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Doom Psychology & Philosophy / Prepping for Death
« on: February 18, 2018, 06:20:56 AM »

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on February 18, 2018

Discuss this article at the Psychology & Philosophy Table inside the Diner

Once you become fully aware of collapse, it tends to make you a little crazy.  There is nobody I have come across in the collapse blogosphere who isn't somewhat nuts.  Mind you, this definition of "nuts" is being measured against what is considered normal inside an insane society, so in reality it may not be nuts at all.

The insanity exhibited by Kollapsniks comes in many forms, and the symptoms and behaviors that result also vary widely.  The most common probably is depression, you see that in posting of all kinds on many websites.  Talk of suicide among these people is fairly common. Some websites like Nature Bats Last & Reddit r/collapse and have such a severe problem with this they need to have Suicide Prevention Hotlines posted on the sidebar of the Homepage.  Denialism is another form of insanity that is prevalent.  There are numerous people who haunt collapse websites simply to try and refute any claim that Collapse is actually in progress.  They are obviously fully aware of it, but the coping mechanism here is just to deny every piece of evidence that becomes manifest.

There are other more subtle forms of insanity though also.  Many Kollapsniks become obsessive on certain topics, Renewable Energy, Bankster Corruption, Political Corruption, Geopolitical Conflict, Conspiracy Theory are a few examples of topics a given poster might obsess over.  Some obsess over more finely honed topics, like Precious Metals, the Stock Market, Marijuana Legalization or LGBTQ issues.  By focusing on a given area, this defense mechanism allows the person to "wall off" many of the other areas of collapse that would otherwise preoccupy them.  It is relatively lightweight insanity though, since it doesn't prevent the person from pursuing normal daily tasks, and they otherwise seem pretty normal.

Religion also is a form of insanity people will retreat into in one form or another as a means to cope with Collapse.  You get your Born Again Fundy Christians, Astrology believers, Radical Muslims,  Buddhists, Druids, New Age Atheists and many more systems of belief to latch onto.  If you are perturbed about Collapse Issues, there's a Religion out there for you to believe in that will salve your wounded soul!  Some of these religions are pretty innocuous, others are quite dangerous overall to the rest of society functioning around them.  They also come into conflict with each other, which can be a problem and makes things worse than they already are.  A mass psychosis takes over and any sort of reasonable dialogue between groups of believers becomes impossible.

The insanity can also take some very intense and dangerous forms as well, in the form of the Shoot-em-Ups and Postal events we see in ever increasing frequency.  The biggest EVAH here in the FSoA was the Vegas shooting, where as of last count close to 60 were DEAD and more than 400 wounded.  This shooter had a LOT of ammo!  He also planned well and put himself in a spot where he would be hard to take out, so he had a good hour's worth of shooting Ducks in a Pond.  So far, no motive for this insanity has been elucidated.  He was financially well to do, he was white and he was older in his 60s.  Not the typical demographic of a poor, brown young guy out spraying the bullets in the typical shoot-em-up.  Why did he SNAP?

Image result for canadian prepper Backing off the more dangerous types of insanity that can crop up, much more common and benign is Prepper Insanity.  You see this all over the Survivalist websites and Doomsteading Websites, where Kollapsniks cope with oncoming Collapse by either collecting and hoarding preps and/or moving "off-grid" onto a rural Doomstead to try and be ready to survive TEOTWAWKI.  These folks don't see themselves as NUTS, they see themselves as having a sane reaction to the insane world they are immersed in, but all their friends think they are nuts.  "WHAT!?!?  You're giving up a 6 figure job as an IT Manager to live on a subsistence permaculture farm in rural Maine?!?!?!"

I fit into this last category of people who have been driven insane by my knowledge of collapse.  It doesn't depress me, I have no issues there.  Shit in the world has always been fucked up for as long as I have been alive, this is just another Monkey Wrench (Spanner for you Brits) thrown into the works here you have to deal with if you want to stay alive and put food in your mouth for another day.  So in 2008 when I became "Collapse Aware" I became an Insane Prepper.  For a good 5 years straight, I bought just about every device and long term storable food you can dream up, and my digs are STUFFED with this supply.  My goal with this was to be able to survive what I call the "Zero Point", when everything crashes, the ATMs go down, JIT trucking fails, etc.  I figured if I could make it for a couple of years out in the bush and wait it out, most of the population would die off and then I could possibly hook up with other survivors to do a reboot.  Back then, I was a healthier specimen as a Homo Sap meat package.

Unfortunately, the last decade has seen an extreme decline in my health, and the possibility I could even survive a month out in the bush even with all my preps gets smaller by the day.  So about a year ago, my Prepping to survive collapse STOPPED.  I don't prep for that anymore, because it's a waste of good prepping time, not to mention money.  However, I am still insane, and still a Prepper.  So instead of Prepping on how I would LIVE through collapse, now I have been planning how to DIE during collapse.  Not sure exactly when this crossing over to the Great Beyond will occur, just as I am not sure precisely when SHTF Day will come to my neighborhood.  But as with trying to LIVE, in preparing to DIE  I don't want to be caught with my pants down unprepared.

Image result for last will and testament After my accident, I realized quickly how woefully unprepared I was to die.  I had no Last Will & Testament, and while I am by no means rich, I do have quite a few assets and ZERO debt.  I own several carz which while all old are also in good working order.  I don't use them much, but I have them.  I have a supply of Preps any prepper would salivate over.  They won't keep you going forever, but if you were on Puerto Rico with them you could go at least a year.  I also have some MONEY.  I won my Workman's Compensation case and got a decent settlement out of that.  I have my own savings and small inheritances I got when my parents went to the Great Beyond.  I spent some of this of course during periods of low income or unemployment, but most of it I still have.  I am a pretty penurious person overall so I don't waste my money too fast usually.

So the first thing that needed to get done was to write a Will and get it Notarized and Legal, which I did.  That made me feel a lot better.  Then I had to get my Executor familiar with all my stuff and where it is and how to distribute it properly after I croak.  This took a while to do, mainly because although I had people who agreed to execute the Will, most of them would not be able to get to Alaska to do the job and moreover they needed to get here first to go over everything, also something nobody has time for or wants to do really.  It's kind of depressing and morbid of course.  However, eventually I did get this done with a friend from my coaching years who is responsible and dependable, so I am confident the Will will be executed properly.

The next big worry for me as I contemplated oncoming DEATH was my Intellectual Property, of which there is a LOT more than my physical property.  I have been writing on the net for over 20 years, long predating my obsession with Doom.  The Diner by itself is a database currently approaching 5GB in size.  100s of 1000's if not 10*6 pages of text material.  After spending basically a lifetime putting together this material, do I want to see it vanish from the face of the earth the day I Buy My Ticket to the Great Beyond?  Of course not!  Even if my material is only appreciated by a few people now, I could become FAMOUS after I am DEAD!  lol.  So I wanted to insure that all my intellectual material isn't lost the day I Kick the Bucket, Buy the Farm, Push up Daisies, Take a Dirt Nap, Permanent Vacation…etc.

Figuring out how to do this has been a Work in Progress over the last 3 years.  The main body of work is here on the Doomstead Diner, so preserving that was my first concern.  However, the Diner is on a for pay server, so once the hosting company stops receiving money, the Diner gets shut down.  My quicky solution was to create a "DoomsteadDinerBeta" site on FREE WordPress space.  To that space I copied most of my articles through 2016 or so.  I haven't been updating it lately though.  This insures that the material is up for reading somewhere on the internet, until the Internet Goes Dark.  Which probably isn't that far off, IMHO the MOST would be 50 years, but I bet it's under 20.

Another solution for longer term storage would have been to print it all out on acid-free paper and store that somehow.  However, it's ridiculous and impossible logistically for many reasons.  The cost in paper and ink would have been ENORMOUS.  Then where to store all that paper while I still am alive?  I would need a whole new storage unit for that.  Then those boxes of paper would likely end up in landfill after I croak and all the paper chewed up by various microorganisms.  Paper books that did survive like the Bible did so not in their original manuscript, but in copies made over the millenia.  The oldest Bible we have still in existence is the Codex Sinaiticus, dated to the 4th Century AD.  That makes it 1700 years old.  It only lasted that long because it's been carefully preserved through the centuries.  So paper was not a choice here, at least not for everything.

Another issue is all my material is not text, there's a lot of Audio & Video in there also.  You can't print that out on paper.  I put a lot of time & energy into that stuff, I don't want it all POOF disappearing either when I am pushing up daisies.  Another means had to be found. The SOLUTION here was the latest in solid state data storage, Micro SD Cards.  One of these tiny suckers can store up to 128 Gigs of information if you buy an expensive one.  The Diner Database itself is only 5 Gigs!  Even adding in a good size sampling of my A&V, the file still only came up to 13 GB, so a 16 GB card was sufficient to store my entire life's work of intellectual property!  16 GB cards are down to $10 a pop.  That is well within the budget of even a Poor Person like myself!  So I set about the task of getting the material packaged up into a file to copy onto SD Cards for preservation. There is a PROBLEM here of course.  This digital media can be ZAPPED by an EMP, which if it doesn't come from a Nuke being dropped in the local vicinity will at some point come from the SUN☼ pitching out a nice Solar Flare directed straight at the earth, frying any microelectronics still floating around on the planet after the Age of Industrialization comes to a close.  So to protect them from that, I needed some sort of Faraday Cage.  What I got for that purpose were Aluminum Pill Capsules, designed to keep your medicines high and dry if you are white-water kayaking or doing some other adventure where important stuff you don't want to get dunked needs to be protected.

A second major issue cropped up in researching how long data will last on and SD Card.  Not long, according to the geeks, maybe 10-20 years.  I'm not entirely convinced of that though, since I have some very old SD cards I can still read off of.  Anyhow, since nobody is ever going to read the data anyhow, this doesn't much matter.  The last imprint on these cards before they randomize to oblivion will be the data I drop on them.  I also hope in the event Alien Archaeologists do locate the capsule, they will have technology that allows them to retrieve the last stored data on the card. Nevertheless, to resolve this problem and get more data into the final package, I went back to the old standby of data storage, PAPER & INK.  The small capsule doesn't have room for more paper though, so I determined I would need a BIGGER BOAT!  For this purpose, I purchased Stainless Steel Double-Walled Hot Food Thermoses.  I would have prefered Aluminum, but I couldn't find the right size container in aluminum, so I had to go with Stainless Steel.  It should still be OK though, since it will be coated several layers thick in Polyurethane, then further in concrete and stone.  More on that later in capsule preparation.  This container gives me room for more like 20-30 pages of printed text (estimate, haven't worked this one out yet in finalization), which is still not a lot but I can detail a lot more than I did on the one page I got to squeeze into the smaller capsule!

This now is where we move from being semi-normal and merely wishing to preserve your Life's Work to getting flat out INSANE.

After the Will though was the issue of my Corporeal Remains, AKA my CORPSE.

Even prior to considering how I might preserve my Intellectual Property, I started worrying about what would be done with my Corporeal Remains?  Buried or Cremated?  Where to drop the Corpse or Ashes on the Planet to rest until the SUN goes Red Giant?  In terms of location, I more or less settled on the cemetery where my mom is buried in Springfield, MO, although there are some caveats to this which I will get to later.  I bought a plot there which cost me $1000, not too bad.  For this price, I get stone placement (not the stone, gotta order that separate) and "perpetual care".  Which amounts I think to mowing the lawn around your stone and weeding, but I doubt either will be done after TSHTF.  However, neither do I imagine the stone will be moved.  Whatever population is left is unlikely to be messing around much in cemeteries.

Image result for tombstone Getting the stone I WANT has proven to be the biggest obstacle so far, and I am still working on that one.  I don't want one of those typical gravestone markers, I want something unique and distinctive.  I have a few different designs I have drawn up, but finding someone to cut the stones and then getting them to Missouri for placement is the real bear.  I'll update on the stones when I finally get them ordered and I know what I will be getting.  There is about a 4 month lag time also from when you order to when the stones are shipped out of the quarry, so if I want to actually see them I will have to stay alive long enough for that. lol.

At the beginning, all I was going to drop in the capsules was my Intellectual Property on the Micro-SD Card and samples of my own DNA from hair clippings.  However the more spacious Burial Chamber of the larger capsules gave me room to think about more things I should try to preserve for All Eternity.

The first thing that I added were 4 Scrolls on Acid Free 100% Cotton paper which give a Reader's Digest history of the existence of Homo Sap on Earth, from the beginning of life until the End of the Age of Oil.  I did this on paper just in case if the capsules are ever found in the distant future and the finders do not have access to computers, they will have some idea of what the contents of the capsule contain.  Of course, they will also need to be able to decode and read English. lol.  The reason this information comes in Scroll form is this is the best way to pack it in the Capsules.  You roll up the scroll, then when you insert into the capsule it automatically expands to the internal diameter of the capsule with no wasted space.  I found I could fit 4 of them in and still have room down the center for all the rest of the stuff I wanted to include.

The scrolls are cut from typical 8.5 X 11" paper, each one 2" wide.  Each page will make 3 scrolls.  So I had to get the entire History of Life on Planet Earth down to ONE PAGE of prose!  That's some serious Reader's Digest work there! lol  I reduced the size of the font to the minimum my computer offers up, 6pt.  After printing, I need my Reading Glasses to be able to make it out, it's like the tiny instructions booklets you get with electronics these days.  The 4th Scroll is on Photographic paper, same dimensions and has 4 pics on it of…ME!  This so that in case the Alien Archaeologists of the future can't read the SD Card they will be able to see what a Homo Sap looked like.  The card holds many more pics of life at the End of the Age of Oil on Planet Earth for them to peruse.

As mentioned above, I added to the original capsule arrangement a larger arrangement to contain more scrolls.  This container is still a work in progress and the total amount of word content on acid-free paper yet to be determined.  I want to get the small capsules finished before I embark on trying to edit up and format text-on-paper that is supposed to last for All Eternity.

However, TONS of room is still available even in the small capsule after the SD Card, the DNA container and the 3 Scrolls were placed, so what to add to it to fill up the space? Here I decided to add stuff to help preserve Life on Earth in the future.  I added small capsules with heirloom seeds and edible mushroom spores in them.  I ordered Tardigrades from Carolina Biological Supply, dessicated them and dropped them in another capsule.  Tardigrades were the best option for trying to preserve animal life since they can survive temperatures close to Absolute Zero and radiation levels in the 1000s of roentgens.  They won't survive being roasted when the SUN goes Red Giant though.

All of these items I am carefully packaging up to last as long as possible in my lifetime "Treasure Chest", which gets buried with my casket and my meat package remains in a reinforced concrete vault chamber 6 feet under my Tombstone marker.  Why am I putting all this time and effort into trying to preserve this stuff? Well, if this stuff is ever to be found, it's likely to be a long time between the time it gets buried and the time it gets dug up.  Who will dig it up?  IMHO, only two possibilities exist for this, either it will be Alien Archaeologists in the far future doing research on failed civilizations or it will be a NEW SPECIES of the Genus Homo, which I have labelled "Homo Dinerus".  This species will evolve from the remnants of the current human population after the Dieoff levels out, with maybe 10,000 Human Souls or 1000 Breeding Pairs left alive after all the nuclear bombs are detonated and all the coastal cities are under 30m of seawater.

I consider both of these outcomes to be low probability events though, after the chest goes in the ground with my meat package I don't expect it will ever be read by ANYBODY.  Sort of like old blogs, which are all up here on the net at the moment but nobody ever reads them. lol.  So what's the POINT?

The point is that the organization of data from your mind, unlike your corporeal remains is eternal, at least if you can find something long lasting to store it on and then periodically re-copy it onto new media.  It symbolizes your unique existence here on Earth at one brief interval in the space-time continuum.  In terms of my own Spiritual Beliefs, I believe keeping all the intellectual material together will help my Immortal Soul maintain its integrity when I leave my corporeal shell and cross the Great Divide.  When I am reincarnated, I will have a greater memory for the things that occured during this iteration of my immortal soul on Earth.  At least that is how my Theology works.  If I am right, I gain a lot from this, if I am wrong I lose nothing.  So it's worth the effort, even if it seems NUTS to all my friends.

Next week I hope to be ordering the first of several stones that will serve as marker and monument for my Eternal Resting Place.  Of all the media I have available to me, Granite is the most long lasting of all, so with my marker I sought also to deliver a message across the ages.  Of necessity since the total surface area is not that large, the information needs to be conveyed in a symbological form rather than with Words, although I do have a decent number of words inscribed on the stones along with the symbols.  In my next installment of this series, I will Unveil the Tombstone, which is an homage to Civilizations of the Past and the Eternal Beauty of Mathematics.


Diner TV / 🏇 Big Red: Kentucky Derby 1973
« on: February 15, 2018, 02:14:01 AM »
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Economics / The “Gig Economy”
« on: February 14, 2018, 04:47:38 AM »

The “Gig Economy”: Global Unemployment, Low Wages, Migration and the Future Workplace
By Prof. Anthony A. Gabb
Global Research, February 13, 2018
Region: USA
Theme: Global Economy, Poverty & Social Inequality

The author tracks key economic forces that have resulted in technological innovations which have given birth to the gig economy that is threatening job security, the gigzombie who is the alienated worker in the gig economy, and misguided anger directed at immigrants.

“A gig economy is an environment in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements. The trend toward a gig economy has begun. A study by Intuit predicted that by 2020, 40 percent of American workers would be independent contractors.”


