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Notes for Monday – February 08, 2016

On February 8th, 1910, the Boy Scouts of America was incorporated. For 100 years, the BSA stood as a strong bulwark of conservative, libertarian, moral values. They successfully united boys from diverse backgrounds, different religions, and different ethnicities– uniting them based upon the principles required for a boy to become an upstanding man. The BSA was attacked from all sides for their righteous stance and even persevered and won their case (Boy Scouts v. Dale, 2000) in the Supreme Court. Sadly, they have in recent years caved from within. Their desire to fill the executive board with amoral, powerful industry executives, like Randall Stephenson (CEO of AT&T) and James Turley (CEO of Ernst & Young), have brought this once great institution to its knees, conceding the high ground on moral issues. Regardless, the first edition of the Boy Scouts handbook, 1911 is one of the prepper’s classic friends.

My Eagle Scout award still holds meaning to me, but its value is not because of what the BSA now represents; it holds value because of my hard work and what the institution once represented. – HJL

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Red List, Blue List, Black List, You List

There has been a lot of conjecture in the past 40 years in patriot circles about the existence of government “round up lists”. Large-scale disaster and war planning exercises, like REX-84 (Readiness Exercise-1984) and Jade Helm 2015, have stimulated endless discourse about whether or not the government maintains a so-called “red list” and “blue list” of people that they deem to be dissidents who they might target for harassment, travel restrictions, or even detention without due process of law. Because any such lists would presumably be developed and updated under the wraps of a security classification and the Need To Know rule, this topic is understandably rife with conjecture, speculation, and even downright fabrication. So, in this essay, I will do my best to restrain my inner John Bircher and just stick to the facts. I’ll simply state the facts and add a bit of well-reasoned extrapolation, based on known technological trends.

The Real Face of FEMA

The centerpiece of all the speculation is the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). In my estimation, most of the chit chat on the Internet about “secret FEMA camps” is highly sensationalized. Civil internment is probably the lowest priority of any of FEMA’s contingency missions, and some would describe it as an almost hypothetical contingency.

Most Americans don’t realize it, but FEMA’s key mission is not disaster relief to the general public. Instead, their highest priority mission is assuring Continuity of Government (COG) following an external attack or following a widespread disaster that disrupts command, control, communications, and intelligence (C3I) assets and processes. If FEMA’s budget were ever drastically slashed, then the very last of their missions to be de-funded would be COG. In FEMA-speak, the COG part of their mission is listed under “National Continuity Programs”. They prefer to use the term Continuity of Operations (COOP), and that same term is used by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). These taskings fall under the purview of FEMA’s National Continuity Programs Directorate and are organized per the National Continuity Policy Implementation Plan (NCPIP).

The COG/COOP mission was further clarified in 2007, under the National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive (National Security Presidential Directive NSPD 51/Homeland Security Presidential Directive HSPD-20. Therein, the term COG morphed into “Enduring Constitutional Government” (ECG).

A wiki article on NSPD 51 notes: “Conservative activist Jerome Corsi and Marjorie Cohn of the National Lawyers Guild have said that [NSPD 51] is a violation of the Constitution of the United States in that the three branches of government are separate and equal, with no single branch coordinating the others.”

A 2009 document prepared for the transition of the executive branch of government to the incoming Obama administration used the following euphemistic vanilla wording to describe FEMA’s COG/COOP mission:

“FEMA provides continuity services, not only for FEMA, but also for the entire Federal government, across the Nation, for common and asymmetric threats alike. It is essential for FEMA to maintain high-performance continuity services in the form of exercises, planning, standards, training, communications, and resiliency measures.”

In the same briefing binder there are also some more concrete but still slightly obtuse descriptions of FEMA’s COG/COOP responsibilities:

The criticality of continuity programs can be traced to three foundations. First, continuity programs, led by NCP, directly reflect the first of eight National Essential Functions (NEFs), “Ensuring the continued functioning of our form of government under the Constitution….” Second, continuity programs form the foundation of the seven remaining NEFs by ensuring that the government structures are in place to govern and support the economic, defensive, and social well being of the Nation. Third, continuity programs form the foundation of the National Response Framework (NRF), ensuring government structures at each tier (local, State, and Federal) are in place under all circumstances to sustain their essential functions, deliver essential services, and accept the assistance provided under the NRF. When government departments and agencies are inoperable and their continuity programs fail, the NRF will also fail.

NCP is responsible for ensuring Federal, State, local, Tribal, and territorial governments are capable of performing their essential functions during any situations that may disrupt normal operations.

Continuity Planning

NCP develops, publishes and trains continuity capability through Federal Continuity Directives and Non-Federal Continuity Guidance circulars, planning templates, and instruction for Federal, State, and local governments.

In a subsection, there is also this description:

Mount Weather Emergency Operation Center (MWEOC):

The MWEOC, located in Berryville, Virginia, is a continuity of operations (d) relocation site for several aspects of DHS and FEMA. The facility provides operational space for FEMA and DHS Emergency Relocation Group members to perform Departmental and Agency mission essential functions.

“A Billion Here, and Billion There…”

In recent Federal budgets FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund has ballooned to around $7 billion per year, but that comes out of a more than $10 billion annual budget. So where is the other $3 billion spent? It’s spent on a whole lot of things, and many of them fall into categories like “administration, training, and interagency liaison”. Even though the big bunkers were built decades ago, still included in FEMA’s budget are many line items that relate to intelligence fusion, “national continuity”, and “continuity of operations”.

When FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate testified before the congressional Subcommittee on Disaster Preparedness about his agency’s 2015 $10.38 billion budget request, he pointed out that the FEMA is now working more closely with the DHS. Another key point that came up in the hearings was that 2015 was the first year that 25% of the agency’s budget was not formally set aside for law enforcement/terrorism prevention.

With its traditionally strong COG/COOP emphasis, FEMA long ago invested many billions of dollars to ensure continuity of the executive branch of the Federal government. The Mount Weather complex is reportedly just one of several redundant deep underground bunkers. Some of these facilities were developed by other government organizations, partly for the sake of redundancy. Although they have established deep hardened bunker facilities with accommodations for Federal legislators and some Federal judges, their main focus is directed toward sheltering the White House staff and the directors and key staff of all of the Federal law enforcement agencies. Meanwhile, the U.S. military organizations each have their own infrastructures in place for protecting both their C3I networks and safely housing their general staff and related personnel.

Because of security classifications, it is difficult to know exactly how FEMA’s budget is being spent and how much of that might be directed toward contingency plans for housing of “displaced persons”. A lot could be hidden under that guise. Essentially the only difference between building a temporary city to house natural disaster refugees and one that is built to house detainees is the presence or absence of concertina wire perimeter fences. Parenthetically, I’d be curious to know if FEMA has ever put out Requests for Quotation (RFQs) for the manufacturers of concertina wire or razor wire, as measured in miles. However, here, I’m straying into speculation. So let’s get back to the facts at hand.

The J. Edgar Days

In the late 1930s, the FBI developed lists of individuals on cardstock index cards. One of these was the Custodial Detention Index (CDI), also known as the Custodial Detention List. This list was compiled between 1939 and 1941 under the “Alien Enemy Control” program. According to one published report:

“The Custodial Detention Index was a list of suspects and potential subversives, classified as ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’; the ones classified as ‘A’ were destined to be immediately arrested and interned at the outbreak of war. Category A were leaders of Axis-related organizations, category B were members deemed ‘less dangerous’ and category C were ‘sympathizers’.”

After the United States entered World War 2 in 1941, these card file lists were put into operation. Large numbers of German, Italian, and Japanese nationals were rounded up and questioned. However, a disproportionately large number of Japanese were actually put in long-term detention—including thousands who were U.S. citizens living in coastal areas, ostensibly because the government “didn’t want to break up families.” This was a gross violation of civil rights, but given wartime exigencies it was hardly even questioned by most Americans until after the war was over.

According to research by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), the FBI’s habit of building card catalogs of people did not end with World War 2. In the 1950s they moved on to building lists of Communist agents, subversives, and their fellow travelers. After the shocking revelations about Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Claus Fuchs, and other nuclear weapons technology spies, this recordkeeping seemed well-justified.

By the late 1960s, when anti-draft protesters were a big concern for the executive branch, the FBI moved on to develop yet another list (actually a group of lists) called the Administrative Index (ADEX). This was before the FBI computerized their operations, so this was still a paper list on index cards. (It was perhaps later supplemented by Hollerith computer punched cards.) Additions to the ADEX were reportedly suspended in early 1978. But before it was discontinued and moved to their inactive files storage, the ADEX cards had merged several sublists, including the “Agitator Index” and the “Reserve Index”.

Automating The Lists

In the 1980s, following the lead of the early-adopting NSA and Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), the FBI moved into the computing age. Other than a few revelations about REX-84, very little has been revealed about any enemies lists that were developed in the 1980s and 1990s. Even REX-84 itself would have been nothing more than a obscure codename, if it were not for the much publicized Iran-Contra hearings that captivated the American public through what would have otherwise been a boring summer.

The following appears in Wikipedia’s entry on REX-84:

Transcripts from the Iran-Contra Hearings in 1987 record the following dialogue between Congressman Jack Brooks, Oliver North‘s attorney Brendan Sullivan and Senator Daniel Inouye, the Democratic Chair of the joint Senate-House Committee:

[Congressman Jack] Brooks: Colonel North, in your work at the N.S.C. were you not assigned, at one time, to work on plans for the continuity of government in the event of a major disaster?

Brendan Sullivan [North’s counsel, agitatedly]: Mr. Chairman?

[Senator Daniel] Inouye: I believe that question touches upon a highly sensitive and classified area so may I request that you not touch upon that?

Brooks: I was particularly concerned, Mr. Chairman, because I read in Miami papers, and several others, that there had been a plan developed, by that same agency, a contingency plan in the event of emergency, that would suspend the American Constitution. And I was deeply concerned about it and wondered if that was an area in which he had worked. I believe that it was and I wanted to get his confirmation.

Inouye: May I most respectfully request that that matter not be touched upon at this stage. If we wish to get into this, I’m certain arrangements can be made for an executive session.

Closely associated with REX-84 was Inslaw’s Prosecutor’s Management Information System (PROMIS) people-tracking software. For the sake of brevity, I won’t delve into that. But suffice it to say, PROMIS was fairly simplistic old technology that has been supplanted by much more sophisticated database search software.

Main Core

According to an article written for Salon magazine by Tim Shorrock in 2008, the NSA was the lead agency in developing a comprehensive personalities database called Main Core. This is the code name of a database containing personal and financial data of millions of U.S. citizens who are believed to be “threats to national security”. The Main Core data is compiled from the NSA, FBI, CIA, and other agencies. It is believed that this database (or we can safely assume its successor, under a different name) is still active and growing.

