Security

Life Saving Privacy

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on December 21, 2015

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LIFE SAVING PRIVACY

PREAMBLE

When the English Magna Carter was written in the year 1215 by a group of the first robber-barons it was because of perceived abuses by King John. Nearly eight hundred years later, in September 2014, Tim Berners-Lee makes a repeated request for an Internet version of the Magna Carter. His concerns relate to the abuses of governments and corporations regarding the privacy of Internet users.

Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks”.

The United States Bill of Rights, written in 1791 has freedom of speech in the first amendment and that people have the right “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures”in the fourth amendment.

The first amendment states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”. Within the context of 1791, speech, newspapers, assembly and petitioning the government, are all, at their heart, about communication.

Clearly, freedom of speech, privacy and personal security are closely related, some might argue that privacy is the foundation upon which free-thought, free-speech, democracy and freedom from tyranny rests.

PrivacyInternational.Org writes “Privacy is a fundamental right, essential to autonomy and the protection of human dignity, serving as the foundation upon which many other human rights are built.”

It should be simple to understand, it ought to be obvious – if we want any kind of freedom then we have to ensure our privacy.

In this modern era, more than at any other time, we need to make the effort to understand and achieve privacy. To not do so, is an abdication. There can be little doubt that many people have died, either because they lacked the means to achieve privacy or their protests were too bold – for example, dissidents in China, Saudi Arabia, Quatar, North Korea, various countries in South America, etc.

Perhaps you think “I am not a dissident” therefore I do not need to overly concern myself with privacy. Do you think you are free to advocate or make a payment to any organization, without someone else deciding that you are a dissident? The news you read or listen to, did not magically pop into a journalist's head, communication was involved, often from normal everyday folks. When visiting an attorney, why rely only on client-attorney privilege? If you forgot to mention something in a meeting with your attorney, would you phone it in or send an email? Do attorneys know the attendant risks associated with cell phones, both theirs and yours? How many attorneys actually insist on secure communications, secure meetings, have secure drop-boxes, etc?

If we wait until we actually really need secure communication – the stress of the moment will likely preclude clear thinking, and it might not be on the mind of an attorney, journalist, other dissident, etc. There is a really good reason why airline pilots use flight simulators to go through emergency scenarios over and over until desired correct actions become routine. We have the additional challenge of not currently being able to anticipate exactly why or when, privacy will be paramount.

INTRODUCTION

The article that follows is actually a byproduct of work that has been ongoing for more than two years. As much as possible, the technical jargon and acronyms have been avoided.

We live in a Catch-22 world. The need to perform due-diligence increases at the same time that the facility to do so decreases. As Preppers we know that the future is going to be harder than the present, that infrastructure will deteriorate and the ability to get spare parts and perform repairs will become increasingly difficult. As an example, if we were to buy a freezer, we want one that is going to last as long as possible, be easy to repair and run for a month on a car battery, reality provides us with the opposite – low quality Chinese plastic crap with bushes instead of roller bearings and built-in obsolescence.

In order to perform due-diligence we need to become experts in every field that our lives expose us to. We dread needing the services of an attorney, doctor, car mechanic, plumber, electrician and perhaps worst of all a banker – for example, how many of us (with mortgages) know when a recast is better than refinance? If you refinance and cash-out, what are the implications in your jurisdiction for maintaining a loan as non-recourse? Or, if you are getting married, what are the implications if you are in a common-law state, or a community-law state (hint: are you also marrying your new partner's debts?).

So in the area of digital-privacy, how are we to determine what we should be doing and why? We collectively rely (primarily) on our parents, friends, education system and on-the-job training to address our ignorance and the risks such ignorance introduces. Alas, our parents were educated in a system not much better than our own and for them (at the time) it was a much simpler world. Our friends are likely to be as ignorant as ourselves, if only for the sake of simple conformity. That leaves the work place, minimal training, annual performance reviews seeking eternal improvements without equivalent increased rewards and colleagues that every day look more like deer in headlights.

Digital privacy and data security are synonyms. There is no difference between locking our doors, drawing our curtains at night, keeping valuables out of sight in our cars, being careful taking cash out at the automatic-teller-machine (ATM), developing situational awareness, defensive driving and maintaining digital privacy.

It should be an absolute given, that you already:

  • Regularly use an (up to date) anti-virus scan on your computer.
  • Use your Web Browser's Privacy features.
  • When Browsing, block advertising (AdBlock Plus) and trackers (Ghostery), both links are HTTPS.
  • Use a privacy oriented Internet search engine e.g. DuckDuckGo.Com , make it the default in your Browser, so that when you select-text it appears in your mouse right-click menu.
  • Use secure email on a non-five-eyes platform i.e. non : US, UK, Canadian, Australian or New Zealand e.g. RiseUp.Net (a U.S. exception), ProtonMail.Ch, sigaintevyh2rzvw.onion (if you are using the FireFox Tor Bundle).
  • Keep all your critical applications up to date with security patches and updates.

The icing on the cake is if you already understand encryption and have your own public key that you make readily accessible to anyone that wants to communicate with you securely. To not do so is lamentable. The Doomstead Diner has already promulgated both encryption and secure email. The current preferred tool for encryption/decryption is GPG4USB here is the download page. Palloy, here on the Diner has created some excellent support documentation and how-to instructions (part one and part two and part three).

If you also use a Password Manager (e.g. KeePass), encrypt your computer's hard drive (and external drives and USB sticks, etc.) and use Linux, then you are a demigod!

The likely problem for almost all of us, is that even if we do all of the above – we become islands. Our friends and family are Luddites, mindlessly repeating the mantra of “I have nothing to hide and therefore nothing to fear”. That hackneyed cliché might be true if government offices were populated with law-unmakers. They are called law-makers, because every year they introduce more and more laws. More than can currently be counted. Exercise your rights or see them gradually eroded. Insist on using private and secure systems today, rather than trying to overturn a burdensome law tomorrow.

Australia already has onerous laws. According to Australian Broadcasting Corporation News (March 2015) “Contentious data retention laws have passed Federal Parliament, with both major parties voting for the legislation in the Senate”.

Every day there is more new content added to the Internet than any of us could consume in a lifetime. So we cherry-pick the forums we frequent, the news sites we visit, the stories we read, the videos we watch, the podcasts and music we listen to, the channels we subscribe to, the tweets we re-tweet and so on.

Unfortunately being obliged to be selective, introduces significant risk that we will miss something important and we hope that other people sharing our virtual presence can diminish those risks by bringing things to our attention.

Activities associated with everyday living, getting and keeping a job, managing household budgets, social, family, church, parenting and other obligations, dealing with the happenstance of the crap that life throws at us, keep us all very busy and oftentimes very stressed. Too much advertising, too much noise, too many distractions. Never enough hours in the day, never enough money.

There are many websites related to Prepping, Surviving, Collapse, Resilience and Doom in general. RE here at the Doomstead Diner manages quite few of his own.

One of the generally accepted themes on all of the sites, by both writers, readers and those making comments – is the need for various kinds of security; Operational, Communication, Food, Water, First Aid, etc.

Digressing: You need to already be practising “security” – this is a 'process' not a 'product'. Waiting until a shit-hit-the-fan event will be too late. The challenge is to do so today in a manner that is not obsequious. i.e. Please avoid public displays of affection over your security “equipment”.

 

 

 

With regard to Security of Communication, many seem to focus on having alternative communication that will work after the grid goes down, which usually means having good battery operated two-way-radios and knowing how to use them. Or perhaps it means a scouting group can communicate in code, in the dark, to reduce the chances of friendly-fire incidents. Or people approaching a check point need to know a secret pass phrase. Or when calling home people are expected to use a special word that indicates they have been compromised and so on.

What rarely gets much discussion, is the need for secure communication here today before the shit-hits-the-fan. Some of the benefits are obvious – increased privacy and negating the need for self censorship – alas, those benefits on their own do not seem to be adequate motivators. Perhaps the lack of real anonymity, or the hassle of creating new accounts on difficult to access services, or the hassle of exchanging a public-key and copying and pasting obscure text is too much for most of us.

There are those that will argue that the Internet might not be around for long after a big event – bear in mind that the majority of the Internet's backbone uses fiber-optic cables that are unaffected by electro-magnetic pulses, waves or surges. The Internet was also designed to be resilient and route data packets around failed connections. So it could well be that the Internet will be around much longer than we would guess.

An Internet based communication facility with real security that can actually be trusted, can offer much more than privacy and the absence of self-censorship.

From a service-provider's perspective, offering complete anonymity is a significant challenge. If users can be completely anonymous, then how do you prevent people creating multiple sock-puppet accounts?

Across the websites that we regularly visit are many writers and prognosticators, for example; James Kunstler, John Greer, Nicole Foss, Gail Tverberg, Ugo Bardi (Club of Rome, author of Extracted), Guy McPherson, James Hansen, Albert Bartlett, Jay Hanson, Derrick Jensen (author of Endgame), Joseph Tainter, John Ward (a.k.a The Slog), many of the former writers at www.TheOilDrum.Com, Ferfal (Argentine monetary collapse 1998-2002), Selco (Bosnian Conflict from 1992-95), the late Michael Ruppert and so on.

Unfortunately few of us also have the inclination to wade through the heavier reading provided by the likes of:

  • Kill the password: A string of characters won't protect you (see here).
  • Dice Ware – a much more secure password phrase – for really good mathematical reasons (see here).
  • Traffic Analyses of HTTPS from University of California Berkeley (see here).
  • Nvidea graphics cards, what is GPU computing (see here).
  • Storing Passwords Securely (for multiple users) in a Server Database. (see here).

With regard to password storage (for all Users on a web server) its worth reading a short post by Krebs On Security, he points out a web site that names-and-shames web sites that store passwords as plain text (or using reversible encryption, which is just as bad). The site is PlainTextOffenders.com, the Archive is worth a look, it contains nearly 2,500 entries, only 5 of which are off-topic and an additional 5 are duplicates – it is riddled with household names.

Digressing: If you ever decide to share a NetFlix, Amazon or other password with a family member or friend, there is an article just for you on LifeHacker.com How to Securely Share a Password

 

 

 

WHO WE ARE

We read Doomer fiction, Lights Out, One Second After, et. al. and fret over how we might get home if the shit-hits-the-fan when we are away on a business trip or vacation.

We read about how best to survive off-grid or how to be a gray-man and pass unnoticed through a crowd. We ruminate about “Conflicted-Tuesday”, the optimum bug-out vehicle, what to put in a bug-out bag, or whether it is better to bug-in.

We visit as many news sites as possible, hoping to keep a handle on the big picture. The refugees flooding into Europe. Iran getting nuclear weapons. Saudi Arabia running out of oil. The conflicts in the Middle-East escalating into a broader war. Nuclear reactors melting down (Fukushima). Nuclear bombs, electromagnetic-pulse, Solar flares, Ebola, earthquakes, tsunami, meteors, volcanoes, super volcanoes (Yellowstone), mega-droughts, climate change and the Methane-Clathrate gun hypothesis.

Even something as simple as weather could be the start of the next slippery slope, a bigger hurricane Katrina followed by a bigger hurricane Sandy, a winter storm in the north-east U.S.A that goes on for day after day, dumping foot after foot of snow and ice. Our deferred-maintenance fragile infrastructure and just-in-time supply lines can barely tolerate a week of disruption.

The important thing to remember about one of the “big” events, is that it is usually not the event that gets you, it is the consequences when the Golden Hoard arrives in your neighborhood, or the supermarkets are no longer being supplied.

The majority of us probably accept that the next step down in our “Long Emergency” will likely be much like 2008 and primarily be economic in nature. Resulting in more unemployment that goes unrecorded in official statistics. Then we wonder which bubbles burst next, health, education, sub-prime automobile loans, etc. Loss of jobs results in demand-destruction that ironically lowers the price of oil and other commodities, putting more energy companies and their suppliers out of business and more people out of jobs, leading to yet more demand-destruction.

The correct answer to the question “how much can you afford to pay for gasoline”, is not “depends on the cost of gasoline and my personal budget”, no, the correct answer is “do I have a job”.

Digressing: You should think of oil prices as having both a ceiling and a floor. This actually applies to all natural resources, for example Coal and Natural Gas.

