Notes for Tuesday – March 03, 2015

Ready Made Resources is offering two classic assortment buckets and one essential assortment bucket at no extra charge, when you purchase their Mountain House Entree Pac.

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Seed for Security has introduced two new products– their Colossal Security Pack and their Heirloom Herb Collection. The Colossal Security Pack has approximately 84,305 open-pollinated, non GMO seeds. The shipping weight is 7 lbs. and 9 ounces. Their Heirloom Herb Collection features five flavorful, healthful herbs. Both the Colossal Pack and Herb Collection are packed for long-term storage.

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Today, we present another entry for Round 57 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 then 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 30 DPMS AR-15 .223/5.56 30 Round Gray Mil Spec w/ Magpul Follower Magazines (a value of $448) 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 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. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $150 gift certificate, and
  9. 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 57 ends on March 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.

Defending The Castle, by R.T.

Numerous articles and blogs have appeared over the last couple of years, targeting the prepper community and those people associated with standing up for our God-given rights as well as those rights afforded us from within the Constitution. These articles are generally positive, and they supply the reader with a fair amount of good quality advice in regards to surviving a “grid down” situation or some other catastrophe that may come about.

Being that it is nearly impossible to know which impending event might suddenly occur with little or no notice, it is extremely difficult to plan for ALL possible scenarios. It might be a financial collapse, an EMP event, the imposition of martial law, an asteroid strike, the eruption of the Yellowstone super caldera, or something else; the list of possibilities seems endless!

In order to make the best determination as to which course of action you should take that best suits your family’s location and circumstances, you must keep your eyes on the horizon and your brain tuned into the world around you. The constant assault from the MSM (main stream media) offers little in the way of news that could potentially help a person’s family make an informed decision about HOW to prepare, WHAT to prepare for, and WHEN to prepare for what may be about to transpire. I, personally, spend a fair amount of time following the alternative news sites, reading what they have to say, filtering out what does not apply to me, and discerning the facts from the fiction. I also read numerous blogs, watch some prepper videos on “how to” projects, and then spend a little time watching and listening to the Bible prophecy experts and what they have come to understand regarding the end times.

I am a lot like most people who live in the suburban areas of a large metropolitan city. I work full time, get paid bi-weekly, and basically live paycheck to paycheck. I have been able to save some money periodically and have made preparations to survive a TEOTWAWKI event.

Based on my location and circumstances, my wife and I have made the decision to “bug in”. We do not own property out in the country. We do not have rich relatives; all of our relatives are suburban dwellers, like ourselves. At our age, bugging out to the mountains with minimal supplies and living off of the land until things improve is just not an option.

We are going to remain in our residence, fortify it as best we can, and defend it with our lives. I have undertaken numerous and various steps to survive as long as we can, but this article will describe what we have done to secure and defend our home from marauding thieves and malcontents. I’m not going to talk about food storage, medical supplies, weapons, and the like, but I will concentrate on physical interior and exterior barriers and fortifications.

My thought process in developing a protection plan was to keep us safe inside and keep the criminal element on the outside. I felt that there were five areas of concern that needed to be addressed right off the bat.

  1. Windows. First, secure all of the windows. Windows provide easy access to any residence/building and are easily penetrated to gain entry.
  2. Exterior doors. There are three personal doors leading into my house– the front door, garage door (door from garage into my house), and the back door (from garage leading to the back yard).
  3. Overhead garage door. A single car garage door is made of thin aluminum and divided into four quadrants with two sections each.
  4. Sliding glass door. Mine leads from the kitchen to the back deck.
  5. Bay window. I have a rather large living room bay window.

All of these possible access points into my home created their own special set of circumstances. So, my question was how best do I mitigate those vulnerablities?

I decided to leave the bay window and the sliding glass door towards the end of my preps, so that I could concentrate on how best to solve the other problem areas. It so happens that in my home, all of the windows have an inward recess of five inches. Also, all of the windows have Venetian blinds and are about 25 inches tall and about 32 inches wide. I went to my closest big box hardware store and purchased six 4-foot by 8-foot pieces of 3/4 inch plywood. I cut the plywood to the dimensions of the windows minus 1/8 inch. I had also purchased four right angle metal brackets, containing four screw holes on each side, for each piece of plywood. I then secured the brackets to the plywood at the very edges. I then mounted two of my “plywood windows” in my rooms downstairs– a storage room and a bathroom. I left the blinds in place, closing them completely, and then placed the plywood up tight against them, so when viewed from the outside it looks like the blinds are closed and the plywood is not visible. With four brackets and four holes in each bracket, I end up with 16 2½” screws securing the brackets to the window frame. I then caulked completely around the wood, so that no light would escape from inside into outdoor darkness, hopefully indicating to transgressors that there is no activity on the inside. All of my other “plywood windows” are cut to size, brackets installed, and can be mounted in each window within five minutes or less. They are stored in the garage so as to be easily accessible. They also each have a pair of inexpensive aluminum handles screwed onto them so that I can quickly mount them and not kill my fingers doing it. I also have a tube of caulk for each one. Some of you may question the wisdom of my already mounting two of my “windows”, as it negates any attempt at escape thru those windows in case of a fire or other emergency. Those two windows are really the LAST place we would attempt to escape, if that kind of scenario popped up anyway. We also do not ever have young children over to our home.