This article explains sweeping changes that have resulted in the gig economy and migration patterns. The gig economy is the future workplace, once associated with less industrialized countries in the 1970s, where temporary, unstable employment is commonplace and companies tend toward hiring employees who are all but in name performing the work of permanent workers, but are denied permanent employee rights. It undermines the traditional economy and will aggravate unemployment, poverty and immigration. The gigzombie is the alienated gig employee, whose vitality has been sapped by rapid technological advancements that are changing the nature of work and increasingly threatening job security. Mr. Doug Scfifter, a New York City livery driver, wrote before he recently killed himself in front of New York’s City Hall, the gig economy “is the new slavery…I am not a slave and I refuse to be one.” 1

Since the end of the post WW II economic expansion in the 1970s2 capitalism has been struggling with slow growth and flat wages. The gig economy, which is driven by technological innovation, is a restructuring response to cut production costs and increase profits. It is not a solution for unemployment and forced migration, yet estimates show that the gig economy will soon account for more than one half of all jobs.3 Capitalism manufactures unemployment which is necessary for its existence. Immigrants are not the cause of unemployment and the gig economy is not the solution for unemployment; they are manifestations of the logic of this system.

Explaining the Underlying Economics Forces of the Sweeping Changes

To understand these sweeping changes in the U.S. and global economies and migration patterns, it is important to understand the economic forces that have brought us to this point. The best explanation of the economic forces that have brought us to this point is the Marxist theory of the accumulation of capital (wealth). The theory assumes that labor is the source of all wealth. The drive for profits gives rise to technological change. Labor and machines working together create more wealth.  However, in order to create more wealth, workers are displaced by machines, which tends to cause unemployment. When the number of displaced workers, plus the increase in population is greater than the number of jobs created, the result is the reserve army of the unemployed (mass unemployment), misery and impoverishment, which triggers migration to places where people think there are jobs. Immigration laws, which are anti-labor laws, are used to manage the ebb and flow of the global reserve army of unemployed, by opening or closing the immigration spigot to make cheap labor available.

To summarize, to cut labor costs and increase profits, capitalists replace workers with machines, thereby producing the reserve army of the unemployed (mass unemployment) which is necessary for its own existence. Capitalists control unemployed workers, who are forced to accept lower wages and poor working conditions. As they move into and out of the workforce, they are used as a lever to discipline the employed to do the same, thereby destroying unions and depressing wages, making it easy to lay off workers without notice and replacing them with gigzombies (temporary and part-time employees), destroying the safety net, and keeping production costs down. In this respect, unemployed workers are as necessary as employed workers for the existence of capitalism. In proportion as wealth increases, unemployment rises, and the levels of unemployment, torment, ignorance and poverty grow. Capitalism is unable to create enough jobs for everyone who wants to work; it manufactures and uses the army of the unemployed, a necessary outcome of the accumulation of wealth, as a tool to perpetuate its own existence, by pitting employed and unemployed workers and native and immigrant workers against one other, making them compete for a limited number of jobs.

The reserve army of the unemployed, the workers’ “graveyard of immiseration and impoverishment,” is evidence that capitalism is unable to deliver sufficient jobs. This system blames workers’ jobless predicaments on them and/or encourages them to blame others, like immigrants. Immigrants are not the cause of unemployment; they are one of the manifestations of the process of production whose natural outcome is unemployment.

In addition to mass unemployment and migration, capitalism creates obscene levels of inequality; the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Even mainstream “economists are skeptical that the benefits of growth [from the]…albeit fragile recovery…will reach working people whose wages have stagnated even as jobless rates have plunged.” “The World Economic Forum… [recent] survey…warned of rising economic inequality… [and]…rising risks…adding that they threaten catastrophic consequences for humanity, and for the economy.”4

The Modern Workplace

There have been significant changes as the modern workplace transitions from the traditional forty-hour work week with benefits, to the gig economy, where there is a race to reduce labor cost, and immigrants are targeted and dehumanized. Immigrants remain another instrument of control for the capitalist due to the schism between them and the native workforce. The most important shifts in the workplace include those directly related to automation, and the state’s use of right-to-work laws to dismantle unions as well as restructuring the tax system.

Today, the gig workplace could be virtual, your home, a day-to-day temporary location, an Amazon or Walmart warehouse, driving your car as an UBER or Lyft independent contractor, and to a lesser extent the traditional office. It is characteristic of temporary and part-time, flexible jobs, without benefits. It undermines the traditional economy of full-time workers who rarely change positions and instead focus on a lifetime career.

Technological innovation gives employers the ability to identify, calculate, and monitor how much you produce whether your office is in your home or somewhere else. In this increasingly automated workplace, machines supplied and used by workers maintain their oppressive function by managing the workplace from a distance allowing employers complete control over workers; as has been said, the machine incorporate and absorb the worker who is the appendage within it and extracts labor power from it.  Already more than 34 percent of the workforce is employed as temporary part-time precarious employees and an additional 13 percent wish to join the gig economy.5 Expectations are the gig economy will soon make up half of all employees.

The transition to the gig economy has been advanced by right-to-work laws. Under provisions of the Taft-Hartley Act that require unionized workplaces to become “open shops”, employees must be allowed to work whether or not they join the union or pay dues. This makes it more difficult for workers to form unions. In part, right-to-work laws have devastated organized labor. A study by Cornell University’s, International Labor Relations School, found that wages for union members are generally ten to thirty percent higher than the wages for non-union workers.6 In the absence of union representation, labor costs decrease at the expense of workers, by reducing wages and benefits. These anti-union attacks are also evident in other industrialized countries. While the U.K. government is demanding health care by demanding give backs from workers, in France unions are under attack from a government that wants to make it easier for businesses to fire employees.

The recent tax law passed by the U.S. Congress and signed by the President, an act of class-warfare that gives $1.5 trillion to corporations and the wealthy, has also contributed to the transition to the gig economy. Many find appealing the opportunity that it seemingly offers to cut taxes for small businesses, and are expected to continue to form independent contractor small businesses in order to take advantage of it. This, however, comes at a cost as employers shift the cost of wages and benefits, once hard-fought for by unions, onto employees.

In search of cheap labor, capitalists reconfigure and control global markets, by war, militarism, and persecution. The best evidence of this is in the Middle East where immigrants fleeing into Europe and elsewhere have become another instrument of control for the capitalist, because of the schism between the indigenous European and migrant workers. These migrants are greeted with physical and figurative walls, xenophobia, and other forms of misguided anger.

Composition of the Workforce

The composition and size of the workforce has dramatically changed due to cost-cutting technological innovations driving the transition to the gig economy. The most important changes include an increase in the reserve army of the unemployed; transitions from union to non-union employees, as well as full-time permanent status to temporary part-time independent contractors, consultants, and freelancers; increased migration; and the widening inequality gap.

The spectrum of the workforce (the proletariat) spans from active employed workers to the mass unemployed (reserve army of the unemployed) to those who have lost their class identity, people who are very poor and disenfranchised, “the lowest sediment of the relative-surplus population”, “vagabonds, criminals, prostitutes…”, (the lumpen proletariat). 7 The active employed are distributed among the primary, secondary, and tertiary sectors. The reserve army of the unemployed includes the floating, latent, and stagnant unemployed. While there has been a proportionate decrease in the active employed, there have also been significant increases in the reserve army of unemployed.

The labor market is divided into three sectors of the economy: The primary, secondary, and tertiary. The primary sector includes all non-manufacturing workers in the extractive industries like mining, farming, and fishing; the secondary sector includes all industrial/manufacturing workers; and the tertiary sector includes service workers in the public and private spheres.

The reserve army of the unemployed is also divided into three sectors: The floating, latent, and stagnant unemployed. The floating unemployed is the most mobile group and moves more easily into and out of manufacturing jobs, depending on whether the economy is expanding or contracting. The latent unemployed, generally less mobile, include primary sector workers who migrate to urban areas where they compete with unemployed manufacturing workers. The stagnant unemployed, the least mobile and fluid sector, includes those who are able to work, those who cannot work, like the elderly, the disabled, the sickly, and the single parent households, and “orphans and [poor] children”. As the deindustrialization of the economy becomes more acute, the floating and latent sectors and misery grow.

Technological innovation has displaced a significant number of workers who have migrated from farming and manufacturing into the service sector, the fastest growing sector both in the U.S. and globally. As this trend continues it will result in an increase in the floating unemployed, especially where jobs are more easily automated, like machine operators and fast food service workers.  Since 1970, the workforce in the manufacturing decreased from 17.4 percent to about 10 of the workforce In the U.S. The supply of independent freelancers, contractors, consultants, and precarious and informal workers will expand.

Over the past fifty years, the number of workers displaced by automation plus the increase in population has far outpaced the number of jobs created, in the U.S. and global economies. The size of the global industrial reserve army of the unemployed is over 1.5 billion. By 2030, not accounting for population growth, an additional 400 to 8oo million will be displaced by automation.8 In the U.S. the reserve army of the unemployed increased by over 70 million or 114 percent and globally, the number of unemployed increased by 780 million, or 111 percent. The U.S. population increased by 74 million and the global population increased by over 4 billion.9 These numbers are much bigger than the 47.5 million full time and part time jobs created in the U.S. and 920 million jobs created globally. These changes will all create downward pressure on wages and exacerbate unemployment, migration and inequality.

As the reserve army increases, the level of poverty increases, proportionately. According to UNICEF, over 22,000 children die every day due to poverty and 1.3 billion live on less than $1.25 per day in extreme poverty. The U.S. accounts for 5 percent of the world’s population and over 20 percent of the incarcerated; over 2 million people, many of them due to the criminalization of poverty, are incarcerated in the prison industrial complex of the U.S, and counting.10 Fifty percent of the labor force earns less than $27,000 per year and the bottom half of the population has less wealth than the top one percent. Eighty percent is struggling, living from pay check to pay check and the student debt has reached $1.3 trillion dollars.

The evidence shows that the active employed segment of the workforce in the gig economy is increasingly subjected to less than subsistence wages. The U.S. military is the biggest employer in the world with 2.2 million employees, Walmart is the third biggest employer in the world with 2.1 million employees, and MacDonald’s is fourth with 1.9 million employees. Many of these workers live pay check to pay check on sub-standard wages; many of them qualify for food stamps, a subsidy to employers’ profit margins. To add insult to injury, Walmart’s response, in part, is to sell online 13 square foot domiciles for $4,000. Just when you think it could not get any worse, recently Walmart closed sixty stores and 10,000 people lost their jobs; they found out they were fired when they showed up for work and the entrances to the stores were locked, that was the only notice they received.11  Mr. Doug Schifter, the New York City livery driver, wrote before committing suicide “I worked 100-120 consecutive hours almost every week for the past fourteen plus years [only to end up deeper in debt].”12

The role of labor unions is to serve as a voice for employees and act as their representative during collective bargaining negotiations. After peaking at 35 percent (21 million members) in 1979, today union membership in the U.S. is at an all time low, about 10 percent. About 28 states in the U.S. enforce “right-to-work laws” which makes it difficult to form or join a union. As union membership decline, migration, inequality, outsourcing, globalization, and unemployment increase, and wages and benefits decrease. In desperation many workers join the gig economy, while others have been forced into retirement, or slip into poverty.

The rise in the global reserve army of unemployed which has worsened economic plight, as well as natural and human made disasters (like wars) and persecution, have contributed to increased migration patterns. These migration patterns have impacted economic, social and cultural dimensions in the U.S. and globally. On the one hand, what often drives the public discourse on immigration are issues relating to the threat immigrants pose to host countries’ values and customs and that the government should manage immigration against such threats.  On the other hand, a circumspect review of immigration data dispels these myths about immigrants and their impact on the economy and cultural and social values. The truth is that immigrants inject new energy into academia, arts and sciences, and technological innovation.

Contrary to popular belief,

    “While some policymakers have blamed immigration for slowing U.S. wage growth since the 1970s, most academic research finds little long run effect on Americans’ wages. The available evidence suggests that immigration leads to more innovation, a better educated workforce, greater occupational specialization, better matching of skills with jobs, and higher overall economic activity. Immigration also has a net positive effect on combined federal, state, and local budgets.”13

Furthermore, immigrants have lower rates of crime than the native-born because they don’t want to risk deportation. Most immigrants do not compete with low wage American workers because they occupy different niches and immigrants often lack English language skills. In addition, while the number of immigrants has increased, the number of murders has decreased in the U.S. Suggesting that contrary to popular belief, at the same time that the number of immigrants increased, there has been a dramatic fall in the number of murders in the U.S. 14

Today, over 60 million people have been displaced by wars and natural disasters and there are over 160 million others living outside their countries of origin.15 In 1999, 4 million U.S. citizens chose to live in other countries and in 2016 that number more than doubled to 9 million. Many immigrants no longer see the U.S. as their first destination. In 1978, the U.S. was the first country people chose to move to, but by 2017, it was number sixteen. However, due to heightened economic plight in the less developed world, immigration has continued to shape the U.S. workforce. In 1970, there were 9.6 million immigrants in the U.S., or 4.7 percent of the population. In 2016, there were 43.7 million, or 13.5 percent of the population. The majority of immigrants in the U.S. are from India, China, Mexico, the Philippines, and Canada. Over fifty five percent had private health care coverage compared to 69 percent of U.S. born. Twenty nine percent use the public health care system compared to 36 percent of native born.

Meanwhile, as attacks on immigrants continue, wealth has become more concentrated in the hands of a few billionaire oligarchs. The number of billionaires in the U.S. increased from one in 1970 to 425 today; globally, the number of billionaires increased from two in 1970 to 2,043 today. The richest 42 people on the planet control more wealth than the poorest fifty percent of the world’s population. Over 65 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 is savings; 44 percent of them have less than $400. These repulsive levels of inequality rival the time of the Pharaohs. More and more “Free time…both leisure and time for higher activities,” is saved for the privileged few who engage in creative, fulfilling activities, while the majority of people engage in “alienated labor” just to stay afloat.

Conclusion: “Workers of the World Unite”

The data regarding unemployment, immigration, inequality, and poverty are staggering. Last year in New York City there were over 50,000 homeless children, 1.9 million children living in poverty, and 77,000 people in New York City were homeless. In the U.S. there were over 2.5 million homeless children and between 13.4 million and 16.5 million children living in poverty.16 The U.S. population has outpaced job creation by over 50 million. About 55 million workers in the U.S. are employed in the gig economy, most of them in temporary, part-time, low paid jobs, without any job security or benefits.

The global economy has followed similar trends. The world’s population increased by 3.4 billion and there has been a shift toward the service sector, which is already under pressure from automation. The availability of cheap labor as well as high levels of unemployment and the lack of unions in the less industrialized world have maintained and intensified temporary part-time employment that is now trending in more industrialized economies. More than 3 billion people live on less than $2.50 per day.

Migrant serfs, otherwise known as mostly retired elderly white people, who gave the best years of their lives, now live nomadic lives, in make-shift refugee trailer camps, which they set up serendipitously in the parking lots of big box warehouses where they work; they are constantly chased away by the police. Because their social security checks are generally less than $1,000 a month, they supplement it by working at Amazon and Walmart warehouses, many of them making sub-standard wages in exchange for robotic ten hour workdays. They can be fired without notice and don’t get paid extra if they take longer than the prescribed time to complete their assigned work.

Many of them have said that they work sometimes under horrible workplace conditions without any air conditioning or heating and are made to endure remarks from their superiors (such as “we appreciate you because of your mature work ethic and the example you set for younger gigzombies”). At the same time they are complemented for their work ethic, they are discouraged from talking to union organizers. It has been reported that Amazon warehouses have set up “Li’lMed” stations and Urine Color Charts outside bathroom walls for workers to check the color of their urine to monitor dehydration and to convey the feeling that the company cares about them.17 Recently, Amazon announced that it plans to universalize its “Li’lMed” health care approach. It wants to lower healthcare cost for workers and has plans to revert back to the days of the “company store” when employees depended on employers for everything. It plans to set up its own health care system, at first, to service its employees.  If it is successful, it could metastasize throughout the whole economy, allowing Amazon to privatize and provide universal health care for all of us.

Sadly, these elderly workers, who are made to compete with younger workers who are in their prime working age, have been known to say that they are happy with what they can get, the opportunity to subject themselves to such humiliation. Exhausted, even though they need the money, termination comes as a blessing in disguise, since it gives them recovery time to heal physically and emotionally. Evidently, capitalism not only produces misery and impoverishment, but it has no desire to help those in need. In this respect, the working conditions of the gig economy is reminiscent of the horrible working conditions experienced almost a hundred years ago, in the 1930s, by San Francisco longshoremen; there is a well known example of a reported incident after a 700 pound load accidently dropped on the foot of a longshoreman and broke several bones. Employers placed the worker on the no hire blacklist because they said he had weak bones.18

As economic crises become more frequent and deeper and unemployment, migration and inequality reach dizzying heights, and militarism and war persists, critics have called for a greater role for government. But these trends are systemic and ubiquitous and, as such, a greater role for government and the gig economy that is automated and stocked with gigzombies, are not solutions to these problems. Mass unemployment is a necessary outcome of the capitalist production process. Immigration, globalization, outsourcing, and the transition to the gig economy are all manifestations of capitalism’s need to re-invent itself. The reserve army of unemployed is, indeed, the “graveyard of immiseration and impoverishment,” and is the necessary outcome of the logic of this system; as such, capitalism continues to produce its own “grave diggers.”

In this respect, there are important lessons to learn from the revolutionary tradition in the U.S. This tradition has a long history that has inspired subsequent generations to demand a world free of misery, impoverishment, exploitation, oppression, and class distinctions. They understood that radical change is not just a thing of the past, but that it requires international solidarity, since the alternative is a life of abject poverty.

Capitalism is an economy driven by profits, which retards the development of humanity; when profit investment ventures dry up, the system shuts down. A collectivized system where the fruits of human labor are available to all, will set free the forces of labor for the benefit of everyone, not just a few. The solution to misery and poverty is international solidarity. The workers, the creators of wealth, want dignified and creative work, with a shorter work week and a livable wage with benefits. While the words of Marx were resounding for the nineteenth century working class, they still ring true today: “A study of the struggle waged by the English working class reveals that, in order to oppose their workers, the employers either bring in workers from abroad or else transfer manufacture to countries where there is a cheap labor force. Given this state of affairs, if the working class wishes to continue its struggle with some chance of success, the national organisations must become international.” 19


Anthony Gabb, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of economics at St. John’s University, New York. He has delivered and published dozens of papers, a book chapter and a book review. His most recent work, Financial Oligarchy Feudal Aristocracy, was published by The World Financial Review.  He work has appeared in The New York Times, Corriere della Sera, and he has appeared on Chanel 1 New York.