In a rudimentary sense, the oil price floor is a function of the cost of finding, extracting and refining crude oil. Below a certain price it is uneconomic to produce the oil and it will simply stay in the ground. Gone are the days of easy to find, cheap to extract, light sweet crude oil. These days it requires either billion dollar, deep water, offshore rigs, toxic hydraulic fracturing or cooking tar sand in Canada to extract heavy sour bitumen with enormously expensive pipe lines that (would) span a large portion of North America.

The oil price ceiling is dictated by people's ability to pay for the finished product. That ability falls a little, each time the economy contracts and more people are forced from high paying jobs to lower paying jobs, or in the case of outsourcing, gone altogether. The reduction in disposable income is paralleled by a reduction in vehicle-miles-traveled ( VMT).

The floor rises, the ceiling lowers and the economy lies between being squeezed to death.

 

 

 

Then there is the true Black-Swan. Something completely unanticipated, with various national governments keen not to waste a good crisis and quickly stripping us of even more liberties, supposedly for our own safety. Increased militarization and thuggery from the police. Central and local governments looking for ever more ways to tax us and corporations inventing new ways to bend us over a table or lie to us (most recently Volkswagon).

Lets add some of the companies and organizations that have demonstrated a complete inability to keep data about us secure – in the U.S.A this includes Sony Entertainment, Chase Manhattan bank, Regency Bluecross Blueshield Health Provider, retailers TJ-Max and The Home Depot, Facebook, Twitter, Google, Microsoft, the Apple iCloud, The Whitehouse, the Federal Government's human resources department the Office of Personnel Management, the U.S. Postal Service, Ashley Madison (the adultery web site) and the list seems to grow every week.

The U.S.A does not have a monopoly on the fiasco that is data-security, in the U.K. we have; Nationwide Building Society (2006), Her Majesties Revenue and Customs (2007), T-Mobile (2009), The National Health Service's Brighton and Sussex University Hospital Trust (2010), Sony Playstation Network (2011), Morrison's Supermarket (2014), Staffordshire University (2014), Mumsnet (2014), Think W3 Ltd. (2014), Moonpig (2015), Talk Talk Mobile Communications (2014, 2015), the U.K. division of Experian credit reporting agency (2015).

There is no shortage of catastrophic examples of data-security failures. More will continue to occur as we desensitize.

JOURNALISTS & SOURCES

You would think that Journalists would know better and would be able to properly protect their sources.

Summer 2013, Audrey Hudson a veteran Washington Times investigative reporter and currently freelance, reported to the Daily Caller that her home was subjected to a predawn raid by the Department of Homeland Security and Maryland State Police. The search warrant indicated that the raid allowed law enforcement to search for firearms inside her home. But without Hudson’s knowledge, the agents also confiscated a batch of documents that contained information about her sources. (see here).

2014 in New Zealand, prominent journalist and author Nicky Hager had his home ransacked by agents from the national police force. Hagar wrote “It is disruptive to anyone’s work to suddenly not have their computers and especially an investigative journalist’s work. There is now also the legal battle to get my equipment and files back untouched. There is no choice about fighting it. I have to protect this and other sources for life or why should anyone ever trust me again?”.(see here).

In Australia, journalist Philip Dorling had his home and car searched by the Federal Police accompanied by computer experts. Dorling's employer Fairfax Media issued a statement that said in part “A Federal police raid on the home of a journalist cuts to the heart of the operation of a free press, and is unacceptable ”. This was not the first such raid in Australia and will not be the last. It is unlikely that Dorling used encryption to protect his work or his sources. (see here).

Edward Snowden and Julian Assange are names that have entered the contemporary lexicon of the cognoscenti. These men are bellwethers, showing the metaphorical lengths that we too may be forced to go. Snowden having to defect to Russia, Assange taking refuge in Ecuador's London embassy and under the equivalent of permanent house arrest by U.K. authorities at massive tax payer expense, because the U.S.A has it's panties in a bunch.

In an article about the NSA's mass surveillance, the journalist Glenn Greenwald wrote ; “In the immediate aftermath of the first Snowden reports, I was contacted by countless leading national security reporters in the U.S., who work with the largest media outlets, seeking an interview with Snowden. But there was a critical problem: despite working every day on highly sensitive matters, none of them knew anything about basic encryption methods, nor did their IT departments ”. (see here).

What Greenwald does not readily admit to, was the fact that he himself knew nothing about secure communication prior to Snowden's leak. Greenwald was brought on-board by Laura Poitras.

Digressing for a moment. Glenn Greenwald is obviously (now) passionate about privacy and has an excellent 15 minute monologue on TED followed by 5 minutes to answer a couple of questions. If you have not seen it, you should. Another excellent talk on TED is by Mikko Hypponen: How the NSA betrayed the world's trust – time to act

Also there are two must-see documentaries and a biography. The following are all online streams that do not require creating accounts (links verified December 16 2015):

  • Citizen Four 1 hour 53 minutes – Eye opening documentary about the Edward Snowden whistleblowing (or espionage if you are challenged).

  • Deep Web 1 hour 30 minutes – 2015 documentary about the prosecution of Ross Ulbricht (Silk Road).

  • The Fifth Estate 2 hours 8 minutes – Assange & WikiLeaks Biography, stars Benedict Cumberbatch.

All three are easily found as torrents, are worth downloading and copying to a USB stick. A TV with a USB port should be able to play them directly from the USB stick.

 

 

 

Snowden's initial communication with Laura Poitras was itself a challenge because Poitras herself had been remiss in ensuring her 'public' encryption key was easy to obtain. Snowden had to first use a common third party (Mr Micah Lee) to obtain Poitras' public key and initiate secure communication. (see here).

Having secure communication and encrypting computer files, is by itself not enough. This is especially the case in the U.K. and some other countries, where people can be jailed if they fail to hand over the 'private' keys used to decrypt their communications and files. See the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act of 2000, or RIPA 2000. (See Key Disclosure Laws and RIPA). These U.K. laws are currently being updated, it is unlikely that the result will be greater privacy or liberty for U.K. Subjects.

Even BBC reporters are not immune. Jane Wakefield (January 2015) wrote an article asking “Can the Government ban encryption”? (see here). A sideline near the end of the article attempted to answer the question “What is encryption”?

Wakefield wrote: “Symmetric encryption systems involve two keys that are shared between two people communicating” This is plainly wrong! In Symmetric encryption there is only a single key that is common to both the parties communicating, the key is used for both encryption and decryption (this is the symmetry) and this type of encryption and decryption is computationally very fast.

Wakefield went on to add: “Asymmetric encryption – also known as public key encryption – is made up of both a public and private key”. This is incomplete; there are two pairs of public/private keys, so four keys in total. The public keys, which are sent to the other party are used for encryption, the private keys, which are kept secret, are used for decryption. This different path for encryption vs. decryption is the asymmetric characteristic and requires far more computation than symmetrical encryption.

When you visit an https web site, a symmetric key is created that is good for the life of the session, it is exchanged at the start of the session using a public key asymmetric hand shake.

Revelations from Snowden, Assange, Manning, etc. should have been enough to wake up even those in a coma and yet we all have family members that “just don't get it”.

Even John Brennan, the head of the CIA in the United States had his personal email account hacked. The security on the Apple iPhone 6 has already been broken. Time Magazine reported (June 2015) a “Massive Security Flaw in the iPhone and Mac” (Apple Security Blown) this was followed more recently (November 2015) with news from Digital Trends that the company Zerodium has accepted a claim for it's million dollar prize to anyone that can prove a hack of Apple's IOS 9 (see here). Perversely, Zerodium is most likely to forward-sell the hack to the United State's NSA.

Finally, there is one more journalist that really needs to be mentioned; Barrett Brown. “In January 2015, Brown was sentenced to 5.25 years in federal prison and fined nearly a million dollars, for the crimes of accessory after the fact, obstruction of justice, and threatening a federal officer stemming from the FBI's investigation into the 2012 Stratfor email leak”. This case looks a lot like a political prosecution. Journalists need to protect themselves just as much as their sources.

It is also worth mentioning that few newspapers take security seriously, only The Guardian in the U.K. offers easy access to journalist's public keys and also a secure drop-box, that last link goes to page with a (visible) link to https://tails.boum.org that actually goes to https://torproject.org/. In the USA newspapers appear to not give a damn.

SPECIAL MENTIONS

The BBC recently reported (December 2015) about the alleged creator of BitCoin (a crypto-currency). If Dr. Wright really is the creator of BitCoin and an academic expert in cryptography, then one has to wonder why everything was not encrypted and/or subject to client-attorney-privilege. Apparently “[Sydney, Australia, police] investigations were based on leaked emails, documents and web archives, including what was said to be a transcript of a meeting between Wright (a 44-year-old academic) and Australian tax officials”.

HTTPS

The majority of us have probably become accustomed to seeing HTTP or HTTPS in the address bar of our Web Browsers and at a rudimentary level know that one is not secure (HTTP) and the other is secure (HTTPS).

In the context of contemporary web browsers, that term 'secure' for HTTPS, means two things:

  • The data moving in both directions between your web browser and the remote web server is 99% encrypted. The 1% that is not encrypted is the name of the web site you are connecting to e.g. DoomSteadDiner.Net
  • You can be sure that the encryption key being used is actually from the site that you wish to connect to. This second part is usually referred to as being secure about “who you are connecting to”, even though it is actually an inference.

 

These two aspects of 'secure' are equally important. There is no point having the data encrypted between you and a remote web server, if the remote web server is actually that of an interloper.

There are two ways of achieving number-two; “being sure who you are connecting to”. It can be done manually, typically once per web site for the life of the encryption key (a.k.a. Certificate), which can be multiple years. Or it can be done automatically by relying on a third party to verify the bona fides of the web server's owner and digitally signing the web site's encryption key. These third parties are usually referred to as Certificate Authorities (CA's).

We almost all rely totally on the automated version of number-two; The web browser receives a web site's encryption key (Certificate) and verifies the digital signature using the Certificate Authority's so called Root-Certificate that comes with your web browser.

Digressing: There can be as many as a hundred root certificates managed by your web browser. In the case of FireFox, these are stored in a hidden folder, in a file called cert8.db

 

 

 

The manual way of verifying a web site's encryption key (Certificate) would be by visual inspection of it's fingerprint, a long number, written in base 16 (as opposed to base 10 or decimal). Ideally you would obtain the fingerprint by some method independent of the Internet, for example through regular mail or in-person.

Digressing: The DoomSteadDiner's resident security guru is Palloy. His (or her) web site has an example of fingerprint verification here. Unfortunately you are unlikely to get the fingerprint in-person, so you have a Catch-22 situation.

 

 

 

What follows are three instances that demonstrate relying on Certificate Authorities is not necessarily a best practice. Alas, many web sites are forcing the use of CA's by using HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS).

Back in April 1992 IBM introduced the first ThinkPad laptop computer. Over the following years it won 300 awards for design and quality, becoming immensely popular with businesses. In 2005 IBM sold it's Personal Computer business including the ThinkPad brand to the Chinese company Lenovo. Nearly a decade later in 2014 things at Lenovo had obviously gone awry. The company had decided to include a so called man-in-the-middle attack in it's vendor specific version of Microsoft Windows. Called SuperFish, the software (AdWare) intercepted web-browser data from the Internet and injected advertising into the web pages.

From PCWorld.Com : “The biggest problem with Superfish isn’t the adware itself so much as the way it hijacks legitimate SSL traffic [that’s HTTPS to you and me]. It does so by installing a self-generated root certificate in the Windows certificate store—a hallowed area usually reserved for trusted certificates from major companies like Microsoft and VeriSign—and then resigns all SSL certificates presented by HTTPS sites with its own certificate”.

November 2015, Dell Computers has been found doing almost the exact same thing. From ComputerWorld.com “After Dell confirmed that one of its support tools installed a dangerous self-signed root certificate and private key on computers, users discovered a similar certificate deployed by a different Dell tool.

 

“The second certificate is called DSDTestProvider and is installed by an application called Dell System Detect (DSD). Users are prompted to download and install this tool when they visit the Dell support website and click the “Detect Product” button”.

The Lenovo actions are shameful. Dell's actions appear to be inadvertent. But it's not just computer manufacturers that represent risk, so do governments. Back in March 2010, the Electronic Frontier Foundation published an article describing how Security Researchers had presented “evidence that certificate authorities (CAs) may be cooperating with government agencies to help them spy undetected on “secure” encrypted communications”.

HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS), prevents removing Root Certificates and manually allowing Site Certificates on an exception basis. In fact the way web browsers “allow” manual verification of a site's certificate, is up there with the idea of performing surgery on oneself. Self-Certifying sites are treated as “Errors” and “Invalid” and supposed extreme risks, none of which is necessarily true.

So far only one Prepper related web site uses HTTPS (UsCrow.Org).This site bills itself as a premium high quality site with plans to encrypt its database. Updates are infrequent, with no changes in over a month.

It is (currently) not free to secure a web site by using HTTPS. Though some entities are trying to address this, for example LetsEncrypt.Org.

HTTPS does make sense on banking, financial and health web sites of large coporate bodies where privacy is critical and the resources are available to ensure that certificates are kept up to date and all content is encrypted. It also makes sense on forums where private messages can be exchanged between registered users, but only if messages remain encrypted when stored on the server and the private keys are not stored on the server's permanent storage.

Finally, there is a false sense of security. Take the Prepper web site usCrow.org mentioned earlier. When you are surfing the web, there are typically a small number of so called data-packets being sent by you – via your Internet Service Provider (ISP) – to the remote web server you are interacting with (typically by clicking on a link).On the other hand, the response from the remote web server, is typically an enormous number of data-packets – containing text, photographs, music, video, the mark-up language that formats the page, etc. The encrypted content of the data-packets coming back to your browser are almost completely private. The only information available to your ISP is:

  • Where the data appears to come from.
  • The amount of (encrypted) data.
  • The time of day and time taken to transfer the data.

You might think that is not much, but it is enough to work out which page you visited on a site, with a high degree of accuracy. The potential achilles heel appears, when a link on a web page, typically an advertisement, is to a non-https site. The standard that web browsers are meant to adhere to, states that a Referrer-URL should not be sent when the link is from an HTTPS page to an HTTP page. The implication being, that a Referrer-URL is ok to send when the transfer is from a secure page to another (different) site's secure page. The issue here is not eavesdropping by your ISP, it is that you might click on a link for hiking-boots from a bomb-making page and your boot supplier would know.

 

Digressing: The Referrer-URL is everything that appears in your browser's address bar, which might include session specific items.

 

 

 

There are a large number of web browsers (Microsoft IE, Apple Safari, Mozilla FireFox, Opera, etc.) running on an even larger number of Platforms : dozens of versions of Microsoft Windows (both 32 and 64 bit), multiple Apple Operating Systems, numerous Linux versions, masses of Google Android versions (KitKat, MarshMallow, JellyBean, Lollipop, etc.). Trusting a standard has been properly implemented and also works on your particular combination of Browser and Platform might be risky.

Would you want to take a chance on the following page:

https://uscrow.org/2015/10/20/how-to-make-nitroglycerin/

DARK WEB .ONIONS & TOR

The-Onion-Router (TOR) is a network of computers on the Internet used to anonymize and encrypt connections. The so called Dark-Web is a collection of TOR Hidden Services (dot-onion web sites) that are only accessible using a special TOR configured Browser. In theory almost any browser can be configured (by the user) to access the Internet through TOR.

Digressing: Using a TOR configured web browser to access your conventional email, or any site (that does not also use HTTPS) where you are identified is a self-defeating proposition.

 

 

 

Silk Road and it's heir apparent Silk Road 2.0 were probably the most notorious dark web sites.

Silk Road founder Ross William Ulbricht has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole and ordered to forfeit $184 million. The following bullet points are all quotes from a variety of on-line sources.

  • Richard Bates, a computer programmer, frowning and reluctant, testified against Ulbricht at trial as part of an agreement to avoid prosecution.

  • Judge Forrest also read excerpts from Ulbricht's e-mails, citing them as examples of his disregard for others.

  • The story of five murder-for-hire attempts came out through a remarkable 33-page transcript of private messages that prosecutors harvested from the Silk Road server after it was captured by the government.

  • The payments for the hits came from Ulbricht's own bitcoin wallet, one more piece of damning evidence that his defense lawyers couldn't explain away to the jury.

  • “For those considering stepping into your shoes…they need to understand without equivocation that there will be severe consequences,” Judge Forrest said.

  • RT.com reports; FBI seized ‘Silk Road' black market domain, arrests owner.

  • On the Bitcoin Talk Forums under the user name 'Altoid' Ulbricht posted a request for an Information Technology professional in the Bitcoin community, using a reply-to email address containing his own name “rossulbricht at gmail dot com”. This same user name was used days earlier to promote the Silk Road dark website on a mushroom web site – one of the first known on-line references to the Silk Road dot-onion web address.

Brian Krebs, a security researcher, unearthed the sealed complaint requesting a warrant for Ulbrict's arrest. It can be read in its entirety at: http://www.scribd.com/doc/172778920/Ulbricht-Criminal-Complaint

What becomes readily apparent when researching the Ulbricht case, is that he:

  • Used his real name and email address in several places.

  • Attempted to have forged identity documents with his actual photograph shipped to his home address, from Canada into the USA.

  • Did not encrypt copies of communications and other user data on his servers.

  • Did not keep his passwords, private keys and bitcoin wallets adequately secure.

  • Spoke way too much when interacting with investigators (watch the 48 minute YouTube video; Don't talk to police).

  • Did not have any of his millions set-aside, so that he could mount a proper defense.

In short, Ulbricht brought himself down. The situation for Silk Road 2.0 is not that different, with a moderator turning informant and inadequate security procedures resulting in another, albeit, shorter prison sentence.

The following paragraph is one of the most important in this whole piece, so it's all in bold.

The Dark Web sites were able to be seized because, in both cases, the site's private key was stored on the server, with no protective measures. A well built system does not need to have any passwords, keys, or TOR critical files, stored on the server or hard coded into the software.

In Ulbricht's case, Richard Bates faced the prospect of prosecution and was pressured into testifying against Ulbricht. In the Boston marathon bomber case, two college roommates were prosecuted for allegedly hampering the investigation and were sentenced to 3.5 years. In Martha Stewart's case, they got her for perjury.

TOR ALTERNATIVES

  • I2P. Very similar to Tor, I2P is also an anonymizing and encrypting proxy. The developers of I2P have used different nomenclature (terminology), but as the table at https://geti2p.net shows there is considerable similarity. The author of this document is currently using Tor and providing a hidden service and intends to investigate providing, in parallel, the same hidden service on I2P. This document will be updated in the future to include details stemming from the investigation.

  • Proxies. There are many free proxies on the Internet. When using a Proxy you would ordinarily do so inside your web browser on a per-site basis. For example open proxy-free-web and type (or paste) DoomsteadDiner.Net into the only textbox and then click "Go". If you have an account on the Diner, do not sign-in. Judging by the quality of the English on the proxy site, it would probably be unwise to trust them. Indirecting like this is slower than a direct connection (via your ISP).

    When you access the Internet through your Internet Service Provider (ISP), the ISP is effectively acting as a proxy. If the site you are visiting is HTTP, then your ISP can see (and understand) all of the traffic that passes through it (in both directions). By visiting a Proxy web site (specifically an HTTPS site), your ISP can see that you visited a Proxy web site but nothing else. The site that you indirect to will think that you have come from the country that is providing the proxy service. When you use a proxy service like this, you have effectivly moved your trust from your ISP to the provider of the Proxy service.

  • VPN. (Virtual private network) These are similar to Proxies but do not work inside your browser and are usually intended for all Internet traffic (HTTP, SMTP (mail), FTP (File Transfers), VOIP, etc.). Generaly speaking, VPN's are more sophisticated, more capable and more trustworthy than Proxies. For example, if you wanted to use your smart-phone or laptop to remotely access a computer at your home or office (for file access or remote control), then a VPN is the obvious solution.

    A VPN allows you to simulate the security and functionality afforded by a Local Area Network (LAN), over an Internet connection.

    Digressing: TheRegister.co.uk has reported (December 2015) that Juniper Systems, a rival to Cisco, has since 2008 been providing VPN management software that has been compromised.

     

     

     

GENERIC TOOLS

The purpose of this article is not to provide step-by-step instructions on how to achieve privacy, or to critique the many tools that are available. But for the sake of completeness the following is worth adding. There are plenty of options for improving your privacy. Starting with the absolute basics, you should always use your web browser's Private mode. In Mozilla FireFox this is set under Options, Privacy. For other browsers, privacy can be made the default by adding a command line argument in your desktop (or menu) shortcut. For (Windows) step-by-step instructions see: How to start any browser in private mode.

  • Google Chrome uses …\Chrome\Application\Chrome.exe -incognito
  • Microsoft IE uses “C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe” -private
  • Opera uses “C\Program Files (x86)\Opera\Opera.exe” -newprivatetab

The web site PrivacyTools.io does an excellent job of covering most common computer privacy issues (on desktops, smart phones and routers) including VPN's and a brief explanation of what a Warrant-Canary is.

WRAPPING UP

It is a significant challenge be to be part of modern society and not to have already had our privacy compromised by someone else's data breach.

If you are on Facebook or Twitter and it is not for business reasons, then shut that nonsense down as soon as possible. Sotto voce conversations are not private.

 

 

 

 

 

Violence Cometh

Off the keyboard of Michael Snyder

Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
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Published on The End of the American Dream on May 28, 2015

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GIF_Riot

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Prepare Your Homes And Neighborhoods For The Violence That Is Going To Sweep America

Crime - Bloody Handprint - Public DomainThe thin veneer of civilization that we all take for granted on a daily basis is beginning to disappear, and a new era of chaos and anarchy is coming to our cities.  I don’t know if you have noticed, but violence is increasing on the streets of America.  Over Memorial Day weekend, 29 people were shot in Baltimore and 55 people were shot in Chicago.  But of course the trend that I am talking about is much broader than that.  According to the FBI, the number of police officers “feloniously killed” in the line of duty rose by an astounding 89 percent in 2014.  We live at a time when Americans are becoming extremely angry and extremely frustrated, and this is only going to intensify as economic conditions worsen.  But already we have seen some of this anger and frustration boil over into violence in Ferguson and in Baltimore.  And you know what?  The vast majority of Americans expect more of the same in the coming months.  According to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey that was recently released, 96 percent of all Americans believe that there will be more civil unrest in America this summer.  What we have seen up until now is just the warm up act.  The main event is still to come.

If things are this bad already, how bad will they be when the next great economic crisis hits this nation and unemployment skyrockets and poverty is everywhere?

That is why I am encouraging people that currently live in the heart of our major cities to consider moving.  Unfortunately, most Americans are completely dependent on the jobs that they currently have, so moving is not really a practical option for a lot of people.

For those that cannot move, you are just going to have to get prepared right where you are.  That means making your home and your family as unattractive a target to potential criminals as you possibly can.  The goal should be to avoid a violent confrontation if at all possible.  So you will want multiple layers of security between you and those that would potentially harm you and your family.  You want to try to deter the bad guys from ever coming on to your property in the first place, but if they do come, you need to be ready to deal with them.

At the moment, we are still in the midst of relatively stable economic times.  But even in these relatively stable times, violence is escalating.  Just consider what happened in Baltimore over the recent holiday weekend.  A grand total of 29 people were shot…

Police say 29 people were shot, 9 of them killed over this weekend, adding to the  record-breaking violence.

The shooting didn’t stop on Monday night after a 9-year-old boy and another man were both injured by gun fire in the 2900 block of Arunah Avenue. Police say the child was shot in the leg and another man suffered a graze wound to the head.

Overall, this past month has been the deadliest month for Baltimore in 15 years.

Things are even worse in the city of Chicago.  Over this past weekend, 55 people got shot…

Twelve people were killed and at least 43 — including a 4-year-old girl — were wounded in shootings across Chicago this Memorial Day weekend, police said.

The 4-year-old, identified by her family as Jacele Johnson, was shot about 8 p.m. Friday in the West Englewood neighborhood. She and her 17-year-old cousin Romare Wilson were inside an SUV in the 7000 block of South Justine when another vehicle pulled up and someone inside opened fire, according to their family and Chicago Police.

Early in April, I went on the record and specifically named Chicago and Baltimore as two of the cities where we would be seeing civil unrest.  Since that time we have seen horrible rioting in Baltimore and the violence in Chicago continues to spiral out of control.