The latest conjecture is that in recent years the Main Core successor program has moved into social media sites, such as Facebook, using them as veritable vacuum cleaners that sweep up personal information. By applying some sophisticated algorithms, the Main Core apparatus determines threat levels and builds extensive “contacts webs” of familial ties and social relationships in an attempt to piece together organizational structures—both formal and informal.

Through a PRISM, Darkly

When taken in the light of the public revelations about the PRISM surveillance system that correlates private communications on the Internet, the implications of Main Core now go well beyond just “list keeping”. The presumed fusion of intelligence data that is going on has undoubtedly resulted in the creation of nested and prioritized lists of individuals to be tracked, travel-restricted, questioned, or detained, under a variety of crises.

Given the well-documented flaws in the FAA’s No Fly List, the errors that can be assumed to exist in Main Core’s successor databases could very well lead to the false arrest of hundreds or even thousands of people. Furthermore, if these databases were misused and applied to political reasons rather than legitimate counter-terrorism investigations, then it would open Pandora’s Box for tyrannical abuse.

Again, I discount the claims that there are “FEMA Camps” that have already been specially constructed to keep teeming masses behind razor wire. To the best of my knowledge, all that FEMA has done thusfar is to study and designate existing Federal military reservations as potential detention facilities. But there are almost certainly some very lengthy “round-up” lists of immigrants with ties to terrorist organizations. That in itself is perfectly justifiable, given the nature of 21st Century transnational terrorism. However, I fear that the names of tens of thousands of outspoken native born American citizens with high profiles have been listed in one or more databases as “persons of interest” by various agencies.

The fairly safe presumption of well-established Bad Boy lists that include native born American citizens troubles me, on several levels. Perhaps my biggest concern is that any such lists represent the intent of Federal officials to impose prior restraint, or worse yet their intent to flag “pre-crime” tendencies of law-abiding American citizens. This sort of segregation and prioritization forms the basis of a future “shopping list” for tyrannical bully boys, in the event of a national crisis. This crisis could be triggered by any number of events, including a natural disaster, a foreign terrorist attack, a domestic terrorist attack, an unattributable or misattributed cyber attack, a banking/equities market panic, a rigged/contested election (or a suspension of elections) leading to a constitutional crisis, et cetera.

Black List

If anyone reading this is politically active and is an outspoken champion of personal liberty, then it is probably safe to assume that you are already on some sort of list, at least a “watch list”. You might also be on a cyber black list, targeting you for disinformation/discrediting campaigns or perhaps for DDOS ping attack hacking. (It is no coincidence that DDOS ping floods are more frequently directed at politically outspoken blogs and web sites.) The key question is: what is your priority on those lists? If someone is a high priority for travel restrictions or detention, then their passport would be immediately flagged and they might not have the opportunity to leave the country via conventional means– through normal passport controls.

The recent events at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Oregon illustrated that quickly removing the leadership of any political organization through targeted arrests can render it impotent or at least mute it in the court of public opinion. Think that through: Leaderless groups with redundant secure means of communication are the wave of the future. Activist groups like the Black Panthers were the 20th Century norm. Groups like Anonymous will be the 21st Century norm. But be aware that the use of social media and non-secure communications can be used by governments to build dossiers or even indictments against political organizers. (Facebook was specifically mentioned several times in the recent Malheur indictments.) It is best to avoid social media entirely, but if you must use it, then choose your words wisely!

You List

As I have written before, it is important that all prepared families keep their passports updated. You should also have a Plan B and a Plan C. If you suspect that you are high on a priority list, then you might need a Von Trapp family (The Sound of Music) walk-out escape plan. If you live near a coastline, then making the acquaintance of a deep sea trawler operator or a blue water yachtsman might be something to put near the top of your “to do” list.

Stay Vocal

I must urge my readers to not feel buffaloed into silence. If we allow ourselves to be frightened into political inactivity and Gray Man obscurity, then the tyrannical statist opponents of liberty will have won. Silence is tacit consent.

An acquaintance of mine who recently retired from blogging is fond of saying: “Never get on the bus.” I consider that sage advice. Just consider the fact that there are as many unregistered firearms in this country as there are adult citizens. We vastly outnumber those who might someday seek to enslave us. No attempt to round up a large segment of society will be successful if enough people refuse to register their guns, they keep their guns loaded, and they have the willingness to use them. We also have to well in advance commit ourselves to living through the angst of hiding any fellow citizens who come under persecution.

Lastly, we must never lose our vigilance about the encroachment of tyrannical new laws and policies. Take a few minutes to consider the Jews in the Attic Test.

This has been a heavy topic to consider, but I felt strongly convicted that it must be raised. Our liberty depends on it! – JWR

Disclaimers: None of the foregoing is based on any of the briefings or files that I had access to, when I held my TS/SBI security clearance and access to SCI, back in the 1980s and 1990s. Everything contained in this article was compiled from published, open sources. Your mileage may vary. Just avoid any mileage on The Bus.

(Note: Permission is granted for re-posting of this entire article but only if done so in full, with proper attribution to James Wesley, Rawles and SurvivalBlog, and only if the included links are preserved.)

