Notes for Friday – May 22, 2015

Homestead Drying Racks is having a Memorial Day sale featuring a 15% discount and shipping at no extra charge for the weekend. The Gundersons recently purchased this business from another long time SurvivalBlog advertiser, and they are doing a stand up job. Enter the code memorial15 at checkout to get your savings.

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Today, we present another entry for Round 58 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The $12,000+ 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 hard case 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 than one 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 Warehouse is providing 20 Magpul pmags 30rd Magazines (a value of $300) 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 pre-selected assortment of military surplus gear from CJL Enterprize (a $300 value),
  7. A Model 120 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $340 value),
  8. A $300 gift certificate from Freeze Dry Guy,
  9. A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo,
  10. 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,
  11. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $300 gift certificate, and
  12. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

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 Institute is 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. A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials,
  6. Twenty Five books, of the winners choice, of any books published by PrepperPress.com (a $270 value),
  7. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $150 gift certificate, and
  8. RepackBox is 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. APEX Gun Parts is donating a $250 purchase credit,
  7. Montie Gear is donating a Y-Shot Slingshot and a Locking Rifle Rack (a $379 value), and
  8. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).

Round 58 ends on May 31st, 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.

Orange Coffee Nut Firestarters, by Missouri Maven

One of the favorite things I create over the course of spring, summer, and fall are my Orange Coffee Nut Firestarters for my wood stove. I think my recipe came about because my grandparents instilled their Great Depression mindset of “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” into me at an early age. The stories they told me, of using things up until they were used as fuel to survive winter on the prairies of South Dakota, are ones I still tell my grandchildren today.

With all their gadgets and technology, it is a little hard for children to understand how their great-great grandparents could make do without the benefits of central heat, computers, and technology, much less electricity, indoor plumbing, and cell phones. They were flabbergasted when I told them I didn’t have television in my house until the man walked on the moon in 1969.

A few of my relatives thought I was a little nutty when I first began to save all these bits and pieces. Now my grandchildren love helping me create my Orange Coffee Nut firestarters.

Even though our Missouri winters aren’t as long or as cold as those my grandparents survived, they are cold. I need to be able to start my woodstove quickly each morning to keep propane costs down and to keep my indoor plumbing from freezing if the power goes out. They work great on the hard red oak, walnut, hickory, and ash wood I use as fuel. My eleven year old grandson timed one for me recently and was really impressed that even the smaller ones lasted twenty-two minutes.

Ingredients

The ingredients and quantities of items vary from season to season, but for the most part I reuse, use up, and make do with what I have. Some of the items used include:

  • Paper grocery bags, cut in six- to eight-inch wide shapes. Squares, circles, and polygons work great. If I let my grandkids color on the bags first, they burn even better and look great in their bucket. My grandkids love to help draw the shapes and cut them out, too. My favorite bags are the grocery store ones with handles on them. I carefully tear off the handles; they make great wicks or can be used for other things.
  • Used coffee grounds and filters. I use a small 4-cup coffee maker to satisfy my daily need for a caffein fix. I save both the grounds and the filters. Each morning the coffee filters make a great transportation device to move the four tablespoons of the prior morning’s coffee grounds to my dehydrator. Once I get it over to the tray, I flatten it out and spread out the coffee grounds into a layer about ¼ inch thick.

    I have a round dehydrator that holds four days of filters/coffee grounds quite nicely on each tray, and to keep the air circulating I usually keep the lid off. With my coffee, orange, grapefruit, and lemon consumption in the winter and my garden dehydrating in the summer and fall, I am usually running my dehydrator once a week or every ten days, so they don’t get moldy or attract fruit flies. Once everything is dried out, the coffee goes back into two old 2-lb. coffee cans that I saved when two pounds was really 32 ounces. The coffee filters are crumpled up and then flattened out and put into a clear shoebox.

  • Citrus peels. As my visitors or I eat oranges or grapefruit or drink lemonade, I save the peels. Rather than throw the peels in the trash, I cut the peels with the pith attached into strips, and I place the peels onto my dehydrator racks. Some peels I use fresh for making a vinegar cleaning solution. Some peels I de-pith, dehydrate, and then powder in my blender to turn into seasonings or body scrubs.

    Some I just cut or tear into small pieces for firestarter use. Either way I don’t like to put too many of these peels in my compost pile, and one can only use so much lemon pepper, citrus oil cleaner, or make so many orange or grapefruit powder body products. Once they are dehydrated, the citrus peels are sorted by type and put in mason jars. When I add a few handfuls of citrus peels into my firestarter mixture, the citrus oils burn hot, and they smell great.

