Notes for Wednesday – September 17, 2014

Today, September 17th, we celebrate Constitution Day in these United States.

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Today, we present another entry for Round 54 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The $12,100+ worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course (a $1,195 value),
  2. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  3. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 Nato QD Billet upper with a hammer forged, chromlined barrel and a hardcase to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR type rifle to have quick change barrel which can be assembled in less then 1 minute without the use of any tools and a compact carry capability in a hard case or 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  4. Gun Mag Warehouseis providing 30 DMPS AR-15 .223/5.56 30 Round Gray Mil Spec w/ Magpul Follower Magazines (a value of $448.95) and a Gun Mag Warehouse T-Shirt. An equivalent prize will be awarded for residents in states with magazine restrictions.
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear,
  7. A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value),
  8. A $300 gift certificate from Freeze Dry Guy,
  9. A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo,
  10. A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of GoldAndSilverOnline.com, (currently valued at around $180 postpaid),
  11. Both VPN tunnel and DigitalSafe annual subscriptions from Privacy Abroad (a combined value of $195),
  12. KellyKettleUSA.com is donating both an AquaBrick water filtration kit and a Stainless Medium Scout Kelly Kettle Complete Kit with a combined retail value of $304,
  13. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $300 gift certificate.

Second Prize:

  1. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  2. A FloJak EarthStraw “Code Red” 100-foot well pump system (a $500 value), courtesy of FloJak.com,
  3. Acorn Supplies is donating a Deluxe Food Storage Survival Kit with a retail value of $350,
  4. The Ark Instituteis donating a non-GMO, non-hybrid vegetable seed package–enough for two families of four, seed storage materials, a CD-ROM of Geri Guidetti’s book “Build Your Ark! How to Prepare for Self Reliance in Uncertain Times”, and two bottles of Potassium Iodate– a $325 retail value,
  5. $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P),
  6. A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials,
  7. Twenty Five books, of the winners choice, of any books published by PrepperPress.com (a $270 value),
  8. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value),
  9. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $150 gift certificate,
  10. Organized Prepper is providing a $500 gift certificate, and
  11. RepackBoxis providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
  6. Ambra Le Roy Medical Products in North Carolina is donating a bundle of their traditional wound care and first aid supplies, with a value of $208, and
  7. APEX Gun Parts is donating a $250 purchase credit, and
  8. SurvivalBased.com is donating a $500 gift certificate to their store.
  9. Montie Gearis donating a Y-Shot Slingshot and a Locking Rifle Rack. (a $379 value).

Round 54 ends on September 30st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Two Forever Foods, by Northern Forager

Disclaimer: The author and SurvivalBlog take no responsibility for the information or use of information resulting in or from the following article. This article is intended for informational purposes only.

There is a world of food that exists outside of the supermarket– types of food that people who only get their food from stores never see or learn about. In my effort of sustainable and self-reliant living, I have become an advocate and convert to the idea of eating local plants in the area where I live, even to the point of eating “weeds”. Doing the same will greatly improve your food security, but it may earn you some stares from neighbors. Dandelions are the quintessential weed to eat; they are easy to identify and grow almost anywhere. Although dandelions are common and nutritious, they have few calories and cannot make the mainstay of a meal. So, I set out searching for other common “weeds” that could supply the daily caloric intake people need.

After all, what is a weed, except a plant that grows well in adverse conditions? Traits like these– hardiness and reliability– are exactly what is desired in a food source. A crop that needs no care and still produces food is to be desired above all others! So, I chose to eat the weeds. I personally prefer to plant them myself in my yard and garden. This removes the controversy over foraging, which has resulted in arrests in some instances, and it improves their quality. However, I have also, on occasion, harvested “wild” weeds from areas I know are free of pesticide and herbicide use and where it is legal to do so.

Discerning which plants are useful as food can be a tricky business, similar to picking mushrooms. There are some plants that look strikingly similar to noxious or poisonous plants. Another important consideration is to learn and use the Latin names of plants. Many plants have the same or similar “common names”, but each will have a unique Latin name. I deliberately began my quest by choosing plants that are easily identifiable and have no known poisonous lookalikes.

The following plants fit the bill admirably, providing complex carbohydrates, edible oils, and protein in quantity:

Tragopogon Pratensis

(Also known as Goat’s Beard, Showy Goat’s Beard, Meadow Salsify, Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon)

Growing profusely outside my back door, the bright yellow, dandelion-like flowers are easily identified. These flowers open in the morning and close up in the afternoon, lending to the name “Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon”. Later in the summer, the fluffy seed heads pop out almost daily. The flowers are also, reportedly, an accurate predictor of rain, closing up whenever rain is on the way. This may be an old wives tale, and the flowers close around noon anyway, so any use as a weather forecaster would be limited, even if true.

With the plant being very common, easily identifiable, self seeding, and the whole of the plant being edible, Tragopogon pratensis stands out as an excellent food crop. Tragopogon pratensis is one of the few weeds that produces an edible, starchy, and good tasting tap root. Wild plants in marginal soil conditions produce smaller roots than cultivated plants but do not require the added input of gardening effort.

The plants go to seed in the mid-summer, usually from July to August, but this is sometimes dependent on the climate you are in and your localized weather conditions. Seeds can be planted any time of year but naturally overwinter well in the soil and germinate in the spring.

The tubers themselves resemble small white carrots in structure, although they are smaller than normal supermarket carrots. They are easily harvested by pulling them up from the base of the plant in good soil. However, when harvesting wild plants, a weed puller or small shovel is useful to break compacted soil. I usually wait until after a rain fall, which loosens and softens the soil, to make for easy harvesting, or I use a weeding tool from the hardware store. The roots have been compared in flavor to a cross between parsnips and sweet potatoes, and the plants that are cultivated with intentional watering and good soil can produce fairly large roots in a season. Depending on the plant, tubers can get quite stringy– sometimes it seems like they are all string– but even if you boil a pot and find that they are too stringy to chew, you can scrape the starch out with a dull edge (like a butter knife) and make a tasty mashed potato-style dish.