2.  Robert Gordon, The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War, The Princeton Economic Series of the Western World, 2016





7. Karl Marx, vol. 1, Capital (Moscow: Progress Publishers), pp. 600-604                         



10. Survival of the Richest w/ Donald Jeffries – YouTube








18. WBAI Letters and Politics, 1/10/18, Peter Afrasiabi   

19. Karl Marx, International Workingmen’s Association 1867, meeting on June 4, 1867 the General Council, On The Lausanne Congress

Geopolitics / 🐷 The Deadly Rule of the Oligarchs - Chris Hedges
« on: February 13, 2018, 03:15:47 AM »
aka, PIGMEN!


Feb 11, 2018
TD originals
The Deadly Rule of the Oligarchs

Mr. Fish / Truthdig

Oligarchic rule, as Aristotle pointed out, is a deviant form of government. Oligarchs care nothing for competency, intelligence, honesty, rationality, self-sacrifice or the common good. They pervert, deform and dismantle systems of power to serve their immediate interests, squandering the future for short-term personal gain. “The true forms of government, therefore, are those in which the one, or the few, or the many, govern with a view to the common interest; but governments that rule with a view to the private interest, whether of the one, of the few or of the many, are perversions,” Aristotle wrote. The classicist Peter L.P. Simpson calls these perversions the “sophistry of oligarchs,” meaning that once oligarchs take power, rational, prudent and thoughtful responses to social, economic and political problems are ignored to feed insatiable greed. The late stage of every civilization is characterized by the sophistry of oligarchs, who ravage the decaying carcass of the state.

These deviant forms of government are defined by common characteristics, most of which Aristotle understood. Oligarchs use power and ruling structures solely for personal advancement.

Oligarchs, though they speak of deconstructing the administrative state, actually increase deficits and the size and power of law enforcement and the military to protect their global business interests and ensure domestic social control. The parts of the state that serve the common good wither in the name of deregulation and austerity. The parts that promote the oligarchs’ power expand in the name of national security, economic growth and law and order.

For example, the oligarchs educate their children in private schools and buy them admissions into elite universities (this is how a mediocre student like Jared Kushner went to Harvard and Donald Trump went to the University of Pennsylvania), so they see no need to fund good public education for the wider population. Oligarchs can pay teams of high-priced lawyers to bail them and their families out of legal trouble. There is no need, in their eyes, to provide funds for legal representation for the poor. When oligarchs do not fly on private jets, they fly in first class, so they permit airlines to fleece and abuse “economy” passengers. They do not use subways, buses or trains, and they slash funds for the maintenance and improvement of these services. Oligarchs have private clinics and private doctors, so they do not want to pay for public health or Medicare. Oligarchs detest the press, which when it works shines a light on their corruption and mendacity, so they buy up and control systems of information and push their critics to the margins of society, something they will accelerate with the abolition of net neutrality.

Oligarchs do not vacation on public beaches or in public parks. They own their own land and estates, where we are not allowed. They see no reason to maintain or fund public parks or protect public land. They hand such land over to other oligarchs to exploit for profit. Oligarchs cynically view laws as mechanisms to legalize their fraud and plunder. They use their lobbyists in the legislative branch of government to author bills that increase and protect their wealth, through the avoidance of taxes and other means. Oligarchs do not allow free and fair elections. They use gerrymandering and campaign contributions to make sure other oligarchs are elected over and over to office. Many run unopposed.

Oligarchs look at regulations to protect the environment or the safety of workers as impediments to profit and abolish them. Oligarchs move industries to Mexico or China to increase their wealth while impoverishing American workers and leaving U.S. cities in ruins. Oligarchs are philistines. They are deaf, dumb and blind to great works of art, reveling in tawdry spectacles, patriotic kitsch and mindless entertainment. They despise artists and intellectuals who promote virtues and self-criticism that conflict with the lust for power, celebrity and wealth. Oligarchs always unleash wars on culture, attacking it as elitist, irrelevant and immoral and cutting its funding. All social services and institutions, such as public housing programs, public parks, meals for the elderly, infrastructure projects, welfare and Social Security, are viewed by oligarchs as a waste of money. These services are gutted or turned over to fellow oligarchs, who harvest them for profit until they are destroyed.

Oligarchs, who do not serve in the military and who ensure their children do not serve in the military, pretend to be great patriots. They attack those who oppose them as anti-American, traitors or agents for a foreign power. They use the language of patriotism to stoke hatred against their critics and to justify their crimes. They see the world in black and white—those who are loyal to them and those who are the enemy. They extent this stunted belief system to foreign affairs. Diplomacy is abandoned for the crude threats and indiscriminate use of force that are the preferred forms of communication of all despots.

There is little dispute that we live in an oligarchic state. The wealthiest 1 percent of America’s families control 40 percent of the nation’s wealth, a statistic similar to what is seen globally: The wealthiest 1 percent of the world’s population owns more than half of the world’s wealth. This wealth translates into political power. The political scientists Martin Gilens of Princeton and Benjamin Page of Northwestern, after examining differences in public opinion across income groups on a wide variety of issues, concluded, “In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule—at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover … even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.”

Oligarchs accelerate social, political, cultural and economic collapse. The unchecked plunder leads to systems breakdown. The refusal to protect natural resources, or the economic engines that sustain the state, means that poverty becomes the norm and the natural world becomes a toxic wasteland. Basic institutions no longer work. Infrastructure is no longer reliable. Water, air and soil are poisoned. The population is left uneducated, untrained, impoverished, oppressed by organs of internal security and beset by despair. The state eventually goes bankrupt. Oligarchs respond to this steady deterioration by forcing workers to do more for less and launching self-destructive wars in the vain attempt to restore a lost golden age. They also insist, no matter how bad it gets, on maintaining their opulent and hedonistic lifestyles. They further tax the resources of the state, the ecosystem and the population with suicidal demands. They flee from the looming chaos into their gated compounds, modern versions of Versailles or the Forbidden City. They lose touch with reality. In the end, they are overthrown or destroy the state itself. There is no institution left in America that can be called democratic, and thus there is no internal mechanism to prevent a descent into barbarity.

“The political role of corporate power, the corruption of the political and representative processes by the lobbying industry, the expansion of executive power at the expense of constitutional limitations, and the degradation of political dialogue promoted by the media are the basics of the system, not excrescences upon it,” the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin wrote in “Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism.” “The system would remain in place even if the Democratic Party attained a majority; and should that circumstance arise, the system will set tight limits to unwelcome changes, as if foreshadowed in the timidity of the current Democratic proposals for reform. In the last analysis, the much-lauded stability and conservatism of the American system owe nothing to lofty ideals, and everything to the irrefutable fact that it is shot through with corruption and awash in contributions primarily from wealthy and corporate donors. When a minimum of a million dollars is required of House candidates and elected judges, and when patriotism is for the draft-free to extol and for the ordinary citizen to serve, in such times it is a simple act of bad faith to claim that politics-as-we-now-know-it can miraculously cure the evils which are essential to its very existence.”

The longer we are ruled by oligarchs, the deadlier our predicament becomes, especially since the oligarchs refuse to address climate change, the greatest existential crisis to humankind. The oligarchs have many mechanisms, including wholesale surveillance, to keep us in check. They will stop at nothing to maintain the sophistry of their rule. History may not repeat itself, but it echoes. And if we don’t recognize these echoes and then revolt, we will be herded into the abattoirs that tyrannies set up at the end of their existence.

Diner Anniversary Party Board / Doomstead Diner 6th Anniversary
« on: February 11, 2018, 06:00:05 AM »

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on February 11, 2018

Discuss this article at the Anniversary Table inside the Diner


This week marks the 6th Anniversary of the Birth of the Doomstead Diner. 👶

I'd like to take today's Sunday Brunch article to thank my fellow Admins as well as the regular members of the Diner who have contributed so much to our Forum, which now boasts over 141146 Posts in 8643 Topics by 1246 Members.  You can find everything there is to say about Collapse somewhere in the Diner Archives! 🙂  From Economics to Geopolitics to Environment to Psychology and Philosophy and Conspiracy Theory, the Diners have beat this horse to death! 🙄  You can also find numerous Newz Links not only in our Forum, but on our Reddit Sub, R/GLOBALCOLLAPSE, now with over 1000 subscribers.  Also visit our YouTube and Soundcloud Channels for still more Collapse in multi-media format.

This isn't going to be one of my mega-long articles, since I was kind of pooped all week and am writing this at the last minute.  It was an exciting week in Collapse though, at least from the perspective of the Stock Market.  It all started around 2 Fridays ago, with a couple of 1000+ point drops in in the DJIA, punctuated by some Dead Cat Bounces courtesy of the PPT, aka the Plunge Protection Team.  By gross numbers these were the biggest point drops in history, but as a percentage of total value since the market has been so grossly inflated with funny money, so far it has only amounted to a "correction".  We'll see which way it goes over the coming week.

Also entertaining in the last few weeks is the escalation of the Clown Show in Washington with the bullshit about memos, misogynists and money gets Tweeted off Trumpty-Dumpty's I-phone every morning, and then the rest of the day is spent with Repugnants trying to clean up the poopy mess he left on the White House front lawn.  Also interesting from the Demodope side was Nancy Pelosi doing her rendition of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington with a Filibuster style speech that went over 8 hours without Nancy yielding the floor, which as Minority Leader she has the right to do.

Nancy didn't leave the floor to eat or go to the toilet for over 8 hours!  For a 77 year old woman, that is fucking amazing! ðŸ˜² Say what you will about Mrs. Pelosi, she has fucking stamina.  However, the sideshow of the filibuster speech was to attempt to cover up for the fact the Demodopes folded and totally sold out the "Dreamers" in favor of getting a Budget deal done with the Repugnants so Da Goobermint wouldn't close down…again.  So now they have another kick-the-can agreement in place, and they can all go back to what is REALLY important, getting re-elected in November.  Of course, many Repugnants aren't seeking this honor at all this go-round of the Democracy Charade, they're retiring.  Basically nobody can stand to work under Trumpovetsky and they are exiting stage left with their CONgressional pensions and Medical Care.  Not that they really need this since they are all at least Millionaires after decades of accepting bribes. 🙄

Anyhow, whatever occurs here in the ongoing Collapse of Industrial Civilization, we will be here on the Diner as usual every day covering the clusterfuck, at least for as long as I stay above gorund level anyhow.  It's pretty remarkable I made it this long, I figured to be dead by the last anniversary. ðŸ’€ My desire to make it to SHTF Day is what keeps me going, it's my Reason to Live.  That and getting my Tombstone completed. lol.


So where do the kids go on Mondays if both parents work? ???  :icon_scratch:


Oklahoma schools go on 4-day weeks so teachers can work at Walmart on Mondays to make rent

In 1992, Oklahoma passed a ballot initiative saying that the state could only raise taxes with a three quarters majority in the state assembly, creating a one-way ratchet where every tax cut becomes effectively permanent, including the sweetheart deals cut for frackers and the deep cuts to taxes on the wealthiest residents of the state.

As a result, the state is going broke. Teachers haven't gotten a raise in 10 years and the only way they can afford to accept the pay -- third-worst in the nation -- is by negotiating a four-day school week in 90 districts, freeing teachers up to take jobs at Walmart on Mondays to make ends meet.

Teachers are fleeing the state in droves, including the Teacher of the Year, who quit his job in 2016 shortly after receiving his award, taking a better-paid teaching job in a neighboring state (the Dallas school system actively recruits Oklahoma teachers with Oklahoma City hiring booths).

Teachers are especially hard hit: their health plan was replaced with a private system that eats up more than $1000/month for a family of three -- one teaching aide was actually paying to work her job, spending $200/month more on health insurance than she was paid in salary. Teachers make ends meet with public housing vouchers and food stamps, and school food-bank drives sometimes give their leftovers to hungry teachers and their families.

It's not just teachers: the highway patrol has been given orders not to completely fill their gas-tanks at the pump, to help with state cash-flow; drunk drivers go free because there is no one available to process their tickets, and the prison system is on the verge of collapse.

    No fact embarrasses Oklahomans more, or repels prospective businesses more, than the number of cash-strapped districts that have gone to four-day weeks. Yet even such a radical change may not help finances much. Paul Hill, a professor of education at the University of Washington, Bothell, estimates that the savings are “in the 1 or 2% range at most”. That sliver is still important to Kent Holbrook, superintendent of public schools in Inola (the self-styled “Hay Capital of the World”). “In my mind, that’s five or six teachers,” says Mr Holbrook. Already, from 2008 to 2016, he has lost 11 teachers from a corps that once numbered 100. He has also had to reduce Spanish classes and, for the tenth year running, delay buying new textbooks.

What’s the matter with Oklahoma? [The Economist]

Diner Globalists are requested to VOTE for the candidate best qualified to Lead the World in the Age of Collapse from the current Top Leaders available to choose from.  The Nominees are:

Donald Trump

Vladimir Putin

Xi Jinping

Angela Merkel

Theresa May

Remember: Your VOTE means something!  ::)  The outcome of Industrial Civilization Collapse hangs in the balance here!  If you don't vote correctly or don't vote at all, you could be responsible for the annihiliation of all life on Earth!  :o


History / 75 Years Ago, the Battle of Stalingrad
« on: February 08, 2018, 01:31:59 AM »

75 Years Ago, the Battle of Stalingrad
From Stalingrad to Normandy
By Dr. Jacques R. Pauwels
Global Research, February 05, 2018
Region: Europe, Russia and FSU
Theme: History

To win the war planned by Hitler, Germany, a highly industrialized country but lacking colonies and therefore woefully short of strategic raw materials, had to win it fast, before Germany’s stockpiles of petroleum ran out. These reserves, much of which consisted of imports from the US, had been built up in the years leading up to the outbreak of war, and they could not be adequately replenished by synthetic fuel produced at home (on the basis of coal) and/or oil supplied by friendly or neutral countries such as Romania and – after the Hitler-Stalin Pact of August 1939–the Soviet Union.

In this context, the Nazis had developed the strategy of Blitzkrieg,“lightning warfare”: synchronized attacks by massive numbers of tanks, airplanes, and trucks (for transporting infantry), piercing the defensive lines behind which the bulk of the enemy’s forces were typically ensconced in the style of World War I, then encircling these forces, leaving them to face either annihilation or capitulation. In 1939 and 1940, this strategy worked perfectly: Blitzkrieg produced Blitzsieg, “lightning victory,” against Poland, Holland, Belgium, and – spectacularly so – against France. When, in the spring of 1941, Nazi Germany was poised to attack the Soviet Union, everyone–not only Hitler and his generals but also the army commanders in London and Washington – expected a similar scenario to unfold: the Red Army was expected to be finished off by the Wehrmacht within a maximum of two months.On the eve of the attack, Hitler felt supremely confident: he reportedly “fancied himself to be on the verge of the greatest triumph of his life.”

From the Ostkrieg, their Blitzkrieg in the east, Hitler and his generals expected much more than from their previous lightning campaigns. Their stockpiles of fuel and rubber had already dwindled after their gas-guzzling planes and Panzers inflicted death and destruction in Poland and Western Europe; by the spring of 1941, the remaining supplies of fuel, tires, spare parts, etc. sufficed to wage motorized war for no more than a couple of months. The shortfall could not be compensated by imports from the still neutral US, which continued to arrive, mostly via Spain, and in return for the limited supplies of Soviet oil, Germany had to deliver high-quality industrial products and state-of-the-art military technology, used by the Soviets to strengthen their defenses in preparation for a German attack that they expected sooner or later. This dilemma was to be resolved by attacking the Soviet Union, and by attacking as soon as possible, even though stubborn Britain had not yet been vanquished: the “lightning victory” that was confidently expected to materialize quickly in the east would deliver to Germany the rich oil fields of the Caucasus, where the gas-guzzling Panzers and Stukas would in future be able to fill their tanks to the brim at any time. Germany would then be a truly invincible über-Reich, capable of winning even long, drawn-out wars against any antagonist. This was the plan, code-named “Barbarossa,” and its implementation got underway on June 22, 1941; but things would not work out as its architects in Berlin had expected.

While the Red Army took a terrible beating at first, it had not massed its forces at the border but opted for a defense in depth; withdrawing in relatively good order, it managed to elude destruction in one or more of the kind of huge encirclement battles that Hitler and his generals had dreamed of. The Germans advanced, but increasingly slowly and at the price of great losses. By late September, they were nowhere near Moscow and still a very long way from the Caucasian oil fields that were the real object of their desire. And soon the mud, snow and cold of fall and early winter were to create new difficulties for troops that had never been expected to fight in such conditions. In the meantime, the Red Army had recuperated from the blows it had received initially, and on December 5, 1941, it launched a devastating counter-offensive in front of Moscow. The Nazi forces were thrown back and had to adopt defensive positions where they would be able to survive the winter after the Soviet attack petered out. On the evening of that fateful fifth of December, 1941, the generals of the Wehrmacht’s high command reported to Hitler that, on account of the failure of the Blitzkrieg-strategy, Germany could no longer hope to win the war.