  • Cardboard egg cartons and shredded paper. When I made small firestarters, I used the egg carton cups but usually I like to make my larger ones now. They take a little longer and need more of the coffee grounds, but I find they don’t make such a mess on my hearth when I use them. I also don’t need as much wax for keeping them together. I usually tear the soft paper into little bits and pieces and toss them into my dehydrated coffee grounds can and give it a stir.
  • Natural fiber dryer lint, if you have a clothes dryer. I hang all my clothes and don’t own a dryer, but if you do be sure to save some dryer lint to stir into your mixture. Of course, you want fibers that will burn rather than just melt (like plastic/nylon melt); collecting lint from cotton towels, denim, and socks or from wool, linen, and silk items is what you want.
  • Hazel nut, almond, pecan, or walnut shells. I have a granddaughter who is allergic to nuts, so we do have to be careful where and when we crack them. I have personally never met a nut I didn’t like, and I buy them in the shell when I can. The woody nature of their shells makes them a good filler and they have residual oils in them. I save the shells for my firestarters in empty mason jars too, and when a quart jar is full I know it is past time to make a batch of firestarters.
  • Cottonballs. My eldest granddaughter is fifteen and thinks this is a hoot. I don’t paint my nails as often as I used to, but when my granddaughter comes over she knows we will save hers and the two I use daily to apply my witch hazel toner. I pull the fibers apart while the acetone or witch hazel is still wet, and then I flatten them out to dry. When they are dry I save them in the box with the used coffee filters and use them as wicks in the firestarters or toss them right into the mixture if it seems heavy on the coffee grounds. It becomes binder fuel of some sort.
  • Scraps of canning paraffin, candles, or scented wax melt scraps, bacon or sausage grease, corn syrup, or old cooking oil. These all can be used as a binder fuel. I don’t keep corn syrup in the house unless I am making divinity, and I don’t have an ethanol plant nearby but I hear that it burns well. I know it is sticky enough that it would work as a binder too. I personally don’t use my bacon or sausage grease. I really like to make biscuits and gravy on a regular basis and would hate to run short. I usually just save and use my old cooking oil, candle scraps, and used up scented wax melts.

    I have found that because I use coffee grounds, nut shells, and broken up citrus peels in my paper packets I don’t have to use as much binder. Scented wax melts lose their smell after a while, and I usually stir the quarter cup or so of the de-scented melts into the used coffee grounds can while it is still liquid. I keep candle and canning paraffin scraps in my used coffee filter box too. I keep my used cooking oil in the fridge but don’t deep fry a lot, so it never goes rancid. I probably use 1 to 1 ½ cups of binder fuel overall per batch.

  • Twine or yarn. I like to crochet and always seem to have a few small balls or bits of odd-colored wool or cotton yarn in my basket. I also save bits of string or garden twine I have left over and keep these in my used coffee filter box. I like them to be at least eight inches long.

In the dehydrator

In the dehydrator

As a single person, I find myself making a batch of these firestarters every month or month and a half or so. Sometimes my two coffee cans and jar of nut shells fill up faster than others. I will sometimes mix the nut shells and paper filler into the dehydrated coffee grounds can as I go and and give it a quick stir when I get a little extra de-scented wax. This happens more in the winter time, as I always have a dish melting on the woodstove to scent the air.

Directions

Assembly area

Assembly area

There is no hard and fast recipe, but I usually have a little more coffee grounds than other filler. Either way, when my coffee cans are getting full of my dry mixture, the nut shell jars are full, and the coffee grounds may have to start making their way onto the compost pile or to the base of the azaela or rose bushes, I start my manufacturing process.

I put the contents of one 2-lb coffee can (with its coffee grounds, nut shells, descented wax, and paper cellulose mixture) on the stove in my deep, heavy pot and turn it on low to medium-low heat. I stir it a few times with my heavy wooden spoon as it is warming up and keep an eye on it. It shouldn’t ever be smoking hot, and I never leave the kitchen when I am cooking up a batch. As an aside, I have found over the years that if my smoke detector goes off or I need to open a window in January, I really should have turned down the burner before that happened.

If I can hold my hand about two inches over the mixture and only count to ten, it is just about right to begin adding and melting the wax scraps without scorching everything else. I do dice it up and slowly add more wax scraps and melt them it into the mixture. I also add in some of my used cooking oil to moisten it up, if it seems a little dry to me after I run out of wax scraps. I wait until the wax is melted and most of the oil is soaked in until I add the dried citrus peels.