The rest of the plants can also be eaten, beginning with the young shoots and leaves, which can be eaten raw or cooked like asparagus. While it is possible to eat the entire plant raw (useful in an emergency), they taste better and are less tough when cooked. You can steam or fry the leaves in butter, and chop them up into smaller pieces before cooking, if you find them stringy and fibrous.

They grow well in marginal terrain, such as gravelly slopes, hillsides, and ditches. When collecting wild plants, I am always careful of areas that may have been sprayed with herbicides and insecticides, such as rail yards and roadsides. The plants can be harvested at any time of the year but will be largest and have the biggest tubers in the autumn, after a full season of growing. Tragopogon pratensis roots can be stored in a root cellar or similar structure the same way that you store carrots. If you keep the soil or sand at a constant humidity, they will remain firm throughout winter. Roots can even be replanted in the spring to get a jump on growth, if desired. Another possibility is to keep a few plants indoors as houseplants, and harvest the greens throughout the winter as desired.

Each plant produces just one tuber, similar to carrots and parsnips, so if you are harvesting the tubers, or plan to do so in the future, planting numerous plants is your best bet. I personally plant quite a few, since although they are present in the wild, the numbers of plants growing naturally is not enough to be viable food source (though it would make a good supplement). Did I mention that they require virtually no care? You don’t even need to weed them; they are the weed! A big patch of Tragopogon pratensis in bloom is a beautiful thing.

Caragana Arborescens

(Also known as Siberian Pea Tree, Siberian Peashrub)

The Caragana is a large deciduous shrub (the leaves fall in the winter) that can grow to heights of up to nineteen feet and have a base of up to thirteen feet in diameter. It has yellow flowers that appear in the spring, usually from May to June, and goes to seed in the fall from August to September. The shrub resembles a willow in structure, with many shoots and stems, some of which can get rather larger, protruding from a single rootstock. The plant is hardy from zones 2 to 7 and can survive in most of the climate zones in North America. It has been naturalized in Europe, North America, and Australia for many years, the settlers having had used it for shelter belts because of its excellent growth rates and dense understory.

In my opinion, the Caragana is one of the best producers of wild, perpetual food in the nation, especially for northern latitudes and continental climates. There is no other temperate tree or shrub that compares with its hardiness, production, and low maintenance. Nuts have high protein and oil content, similar to Caragana seeds, but they require high levels of watering and (for the most part) a mild climate hardiness zone. Meanwhile, the Caragana shrub is drought tolerant and produces similar yearly harvests that are high in protein and oil content. Beans can have similar nutritional value as Caragana seeds, but require planting and gardening effort every single year that Caraganas do not. Furthermore, and most notably for those who live in temperate climates, the Caragana is hardy to planting zones from 2 through 7 and thrives in cold climates, even surviving winters where temperatures drop to 40 below! The flowers are also edible and can be added to salads or other dishes; they are good in pancakes.

Plant once, harvest forever.

Because the Caragana is a long-living shrub, the seeds can be harvested yearly, like a fruit or nut, and it requires only trimming to keep growth in check. The seed pods resemble a small pea pod, with around two to six seeds inside each pod. Caragana seed pods “pop” open as they mature and dry, with a characteristic snap that sounds like a bowl of puffed rice cereal. If you ever walk past or sit near a Caragana bush in late August or early September, the sounds of bursting pods is easily recognized. This feature makes harvesting even easier. You can pick the seeds before they burst and then dry them, upon which time they will pop open and the seeds fall out; there is no shelling required! Or you can lay a sheet or tarp below the bushes and collect the seeds as they burst from the pods on the branch. Harvesting them before the pods burst allows more control over quality, since you only get the seeds from the pods you pick and no additional droppings from other plants or animals, such as birds. When I dry them, I lay them on a sheet in the sun with a second sheet on top, as the seeds otherwise would travel several yards when the pods pop open. I leave them this way until the pods burst, and then I separate the dry pods from the seeds by sifting them or letting the pods blow like chaff in the wind. The seeds resemble a lentil in size, though they look more like a bean, and can be cooked similarly to whole lentils.

The final appreciation for the Caragana is the fact that they are nitrogen fixers, meaning that like peas and beans, they take nitrogen from the atmosphere and convert it to solid state nitrogen that acts as a fertilizer for the soil. This is the main reasons that Caraganas can thrive in poor soils. If growers are looking for middle level cover for food forests or forest gardens, the Caragana can fit the bill admirably, and provide years of food from a single planting.

The one caveat regarding Caraganas is that some areas in North America are beginning to list Caragana shrubs as invasive species– a proposition which is a little overblown in my opinion. Caraganas have been planted as shelterbelts across the plains for well over a hundred of years, and while they do spread they certainly have not overrun the nation. The main reason they are considered for nomination to be included as invasive species is because once large Caragana patches are established, they can be difficult to remove. They also tend towards monoculture; their natural patches are close knit and prevent other low-level species or saplings from becoming established. Large areas of Caragana can be burned, which is the best method for total eradication; smaller plots can be plowed over, which is the traditional method, or killed with herbicide– my least favorite option. Cutting them back is an option as well, for small scale plot management.