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Pat Cascio’s Product Review: Update on .300 Whisper Ammo, by Pat Cascio

I did two articles on Ruger firearms. One was on their Mini-14 in .300 Blackout, and the other was on the new Ruger SR-556 Take Down rifle that comes in .223/5/56. In the latter, you can swap out the barrel and convert it to fire .300 Blackout/.300 Whisper ammo, which is a neat idea.

I didn’t shoot any heavy, sub-sonic .300 Whisper ammo that Black Hills Ammunition produces, because this ammo is meant for use in guns with a suppressor on them. This isn’t the first time that Jeff Hoffman, at Black Hills Ammunition, asked me to do some testing for him on some ammo. Jeff sent me some of his .300 Whisper ammo to test in both of these rifles. Included was his heavy 220-gr OTM sub-sonic ammo, to see if it would function in either of the above guns.

The Ruger Mini-14 in .300 Blackout did actually function with the Black Hills 220-gr sub-sonic ammo Jeff sent me. However, the empty brass was just barely getting out of the chamber, and the empties only fell a few feet from the gun. Still, the Mini functioned 100% of the time for me with the heavier sub-sonic ammo. This isn’t to say that another batch of the same ammo will function with it; ammo varies from batch-to-batch, so keep this in mind!

Next up was the Ruger SR-556 Take Down, with the .300 Blackout barrel installed, again using the .300 Whisper 220-gr sub-sonic ammo provided to me by Black Hills. I adjusted the gas piston up and down from fully open to fully closed during my testing, and the heavier ammo would sometimes function with the gas piston fully opened. However, the empty brass was just barely dribbling out of the ejection port. Most of the time, the gun wouldn’t function with the sub-sonic ammo from Black Hills. The empty brass would either just stay in the chamber, or those that were pulled from the chamber wouldn’t eject, tying the gun up.

Now, keep in mind that this was very limited testing with the two guns I had on hand. I wasn’t totally surprised that the Mini-14 in .300 Blackout functioned. They allow a lot of gases to push that fixed piston back, but the gun did function. However, it may not function with another brand of sub-sonic .300 Blackout/.300 Whisper ammo. I was hoping that the SR-566 Take Down would function, but it just didn’t most of the time. Again, this is only one gun sample. Others might do better or even worse. For the most part, the SR-556 in .300 Blackout was a jam-a-matic. Of course, this was no surprise. The gun is designed to operate with the heavier .300 Blackout/.300 Whisper ammo with a suppressor installed on it. The failures were not the fault of the gun and/or the ammo. It was just a test to see if the gun/ammo combination would work.

So, if you have a Ruger Mini-14 in .300 Blackout or a Ruger SR-556 in .300 Blackout and you’ve tried to fire them with the heavier sub-sonic ammo from Black Hills Ammunition and your guns didn’t function, don’t blame the gun and the ammo. They are meant to work in suppressed rifles. If you have another brand of AR-15 that is chambered in .300 Blackout, you might want to try some of the heavier Black Hills .300 Whisper ammo to see if it will function in your rifle, without a suppressor attached. Ya’ never know.

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Recipe of the Week: Quick Chile, by Sawyer

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb ground chuck
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 green onion stems, chopped
  • 1 (4 oz) can of mushroom stems and pieces, drained
  • 1 (15.5 oz) can of (Spartan) chile beans
  • 1 (15 oz) can of (Meijer Naturals) tomato sauce
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can of (Spartan) petite diced tomatoes
  • Chopped jalapenos, chili powders, and salt and pepper, to taste (optional)

Directions:

  1. Saute diced onions, drained mushrooms, green pepper, and ground chuck in coconut oil.
  2. In a crock pot on low to medium heat, add canned beans, tomatoes, and tomato sauce.
  3. Drain grease off of sauteed meat/vegetables, and add to pot. Stir and leave on heat until you are ready to dine.
  4. You may wish to add jalapenos, chili powders, or salt and pepper to taste.

NOTE: It is recommended that this tomato-based food NOT be cooked in a cast iron cookware.

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

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Letter Re: Bug Out Boats

Hugh,

I want to address the specifics of Catamarans and their abilities. My experience exceeds most others. I grew up on powerboats, both large and small. Eventually, when it was my own money, I graduated to sail. I have owned and cruised on plastic classics, steel hull, and ferro-cement monohulls, as well as plywood/e-glass catamarans. The sailing rigs on those boats were simple modern sloop, ketch, cutter, wingsail, and lug (junk) schooner. Cockpit designs ranged from open, pilot house, center cockpit, and flush open. As a marine technician service manager, I have worked on more types of cruising boats, charter boats, sports fisherman, and mega yachts than you can shake a stick at. As a professional ships mate, I have been paid crew on both power and sail catamarans ranging in size from 32′ all the way up to 91′, including modern wave piercing power cats, safely taking tens of thousands of paying customers on various types of trips into the open ocean. These commercial charter boats were constructed of plywood/e-glass, fiberglass composite, foam/e-glass, and aluminum, with rigs of rotating wing masts, sloop, schooner, and cutter. As delivery crew, I have been on many more types of boats, commercial and private, power and sail. Over the years, I have built several successful offshore cruising catamarans.