You can tell the mixture of the oil/wax and other stuff is right when it is shiny but not sloppy wet and all the wax chunks are melted. To test for doneness and consistency, I take a heaping teaspoonful, turn it upside down on a plate, and press it down firmly. When the mixture cools down a little, still it holds its shape, the nut shells and citrus peels stay in place, and not too many coffee grounds fall off when I jiggle the plate, it is ready to go into my paper cups.

My regular-sized muffin tins work great to make these. Between stirs and waiting to get the filler/binder mixture warmed up and wax chunks melted in, I put two of the used coffee filters or one of the cut paper shapes into each of the muffin tin cups.

The thinner coffee filters conform to the shape of the muffin tin cups easier than the paper bags do, but my four cup ones are shorter than the eigbt cup ones and make shorter wicks. If you wet the paper bag shapes first, crumple them up, and wring out the water, they conform to the inside of the muffin tin cups and will dry into the shape of the tin. They have to dry a little longer than the coffee filter ones but are stronger and hold together better. If you use the ones your grandkids colored on, be sure to put the colored side facing out towards the metal of the cup, so the paper can absorb the moisture, wax, and oils.

Coffee can is full, time to make firestarters

Coffee can is full, time to make firestarters

I put a spoonfuls of the heated filler mixture into each paper lined muffin tin cup and pat it down with the back of the spoon. The coffee filter ones are a little shorter so I stop short. However, on the paper ones, I usually fill them up flat with the top of the metal cup. I push a stretched out cotton ball into the mixture with a chopstick or wooden spoon handle and let an inch or two stick up from the of the pressed down mixture. I let them cool and harden up for an hour or more.

Using what is available

Using what is available

When they are cool, I twist up the tops, and using a double thickness of yarn or a multiple wrapping of twine I make little bundles. If I do the twisting while the paper is still wet and don’t fill them too full, sometimes I don’t even have to tie them off.

The paper left at the top makes a great wick. If I haven’t flattened out the top while I was stacking them, I will usually fan out the paper above the twisted tie and light the starter in a few spots. The wax/oil binder that soaked into the paper engulfs the entire starter faster and ignites the oils remaining in the citrus peels and coffee grounds. If I had to use a firestriker instead of my favorite wooden matches, some finely shredded paper, bark, wood shavings, or more cotton balls could be added to the cup formed by the top twist to help catch the sparks.

One of the finished starts (2 coffee filters)

One of the finished starts (2 coffee filters)

My 2-gallon, galvanized pail holds about two dozen fire starters, if the tops are flattened down and tucked over the starter. My minimal efforts keep that bucket by the wood stove full all year round and through the winter. We even have a few left over for bonfires, camping trips, and to share with the neighbors. The extras I make during late spring and summer are stored in clear plastic shoeboxes in the pantry.

A side benefit I have discovered after I began to use these starters is that I don’t have to split quite as much kindling each year to get the bigger pieces burning into coals. The more coals I get, the bigger pieces of wood I can burn faster and the less often I have to feed the fire. My house stays warm and cozy, and I have even more time to share the stories my grandparents told me with my grandchildren.

Letter Re: An Introduction to Gangs – Part 1, by T.N.

HJL,

In an introduction to gangs he blames gangs primarily on “lawyers, politicians, and judges who defend and promote these groups as well as the culture and media, which have helped them recruit and excused their behavior as “cultural differences”. However, the real blame should be placed squarely on the unconstitutional war on drugs. Without the war on drugs, and the black market profits it creates, these gangs would quickly wither away to almost nothing, just like the the ones based on alcohol were withering away after prohibition of alcohol was ended till we foolishly replaced one source of profit with another. – M.A.

HJL Responds: Actually, you are both right. The root cause of most of society’s ills is the same root cause that has destroyed hundreds of advanced civilizations throughout history. The destruction of the bonds that hold our society together, from the family, to the extended family (or clan) to the city or villiage (or tribe) and finally even at the national level. Once these bonds are effectively sabotaged, the civilization begins to unravel. Crime increases, hostility and resentment explode towards authority, authority becomes overbearing, and corruption abounds. The end result is usually either anarchy or dictatorship. Occasionally you get both. The bonds are destroyed by corrupt judges, lawyers and politicians, media that promotes those lifestyles as “adventerous” and “romantic”, and also by bad laws at every level of government.