My next challenge was figuring out how to secure a flimsy overhead garage door. This one took some extra thought. After doing some Internet searches, I discovered that the cost of having a new garage door installed that would meet my requirements was cost prohibitive. The solution that I came up with was to reinforce the door in its current configuration. The door is supported down the middle and on both sides by 1½” aluminum channels. I decided to place some steel mesh in front of those panels and secure them with metal screws, or so I had imagined. Again, I went to my local big box hardware store and started shopping around for ideas. I ended up finding, and eventually purchasing, eight 4-foot sections of metal shelving that had a one-inch lip around three of the four sides. I initially purchased one and took it home. I performed a fit check to see if it would do the job that I had envisioned. To my good fortune, the shelf fit right into the channels on both sides with just a little bit of bending. Now I had to figure how to secure them in place so that they could not be kicked in. I decide on 1-inch “u” bolts with a washer and nut on both sides. I bought 18 “u” bolts with washers and nuts and secured them to the aluminum channel by drilling ¼” holes in the channel on both sides. The garage door now weighs twice as much as it did before, but the electric garage door motor opens it with no problem.

Next, were the considerations for exterior doors leading into the house. Fortunately for me, this older home has solid wood doors, so there was no need to purchase new ones. Taking my cue from some of the old movies depicting those castles with the big wooden gates and the cross bars, that is the route I decided to take. Again, I took a trip to the hardware store to look around and try to determine what would work best. I ended up purchasing six steel open top brackets with two bolt holes that would hold the width of your standard 2 x 4. I also bought ½-inch wide 3-inch long lag bolts so that I could screw the brackets right into the door frame on both sides to support the hardware and the 2 x 4. When installing the brackets, I positioned them mid-door, right between the door knob and the deadbolt just above. I performed this same set-up on all three doors and feel very confident they will hold up to lots of abuse prior to any failure. Of course, by then, other defensive measures will have been deployed to thwart further aggression.

I’m pretty confident in the physical actions I have taken to ensure our continued longevity here on Earth, but I am also realistic. Will anyone be able to throw a rock or brick through my windows? No! Will anyone be able to kick in my front door? No! Will anyone be able to bash their way through my garage door? No! However, determined individuals will be able to, if I do not take further defensive measures during the onslaught. Will my defenses stop bullets flying? No, but I do have other plans to enhance our defenses when bullets start to fly. What I have accomplished is giving ourselves a reasonable expectation of survival during an intermediate SHTF event that is hopefully short lived.

I hope that what I have shared with you will provide you with some food for thought or give you some ideas as to what may be applicable to your personal situation.

Guest Article: Gold – The Good, Bad, and Truly Ugly, by Gary Christenson

THE GOLD STANDARD: Although it may be unrealistically optimistic, I believe my paraphrase of a Churchill quote:

“Central Bankers will eventually do the right thing and return to a gold standard after they have exhausted all other alternatives.”

While central bankers are exhausting all other alternatives, I worry about the collateral damage to 90% of the population who are not first in line on the fiat money gravy train that benefits the financial and political elite.

Clearly, central bankers will return to a gold standard only if forced by a financial implosion, economic collapse or equivalent disaster. Hence, the powers-that-be will do whatever is necessary to conceal the sovereign debt bubble, hide the insolvency of sovereign governments, and extend and pretend regarding the value of bonds, equities, and fiat paper currencies.

THE GOOD: Gold is and has been real money for 5,000 years.

THE BAD: Gold prices will benefit from the following items. (This is a long and incomplete list.)

  • Greek bankruptcy and their inevitable exit from the Euro zone: Such an exit will confirm bad debts, weaken or destroy the banks that made the loans, and damage confidence in fiat currencies, ever-increasing debt, and sovereign debt collateral.
  • Euro, Yen, Dollar collapse: Can a major world currency collapse in value without damaging confidence in all other fiat currencies? People will have more confidence in gold and will lose confidence in fiat currencies.
  • Baltic Dry Index has hit new all-time lows. Global economic activity is weakening. Will central banks do nothing as the world economy weakens or will they continue the global QE to infinity to stimulate the global economy? Of course central banks will print currencies.
  • Price of oil has collapsed. The same arguments apply as with the Baltic Dry Index.
  • Central bank creation of currencies: QE to infinity! Maybe it will prolong the current system or perhaps a deflationary collapse will occur regardless. Would you rather own gold, or sovereign bonds backed by insolvent governments that can repay their debts only because central banks create new currency and monetize their debt?
  • Cooked statistics: Who still believes the GDP, unemployment, retail sales or real estate sales numbers in the US?
  • Ukraine conflict: Expect this growing conflict to damage European stability, increase military budgets, and substantially increase debt and financial risk.
  • Syria and the Middle East: Expect more military spending, debt, bond monetization, and currency in circulation.
  • “No boots on the ground,” except in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Europe, and South America. However, I know of no plan to invade Antarctica. Swell! And you can trust that the economies of Europe and the US are humming along nicely, employment is robust, the people are happy, banks are solvent, politicians are truthful, and this is the best of all possible worlds.