From my own personal experience, multihulls are one of the safest platforms for ocean work. They are form stable, which is to say that by design they want to stay upright without assistance from internal or external ballast. But unlike form stable monohulls (think cargo ships and barges), when a typical cruising multihull might get inverted, which is almost exclusively the fault of the captain pushing the boat beyond the limits of the design, it still remains form stable and itself is the life raft. What most of the non-multihull sailors fail to realize is the significant amount of force it takes to invert modern cruising multihulls. Their fears are irrational and based on erroneous data. There are effectively only two ways to invert a sailing multihull: carrying too much sail for the conditions, and running at high speed in large seas which can lead to a pitchpole; both conditions are quite preventable. A multihull loaded with provisions becomes even more difficult to invert, as the lever arm force required has increased. As far as the comment about “everyone dying,” I would like to see the evidence that supports the claim. Though the author is correct about monohulls being a favorite for over a thousand years, multihulls have existed for over 3500 years, plying the oceans of the South Pacific, then and today.

The letter is also incorrect about the loading capacity of modern catamarans. They can easily carry more weight per foot of length than a monohull. Even a light weight performance catamaran can take a huge load of provisions, with the only detriment being its reduced performance in speed. The catamarans I build in the 40′ range weigh three tons dry and can easily carry three tons of provisions with minimal performance loss. Modern cruising catamarans, like those the author speaks of in charter, have even more capacity. A typical 40′ charter catamaran will weigh 10 tons empty and could easily carry 10 tons of provisions, but it would perform significantly better with five tons or less. FIVE TONS! Ten thousand pounds of food, water, and spares is quite a lot. Even though some 40′ monohulls could carry five tons or more, a typical catamaran of the same length can ALWAYS carry more than a monohull, with performance being the sacrifice. When I moved up from my 30′ full keel plastic classic cruiser to a light weight 34′ catamaran, I had to transfer all of the provisions from one to the other. The empty thirty-footer came up six inches on her waterline, while the catamaran barely sank an inch with the same load, and the loaded catamaran still out performed the empty monohull.

As for the capability and safety of catamarans on the open ocean, again the author is incorrect in his assessment of them being only suitable for coastal cruising. Using his own example of those charter catamarans in the Caribbean, how does he think those catamarans, built in South Africa and France came to berth in the Caribbean? They were not loaded on a ship, that is for sure. They were delivered over the open ocean on their own bottoms and under their own power, fresh from the factories. The delivery crews who move these boats do not have the luxury of waiting for perfect weather windows like cruisers might. They have a schedule and leave port in anything less than a hurricane. I have also delivered catamarans, both power and sail, over open oceans to their owners in the Florida Keys, and I would never hesitate to take a properly equipped catamaran into the open ocean for extended periods.

As for using a boat for bugging out or for permanent relocation, any properly designed, built, and equipped monohull or multihull can be utilized, provided the captain is competent in its operation and navigation.

For anyone who might like more visual representation. The following video links can provide some great references.

SV Delos (one of the best cruising video series on youtube): Provisioning a 53′ Amel monohull for the seven crew to cross the Indian Ocean (6-7 months): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-E8upMiLA7E

Catamaran vs Monohull series (because they are considering switching to a catamaran and are speaking with experienced ocean sailors who have circumnavigated with their catamarans):

A young couple, both experienced captains delivering their own cruising catamaran from France to Florida for commissioning, then continuing to sail offshore to northern latitudes of Nova Scotia and back to the tropics via Bermuda. First video of 12 part series: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REohRp_5X6k

Crew of three on a Leopard 39 (one of the exact catamarans used by the charter industry Captain Cather speaks of) spending 64 days non-stop at sea. The video shows the catamaran running in a storm with 65 knot winds and huge seas in the southern ocean. They hit a top boat speed of 34 knots, nearly five times the boat’s normal speed. Epic stuff that some people still think catamarans cannot do. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQ-svmgOxqw

For reference, a boat such as the Leopard 39 above doing 7 knots average per day for 64 days would get you nearly 11,000 miles away from the danger zone you are running from. And when you arrive, you will have been well fed, well rested, and ready to make a new beginning in a new land. It’s something to think about. – Budget Boater

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Economics and Investing:

22 Signs That The Global Economic Turmoil We Have Seen So Far In 2016 Is Just The Beginning – Sent in by B.B.

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Four of the Largest Wall Street Banks Hit 12-Month Lows Last Week – D.S.

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Items from Professor Preponomics:

US News

Grantham: The Stock Market Sell-Off Makes Me Nervous, But I Fear the Big Crash is Coming (Business Insider) Excerpt: “I still believe that, with the help of the Fed and its allies, the U.S. market will rally once again to become a fully-fledged bubble before it breaks.”

The Opaque Process of Collapse (The Daily Reckoning) Excerpt: “This is a tough assignment, as there are as many kinds of collapse as there are systems: fragile ones can collapse suddenly, and resilient ones can decay for years or even decades before finally imploding or withering away.”

International News

These Vancouver Homes Sold for Millions in 2011 and Have Been Vacant and Rotting Since: Here’s Why (Zero Hedge) Excerpt: “The two formerly multi-million mansions devolving to derelict status is not the only thing they share in common: a second uniting feature is what they were meant to become once they were purchased half a decade ago – a store of wealth to Chinese investors eager to park “hot money” outside of their native country, and bid up any Canadian real estate they could get their hands on. And then the investors disappeared.”

Chinese Investors Spent $8.6B to Purchase US Commercial Real Estate Assets in 2015 (Realty Today) Excerpt: “Most of China’s investments in the United States are focused on the warehouse sector, especially in 2015. However, there were purchases of other properties, like Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City and Standard Oil Building in San Francisco, California last year.”