Other experts are issuing similar warnings.  For example, consider what an assistant professor at New Jersey City University recently had to say

Urban unrest expert Dr. Max Herman says that the United States is on the “cusp” of a wave of domestic disorder and that the country will see more race riots.

Herman, Assistant Professor of Sociology at New Jersey City University, told the New Republic’s Joel Gillin that the economic downturn, in addition to incidents of police brutality, have provided fertile conditions for civil unrest.

He sees the re-emergence of a 60’s-style “protest ideology” amongst black communities which will lead to more disorder.

“It’s very clear from studying history that these things tend to run in cycles,” said Herman, adding, “I think we are at the cusp of another cycle.”

Author Chris Hedges is saying similar things.  The following comes from a recent article about him in the National Post

The United States is primed for a rebellion. So argues Chris Hedges in his new book, Wages of Rebellion, in which the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and polemicist examines revolts from 1700s to the ending of apartheid in South Africa, as well as the “sublime madness” that drives the people at the centre of such rebellions.

When asked by the National Post why he wrote his new book, this is what Hedges had to say

I didn’t write it as a warning or a prediction. I wrote it more as an assessment. I covered disintegrating societies like Yugoslavia. I know how they break down; I know what the warning signs are, so it’s familiar. I don’t think at this point there’s much dispute. Even just the financial indicators in terms of wealth disparity and chronic unemployment. The fact that Congress has a nine-per-cent approval rating. Where I’m coming from, the book is an attempt to explain where we are in this particular historical period.

But it isn’t just that we are entering a new cycle of unrest.  Our “leaders” have made things much worse by the decisions that they have made.  For instance, Barack Obama’s decision to leave our southern border virtually unguarded has resulted in a massive flood of illegal immigrants coming into this country.  As a result, violent gangs that have roots in Central America and South America have mushroomed in size.  So now major cities far from the border such as Charlotte, North Carolina are being absolutely terrorized by these gangs…

Recent busts of murderous MS-13 gangsters put the lie to President Obama’s sympathetic amnesty narrative of illegal immigrants as “workers who mow our lawns, make our beds (and) clean out bedpans.”

Authorities Wednesday rounded up 37 MS-13 gang members in Charlotte, N.C., on racketeering conspiracy charges, along with charges of murder, attempted murder and firearms violations. All of them are illegal aliens from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Several are round-trippers — illegals who broke in once, committed crimes, got deported and broke back into the U.S. — proving that our border is porous and unsecured.

Charlotte police discovered the rat’s nest of foreign gangsters after some of them started shooting up local nightclubs and bars.

In 2015, it isn’t just our own citizens that we need to be concerned about.  At this point, many of our biggest cities are absolutely packed to the gills with gangs made up primarily of illegal immigrants.

I discussed Chicago earlier.  Did you know that it is estimated that approximately 150,000 gang members now live there?

When things start really breaking down in this country, those gangs are going to have a field day.

America is changing, and not for the better.  And when violence starts sweeping this nation, don’t count on the government to come in and rescue you.  After watching what happened in Ferguson and in Baltimore, you should know better than that by now.

It is time for the American people to prepare their own homes and their own neighborhoods for the chaos and the violence that is coming.

For the moment, things are still relatively stable so we have a little bit of time to prepare, but it won’t last for long.

Why NATO Is Terrified of Russia

Off the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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naryshkin-nato-oust-states.si.si

Originally published in RT on May 1, 2015

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The twin-pronged attack – oil price war/raid on the ruble – aimed at destroying the Russian economy and place it into a form of Western natural resource vassalage has failed.

Natural resources were also essentially the reason for reducing Iran to a Western vassalage. That never had anything to do with Tehran developing a nuclear weapon, which was banned by both the leader of the Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini, and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

The ‘New Great Game’ in Eurasia was always about control of the Eurasian land mass. Minor setbacks to the American elite project do not mean the game will be restricted to a mere “war of attrition”. Rather the contrary.

All about PGS

In Ukraine, the Kremlin has been more than explicit there are two definitive red lines. Ukraine won’t join NATO. And Moscow won’t allow the popular republics of Donetsk and Lugansk to be crushed.

We are coming closer to a potentially explosive deadline – when EU sanctions expire in July. An EU in turmoil but still enslaved to NATO – see the pathetic “Dragoon Ride” convoy from the Baltics to Poland or the “Atlantic Resolve” NATO show-off exercise – may decide to expand them, and even try to exclude Russia from SWIFT.

Only fools believe Washington is going to risk American lives over Ukraine or even Poland. Yet let’s plan a few steps ahead. If it ever comes to the unthinkable – a war between NATO and Russia in Ukraine – Russian defense circles are sure of conventional and nuclear superiority on sea and land. And the Pentagon knows it. Russia would reduce NATO forces to smithereens in a matter of hours. And then would come Washington’s stark choice: accept ignominious defeat or escalate to tactical nuclear weapons.

The Pentagon knows that Russia has the air and missile defense capabilities to counter anything embedded in the US Prompt Global Strike (PGS). Simultaneously though, Moscow is saying it would rather not use these capabilities.

Major General Kirill Makarov, Russia’s Aerospace Defense Forces’ deputy chief, has been very clear about the PGS threat. Moscow’s December 2014 new military doctrine qualifies PGS as well as NATO’s current military buildup as the top two security threats to Russia.

Unlike non-stop Pentagon/NATO bragging/demonizing, what Russian defense circles don’t need to advertise is how they are now a couple of generations ahead of the US in their advanced weaponry.

The bottom line is that while the Pentagon was mired in the Afghanistan and Iraq quagmires, they completely missed Russia’s technological jump ahead. The same applies to China’s ability to hit US satellites and thus pulverize American ICBM satellite guidance systems.

The current privileged scenario is Russia playing for time until it has totally sealed Russia’s air space to American ICBMs, stealth aircraft and cruise missiles – via the S-500 system.

This has not escaped the attention of the British Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) – as it gamed sometime ago whether Washington might launch a first strike against Russia.According to the JIC, Washington might go rogue if “a) an extreme government were to take over in the United States, b) and there was increased lack of confidence by the United States in some if not all of her Western allies owing to political developments in their countries, c) and there was some sudden advance in the USA in the sphere of weapons, etc. that the counsels of impatience may get the upper hand.”

US ‘Think Tankland’ spinning that Russian military planners should take advantage of their superiority to launch a first strike nuclear attack against the US is bogus; the Russian doctrine is eminently defensive.

Yet that does not exclude Washington doing the unthinkable the next time the Pentagon thinks of itself to be in the position Russia is now in.

SWIFT changes

The whole game used to be about who ruled the waves – the geopolitical gift the US inherited from Great Britain. Control of the seas meant the US inheriting five empires; Japan, Germany, Great Britain, France, the Netherlands. All those massive US carrier task forces patrolling the oceans to guarantee “free trade” – as the hegemonic propaganda machine goes – could be turned against China in a flash. It’s a mechanism similar to the carefully choreographed “leading from behind” financial op to simultaneously crash the ruble/launch an oil war and thus smash Russia into submission.

Washington’s master plan remains deceptively simple; to “neutralize” China by Japan, and Russia by Germany, with the US backing its two anchors, Germany and Japan. Russia is the de facto only BRICS nation blocking the master plan.

This was the case until Beijing launched the New Silk Road(s), which essentially mean the linking of all Eurasia into a “win-win” trade/commerce bonanza on high-speed rail, and in the process diverting freight tonnage overland and away from the seas.

So NATO’s non-stop Russia demonizing is in fact quaint. Think about NATO picking a fight against the constantly evolving, complex Russia-China strategic partnership. And in a not so remote future, as I indicated here, Germany, Russia and China have what it takes to be the essential pillars of a fully integrated Eurasia.

As it stands, the key shadow play is Moscow and Beijing silently preparing their own SWIFT system while Russia prepares to seal its air space with S-500s. Western Ukraine is doomed; leave it to the austerity-ravaged EU – which, by the way, doesn’t want it. And all this while the same EU tries to handicap the US commercially with a rigged euro that still doesn’t allow it to penetrate more US markets.

As for an irrelevant NATO, all it can do is cry, cry, cry.


Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

Bomb Iran? Not now: bomb Yemen

Off the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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People walk past a car damaged by an airstrike in Sanaa April 8, 2015. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

People walk past a car damaged by an airstrike in Sanaa April 8, 2015. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

Originally published in RT on April 9, 2015


‘Operation Decisive Storm’ – the Pentagon-style House of Saud glorifying of its ghastly ‘Bomb Yemen’ show – could be summed up in a single paragraph.

The wealthiest Arab nation – the House of Saud petro-hacienda – supported by other GCC petro-rackets and also the wealthy “West”, has launched an – illegal – bombing/war/kinetic operation against the poorest Arab nation in the name of “democracy.”

And this absurdity is just the beginning.

The EU’s foreign policy chief, the innocuous as a stale cannoli Federica Mogherini, seems to be mildly alarmed. She remarked that Saudi bombing of hospitals and “deliberate targeting and destruction of private homes, education facilities and basic infrastructure cannot be tolerated.”

Well, the EU tolerates exactly the same thing in Donbass perpetrated by Kiev’s goons – so nothing will come out La Mogherini’s feigned outrage.

The Red Cross and the Russian Federation, for their part, at least are demanding a temporary ceasefire to allow for humanitarian relief. Humanitarian relief is incompatible with the House of Saud’s bloodline. So after two weeks of Saudi ‘Shock and Awe’, the current toll of at least 560 Yemeni civilians dead (and counting), and 1700 wounded – dozens of them children – is bound to increase.

Bab-el-Mandeb me, baby

Bomb Iran? Not now; the new normal is bomb Yemen. But still bomb Iran might be back in a flash. Pentagon supremo Ash Carter confirmed last week “all options are on the table” even if an Iran-P5+1 nuclear deal is finally reached in June. So, for the record, the Pentagon is affirming nuclear negotiations are just white noise unable to deter the tantalizing prospect of yet another nice little Middle East war.

Needless to add, the so civilized ‘West’ didn’t even flinch when “our bastards” the House of Saud invaded and started shockin’ an’awin’ dirt-poor Yemen. No UN Security Council resolution. Not even a mandate from the totally discredited Arab League. Who cares? After all the ‘Empire of Chaos’ has done the same over and over again with total impunity.

Much hysteria has been raging on whether the Houthis are about to take control of the Bab-el-Mandeb – one of the key strategic global energy chokepoints along with the Straits of Hormuz, and as crucial as the Suez Canal. Nonsense. Whatever the House of Saud does, the not so hidden ‘Empire of Chaos’ agenda is never to lose control of the Bab-el-Mandeb, the Gulf of Aden, and the Socotra Islands.

A man reacts as he inspects the damage of a building caused by an air strike in Sanaa April 8, 2015. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

A man reacts as he inspects the damage of a building caused by an air strike in Sanaa April 8, 2015. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

This is part of what we could dub ‘Chokepointistan’; wars taking place near or around energy bottlenecks, and always narrated in Global War on Terror (GWOT) deceitful terminology. US Think Tankland is more straightforward, carefully following US naval deployments. That’s what this is all about; an Orwellian “freedom of navigation” masquerading a hardcore strategy of shutting out the geopolitical enemy – be it Iran, Russia, China or all of the above.

‘Chokepointistan’ is all over the place: just watch the war or pre-positioning action in the Bab-el-Mandeb (with spillover effects from Yemen to Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti); the Straits of Hormuz (all about Iran); but also the strait of Malacca (all about China), Panama (about Venezuela), the coming Nicaragua canal (about China), the Korean Strait, the Taiwan Strait, the Kuril Islands, and last but not least the Baltic Sea.

A Grand Armada Run Amok

Saudi intel knows the Houthis can’t possibly control the Bab-el-Mandeb – not to mention Washington would never allow it. What freaks the Saudis out is that the Houthi rebellion in Yemen – supported by Tehran – may encourage bright rebellion ideas among the Shi’ite majority in the eastern provinces in Saudi Arabia, where most of the oil is.

And this where the Saudi excuse for war interfaces with the empire’s paranoia of preventing Iran, Russia and/or China from establishing a possible strategic presence in Yemen, at the Bab-el-Mandeb, overlooking the Gulf of Aden.