Economics and Investing:

Banks fined over $5 billion for criminal activity, did you get any of it?

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New University Of Texas President Rejects ‘Vulgar’ Salary Slurped Up By His Counterparts At Other Colleges. – PLC

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Items from Mr. Econocobas:

For Many American States, It’s Like the Recession Never Ended

Bubble Blowing to Continue So Long as Yellen Isn’t Raising Rates

5 Bubbles that Draghi’s QE Is Already Blowing

The Gloves Come Off: Moody’s Warns Of Greek “Deposit Freeze” As Schauble “Won’t Rule Out Default”

Odds ‘n Sods:

From the desk of Mike Williamson, SurvivalBlog’s Editor At Large: You too can have a degree in Twitter. And the department head is currently on vacation with the “Fashion marketing” students in Europe. They will grow no food, build no structures, improve no productivity, but they will expect to be taken seriously when civilization collapses.

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California Mandate Gives Parental Control to the State and Big Pharma. – William Lehr

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Dad-of-two gunned down with sawn-off shotgun by vandals cheats death when pellets hit his iPhone. – JBG

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University approves ‘history’ class that doesn’t mention both World Wars – T.P.

“The new introductory ‘history’ course leaves out, among other things, the Progressive Era, World War I, women’s suffrage, the Great Depression, FDR, the New Deal, World War II, McCarthyism, the Cold War, the Korean War, the nuclear arms race, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the JFK assassination, Freedom Summer, the United Farm Workers Union, the Vietnam War, Stonewall, Watergate, Second Wave Feminism, the Iranian hostage crisis, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Gulf War, globalization, the 9/11 attacks, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

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Bird flu outbreak (mostly) spares backyard chickens – USA Today. – T.P.

Notes for Thursday – May 21, 2015

Today is the birthday of weapons designer John Douglas Pedersen, (born 1881, died 1951).

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Today, we present another entry for Round 58 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The $12,000+ 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 hard case 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 than one 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 Warehouse is providing 20 Magpul pmags 30rd Magazines (a value of $300) 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 pre-selected assortment of military surplus gear from CJL Enterprize (a $300 value),
  7. A Model 120 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $340 value),
  8. A $300 gift certificate from Freeze Dry Guy,
  9. A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo,
  10. 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,
  11. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $300 gift certificate, and
  12. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

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 Institute is 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. A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials,
  6. Twenty Five books, of the winners choice, of any books published by PrepperPress.com (a $270 value),
  7. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $150 gift certificate, and
  8. RepackBox is 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. APEX Gun Parts is donating a $250 purchase credit,
  7. Montie Gear is donating a Y-Shot Slingshot and a Locking Rifle Rack (a $379 value), and
  8. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).

Round 58 ends on May 31st, 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.

An Introduction to Gangs – Part 3, by T.N.

WHITE SUPREMECY AND SKINHEAD GROUPS:

There are far more groups in this category than I could ever hope to name, but they are usually easy to spot. Unfortunately, they are actually very commonly found in prepper circles and in the survivalist communities. Most white supremacy groups and skinhead groups are far more concerned with their political cause and less with committing acts of violence. This being said many of them have committed isolated acts of violence at some time or another, and many times conduct regular criminal enterprises that include making/selling meth and buying or selling illegal guns.

Most violence from these groups comes from the skinhead gangs that act much like any other street gang but with a “whites only” policy. Skinheads often shave their heads, have tattoos of swastikas and lightning bolts, and the hard core will wear an outfit of suspenders, boots, and work pants. They will generally have their boot laces laced in a straight bar pattern, not crossed. The laces will usually either be white or red. (Red signifies having killed for the cause.) Other white supremacy groups have very different modes of dress, but tattoos of swastikas, lightning bolts, Vikings, and the phrase “white power” or “white pride” are very common.

In a SHTF situation, you need to be aware of these groups. For the most part, this is the moment they have been waiting for and are likely to be amongst the most prepared. So long as you don’t get tangled up in their political ambitions then, you have very little to worry about. However, if they use a SHTF situation to try to start a race war or to harm innocent people, you must judge for yourself what you will do. As for me, I will protect the innocent around me, when I can. In doing business with these groups, they are generally easy to deal with; however, it is best to avoid these groups if possible, both out of a sense of safety and moral obligation.

