes and to be placed at different heights on the game trail.

  • Rabbits: the loop should be about four inches in diameter and placed about two inches above the trail.
  • Squirrels: the loop should be about three inches in diameter and two to three inches above the trail.
  • Beavers: make the loop about five inches in diameter and place it about one to two inches off of the ground.

For the holding snare, let’s say for a rabbit, you make a loop (about four inches in diameter) and place it about two inches above the center of the game trail. Make sure the end of the snare wire, opposite the loop, is secured to a bush, stake, or other stationary object. Make sure what you use to secure the snare cannot be pulled away by the animal. Then, if needed, use brush, logs or other debris to make a funnel toward your snare. In other words, force the animal to the snare and do not allow them to go around it. Since most animals will continue to use a trail they have used daily, this should not be a big issue. But, by using the tunneling affect the game will usually continue down the known trail. The animal’s head will then enter the loop and as it continues to move forward the loop will slide and become smaller. Eventually the loop will be so small is size the animal cannot get out. Any struggling will only tighten the loop. Thus, you have dinner.

In the flip-up snare the principle is the same as far as tunneling the animal. The difference is when the animal’s head enters the snare it will eventually pulls the wire far enough to trigger the flip up part of the trap. At that point the animal will be flipped into the air and strangled. The diameter of the loop and the distances off the ground remain the same in this snare as in the other.

To make a trip snare, you need a flexible limb or bush, the snare wire, a trigger and a method to hold the trigger. The illustration shows a couple of examples. I do not recommend this type of snare in extreme cold because the flexible part of the trap often freezes in place and does not function as a spring any longer. If the weather is really cold use the standard holding snare.

[Above: Various snare, deadfall and spring traps.]

I stated early in this article to check your traps each morning. This is important to remember. Some animals, if snared by the leg, will actually chew the limb off to get out of the trap. While I have no problems snaring my dinner, I do not want to cause pain or suffering to any animal. My goal is to kill the animal so I can survive, not to inflict pain.

When you approach the snare you will usually see right off if it has an animal. If an animal is there, use a club or spear to kill it instantly. Most animals caught in a snare will be dead already, but be prepared. The choice of ‘how’ is yours, but keep in mind to kill quickly. Many animals, even small game, will be capable of inflicting pain on the person checking the snare. They may bite, scratch or claw you.

For some of you, snaring an animal may not be a very pleasant task. It may prove to be even more difficult to kill an animal so you can eat. In today’s society we are rarely involved in the processing of our meals and it can be a shocker for some folks. I can understand your views, but in an emergency, you will need the fats and protein the animal will provide. Something must die so you may live. Survival is not a game. In a real survival situation your life may very well depend on your ability to snare game, eat insects, or even the eating of certain plants you may not like. It is necessary for your survival. Can you do what it takes to survive? Can you make a snare?

Snare Cable sizing
 See: http://www.raymondthompson.com/page/www.thompsonsnares.com/page/cable-sizing.aspx
We offer a full line of snaring products in six diameters of steel cable and two diameters of stainless steel cable.  The cable sizes with our Thompson Snare size reference number are listed below along with recommendations for use to capture various species of animals.

Size:     Cable Diameter:               Target Animal:
00         1/32 inch stainless        very small game and birds
0            1/16 inch                         mink, bobcat, small raccoon, rabbit, fox
1             5/64 inch                        bobcat, fox, lynx, coyote, large raccoon
2             3/32 inch                       beaver, otter, lynx coyote
3             7/64 inch                       cougar, medium bear, wolf, alligator
4             1/8  inch                         cougar, large black bear, wolf, crocodile
5             5/32 inch                        large black, grizzly & Kodiak bears
4SS        1/8  inch stainless        feral hogs, alligator

When properly set, Thompson Snares are guaranteed to hold the animal which they are recommended.  Many professional ‘snaremen’ have used smaller sizes with excellent results.