However, the ancient shelterbelts, planted by homesteaders and settlers, remain largely where they were planted without major expansions, so I personally feel that the idea of Caragana’s taking over a forest is a great leap in logic and an unfounded concern. I prefer to have single plants interspersed with other ground-level forbes (leafy ground cover) and high upper-story food producers, such as fruit and nut trees, to take advantage of the nitrogen-fixing properties of the Caragana and increase the growth of food-producing plants surrounding them. Still, I feel the above concerns bear mentioning. Personally, the qualities for which governments are considering listing it as invasive are the very qualities that make it such a great food source– namely, its tenacity and ability to thrive in harsh conditions with no human input.

Another unique use for Caragana that readers who raise chickens may care to take note of is as a staple bird food; being high in protein, it makes an excellent food source for chicken and game birds. It has been successful in promoting wild grouse and pheasant populations, providing both food and cover for those species. It’s thick and tangled nature makes it an effective hedgerow, which can be improved even more by weaving and intertwining young shoots together, which then grow thick and strong in a uniform living wall– a natural fence for farms and homesteads.

Caraganas can be most simply and easily planted by scattering seeds around on the ground and scraping a light dirt cover over them. The young plants, like most young plants, require sufficient water, so planting during a rainy time of the year (spring where I live) gives better results than other times of year. They can also be germinated indoors and then transplanted outdoors when they are one to two inches tall. I have had the best success with planting this way, although it is more labor intensive than just throwing seeds about.

There are “old wives tales” that Caraganas are toxic; not only has this been shown to be false by several studies, but the seeds have been shown to be completely edible and contain 12.4% fatty oils and up to 36% protein (Meng et al., 2009). Most people credit North American stories of inedibility to the fact that the Caragana is avoided by North American ungulates (ie. deer) and livestock, and I tend to agree with this assessment. Deer also avoid eating canola that is drying in the field. With caraganas having similar seed pods that are pokey and sharp, the physical structure of the plant may be more of a deterrent than the chemical make-up. Eating sharp pokey pods is not pleasant.

If you do choose to look into foraging for these two species– caragana arborescens and tragogpogon pratensis– instead of planting them yourself, their designation as “weeds” may be of benefit to you. In the city where I live, people are encouraged to remove “invasive” species when they are found on public lands. This is a bit of a grey area, but it may be worth looking into for readers where foraging restrictions are in place.

If you do not have either of these species around the area you live, there are suppliers online, although they are few and far between. Seeds are available from online suppliers and auction sites (like eBay). Some government farm improvement agencies will provide Caragana plants free of charge for use as shelter belts and windbreaks for farmers, although the programs like this in my area have recently been canceled. Tragopogon pratensis is a little harder to source, but seeds can be found from online suppliers with a little effort.

In general, newer seeds from recent harvests have better germination rates and are desirable over older stock. A small plot of hardy, edible, high calorie weeds can be started from a few dollars worth of seeds and can provide a source of perpetual, low effort food in years to come. There are many, many other plants that are useful as food and require little to no effort to grow, but these two are a couple of the few that can thrive in almost any climate in North America and produce enough calories to be a significant source of food. So get planting!

References:

Plants for a Future: Tragopogon pratensis (http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Tragopogon+pratensis)

Plants for a Future: Caragana arborescens (http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Caragana+arborescens)

Meng QX Niu Y, Niu XW, Roubin RH, Hanrahan JR (2009). Ethnobotany, phytochemistry and pharmacology of the genus Caragana used in traditional Chinese medicine. J. of Ethnopharmacol., 124(3): 350-368.

Katelyn B. Shortt and Steven M. Vamosi (2010). A review of the biology of the weedy Siberian peashrub, Caragana arborescens, with an emphasis on its potential effects in North America (2010). Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada (Retrieved June 2014 from http://ejournal.sinica.edu.tw/bbas/content/2012/1/Bot531-01.pdf)

Letter Re: What Retail Might Look Like at TEOTWAWKI

Dear Sir,

I feel like I have some insight to add to Jacob’s post about what retail may look like post disaster. I manage a warehouse for a DSD (direct store delivery) company. Here’s just a little bit of insight into what that is, since not everyone knows how stores get their merchandise: Many items are not stocked by the stores themselves. They never go through their own distribution network. Instead, companies (bread, snacks, soda, beer, pizza, et cetera) manage their own distribution and have their own trucks go to the store. We handle our own product from raw materials all the way to placing it on the shelves at retail.

I have a feel for how things will start to run out on the shelves, once people start panic buying and/or the distribution system starts breaking down. I have learned this over the course of a couple of blizzards or when there have been minor trucking issues that end up throwing the system out of rhythm.

There are many similar items stocked in a major grocery store. Let’s use milk as an example. (I do not deal with milk at work; it just seems like a good fit for this scenario.) Think of the different brands of milk. Then think of the different fat contents (skim, 1%, and so forth). Now think of the different sizes of containers (gallon, half gallon, and quart). These are all basically interchangeable, but people have their preference. Once their first choice is gone, they can easily switch to the next best thing for them. If they normally buy a gallon of 2% milk but that is unavailable, they will simply buy the half gallon size. Here is where the problem starts. With the short supply (or even perceived short supply) instead of buying two half gallons, they will most likely buy three or more, just to be sure they don’t run out. This puts a lot of pressure on the other sizes and styles of the item. Something that normally has a small sales volume suddenly has a huge amount of demand with little supply to support it. These secondary items will run out quickly, as they are not stocked in any kind of volume. Then the consumer has to start looking farther away from the item they originally wanted. Maybe the whole and skim milk, then things like rice or almond milk that have only a few units in the store at a time. After that juices, soda, and other items will go. It is amazing the different things that will sell, once a main item runs out. Something I have discussed with fellow warehouse managers that we all are amazed by is this phenomena “When you run out of something, you run out of EVERYTHING”.