THE TRULY UGLY:

  • COMEX default or shutdown: What if the COMEX can’t deliver gold or silver and is forced to cash settle futures contracts. It could happen, perhaps soon since a huge quantity of gold has been shipped from western vaults to Asia. Paper gold is not real gold and that realization will be devastating to global confidence if the COMEX defaults on gold or silver delivery.
  • LBMA shutdown: Same as a COMEX shutdown. See above.
  • Global reset and financial collapse: We don’t want to think about the ramifications, the inevitable blame-game, false flag diversions, escalating wars and human suffering that will result from an economic collapse.
  • Global credit collapse: Most economic transactions are based on credit. A global credit collapse probably would collapse global financial and economic systems, including the delivery of food and fuel. See above. Again, the consequences will be truly ugly.

President Nixon separated gold from the dollar (temporarily) on August 15, 1971. Currency in circulation and debt have subsequently increased exponentially. The purchasing power of fiat currencies has similarly decreased. The exponential price increase is gold mirrors the devaluation of the dollar. See the graph below. I discuss this in my book, “Gold Value and Gold Prices From 1971 – 2021.”

Gold 40yr <picture here>

CONCLUSIONS:

  • The global financial system is vulnerable and dangerously fragile. If it were safe and healthy, why would Europe continue to “throw good money after bad” with more bailouts to Greece and other countries? Ask yourself if Italy, Spain, Japan and the US are materially different.
  • A vulnerable and dangerous financial system that is increasingly leveraged is a bubble in search of a pin. Accidents happen! Protect yourself and insure your assets with gold and silver.
  • The Baltic Dry Index and the price of crude oil are telling us that global demand and economic strength are faltering. Expect more central bank intervention, bond monetization, and “money printing.” If sovereign debt is a dangerous bubble now, what will it be after another year or two of massive printing and stimulus?
  • Various wars and boots on the ground: Wars are inflationary. More war creates more debt, more “money printing” and higher prices for commodities and the cost of living. The S&P, sovereign debt prices, and politician approval ratings probably will not benefit from more wars, a higher cost of living, and declining living standards. Protect yourself. Gold prices will rise.
  • Gold has been real money for 5,000 years. Dollars, Euros, Yen, and other unbacked fiat currencies have been printed to excess for decades. Bet on gold prices rising.

Originally Posted on February 24, 2015 by Gary Christenson on The Deviant Investor

News From The American Redoubt:

Doctors able to save cat severely burned in Seattle RV blast

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SurvivalBlog normally avoids “zombies”, but this one is kind of funny: Cornell researchers find safest place to hide from zombies. – H.D.

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Hindu prayer to open Idaho Senate

Idaho patriots, legislators, and assemblies,

I wanted to bring to your attention something that is planned in our state capitol and something I feel requires a strong response from you and me, as Christian patriots, to our legislators. Next Tuesday, the Senate will be opened for business with an invocation including a Hindu prayer. Idaho Senate Pro-Tem Brent Hill said “…it demonstrates our tolerance for other religions,” despite the fact that Hindus are hardly measurable in Idaho, with fewer than ½%, and the fact that it is an affront to God and Christians in Idaho. A Hindu prayer is inappropriate and does not reflect the Judeo-Christian values of the people and culture of the state of Idaho.

What happened to God’s people in the Bible when they “demonstrated tolerance for other religions?” They began adopting those religions, which was an affront to God, and His people faced judgment. This should be offensive to the conservative Christians in the state of Idaho.

The preamble to Idaho’s Constitution reads as such:

“We, the people of the State of Idaho, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings and promote our common welfare do establish this Constitution.”

Our own constitution recognizes Almighty God as the source of our freedoms and blessings. Christian men put pen to paper to ensure our Constitution became a compact to preserve Biblical principles of governance. It would be incongruent for God-fearing Christian men, when authoring Article 1, Section 4, guarantee of religious liberty, to have intended the assertion of false gods.

And since the constitution was written by God-fearing men and we are ourselves God-fearing people, we must ask ourselves, “Would God smile on us and beam with pride for our tolerance of worship to a false god within the halls of our government?” – a government being operated under a constitution with the above preamble?

I urge each of you to notify your legislators and voice your strong opposition to this, an offense to God and (hopefully) to us. If they continue with this, urge your Senator to leave the chamber during the prayer. Who does your Senator fear, God or man?

In your service, and the service of the King, – J.J.

Economics and Investing:

Billionaire Warns Of Total Collapse End Game Scenario: ‘No Way Out… Your Money Will Be Worthless’. – B.B.