See also Dave Canterbury’s web site, The Pathfinder School at: http://www.wildernessoutfittersarchery.com

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Filed under Survival Manual, __3. Food & Water

Antibiotics for TEOTWAWKI

(Survival Manual/ 6. Medical/d) Medicine & supplement/ Antibiotics for TEOTWAWKI)

Medical advice
The information, ideas, and suggestions in the 4dtraveler.net blog are not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Before following any suggestions contained in this post, you should consult your personal physician. Neither the author or Word Press shall be liable or responsible for any loss or damage allegedly arising as a consequence of your use or application of any information or suggestions in this blog.
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I.  Emergency Antibiotics for TEOTWAWKI
Ampicillin, Amoxicillin, Doxycycline, Tetracycline, Azithromycin and their non prescription, pharmaceutical grade forms

A.  Ampicillin
Ampicillin is a wide spectrum antibiotic in the penicillin group of drugs. It fights bacteria in your body and is used to treat many different types of infections caused by bacteria, such as  lungs (pneumonia),  infections of the middle ear, tonsils, throat, larynx (laryngitis), bronchi (bronchitis), sinuses, stomach and intestines, bladder infections, urinary tract, skin infections, kidney caused by susceptible bacteria, E. coli or salmonella infection. It also is used for treating uncomplicated gonorrhea, meningitis, endocarditis and other serious infections.
Preparations: Capsules: 250 and 500 mg. Powder oral suspension: 125 and 250 mg/5mL.
* Amazon.com: Fish Cillin (Ampicillin) 250 mg – 100 Caps, $27.97 free S&H

Product Features
Standard pharmacy quality Ampicillin antibiotic.
Labeled for use in fish tanks, in pull apart capsules for easy use – 250 mg. strength

Product Description
Fish Cillin exerts a bactericidal action on gram positive and some gram negative bacteria. Useful for control of some common bacterial diseases of fish including Aeromonas and Pseudomonsa denera and Mysobbacterial group (gill diseases & chondrococcus). Directions: Add contents of one capsule (250 mg) into aquarium for each 10 gallons of water to be treated. While duration of treatment depends on type and severity of infection, it is recommended that extended medication baths continue for a minimum of 5 days and for not more than 10 days. Discontinue treatment if no improvement is noted within 5 days.

 Customer reviews
1) Pharmacy Grade Product, January 11, 2011
By moonjogger (MI)
This review is from: Fish Cillin (Ampicillin 250 mg) – 100 Caps (Misc.)
“This is an excellent product. Is all 100% sealed and is Usp grade antibiotic. Manufacturer is West-ward Pharmisuiticals of New Jersery. This very same tablet is what Walgreens and Rite aid are despensing for their Generics. OF COURSE, I was thrilled that my fish would not suffer from any kind of ill effects from any kind of odd fillers or additives that may have been added. Fish are very sensitive to any kind of changes in their enviourment. Thus I am 100 % confident in the Knowing that all are safe with this Antibiotic.”

2) SAVED MY DOG’S LIFE., November 1, 2007
By Lavern A. W. (Ohio This review is from: Fish Cillin (Ampicillin 250 mg) – 100 Caps
I WISH I WOULD HAVE FOUND THESE EARLIER. I lost my Scotty (12 years old and Sheppard 13 years old in 2006). The vet could not save them. It cost a lot of money and no dogs to show for it. When my Scottie’s twin sister got sick in April of 2007 I gave her four tablets a day and on the fourth day she started to eat again. This was the same time that the tainted dog food was happening. I still have her and she was 13 in July and this is November. Plus I saved hundred of dollars in vet bill and have a dog to show for it.
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 B.  Amoxicillin
Amoxicillin is a penicillin group antibiotic. It fights bacteria in your body.
Amoxicillin is used to treat many different types of infections caused by bacteria, such as ear infections, ear/nose/throat (upper respiratory infections) bladder and urninary tract infections, pneumonia, gonorrhea, and E. coli or salmonella infection. Amoxicillin is also sometimes used together with another antibiotic called clarithromycin (Biaxin) to treat stomach ulcers caused by Helicobacter pylori infection. This combination is sometimes used with a stomach acid reducer called lansoprazole (Prevacid).
Preparations: Capsules: 250 and 500 mg. Tablets: 500 and 875 mg. Chewable tablets: 125, 200, 250, and 400 mg.
1.   Fish Mox (Amoxicillin) 250mg, 100 Capsules, $14.99
2.   Amazon.com: Fish Mox (Amoxicillin) 250mg, 100 Capsules, $16.28 + free shipping.
_a)  Standard pharmacy quality Amoxicillin antibiotic
_b)  Labeled for use in fish tanks, in pull apart capsules for easy use – 250 mg. strength