Another thing to point out is the amount of time it takes to get back on track following a disruption in supply. Take a blizzard that shuts down a distribution center for a day. The way things work is that shipments are coming in constantly, but they are timed so that basically only the items projected to be necessary are delivered. There are not warehouses full of every item imaginable that can just be run out to a store. Now a blizzard not only shuts down the warehouse and its delivery vehicles, but it shuts down the trucking that supplies the warehouse itself. When the trucks do start moving they are going to be late and sometimes out of sequence. So, items that aren’t needed are coming in, and items that are needed are sitting in a yard somewhere waiting for a driver. The last time this happened to me, it took a full week for things to get caught up and for me to actually be able to supply the customers properly. That isn’t to say there was nothing available, but it was not the right items at the right time. It was a week’s worth of issues caused by a blizzard that didn’t even hit our state. It just shut down the transportation system. Now imagine if something serious hit. Stores would be wiped out, and resupply would be spotty at best.

Also, in a real disaster there is a very good chance that many delivery trucks simply won’t go out. There could be inventory sitting in warehouses that has no one willing or able to move it to the stores. Or there may only be certain routes that go out, so supply can be limited to certain stores, even though there is product enough to supply all of them.

A final thing I want to address is the amount (or lack thereof) of inventory waiting to fill shelves. Gone are the days of stores having big back rooms full of product waiting to be stocked. Our trucks go out to the same stores every day. Depending on the volume of the store being serviced, they can get deliveries as often as every day (or even twice a day in special circumstances). The entire inventory of the stores is contained on the shelves of the sales floor (with maybe a tiny amount of back stock composed of partial cases that wouldn’t fit on the shelves, or a few extra cases of fast-moving items that will be worked on days that there isn’t a delivery). Because inventory dollars are dollars that can’t be used for other things, there isn’t a big supply of this product farther along the supply chain either. We try to keep our supply at less than eight days worth. That is a deceptive number though, as some items move very slowly and need decent sized minimum orders, so they may have a few weeks worth on hand. The faster moving items (the things people actually want) can have two or three days of supply on hand at any given time. A big spike in demand, due to a disaster, will wipe that out VERY quickly.

Due to the nature of business and that no company wants to tie up dollars with “just in case” inventory, it really is up to the consumer to make sure they have the items they need in their homes before something happens. You cannot rely on stores having what you need once the panic buying has started. – Dave

Economics and Investing:

Poor Americans carry a record level of debt leverage

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The Irrational Fear Of Deflation

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Items from Mr. Econocobas:

Draghi Prods Euro Area to Ready Ground for Economic Boost

Scotland Prepares For Bank Runs; ‘Quietly’ Sends Millions Of Banknotes North

The War on Poverty Has Been a Colossal Flop

The Fed’s Muddied Message Causing Market Mess – When your equity markets are dependent on two words, you know you’re in a heavily manipulated, fragile market.

Odds ‘n Sods:

SurvivalBlog reader K.A. sent us a link to a video of some pro-Russian irregulars of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR/DNR) skirmishing in the village of Vergunka near Luhans’ka, Ukraine. (Note: Please ignore the lewd pictures and links at the LiveLeak website. Sorry, but I could not find another video aggregation site with the same video clip.) This video provides a great case study on how NOT to operate as a small guerilla unit: Pitiful noise discipline (plenty of “smoking and joking”); marginal command and control; suicidally poor dispersion of patrol members (at many times they were bunched so close together that just one mortar round wound have taken out four or five of them); horrible fire discipline including “spray and pray” use of small arms (LOTS of super-elevated muzzles and non-use of sights, meaning that their rounds were going harmlessly over the heads of their opponents and possibly resulting in fratricide and civilian casualties); a patrol traveling directly down streets (an invitation to ambush); poor use of available cover and concealment; lack of coordination with a supporting tank; a clueless RPG user, who apparently failed to remove the arming pins from his rounds (so that they did not detonate); failure to find, fix, and engage their opponents; failure to communicate and coordinate with supporting and supported units; and so forth– all followed by copious self-congratulation, which was all apparently for not getting themselves shot and for wasting a lot of precious ammunition. Pitiful! This is not soldiering; it is just “playing army”. – JWR

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Three useful fact sheets for hospitals, medical providers and the public from the CDC on Ebola. – A.W.

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Obama to announce 3000 troops going to fight Ebola – G.P.

Apparently, we can strategize and use the military effectively against a virus but not ISIS. – HJL

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Face The Face. – B.B.

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Border Bridge Protest Organizers to Militia: You’re Not Welcome. – G.S.

Notes for Tuesday – September 16, 2014

September 16th is the birthday of “Mad Jack” Churchill (1906-1996), who was a true eccentric. He went to war in WWII armed with a broadsword and a longbow. (The latter was successfully used to dispatch several German soldiers.) He later became a devoted surfer. What a guy.

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Today, we present another entry for Round 54 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The $12,100+ worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course (a $1,195 value),
  2. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  3. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 Nato QD Billet upper with a hammer forged, chromlined barrel and a hardcase to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR type rifle to have quick change barrel which can be assembled in less then 1 minute without the use of any tools and a compact carry capability in a hard case or 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  4. Gun Mag Warehouseis providing 30 DMPS AR-15 .223/5.56 30 Round Gray Mil Spec w/ Magpul Follower Magazines (a value of $448.95) and a Gun Mag Warehouse T-Shirt. An equivalent prize will be awarded for residents in states with magazine restrictions.
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear,
  7. A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value),
  8. A $300 gift certificate from Freeze Dry Guy,
  9. A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo,
  10. A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of GoldAndSilverOnline.com, (currently valued at around $180 postpaid),
  11. Both VPN tunnel and DigitalSafe annual subscriptions from Privacy Abroad (a combined value of $195),
  12. KellyKettleUSA.com is donating both an AquaBrick water filtration kit and a Stainless Medium Scout Kelly Kettle Complete Kit with a combined retail value of $304,
  13. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $300 gift certificate.