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MARC FABER – World Economy Grinding to a Halt. Don’t Trade With Leverage

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Items from Mr. Econocobas:

Another Record: $4.235 Per Pound for Ground Beef

Gold Falls From 2-Week High, Eyes US Policy

Housing Bubble Redux: Subprime Auto Market Begins To Crack

Mission Accomplished: Nasdaq 5000

Odds ‘n Sods:

Our friend Tam over at the great View From The Porch blog mentioned this handy yet compact tool that should be on everyone’s EDC keyring.

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Video: How to Make Aspirin If You Are Lost in the Woods. – P.S.

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WH Plans to Develop a “Country Within a Country” of 15 Million “New Americans” . – B.B.

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The Life-Saving ‘Survival Tree’ When You Need Food, Shelter Or Medicine. – D.S.

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Deadly Bacteria Accidentally Released From Louisiana Lab. – H.L.

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“World-Leading Economist” And Advisor To Chancellor Osborne Busted For Smoking Crack. – P.M.

February In Precious Metals, by Steven Cochran of Gainesville Coins

Welcome to SurvivalBlog’s Precious Metals Month in Review, where we take a look at “the month that was” in precious metals. Each month, we cover the price action of gold and silver and examine the “what” and “why” behind those numbers.

Gold trended lower during February, after hitting multi-year highs in January, for several reasons. Physical demand from China was lower, after the habitual gold binge in January for the Lunar New Year. The Greek debt crisis tended to swing both gold and the U.S. dollar back and forth, but the warfare in Ukraine seemed to do little for gold outside of Ukraine or Russia. Perhaps the biggest driver for gold (and the dollar) is the markets’ reactions to U.S. economic news, trying to time when the Fed would begin raising interest rates. This was demonstrated on February 26, when gold jumped over 1% after Fed Chairman Janet Yellen’s testimony before Congress indicated that any hike in rates would be late in the year.

Precious Metals Market Drivers in February

Greece Vs. EU

The showdown between the new leftist government in Greece and its creditors this month dominated the news and the economy in Europe and beyond. Demands in Athens that bondholders have more of their investments taken away and refusal to abide by previously-agreed to austerity measures, led the ECB to announce that it would no longer take Greek sovereign debt as collateral for loans to commercial banks.

The Marxist-leaning finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, visited the finance ministries of other EU nations to drum up support, but the Greek government’s refusal to abide by the conditions of the 240 billion euro bailout and insistence that the final payment be turned over to them with no strings attached met with little support. The president of the European Commission told the Greeks that the EU would not stand for being blackmailed by Greece.

The situation led to bank runs in Greece, with one billion euros being pulled out of banks in two days by citizens afraid that the leftist government would make good on its threats to default and leave the EU. According to some estimates, 11 billion euros had been pulled out of Greek banks ahead of the January 25th election, with that amount accelerating as Greek citizens feared a Cyprus-style bank bail-in and seizure of deposits.

The Greek government’s stance led former U.S. Fed chairman Alan Greenspan to declare that Greece leaving the EU was just a matter of time, and leading banks put the chance of a “Grexit” from the EU at 50%. Finally, on February 20th, the Greeks capitulate and pledge to abide by the terms of the bailout in return for a four-month extension of aid. The EU agreed to let the Greek government change some things in the agreement, as long as the total government budget didn’t increase. Greek leaders immediately came under fire back home for betraying the mandate that they were elected under.

John Browne, writing at Euro Pacific Capital, says that Athen’s attitude is born from modern Greece never having to stand on its own. The receipt of 180 years of subsidies from Western Europe in an effort to counter Russia have left Greece expecting that there was no reason to be fiscally responsible.

Russia vs. NATO

Global gold prices weren’t much affected by warfare in Ukraine this month, though citizens both in Russia and Ukraine scrambled to buy physical gold before their respective currencies devalued even further. The Russian government itself is moving 55 tonnes of gold reserves to Switzerland, in case increased sanctions prohibit it from using domestically-held gold.

Of course, Russian sanctions against Ukraine are causing far more harm than western sanctions against Russia. The government in Kiev has instituted capital controls to prevent money flight as reserves dwindle, and promised financial aid from Europe has not materialized. The last funds were received back in September.

Both Russia and the West are treating the situation as a long-term event, with each side accusing the other of seeking to dominate Eurasia. In response to the perception that Putin is engaging in low-intensity asymmetric warfare with the West, the British announced the formation of a social media propaganda brigade of what critics call “Facebook warriors”.

Another incursion into NATO’s sphere of influence was China winning a contract to supply NATO member Turkey with air defense missiles. Due to the security risks involved, the rest of NATO refuses to allow the missiles to be integrated into the overall NATO defense network, which weakens the southern edge of the alliance.

U.S. Economy

Money is pouring into the U.S. stock and bond market, as America is seen as the only major economy that is recovering. However, opposition to “creative accounting” in government economic reports is growing louder. The CEO of polling company Gallup released an article calling U.S. unemployment numbers “the Big Lie”.