Blue:  from 7 May 1942 to 18 November 1942   

Flesh: to 7 July 1942 

Orange: to 22 July 1942   

Lavender: to 1 August 1942   

Green: to 18 November 1942

Source: CC BY-SA 3.0

The Battle of Moscow heralded the failure of the lightning-war strategy against the Soviet Union. A Blitzsieg, a lightning-like victory, on the eastern front, was supposed to have made a German defeat in the entire war impossible and would in all likelihood have done so.It is probably fair to say that if Nazi Germany had defeated the Soviet Union in 1941, Germany would today still be the hegemon of Europe, and possibly of the Middle East and North Africa as well; however, in front of Moscow, in December 1941, Nazi Germany suffered the defeat that made an overall German victory impossible, not only victory against the Soviet Union itself, but also victory against Great Britain and victory in the war in general.

It ought to be noted that at that point – a few days before Pearl Harbor – the United States was not yet involved in the war against Germany. In fact, the US only became involved in that war because of the Battle of Moscow. When, within a few days after receiving the bad news from Russia, Germany’s Führer learned of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7 and the subsequent American declaration of war on Japan (but not on Germany), he himself declared war on America on December 11. His alliance with Japan did not require him to do so, as some historians claim, since the land of the rising sun was not the object but the subject of an aggression, but with this spectacular gesture of solidarity with his Japanese partners he hoped to induce them to declare war on his own mortal enemy, the Soviet Union. In this case, the Red Army would have had to fight on two fronts, which would have revived Germany’s chances of winning its war in the east. But Japan did not take the bait, and Nazi Germany was thus saddled with another formidable enemy, though it would take a long time before American forces would engage in actual combat against Nazi troops.

The Battle of Moscow was definitely the turning point of World War II, but other than Hitler and his generals, hardly anyone knew that Germany was henceforth doomed to lose the war – though admittedly only in the long run. The general public certainly was not aware of this, not in Germany, not in the occupied countries, not in Britain and not in the US. It looked as if the Wehrmacht had suffered a temporary setback, presumably – according to Nazi propaganda – due to the unexpectedly early onset of winter; but it was still ensconced deep in Soviet territory and could be expected to resume the offensive in 1942, as indeed it would. Other than Hitler himself and his closest military associates and political cronies, there were in fact some other well-informed observers who were aware in late 1941, and in some cases even earlier, that Germany was doomed to lose the war, though for some reasons they did not divulge that information. Among them were a handful of generals of France’s collaborator-regime in Vichy, the Swiss secret services, and the Vatican.

In the spring of 1942, Hitler scraped together all available forces for an offensive — code-named “Operation Blue” (Unternehmen Blau) – in the direction of the oil fields of the Caucasus. He had convinced himself that he still had a chance of winning the war, but certainly not “if he did not get the oil of Maikop and Grozny.” The element of surprise had been lost, however, and the Soviets still disposed of huge masses of men, oil, and other resources. The Wehrmacht, on the other hand, could not compensate for the huge losses it had suffered in 1941 in its “crusade” against the Soviet Union: 6,000 airplanes and more than 3,200 tanks and similar vehicles; and more than 900,000 men had been killed, wounded, or gone missing in action, amounting to almost one third of the average strength of the German armed forces. The forces available for a push toward the oil fields of the Caucasus were therefore extremely limited. Under those circumstances, it is quite remarkable that in 1942 the Germans managed to make it as far as they did. But when their offensive inevitably petered out, in September of that year, their weakly held lines were stretched along many hundreds of kilometres, presenting a perfect target for a Soviet counterattack. This is the context in which an entire German army was bottled up, and ultimately destroyed, in Stalingrad, in a titanic battle that started in the fall of 1942 and ended in early February 1943, precisely 75 years ago. After this sensational victory of the Red Army, the ineluctability of German defeat in World War II was obvious for all to see; and this – combined with the unprecedented losses suffered by both sides – is what has caused many historians to proclaim this battle as the turning point of the war.

Soviets preparing to ward off a German assault in Stalingrad’s suburbs (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

In any event, the impact of the Battle of Stalingrad was enormous. In Germany, the public was henceforth painfully aware that their country was heading towards an ignominious defeat, and countless people who had previously supported the Nazi regime now turned against it. Many if not most of the military and civilian leaders who were involved in the attempt on Hitler’s life in July 1944, for example, lionized today as heroes and martyrs of the German “anti-Nazi resistance,” such as Stauffenberg and Goerdeler, may have been brave individuals, but they had enthusiastically supported Hitler at the time of his triumphs, that is, before Stalingrad. If, after Stalingrad, they wanted to get rid of Hitler, it was because they feared that he would drag them with him into ruin.Awareness of the significance of the German defeat on the banks of the Volga similarly demoralized the allies of Nazi Germany and caused them to start looking for ways to exit the war. In France and in other occupied countries, countless leading collaborators started to discreetly distance themselves from the Germans. Conversely, news of Stalingrad boosted the morale of Germany’s enemies everywhere. After many long years of darkness, when it had seemed that Nazi Germany would dominate all of Europe forever, resistance fighters in France and elsewhere finally perceived the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, and arms were taken up by many who had been too lethargic before they received the happy tidings from Stalingrad. In France, in particular, the name of Stalingrad became a battle cry of the resistance.

After the victory of the Red Army in Stalingrad, then, Nazi Germany and its allies were confronted with the inevitability of defeat, while France and all other countries occupied by Nazi Germany could look forward to their liberation. But the prospect of Germany being defeated and of France and the rest of Europe being liberated by the Red Army caused alarm bells to ring in the halls of power in London and Washington. The American and British leaders had been happy to remain on the sidelines while the Nazis and Soviets were locked in mortal combat on the Eastern Front. With the Red Army providing the cannon fodder needed to vanquish Germany, the Western Allies minimized their losses and built up their strength so that they would be able to intervene decisively at the right moment, when the Nazi enemy and the unloved Soviet ally would both be exhausted. With Great Britain at its side, the USA would then be able to play the leading role in the camp of the victors and dictate the terms of the peace to the Soviets as well as the Germans. It is for that reason that, in 1942, Washington and London refused to open a “second front” by landing troops in France; instead, they opted for a “southern strategy,” sending an army to North Africa to occupy the French colonies therein November of that same year. (Some of the aforementioned Vichy generals were in North Africa at the time and used the opportunity to defect from the Pétainregime, which they knew to be doomed, and tojoin general de Gaulle’s Free French Forces.)

Because of the outcome of the Battle of Stalingrad, the situation changed dramatically. From a purely military perspective, Stalingrad was of course a boon to the Western Allies, because this defeat had impaired the Nazi enemy’s war machine to their advantage as well. But Roosevelt and Churchill were far from happy with the fact that the Red Army was slowly but relentlessly grinding its way towards Berlin and possibly even farther westward, and that the Soviet Union – and its socialist social-economic system – now enjoyed enormous popularity among patriots in all the occupied countries. (Conversely, the “Anglo-Saxons” were far from popular in countries such as France, partly because of their meagre contribution in the fight against Nazism, and partly because their air raids on cities in France and other occupied countries caused considerable civilian casualties; it was also unhelpful that Washington had long maintained diplomatic relations with the collaborator government of Marshal Pétain in Vichy and was known to be “recycling” Pétainists in North Africa.) It now “became imperative for American and English strategy to land troops in France, liberate Western Europe, and drive into Germany to keep most of that country out of [Soviet] hands” as two American historians, Peter N. Carroll and David W. Noble, have written. It was too late to plan such a complex operation for 1943, so things had to wait until the spring of 1944.

Image on the right is from Benoît Prieur / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0.

The landings in Normandy in June 1944 did not constitute the turning point of World War II. Militarily, Nazi Germany had already received decisive blows at the Battles of Moscow and Stalingrad, and again, in the summer of 1943, at the Battle of Kursk. And while the landings officially purported to liberate France and the rest of Europe, their “latent,” that is, unspoken but real function was to prevent the Soviet Union from singlehandedly liberating Europe, possibly including Western Europe all the way to the English Channel– a prospect that was first raised by the Red Army’s victory on the banks of the Volga. Liberating France – or occupying it, much as the Germans had occupied the country, as General de Gaulle described the outcome of the Normandy landings  on one occasion!– also purported to prevent French resistance leaders, of whom the majority had great sympathy and admiration for the Soviets, from playing a major role in the reconstruction of their country; it was feared, for example, that these patriots might proceed to implement the radical social-economic reforms proposed in the “Charter of the [French] Resistance,” including nationalization of corporations and banks that had collaborated with the Nazis. (Dire warnings to that effect were emanating regularly from the leading American spy based in Switzerland, Allen Dulles, later to become head of the CIA.) To prevent such a scenario, which conflicted with their own plans to make room for unbridled capitalism in postwar France and Europe in general, the Americans would have to rely on a popular but conservative leader of the French resistance, Charles de Gaulle.

They actually detested him, but eventually did arrange for him to come to power, orchestrating his much-publicized triumphant stroll down the Champs Elysées at the time of the liberation of Paris. De Gaulle would prove notoriously difficult to deal with, and he would have to allow the radical elements of the resistance some input into government policy. But without him the much more far-reaching reforms of the Charter of the Resistance might have been implemented, and it is extremely unlikely that the US would have been able to integrate France into the anti-Soviet alliance it set up in Europe in the context of the Cold War.

Of that brief moment in French history, when many if not most of the denizens of the country were still aware that their country’s liberation was due mostly to the efforts and sacrifices of the Soviet Union, and, in stark contrast to the present situation, harboured enormous goodwill vis-à-vis the Russians and other Soviet peoples, visitors to Paris are still reminded today by the name, dating back to July 1945, of one of the city’s biggest squares: Place de la Bataille-de-Stalingrad, “Square of the Battle of Stalingrad.”


Jacques R. Pauwels is the author of The Myth of the Good War: America in the Second World War, James Lorimer, Toronto, 2002.
The original source of this article is Global Research
Copyright © Dr. Jacques R. Pauwels, Global Research, 2018

Geopolitics / Mrs. Pelosi Goes to Washington
« on: February 08, 2018, 01:07:03 AM »
Nancy went full on Jimmy Stewart!  8 hours!  :jawdrop:


Nancy Pelosi’s filibuster-style speech tops eight hours in bid to force immigration votes

Nancy Pelosi’s eight-hour speech, in three minutes

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Feb. 7 gave a speech on the House floor about “dreamers” that lasted more than eight hours. (Bastien Inzaurralde/The Washington Post)
By Ed O'Keefe, David Weigel and Paul Kane February 7 at 6:27 PM Email the author

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi commandeered the House floor Wednesday for a day-into-night marathon plea to Republicans for action on immigration, casting the fate of young undocumented immigrants in moral terms.

The 77-year-old Pelosi stood for more than eight hours, reading multiple personal stories from “dreamers” and citing Bible passages. Her speech ranked as the longest given by a member of the House of Representatives in at least a century, possibly ever, focusing on an issue that has vexed Democrats for months.

The speech underscored that Democrats lack the leverage they insisted they would have in spending showdowns with Republicans. Pelosi and others repeatedly promised immigration activists and the party base they would force a vote sparing undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children from deportation after President Trump rescinded the program in September.

Instead, Democrats’ ineffectiveness has angered those same activists and the voters critical in a midterm election year with control of the House at stake.

Pelosi, who began talking shortly after 10 a.m., sought the same assurances Democrats have gotten in the Senate — the promise of debate on an immigration bill, the one glimmer of hope on an issue that seems to defy resolution.
DACA activists protest at the Capitol: 'We shall not be moved'

Demonstrators gathered on Capitol Hill on Feb. 7 to demand a budget deal that includes an alternative for DACA. (Reuters)

“Why should we in the House be treated in such a humiliating way when the Republican Senate leader has given that opportunity in a bipartisan way to his membership? What’s wrong? There’s something wrong with this picture,” Pelosi said.

Aides to House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said that he intends to allow debate on immigration legislation that is supported by Trump. But when the debate might happen — and what kind of bill Trump can support — is still unclear.

Taking advantage of a rule that allows only top party leaders the special right to speak as long as they want, Pelosi had called aides at 7:45 a.m. on her drive to work Wednesday and instructed them to send out an all-member request for stories from dreamers and select Bible verses. By the afternoon, Democrats had submitted hundreds of stories that staffers printed out and rushed to the floor.

Pelosi stood from the podium in four-inch heels and spoke and spoke and spoke.

“I have no intention of yielding back,” she said at 3:41 p.m. when she inquired about the House schedule.

At one point, she lamented that she didn’t have a rosary, so Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Conn.) gave her one. Pelosi read passages from the Gospel of Matthew found for her by Rep. Juan Vargas (D-Calif.), a former Jesuit missionary.

Pelosi used the speech to say she would lead opposition to a broad two-year budget agreement, negotiated with Republicans by her and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), that includes several Democratic priorities but does not address the legal status of people protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which is set to expire next month. The fate of people protected by the program has prolonged the spending debate for several months.

Shortly after 6 p.m., Pelosi finished her remarks that had been delivered entirely standing, as she was forbidden from sitting down or taking a restroom break. Her Democratic colleagues applauded.

Her speech came as her caucus began three days of closed-door meetings to craft a 2018 agenda that can win wider appeal in November’s elections.

Former vice president Joe Biden warned in a speech to House Democrats that the party is engaged in a “false debate” over the fight between defending cultural diversity and fighting for working-class job and wage growth. Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, dozens of dreamers waged sit-ins and protests in congressional office buildings, courting arrest. And moderate Democratic senators seeking reelection in states Trump won in 2016 urged Pelosi to support an impending budget agreement despite concerns with immigration policy.

The contrasts highlighted the Democrats’ 2018 dilemma: how to keep promises to a base that feels under attack from Trump and Republicans while pivoting to an economic message that can help them win back Congress. Trump’s party, confident that January’s brief shutdown revealed the Democrats’ divisions, is eager to run on a growing economy while accusing opponents of putting “illegal immigrants above law-abiding citizens,” as the Republican National Committee said this week.

[Sweeping budget deal would add $400 billion in federal spending, end months of partisan wrangling]

Some moderate Democratic senators found fault with Pelosi’s strategy. Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) said he would back the budget compromise if the disaster relief funds include provisions to help his state recover from last year’s wildfires.

“There’s some important programs that need to be funded, too,” Tester said. “Would I want it to be all comprehensive? Absolutely. But it’s not going to be all comprehensive. So, take what you can get.”

Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) said approving the compromise deal now will open the path for a wide-open debate next week in the Senate on the DACA program and other immigration proposals — what Democrats should consider a political victory.

“We have a chance to spend a lot of floor time on it, and that’s an opportunity we haven’t had in five years,” Casey said, referencing the last immigration debate in 2013.

Biden, whose political persona has been built around the “Middle Class Joe” moniker, devoted most of his remarks to warning Democrats about the effect of Trump’s attacks on cultural and political institutions.

“Our job, to me, seems pretty clear: We have to stand up for and protect the core values of this nation. They’ve never been under such direct assault,” he said.

“Go out and holler,” he added. “You’re going to win back the House.”

Democrats need to gain at least 24 seats to take control of the House, and nonpartisan forecasters and recent fundraising reports show that they are set to exceed that figure.

But recent polls show growing optimism among voters about a tax-cut bill that recently passed. A new Quinnipiac University poll, released Wednesday, found support for the tax cuts rising from 32 percent in January to 39 percent today, while Trump’s approval had climbed from 36 to 40 percent.

But some Democrats now argue that the party should define and sell its own tax plan in a way that can win voters who are already optimistic about the economy.

“We’ve got to get onto an economic message that’s going to resonate across the board,” said Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), who challenged Pelosi for her leadership position in late 2016.

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Ryan said that Democrats should acknowledge that “some people are going to get a little bump” from the Trump tax cut but that under a Democratic plan, “they’d be getting hundreds and hundreds more than under the Republican plan, and we would have been able to pay for it, by asking the wealthy and corporations to pay more.”

For the record, the House Office of the Historian confirmed that Pelosi had delivered the longest continuous speech in the chamber’s history, dating to at least 1909, when then-Rep. Champ Clark (D-Mo.) delivered five hours and 15 minutes of remarks against a proposed tariff overhaul.

But Clark’s speech was repeatedly interrupted by his colleagues; Pelosi held the floor the entire time with no interruption — a feat not accomplished by senators in recent years who delivered filibuster-style remarks, each of whom were able to yield to colleagues.

Cyber Security / 📡 Bingo! I’ll Give the Cubans Internet
« on: February 07, 2018, 01:44:23 AM »

Bingo! I’ll Give the Cubans Internet
By T. K. Hernández
Global Research, February 06, 2018
Region: Latin America & Caribbean, USA
Theme: Intelligence, Law and Justice

The news of a U.S. “internet task force” to increase internet access in Cuba surely wins the prize for this year’s “interference in a sovereign nation’s internal affairs” category.

Following up on the fake news of “sonic attacks,” which can only be described as an absurd attempt by the U.S. State Department to dissuade Americans from traveling to Cuba; following up on Cuba’s win as the world’s safest travel destination at FITUR Spain, we get the story that the U.S. will form an internet task force.  It’s not difficult to imagine what’s behind this.  Trump jumped off the toilet, lifted his head out of the Twitter feed and shouted, “BINGO! I’m going to give the Cubans the internet!”

Like so many of the other “bright” ideas he’s had such as the Paris agreement affair, North Korea, the prostitutes scandal, the wall, travel bans, the U.S.-Cuba relationship, healthcare, tax cuts for the rich followed by the grande “faux pas,” “shithole countries,”… the internet task force project will join this “series of unfortunate events.”  One can sense another “Big Fail;” and conclude, this will be his legacy.

What he is actually doing though, is showing the world that America is, yet again, the stupid, big bully of the playground.  Could that be the real definition of his campaign slogan, “make America great again?”

Again, the U.S. is interfering in a sovereign nation’s internal affairs. Not the best plan. Not now, not ever.

So the news that the U.S. would form the “Cuba internet task force,” is unbelievably shocking.  It becomes more and more evident, the big bully of the playground is interfering in another country’s sovereignty. Yet again.