So we have once again Pentagon supremo Carter insisting, “The United States supports Arab plans to create a unified military force to counter growing security threats in the Middle East, and the Pentagon will cooperate with it where US and Arab interests coincide.” Translation: we gave the green light for our bastards to maintain “stability” in the Middle East.

Yet there’s a spanner in the works; the possible Washington-Tehran rapprochement, assuming a nuclear deal is reached. For the self-described “Don’t Do Stupid Stuff” Obama administration, the nuclear deal will be their only foreign policy success. Moreover, without Tehran there’s no meaningful fight against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh in “Syraq”.

None of this mollifies the cosmically paranoid Saudis, who assembled in a flash a Grand Armada Run Amok (GARA) – 100 jet fighters, 150,000 soldiers – respectfully described by US Think Tankland as a “coalition” of 10 countries. Without even blinking at UN norms, the Saudis instantly declared the whole of Yemen as a no-fly zone.

Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif addresses during a joint statement with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini (L) in Lausanne April 2, 2015. (Reuters/Ruben Sprich)

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif addresses during a joint statement with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini (L) in Lausanne April 2, 2015. (Reuters/Ruben Sprich)

And along with routine bombing of residential complexes, the al-Mazraq camp for the internally displaced in Hajjah, a dairy factory near Hodeida, and other instances, came, what else, hardcore internal Saudi repression, via a crackdown with tanks and indiscriminate shooting in Awamiyah, in the eastern provinces; Shi’ites there can’t even think of organizing protests against the bloodbath in Yemen.

In a nutshell, this is the immensely wealthy, corrupt, medieval Saudi regime busy at war against their own people. The usual hard-line Wahhabi imams are busy working up anti-Shi’ite and anti-Iranian fever everywhere; these are all “apostates” under the takfir doctrine, and Iranians are lowly “Safawis” – a quite pejorative reference to the 16th century Safavid dynasty. It’s crucial to remember that Islamic State treats Shi’tes and Iranians the exact same way. But forget about any of this being reported by Western corporate media.

The General and the Sheikh

The House of Saud insists it wants to reinstall the government-in-exile of Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi. Or, as Saudi Ambassador to the US, Adel al-Jubeir glowingly put it, “protect the legitimate government of the country.”

Royally paid Saudi lobby hagiographers are once again frantically spinning the Sunni versus Shi’ite sectarian narrative – which totally ignores the mind-boggling tribal/class complexity of Yemeni society. In a nutshell, this laughable Saudi defense of democracy is paving the way for a ground war; a long, bloody and horribly expensive ground war.

And it gets, as expected, even more absurd. Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was recently asked during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing whether he knew of “any major Arab ally that embraces ISIL.” His response: “I know major Arab allies who fund them.”

Translation: the US government not only does not sanction or punish these “allies” (the real fun is to sanction Russia) but showers with logistical and “non-lethal” support the “coalition” that is arguably fighting the same Islamic State they are funding. No one is making this up; this is how the endless war on terra remains the gift that keeps on giving.

It gets even curioser and curioser when we have Dempsey on the same page of Hezbollah’s Sheikh Nasrallah. In this crucial speech, Sheikh Nasrallah offers the most extensive and precise account of the origins and ideology of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. And here he expands on Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

So what we have is the ‘Empire of Chaos’ ‘leading from behind’ in the war on Yemen and also de facto ‘leading from behind’ in the fight against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh; the ones doing the heavy lifting are Iraqi militias supported by Tehran. The hidden agenda is always – what else –chaos; be it across “Syraq” or inside Yemen. With an extra bonus; while Washington is engaged on striking a nuclear deal with Tehran, it also turbo-charges an alliance against Tehran using the House of Saud.

Vietnam in the desert

The House of Saud badly wants Pakistan to take no prisoners, supplying bomber jets, ships and lots of ground troops for their war. Riyadh treats Islamabad as a vassal state. A joint session of the Pakistani Parliament will decide what to do.

It’s quite revealing to learn what happened when Pakistan’s most popular private TV channel assembled representatives of all major political parties to explain where they stand. Soon they reached a consensus; Pakistan should be neutral; act as mediator; and commit no troops, unless there was a “tangible threat” to the two holy mosques in Mecca and Medina, which is far from the case.

The House of Saud remains on overdrive, showering tons of cash over Salafi and Deobandi preachers to bullhorn their war; that includes a delegation of ulema visiting Riyadh. Support has already duly poured from Pakistan-based hardcore groups that trained with al-Qaeda and fought with the Taliban in Afghanistan; after all they are all funded by Wahhabi fanatics.

Followers of the Houthi movement attend a protest against the Saudi-led air strikes in Sanaa April 5, 2015. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

Followers of the Houthi movement attend a protest against the Saudi-led air strikes in Sanaa April 5, 2015. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

Meanwhile, in the front lines, a real game-changer may be ahead, with the Houthis already firing missiles across the border at Saudi oil installations. Then all bets are off – and the possibility that long-range missiles have been pre-positioned becomes quite credible.

That scenario would mean a foreign intel agency luring the House of Saud into its own Vietnam quagmire in Yemen, setting them up for a barrage of missiles hitting their pumping stations and oil fields, with catastrophic consequences for the global economy. It’s crucial to remember that the Grand Armada Run Amok (GARA) assembled by Riyadh happens to account for no less than 32% of global oil production. This cannot possibly end well.

Everyone in Yemen has an AK-47, not to mention RPGs and hand grenades. The terrain is guerrilla heaven. History spells out at least 2,000 years of hardened tribes fighting foreign invaders. Most Yemenis hate the House of Saud with a vengeance; a majority follows what the Houthis announced in late February, that the House of Saud and the US were planning to devastate Yemen.

The Houthi rebellion includes both Sunnis and Shi’ites – thus totally debunking the Saudi narrative. When they captured the Yemeni National Security Bureau, which was basically a CIA station, the Houthis found a wealth of secret documents that “compromised” Washington’s Yemeni chapter of the war on terra. As for the Saudi Army, it’s a joke. Besides, it employs a huge contingent of – you guessed it – Yemeni soldiers.

“Operation Decisive Storm” – yet another Pentagon-style illegal war – has already plunged Yemen into the twin plagues of civil war and humanitarian disaster. The remains of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and most of all ISIS/ISIL/Daesh (who hate the Houthis and all Shi’ites with a vengeance) couldn’t be happier. The ‘Empire of Chaos’ couldn’t give a damn; the more widespread the chaos, the better for the Pentagon-defined Long War (on terra).

Over five years ago I wrote that Yemen is the new Waziristan. Now it’s also heading towards the new Somalia. And soon it may become the House of Saud’s Vietnam.


Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

The Internet of Things

Off the keyboard of Michael Snyder

Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
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Published on The Economic Collapse on March 1, 2015

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A Dystopian Nightmare Where Everyone And Everything Will Be Monitored On The Internet

http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Biometric-Security-Cartoon-By-Welleman.jpgCan you imagine a world where your home, your vehicles, your appliances and every single electronic device that you own is constantly connected to the Internet?  This is not some grand vision that is being planned for some day in the future.  This is something that is being systematically implemented right now.  In 2015, we already have “smart homes”, vehicles that talk to one another, refrigerators that are connected to the Internet, and televisions that spy on us.  Our world is becoming increasingly interconnected, and that opens up some wonderful possibilities.  But there is also a downside.  What if we rapidly reach a point where one must be connected to the Internet in order to function in society?  Will there come a day when we can’t even do basic things such as buy, sell, get a job or open a bank account without it?  And what about the potential for government abuse?  Could an “Internet of Things” create a dystopian nightmare where everyone and everything will be constantly monitored and tracked by the government?  That is something to think about.

Today, the Internet has become such an integral part of our lives that it is hard to remember how we ever survived without it.  And with each passing year, the number of devices connected to the Internet continues to grow at an exponential rate.  If you have never heard of the “Internet of Things” before, here is a little bit about it from Wikipedia

Things, in the IoT, can refer to a wide variety of devices such as heart monitoring implants, biochip transponders on farm animals, electric clams in coastal waters, automobiles with built-in sensors, or field operation devices that assist fire-fighters in search and rescue. These devices collect useful data with the help of various existing technologies and then autonomously flow the data between other devices. Current market examples include smart thermostat systems and washer/dryers that utilize wifi for remote monitoring.

But there is also a dark side to the Internet of Things.  Security is a huge issue, and when that security is compromised the consequences can be absolutely horrifying.  Just consider the following example

It is a strange series of events that link two Armenian software engineers; a Shenzen, China-based webcam company; two sets of new parents in the U.S.; and an unknown creep who likes to hack baby monitors to yell obscenities at children. “Wake up, you little ****,” the hacker screamed at the top of his digital lungs last summer when a two-year-old in Houston wouldn’t stir; she happened to be deaf. A year later, a baby monitor hacker struck again yelling obscenities at a 10-month-old in Ohio.

Both families were using an Internet-connected baby monitor made by China-based Foscam. The hacker took advantage of a weakness in the camera’s software design that U.S.-based Armenian computer engineers revealed at a security conference in Amsterdam last April.

The Internet allows us to reach into the outside world from inside our homes, but it also allows the reverse to take place as well.

Do we really want to make ourselves that vulnerable?

Sadly, we live at a time when people don’t really stop to consider the downside to our exploding technological capabilities.

In fact, there are many people that are extremely eager to connect themselves to the Internet of Things.

In Sweden, there are dozens of people that have willingly had microchips implanted under the skin.  They call themselves “bio-hackers”, and they embrace what they see as the coming merger between humanity and technology.  The following is what one of the founders of a Sweden based bio-hacking community had to say during one recent interview

“The technology is already happening,” says Hannes Sjoblad, one of the founders of BioNyfiken. “We are seeing a fast-growing community of people experimenting with chip implants, which allow users to quickly and easily perform a variety of everyday tasks, such as allowing access to buildings, unlocking personal devices without PIN codes and enabling read access to various types of stored data.

“I consider the take-off of this technology as another important interface-moment in the history of human-computer interaction, similar to the launches of the first windows desktop or the first touch screen. Identification by touch is innate for humans. PIN codes and passwords are not natural. And every additional device that we have to carry around to identify ourselves, be it a key fob or a swipe card, is just another item that clutters our lives.”

And of course this is happening in the United States as well

In America, a dedicated amateur community — the “biohackers” or “grinders” — has been experimenting with implantable technology for several years. Amal Graafstra, a 38-year-old programmer and self-styled “adventure technologist”, has been inserting various types of radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips into the soft flesh between his thumbs and index fingers since 2005. The chips can be read by scanners that Graafstra has installed on the doors of his house, and also on his laptop, which gives him access with a swipe of his hand without the need for keys or passwords.

But you don’t have to have a microchip implant in order to be a part of the Internet of Things.

In fact, there are a whole host of “wearable technologies” that are currently being developed for our society.

For instance, have you heard about “OnStar for the Body” yet?  It will enable medical personnel to constantly monitor your health wherever you are…

Smart, cheaper and point-of-care sensors, such as those being developed for the Nokia Sensing XCHALLENGE, will further enable the ‘Digital Checkup’ from anywhere. The world of ‘Quantified Self’ and ‘Quantified Health’ will lead to a new generation of wearable technologies partnered with Artificial Intelligence that will help decipher and make this information actionable.

And this ‘actionability’ is key. We hear the term Big Data used in various contexts; when applied to health information it will likely be the smart integration of massive data sets from the ‘Internet of things’ with the small data about your activity, mood, and other information. When properly filtered, this data set can give insights on a macro level – population health – and micro – ‘OnStar for the Body‘ with a personalized ‘check engine light’ to help identify individual problems before they further develop into expensive, difficult-to-treat or fatal conditions.

If that sounded creepy to you, this next item will probably blow you away.

According to one survey, approximately one-fourth of all professionals in the 18 to 50-year-old age bracket would like to directly connect their brains to the Internet…

According to a survey by tech giant Cisco Systems, about a fourth of professionals ages 18 to 50 would leap at the chance to get a surgical brain implant that allowed them to instantly link their thoughts to the Internet.

The study was conducted on 3,700 adults working in white-collar jobs in 15 countries.

“Assuming a company invented a brain implant that made the World Wide Web instantly accessible to their thoughts, roughly one-quarter would move forward with the operation,” the study found.