The global glut in crude oil reserves is causing a rise in unemployment, as the largest shale oil driller in the world scraps expansion plans and rig counts in Canada and the U.S. drop by 30% in three months.

This hasn’t stopped gas prices from rising 40 cents in two weeks, due to bottlenecks in the production line. Strikes at Shell refineries and a surge in demand for heating oil has meant fewer refineries producing gasoline.

A more worrying development is China dumping Treasuries, and TBTF banks hoarding $2 TRILLION of ultra-safe bonds instead of lending money or chasing yield.

Banksters Behaving Badly

While the Big Banks were successful last month in getting Congress to strike down a law prohibiting them from gambling with Federally-insured deposits, and no one at all has gone to jail over the financial crisis caused by that same kind of gambling in derivatives, the fines keep piling up.

Morgan Stanley is paying $2.6 billion in fines for wrongdoing in the mortgage-backed securities market that contributed to the housing collapse, and Bank of America is caught helping clients dodge taxes, but the Bad Boy of Banking Award this month goes to HSBC.

HSBC’s Swiss offices were raided by authorities investigating money laundering by the bank to help clients avoid taxes. The British-born CEO of HSBC, who is registered as a non-resident despite living in London, hid his own income in an HSBC Swiss bank account.

On top of money laundering, HSBC is also being investigated for gold manipulation in the U.S.

Perhaps all this is why HSBC has hired a British spy chief as a director, to help them avoid being caught again. Jonathan Evans was director general of MI5, before quitting last month to take the job at the “too big to jail” bank. The embattled CEO of the bank has stated that HSBC’s branches in the U.S., Mexico, and Brazil may be sold, unless profits pick up. All the billions of dollars in fines and legal fees tend to hit the bottom line, it seems.

HSBC isn’t the only Big Bank under investigation for gold manipulation. The Swiss anti-trust regulator WEKO has announced that multiple banks are being investigated for rigging the London Gold Fix, and the Justice Department is investigating ten banks for gold manipulation.

Global Deflation

The Israeli central bank cuts rates to record low in a surprise move late in February, becoming the 20th central bank to cut rates since January 1. The Telegraph, reporting on the new currency wars, says, “Central Banks have lost control of the world.

On The Retail Front

Britain’s Royal Mint is seeing a surge in sales, as Greek citizens buy gold sovereigns by the boatload while their government plays chicken with the nation’s creditors and people pull all their money out of the bank to avoid seizure of deposits. Any Greek can walk into a bank and buy British gold sovereigns over the counter.

The state legislature in Arizona passed a bill making gold and silver legal tender. The governor vetoed a previous bill, citing concern that it would reduce the taxes the state gets from precious metal sales.

Gold sales in Saudi Arabia are booming, as the new king follows tradition and bestows the “king’s bonus” of two months wages to every government employee and student to celebrate his ascension to the throne.

This report from SRSrocco shows that demand for the American Silver Eagle is still high.

Market Buzz

Even though India retook the gold import crown from China in 2014, gold is still flooding into the Middle Kingdom. Mineweb reports that Chinese gold demand is up 17% so far this year. In continued attempts to prevent Western sources from tracking their gold purchases, the Chinese are importing more foreign gold directly to the mainland, instead of through Hong Kong. Spotted on Peter Schiff’s website, this article shows that monthly Chinese gold demand is outstripping global gold mining production.

Where’s China getting all this gold? A good part of it is surging gold exports from the United States, as physical gold moves from Western ETFs into Asian vaults.

Beijing must be getting close to their secret goals for sovereign gold reserves, because they have announced a plan to link the Hong Kong and Shanghai gold exchanges, in order to wield more power over the global gold price. This ties in with Eric Sprott’s forecast that we will see the U.S. dollar lose its dominance as the world’s reserve currency and see currencies backed by gold in ten years.

The Austrian government is getting antsy over the security of their gold held in the Bank of England and have been unwinding leasing agreements in order to repatriate Austrian gold reserves from London. Speaking of European gold repatriation, here’s a nice story regarding the man who forced the Bundesbank to start repatriating Germany’s gold.

The World Gold Council reports that the world’s central banks bought 477.2 metric tons of gold in 2014, making it the second-highest year for central bank gold buying in 50 years. (Full report on global gold demand can be found here.) More and more central banks are trying to diversify away from the U.S. dollar.

Grab a cup of coffee, and read through this excellent article, called “Misconceptions About Gold (Gold is Money, sort of)” Here’s an excerpt:

“Given that gold has no yield, fiat currencies can only compete with it by offering an interest return. The steepness of the yield curve affects gold for two possible reasons: it can either steepen because loose monetary policy is pushing short term rates down, or because rising inflation expectations are pushing long term rates up – both are bullish for gold (conversely, the opposite is bearish for gold). Credit spreads are an indicator of economic confidence. If lower rated debt declines relative to higher rated debt, it indicates declining economic confidence, which is bullish for gold.”