Second Prize:

  1. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  2. A FloJak EarthStraw “Code Red” 100-foot well pump system (a $500 value), courtesy of FloJak.com,
  3. Acorn Supplies is donating a Deluxe Food Storage Survival Kit with a retail value of $350,
  4. The Ark Instituteis donating a non-GMO, non-hybrid vegetable seed package–enough for two families of four, seed storage materials, a CD-ROM of Geri Guidetti’s book “Build Your Ark! How to Prepare for Self Reliance in Uncertain Times”, and two bottles of Potassium Iodate– a $325 retail value,
  5. $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P),
  6. A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials,
  7. Twenty Five books, of the winners choice, of any books published by PrepperPress.com (a $270 value),
  8. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value),
  9. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $150 gift certificate,
  10. Organized Prepper is providing a $500 gift certificate, and
  11. RepackBoxis providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
  6. Ambra Le Roy Medical Products in North Carolina is donating a bundle of their traditional wound care and first aid supplies, with a value of $208, and
  7. APEX Gun Parts is donating a $250 purchase credit, and
  8. SurvivalBased.com is donating a $500 gift certificate to their store.
  9. Montie Gearis donating a Y-Shot Slingshot and a Locking Rifle Rack. (a $379 value).

Round 54 ends on September 30st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

The Real Threats, by R.S.

There is a lot of conjecture as to what the event will be that “ends it all” and sends the world into complete chaos, causing Americans to go into “survival mode”. Every corner you turn you hear another theory about how it’s “going to go down”. People’s answers include terms like E.M.P., H.E.M.P., nuclear, biological, chemical, economic meltdown, foreign invasion, global natural disaster, space alien invasion, zombie apocalypse, or all the above (for the real dooms dayers). So, what is the more likely or more plausible scenario or scenarios for having to go into real survival mode? Let’s look at the different possibilities,break them down to their reality, and determine what the real threats to survival are.

Foreign Invasion

I don’t believe this is in the realm of real possibility, but I have heard it mentioned numerous times, so I will give it a little thought real quick. The last time our nation was actually invaded was during WWII by the Japanese. They made their way onto the Aleutian Islands but were defeated by U.S. military. In the book “Secrets of The Dead” a Japanese officer is quoted as saying “I do not fear the invasion, I fear what will happen when we get there. Behind every blade of grass there will be a gun, and behind that gun, a citizen ready to give his life for his country.” I believe that realization is still prominent throughout the world today. Thus, the importance of protecting our second amendment right is made apparent. A full-scale invasion would be at the peril of the invader. They realize that, and thus I don’t believe anyone– one military or group– has the gumption to attempt it. Many say we are in the process of being invaded now at our southern borders, but that isn’t the scale of invasion everyone is referring to when they say we are going to be “invaded”. It is more straw on the economic camel’s back, but it isn’t the “Red Dawn” invasion we picture. This is a major problem though. Many of the terrorist organizations are able to see the holes in our perimeter. They could easily exploit those weak areas to infiltrate our borders to get to the more metropolitan areas and succeed in a local, mass casualty scenario. A small scale “dirty bomb”, chemical or biological device, is a definite threat to the particular area or areas they are used in. The biggest threat from these, from a national stand point, is the economical disaster caused, if they are used with precision tactics on our financial hubs or power grid. However, these WMDs aren’t that easy to whip up.

Weapons of Mass Destruction

I am a Hazardous Materials Technician with the fire department. I have had hours upon hours of Haz Mat response training, including nuclear training. The knowledge I gained from that training all but eliminated the idea of there being a “national” nuclear, chemical, or biological incident. When I say a national incident, I am referring to the entire nation being physically affected by either radiation, a chemical agent, or biological agent. In the event that one of these WMDs are utilized, it will be on a local scale or multiple local scales. The more suitable areas for these threats are the more populated city areas. The primary goal being to add up the most casualties in the least amount of time for the news outlets to blast all over the world and send shock and terror into the hearts and minds of individuals. Let’s look at the nuclear aspect first, its plausibility, and how to respond if it were to go down in that manner.