 Product Description
Fish-Mox exerts a bactericidal action on gram positive and some gram negative bacteria. Useful for control of some common bacterial diseases of fish including aeromonas and pseudomonas genera and mysobacterial group (gill diseases, chondrococcus).

Add contents of one capsule (250 mg) into aquarium for each 10 gallons  of water to be treated. It is recommended that extended medication baths continue for a minimum of 5 days & for not more than 10 days. Discontinue treatment if no improvement is noted within 5 days.
 _a) [10 gallons  water per 250mg Fish-Mox * 8.3 pounds per gallon water =83 pounds of water per 250mg Fish-Mox capsule,
_b) there fore, 500mg Fish-Mox per 166 pounds water, ie. pounds body weight.]

Customer reviews
‘For most infections, the dosage weight of this drug is 500mg for an average 160-200 lbs adult, taken 2 to 3 times a day. Take a total of 1 Gram (1000  mg) per day, using 500mg Fish Mox that would be two pills a day. Water mass is considered in determining dosage, since this is a Penicillin class of drug. You can double the dosage for short-term, serious infections. A bottle should cost $25 for 100 Pills. It’s a human grade pharmaceutical medication, the same pills humans take.’ Pasted from http://www.godlikeproductions.com/forum1/message813524/pg1>

1)  Review of product “Fish Mox“, February 11, 2007
By Cathy F. Elkiss (Gettysburg, PA USA This review is from: Fish Mox (Amoxicillin) 250mg, 100 Capsules (Misc.)
“I run a sanctuary for abandoned and homeless cats in my community, and I like to keep a supply of amoxicillin and ampicillin on hand for treating the occasional upper respiratory infections to which these animals are prone. They are both excellent products – safe, inexpensive, easy to use and most important, effective. Thank you! Cathy Elkiss”
2)  It’s The Real Stuff!!, April 17, 2009
By A.A.Roxx (PA) This review is from: Fish Mox (Amoxicillin) 250mg, 100 Capsules (Misc.)
“I had a bad sinus infection, tried to get a doctors appointment and was told I had to wait 2 weeks. I ordered the Fishmox received it fast from Amazon, took it 4 times a day and within 5 days the sinus infection was gone! Stayed on it for 10 days total. I saved $100 doctors visit and $90
Amoxicillin purchase (I have no medical insurance). It is real Amoxicillin. It worked for me.’
3)   Pharmaceutical Grade Amoxicillin, February 25, 2011 By J. Ellison (Silverton, oregon) –
This review is from: Fish Mox (Amoxicillin) 250mg, 100 Capsules (Misc.)
“Fish-Mox is pharmaceutical grade Amoxicillin made in Tolleson AZ, & is same as Human Antibiotic. Capsule has FDA lot & Registration number printed on each Cap. Is non-suspended yellow powder in a pull-apart gelatin capsule. It’s the Real-McCoy; Excellent value. JE Oregon”
4)  Fish Mox (Amoxicillin) 250mg, 100 Capsules, February 2, 2011 By nubbles. This review is from: Fish Mox (Amoxicillin) 250mg, 100 Capsules (Misc.)
‘This is the real deal pharmacy grade Amoxicillin, 250mg, 100 caps. Of course it’s for aquarium use only, but if you accidentally take some yourself, for let’s say calming your abscessed tooth down, you will be very OK. and if your dog accidentally eats a couple a day it might accidentally calm down his ear yeast infection. Order with confidence! and upon arrival you can inspect the pills, enter the ID on them ‘westward 938’ into google and you will see info from FDA and others telling you these are the real deal.”
5)  100% Amoxicillan, See Below……, December 10, 2010 By Westfin. This review is from: Fish Mox (Amoxicillin) 250mg, 100 Capsules (Misc.)
“I just received my order of Fish Mox, which will be used for my fish, but I was curious so I looked up the name and number from one of the capsules and here are the results: http://www.drugs.com/imprints/west-ward-938-15375.html
[“West-ward 938”, Pill imprint West-ward 938 has been identified as Amoxicillin 250 mg. Amoxicillin is used in the treatment of urinary tract infection; bacterial infection; bladder infection; bronchitis; upper respiratory tract infection (and more), and belongs to the drug class aminopenicillins. There is no proven risk in humans during pregnancy”….]