Looking at recent mine production numbers, Mineweb wonders: “Have we hit Peak Silver?

Looking Ahead

Election turmoil in UK this spring may result in U.S. being the only “safe haven” economy in the world, driving stock prices and the dollar even higher, which will trigger interest rate hikes by the Fed to counter the “hot money”. Higher interest rates will mean higher bond yields, attracting more money.

In June, Greece should be running out of money, and the Fed will be on the cusp of raising interest rates. Extra attention, if that’s possible, will be paid to the March FOMC meeting.

We end this month with a story that shows that central bankers are so corrupt, they even steal from themselves.

- Steven Cochran is the Content Manager/Editor for Gainsville Coins

Scot’s Product Review: Nikon PROSTAFF Target EFR 3-9x 40mm Rifle Scope

If my rifles had feelings, I bet my .22’s and air rifles would feel slighted. They don’t get the expensive accessories that my centerfire ones get, the most important of which are quality optics. I usually have to pinch pennies, and I view the most important firearms in my collection to be the self-defense and hunting ones, so that’s where the money goes. The importance of self-defense does not need to be stated, while hunting puts food on the table and also serves a critical function. I don’t get to hunt as much as I would like, but when I do it is most likely going to be for things like hogs and other medium game. In my mind, these jobs are for centerfire rifles, so our 22’s usually get relegated for fun and training.

I did decide, though, that I needed to change that and get at least one of the family .22’s outfitted with a quality scope. The .22 is very useful for controlling small predators as well as taking small game. A good scope enhances one’s ability to hit, especially if their eyes are over 40 years old, and a good scope is easier to see through and more reliable than a bargain basement one.

As I cast about looking for what scope to get, there were a number of things to consider– fixed or variable power; whether or not to get one with adjustable parallax; what size objective; whether it might adapt to an air rifle, should that need ever arise; what size; if variable power, what power range; what finish; and so forth. In other words, there were lots of decisions to make, many of which affect price, which was very critical to me.

I decided that price was going to have to be the first matter to dispense with. I settled on a $200 price point and hoped to find something for less. I also knew I would prefer a matte black finish, so with those two decisions out of the way quickly, it was onto the harder stuff.

The next issue was parallax. This is going to be a simplistic explanation by someone who is not an optical engineer, so please bear with me. Scopes are basically focused at a specific distance. The problem is getting the reticle and target both in focus at the same time. If they are, there should be no error in lining the reticle up on the target. If they aren’t, there can be problems, particularly if your eye isn’t in perfect alignment with your scope. The focus adjustment found on the rear objective on most scopes doesn’t, by the way, have much to do with the focus on the target. You are instead, focusing on the reticle.

Because .22’s are used at shorter ranges than centerfire rifles, they need to have their parallax set to allow for that. Rimfires usually are adjusted to 50 yards, while centerfire scopes are generally set to 100 yards. The closer you get to the target, the more small changes mean in terms of parallax adjustment. More magnification also increases the effect. If you work with binoculars or a manual focus camera, you can check this out for yourself. Going from 15 feet to 100 feet with a powerful telephoto lens will require more spinning of the focus ring than going from 100 feet to infinity.

Since the parallax setting on a rifle scope affects the focus on the target, you will also get a clearer image of it when you use a scope set appropriately for your purpose.

If you want to use the thing on an air rifle, the problem gets even worse. Remember how short air rifle ranges are. A centerfire scope can cause considerable trouble on an air rifle, especially if the power is cranked up. You often really can’t even get a clear image of the target at 10 yards through a centerfire scope, and 10 yards and less are common ranges for air rifles.

Another thought is that we also need more accuracy for the small targets we are likely to try to take with an air rifle or rimfire. Even a small amount of parallax induced error could make more of a difference than if we get a close shot on a buck with a centerfire.

You can certainly use a scope at distances different from how it is set for parallax, but we are looking for the best results, and those occur when you use the right tool. That means looking for rimfire and air rifle scopes when you are going to mount them on such weapons.

Just as with magnification, we can get scopes with adjustable parallax (sometimes called focus) settings; since I was looking for the most versatile scope I could get, I decided that I should look for one with adjustable parallax. That narrowed the field considerably.

The power range and fixed versus variable power were the next issues. Variable power scopes are bulkier, heavier, and more complex than fixed scopes, but I decided the advantages outweighed the disadvantages. The reality of today’s market also means there are more choices for variable power scopes than fixed ones.

Magnification led to a compromise for me. I think many shooters go for more magnification than they need and certainly more than they can use in most field positions. Magnification definitely makes it easier to see stuff, but you have to hold it steady to be able to use it. More power also adds size and weight, which is not welcome on a .22. Since most of us start having problems with the shakes when we go over about four power, I decided that I wanted a scope with that as about the midpoint of the power range. That would have given me about a two to seven power scope, but I couldn’t find many in the desired price range that were also rated for air rifles, which are often harder on scopes than heavy game rifles due to the odd back and forth recoil impulses they create when fired. Scopes that can take .308 recoil sometimes lose their reticles when used on an airgun, if they aren’t built for it.