The June 7, 2017 Presidential National Security Memorandum announced,“relevant departments and agencies, including the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, and appropriate non-governmental organizations and private-sector entities,”would be formed, with the purpose to,“encourage freedom of expression through independent media and internet freedom so that the Cuban people can enjoy the free and unregulated flow of information.”

Yes, Cubans like the rest of us, would love free internet.  But the U.S. plot to interfere is doomed to failure.  It’s hardly likely most Cubans will be visiting the websites the task force wants.

What this so-called internet task force is hoping is that more internet access in Cuba will bring about “regime change.”  Plan A didn’t work.  Plan B failed. Now we’re at Plan E, F, or G,  or God-knows-what plan now.  What is certain is that it’s another “subversive, interventionist and illegal action against Cuba.”  Another attempt, like the 2014 ZunZuneo project, to destabilize the Island.

What is not taken into account is that most Cubans, like the rest of us, will probably end up surfing the web for the regular, ordinary things that most people do.  Facebook, news, dating, fashion, cars, music, medical advice, sports, weather, flight prices, and hotels are what immediately come to mind.

Apparently, according to the website Siegemedia, the most popular searches are, “Gmail”, “Craigslist”, “Amazon”, “Yahoo”, and “Porn.”  Most Cubans, or “the average Cuban” is not going to be searching what this task force actually wants.  People are people.

Cuba has low connectivity to the internet, but there’s been progress to increase access throughout the country.

ETECSA, the telecommunications company, reduced the price for an internet connection.  Recently, the company announced that smartphones would have the internet on phones this year.  There are now 500 hotspots throughout the Island.  Internet access has increased by 37% since 2010.  Progress.

In 2015, the Cuban government promised all Cubans would have the internet by 2020.  Cuba has been doing just that – moving forward with its internet strategy with the help of Chinese technology.

Cuba’s official news media site Granma slammed the news of the Cuba internet task force, declaring it was, “destined to subvert Cuba’s internal order.”  Well, of course it is.

Granma also stated,

    “In the past, phrases such as ‘working for freedom of expression’ and ‘expanding Internet access in Cuba’ have been used by Washington to mask destabilizing plans with the use of new technologies.”

There are suggestions from analysts and experts in the U.S. that the Cuba internet task force might actually have a negative impact.

If Trump however, really wants to help the Cubans, he should start the process to lift the embargo/blockade.  He should remove the travel ban against Americans traveling to Cuba. His latest Cuba policy has only hurt the entrepreneurs and the people.

How has he helped the people of Cuba?  He hasn’t.  Let the truth out.


T.K. Hernández is a journalist, publisher and editor at the Cuba Business Report.  Her work has appeared on the Cuba Business Report, Telesur, Buzzfeed and Medium.
The original source of this article is Global Research
Copyright © T. K. Hernández, Global Research, 2018


February 6, 2018
Nuclear Reactors, Bankrupting Their Owners, Closing Early

by John Laforge

Photo by Nuclear Regulatory Commission | CC BY 2.0

On January 22, FirstEnergy Corporation announced that its faulty and nearly-self-destructed Davis-Besse power reactor east of Toledo, Ohio, will be closed well before its license expires. But the shutdown is not because the reactor represents reckless endangerment of public health and safety. FirseEnergy was fine with that. No, the old rattle trap can’t cover its costs any more, not with the electricity market dominated by cheaper natural gas, and renewable wind and solar.

Davis-Besse’s early shutdown date has not been announced, but CFO James Pearson of FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Co., the corporate division in charge of the wreck, said the reactor will close if lawmakers don’t approve a taxpayer bailout.

FirstEnergy had said the financial sky was falling in March 2017. Chief nuclear officer Sam Belcher [his real name] told the Toldeo Blade then — as the firm was floating the bailout measure (SB 128) through the Ohio legislature — “In the absence of something happening, [taxpayer-funded handout to the private, investor-owned firm] we’re going to have to make some tough decisions.” So far, state lawmakers have refused to save the decrepit reactor with state taxes. They cite old-fashioned market competition, and the failure of previous subsidies to save the mature, well-established reactor industry once led by the now bankrupt Westinghouse.

Serious accidents at David-Besse in 1977, 1985, 1998, and 2002 endangered its neighbors. The most hair-raising was the discovery in 2002 that corrosion had eaten through more than 6-inches of the reactor head’s carbon steel. The corrosion went undetected by federal and company inspectors for decades. Having gouged a hole in the reactor cover the size of a football, the corrosion left only 3⁄8 inch of steel holding back the high-pressure coolant. A break would have caused a massive loss-of-coolant accident and out-of-control overheating, resulting in catastrophic uranium fuel melting (known as a “meltdown”) and massive radiation releases.

Repairs took two years and cost $600 million, during which the Department of Justice penalized FirstEnergy over operating and reporting violations. FirstEnergy paid $28 million in fines. Yet the NRC allowed the company to restart David-Besse in 2004, and then to run the rust bucket for 40 reckless years, even after the company tacked on another $600 million in repairs in 2014.

With combined debt estimated at $3.5 billion and losses mounting daily, CFO Pearson said FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Co. will file for bankruptcy. Not just Davis-Besse, but the firm’s Perry reactor northwest of Cleveland, and Beaver Valley reactors 1 & 2, northwest of Pittsburg, will also likely be closed.

Reactors Shuttered by Bankruptcy or Accident Risk from Calif. to New Jersey

Elsewhere in nuclear power’s long “goodbye,” California utility regulators decided this January 11 not to save Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) from cheap gas, solar and wind, but to close the company’s two reactors at Diablo Canyon as early as 2020. Unlike the bribe-happy legislatures in New York and Illinois, nuclear power defenders were unable to convince California state law makers to fund a bail out of PG&E.

In 2013, Southern Calif. Edison, owners of the San Onofre reactors north of San Diego, abruptly decided to close them. Reactors 2 and 3 have been churning out high-level radioactive waste since 1983 and 1984 respectively. The hulks ran into trouble when massive repairs and upgrades failed inspections. In May that year, US Sen. Barbara Boxer said that the reactors were “unsafe and posed a danger to the 8 million people living within 50 miles. Boxer even called for a criminal investigation into Edison’s installation of faulty replacement steam generators.

The list of old age reactors shut down or closing soon keeps growing. Kewaunee in Wisconsin was shut in 2013, Vermont Yankee in 2014, and Fort Calhoun in Nebraska in 2016. Oyster Creek* in New Jersey and Pilgrim* in Massachusetts will close in 2019 or sooner. Indian Point’s 1 and 2 near New York City will be shuttered by 2021. Exelon Corp’s FitzPatrick* near Oswego, New York, FE Ginna in Ontario, NY and its nearby Nine Mile Point* were all set to close in 2017, before the state legislature agreed to a $7.6 billion bailout. (This bailout law is being challenged in court by Nuclear Information and Resource Service whose lawsuit survived its first motion to dismiss.) Exelon’s Clinton and Quad Cities* reactors in Illinois, might have shut down last year too, except for a state taxpayer bailout worth $2.3 billion adopted in 2016.

New reactor construction is being thwarted by similarly exorbitant costs. In 2016, two unfinished Bellefonte reactors in northern Alabama were cancelled. The two V.C. Summer reactors that were almost 40% complete in South Carolina were cancelled last July by its owners after the industry-shocking bankruptcy of the projects’ lead contractor Westinghouse Electric.

Next among dozens of shaky reactors on the chopping block, Xcel Energy’s 43-year-old Monticello* unit on the Mississippi River in Minnesota looks vulnerable, especially in view of a string of notorious accidents.

* These units are elderly clones of the General Electric “Mark I” reactors that caused a triple melt-down at Fukushima in Japan which began in March 2011 and continues to spread radiation to the atmosphere and to the Pacific Ocean.
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More articles by:John Laforge

John LaForge is a Co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, and edits its newsletter.

Doomsteading / 💰 Buried Treasure Mapping 1
« on: February 06, 2018, 01:50:04 PM »
I'll whip up a map later this afternoon.
Cool, thanks...

Is this the neighborhood?  Once we hone it down I'll get terrain maps.

kingman 1
kingman 1


History / ✊ Up Against the Ivy Wall: the Columbia Insurrection at 50
« on: February 06, 2018, 01:14:59 AM »
It was a few years before I got there, but the memories hadn't gone from the campus quite yet.  One wonders if today's generation of college students will ever rise up?


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February 6, 2018
Up Against the Ivy Wall: the Columbia Insurrection at 50

by Jonah Raskin

Eve Rosahn was a seventeen-year Barnard student when the revolt at Columbia University erupted in the spring of 1968. Like hundreds of other undergraduates, and some radicals from off-campus, including Tom Hayden and Abbie Hoffman, she occupied a building, was arrested and experienced a profound personal transformation. “My plan was to major in English and become a professor,” she writes in an essay titled “Stopping the Machine” that’s collected in A Time to Stir: Columbia ’68, a new 438-page book (Columbia, $35) which is edited by filmmaker Paul Cronin. Rosahn explains that at the start of the protests, she was a “leftish Democrat” and that in the course of the rebellion she became “a devoted student radical.”

Indeed, in 1970 she withdrew from Barnard—the undergraduate women’s college at Columbia—rallied white radicals to support the Black Panther Party, came out as a lesbian, later became a lawyer, and served sixteen-months in jail in 1981 for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury investigating the botched robbery of a Brinks Armored truck in Nyack, New York that resulted in the death of two police officers. David Gilbert, a Columbia student in 1968, took part in the “Brink’s job.” He’s still serving a prison term; Rosahn still remembers him. He was a legendary organizer.

Rosahn says that her memories of the 1968 protest are “clear as day,” though she also allows that she has “little trust in my memories or in those of others—not from intentional dishonesty but rather emotional necessity.” I remember her from an apartment of West 111th Street in Manhattan where I caroused and conspired.

In many ways, Rosahn is a representative figure from Columbia 1968, though no two of the sixty-three contributors to this volume are cut from the same cloth. Nor do they see the Columbia protest though the same lens. Then, too, no two contributors have ended up in the same place, though many would probably echo Rosahn when she says that has rejected the “dualist dogma” that she embraced for years and that she has adopted a “more nuanced view of society.”

A Time to Stir: Columbia ’68 is an excellent source book and will no doubt be of great value to future historians of the Sixties, though it also suggests that memories are unreliable, and that to understand what happened on the campus that Spring one needs a sense of critical detachment and the ability to synthesize competing and even contradictory narratives by the participants themselves.

Nancy Biberman, who was also a Barnard student in 1968, argues in her essay, “Children of the New Age,” that the Columbia protests were “pre-feminist,” that women were excluded from the decision-making process and that their roles were “ arginalized.” Of the sixty-three contributors to this volume, only 9 are women. Perhaps women are still marginalized. Tom Hurwitz, a Columbia SDS member, remembers that “women did not chair the meetings, but they spoke at them,” and that while “equality, even as an ideal, was blurry at best…we were in it together.” Blurry indeed.

A Time to Sir is long on personal narratives and personal transformations, and short on analysis and theory. Still, there are some attempts at theory and analysis. Hurwitz writes that “in insurrectionary events, there is a kind of mass personality disorder” and that moods move back and forth from “ecstasy” to “abject fear and despair.” Hurwitz saw both the ups and the downs at Columbia in 1968 and forty-three years later in Tahrir Square in Cairo “during the failed revolution” of 2011.

In the Foreword to the volume, Paul Berman—one of the few genuine intellectuals to emerge from Columbia in 1968—argues that there’s a basic human “impulse to rebel” and that Columbia was “an explosion of anger.” He adds that, “young people ought to rebel.”

I can certainly understand and appreciate both the impulse to rebel and the explosion of anger. In 1968, I was already a professor of English at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and half-a-decade older than most of the undergraduates. I was also married, with an apartment, a car and a retirement plan. Still, I took part in the protests on campus, and was arrested and jailed. I had a sense of deep-seated anger toward Columbia that had roots in my days as an undergraduate at the college from 1959 to 1963, and later as a graduate student.

I experienced the Columbia faculty as anti-radical and anti-Marxist. It may sound exaggerated, but I felt persecuted because of my own political beliefs and actions, though I also had myself to blame. I protested against nuclear testing and segregation. I also adopted a Marxist perspective in papers and essays I wrote in literature and in history classes. In 1962, during an interview for admission to a seminar on literature and revolution, I was asked if I knew any communists. Daniel Bell, the author of The End of Ideology, asked me the question.

In 1962, the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) was still in operation and the anti-communist crusade was alive and well. I was outraged by Bell’s question. Like many of the Columbia students in 1968, I was an anti-war activist and a supporter of the Black Panther Party, but I also had my own ideological axe to grind. I wanted to thumb my nose at my Columbia professors and at what seems to me to be the institution’s fake intellectualism.

Like Eve Rosahn, I had wanted to “live the life of the mind.” And like her and hundreds of others at Columbia in 1968, I was radicalized. Indeed, my life was turned upside down and inside out. In 1969 and 1970, I became a campus radical at Stony Brook, joined the Yippies and took part in guerrilla theater actions in the streets and on campus, which led to more arrests.

There were some Yippie actions at Columbia in 1968. In March, one protester threw a lemon meringue pie in the face of Colonel Akst, the director of the New York City headquarters of the Selective Service. That action mobilized students.

“It seemed perfect to me,” Rosahn writes. “A humorous challenge to authority and a clear statement that the US military was not welcome at Columbia.” There was something of the Yippie in Mark Rudd, whom the mass media selected and magnified as the leader of the rebellion. Hilton Obenzinger observes in his essay, “Already Dead: Inside Low Library Commune,” that Rudd was “only a schlemiel like the rest of us,” and that “we laughed and played but were on no panty raid.” A Time to Stir acknowledges the presence on campus of Leninists, Stalinists, Maoists and Trotskyists, but it downplays the Yippie elements of the protest and it largely ignores the leading role played by students who were Jews, including Mark Rudd, Obenzinger, Roshan, and Susan Slyomovics, the daughter of Czechoslovakian Jews who fled from the Nazis and then the Communists.

When Susan Slyomovics’s mother asked her lawyer, Bill Kunstler, where she had gone wrong as a parent, Kunstler replied, “Your daughter was a hero. They are all heroes. You should be proud.” Kunstler was not the only one on the far side of the generation gap who supported the students, but he was one of the most outspoken supporters. History Professor James Shenton was one of the rare faculty members who understood the protesters. He also served as a mentor to at least two generations of Columbia students. At Columbia there were always exceptions to the rule.

If Paul Berman’s effusive Foreword reflects the upside of 1968 then Juan Gonzales’s sober Afterword reflects the downside. “We on the left made a terrible mistake: we turned against each other in a mad scramble for political purity,” he writes. He adds, that the left was “helped along by “the government’s secret counterintelligence machination.”

Rosahn spent a good chunk of her life educating the public about that secret, ignominious program that poisoned American public life.

Several of the essays by black students are memorable, including J. Plunky Branch who remembers the racism on the Columbia football and basketball teams, and another essay by Bill Sales who writes that when journalist Joanne Grant complained about the “male chauvinism” of the black leadership on campus, “we did not understand what she was talking about.”

Michael Locker, one of the founders of the North American Congress on Latin America  (NACLA), is very good on “the university-military-complex.”

Not all of the contributors have positive memories of 1968. Philip Lopate complains about the student “naivete,” posturing and “play-acting.”

Michael Neumann insists that, “the 1968 Columbia ‘student revolt’ doesn’t rate as history,” but rather serves as “one episode in Leftism’s rush to insignificance.”

If A Time to Stir suggests any one single thing it’s that Columbia 1968 does rate as history, and that as Paul Berman argues it takes its place in a global uprising that spread from Paris, Berlin and Prague to New York, Chicago, Mexico City and Tokyo.

If you want nostalgia you can find it here. If it’s humor, that’s here, too. And if you want to know where the rebels are today there are capsule biographies at the end of each essay that bring the story up-to-date. Not surprisingly, many of the undergraduates became lawyers, teachers and something called “consulting strategists.” With a few notable exceptions, most of them made adjustments and came to terms with the middle class backgrounds from which they had come and aimed to reject. Teddy Gold, a stellar Columbia activist, blew himself up in an explosion that leveled a townhouse in Manhattan in 1970. He and his co-conspirators were making an anti-personnel bomb. His fellow SDS member, David Gilbert, is still serving time for his part in the botched Brinks robbery that left two police officers dead.

Mark Rudd has never forgiven himself or the members of the Weather Underground for what happened to Gold and Gilbert. “All our ultra-radical, ultra-military self-expression—bombings, communiqués, underground infrastructure‑came to naught,” he writes in his essay, “What it Takes to Build a Movement.”

Like Rudd, many others who were totally sure of themselves in 1968, now have doubts and questions. “Who gets to decide when to disrupt the institutions and daily lives of others,” Rosahn asks. “Who votes on whether Black Lives Matter or climate change activists get to gum up an institution, or even the traffic?” She ends her essay with lines from a Judy Collins song: “It isn’t nice to block the doorway/ It isn’t nice to go to jail/ There are nicer ways to do it/ But the nice ways always fail.” Well, not always, but all-too often.

Before 1968, I was to a large extent a scholar and a gentleman. Afterwards and I was a troublemaker, a pamphleteer, and, though I went back to academia in 1981 after a long absence and then taught for the next thirty years, I never renounced my role as a protester, or my affiliation with rebels and dissidents. Thanks, Columbia: you gave me two educations, one in the classroom, and the other in the liberated buildings and in the Tombs, the New York jail, where for the first time I understood the meaning of freedom. And thanks, Eve Rosahn for your memories and your candor.
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More articles by:Jonah Raskin

Jonah Raskin is the author of For The Hell of It: The Life and Times of Abbie Hoffman and American Scream: Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ and the Making of the Beat Generation.

Doomsteading / FerFal: Chronicles of Collapse in Argentina
« on: February 03, 2018, 12:42:24 AM »
Ferfal is probably the most famous of Collapse Bloggers who actually experienced it in his own country of Argentina in the wake of the 2001-2002 bankruptcy.