SURENOS AND OTHER HISPANIC GANGS:

With an estimated 50,000 members nationwide, the Surenos are arguably the largest Hispanic gang in the U.S., especially on the west coast. The Surenos started in Los Angeles in the 1940’s and for decades were isolated to Southern California by a conflict with rival gangs known as Nortenos. An artificial line was drawn at Fresno, California; however, the Surenos have won that conflict and are now being found in nearly all 50 states and in large numbers in most major cities in the western half of the United States.

Like the Crips and Bloods, Surenos are more a loose coalition of street gangs with a common culture and way of acting. In California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and many parts of the west coast, they are all loyal to and take orders from the Mexican Mafia. In places where the Mexican Mafia has not seized control, the Surenos are usually taking orders from the Mexican Drug Cartels.

Surenos can be identified easily by their mode of dress and hair styles. Most Surenos will normally wear baggy clothes and have their head shaved or the hair slicked back. They like classic cars and usually lower them forming a style called a “low rider”. This being said, these things are also fairly common throughout the Hispanic community, so the best way to identify a Sureno is the tattoos. Surenos will almost always have a tattoo of their last name, neighborhood, or set somewhere on their body. They also commonly have the words SUR, SUR13, 13, X3, XIII, or tattoos of clowns, and a tattoo of three dots above two lines. They commonly place tattoos on the back of their heads, across their shoulders, or on the front of their chest.

Nortenos are often similar to Surenos in appearance and organization; however, the two never get along and are violent rivals. They can be identified by similar tattoos, but they use the number 14 in place of 13 and will often tattoo the word NORTE or north side on them.

Mara Salvatrucha a.k.a. MS-13 is a huge international gang known for brutal violence and the use of machetes to kill their victims. This group is commonly found in all 50 states and will often ally itself with Surenos in areas where Surenos are present.

Latin Kings are a Hispanic gang found more commonly on the east coast and is usually identified by gold and black clothing.

Mexican Drug Cartels are in my opinion the greatest threat the citizens of this country face, especially for those who live near the border. The threat from this group is not isolated to the border. The cartels have smuggling routes all the way through all 50 states, and they use their hit men and soldiers to protect these routes and enforce their will all across America.

South of the border there is a major war going on, a war that has left more people dead than the Korean War and in a shorter amount of time. As the cartels fight each other and fight the Mexican military, there are mass graves with hundreds of civilians in them found on both sides of the border every month.

The cartels have total control over entire regions of Mexico to the point that the Mexican police and military can not even patrol. It is so bad that entire units of the Mexican army have defected and gone over to work for the cartels. (Loz Zetas were the Mexican equivalent of the US Army Rangers until they defected en mass to work for the cartels as hit squads and enforcers.) On our side of the border, there are Americans being murdered for simply being on their own property when the cartel enforcers bring a shipment through the area.

The cartel members can at times be hard to identify, as they tend to blend into illegal immigrant communities and can look like anyone. There are, however, a few things that can help. Many cartel soldiers will have tattoos, such as Hecho en Mexico (which means “made in Mexico”) or the name of their cartel or the Mexican state they come from. Other common identifiers are the Santo del muerte. (This is the saint of death that looks like the virgin of Guadalupe but has a skeleton instead of a woman.) They also have a hair style of a nearly shaved head except for a small tail at the back of the head. Cartel members also have the tendency to dress very nicely and have very nice cars that can stick out in a community of illegal aliens.

The threat from the cartels should not be underestimated. Many of their soldiers have military training as well as access to all varieties of weapons to include RPG’s and anti-air missiles. Their soldiers can be found throughout all 50 states but are most common in the border states and near large farm labor communities.

The cartels have arranged deals with nearly all street gangs (especially Surenos and the Mexican Mafia) to smuggle and distribute drugs throughout the country and as such their influence is unlimited.

If you believe you come into contact with a cartel-backed group, it is best to stay away. If you live in an area where the cartel operates regularly, I truly recommend you arm yourself and organize your neighbors for assistance, because the Federal government has utterly failed to protect you.

The Mexican Mafia is a very small but extremely powerful prison gang that started in the California prison system during the 1960’s. It eventually became so powerful and feared that they were able to take control of nearly all sets of Surenos in Southern California, and as such they now extend their control from prison out to the streets of several states and collect taxes from drug sales at the street level.

The Mexican Mafia a.k.a La EME technically only has thirteen full members, known as “La Mesa”, but they employ a network of hundreds of associates to enforce their will onto the mass population of Surenos in prison, who in turn carry their orders out onto the streets.