Nuclear. An all out nuclear war between nations I guess is a possibility, but if it occurs I doubt any of us non-presidential administration folk have a lot to worry about as far as survival goes. When the first one goes up, it will be an end of all life event, because it’s guaranteed the rest will follow. The earth will be uninhabitable…period. From fall out to nuclear winter, every living organism will cease. Take a look at Chernobyl and how close Europe came to being uninhabitable. That was from one reactor melting down. Multiply that by thousands of warheads strategically launched, and you can see how I come to my conclusion. [HJL comments: Total annihilation is a product of Hollywood and the evidence available, even from Chernobyl, does not support this conclusion. In short, if you are unprepared or are in the wrong place through providence, bad luck or bad planning, you will probably die, but with prudent planning and preparation, a total nuclear war is indeed survivable.] World leaders know this. The ones who don’t care and would look at it as the ultimate sacrifice for Allah don’t have the means to build multiple war heads or systems to defeat the defenses of the other nations around them. Again, if they were successful with a nuclear attack, it would be on a smaller and more localized scale. Thus, the importance of keeping the nuclear technology out of their hands. Aren’t you glad you live in the U.S., surrounded by friendlies, instead of in the Middle East? Here, in the U.S., we could see a small briefcase dirty bomb or the like though. These could definitely affect cities and millions of the population. So what if this is the case? Well, first of all if you survive the initial explosion, you still aren’t out of the woods. Depending upon the size of the explosive device, the infrastructure is going to take a major hit and present a lot of hazards. Transportation is going to come to a stand still, caused by both a mass exodus of individuals from the area and also, as crazy as it might sound, individuals trying to get closer to see what is going on. For example, a major propane distributor in my area had a fire at their warehouse. Fifty thousand 20-lb propane cylinders exploded over the course of a few hours, and three 30,000-gallon cylinders were threatened by the flames. The explosions could be felt miles away, and the flames could be seen from air traffic up to 60 miles away. Many of the streets were shut down, due to traffic– NOT from people trying to leave but from people trying to get closer to the scene to see what was going on. One of our fire trucks responding to the fire was hit by a man in his vehicle wearing nothing but his boxer shorts; he had heard and felt the explosions, saw the bright orange light on the horizon, and wanted to go check it out. People do not react the way you would expect during emergencies and disasters. In the event of a city-wide attack, mass hysteria will take hold and the thugs will definitely take advantage of the situation. There are examples of this all of the time in the news. Self-proclaimed leaders will rise up and attempt to take hold of areas and determine who goes and who stays, who lives and who dies, and what’s yours and what’s his/hers. Gas lines will be ruptured, leaking flammable and toxic gases throughout. It will be survival of the fittest in the city. Do not rely or lean on local law enforcement, fire, or ems for aid. Our public service personnel are already stretched thin and under paid. To be honest with you, in this event, hanging out to help my fellow man is not on top of my priority list; getting my family to safety is. So I will not be around,and many of the like-minded individuals in the field are going to be gone as well. You will be on your own. More than likely, if you are reading this, you are already aware of that, but take a look around at how many people are living ostriches. They are the ones who we will have to weed through to get to our shelters. After the initial destruction of the explosion, you may have to take into consideration the possibility of the bomb being dirty. “Time, Distance, and Shielding”. In other words, get as far away as fast as possible, and put as much stuff between you and ground zero as possible.

There are three primary types of radiation to consider: Alpha, Beta, and Gamma. The first two primarily pose a risk via our mucous membranes. We are affected by inhaling, ingesting, or absorbing this through our eyes, cuts, or openings in the body. Alpha is a “large” particle that only travels a few inches and can be shielded by clothing and respiratory protection. It is really the least of the three to worry about, but don’t dismiss it all together. Technically, you can block an alpha particle with a sheet of paper. The problem is if you ingest or inhale it, so protect your airway and other openings. You can accomplish this by wetting and wrapping cloth around your face and wearing glasses. Beta is a smaller particle and travels a little further. A few feet is generally the maximum distance that it can travel, without the help of wind, but keep in mind a windy day can circulate these particles through the air, so be sure you are out of the hot zone before relaxing personal protection means of the airway and mucous membranes. Gamma is a ray, not a particle. The only defense against this is time, distance, and shielding. Again, do not stay any length of time; get as far away from the city as you can, and if you find yourself stuck around the detonation zone, try to put as much stuff (buildings, cars, trees, land masses, et cetera) between you and ground zero as possible. In any of these cases, if you feel you have been contaminated by the particles or rays, do not enter into your home or touch any family or loved ones. Disrobe carefully without touching the clothes with your skin, and wash your body with a mild soap solution. Undressing actually eliminates up to 90% of the contamination by alpha and beta particles. Respiratory protection is the last item to be removed. Only remove this when you are certain that all contaminants are eliminated. Again with gamma, it is a ray and penetrates most materials. Before coming into contact with family, if you believe there is a possibility you have been contaminated, monitor yourself for a while. Watch for nausea, diarrhea, blisters (radiation burn), anything with a slower onset than what may have been caused by the explosion itself. I would recommend doing a little research into the area of radiation contamination and personal decontamination. There are thousands of documented radiation sources that are missing in the U.S. alone. Most of these are medical sources and non-threatening, but research is the best defense against ignorance. Google radiation and “gross and technical decontamination” methods. In many instances the decontamination methods can also be used in the event you are exposed and contaminated with chemical or biological substances as well. Knowing how to decontaminate yourself, a family member, or members is important, and there is a method to do it properly.

Biological. This is another one of those WMDs I would consider lower on the possibility range. It’s not to say impossible but less likely. Number one, to make weapons-grade biological agents is very difficult. Second, it is very costly. Third, it doesn’t get the immediate satisfactory result those most likely to attack us want. I did read the other day where ISIS, ISIL, or whatever they are calling themselves this week is looking at the possibilities of making or acquiring biological agents, but again the affected areas or targets are going to be high population zones. If you are in the dispersion zone of one of these agents, you aren’t going to know about it until the late stages. Immediately after 9/11 we ran dozens of white powder calls. The threat of anthrax was rampant. We would respond to find piles of white powder in envelopes, on cars, and on desks; you name it. The thing is if any of these were weapons-grade Anthrax, we would hardly be able to find any dust outside of taking residue samples and sending them to a lab. Weapons grade is very small and very light. If you look at a jar full of weapons grade biological agent, it looks like liquid moving in the jar even though it is a solid. Opening a door to a room where the agent is causes enough air movement to disperse all of the agent into the air. You will not know you are in a hot zone and will not know you have been contaminated until symptoms appear. If you find out there has been an attack with the use of a biological agent in your area, the best reaction immediately following may be getting info. If it is somehow dispersed city wide, your best response may be sheltering in your home and sealing all air leaks or moving up wind and up hill. This is where having multiple planned routes of escape will come into play. At least four routes should be considered. Obviously north, south, east, and west if possible. If your shelter destination is north of where you are, but the wind is blowing from the south to the north, you do not want to travel with the wind and everything it is carrying. Currently, there are around 1200 possible “weaponizable” biological agents that have been described and studied. However, again, they are very costly and technically difficult to produce in quantity and disperse without being discovered or destroyed during dispersion. Explosions or heat will destroy a living biological agent, so bombs laced with biological threats really aren’t plausible. With that said, I don’t believe this will be the choice of our enemies, since again their goal is to produce immediate carnage, along with chaos to terrorize the populous. If you would like to take a look at the more possible biological agents, for your own personal knowledge, you can look it up online.