Here is a long one of his posts he published first in 2005.


Friday, October 31, 2008
Thoughts on Urban Survival (2005)
 "Thoughts on Urban Survival" is a long essay I wrote a few years ago. While long, this is not my book, “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” . My book is much longer and  better written. It covers the same topics more in depth as well as many others. You can check the table of contents by clicking on the book cover over at Amazon. It’s safe to say that if you like this essay you sure will enjoy my book, but I wanted to clarify that they are not the same thing and none of the material in this essay was used in the book.

Fernando "FerFAL" Aguirre

Thoughts on Urban Survival

My brother visited Argentina a few weeks ago. He’s been living in Spain for a few years now. Within the first week, he got sick, some kind of strong flu, even though climate isn’t that cold and he took care of himself. Without a doubt he got sick because there are lots of new viruses in my country that can’t be found in 1st world countries. The misery and famine lead us to a situation where, even though you have food, shelter and health care, most of others don’t, and therefore they get sick and spread the diseases all over the region.

What got me started on this post is the fact that I actually saw this coming, and posted on the subject here, months before the new viruses spread over the country and the news started talking about this new, health emergency, which proves that talking, thinking and sharing ideas with like minded people (you guys), does help to see things coming and prepare for them with enough time. So I started thinking about several issues, what I learned (either the hard way or thanks to this forum) after all these years of living in a collapsed country that is trying to get out an economical disaster and everything that comes along with it. Though my English is limited, I hope I’m able to transmit the main ideas and concepts, giving you a better image of what you may have to deal with some day, if the economy collapses in your country. Here is what I have so far:


Someone once asked me how did those that live in the country fare. If they were better off than city dwellers. As always there are no simple answers. Wish I could say country good, city bad, but I can’t, because if I have to be completely honest, and I intend to be so, there are some issues that have to be analyzed, especially security. Of course that those that live in the country and have some land and animals were better prepared food-wise. No need to have several acres full of crops. A few fruit trees, some animals, such as chickens, cows and rabbits, and a small orchard was enough to be light years ahead of those in the cities. Chickens, eggs and rabbits would provide the proteins, a cow or two for milk and cheese, some vegetables and fruit plants covered the vegetable diet, and some eggs or a rabbit could be traded for flower to make bread and pasta or sugar and salt.

Of course that there are exceptions, for example, some provinces up north have desert climate and it almost never rains. It is almost impossible to live of the land, and animals require food and water you have to buy. Those guys had it bad; no wonder the Northern provinces suffer the most in my country. Those that live in cities, well they have to manage as they can. Since food prices went up about 200%-300%. People would cut expenses wherever they could so they could buy food. Some ate whatever they could; they hunted birds or ate street dogs and cats, others starved. When it comes to food, cities suck in a crisis. It is usually the lack of food or the impossibility to acquire it that starts the rioting and looting when TSHTF.

When it comes to security things get even more complicated. Forget about shooting those that mean you harm from 300 yards away with your MBR. Leave that notion to armchair commandos and 12 year old kids that pretend to be grown ups on the internet.

Some facts:

1) Those that want to harm you/steal from you don’t come with a pirate flag waving over their heads.

2) Neither do they start shooting at you 200 yards away.

3) They won’t come riding loud bikes or dressed with their orange, convict just escaped from prison jump suits, so that you can identify them the better. Nor do they all wear chains around their necks and leather jackets. If I had a dollar for each time a person that got robbed told me “They looked like NORMAL people, dressed better than we are”, honestly, I would have enough money for a nice gun. There are exceptions, but don’t expect them to dress like in the movies.

4) A man with a wife and two or three kids can’t set up a watch. I don’t care if you are SEAL, SWAT or John Freaking Rambo, no 6th sense is going to tell you that there is a guy pointing a gun at your back when you are trying to fix the water pump that just broke, or carrying a big heavy bag of dried beans you bought that morning.

The best alarm system anyone can have in a farm are dogs. But dogs can get killed and poisoned. A friend of mine had all four dogs poisoned on his farm one night, they all died. After all these years I learned that even though the person that lives out in the country is safer when it comes to small time robberies, that same person is more exposed to extremely violent home robberies. Criminals know that they are isolated and their feeling of invulnerability is boosted. When they assault a country home or farm, they will usually stay there for hours or days torturing the owners. I heard it all: women and children getting raped, people tied to the beds and tortured with electricity, beatings, burned with acetylene torches. Big cities aren’t much safer for the survivalist that decides to stay in the city. He will have to face express kidnappings, robberies, and pretty much risking getting shot for what’s in his pockets or even his clothes.

So, where to go? The concrete jungle is dangerous and so is living away from it all, on your own. The solution is to stay away from the cities but in groups, either by living in a small town-community or sub division, or if you have friends or family that think as you do, form your own small community. Some may think that having neighbors within “shouting” distance means loosing your privacy and freedom, but it’s a price that you have to pay if you want to have someone to help you if you ever need it. To those that believe that they will never need help from anyone because they will always have their rifle at hand, checking the horizon with their scope every five minutes and a first aid kit on their back packs at all times…. Grow up.


What ever sort of scenario you are dealing with, services are more than likely to either suffer in quality or disappear all together. Think ahead of time; analyze possible SHTF scenarios and which service should be affected by it in your area. Think about the most likely scenario but also think outside the box. What’s more likely? A tornado? But a terrorist attack isn’t as crazy as you though it would be a few years ago, isn’t it?
Also analyze the consequences of those services going down. If there is no power then you need to do something about all that meat you have in the fridge, you can dry it or can it. Think about the supplies you would need for these tasks before you actually need them. You have a complete guide on how to prepare the meat on you computer… how will you get it out of there if there is no power? Print everything that you consider important.


No one can last too long without water. The urban survivalist may find that the water is of poor quality, in which case he can make good use of a water filter, or that there is no water available at all. When this happens, a large city were millions live will run out of bottled water within minutes. In my case, tap water isn’t very good. I can see black little particles and some other stuff that looks like dead algae. Taste isn’t that bad. Not good but I know that there are parts of the country where it is much worse. To be honest, a high percentage of the country has no potable water at all.

If you can build a well, do so, set it as your top of the list priority as a survivalist.
Water comes before firearms, medicines and even food. Save as much water as you can. Use plastic bottles, refill soda bottles and place them in a cool place, preferably inside a black garbage bag to protect it from sun light. The water will pick some plastic taste after a few months, but water that tastes a little like plastic is far way better than no water at all. What ever the kind of SHTF scenario you are dealing with, water will suffer. In my case the economical crash created problems with the water company, that reduces the maintenance and quality in order to reduce costs and keep their income in spite of the high prices they have to pay for supplies and equipment, most of which comes from abroad, and after the 2001 crash, costs 3 times more. As always, the little guy gets to pay for it. Same would go for floods or chemical or biological attacks. Water requires delicate care and it will suffer when TSHTF in one way or another. In this case, when you still have tap water, a quality filter is in order, as well as a pump if you can have one. A manual pump would be ideal as well if possible. Estimate that you need approximately a gallon per person per day. Try to have at least two-four weeks worth of water. More would be preferable.


I spent WAY to much time without power for my own taste. Power has always been a problem in my country, even before the 2001 crisis. The real problem starts when you spend more than just a few hours without light. Just after the SHTF in 2001 half the country went without power for 3 days. Buenos Aires was one big dark grave. People got caught on elevators, food rots; hospitals that only had a few hours worth of fuel for their generators ran out of power. Without power, days get to be a lot shorter. Once the sun sets there is not much you can do. I read under candle light and flashlight light and your head starts to hurt after a while. You can work around the house a little bit but only as long as you don’t need power tools. Crime also increases once the lights go out, so whenever you have to go somewhere in a black out, carry the flashlight on one hand and a handgun on the other.

Summarizing, being in a city without light turn to be depressing after a while. I spent my share of nights, alone, listening to the radio, eating canned food and cleaning my guns under the light of my LED head lamp. Then I got married, had a son, and found out that when you have loved ones around you black outs are not as bad. The point is that family helps morale on these situations.

A note on flashlights. Have two or three head LED lights. They are not expensive and are worth their weight in gold. A powerful flashlight is necessary, something like a big Maglite or better yet a SureFire, especially when you have to check your property for intruders. But for more mundane stuff like preparing food, going to the toilet or doing stuff around the house, the LED headlamp is priceless. Try washing the dishes on the dark while holding a 60 lumen flashlight on one hand and you’ll know what I mean. LEDs also have the advantage of lasting for almost an entire week of continuous use and the light bulb lasts forever. Rechargeable batteries are a must or else you’ll end up broke if lights go out often. Have a healthy amount of spare quality batteries and try to standardize as much as you can. I have 12 Samsung NM 2500Mh AA and 8 AAA 800mh for the headlamps. I use D cell plastic adaptors in order to use AA batteries on my 3 D cell Maglite. This turned out to work quite well, better than I expected.
I also keep about 2 or 3 packs of regular, Duracell batteries just in case. These are supposed to expire around 2012, so I can forget about them until I need them.
Rechargeable NM batteries have the disadvantage of loosing power after a period of time, so keep regular batteries as well and check the rechargeable ones every once in a while.

After all these years of problems with power, what two items I would love to have?

1) The obvious. A generator. I carried my fridge food to my parent’s house way to many times on the past. Too bad I can’t afford one right now.

2) A battery charger that has both solar panel and a small crank. They are not available here. I saw that they are relatively inexpensive in USA. Do yourself a favor and get one or two of these. Even if they don’t charge as well as regular ones, I’m sure it will put out enough power to charge batteries for LED lamps at least.


Gas has decreased in quality as well, there is little gas. Try to have an electric oven in case you have to do without it. If both electricity and gas go down, one of those camping stoves can work as well, if you keep a good supply of gas cans. The ones that work with liquid fuel seem to be better on the long run, since they can use different types of fuel.
You can only store a limited amount of compressed gas and once you ran out of it, you are on your own if stores are closed of they sold them out. Anyway, a city that goes without gas and light for more than two weeks is a death trap, get out of there before it’s too late.


I was watching the People & Art channel with my wife the other night. It was a show where they film a couple for a given period of time and some people vote on who is the one with the worst habits, the one they find more annoying. We were in our bed, and this is when I usually fall asleep but since the guy was a firearms police instructor I was interested and managed to stay awake. At one point the guy’s wife said that she found annoying that her husband spent 500 dollars a month on beauty products for himself. 500 USD on facial cream, special shampoo and conditioner, as well as having his nails polished! If you are that guy and happen to be reading this, or if you know him, I’m sorry, but what an idiot!! “500 USD, that’s a small generator or a gun and a few boxes of ammo” I told my wife. “That’s two months worth of food” she said. We were each thinking of a practical use for that money, the money this guy was practically throwing away. Once the SHTF, money is no longer measured in money, but you start seeing it as the necessary goods it can buy. Stuff like food, medicine, gas, or the private medical service bill. To me, spending 500 dollars on beauty products, and to make it worse, on a guy? That’s simply not acceptable. The way I see it, someone with that mentality can’t survive a week without a credit card, no use in even considering a SHTF scenario.
And this guy is a firearms instructor?… probably the kind of guy that will say that a handgun is only used to fight his way to his rifle… and his facial night cream…

Once you experience the lack of stuff you took for granted, like food, medicines, your set of priorities change all of a sudden. For example, I had two wisdom tooth removed last year. On both occasions I was prescribed with antibiotics and strong Ibuprofen for the pain. I took the antibiotics (though I did buy two boxes with the same recipe just to keep one box just in case) but I didn’t use the Ibuprofen, I added it to my pile of medicines. Why? Because medicines are not always available and I’m not sure if they will be available in the future. Sure, it hurt like hell, but pain alone isn’t going to kill you, so I sucked it up. Good for building up character if you ask me.

Make sacrifices so as to ensure a better future, that’s the mentality you should have if you want to be prepared. There’s stuff that is “nice to have” that has to be sacrificed to get the indispensable stuff. There’s stuff that is not “basic need stuff” but it’s also important in one way or another. My wife goes to the hairdresser once every month or two. It’s not life or death, but it does make her feel better and it boosts her morale.
I buy a game for the Xbox or a movie to watch with my wife every once in awhile, just to relax. 7 or 10 dollars a month are not going to burn a hole in my pocket. Addictions such as alcohol, drugs or even cigarettes should be avoided by the survivalist. They are bad for your health; cost a lot of money that could be much better spent, and create an addiction to something that may not be available in the future. Who will have to tolerate your grouchy mood when your brand of smokes is no longer imported after TSHTF?




Once the SHTF the black/gray market will take no time to appear all around you.
In my country, gray markets were even accepted in the end. At first it was all about trading skills or craft products for food. Districts and towns would form their own barter markets, and created their own tickets, similar to money, that was used to trade.
This didn’t last long. Those tickets were easy to make on your home computer, there was no control and eventually people went back to paper money.

These markets were usually placed on warehouses or empty land, and were managed by some wise guy and a few thugs or hired security. Anyone can go rent a kiosk inside these markets for about 50-100 pesos (about 20-30 dollars) a day and sell his goods and services. Peace within these markets is usually respected… lets just say that these managers don’t call the police if someone tries anything funny, like stealing, fighting or taking advantage of women. That’s not good for their business and anyone that tries to mess with their business finds out how much pain the human body can actually experiment or gets a free ticket to meet the Lord. Sometimes even uniformed cops manage security on these markets, for a small fee of course. As always, you still have to be careful. They may still try to pick your pockets or even attack you once you leave the market. Once you leave the market, you are on your own, as always.

These markets evolved and now a lot of different products are available. Today I visited my local market, a warehouse that is fairly well set up and cleanly managed. They had problems for selling stolen merchandise and fake Brand name clothes a few days ago.
What can be found at a local markets? Mostly food and clothing. Some have more variety than others but cheese, canned food, spices, honey, eggs, fruits, vegetables, beer, wine and cured meat are generally available, same as bakery products and pasta. These are less expensive than those found at supermarkets. Fresh fish is sometimes available but not always, people don’t trust much products that need refrigeration, and they get those at supermarkets instead.

Clothes are also popular and you can find copies of brand name clothes, imitations, or even original stolen new clothes, the same goes for shoes and snickers. Children clothes, underwear, socks, sheets and towels are all very popular. Some sell toys, but they are always China made, mostly poor quality though there are some few exceptions. Others sell tools, also made in China can be found as well, but they are of poor quality. Some offer their services and repair stuff or offer work as handyman.
You would be amazed of the junk that these guys manage to fix: TVs, CD players, Power tools, etc. They even manage to solder the small integrated circuits boards sometimes. Give one of these guys a screw driver and a bar of chocolate and he will fix a nuclear submarine.

After food and clothes, the 3rd most popular item has to be CDs and DVDs, movies, music, play station 2 and Xbox games, programs, it all ends up there just one or two days after the official release in USA. Seems that they have a guy hidden under Bill Gate’s desk or something. Anyway, almost everything can be found there, and if you want, you can ask around, talk to the right guy and buy illegal stuff like drugs or black market guns and ammo. The quality of the drugs is questionable, of course, and a lot of addicts die from the mixtures these guys sell. Guns are mostly FM High Powers, Surplus 1911s and Colt .45s, Sistemas, and old Colt Detective revolvers in 38 special that found their way from police and military armories into the black market. Condition isn’t very good but if you have money you’ll be amazed of what you can end up with. Everything that is used by the military and police, including SMGs a, Browning 50 BMG Machine guns, and even frag grenades, is available in the black market, if the customer has the amount of money and a little patience, of course. The big guns may take a while, but the handguns and grenades are readily available.


Someone hit me in the head please because I messed up about the gold issue.
Everyone wants to buy gold! “I buy gold. Pay cash” signs are everywhere, even on TV! I can’t believe I’m that silly! I just didn’t relate it to what I read here because they deal with junk gold, like jewelry, either stolen or sold because they needed the money, not the gold coins that you guys talk about. No one pays for the true value of the stuff, so big WARNING! Sign on people that are buying gold coins. Since it is impossible to determine the true mineral percentage of gold, small shops and dealers will pay for it as regular jewelry gold. What I would do if I were you: Besides gold coins, buy a lot of small gold rings and other jewelry. They should be less expensive than gold coins, and if the SHTF bad, you’ll not be loosing money, selling premium quality gold coins for the price of junk gold. If I could travel back in time, I’d buy a small bag worth of gold rings.
Small time thieves will snatch gold chains right out of your neck and sell them at these small dealers found everywhere. This is VERY common at train stations, subways and other crowded areas.

So, my advice, if you are preparing for a small economical crisis, gold coins make sense. You will keep the value of the stuff and be able to sell it for its actual cost to gold dealers or maybe other survivalists that know the true value of the item. In my case, gold coins would have been an excellent investment, saving me from loosing money when the local economy crashed. Even though things are bad, I can go to a bank down town and get paid for what a gold coin is truly worth, same goes for pure silver. But where I live, in my local are small time dealers will only pay you the value of junk gold, no matter what kind of gold you have. So, I’d have to say that if TSHTF bad, gold jewelry is a better trade item than gold coins. Forgive me for not talking about this before, but I didn’t realize this until today, when I visited my local market warehouse and saw a “Buy Gold” sign.


After TSHTF in 2001, only the most narrow minded, brain washed, butterfly IQ level idiots believed that the police would protect them from the crime wave that followed the collapse of our economy. A lot of people that could have been considered antigun before, ran to the gun shops, seeking advice on how to defend themselves and their families. They would buy a 38 revolver, a box of ammo, and leave it in the closet, probably believing that it would magically protect them from intruders.

Oh, maybe you don’t think that firearms are really necessary or your beliefs do not allow you to buy a tool designed to kill people. So you probably ask yourself, is a gun really necessary when TSHTF? Will it truly make a difference? Having gone through a shtf scenario myself, total economical collapse in the year 2001, and still dealing with the consequences, 5 years later, I feel I can answer that question. YES, you need a gun, pepper spray, a machete, a battle axe, club with a rusty nail sticking out of it, or whatever weapon you can get hold of.