A Badly Wounded Deutsche Bank Lashes Out at Central Bankers: Stop Easing, You are Crushing Us (Zero Hedge) Excerpt: “In other words, we have reached that fork in the road within the monetary twilight zone, where Europe’s largest bank is openly defying central bank policy and demanding an end to easy money. Alas, since tighter monetary policy assures just as much if not more pain, one can’t help but wonder just how the central banks get themselves out of this particular trap they set up for themselves.”

Deutsche Bank Must Face US Lawsuit Over $3.1B Mortgage Loss (Reuters) Excerpt: “Deutsche Bank AG must face a U.S. lawsuit seeking to hold it liable for causing $3.1 billion of investor losses by failing to properly monitor 10 trusts backed by toxic residential mortgages….”

Venezuela is On the Brink of Complete Economic Collapse (The Independent) Excerpt: “The only question now is whether Venezuela’s government or economy will completely collapse first. The key word there is ‘completely’.”

Personal Economics and Household Finance

5 Excuses Keeping You From Being Debt Free (Denver Channel) Excerpt: “Your beliefs are often what guide you, and if you’re carrying around problematic ones, you’ll have a much harder time getting debt-free. Here are five excuses that could be keeping you in the red.” Read on.

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SurvivalBlog and its editors are not paid investment counselors or advisers. Please see our Provisos page for details.

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Odds ‘n Sods:

While we are on the subject of the “lists”, here is a how-to to guarantee you are on one of the lists. Placing Yourself On A Government “Red List” – Oregon Court Documents Prove Social Media Content Used To Self-Incriminate. Sent in by RBS.

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It’s back. The Knockout Game continues in New Jersey. Make sure you are staying alert. – T.P.

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So what happens when parents make a mistake and don’t file the paperwork and the school district doesn’t send the required paperwork? U.S. homeschoolers face criminal charges for missing paperwork. Sent in by D.S.

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It’s the new Army. One of the Army’s 1st female combat engineer recruits is a deserter – W.C.

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If Russia Started a War in the Baltics, NATO Would Lose — Quickly

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Hugh’s Quote of the Day:

“Money is the barometer of a society’s virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion – when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing – when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors – when you see that men get richer by graft and pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you – when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice – you may know that your society is doomed.” – Ayn Rand

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Notes for Sunday – February 07, 2016

On this day in London, Benjamin Franklin published An Imaginary Speech in defense of American courage. The speech was intended to counter an unnamed officer’s comments to Parliament that the British need not fear the colonial rebels, because “Americans are unequal to the People of this Country [Britain] in Devotion to Women, and in courage and worse than all, they are religious.” Franklin’s response included his usual wit and acuity.

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We just noticed that one of our advertisers, Camping Survival, also has another web site http://www.hvactool.com where they sell tools to help you work on your own HVAC system. If you are willing to give them your email, you can enter their took kit givaway before 2/17/16 for a chance to win a free toolkit.

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Today, we present another entry for Round 63 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $12,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A Tactical Self-Contained 2-Series Solar Power Generator system from Always Empowered. This compact starter power system is packaged in a wheeled O.D. green EMP-shielded Pelican hard case (a $1,700 value),
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate that is good for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,195 value),
  3. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical 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,
  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 Nato QD Billet upper with a hammer forged, chrome-lined barrel and a hard case to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a 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),
  5. Gun Mag Warehouse is providing 20 Magpul PMAG 30-rd 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),
  6. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  7. The Ark Institute is donating a non-GMO, non-hybrid vegetable seed package (enough for two families of four) plus 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),
  8. A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
  9. 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, and
  10. 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. A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
  4. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
  5. A Trekker IV™ Four-Person Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $250 value),
  6. A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
  7. A pre-selected assortment of military surplus gear from CJL Enterprize (a $300 value),
  8. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site, and
  9. Safecastle is providing a package of 10 LifeStraws (a $200 value)

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A $245 gift certificate from custom knife-maker Jon Kelly Designs, of Eureka, Montana,
  3. 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,
  4. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  5. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  6. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
  7. Montie Gear is donating a Precision Rest (a $249 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 63 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.

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Survival Habits- Part 2, by Northwoods Prepper

As habits develop, processes become routine. For example, I have a process for stacking wood. There are several different ways, but I found the one I like best for my wood storage area, taking into consideration access to our house, snow drifts, and levelness of the ground. I have had cords fall over, which is not only a time loss but dangerous as well. In my area of the world, I like to set old pallets down to keep the cordwood off of the ground; otherwise, the bottom row freezes into place and is available only after a thaw or some work with a sledge hammer.

While some of these habits you can learn from a book or YouTube videos, some of them just need to be experienced. Educational materials can get you close, but they will not get you a bullseye, and this has to be clearly understood. That does not mean educational material has no value, as it is key when trying to establish new habits to ensure you do not create a bad precedent, but in combination with experience it becomes much more so. Let’s go back to the commute example we used earlier. If you are looking at a map, it can provide very clear directions. If I need to plot my way to work, the map will give me the right directions, but there is no guarantee it will give me the best directions. Even mapping programs and applications will almost always give you the most direct route. It is after the experiences that I better understand the map; instead of reading of an intersection of “Wall” and “Stowe”, I can visualize that corner and have a rough understanding of the traffic pattern there, if used regularly. It is the knowledge of the road where it moves quickly or slow.