Chemical. Chemical warfare is a little closer to the end result expected by a radical organization but would still remain as a localized attack. They can have the explosions and disperse chemical agents with immediate signs and symptoms of bodily mutilation. Blister, respiratory, and nerve agents are a few that can be considered. Many of these are already in use by everyday industrial and farming communities. They roll down our railways and highways in mass quantities. Immediate affects can be death in minutes with blistering and melting of the skin. So the images potentially shown to the world could get the reaction the terrorists want right now. If you are in the immediate area of the attack and come into contact with a chemical agent you will experience the symptoms rapidly in most cases, thus rendering you unable to flee and having to seek medical attention. If you are not contaminated and can leave, the earlier mentioned escape and decontamination methods are still in play here. Up wind and up hill should be considered. Move up hill, because most chemicals are heavier than air and seek lower lying areas. The one exception is ammonia. If you are contaminated but not experiencing symptoms, disrobe and decon yourself immediately with copious amounts of water. Gallons of water will be needed. Water solely is preferred, if you do not know the agent used, as some soaps or solutions may react with the agent making the outcome worse. Being prepared, as far as personal protection equipment, is really not in the cards for most of us. These are either already gases or want-to-be gases. The only means of protection is inside of a level A hazardous materials suit. These cost around $1000 dollars each, and then you have to purchase the self-contained breathing apparatus that is a few grand. You have to be fully encapsulated with an air supply in order to be protected while inside the flume of a gas. It just isn’t feasible to “prepare” physically for this event, but you can prepare mentally with a plan. Things to be mindful of in your area are water treatment facilities that use chlorine gas, farming areas that use anhydrous ammonia. These are some readily available agents common in cities and towns. They are monitored and protected as WMDs, but where there is a will there is a way to obtain them. Again, some research into the different possible chemical agents and their possible uses and affects in the event of a terrorist act will prove valuable. Some info can be found online.

Natural Disasters

Natural disasters are the inevitable area of this discussion. These emergencies have provided examples in recent years and effect entire states and regions of the country. Being prepared properly for a natural event is very important. Self sufficiency, for a minimum of a couple of weeks, is a must. Hurricane Katrina showed us just how slow a response can be to a wide-spread natural disaster. During the footage of Katrina, you noticed all of the areas of concern come to light– looting, self proclaimed leaders taking areas hostage, infrastructure coming to a halt, escape routes nullified, food and water shortages, public servants rendered useless, entire economies destroyed, and many hazards presented to those directly affected by the disaster. Navigating through ruptured gas mains, structure fires, flooding, piles of hazardous debris, modes of transportation destroyed, and the possibility of having to hump it out on foot became a real element of my plan. You could find yourself having to make your way through areas that are experiencing accidental releases of chemical warfare agents or even biological agents, depending upon the amount of time since the initial disaster and conditions on the ground. Again, you saw hours of footage of individuals wading through flood waters with no protection. That water has hydrocarbons, feces, urine, decay of natural vegetation, and the bodies of humans and animals. It’s a collection point for everything bad, and you don’t want to be wading chest deep in it.

Storms. On a side note, personally, I can’t believe an event like this hasn’t been capitalized on. Imagine this; let’s say we have another Katrina hit the southeast, and a radical group decides to capitalize on it by detonating a couple of simple bombs in the northeast and west, during the national response to the natural disaster. I don’t know of many people who have considered this as even being a possibility. These are still all localized or regional events, contained, and manageable. The problem is when the people who aren’t prepared mentally realize they don’t have a plan and national panic sets in. Suddenly, they realize their smart phones aren’t able to bale them out. Simple, preemptive planning is the best solution. Knowing when to LEAVE and how to leave, BEFORE the storm makes landfall, is critical. Everyone, who was caught by Katrina and stranded, placed more value in possessions than they did their lives. They had plenty of fore warning, but they chose to stay and ante up with their lives and in many cases the lives of their loved ones. Be smart and know when to call it and leave.

E.M.P.s and H.E.M.P.s. These have gathered a lot of steam in the past few years. Electromagnetic Pulse and High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse are possibilities, and I would venture to say the more probable concern (but not so much the man-made variety). You have to consider that a man-made device carrying an E.M.P. has to make it past very sophisticated defense systems in order to reach altitude and detonate. The U.S. has been a little slow, from what I know, in meeting this threat, but many of the systems already in place since the Cold War are or should be capable of handling this threat before it reaches altitude. The greater threat here is the more naturally occurring E.M.P. Just within the last month or so we thinly avoided an M class solar flare from the sun. Many don’t realize that on July 23, 2012, the earth only just missed by a week being hit by a solar flare from the largest solar storm in 150 yrs. Had the wave been sent out the week prior, the earth would have been totally blacked out. All electrical components would have ceased to function. We would still be in total economic disarray. Living in the stone age would probably be a more accurate description of the conditions, had the flare met the earth. Our sun is in a very angry cycle as we speak. The possibility of an X class flare being shot towards the earth is a real concern within NASA circles. It would usher in the environment that everyone pictures, when they day dream of having to bug out. Economical and social fall out is the big ticket winner here. It is the only event that will send the entire world into survival mode. Vehicles can’t be used, so I hope you have a mule to bug out on.