La EME has arranged massive drug distribution agreements with the cartels, pumps tons of drugs across the border, and distributes them through their vast network of Sureno street gangs. This, however, is but a glimpse of their power. They are known to have successfully bribed many judges and politicians in California and have even successfully gotten several members elected to the state legislature of California and are even rumored to have gotten a member appointed to a cabinet level position within the Bush Whitehouse. (I stress that that is not proven, even though law enforcement did find documentation confirming it; I saw it myself, as I was one of the officers who found it during a search.)

It is highly unlikely you will ever encounter a member or even an associate of La EME, unless you work or are incarcerated in a California prison, but be aware of the name and know the power they have.

IN CLOSING

If you happen to live in an area with a large gang population anywhere nearby, even if it’s a few hours away, I strongly advise you to move or bug out ASAP when SHTF. If you can not do this, then you need to include massively increased security into your preparation planning.

I do not recommend you conduct any business dealings with any of these groups after a collapse occurs, as they are all dangerous; however if you do some research you may learn enough about the habits of several of these groups to be able to safely live and operate near them. Many of these groups are found in various places and yet others travel and can appear anywhere, so it would do you some good to go online and research as much as you can about these groups and any others that may be located in your area. There are many small towns and remote areas that claim they have no gang problems, but from what I have seen that is a lie. In some way or another gangs exist everywhere in America.

This article was intended as a basic overview and a beginning point for knowledge of gangs. It is inherently an incomplete work, and you should study the subject further.

Letter Re: Reverse Mortgages

Hugh,

According to the CFPB at this link, interest is charged like a credit card, based on last month’s balance. The lesson here is to read your loan documents. It doesn’t matter what you are told, it only matters what is in the documents that you sign.

“Each month, interest and mortgage insurance charges are calculated based on the current loan balance. These charges are added to your loan balance. The amount you pay in interest and mortgage insurance compounds the same way a balance on a credit card does. The loan balance used to calculate interest and mortgage insurance charges each month includes prior months’ interest and mortgage insurance charges. As your loan balance grows, the amount of the interest and mortgage insurance charged that month also grows.”

- J.M.

Economics and Investing:

An Insane Financial World

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No, JP Morgan Is Not Buying Silver Eagles. Ted Butler claiming that JP Morgan is the big Buyer of Silver Eagles and Maples takes the credit away from the public who are the real buyers.

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China has overtaken Mexico as the source of the largest number of immigrants to the U.S. – the Far East is the new Southwest.

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OPEC Struggling To Keep Up The Pace In Oil Price War

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It’s Time To Hold More Cash and Buy Gold

Odds ‘n Sods:

Common Core Lesson Plan Pushes Pro-Palestinian Agenda. – H.L.

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This is what is wrong with the typical American Church, The Apostles would be appalled. – R.G.

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More “children’s picture books” better utilized on the floor of your hen-house.. – T.P.

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“If Not Us, Then Who?” In Ukraine, Volunteers Collect Soldiers’ Bodies. – T.P.

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Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee agree that EMP is a threat to America. – G.P.

Hugh’s Quote of the Day:

“Be a man!… What good is religion if it collapses under calamity? Think of what earthquakes and floods, wars and volcanoes, have done before to men! Did you think that God had exempted [us]? He is not an insurance agent.” ― H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds

Notes for Wednesday – May 20, 2015

May 20th, 1942 was the birthday of Carlos Hathcock, who was a United States Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant sniper with a service record of 93 confirmed kills. He died February 23, 1999.

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Today, we present another entry for Round 58 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The $12,000+ 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 hard case 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 than one 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 Warehouse is providing 20 Magpul pmags 30rd Magazines (a value of $300) 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 pre-selected assortment of military surplus gear from CJL Enterprize (a $300 value),
  7. A Model 120 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $340 value),
  8. A $300 gift certificate from Freeze Dry Guy,
  9. A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo,
  10. 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,
  11. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $300 gift certificate, and
  12. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

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 Institute is 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. A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials,
  6. Twenty Five books, of the winners choice, of any books published by PrepperPress.com (a $270 value),
  7. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $150 gift certificate, and
  8. RepackBox is 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. APEX Gun Parts is donating a $250 purchase credit,
  7. Montie Gear is donating a Y-Shot Slingshot and a Locking Rifle Rack (a $379 value), and
  8. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).

Round 58 ends on May 31st, 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.

An Introduction to Gangs – Part 2, by T.N.

Specific Gangs, Their Behavior, and How To Identify Them

The examples given in this section are by no means the only gangs to be concerned with; they are just a few examples of some gangs you may see.