A LOT has been written on survival weapons. Everyone that is into armed survival has his or her own idea of the ideal gun battery. Some more oriented to a hunting point of view, others only as self defense means and others consider a little of both, and look for general purpose weapons. Talking about guns, there is one special subject I want to rectify, and it’s the point on what’s the primary weapon for the survivalist, specially an urban survivalist that has to function in a society, yes, even after the SHTF. The primary defensive weapon for the survivalist is his HANDGUN. It’s the weapon that stays with him when he is doing his business around town of working on the field. The survivalist IS NOT a soldier, even though you are a soldier or you once were the meanest mother on the battle filed, your home town is not a battlefield and it wont be, even if the SHTF. A LOT of water has to go under the bridge until the situation gets to a point where you can calmly walk down the street with a rifle on your shoulder. People, if you are interested in real world SHTF situation and you want to prepare for the real deal, then understand that this isn’t black or white. You wake up one day and listen on the radio that the economy collapsed and that the stock market closed indefinitely. What do you do? You still have to go to the office/work/whatever .Kiss the wife good bye and walk to the office with your AR across your back, or across your chest, Israeli style, and ready to shoot? You won’t get far. Someone will shoot you or throw you in jail, or in a mental institution.

What I’m trying to explain, is that it’s ok to prepare for China invading you country, Germans and UN or Martians. That is the extreme, less likely worst case scenario.
There is an infinity spectrum of gray between the black and white. White being your average normal day and black being total TEOTWAWKI, lizard men invading the planet.
Rifles do have a place in the survivalist’s arsenal, and a very important one. But you have to understand that 90% of the time, the handgun will be the weapon you have available when you need one. You can’t compare to a trooper in Iraq that has his weapon with him at all times. I ask you how many soldiers do you know that keep wearing cammo and totting their M4s around town when they return home?

What works for war does not work for the survivalist, especially the urban survivalist.
Even if you live in a retreat far from town, you have to work, don’t you? Or do you have employees that take care of all your mundane tasks, leaving you all day to keep watch with your rifle ready? A soldier is part of a huge machine; HIS job is to carry that rifle, while others take care of other needs. A survivalist, one that is not part of a large survivalist group, has no one to cover for him. When a new guy looks for advice on what to get for defense, some will recommend a rifle or shotgun as a first defensive weapon.
Let’s say race riots start in this guy’s city. He still has to go to work every day. What is he supposed to do? Shove his pump shotgun in his pocket? A handgun, even though less powerful, can be used for home defense AND go with you wherever you need to go. If the place floods, he can still hop into an evacuation boat without leaving his weapon behind. I’m sure no rescue team will pick you if you are carrying a long arm. They’ll ask you to leave it behind for sure. What if your government, realizing that TSHTF and that they lost control of the events, bans all firearms indefinitely? Don’t know about you, but if things are that bad, I’d like to be armed. You can hide a handgun under a jacket. You can’t hide a long arm under your clothes.

I think it was Clint Smith who said that the handgun is only used to fight his way to his rifle. Man! That sounds “macho”. I’d love to see him walking into Wal-Mart with his tactical M4, taking the subway, visiting the doctor or going to the bank. “Over here Mr. Smith, you can hang you M4 right next to my coat” I don’t think so. Guys, unless you have your own shooting school, you do not get to carry your rifle to work.

OK, now that I got that out of my chest lets look at some options.

Handguns: Revolver or Pistol? Pistol ALL THE WAY! Yes, I saw the video of the guy that accurately emptied his S&W in ½ a second. I also saw the shooting range and the crowd behind him, watching the event. Can he shoot and reload that way if he is in his car, driving with one hand and shooting with the other, while a bunch of scum bags in another car are shooting at him? Hey, maybe he can. I know I can’t. Can you?
Generally speaking, the revolver is more difficult to master than the pistol. The double action is hard and it affects speed and accuracy. It can be done, but I found that pistols are easier, as did many shooters. Also, even though they seem to be more simple, revolvers are not as rugged as service pistols, the mechanisms that cycles the cylinder and cocks the hammer is both complicated and fragile compared to auto pistols.
Before anyone starts casting evil voodoo spells at me for insulting their prized S&W or Ruger: I own revolvers and like shooting them, I just don’t think they are the best option for self defense, and I see that everyone I talk to in my country who is worried about security as I am also chooses pistols. Quality pistols resist sand, mud and dirt in general better than revolvers, where a small pebble locked in the mechanism may render the revolver inoperable.

I personally had a problem with a new stainless steel Taurus Tracker .357 magnum. After shooting it a couple of times I reloaded it and shot all 7 rounds as fast as I could and when I tried to empty it, I found that the empties were stuck because they expanded because of the heat. I had to wait until the gun cooled a little so I could empty the gun. Stuff like this can get you killed, even more in a 7 round handgun. I once saw a man walk into a gun store wanting to trade his 357 magnum revolver for a 9mm high capacity pistol. He said he was driving when thugs from another car started shooting at him. He was chased for a few blocks. He said that he pulled his revolver and started shooting at them, and ran out of ammo real fast. He wanted more capacity and fast reloading. I could not agree with him more. Some will consider this “Spray and pray”, thinking that all rounds should hit the target and if some don’t then it means that you need more time at the range. Those same people will tell you that they intend to use bolt action rifles as defensive rifles, making each shot count, without ever missing their target, one shot one kill. I don’t agree with this. One shot one kill is ok for snipers, but the survivalist should have other alternatives.

I don’t see anything wrong with shooting four or five rounds at a chasing car. If those rounds make them think twice about their intentions, they are rounds well spent in my book, even if they don’t kill the attacker. Suppressive fire is possible if you have a high capacity pistol. I wouldn’t doubt on using such a tactic if it serves my purposes, or if it buys me time to get out of there. Also keep in mind that criminals are cowards and therefore attack in groups. The survivalist should be able to face more than just one attacker. Getting into a gunfight with two or three armed men while packing a 6 round revolver is rather hard to deal with. A high capacity pistol can load about 15 or 19 rounds, and that can certainly make a difference in a gunfight where you are outnumbered.

A forensic doctor that used to live in my neighborhood got killed last year. He was ambushed when he exited a restaurant by 5 or 6 men. Even though they did kill him he managed to kill 4 of them and severely injure another. He shot regularly and carried a Glock .40. I’m sure he was lucky but I also think that his choice of weapon was also important in the outcome. If anyone is wondering, people in my country that are serious about self defense carry Glocks. Those that don’t have the money for a Glock carry Bersas, FM High Powers or 1911 surplus .45s. At first I wasn’t sure about the Bersa, but once I tried them I saw that they are very descent guns. I now own two Bersas and am pleased with they performance.

The caliber choice calls for endless debate and it is not my intention here. Let’s just say that 9mm, 40S&W and 45ACP are the obvious choices. 40S&W seem to be the most adequate, both in FMJ and HP, while 9mm lacks some stopping power and hollow points should be used if possible. Though the 9mm lacks power compared to the 40S&W, it is more popular world wide, a factor to consider seriously when choosing a handgun for SHTF. Besides, 9mm can also be used in a number of carbines and SMG, another important fact to be considered.

SMGs and carbines chambered for 40S&W and .45 ACP are also available, but they at not nearly as popular as those chambered for 9mm. Whatever you choose keep 500 or better yet 1000 rounds of quality ammo for your handgun at all times. 100 rounds won’t last much if the crisis lasts long. Also consider that once the balloon goes up, governments tend to restrict guns and ammo.

I previously stated that the urban survivalist will be using his handgun 90% of the time he needs to defend himself and family from attackers. I didn’t pull this figure out of thin air; it is quite accurate based on what happens here on daily basis, even a little optimistic. Cold harsh reality has shown us that most attacks occur when entering or exiting your home, when you are more vulnerable. Almost no one is stupid enough to try to enter a barred house with armed occupants. Believe me people; the gene pool will clean itself rather fast once the SHTF. So, is a rifle necessary? Of course it is! There is still that 10%, and that 10% can still ruin your day. And this percentage sky rockets if you intend to use that same rifle for putting meat on the table. If you have to settle with just one rifle, go for a semi auto. Ideally you should have a bolt action one and a semi auto rifle. A bolt action and a semiautomatic 308 would make a nice combination.
Whatever you choose, try to keep it within military calibers and military weapons if possible.

It may seem that I have something against bolt rifles but I don’t. I think they are fantastic weapons, but I think that semi autos are much better fighting weapons. The idea of “picking them out” 300 meters away with your bolt rifle, as they come in a row blowing whistles and firing warning rounds is laughable at best. Bolt rifles do have advantages over semi autos, accuracy not being the most important one. Bolt rifles such as Mausers last forever and are harder than rocks, THAT’S important. They are simple, easy to repair tools that will serve you (within their limitations of course) longer than any other weapon. For example, the coil spring on my Mauser 1891 safety broke into 3 separate parts, after almost 100 years of faithful service. I dug into my tool box and found a spring left over from a kitchen shelve door. I cut it approximately to the length of the previous spring, replaced it and the rifle was fixed. There are not many weapons that allow this. And it is a very valuable attribute once the SHTF and spare parts are no longer available.

Stick to common calibers, 223, 7.62x39mm, or 7,62x51 (308). 223 vs. 308? I’m not going there. If you prefer 223 because it has less recoil, it’s lighter, or you favor the AR rifle go ahead. If you think that 223 is more powerful than 7,62 sign up to Physics I.
Just remember what I said before, a survivalist is not a soldier serving in Iraq, and you don’t have the entire USMF to back you up. You are on your own. You are not going to pin your attackers down with a questionably effective round and wait until someone hits them with artillery.

About ARs… I wouldn’t trust my life to a rifle that has more versions than Rocky sequels… the way I see it, it means that the basic design was the problem and there is no solution. On AK … all has been said. The most popular rifle on the planet, and popular not because of politics, but because it works. It also fires an intermediate power, effective round, available world wide. SKS are also good, but I’d rather have removable magazines. Again, don’t use voodoo on me because I say I wouldn’t trust my life to a AR. If you keep your weapon clean, know its limitations and feel comfortable with it, go for it please. A couple of rounds of 223 will kill anyone just as well.

If you want a rifle that can do a little bit of everything relatively well, do yourself a favor and get either a M1A or a FAL in 7,62 (308) with a carbine length barrel. Preferably with a red dot scope and some kind of light mount. Leave full length barrels to hunters and bench rest shooters. Do your homework on both guns and you’ll see what I mean.
Choose 308 not because of the added range you can get out of it, but because of its power at all ranges, choose it because it turns cover into concealment. Think about all the possible cover material you can find in a city, like cars, trees, low walls and other structures. The 308 will go right through it, or destroy it after a few rounds. It’s a proven cartridge through out the years.


Shotguns are good general purpose guns. The main advantage I see is the devastating stopping power and the ability to use special ammo, like slugs and less than lethal ammo. I’m not so sure about the role as an “inside house” gun. The muzzle blast is great and quick follow up are not easy, especially when adrenalin is pumping through your system or, even worse, when someone is shooting back at you.

Pistol caliber carbines and SMG.

If possible, I’d choose a SMG reduced to semi auto (only if necessary, of course, full auto selector is better if possible) or other kind of short, small, pistol caliber carbine.
The combination of a 9mm handgun and a 9mm carbine or SMG reduced to semi auto or full auto class III has lots of advantages in my book and is a fine combination.
Some think that full auto is a waste of ammo. I don’t think so, not if you know how to use your head, and use this feature wisely. If you can get a short barrel and collapsible stock, you’ll also have a weapon that can be hidden under a heavy coat. A red dot scope would enhance accuracy a lot. The advantage of having the same ammo for long and small arm is not to be taken lightly. From the logistical, survivalist point of you, this is one big thumbs up! Think about cowboys and Americans that lived in the west, they also knew the value of using the same ammo for rifle and handgun. They had single action handguns and lever action handguns chambered for the same ammo, the modern survivalist can have the same ammo for his auto pistol and his sub-rifle as well.

Some think that a pistol caliber long arm is just one big clumsy pistol or a rifle sized gun that delivers pistol power and accuracy. This is BS. Anyone that ever fired a pistol caliber rifle or SMG knows that they are much more accurate, hitting torso targets at 100 yards is easy, and a little more if you have a red dot scope. Also, SMGs can manage hot ammo specially made for such guns, much more powerful than the one for handguns. Even if you use regular handgun ammo, the added barrel length adds a few extra feet per second making it more powerful. Just check the information on boy armor. Body armor that is rated to stop 9mm, for example, is not rated to stop the same 9mm ammo out of a SMG or carbine, because the added speed will make that same round penetrate the vest. Anyway, +P ammo is more than enough power out of a SMG or carbine; you don’t have to go looking for special SMG ammunition.

If you can get full auto that’s one nice feature to have, not worth it if you are on a tight budget, but if you can get it, it may come in handy someday. Full auto SMG are giving police in my country a lot of headaches. A criminal with little or no training will put 3 or 4 cops armed with pistols and shotguns on their toes, just because of the sheer volume of fire these high capacity 9mm deliver. There was this case of a bad guy standing in front of a patrol car full of cops on a red light stop, pulling a 9mm SMG out of his coat and emptying it on full auto. The cops didn’t have a chance, he killed them all. The car looked like Swiss cheese with 40 9mm holes all over the vehicle.


All I’m going to say on this subject is: Have one if you can. That’s it. I’ll leave the rest of it to your imagination, don’t make me say it. Today it may seem like a “nice to have” feature… after the SHTF, it may be an “O God I’ve got to get a suppressor!!” feature.
I’d buy a good suppressor instead of an ultra high dollar scope like the SOG. Buy a good quality scope, but don’t spend a fortune on it, and use the rest of the money on a suppressor. If you are serious about preparing for SHTF, you’ll thank me one day; just trust me on this one. 9mm and 45 suppress quite well. Not as well as .22, but there is much more power on the big bore ammo. Combined with a full auto SMG, the possibilities are much greater. Sometimes it’s just better to go unnoticed, especially in a SHTF crisis.


Dear God! Buy body armor PLEASE!! Its dirt cheep in USA. Preferably, get the police concealable kind (class II) then continue to work on it and get class III A military armor and some rifle plates, just as you do when you start buying guns. You’ll end up with 2 or 3 sets of armor which are great to have for family members and spares. Just so you know, I got so desperate about body armor I ordered it from USA through internet (, I ended up paying a total of nearly 600 USD for body armor that costs 200 USD in USA. Buy it while you still can. When the SHTF you’ll end up wearing it, believe me. I don’t wear mine all day long but I do wear it when I have to go some place dangerous, deal with people I don’t trust, or when I have to go teach Architecture Representation late at night, and must travel through a much dangerous road at 12 PM.


-Interlude -Studying the SHTF at the University: Dark omens.

I forgot it! Darn, same as the gold stuff but worse, much worse. I’ve never been good at remembering some things, like numbers and names of people I meet, I forget those (instantly), they just flee my mind, uneventfully, but I do remember some other things that don’t seem to be as important. I do remember living in USA as a kid. I remember my school, Pierce School, Don’t remember exactly were it was, because we lived some in Boston, Massachusetts and some in New Hampshire. I remember my best friend, Freddy, and a girl (why is there always a girl? [Smile]) Samantha, Sam. She was red haired and tall, I had a picture of her playing together but I lost it. Some time between the age of 3 and 26 I lost that picture that was so dear to me. I remember the smell of an orange shaped “scratch and smell” sticker my kindergarten teacher stuck in a small book we made once. But I almost forgot this forever. This, this was important, a moment where the life we once knew stopped existing, and a group of students, in a class room that looked like and abandoned building, realized it, all 60 of us at the same time.

It’s 1:06 AM over here. I just finished showering and my wife and son are asleep. I was putting shampoo on my hair, thinking about what I wrote today on this post, and remembered the exact moment when I realized along with several other people, not only that TSHTF (that we all knew) but that the world we once new no longer existed, and that this was not a hurricane, this was an ice age period, it wouldn’t just go away.

We understood it the same way a kid understands photosynthesis: Because a teacher coldly explained it to us, even used graphics. I slept 5 hours yesterday, 2 hours the day before yesterday. Saturday night I didn’t sleep at all. I’m already used to it. Deadlines at the University, staying late at night, drawing in CAD 3D, waiting until Renders are ready. It’s a competitive world out there, and no one sympathizes with what you are going through, they just want you to perform as expected, and the standard is always high. It happened 4 years ago, almost a year after the December 2001 crisis. It was a social studies class and this teacher, don’t remember if it was a he or a she, was explaining the different kinds of social pyramids. God! Now I remember more! We even had a text book with those darn, cruel pyramids! The first pyramid explained the basic society. A pyramid with two horizontal lines, dividing those on top (high social class) those in the middle (middle class) and the bottom of the pyramid (the poor, proletarian). The teacher explained that the middle of the pyramid, the middle class, acted as a cushion between the rich and the poor, taking care of the social stress. The second pyramid had a big middle section, this was the pyramid that represents 1st world countries. I which the bottom is very thin and arrows show that there is a possibility to go from low to middle class, and from middle to the top of the social pyramid. Our teacher explained that this was the classic, democratic capitalist society, and that on countries such as Europeans one, socialists, the pyramid was very similar but a little more flat, meaning that here is a big middle section, middle class, and small high and low class. There is little difference between the three of them.

The third pyramid showed the communist society. Where arrows from the low and middle class tried to reach the top but they bounced off the line. A small high society and one big low society, cushioned by a minimal middle class section of pyramid. Then we turned the page and saw the darned fourth pyramid. This one had arrows from the middle class dropping to the low, poor class.

“What is this?” Some of us asked.