It applies to every habit that you create for yourself. It is human nature to look for shortcuts or the easier way. If I am at somebody’s house and they have split wood or used a different log splitter or chainsaw, I’m asking them about how it works. Sometimes it’s a cursory discussion, but other times it can be educational. Looking at how others do things and their success or failure is the basic principle of education. But these events are more worthwhile when your knowledge base is stronger. It is even better when you have routine and habit to build upon, because during the discussion you can visualize the event you are discussing, which should make it more applicable to you and, if it is routine, it is more likely that you will remember the conversation when performing the routine, allowing an opening for experiment or change.

Now there are more than several books on good habits, breaking habits, et cetera. Many of these are for the business world or to lose weight or have specific objectives. Some will be applicable or at least have some positive impact. We all have what works for us, and you will have to customize what works for you, but I will share how I look at it.

  1. Understand your end goal.

    If you do not know why you are doing something, it makes it more difficult to do it well. Back to firewood, having the realization that this is being cut for firewood allows me to cut it to the right length from the beginning and save time. However, I also do not have to be overly neat as, again, it is firewood, so the primary concern is fitting into my stove to burn.

  2. Know the process chain.

    Knowing all the steps helps as well. While my goal is to ultimately cut the wood to fit into the stove, having the knowledge that I will split the wood allows me to not worry about girth when cutting for stove size (although I still have to know how much I can lift onto the splitter or will have to do by hand). When cutting and splitting, having knowledge about how you will stack your wood saves time later.

  3. Understand the dangers.

    Developing successful habits can also involve processes that are dangerous. While cutting firewood sounds fairly innocuous, it is fraught with peril. Here are some of the dangers with firewood that you should be aware of: tree toppling the wrong way or not as expected, chainsaw blade getting wedged, cords falling over, critters setting up home inside your woodpile, tripping over cut wood, splitting axe deflected, chimney fires, et cetera. This doesn’t mention muscle soreness from over exertion or blisters, splinters, bruises, and aches. Knowing the dangers helps minimize the risk, and there are many stories of those who have lost equipment, body parts, or worse while cutting firewood, so take any dangers seriously.

  4. Get going!

    This is probably the most important point. Getting started is often the hardest, but once you get going the rest starts falling into place. Revel in the fact that you have taken that first step.

  5. Start with an open mind.

    Regardless of what endeavor we are initiating, we have some preconceived idea of what comes next. Getting started is important. Realize you are going to make mistakes and probably make many changes. Be open to suggestions from yourself and others. Experiment when you can afford to in order to learn. For example, I have tried stacking wood in different ways and still do. I know what works, but I’ll try different things occasionally to see if it saves time or dries the wood better or is more secure. There will come a point where I’m satisfied with my process, but I still try other things occasionally to see if there is room for improvement.

  6. Set short goals.

    Don’t try to do everything at once. For example, our process started with installing the wood burner and making sure it was safe and usable. The next goal was getting wood. The first couple of seasons, we purchased as much if not more that we cut ourselves. The following season was establishing a pattern of cutting and splitting our own wood and setting it to age properly. Now we are still evaluating proper tools and what we need to improve our process as well as building a small outbuilding for better protection of the wood.

  7. Evaluate regularly.

    Take time to step back from the process and assess. What should I have done differently, and what can I change now to make it better and more efficient? While you may not be able to correct all your mistakes, it is still worthwhile to reflect upon them for future opportunities.

  8. Use all available resources.

    When starting something new, use all your resources, from owner’s manual to Internet. Talk to experts and friends (realizing the differences), and look at how to apply them. The ones that you find the most insightful, save and reuse after three or six months. It will have a very different meaning once you have some basic experiences.

  9. Have the right tools.

    Having the right tools is key to any job. Understanding the need in the right circumstances is also valuable. With cutting my own firewood, I’ve invested into a very nice Stihl saw (Farm Boss). In addition, I have a couple of axes and wedges (bought or given as gifts) and hand saws. I’ve had other chainsaws that are good for some work but cannot always handle everything. At this time, I am still evaluating log splitters and borrow my neighbors’ or split by hand. I am longing for a good quality log splitter.

  10. Think of alternatives methods to achieve your goal.

    So after we have committed to a wood burning stove, invested in tools and equipment, have three years of firewood to go, I ask you to look at alternatives. Of course, my goal is heat and keeping warm, not the simple joy of having a fire. So alternatives could be as simple as additional insulation. The value of improving the weather stripping of windows not only becomes an energy saving project but a true trade off in labor of moving firewood. If I can reduce the heat leakage in my house by x%, that is x% less wood that I need to move over the years. Perhaps I am close to a place where I can access corn cobs inexpensivey and use that as fuel for my furnace instead of wood? Both electric and therma-electric fans to move the heat may be valuable to increase the warmth of the house. Solar could be considered as an additional heat source as well. The point of this step is to realize that there are multiple ways to increase efficiency, and some of it may be in finding ways to minimize use.

    However, alternatives could mean finding a whole new way to heat your home. You may realize, unfortunately, that there is not enough lumber in your area to practically heat a home. There may be a more cost effective and less labor intensive process. This is why the majority of homes are heated with natural gas. It works great and is easy. While hopefully you fully vetted your options before you started, sometimes life just is unfortunate and you realize your mistake too late.