In the end, they are not going to have to force most of us to get connected to the Internet of Things.

Most of us will do it eagerly.

But most people will never even stop to consider the potential for abuse.

An Internet of Things could potentially give governments all over the world the ability to continually monitor and track the activities of everyone under their power all of the time.

If you do not think that this could ever happen, perhaps you should consider the words of former CIA director David Petraeus

“Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters — all connected to the next-generation Internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing”

Are you starting to get the picture?

They plan to use the Internet of Things to spy on all of us.

But we just can’t help ourselves.  Our society has a love affair with new technology.  And some of the things that are being developed right now are beyond what most of us ever dreamed was possible.

For example, Microsoft has just released a new promotional video featuring 3D holograms, smart surfaces, next-generation wearable technologies, and “fluid mobility”…

The elaborate, highly produced video shows jaw-dropping technologies like a SCUBA mask that annotates the sea with 3D holograms, a multipart bracelet that joins together to become a communications device, and interactive, flexible displays that automatically “rehydrate” with information specific to the people using them.

This video from Microsoft was posted on YouTube, and I have shared it below…

So what do you think about all of this?

TSA Follies & Myths of Transportation Security

Off the Microphone of RE

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Aired on the Doomstead Diner on June 2, 2014

logopodcast

Discuss this Rant at the Podcast Table inside the Diner

Snippet:

…If you happen to be among the roughly 5% of the Global Population that ever flies on an Airplane, you know all about the security Kabuki Theater ongoing since some Towel Heads ostensibly hijacked some Jumbo Jets to knock down the World Trade Center and Punch a Hole in the Pentagon back on that fateful day of 9-11 in 2001. This method of terrorist attack was so successful they even managed to knock down buildings they didn’t fly planes into.

In order to combat the ever present threat of Jets being Hijacked to knock down skyscrapers, a War on Terror was launched, part of which was the establishment of the now infamous TSA, or Transportation Safety Administration here in the FsoA. The highly qualified and highly trained staff of the TSA recruited from the ranks of ex Baggage Handlers, trailer drop lot security guards and JC Penney Store Detectives has been enormously successful, effectively preventing any further Skyscapers from collapsing on their own footprint since 2001…

For the rest, LISTEN TO THE RANT!

RE

The Last of the Human Freedoms

Off the keyboard of  Jaded Prole
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The Last of the Human Freedoms

Originally published on the The Jaded Prole on August 12, 2013

Discuss this article at the Geopolitics Table inside the Diner

“Everything can be taken from us but one thing: the last of the human freedoms –

to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

– Viktor Frankl

I tend to comment a lot on, Pilotonline, that is, the online version of our local paper, the Virginian Pilot. For me, it is my morning mental and writing calisthenics but also, it serves a vital function: a public forum where ideas and opinions on the topics of our time can be openly discussed. It is free but because most of us work for others, many people are afraid to post, or post under assumed names for fear of repercussions. I can certainly understand this, having lost jobs for speaking out on issues in ways unrelated to employers, including my last job in 2008, ostensibly for “speaking out against the war” online.

 

This brings to mind the recent firing of Norfolk’s 911 dispatcher Jessica Camarillo for posting a particularly ugly comment on Facebook regarding the unfortunate killing of a young man by Norfolk Police while he was attempting to cash a stolen check. Her comment, suggesting the family be charged for the bullets, was certainly in poor taste but should she have been fired? How does the fear of workplace repression with widely published examples like this affect your freedom to express opinions publicly? As the dictatorial setting of the workplace reaches beyond the workplace itself, this also opens up a root question; can you really be free if you live in fear of exercising that freedom?

 

More and more we are living in a society where our associations and opinions are monitored. Employers search Facebook and Google potential and present employees. And the government, as we are learning thanks to Edward Snowden, is increasingly monitoring our every conversation, location, purchase and association.

My summer reading has further caused me to consider the implications of this on the state of our liberty and the health of our society. I have been reading Hannah Arendt, the mid-century philosopher and holocaust survivor most famous for her coverage of the Eichmann trial and her coining of the term, ,the banality of evil. In reporting on that trial from Jerusalem, what struck her was that Eichmann was not the monster she had expected. He was a bureaucrat who had abandoned any thought or opinion of his own and strove to do his job the best that he could. He had taken an oath of loyalty to his government and that was that. He was a career minded military man who was otherwise normal. She wrote, “The trouble with Eichmann was precisely that so many were like him, and that the many were neither perverted nor sadistic, that they were, and still are, terribly and terrifyingly normal. From the viewpoint of our legal institutions and of our moral standards of judgment, this normality was much more terrifying than all the atrocities put together.” She added that he had given up the option of even considering moral principles or of taking responsibility for his own decisions and actions, the very thing which makes us human, and instead had become an accomplice, even a leader, in the greatest crime in history. I personally have chosen throughout my life to only take jobs that did no harm and, at best, helped others. My refusal to relinquish my humanity has not served me well in the workplace but I can look at myself in the mirror knowing I haven’t been a good German.

 

How is the unquestioning loyalty and job focus of Eichmann really different from the fellow operating the drone, working in a munitions plant, mining fossil fuels, participating in missile launches from a ship, the JSOC commando carrying out assassinations, or the many bureaucrats and support workers that keep an ever-growing national security state functioning? This seems especially relevant in our military dependent area. Aren’t we responsible as individuals for everything we participate in? That seems to be the judgment of the Nuremberg tribunals as well as the Eichmann trial.

 

In her book, “Between Past and Future,” Arendt writes about the vital importance of Truth and of truth tellers. In examining what we mean by Truth, she distinguishes “rational truth” from “factual truth. The former being that which is undeniable like geometry, and the latter being historical facts and scientific findings. She focuses on the factual truth which is often contentious due to its implications and challenges to power and wealth. She writes, “The chances of factual truth surviving the onslaught of power are very slim indeed . . . factual truth, if it happens to oppose a given group’s profit or pleasure, is greeted today with more hostility than ever.” Interestingly, this was penned in the 1950’s. She also states that the opposite of factual truth is of course, a lie. She writes, “ . . . a liar, lacking the power to make his falsehood stick, does not insist on the gospel truth of his statement but pretends that this is his opinion.” Thus, those whose interests are threatened by factual truth, often present that truth as merely an opinion. Think of examples like the dangers of Tobacco, or Global Warming, or Evolution. We even do this with the ultimate but threatening truth of death, creating hoped for afterlife alternatives that give us comfort by rendering our certain end an opinion.

More important is the necessity of public communication in the search for Truth. Emmanuel Kant addressed this, stating that, “The external power that deprives man of his freedom to communicate his thoughts publicly, deprives him at the same time of his freedom to think.” We think in community. We need to check the thoughts in our head with that of others to make them valid. This sharing of information is especially vital in a representative republic where opinions become votes. An uninformed and cowed citizenry is an easily manipulable mass, barely meeting the definition of “citizen.”

 

This brings me back to the Pilotonline forum and the voiced intent of the paper to further limit posting privileges by eliminating the protection of anonymity which allows working people to participate in the public conversation without fear. I expressed my objection of this to Editorial Page Editor Donald Luzzatto, pointing out that the only people brave enough to post opinions under their real name were business owners, retirees and those with nothing left to lose. He disagreed but no doubt, knows the limits of what he himself can say in order to maintain his position.

 

In the larger world, we are seeing record levels of citizen surveillance, attacks on truth tellers, and on the Press in order to suppress factual truths our government finds threatening. In a recent ruling from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Obama administration won a stunning blow against Press freedom. As reported in The Guardian, “the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled on the case of New York Times reporter James Risen, delivered a blow to investigative journalism in America by ruling that reporters have no First Amendment protection that would safeguard the confidentiality of their sources in the event of a criminal trial.” The ongoing trial of Bradley Manning the charge of “aiding the enemy” had repercussions for those exposing information that might be vital for citizens to be aware of. The Pentagon Papers would be a good example as would exposure of lies to justify war. Fortunately Manning was found innocent of that charge. If the Press fears reporting anything not approved, is it still a “free press?”

 

Arendt points out, we may not even want to consider if life would be worth living in a world devoid of justice or freedom and that, “these are not possible with the seemingly less political idea of Truth. What is at stake is survival and no human world will ever be able to survive without people willing to say what is.” Throughout history, truth seekers and truth tellers have been ridiculed, tortured and killed and our own time is no exception. Bradley Manning and Eric Snowden are prime examples of this and they are not alone. Abdulrahman Haider Shiah, a Yemeni journalist who reported on the U.S missile attack that killed 40 Bedouin women and children in Al Majala, Yemen, was held in prison on a direct order from President Obama. He was reed last week but his life is still in danger. Truth telling journalists like Jeremy Scahill, Glenn Greenwald and Chris Hedges are sidelined slandered or threatened for their efforts in exposing truths most Americans never about.

 

Activists beyond the world of journalism also take risks, refusing to be like Eichmann, an unthinking cog abetting a larger crime. Brandon Toy, an Iraq veteran and defense contractor working for General Dynamics as an Engineering Project Manager building Stryker armored fighting vehicles recently wrote a formal letter of resignation. He wrote;

“I hereby resign in protest effective immediately.
I have served the post-911 Military Industrial complex for 10 years, first as a soldier in Baghdad, and now as a defense contractor.

At the time of my enlistment, I believed in the cause. I was ignorant, naïve, and misled. The narrative, professed by the state, and echoed by the mainstream press, has proven false and criminal. We have become what I thought we were fighting against.

 

Recent revelations by fearless journalists of war crimes including counterinsurgency “dirty” wars, drone terrorism, the suspension of due process, torture, mass surveillance, and widespread regulatory capture have shed light on the true nature of the current US Government. I encourage you to read more about these topics.

 

Some will say that I am being irresponsible, impractical, and irrational. Others will insist that I am crazy. I have come to believe that the true insanity is doing nothing. As long as we sit in comfort, turning a blind eye to the injustices of the world, nothing will change. It is even worse to play an active part, protesting all along that I am not the true criminal.
I was only a foot soldier, and am now a low level clerk. However, I have always believed that if every foot soldier threw down his rifle war would end. I hereby throw mine down.”

Mr. Toy, unlike Eichmann, reserved his right to choose, to make moral decisions, in short, to maintain his integrity and his humanity. Others, like the Catholic Plowshares activists practice non-violent civil disobedience to bring attention to crimes perpetrated in our names. Greg Bortje-Obed, Sister Megan Rice and Michael Walli are facing 35 years in prison for the Transform Now Plowshares action. This symbolic disarmament took place at the Oak Ridge Y-12 plant, where they managed, unimpeded, to get to the building where all of our nation’s highly enriched weapons grade uranium for nuclear warheads are stored. They hammered on the building’s cornerstone – nuclear weapons are the cornerstone of the US empire – and splashed their blood on it, graphically depicting the end result of the production and use of such weapons. They did this to demonstrate the immorality and danger of nuclear weapons and to voice opposition. They are charged with “sabotage” for their actions. Our local Norfolk Catholic Worker activist, Steve Baggarly, has participated in similar actions and has spent years in prison, voluntarily sacrificing himself to express his objection to militarism, war and empire and to bring attention to it.

 

He and many others regularly protest at the School of the Americas in Ft. Benning, Georgia where Latin American soldiers are taught brutal practices of repression and torture. Father Roy Bourgeois has been leading this effort for years.

 

All of us make choices and have to balance our personal values with our need to make a living. In this effort we are subject to many pressures. Our ability to make those decisions is dependent on what we know and on how that shapes our beliefs. This requires access to Truth, for as Voltaire famously said, “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” History is replete with examples, as is the present. If we are to reclaim an open society and truly defend our freedom we must insist on the freedom to think, the freedom to speak, the freedom to know, and the freedom to choose.

 

Jaded Prole is the nom-de-plume of a freelance writer and poet as well as a publisher, and philosopher living in Virginia.

Doomsteading Protect & Defend Issues

Off the keyboard of RE

Discuss this article at the Doomsteading Table inside the Diner

One of the Big Questions faced by Doomers is what Paradigm is best to pursue once you have grasped that Industrial Civilization is undergoing its Final Collapse Phase?  Do you try to Shelter-in-Place, or do you try to Bugout to a more Remote Location?  If you do Bugout, what sort of challenges might you face?