C.  Doxycycline
Doxycycline is a synthetic (man-made) antibiotic derived from tetracycline.
Doxycycline is used for many different types of infections, including respiratory tract infections due to Hemophilus influenzae(1), Streptococcus pneumoniae(2), or Mycoplasma pneumoniae (3). It also is used for the treatment of nongonococcal urethritis (due to Ureaplasma), Rocky mountain spotted fever (tick, flea & lice bites), typhus, cancroids, cholera, brucellosis, anthrax, bubonic plague, syphilis, diarrhea, and acne, chronic prostatitis, sinusitis, chlamydia, pelvic inflammatory disease, acne, rosacea, and Rickettsial infections.
Preparations: Capsules: 40, 50, 75, and 100 mg. Tablets: 50, 75, 100, and 150 mg.
*  Amazon.com: Aqua-Doxy  (Doxycycline) 100mg Tablets – 30 Count, $6.99 =$5.00 S&H=$11.99 each.

Product Description
One bottle of Aqua-Doxy 30 Tablets. 100 mg USP pharmaceutical grade Doxycycline Hyclate per capsule. What you see is what you get – no generic substitutes. Labeled for ornamental fish use.

Customer review
1)  Successfully helped our “little guy“, January 1, 2010 By Jeffrey Baitis re.  Aqua-Doxy 100mg Tablets – 30 Count (Misc.)
“It’s very good to take your animals to a vet if you suspect illness. That stated, we suspected one of our guinea pigs had an upper respiratory tract infection, and read on guinealynx.info that guinea pigs are often treated successfully with doxycycline 5mg/kg q12h. With a pet that costs $5, I elected to medicate the fuzzball myself. It was great to find a few doxycycline hyclate tablets for a low price on Amazon, shipped directly to our door (and quickly). Our guinea pig improved within about three days; within a week, his cough was completely absent. We continued to medicate him for another five days to try to ensure that any possible antibotic-resistant bacteria would be eliminated.
Of course, in this case, causality cannot be established since we merely guessed that the pig had a bacterial infection… but we think this stuff did the trick!”
2)  works well, September 16, 2010. By lynn (ct) Aqua-Doxy 100mg Tablets – 30 Count (Misc.)
“my rats suffer from frequent uri’s and with my vets permission i can treat flare ups at home with this product without the hassle of an office visit. i follow my vets dosage instructions and if they dont improve i schedule a vet visit but so far these have saved me a bundle.”
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 D.  Tetracycline
* Amazon.com: Fish Cycline (Tetracycline) 250 mg – 100 Caps, by Thomas Laboratories, $13.79  + free Shipping

Product Features
•  Exerts bacterial action on gram-positive
•  And some gram-negative bacteria
•  For ornamental and aquarium fish only

Product Description
Non-prescription tetracycline labeled for fish or aquarium use for the control of common bacterial infections. Each capsule contains 250 mg tetracycline. Directions: Add contents of capsule to aquarium water at the rate of 1 (250 mg. capsule) per 10 gals. Repeat in 24 hours. Continue treatment for 5-10 days.