The teacher looked at us. “This is us”

“It’s the collapsed country, a country that turns into 3rd world country like in pyramid five where there is almost no middle class to speak, one huge low, poor class , and a very small, very rich, top class.”

“What are those arrows that go from the middle to the bottom of the pyramid?” Someone asked.

You could hear a pin drop. “That is middle class turning into poor”.

I won’t lie, no one cried, though people rubbed their faces, held their heads and their breath.

No one cried, but we all knew at that very moment that all we thought, all we took for granted, simply was not going to happen.

“You see, the income from the middle class is not enough to function as middle class any more. Some from the top class fall to middle class, but the vast majority of the middle class turns into poor” Said the teacher.

I don’t know how many people in that room suddenly understood that he/she was poor.

The teacher continued “You see, we have a middle class that suddenly turns to poor, creating a society of basically poor people, there is no more middle class to cushion tensions any more. Middle class suddenly discovers that they are overqualified for the jobs they can find and have to settle for anything they can obtain, there for unemployment sky rockets, too much to offer, too little demand. You see they prepare, study for a job they are not going to get. You kids, you are studying Architecture because you simply wish to do so. Only 3 or 4 percent of you will actually find a job related to architecture.”

We all sat there, letting it all sink in. After a few months, it all proved to be true. Even the amount of students that dropped out of college increased to at least 50%. They either so no point in studying something that would not make much of a difference in their future salaries, had no money to keep themselves in college, or simply had to drop college to work and support their families.

Someone once said, in this forum, that if this had happened in USA, the social unrest would have been much worse, because people from S. America are stronger. At first, I told him that I didn’t think so, I said that all humans adapt when they have no other choice. But now that I consider it more, maybe he was right. Not that S. Americans are stronger, but they are more used to adversities. Most of us are children from grandparents that escaped civil war, either in Spain or dictators in Italy, our parents survived the dirty war, even more dictators, and therefore their children are of strong character too. Can USA citizens survive what we survived? Of course they can, though I think that there are too many that are not like you, many that don’t prepare, and take everything for granted. Those are the ones that will be responsible for the increase in the social unrest once the SHTF, those that were too lazy to take care of themselves before the SHTF, or that had gone soft through out the years, believing that the government will “take care of them because they pay their taxes”. But in the end, they will pull through. People will adapt, they always do. You’d be surprised. And those that don’t want to adapt to the new reality they live in, will die young, thus cleaning the gene pool and ensuring the continuity of the specie. It’s been this way for thousands of years.

Note: I’m sorry I took so long to continue this post. I spent the last few days drawing on the computer, I have to present this sort of thesis for the University, a school project, to a board of 4 teachers in 3 weeks.


Even though crime has always been an issue in South America, my country was quite the exception. It was dangerous, yes but nothing like after the 2001 economical crisis. One used to be able to let kids play on the sidewalk, or walk back home from a party, a few blocks, and be somewhat safe. This all changed now. There are no kids playing on the sidewalks anymore. I should emphasize this a little more. There are absolutely NO kids playing on the sidewalks at all, at any time of the day. Maybe a kid rides his bike a few meters on the sidewalk, but always under the supervision of an adult. A kid riding a bike on his own will get that bike stolen in no time, probably get hurt in the process, therefore no responsible parent leaves a kid alone on the street. Teenagers present a greater problem. You can’t keep a 15 or 16 year old inside a house all day long, and even though they are big enough to go out on their own, when the sun goes down things get much worse.

This is when parents organize themselves; either taking them to someone’s house or to a club and picking them up at a certain time. Taxis and remises are used sometimes , but there have been lots of cases of girls getting raped, so no parent worth a buck leaves his son or daughter in hands of a stranger. After years of living like this, almost everyone learned to be careful; sometimes they had to learn the hard way. Practically no one leaves a door or window opened or unlocked. Nor do they hang out in front of the house talking to friends. A bad guy might just see you there, like a sitting duck, pull a gun on you and take you inside your house.

There are no “bandit’s law” anymore. One used to hear people talk about “You shouldn’t resist a robbery, give them what they want and they’ll go away”. That holds true no more. These guys are under the influence of drugs, epoxy glue, or just hate your guts so much, because you have a better life than they ever dreamed of, because they were abused since the day they were born, that they will hurt and humiliate you as much as they can. Letting a criminal inside you house almost guaranties you that he will rape/beat/ torture and abuse whoever they find inside.
I personally drew a line a few years ago and decided, after one long, serious conversation with my wife; that no one would be allowed inside the house, no matter what. We figured that there are worse things than death. Having decided that, I make sure I always have a weapon on me. They’ll have to pay dearly for my life, plus interests.

By far, the most dangerous moment of the day, is when I (or my wife) leave/enter my house. A solid, secure house cannot be broken in easily, so criminals wait until you are standing on front of the door with the keys on your hand to jump on you. This is why we are extra alert when approaching our house, look all around us and if we see anything strange, keep walking around the block or keep on driving. No door is ever opened when there is a strange person around. Whenever someone knocks on our door (and we don’t know him/her), they are answered from a second story window. Criminals sometimes disguise as electric company guys or something like that, saying that they have to fix something. NO! If there is something to be fixed they can fix it on the sidewalk. Anything inside your house is your responsibility and the company is not going to fix it for you. Either way, it’s always better to play it safe, Better to be rude than dead.

On the car/driving issue, that calls for an entire post dedicated to SHTF driving. For now I’ll just say that windows and doors have to be closed at all times, a weapon must be within arms reach, and that stop signs and traffic lights have a hole new meaning once TSHTF. If your country ever falls as mine did, you’ll remember me whenever you see a traffic light. You never stop at a red lights or stop sign unless there is traffic, especially at night.

At first, police would write you a ticket for not stopping at a red light if they saw you (another way of saying that they will ask for a bribe if they see you pass a red light), but after a few months they realized that nothing could be done, people would rather risk a ticket than risking their lives, so they decided to turn traffic lights to permanent yellow at night, after 8 or 9 PM. This is, of course, very dangerous. Night car accidents are both frequent and brutal since sometimes both cars hit each other at full speed.

MissinLink asked some good questions that might interest others as well, and since we are on the security issue, here they are:
“Do the invaders of homes in the country just drive up in cars or trucks? Do they hide and sneak up? How do these home invaders attack a home in the country? A similar question could be asked for homes in the city.”
Sometimes they just drive up to where you are working, if you are far away from the home, but most of the time they sneak up on you. Criminals are not stupid, and they will spend days checking the place and specially YOUR ROUTINE. For example, if they see that you lock the gate at night, as most do, they will wait for you behind a tree until you are close. This is done a lot. Dogs are the best alarm you can find, and criminals know that. They will poison them with pills when you go to sleep and attack the place in the middle of the night. I know of many that had their dogs killed. If they think that security is tight, they will just hide near the main gate, and wait for you to leave or return. When you stop at the gate and must get out of the truck to open/close the main gate, they attack. I’d say that the most frequent kind of attack is attacking by surprise when you enter/leave your home.
“Most common times of attack? Day night evening morning? I understand occur when coming or going from ones home, etc.”
7 am, 9 am, 1pm 7pm, all are common times for attacks. There is no “safe” hour of the day. Night is particularly dangerous. Maybe attacks during the day are faster, they want to get some money or jewelry and leave fast, while at night they might stay inside more time, maybe till the next day. But there are no fixed patterns. If I could give one advice concerning SHTF security, it would be: Eyes and ears wide open when you enter/leave your home. If possible, keep a gun on your hand when doing either one. If something looks, even “feels strange, then go around the block and check again, carefully. If you see them still there, either call the police (if still available) or get help. If you approach the house with a large number of people they will leave. One time, I saw a couple of strange looking guys at my door. I went round the block and saw them still there. I started flashing the car lights and the horn and they left. I had a gun with me, though, so be careful when trying this. Also, remember that a car is one heavy, powerful piece of machinery. I know a guy that had one of those big chrome–tube bumpers installed on his truck, especially for hitting those that were stupid enough o try to make him stop by standing in front of the car.

If I had a truck, I would do so myself. Though I would keep my mouth shut about it, as always. Just say that you think it looks cool or something. Every now and then someone tries to force me to stop my car by standing in front of it (I suppose there are still fools out there that get robbed this way), in the middle of the street. I just aim at them and accelerate at full speed. They always jump out of the way before I hit them. By the way, at first, doing this made me feel nervous, but can you believe that now it’s just common driving, as normal as changing gears? I guess it’s a little sad.


Note: Sorry for the delay. This thread started ok and it seems to have a lot of acceptance so I give it serious thought before I post, try not to leave anything out so it can serve the better, as a mini guide of things that may come.

A LIST OF THINGS THAT "If you had it to do over again" YOU WOULD GET.

Nomad came up with this one. It’s a good idea because it may help some of you from making the same mistakes I did. There are things you don’t think about until you need them, and then it’s too late.

OK, if I had to do all this from scratch? Say, for example, if I had a 2 year warning, fairy godmother appears one night, all dressed in blue waving a magic wand, saying
“Your country will go down the sewage in 2 years, consider yourself warned dear”
There are several things I would have done differently, and things I would have bought:
Food: I’ll get to the food issue soon enough, but you can never have too much canned or other long shelf life food. This was probably one of my greatest mistakes, I overlooked the food problem.

I was talking to my wife today while driving, asked her the same question “Nomad asked me ‘what would you do if you could go back in time, before the 2001 crisis’”.

My wife, though smart, isn’t much into preparedness, but she answered “I’d buy food” in a heartbeat. Don’t you remember that you could only buy one small bottle of oil at a time, same with sugar, flour and milk? Don’t you remember all those empty shelves at the supermarket?”

Definitely, more food, especially food that lasts for a few years.

CAR: I would have bought a 4x4, even though I live in the city. A 4x4 allows you to dive over the sidewalk or through wasteland, away from roadblocks or riots. I’ve see those that have 4x4s simply go off road, climb over a boulevard and leave while the rest of us poor car owners have to stay.

A 4x4 truck also has more mass and power in case that someone tries to cut you off or rams you with the car. It’s less likely to stop running if you hit someone or several people (in a riot situation) since it’s prepared for cross country use and the engine is much more protected.

Fuel containers: Not only jerry cans, but those big metal containers, that hook up like small “u-hauls”? I’m not sure about their capacity; maybe they can hold one or two barrels of gas. I saw them at construction sites, and they were not that expensive if bought used, before the 2001 crisis. Now, I don’t know, haven’t seen them for a while.

A generator: These are imported and very expensive for us. I think that they are now making them here, but I’m not sure about the quality.

A nice TV and DVD player: I know what you are thinking “this guy has gone … “nuts” ” [Smile]Please, let me explain. Going out for dinner or to the movies is not only dangerous but also expensive. You WILL find much better use for that money if SHTF.

There are places in Buenos Aires where you can go out for dinner, movies, or theater shows and have a good time, safely. They either have their own security or arrange with the police for added security. These are the kinds of places you are likely to visit if you ever come to Argentina; places were tourists can move around, relatively safe (there are always exceptions, of course). But these places are either for tourists or for the extremely wealthy. I have a good socio-economical level, better than 96% of the population at least, yet I can’t afford to spend that amount of money every weekend or even two weekends a month. Going out for a walk is a possibility, and we do go out for a walk every now and then, but lets just say that the view isn’t that good, and you can only walk about 6 blocks in the same direction before you get out of the are which is guarded by private security, after that you are on “you are on your own” land. You CAN go for a walk (just like millions that live in Somalia or Afghanistan go for a walk as well) millions of citizens do, but I’d rather not risk it.

Just the day before yesterday, a young woman was waiting at the bus stop in my neighborhood, holding her 6 month old daughter. A cop that was chasing a bad guy opened fire with his High Power, with no regard to bystanders as they always do. The 9mm FMJ (JHP are not allowed for the average police) went right through the baby’s buttocks and through the mother. Miraculously, the bullet didn’t hit any of the baby’s internal organs and the mother also survived after a few days at the hospital. Was that just luck? Maybe, I prefer to think that God does work in mysterious ways. We have a lot of cases like this, were innocent people get shot by the police, and the stupid “no JHP” rule makes it worse, since 124 gr. FMJ 9mm will penetrate walls, windows, even bad guys and end up injuring or killing innocent people.

So, back to the TV, good places are too expensive and just going out for a walk at night with your wife/girlfriend is out of the question. All of a sudden popcorn, pizza and a movie sounds like a good plan. I’m not saying that you should spend all day in front of the screen like a zombie. Reading is nice, I love reading myself, but once the SHTF, going out with a date at night won’t be that easy, nor will it be that cheap. You will end up paying for that added security the shop/bar/theater owner hired, the higher price of gas and food, while a DVD copy can be found everywhere, and costs only a couple of bucks. After the SHTF there will be a lot of “why don’t we watch a movie” nights. Like it or not TV is cheep, safe entertainment. A play station or Xbox is also nice to have. Even if the country collapses, there will always be a guy with a DVD writer making copies. Just something to think about if you like movies.

BOOKS: Oh, almost forgot. If you like reading a lot, buy books now, even if you won’t read them for some time. If your economy crashes, paper will become a source of income for many. We have thousands of scavengers collecting cardboard and paper all day long, specially at night when peo

History / 🚂 British Trains, Cambridge and Nostalgia
« on: February 02, 2018, 12:37:08 AM »
JHK would approve of this Choo-Choo Train Nostalgia article.  ::)


British Trains, Cambridge and Nostalgia
By Dr. Binoy Kampmark
Global Research, February 01, 2018
Region: Europe
Theme: History

This is a different Cambridge. The gowns are gone, banished to a museum of what Britain was.  The traffic and pollution have moved in, angry, irritable, uncompromising.  Hopping off the train from Kings Cross,London doesn’t prepare you for the scene, one facing energetic fumes as disarmed citizens before a gas attack.

Another thing is also striking.  The builders, constructors and developers have moved in, adding pudgy monsters of glass and cement, trendy forums for shopping and glitzy arenas for communing.  Coffee shops have become colonists, and we are being told that eating in Cambridge has improved.

There is a sense that history has, with its feelers and reminders, caught up.  The Scotsman manning a brightly lit bar from yet another new hotel down from the main station is friendly. He exudes a confidence that would make the academics in this city squirm.  He is, as it were, not one of them, town, not gown.

This is to the good, if to the good means attributing value to movement, change and momentum.  This has not always been the case – coming to this city of the Fens, a place of asylum and refuge from Oxford, is much like venturing to a living archaeological site, with humans still going about their business since time immemorial.  Construction and building might be taking place on the perimeter, but the aged interior remains stubbornly intact, a city, as Matthew Arnold described, of perspiring dreams.

To be at Cambridge is to swan, squirm and delight in a zoo, an autistic mash, a spectrum patterned delight with people of genius and the occasional charlatan who might, had the occasion arisen, been in prison or some other unfortunate institute at Her Majesty’s Pleasure.  Britain’s political and social genius is to have created an institutional framework for the deranged, the uncomfortable and the awkward, be it the House of Lords or the Oxbridge college system.

Less ingenious has been Britain’s now advanced reputation for having an insufferably poor train network, one that butchers time and drains pockets.  The culture of train delays, non-appearances and vanishings, is famous.  Ian Hislop of the deliciously vituperative Private Eye, redoubtable team captain on the quiz showHave I Got News For You symbolises the Brit in despair of his country, the sort who goes to a train station sceptical that he will find one.

To find a train in Britain, let alone one that appears and moves, would be tantamount, in Hislop’s lethal serve, to finding a thylacine or a dodo.  He is the bird watcher who can’t find his feathery friends, the gardener despairing at not finding the first, vital blooms of spring.

In 2017, British progressive columnist Owen Jones saw the British train system as a means to read the nation.

    “If how the railways run is a guide to the state of a nation, then it tells you something that Britain is in the middle of its biggest railway strike since 1994.”

Jones embraces a traditional critique: it all went wrong with the privatisation of the national railway network in 1994 during the John Major government.  Since then, debates have raged over all arrangements touching on services from the provision of guards to appropriate standards of safety.  Such are the perils, asserts Jones, of “introducing market ideology into key public services”.

Even before Major was a certain Dr. Richard Beeching, considered something of a “Genghis Khan with a slide rule”.  In 1963, his report unleashed a ruthless savaging of the nation’s railway network, giving pride and place to the car.  A third of the lines and stations were closed.

These are extinct beasts, vanished and banished, and Britain, now exiting Europe in stumbling confusion, is better at producing, and reproducing the extinct, as few other cultures.  What is dead is bound to be revered; what is glorious is bound to be reconfigured and re-confected.

Even now, with such productions as Dunkirk and Darkest Hour, we are talking about episodes long past, with figures long dead, who still exert a more realistic pull on citizens than the feasibility of an efficient train network, and much else besides.  It remains a point of discomfort, but British writers, intellectuals and politicians waxed lyrically and obscenely about the efforts being made by totalitarian governments through the late 1920s and 1930s on facilitating train travel.  A directed economy, in other words, could work wonders.

Interestingly enough, there was no better time to travel by train in Britain than the decade after the conclusion of the First World War. The 1921 Railway Act outlined the objective of a “more efficient and economical working of the railway system of Great Britain”.

Train watchers chalk up data on which line is the greatest offender in the punctuality charts.  In 2015, the dubious honour went to the 07:29 Brighton to London Victoria as one of the country’s worst offenders. During the previous year, the train had failed to make its scheduled time on a single occasion.  Added to this the annual increases in fares, it is remarkable that commuters remain, in the main, composed if not resigned to the whole thing.

Little wonder, then, that nostalgia reigns with orb and sceptre over Her Britannic Majesty’s lands.  Provided the pageants and heraldry are in order, nothing else really matters.  There are markets to conquer, new fictional worlds to lay claim to.  Britain, whatever it decides to do with citizenry or fictions, will remain totally committed against a functioning, efficient not to mention affordable, train network.


Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  Email:

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