Crips:

The Crips are a notorious gang that originated in Los Angeles California back in the 1960’s but have spread to every state in the nation with an estimated 35,000 members in 2007, according to FBI statistics. (This figure is based on the number who have been arrested and is likely a very low estimate.) They are predominantly an African-American ethnic gang; however, this does not hold true in all cases and regions of the U.S., as there are some sets that accept members from other races. Crips utilize the cell or set first structure, which means they are not very organized across the country and for the most part share little more than a common name and culture.

Crips share a lifestyle, which all Crips try to emulate. They refer to this life as Crippin’. It means you have no regard for life, others around you, and live only for your own fulfillment and to make money. Crips are notoriously ruthless and uncaring in their crimes, willing to kill young children and innocent bystanders with no remorse. In the lifestyle of Crippin’, one dresses in a flamboyant way. always “flagging” the color blue and wearing loose-fitting, expensive clothing; they speak using primarily slang terms and must always be ready to fight and kill any rival they see.

Crips often have entire neighborhoods (especially in the inner city suburbs of Los Angeles) where if you walk down the street wearing the wrong clothes or drive the wrong car, you will be shot and killed instantly, simply because you are not a Crip. Different sets control different neighborhoods and often fight over territory. However, they all fight together against common rivals, such as Bloods and Surenos, and they are united while in prison.

Crips’ primary criminal activity is selling drugs in the inner city; however, they often times branch out into activities like prostitution and murder for hire. Nationwide Crips are often willing to undertake any illegal activity, so long as it looks cool and makes money. They have little to no moral guidelines and promote a culture of sexual depravity and violence.

In addition to drugs, another major income source for the Crips is the Hip-Hop music industry. Many famous rappers have been members of the Crips, and even after they have had success and escaped the inner city they usually remain strictly loyal to their set and will use their lawfully-gained money to finance illegal activities. They have also formed many record studios and dance clubs as fronts for illegal activities. Another more recent occurrence is several prominent sports stars who are members, using their fame and money to promote and recruit for the Crips as well as hiring gang members as bodyguards.

In recent years, it has become more difficult to identify a Crip, because the fashion in America has taken to emulating their loose-fitting, expensive clothes and the wearing of gaudy jewelry. The slang used by the Crips has also become very popular, and many non-gang member teenagers have been using the slang terms once used to identify Crips. One surefire way to identify a Crip, however, is the flagging of the color blue (usually in the form of a blue handkerchief in the back pocket), or the tattoo’s.

Common tattoos are the words Crip, BloodKiller, BK, Crippin’, CripLoc, and anything identifying the neighborhood or set they are from. They also will commonly have tattoos of hands throwing up gang signs. There are many other common tattoos Crips use, but these are the ones that are only found on Crips and should not be on someone who just emulates the pop culture.

Also a common practice amongst Crips, especially from the Los Angeles area, is to avoid using the letter B. They associate this with the rival gang The Bloods. They will call each other Cuz’ rather than Brother or Bro’. They will also refer to birthdays as C-Day. You might hear one say “hey Cuz’ happy C-Day.” This practice becomes less common in other parts of the country. Also, Crips will always replace their name with a nickname or moniker like CRAZY, D-LOC, or KILLA DOGG, but this practice is actually very common among most street gangs around the country.

Crips are very prone to violence, and the sets with larger drug trafficking abilities usually stay very well armed. It is not uncommon for Crip sets to have access to fully automatic weapons, such as Uzi’s or AK-47’s smuggled in from overseas. Another very disturbing trend in the recent years is for the Crips to encourage young members with clean records to go into the US Military. This has caused a significant change in the way some of the more powerful sets operate, as the members return from service with new training to pass on to the gang. Military service members have also been caught in recent years stealing grenades and military weapons and smuggling them to their gang back home.

In a SHTF situation when the threat of law enforcement is diminished or gone totally, the Crips are likely to try to expand their influence and territory. At first this will most likely be a series of very violent and bloody clashes between sets for control of entire cities. However, in due time, more powerful sets will likely absorb smaller sets, creating little warlord fiefdoms inside urban areas. Due to strict gun control laws in most major U.S. cities that have large Crip populations’ (coincidence?) non-involved citizens will likely be pillaged and victimized at will. In areas where the citizenry is armed and the populations of Crip members remains low, the gang members themselves will likely either remain quiet or will be killed off by citizens defending themselves. However, if looting occurs in these areas you can expect the Crips to join in.