Diner Water Weasel brought up some of these questions inside the Diner  a few days ago, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to look at the Bugout paradigm, and the difficulties you can face trying to run a Remote Doomstead on the Security Level.

First, Water Weasel’s post regarding the Doomstead his Dad has set up in Missouri.  My initial response follows, then I will elaborate some for this article after that.

Regarding Doomsteads, I have a question for all y’all. My father lives in suburban Columbia, Missouri but also has 100 acres of mostly woods about a 20 minute drive away. He sort of shares this vision of bugging out, but his plan is to just go to his place in the woods and hunker down. Problem is, he hasn’t really prepared to do so at all. The property has a nice house, and a pond/small lake, but not really any food, water, fuel, garden, firewood or anything. He’s on good terms with the neighbors (e.g., lets them hunt his place if he’s not there), but he’s clearly not a local and has only owned the place for maybe 8 years.

So my question is, should I leave him to his fantasies, or should I try to convince him that A) he’d be better off building an alliance with his suburban neighbors and forgetting about bugging out, or B) if his plan is to bug out to the place in the woods, he needs to take it seriously and stock it properly BEFORE it’s needed.

I kind of lean toward option A. I worry about him (and his wife and potentially two daughters in their young twenties (my half sisters)) out there in the woods when a truckload of bad boys decide they want to stay there for a few days too. He’s ex-Navy, but no soldier (medical corp) and I’m not sure the women even know how to shoot.

So, should I try to convince him to bug in? What to do you think?

OK, back at the Cabin with a couple of cases of Writing Fuel. :icon_mrgreen:

I think your Dad has a decent situation with both of these, assuming he is debt free on them.

He doesn’t really have to pre-supply the doomstead with food, long as he has a trailer for his Bugout Machine. Even a cheap 15′ flatbed trailer will do.

He should get 3-4 55 gallon drums to put long lasting dried foods in, rice and dried legumes and beef jerky in vacuum sealed bags. Also spare Ammo, a spare Gun and spare tools in each drum. He can keep these in the Garage in his Town Home until TSHTF and its looking real bad.

He definitely should NOT head to the Doomstead with just himself and the Women Folk. There should be a Plan with all his close friends and relatives to converge on the Doomstead when TSHTF. Minimum I would say would be 4 Adult Males, better 6 to 10 in this group.

When the Bugout Day comes, the first thing is to Bury all but one of the 55 gal drums in locations around the property marked off with a GPS, and also with “Pirate Maps” on a MicroSD memory card and also on hard copy also buried in watertight containers at easily found locations.

He should also stock up on Seeds for Wild Edible Plants to establish colonies of these plants around the property the first spring after TSHTF.

Round the Clock Watch should be set up, and all the Windows on Ground Level should have Wood Shutters Constructed from 2x4s and old Phone Books should be saved to pad the inside of these shutters in real bad situations. Phone Books are quite bullet proof to all but very high powered rifles. There should be slots in the shutters to shoot from and clear Fire lines 360 around the Doomstead. It would be good to have at least one Big Dog trained to bark as soon as he smells or hears anything.

He is probably better off in town until things REALLY get bad, but when partially bad he should start to make regular trips to the Doomstead to get with the Locals around there to establish a Doom Community. People will obviously be talking once this gets rolling, and if they know he is well prepped and planned and has others with GUNS on his property, it is unlikely his Doomstead will be attacked first. If he also gets into a Mutual Protection Group with his closest neighbors, this will increase Security exponentially.

In the MPG, each Doomsteader has either FRS Walkie Talkies or CB or Marine VHF Radios, each with an assigned Channel. If somebody’s doomstead is under attack from Zombies, other members of the MPG are Honor Bound to go to that Doomers Aid, ride in like the Cavalry so to speak. Regular exercises should be practiced, Shooting Blinds set up, etc. If everybody has at least one well trained Dog, this also will help to flush out any Zombies on foot skulking around the Doomstead under attack. Some High Tech Gear is nice if you can afford it, Light Amplified or Infrared Night Scopes and so forth.

With this sort of plan, the only danger is from the Police/National Guard/Military who will have bigger well organized and well armed groups. Hopefully you can cut a deal with such Rogue Militias if/when they show up.

If you are going the Doomstead route out in the mid-range Boonies, you are very vulnerable once the Police protection scheme breaks down and you can’t just call 911 for help. I only favor mid-range Doomsteads with a decent size group of people to Protect & Defend the Doomstead. Going to such a place with just yourself wife and kids is asking for a Home Invasion and all the horrible outcomes that can come from that.

RE

In setting up Doomsteads, most folks don’t really think through the great depth of the Security Problem once the State and its Protection Mechanisms for Private Property go into Failure Mode.  If you HAVE something somebody else WANTS, like FOOD for instance, they are not likely to show all that much respect for the piece of paper from a defunct Goobermint that shows you “own” a piece of property.  People who advocate for “Anarcho-Capitalism” and a Stateless Society with non-existent Goobermint live in a fantay world, such a society really cannot exist at all while ALSO maintaining Private Property.  To begin with, “money” has  to have agreed upon valuations, which it really cannot have in absence of Goobermints.  That however is somewhat off-topic and tangential to this article, which is basically focused on the security issues you have once the general Social structures of Police and Law break down in your Neighborhood.

Because of all the issues with Protecting & Defending a Doomstead, its not one of my “Favored Paradigms” for negotiating the spin down. Doomsteads essentially extend out the Ownership Paradigm over a plot of land, so once you set one of these places up you get HUGE liabilities in terms of Protecting & Defending it.  If you can assemble up enough like minded people who can all GET ALONG well enough to make such a Mini-Community work, more power to you, but the fact is of course such small, insular communities all have their own sets of issues, which often do not end well. Nasty Example Extraordinaire there would be the Doomer Community Jim Jones set up in “Jonestown” in Nicaragua of course.

Another fairly popular paradigm amongst Doomers is the Sailboat paradim.  This is the one Dmitri Orlov is following for the most part.  The Sail paradigm has the advantage of Mobility and no Ownership Obligations over a plot of  Land (Taxes), but the Security Problems are HORRENDOUS.  Once moored in any location, if you are not actually on board such boats are very vulnerable to Theft, not just of what you hve aboard but the whole BOAT itself.  Anybody can break a few locks, hoist the sails and head for Tristan da Cunha in your boat if you are ashore drinking Retsina at the local Greek Taverna.  You can’t secure these vessels, no way, no how.  On the open sea, you are vulnerable to power boats that still GOT some gas to ooerate and can move around a whole lot faster than you can.  You ALSO cannot actually STORE all that much on a sailboat of typical 35-45′ range and still have room to LIVE on the boat.  Maybe 6 months worth if you  jam up all the lockers with dried foods  in Vaccum Sealed bags, but that is about the best you can do there.  If you don’t have a Vacant Pitcairn Island Destination on your charts, you are gonna get screwed about anywhere you go with your boat full-o-preps.  make port ANWHERE,, “Customs” Officials will board the boat and confiscate your Guns & Ammo, while asking for a “docking fee” of any Gold you got aboard the vessel.  If you can hold onto the Food you got aboard you will be lucky if the locals are hurting for food.

Anyhow, for these reasons I tend to be against trying to Doomstead overall as an Individual or small Family Group, either with the Fixed Doomstead or the mobile type like the Sailboat, although that one is slightly preferable since it can in theory be moved from one already gone bad location to another slightly less bad.  It also provides you the means to GTFO of Dodge free of Traffic Jams or the need for Gas.

The Solution to the Security Problem in both cases is the same,in the case of a fixed Doomstead as mentioned it is “staffing” the Doomstead  with enough people to make an adequate defense, and the parallel idea with the Sail Paradigm is to work in Flotillas of several boats, 10-20 of them would be a decent number to work with there.  When docked or moored, members of the flotilla keep watch on other members boats while they are off getting supplies and so forth.  When out at Sea, you are much less vulnerable to Pirates even in Power Boats by the virtue of Numbers.  Unlikely at least to begin with you will have large Pirate floatillas organized up.  The problem still exists of being set upon by Customs Authorities in  Populated Ports, but here only 2 or 3 of the boats go and make port while the rest stay offshore.  You divest of your Guns and Gold and so forth to the offshore boats, then sail in with some Trade Goods and attempt to Cut a Deal with the “Authorities”.  A risky proposition since they might decide to just shoot you and take your boat, but if they perceive that you have some friends with MORE stuff to trade, then you can convince them it is better to be FRIENDS and leave you alive than shoot you for your boat.

The scenarios I paint here may seem “far out” Wild West “Shoot ’em Up” and far off into the future here in the Land of Good & Plenty, and they may be so.  However, if you project out a general failure of the Monetary System and centralized control of Goobermints, then really Somalia provides the Canary in the Coal Mine for that one.  Pirates there are not just taking out Yachties, they are taking out Super Tankers.  Home Invasions are already fairly common, and they sure won;’ be any LESS common in a Monetary System Failure.  Whatever paradigm you choose to follow on the Doomsteading Level, you have to take seriously the Security Issues and how to deal with them.  You sure won’t be able to rely on Da Goobermint or the Police to rescue you, they may in fact be your most dangerous enemies.

RE

Doomstead or Bugout?

Off the Diner Keyboards

Recently the Diner welcomed Old Horseman, a veteran of the Peak Period of Peak Oil chatter on  the Net as a Moderator on  Matt Savinar’s Life After the Oil Crash, better known to Peak Oilers and Doomers as LATOC.

Prior to meeting here, Old Horseman and I never encountered each other before on the Net in the Disucssions of Doom and the Prepping Paradigms, but of course its not a real big community overall and if you hang with it long enough, eventually you run into everybody.  So we did on the pages of The Oil Age, a Spin Off Forum which arose after Matt took LATOC Offline.

Old Horseman has been pursuing the Doomstead paradigm for a long time, as I gather more or less on the Amish Model utilizing Horses and 18th-19th century technology to build his Doomstead.  Inside the Diner since he arrived, we have begun a Comparative Methods discussion of how the Doomers can best Prep themselves for the dislocations which we are facing down as the Age of Oil comes to a close.

Below here you will find some of the discussion of our differing methodologies for Prepping for the Collapse, which I generally put under the Titles of “Doomsteading” or “Bugging Out“.  Others including the Sail Paradigm of Dmitri Orlow are also discussed here in this thread.

You can read much more inside the Diner on these ideas, but here below is a beginning for the Newby to Collapse to consider as you prep yourself for the End of the Age of Oil.

RE

Discuss this article in the Epicurean Delights Smorgasboard Inside the Diner

OnlineRE

« Reply #19 on: October 04, 2012, 11:25:25 PM »

   We don’t have anything quite that awesome here…  But we do have the means to make it pretty difficult for your common band of thugs to take us.  And there’s nothing here worth bothering-with to anyone more formidable than that.

Just Needling you OH.
Smokey Mountains in TN and WV and the Ozarks made my Top 10 Bugout Locations in North America.  So if you are in those neighborhoods,  :emthup: :emthup:
In terms of not having anything of value, you got the HORSES!  Good Eating for a roving band of ex-National Guard when the MREs run out.  Of course, Dogs make good eating also, just ask any Chef in a Chinese Restaurant.  :icon_mrgreen:
Anyhow, this is why I favor the Bugout Plans over the Doomsteading ones overall and Prepping to go the Full Primitive as far out as you can possibly go in a complete Shitstorm.  Sadly for me of course I came down with PAD a couple of years ago and my legs are no longer very good, so I won’t last much longer than my Preps unless the kids I have taught to use Sling and Atlatl value me enough to keep me around a while, just have to see how it goes if it comes down to that in what is left of my lifetime.
What I really expect up here is Alaska will become a Military State for a while, since the Military dominates up here and is very well equipped.  Better to be Inside the Fortress than outside it.  I expect the Military to commandeer the Oil Fields on the Slope and ANWR along with the Commercial Fishing Fleet as well and the Refinery in Faribanks.  I hope to be Useful and keep teaching Military Brats for a while longer before I make my final trip to the Great Beyond.
Just gotta see how it goes.  Worse come to worse, I’ll hole up in the Mountains with my preps and my Barrett .50 cal and shoot anything that moves inside 1000 yards.  Legs no good anymore, but I still have good eyes and a steady hand.
Will NOT get on the train for Resettlement in a FEMA Camp.  I’ll give myself up to the Bear before I do that.  I owe the Bears, took enough of them down, payback time for me there.
Basically I am just greatful I got to see as uch of this as I already have.  The rest is all Bonus now.
RE

Offlinebuzzard

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« Reply #20 on: October 05, 2012, 10:01:14 AM »
RE- Some of us made our decision on ‘bugging in’ based on our physical condition. We represent a small group of misfits and handicapped who can not reasonably consider being mobile. And anyway, I’ll be damned if I’m going to be chased any where. I make my stand here. Also, know this, Old Horseman is the real deal. When you know him better you will grow to respect his knowledge and stance. Of course I don’t need to defend him. He is quite capable of that himself. You have been through the aether wars for some years. So has he. OH is not a light weight.
[Having said that I think it is a hoot that you two have begun a dialogue which should have begun years ago. What a shake-out in third generation blogs.]
In the end, of course, our decisions must be based on our individual circumstances and means. I have been fortunate in that I have been given the means to at least partially realize my goals. As we all know or will soon find out pragmatism wins out over idealism every time. Rubber, may I introduce you to Road?