Here is my argument against this method and the interesting thing to me. Millions have been spent on preparing physically for when the time comes to pack up and head out. There are clues as to what the world has been experiencing and what it will experience in the future. I am a Christian and believe in what the Bible says about the end days. In Ezekiel 39:14,15, it speaks of scenes and events that can, I believe, be contributed to nuclear aftermath– a scorched earth and bodies lying on the side of the road with signs on them to indicate they are not to be touched by anyone except the specialists being sent around to collect them. It sounds to me like radioactive placards to mark “hot” bodies. This would indicate that the global grid and GPS systems are still intact, thus eliminating the idea of an E.M.P. of any sort. This point of view will most definitely spiral into an entirely different conversation altogether, so I will end with my overall point. As I mentioned, millions are being spent to prepare physically for that day when it all melts down and you have to caravan to your shelter for the long haul. Don’t get me wrong, I completely believe in investing physically for events that could send us fleeing into the woods; in fact, part of those millions is mine. However, what about the mental preparedness? I don’t believe there is enough emphasis on this portion of the equation for the individual who doesn’t experience emergencies on a regular basis. Mental preparedness is going to go just as far, if not farther, in the survival atmosphere than the physical. As I mentioned, I work for the fire department. Those of us in the field are more or less numbed to the adrenaline rush that the everyday emergency brings. You would probably be surprised to see how many people panic in the presence of a dead body from very natural reasons just lying on the floor. The fact is most people have never experienced death outside of the funeral home. Now line the streets with mutilated human bodies from any event, sprinkle some destruction, blend some panicked screams, toss these folks in, and sit back and watch the circus. Being prepared enough mentally so you can make rational decisions in the face of adrenaline, fear, explosions, fire, screams, wreckage, carnage, possible chemical or biological, nuclear, or natural disaster is the most important of all preparations. Determine what your reaction is going to be ahead of time, and practice or “train” it in your mind. This will naturally prepare you and numb you to the images when physically presented with them.

Conclusion/The “Real Threats”

What about the more immediate situation? What if “your” bug out event occurs tomorrow in the parking lot, on the road, or in a restaurant where a thug wants what you have? What if you are left with seconds to determine if you are going to have to take another human being’s life from them? How are you truly going to react? This is obviously something you can’t truly know until faced with it, but you can know the phases an individual will possibly go through, mentally, when faced with the decision between killing or being killed. Everyone says they would have no problem killing, but I bet the truth of the matter will surprise you. I would recommend the book “On Killing” by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman. Take a look at the phases experienced during human to human conflict. His research is backed with some absolutely amazing statistics going all the way back to the Napoleonic wars. Prepare now for if and when, God forbid, you are met with the choice of life or death.

Let’s face it, we are already in a state of social and economical decline. A certain level of anarchy is already evident in our towns and cities. Seeing the threat, having a plan, and being prepared mentally to deal with the threat is what is going to save your life, not a shelter full of non-perishables. The point is any one of the above mentioned means to the end are possible, though I still wouldn’t broadcast the theory of an alien invasion or zombie apocalypse to my friends. Some are more of a possibility and some less of one. The only common thread through all of them that will save your life is being aware of them and being better prepared mentally to respond. In conclusion, a lack of awareness, education, and mental preparedness are the “real threats” to your survival.

Letter Re: Time Out

Hugh,

The author discourages Seiko watches, although I have found them to be one of the best watches I have ever purchased. It is an auto wind and needs adjusting once every several months, which is usually when it gets 10 minutes fast and I just turn it back. My Seiko 5 mechanical watch has been diving, truck driving, shooting, and taken all sorts of abuse.

I bought my first one in Sharjah UAE on my way to Iraq. It served me well through the war, from Baghdad to Djibouti, to Manila, to China and all over. Finally, it started running too fast, so I sent it off for repair in Kuwait City. The stainless case was returned buffed to mirrored finish, new glass, and a refurbished mechanism. It looked too nice to wear every day, so I bought another Seiko 5 with ceramic biezel. It has seldom left my wrist, except for the occasional cleaning with brush and toothpaste.

The prices on the Seiko mechanicals are increasing fast. What cost $200 in 2004 is now closer to $300-350. Used Seiko 5 watches are a good value, if one can find one without much use. The amount of scratches on the case should give one a idea of how much life it has left. – B.M.

News From The American Redoubt:

Kevin Miller’s program airs 5am-9am Monday- Friday in the Boise market on AM 580 KIDO. He is an extremely conservative and politically-active radio host. – KROQ/Los Angeles Wins Three Awards At Marconi Dinner. – RBS

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If you are looking to move to the American Redoubt, you might want to look at this job posting: Telecommunications Assistant (Boise, ID). – RBS

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Wyoming: One Shot hunt has had many great moments. Hmmmmm? Why doesn’t California’s governor host a similar event?

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Fatal bear attack confirmed in Wyoming

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News from Montana: Flathead, Ravalli: Despite growth, counties remain reliably Republican

Odds ‘n Sods:

Video: TSA demands to rescreen a man AFTER he he flew from Minneapolis, MN and landed safely in Denver, Colorado.. – J.C.

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NATO Chief Warns Moscow: No More Stealth Invasions. – Pat Cascio

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The Great Unraveling. – P.M.

I’m going to have to agree with some of the commenters on this opinion piece. While it may seem that society has begun to completely unravel, I tend to think it is because the leaders that we have put in place are so small minded and completely out of their depth. I truly believe that with a real leader at the helm, Americans would take pride in their country once again and the majority of these issues would dwindle. That’s not to say it would be utopia; there will always be conflict and strife, but it wouldn’t be at a crisis level.

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Think you have nothing to hide? You might be surprised how modern police lean on error-filled data like this: View Your Google Location History. – T.P.

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Comcast Threatens To Cut Off Customers Who Use Anonymous Web Browser, TOR. – T.P.

Hugh’s Quote of the Day:

“To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical.” – Thomas Jefferson

Notes for Monday – September 15, 2014

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