In our current society, it is best to simply avoid Crips. This is easy to do simply by avoiding the neighborhoods they inhabit, and when you encounter them at the mall or movie theater simply stay alert, but mind your own business. So long as you do not involve yourself in unlawful activity or delve deeply into the Hip-Hop culture, you are likely not to have a problem.

After an EVENT when SHTF, this may not be an option. The best thing you can do, if you live in an area with a high gang population within a two hours drive, is to leave. Otherwise, be prepared to defend yourself, your family, and your property from a horde of roaming thugs in blue. They will likely be well armed and, with the military training they have been slowly receiving, they will be very dangerous, even if they tend not to be well organized. If the opportunity arrives for you to attempt peaceful trade, I would recommend against this course of action. Obviously situations may dictate it by necessity, and you must also remember that there are people who have dropped out or severed all ties to this gang yet still are left with the tattoos. Use your best judgment.

Bloods:

The Bloods are in many respects very similar to the Crips and as such I will only cover the things that are different.

Bloods flag the color red and will usually have tattoos such as Blood, Piru, CripKilla, CK, Blood family, and other tattoos associated with their set or neighborhood. Bloods are very partial to wearing red jackets and jerseys of sports teams, like the San Francisco 49ers or Kansas City Chiefs. Although the Crips will recruit members from all racial groups, the Bloods have a much higher level of diversity. There are entire large sets made up entirely of Pacific Islander groups, such as Micronesians or Tongans, as well as being very popular amongst Vietnamese immigrants.

1% Outlaw Biker Gangs:

There are many different biker gangs in the U.S., so I will give a general overview of them and talk about a few of the more notorious groups.

Most motorcycle clubs are peaceful and law abiding people. In fact, the name 1% comes from a magazine article that says “99% of motorcycle riders are good law-abiding people, and we are the other 1%”.

1% Outlaw Biker gangs or “clubs” often wear an easy to identify jacket or vest with three patches on the back identifying the club name, chapter location, and a symbol. They also commonly wear a patch reading 1%.

Commonly, biker gangs will operate out of a clubhouse for each chapter and have a chapter in different towns within their territory. They usually have a mixture of legal and illegal activities, which will usually include making and selling of meth as well as being guns for hire. Not all members of a biker gang are criminals either. What differentiates a 1% biker gang from a lawful club is that they allow and promote the criminal activity, not that it is always required for membership.

Biker gangs use a very strict para-military structure in which members have different ranks and different duties; however, one thing unique to a biker gang is that many of them operate on a democratic base with rules of conduct. They often times operate more like a corporation than they do a criminal gang.

Biker gangs usually have standards of behavior that are very different than mainstream society. They strongly promote sexual depravity and violence, but they have rules of conduct, which must not be violated.

If you come into contact with these groups, it is best to be alert and leave them alone. Because of their strong rules of conduct, they will usually conduct themselves fairly in a business situation, but don’t try to take advantage of them, as they can turn violent. If they are not in a peaceful frame of mind, be cautious as they can be ruthless.

Due to the differences of rules and patch designs from club to club, I encourage you to go online and research the clubs to find out which ones operate near you. Below is a list of some of the more prominent 1% clubs around the nation for you to research. They are pretty up front with who they are and post pictures of their emblems and locations on the Internet.

  • Hell’S Angels (likely the biggest and most powerful. Operates MANY legal businesses and conducts most of its business above board. They are, however, well known for murder and like using both bombs and a ball peed hammer.)
  • Brother Speed (common in the northwest U.S. It’s not very powerful but well organized in its local areas.)
  • Mongols (found mainly in the southwest. They are mostly known for drug trafficking, but in a war with the Hell’s Angels they committed several bombings and murders.)
  • Hessians
  • Vagos
  • Pagans
  • Outlaws
  • Bandidos
  • Gypsie Jokers

Letter Re: Communications In Dark Times, by J.B.

Hugh,

Independent communication is really important. First thing you observe when you go to an ARRL local meeting is the intelligent, charitable, genuine nature of the people involved. Second, the information that the Technician License test preparation material contains is laterally applicable to other prepping activities if you want a deeper understanding of what is around you and what you have to accomplish. An example is the information about direct current (DC) electricity used in radios and generated by solar power systems. Alternatively, learning about repeaters and their positions and coverage make you very aware of your surroundings. You also learn how crummy the electric motors around you actual are. Spurious RF is everywhere! – RV