OnlineRE

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« Reply #21 on: October 05, 2012, 05:41:41 PM »

RE- Some of us made our decision on ‘bugging in’ based on our physical condition. We represent a small group of misfits and handicapped who can not reasonably consider being mobile. And anyway, I’ll be damned if I’m going to be chased any where. I make my stand here. Also, know this, Old Horseman is the real deal. When you know him better you will grow to respect his knowledge and stance. Of course I don’t need to defend him. He is quite capable of that himself. You have been through the aether wars for some years. So has he. OH is not a light weight.
[Having said that I think it is a hoot that you two have begun a dialogue which should have begun years ago. What a shake-out in third generation blogs.]
In the end, of course, our decisions must be based on our individual circumstances and means. I have been fortunate in that I have been given the means to at least partially realize my goals. As we all know or will soon find out pragmatism wins out over idealism every time. Rubber, may I introduce you to Road?

Make no mistake BZ, OH gets my complete respect.  He’s a long time Doomer, long predating my wake up call.  He also picked his paradigm and has been following through with it for years.
That we never crossed paths before is IMHO fortuitous, it means we don’t have a History with each other and can talk like the grizzled old veterans of Doom on the Net that we are.  :icon_mrgreen:
Far as not getting pushed anywhere and drawing your Line in the Sand, reasonable enough if the location is somewhat defensible.  Go for the High Ground.
RE

 


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« Reply #22 on: October 05, 2012, 08:08:33 PM »
Quote

Just gotta see how it goes.  Worse come to worse, I’ll hole up in the Mountains with my preps and my Barrett .50 cal and shoot anything that moves inside 1000 yards.  Legs no good anymore, but I still have good eyes and a steady hand.
Will NOT get on the train for Resettlement in a FEMA Camp.  I’ll give myself up to the Bear before I do that.  I owe the Bears, took enough of them down, payback time for me there.
Basically I am just greatful I got to see as uch of this as I already have.  The rest is all Bonus now.

Will RE go out, to the other side, in BLAZING GLORY, or in quiet contemplation?
I myself would be happy someday to feed myself to the wolves. And I am well aware, and relish the idea actually, that I should be alive when I meet them. Real wolves, not men.
Ultimatly, I would prefer to move on in quiet contemplation. In the wild, or among people that I love. :laugh:  

 


OfflineWHD

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« Reply #23 on: October 05, 2012, 08:12:52 PM »
Old Horseman,
May we meet on the trail one day.

OfflineOldHorseman

« Reply #24 on: October 05, 2012, 09:20:35 PM »
   I should point-out that I do not think doomsteading is the only way…  In fact, for most people, it’s not even a remotely viable way to go.
The Grizzly Adams option has its merits.  Growing up in the rural South (before video-games and cable TV couch-potatoized everyone), knowing how to hunt, fish, forage, and generally survive in the wilderness was the norm.  (Of course, this is probably easier to accomplish here in climes more temperate than Seward’s Folly.)
Becoming a post-collapse townie may well work for a lot of people.  Imagine a small town adapting to function without modern infrastructure support, and what kind of skills and know-how one would need to be valuable to such a community.  Might start with any occupation that was important enough, long enough, to become a surname. (Smith, Tanner, Miller, Shoemaker, etc.)
Most people really should just get ahead of the game and go get established in the Fedghettos now though…  That way they’ll have a head-start on things compared to the suburbanites who’ll be arriving in droves before long.
A well-outfitted, ocean-going house-boat might be a great way to go.  You can just keep sailing away to the places with the least oppression, radiation, or oil sheen.  A bug-out RV may be a somewhat lesser approach to the same idea.  Might at least get you way off the beaten path before you go on foot to do the Grizzly Adams thing.
It’s the half-ass doomsteaders that kinda’ make me  ::) …  A suburban home with a little garden and a composting toilet isn’t a viable doomstead.  Having some land out in the sticks won’t do you much good if you find yourself standing in the middle of it after TEOTWAWKI without anything done or any experience at doing it…
For myself, I figured while Cornucopian resources were available, I’d use them to build a decent doomstead.  Already had a bunch of archaic skills going-in, and the 19th Century kinda’ suits me anyway.  Can always revert to feral if I have to, but thought I’d try and hang-on to the best lifestyle feasibly possible in the mean-time.

Getting older…  Means I’ve been fightin’ dirtier, longer.


OnlineRE

« Reply #25 on: October 05, 2012, 11:11:56 PM »

   I should point-out that I do not think doomsteading is the only way…  In fact, for most people, it’s not even a remotely viable way to go.
The Grizzly Adams option has its merits.  Growing up in the rural South (before video-games and cable TV couch-potatoized everyone), knowing how to hunt, fish, forage, and generally survive in the wilderness was the norm.  (Of course, this is probably easier to accomplish here in climes more temperate than Seward’s Folly.)

I like to think of it as the “Jeremiah Johnson” paradigm rather than Grizzly Adams.  :icon_mrgreen:  I’m not young enough anymore to play the Robert Redford part, but I do OK with the Will Geer part.  LOL.
“Seward’s Folly”, or as I prefer to refer to it “The Last Great Frontier” has numerous advantages over the South on the Hunting/Fishing paradigm.  First off the population density of Homo Sapiens here is the lowest of anywhere in the world with good resources besides some locations in Siberia.  The Matanuska Susitna River Valley where I live by itself is about the size of TX, and has only around 60,000 people living here, less than your typical Dallas Subdivision.
The Cold Climate also has advantages on the Food Storage end.  It’s quite easy to build an Icehouse here that will last all Summer for Food Refrigeration.  This saves a lot on having to acquire enough Salt and using a lot of wood for drying and smoking your meat.  The climate also means you have fewer problems with Insects and other pests which bother the Sod Busters down in the South, and yes we do have very productive Farms in Palmer.
Once you get snow cover also, it makes pulling your Kills back to your cabin much easier, since you can quarter them in the field, feed the less appetizing parts to your Dogs and sled back the rest.
Anyhow, I’ve written about all this stuff in other threads on the Doomsteading Board.
The primary issues I have with Doomsteading for most people I write for is that it is Outta Budget.  They can’t afford 20 Acres and getting it all set up with Horses and essential Off the Grid stuff.  I try to create paradigms that are under $50K in cost and mainly take Know-How and some practice to pull off, at least for the hopefully fairly short time necessary until most of the population goes the way of the Reindeer on St. Matthews Island .  Actually, I have a Bugout Bag paradigm for the Final Bugout which just is what you carry on your back, and hopefully makes your Wilderness Survival a bit easier than having to Knap your own Stone Tools from scratch.  Said Bugout Bag can be put together for under $1000, assuming you can pick up a Compound Bow used on Craig’s list for under $200 or so.

Quote

Becoming a post-collapse townie may well work for a lot of people.  Imagine a small town adapting to function without modern infrastructure support, and what kind of skills and know-how one would need to be valuable to such a community.  Might start with any occupation that was important enough, long enough, to become a surname. (Smith, Tanner, Miller, Shoemaker, etc.)

I like the Small Community paradigm better than going it alone, but you do have to be in a community which may be able to so adjust.  Said communities are few and far between these days of course.  Again though, our small towns up here in the Mat Valley generally fit this bill pretty well.

Quote

Most people really should just get ahead of the game and go get established in the Fedghettos now though…  That way they’ll have a head-start on things compared to the suburbanites who’ll be arriving in droves before long.

The problem for most people in tryin to move out to such a community now is the Work problem.  In said communities there really isn’t much employment to be found.  In fact small towns in places like Vermont are depopulating.  If they are currently actually still EMPLOYED out there in the Industrial Economy, giving up your Paycheck to try the Full primitive NOW is a pretty risky choice on its own.  Even if you have enough Money to set up a Subsistence Farm AND enough knowledge to at least get started on this, that too is risky.
Then you got issues if you are Married and have children as well.  Your Significant Other has to be on board already with the idea, and your kids may react negatively to the idea of giving up their IPhones.  So moving out RIGHT NOW isn’t quite so easy for many if not most people.

Quote

A well-outfitted, ocean-going house-boat might be a great way to go.  You can just keep sailing away to the places with the least oppression, radiation, or oil sheen.  A bug-out RV may be a somewhat lesser approach to the same idea.  Might at least get you way off the beaten path before you go on foot to do the Grizzly Adams thing.

The Sail Paradigm is the Dmitri Orlov thing.  Again its one of the better ones, and cheaper than a Doomstead if you pick up your Boat on the Used market.  Good ones in the 35-45′ range can be found for $30-40K these days as many seek to unload them to keep paying the Mortgage on their McMansions.  Dopes.
The paradigm has disadvantages also which I have periodically detailed.  Security is the main problem, said boats are very vulnerable to Theft when moored in Marinas. Theft of what you have on board anytime you leave the boat, and theft of the whole boat kit and kaboodle. They don’t have huge storage room for a lot of Food Preps, maybe 6 months worth depending how you crowd up the Cabin space.  You will also run into problems as time goes by finding anywhere to actually GO where the locals won’t hit you up for whatever you got on board.  If you wanna try the Fletcher Christian thing, finding a Pitcairn Island to settle with a bunch of Native Girls isn’t so easy anymore.
I personally mainly follow the Bugout Machine paradigm, I have an RV I picked up for $5000 Used in absolutely fabulous condition with just 45K miles on it.  I keep it topped off with Gas all the time, packed and ready to go a good 500 miles further out than I already am and hopefully again last long enough for most of the rest of the population to make the trip to the Great Beyond.  The main issue screwing with this paradigm for me now are my fucked up legs.  However, I don’t intend to go out there alone, I have friends and students I’ll go with.  The kids and the dogs can run the game toward my blind, and I can hit anything that moves inside of 1000 yards no problemo at least with the Barrett.  Gotta be a good deal closer to knock it down with the Crossbow or Compound Bow.

Quote

It’s the half-ass doomsteaders that kinda’ make me  ::) …  A suburban home with a little garden and a composting toilet isn’t a viable doomstead.  Having some land out in the sticks won’t do you much good if you find yourself standing in the middle of it after TEOTWAWKI without anything done or any experience at doing it…

Agreed, suburban Doomsteads aren’t a whole lot better than being inside a Big Shity, so I recommend Suburbanites have a Bugout Machine ready all the time, and locations picked out in advance to head for.  You should have Alternate Routes picked out off the Interstate in case Military Roadblocks are set up quickly, which is likely in the event of something like a False Flag Nuclear attack somewhere inside the FSofA.  You have to be ready to react INSTANTANEOUSLY if Newz like that comes across the MSM.  You likely only have minutes to hours before many Roadblocks and Checkpoints are set up.

Quote

For myself, I figured while Cornucopian resources were available, I’d use them to build a decent doomstead.  Already had a bunch of archaic skills going-in, and the 19th Century kinda’ suits me anyway.  Can always revert to feral if I have to, but thought I’d try and hang-on to the best lifestyle feasibly possible in the mean-time.

Reasonable choice, and you made it early enough and had enough means to be able to get it set up.  I am curious how you afforded it over the years, horses and such aren’t cheap and generally small farms don’t meet the bills too well.  Did you maintain conventional employment of some type?
RE

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