While I thoroughly enjoy the tangible knowledge of gear and gadgets or the basic how-to articles I find on SurvivalBlog, it is my belief that the mindset of individuals will be the key to getting through any grid down scenario. Book knowledge is good, but it is no substitute for real world experience. Real world experience is gained by “doing” regularly (not practice, not studying, not watching others) and routinely and having the various issues arise that you must overcome, i.e. instilling good habits. It prevents similar issues from reoccurring and increases your mental toolkit to handle the next issue. It also allows you to work on autopilot so your mind can figure out other issues while still keeping busy and handling tasks at hand. In a grid down situation, fear of the unknown may be paralyzing, but if you know instinctively through habit that now is the time to get the wood, feed the chickens, or weed the garden, it will give you a significant edge over those who are figuring these things out for the first time. In addition, habit is developed by experience over a period of time. Having a habit means you will also have a better understanding of the outcome, therefore relieving some insecurity for a very uncertain future. Good luck and start your path to good habits today.

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Letter Re: Making a “Last Run” When the SHTF – How Do They “Ring Up” Your Purchase?

Hugh,

Thank you GMJ for your great article. Having some cash at home is a great idea for when the ATM and credit/debit card readers no longer work with no power. When you make that last run to the grocery store, bring your greenbacks with you. Be prepared if their power is out.

You’ve made your organized path through the store and your cart is full. You pull up to the non-functioning conveyor belt to unload your purchase to scan. Because there’s no power it means no barcode price scanner and no credit/debit. The clerk is practically paralyzed, because they can’t scan your stuff.

I had this happen when a summer power outage left me in the dark at a major brand supermarket. I was finished with my shopping, so I went to the checkout. It appeared the company had a policy when I overheard the manager instructing the clerks. He said go ahead with a customers purchase by estimating the cost of an item. Tell them the price you guess on an item; they agree or offer their guessed/remembered price. Do this until you have a final agreement on an item. You keep a running tally, and the customer pays in cash. He said credit customers would have to wait until the power came back on.

I went to the next open clerk. I got out my smartphone and brought up the calculator app when she started estimating the prices. We finished the tally of the groceries, and I paid in cash and left. The folks with credit were left standing.

Should you find yourself in a similar situation but with the staff paralyzed, suggest the “estimate” idea. Politely ask to talk to the manager. He might think it’s a good idea. He’ll be making close to his sale price. Close is better than nothing. Plus, if there’s a crowd, he wants to keep people moving on out. It’s a little on the spot bartering.

SK

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Economics and Investing:

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A SurvivalBlog reader sends this snapshot of a message on the January 2016 statements from Chase bank.

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Walmart Sues Puerto Rico Over 91.5% Tax Rate Applicable Only To Walmart – PLC

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Items from Professor Preponomics:

US News

CBO Warns: “Trajectory’s All Wrong” on the National Debt (Washington Examiner) Excerpt: “Congressional Budget Office Director Keith Hall warned Congress on Thursday that the national debt is on an unsustainable course, and that improved economic growth alone isn’t enough to dodge a debt crisis.”

Total US Debt Breaks $19T Mark: Total Debt Rises by $8.4T in Last 8 Years and is On Pace to Hit $22T by 2020 (My Budget 360) Excerpt: “This brings up an interesting situation in the respect that we will never pay this debt off. I think people get this, right? In fact, the entire debt foundation is built merely on the servicing of debt, not the actual payoff. Yet the amount of interest we owe is now also ridiculous. In December alone we paid $86 billion in interest for one month. The pace of debt growth is unsustainable….”

North Dakota’s Economy Has Been “Completely Devastated” by Oil’s Collapse (Zero Hedge) Excerpt: “And there’s no respite in the cards. Storage is overflowing, OPEC is splintered as Saudi Arabia remains generally belligerent on the idea of production cuts and Iran is reluctant to start talking about curtailing supply just as the country is attempting to ramp production back up after years spent languishing under international sanctions.” Warning: Commentary following the article may contain bad language and/or inappropriate avatar images.

International News

Debts, Defaults, and Devaluations: Why this Market Crash is Like Nothing We’ve Seen Before (The Telegraph) Excerpt: “They tell you should start your presentations with a joke, but making jokes at a commodities seminar is hardly appropriate these days,” Thygesen told his nervous audience.” CNBC also reports… Citi: World Economy Seems Trapped in “Death Spiral” Excerpt: “Stronger U.S. dollar, weaker oil/commodity prices, weaker world trade/petrodollar liquidity, weaker EM (and global growth)… and repeat.”

Dollar Tumbles as Fed Rescues China in the Nick of Time(The Telegraph) Excerpt: “The US dollar has suffered one of the sharpest drops in 20 years as the Federal Reserve signals a retreat from monetary tightening, igniting a powerful rally for commodities and easing a ferocious squeeze on dollar debtors in China and emerging markets.”

SocGen Claims China is Only Months Away from Burning Through its Currency Reserves (Market Watch) Excerpt: “China is burning through its foreign-currency reserves at such a blistering pace that the country will run down its cushion in a few months, forcing the government to wave the white flag and float the yuan….”

Personal Economics and Household Finance

7 Things Debt Free People Never Do (Clark Howard) Excerpt: “Debt-free people might have carried debt in the past or might have witnessed the havoc that carrying a large amount of debt has had on other peoples’ lives, vowing never to be in the same position. But the great thing is, when it comes to your money, no matter where you start, you get to decide where you go from here!”

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