Since my first choice for power range wasn’t doable, I shifted to the three to nine power scopes, and I found more options. The one that caught my eye first and held it was the Nikon PROSTAFF Target EFR Rimfire Rifle Scope at $186.00. There were several other options, but I used Nikon cameras for many of the years I was a news photographer and was generally very happy with their gear, especially the lenses. I also have one of their 3x scopes intended for the AR-15 that I’ve been happy with and plan to review. I was especially happy to see that this scope is made in the Philippines instead of China, like so many of today’s optics. While the Chinese can make excellent products, I am bothered by their political system, so I look for other options when I make purchases.

Since I planned to review this, I requested and received a sample from Nikon. To make this part of the story short, I did decide to buy it from Nikon after using it.

The scope made a favorable impression as I unpacked it. It is well finished in a matte black, and it gives off an aura of quality. The one thing that seemed slightly chintzy were the covers for the adjustment dials. They appear to be made of a polymer, and I think metal would have been better. That said, they are very serviceable and are not as likely to bend as metal ones might, which could render them unusable.

The tube diameter is one inch, which is enough to allow for a 40mm objective to gather light and a wide range of adjustments to zero with. The objective is large for this type of scope. There were a few that matched it, but I found none that exceeded it. A larger sized objective is good in terms of gathering light, which helps as twilight grows deeper, but it does make for a bigger scope, which brings us to the only drawback I found– the size and weight. It weighs in at 15.7 ounces– just shy of a pound. It is 12.5 inches long and almost two inches in diameter at its widest point– the front objective. This is, frankly, larger than I wanted, but you have to make tradeoffs in life. To get the other things I desired, I had to give up some in this area. That said, it looks massive on the Ruger 10/22 that I put it on.

The scope has performed quite well on the range. I had no problems getting it to a 50 yard zero, which is where I usually zero .22 rifles. The adjustments were positive enough to inspire confidence, and the groups moved as they should when you made adjustments.

I usually study user reviews before making most purchases, and the adjustments seem to be one area of contention by some on Amazon. Nikon says each click moves the group ¼ inches, but that is at 50 yards rather than the more usual 100 yards for this specification. Some reviewers take exception to this and argue that the adjustments are too coarse for a “target” scope. I view this as making a mountain over a molehill. While Nikon might be making a mistake in calling this a “target” scope and should probably change to the 100 yard convention, I don’t think this scope is one that most competitive target shooters are going to buy. They need something far more expensive, and they know it. The adjustment ranges are plenty good; they’re enough for a hunter or plinker to get an excellent zero and will serve all but the most finicky quick well.

My go-to scope for comparisons and accuracy testing on rifles is a Leupold 3.5-10x 50mm adjustable objective scope that I purchased about 20 years ago during a very aggressive sale by a vendor. I have never regretted stretching to get it. They go for $550 today. I like to use it as a benchmark when I look at other scopes. The Nikon did well in comparison, considering the price difference. While I think the Leupold offered more contrast and better sharpness, the difference was a lot less than the prices would imply. The biggest area of difference was in light gathering, as one would expect, since the Leupold has a 50mm objective and the Nikon has a 40mm one. A larger objective simply lets in more light at the expense of size and weight. That said, at lower magnifications, it didn’t matter much. Our eyes can only take in so much, and until you go past about 5x the Nikon does just fine, even in comparison to a top notch Leupold.

I don’t have an optical test bench, but I did use a U.S. Air Force optical test target for comparisons and can only give the Leupold a slight edge in resolution.

The one place where I think the higher-priced scope would clearly win is durability and build quality. Just as in my photographer days, a lot of the extra money for the professional stuff went into making it harder to break. As good as this scope is, I would prefer to spend more money on a scope for a defensive arm, if I could raise it. Otherwise, I would use this and be careful.

The field of view is comparable to other scopes in this magnification range, but again Nikon uses measurements at 50 yards in the manual. Most other companies use 100 yards for field of view statistics. I was initially perplexed as I thought I was seeing more than Nikon was admitting to giving me. I also noticed that Nikon used the numbers in the manual on their website, but said they were for 100 yards, which is an error according to my measurements. Field of view matters, as it makes it easier to have situational awareness. Looking through a scope tends to concentrate our focus, which can be detrimental. Being able to see more usually helps.

I mounted the scope to the Ruger with the Weaver Multi-Slot Base System. It had been wearing a mount that only had two slots and didn’t line up with Picatinny slots, so that meant I couldn’t move the scope back and forth between rifles without futzing with the mounting. Since I test stuff, being able to move things about is helpful.

I used Warne Quick Detachable rings in the medium height. Again, the reason was to be able to move it around with a minimum of work, plus these are good, solid rings at a reasonable price.

The one thing that surprised me was how much eye relief the scope has– 3.6 inches– which is what many centerfire scopes offer. That meant mounting it further forward than I expected. I had to push it forward as far as possible. It would probably be better a little more forward, but then I would have had to go to higher mounts.