 BE CAREFUL WITH TETRACYCLINE! Make sure you know the expiration date and mark it down on EVERY bottle you store it in. After it expires Tetracycline becomes toxic.

 Customer reviews
1)  It’s Tetracycline, pure and simple, February 16, 2007, By K. Yates
This review is from: Fish Cycline (Tetracycline 250 mg) – 100 Caps (Misc.)
“Tired of $75 to ??? (Where is the limit?) doctor’s visits to get an antibiotic for an infection? If you are savvy enough to know when you have what, you may want to know that the exact same antibiotic is available to dope your fish tank and retard the growth of unhealthy bacteria. And you won’t go to the pharmacy and pay $50 to $100 for 30 to 50 caplets. This is a bottle of 100 caplets for less than $28 or, at least it was when I reordered from the vet supply house that ships it. (Where I also found 100 – 500mg caps for the same price.)”
2)  I haven’t died yet!, June 14, 2009, By lisa simpson ” This review is from: Fish Cycline (Tetracycline 250 mg) – 100 Caps (Misc.)
“I have used these Thomas Labs antibiotics for years. They are USP grade- United States Pharmaceutical grade. If you really want to pay $85 for an office visit, $30 for a strep screen, then $30 for 30 Amoxicillin capsules, then go for it! But I don’t have that kind of $$$$$!”


E.  Zithromax
* Amazon.com:  Aquatic Azithromycin, (Zithromax) 250mg. 30 Count Tablets, Antibiotic USP by Aquatic Pharmacy

Product Features
•  All our products are pharmaceutical grade [USP ] The highest quality.
•  Not for human consumption or aquatic species meant for food.
•  Labeled for aquatic use only. (Therefore no prescription needed)
•  Dosage and direction for aquatic use, on bottle.
•  All bottles are safety sealed and have child resistant cap

Product Description
Each tablet contains: Azithromycin, 250mg., 30 count tablets USP…..Azithromycin is a semisynthetic broad spectrum antibiotic, for treatment against many gram-positive and gram-negative microorganisms.

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II.  Antibiotic prescription, general dosage
Pasted from: http://www.survivalistboards.com/showthread.php?t=14441
Also: http://www.allthingsnow.com/all/survival/shared/15584307/Fish-Antobiotics-For-Human-Use-Survivalist-Forum

Penicillin, give 500 mg by mouth 4 times a day (qid) for Streptococcal, pneumococcal infections, anaerobic infections “above the diaphragm” such as abscessed teeth. Although its spectrum is limited, this drug is relatively cheap and causes fewer side effects such as diarrhea and vaginitis. Unfortunately, streptococci and pneumococci are increasingly resistant.

Amoxicillin,  250mg. Give 250 to 500 mg by mouth (id) every 12 hours, for urinary, middle ear, and lower respiratory infection (bronchia and lungs). This is a broader spectrum penicillin. Staphylococci are usually resistant.

Erythromycin, 400 mg. Give two tablets twice daily (bid) for pneumonia or Streptococcal sore throat. The drug is also of some benefit in Staphylococcal skin infections.

Tetracycline 250 mg Give 250-500 mg by mouth 4 times a day (qid)  for plague and various other insect-born infections; urinary infections; bronchitis; infected animal bites; some venereal diseases; Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Avoid this class of drug in pregnant women and young children, if possible.

Doxycycline 100 mg, which is given once daily (twice for severe infections). Doxycycline has fewer gastrointestinal side effects and is better absorbed than tetracycline with food in the stomach, but is more likely to sensitize the skin to sunlight.

Metronidazole The usual dose is 500 mg three times a day (tid), higher for some infections (e.g. amebiasis). The drug is effective against certain protozoans including amoebae and Giardia, and for anaerobic bacteria such as those that normally inhabit the bowel and the female genital tract. It can be extremely useful in intraabdominal , pelvic, and wound infections caused by such bacteria.

Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole Give one double strength (DS) tablet bid for urinary infections and some types of bacterial diarrhea, or as a back-up drug for sinusitis, bronchitis, ear infections (for resistant organisms or allergic patients).
Pasted from: http://www.survivalistboards.com/showthread.php?t=14441

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See also the informative YouTube videos with, “Patriot Nurse”. The following link takes you to her discussion of the  “Top 5 Antibiotics for SHTF”:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOfthwm_v3E&feature=relmfu

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 See also the book, “The Doom and Bloom(tm) Survival Medicine Handbook” (Keep your loved ones healthy in every disaster, from wildfires to a complete societal collapse),  by  Joseph Alton, M.D. and AMY ALTON, A.R.N.P., sold through Amazon.com
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III.  Things you should be aware of
A.  Why do people feel they need antibiotics without a prescription?
http://www.coreynahman.com/antibiotics.html   by Corey Nahman, Registered pharmacist in the Sate of New York.
(or, ‘Why not do what everyone else does – go to the doctor, get a prescription and take it to the drugstore?’)
There are many reasons people don’t want to obtain antibiotics the traditional way:
•  Persistent Infections – such as urinary tract infections.  You feel burning discomfort down there with an urgency to urinate and you know right away what you have because you get it all the time.  It is a pain in the neck having to run to the doctor for an expensive examination when you know what you have and what you need.
•  Skin Conditions – People who suffer from acne or rosacea often take antibiotics propholactically to prevent flare-ups.  They prefer to buy a large quantity of medicine for a cheap price rather than visiting dermatologist every time they need a refill.
•  Poverty, Lack of Insurance, Cultural Norms – many people, such as undocumented immigrants, work for small businesses.  They get zero benefits.  They can’t afford the doctor and they can’t afford American drug prices.  Often, they come from cultures where prescriptions are not required for antibiotics.

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B.  Why is buying prescription drugs without a prescription potentially dangerous?
http://www.coreynahman.com/antibiotics.html   by Corey Nahman, Registered pharmacist in the Sate of New York.
If you get your antibiotics without going to a doctor and getting a prescription, you can get yourself in trouble, just understand the following as they may refer to you:
•  Misdiagnosis: Antibiotics (of any kind) are not a cure-all.  They are only effective to against bacterial illnesses. They are not effective against  viral illnesses.
Antibiotics are designed to combat specific ailments.  For instance, penicillins (a family of drugs with names ending in “-cillin” such as penicillin, amoxicillin, ampicillin) are effective against streptococcal infections, syphilis, and Lyme disease but for community-acquired pneumonia, bacterial diarrhea, mycoplasmal infections or gonorrhea you would be better off using a quinolone (a family of drugs with names ending in “-oxacin such as levofloxacin (Levaquin) or Ciprofloxacin (Cipro).
A doctor is an expert in knowing which antibiotic to use for specific ailments.  If an untrained person uses the wrong antibiotic his condition may get worse and as a result, he may wind up in the hospital.
•  Side Effects: Antibiotics can cause side effects.  If you take an antibiotic that you are allergic to you could develop an anaphylactic reaction, go into shock and die.  Other  antibiotic side effects include nausea and diarrhea, abdominal pain, liver toxicity, brain and kidney damage or even pseudomembranoous colitis.
•  Interactions (Drug, Food, Alcohol): Certain antibiotics should not be mixed with other drugs, foods  or alcohol. For example, drinking grapefruit juice with erythromycins or taking erythromycin with theophylline (a drug used for respiratory ailments) can cause fatal heart arrhythmias. There are many other interactions that doctors know about but you don’t. [Erythromycin is  not one of the antibiotics considered in our TEOTWAWKI medicine chest.]
•  Resistance: No-prescription antibiotics are likely to be misused leading to drug resistance.  Drug resistant germs are difficult to treat and have spread into the community wreaking havoc on our healthcare institutions.
•  Conclusion: Buying antibiotics without a doctor’s prescription is easy.  The drugs are inexpensive.  This is a potentially dangerous practice but it is unlikely to stop because it is a low priority for law enforcement institutions.

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