One very nice feature of the scope is that once you have zeroed it, you can lift the adjustment knobs and set them to zero. That means you can easily get back to your zero setting should you make any adjustments for range or windage. Another good feature is that the knobs are covered with caps. I have scopes that lack these covers, and I fret endlessly about how easy it is for the knob to rub against something and get changed.

Nikon rates the scope as waterproof to 1 meter for 10 minutes but advises you to keep it out of running water. It is nitrogen filled to prevent condensation and mold.

Nikon calls the reticle their Precision one. It is a fairly typical duplex with a fine dot at the center of the crosshairs. Both the heavy, outside crosshairs and the finer inner crosshairs are fairly fine. I usually, if there is a choice, get a heavy duplex, but I am normally thinking of larger targets and longer ranges than what a rimfire or airgun is likely to be used on, so this works pretty well. They give you a nice diagram on the box that tells you what each element of the reticle covers at 100 yards at 3x and 9x, which is very useful information you can use to estimate range with. I wish it had been included in the instruction manual or on their website. I normally am quick to heave out boxes to make room for more stuff in my debris field of an office, and I’m glad I spotted this before tossing the box. Speaking of the instruction manual, the fine print in it was a painful reminder of the fact that my eyes are getting old. I think they should have used larger type to spare my psyche.

Overall, there is a lot to like about this scope. The optics are impressive for the price point. It is well finished and seems solid. I think it will make a good long-term partner for my 10/22. The lifetime warranty is comforting. My other .22’s are now jealous.

– SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor, Scot Frank Erie

Recipe of the Week: Cheddar Chowder, by L.H.

It’s cold outside! So my menu-planning mind marches determinedly toward hearty and warming comfort foods. This soup fits the bill, and it’s one we’ve come to enjoy over the last 25 years as a “meatless Monday” meal. You may want to add cooked ham bits or crumbled bacon to it, but really we haven’t found that the addition of meat enhances it in any significant way. Served with some hearty garlic toast, it’s a pretty wonderful winter meal, as is.

Ingredients:

4 Tbsp. butter

1/4 c. finely chopped onion

1 cup chopped green pepper (optional; I have always omitted it, as we’re not fond of them)

1 cup sliced carrots

1 cup peeled and diced potatoes

1 (16 oz.) bag frozen peas

5 Tbsp. flour

2 (14.5 oz) cans chicken broth

3 cups (about 3/4 lb.) cheddar cheese, grated

2 cups milk

salt and pepper, to taste

chopped parsley (optional)

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in soup-pot over medium heat; cook vegetables, covered, and stirring occasionally for 20 minutes or until crisp-tender.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in flour.
  3. Return to medium heat and cook 1 minute, stirring a few times.
  4. Add chicken broth; bring to boiling, stirring constantly.
  5. Gradually stir in cheese (a handful at a time).
  6. Cook over medium heat until cheese has melted; then gradually add milk.
  7. Stir well, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  8. Bring just to boiling, but do not boil.
  9. Sprinkle with parsley, if desired.

Makes 6-8 servings.

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Do you have a favorite recipe that would be of interest to SurvivalBlogreaders? Please send it via e-mail. Thanks!

Letter Re: Tactical Preparedness

Hugh,

I would offer a short story to your readers: Some years ago a friend, who has been preparing for the fecal matter to hit the oscillator for some years, was at the house of another friend, who was his neighbor. He asked her to show him her pantry. She did this, and it contained about three days worth of food. He looked her in the eye and told her that when things really go south, “The first place I am going to go is your house, and I am going to kill you, your children, and any other threat that I find to my survival!” She understood the danger message and became a serious prepper herself!

The point here is that it behooves us all to prepare. When the trucks stop running, it WILL get gruesome fast. So, we need to keep our eye on the ball and not get hung up on too many of the little things.

Yours in Liberty from the Redoubt, – DB

Odds ‘n Sods:

Obama Threatened to Shoot Down IAF Iran Strike. – JMC

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Private police carry guns and make arrests, and their ranks are swelling. – P.M.

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Vandalism in Arizona Shut Down Internet, Cellphone, Telephone Service Across State. – J.G.

While the reports suggest vandalism, accessing the cable required the use of power equipment and significant labor. This seems like something more than a bunch of delinquents causing a ruckus. My mind tends to run towards disgruntled employee sabotage or deliberate probing for weakness. – HJL

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Loretta Lynch’s Secret Prosecutions. – P.M.

Hugh’s Quote of the Day:

“Emma felt frightened, apprehensive, yes, but also elated and excited, her feelings all tumbled and mixed together like a stew of varied ingredients tossed into the same pot. She was aware of the blood coursing through her veins, the beat of her heart, the breath in her lungs. Was aware, too, of that clenched knot that hung in the pit of her stomach. This was what it was to be alive, to be at the edge, facing survival eye to eye, knowing, KNOWING, you would win.” ― Helen Hollick, The Forever Queen