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The Next War In The Middle East Has Begun And Israel Vows ‘To Act Powerfully On All Fronts’

Israeli Tank - Israel Defense ForcesIsrael and Hezbollah are at war.  On top of everything else that is going on in the world, now we have a new war in the Middle East, and nobody is quite certain what is going to happen next.  Israel has been preparing for this moment for more than 8 years.  So has Hezbollah.  According to some reports, Hezbollah has amassed an arsenal of 50,000 rockets since the end of the Hezbollah-Israel war in 2006.  If all-out warfare does erupt, we could potentially see tens of thousands of missiles rain down into an area not too much larger than the state of New Jersey.  And of course the Israeli military is also much more sophisticated and much more powerful than it was back in 2006.  If cooler heads do not prevail, we could be on the verge of witnessing a very bloody war.  But right now nobody seems to be in the mood to back down.  Hezbollah is absolutely fuming over an airstrike earlier this month that killed six fighters and a prominent Iranian general.  And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that Israel is “prepared to act powerfully on all fronts” in response to a Hezbollah ambush that killed two Israeli soldiers and wounded seven.  Just such an incident is what sparked the war between the two sides back in 2006.  But this time, a conflict between Israel and Hezbollah could spark a full-blown regional war.

Earlier this month, Israel launched a surprise assault against a group of Hezbollah fighters that Israel believed was planning to conduct terror attacks inside their borders.

But in addition to killing six Hezbollah fighters, a very important Iranian general was also killed.  Needless to say, Iran is furious

Iran has told the United States that Israel should expect consequences for an attack on the Syrian-controlled Golan Heights that killed an Iranian general, a senior official said on Tuesday.

Revolutionary Guards General Mohammad Ali Allahdadi died alongside six fighters from Lebanon’s Hezbollah group in the January 18 attack on forces supporting President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s civil war.

And we didn’t have to wait too long for a response.  An IDF convoy was hit by anti-tank missiles near the Lebanon border.  Two Israeli soldiers were killed and seven were wounded.  The following is how the Jerusalem Post described the attack.

The terrorists launched five or six anti-tank missiles from a distance of at least four kilometers from their targets, striking the vehicles as they drove two kilometers from the international border.

In the heavy Hezbollah ambush, a military D-Max vehicle containing a company commander and his driver from the Givati Brigade was the first vehicle hit.

This prompted all of those inside an IDF jeep behind it to quickly evacuate their vehicle before it, too, was hit and destroyed with missiles.

Just over an hour after that attack, mortar rounds struck an Israeli military position on Mt. Hermon.

In response to those strikes, the Israeli military hit back at Hezbollah positions on the other side of the Lebanese border…

Israel struck back with combined aerial and ground strikes on Hezbollah operational positions along the border, the military said.

At least 50 artillery shells were fired at the villages of Majidiyeh, Abbasiyeh and Kfar Chouba, according to Lebanese officials.

But Israel is probably not done.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is promising a “disproportionate” response to the Hezbollah attacks, and he says that Hezbollah should consider what Israel recently did to Hamas before taking any more aggressive action…

“To all those trying to challenge us on the northern border, I suggest looking at what happened here, not far from the city of Sderot, in the Gaza strip.  Hamas absorbed the hardest blow since it was founded last summer, and the IDF is ready to act with force on any front.”

If things continue to escalate, we might not just be talking about another Hezbollah-Israel war.

In the south, tensions between Israel and Hamas remain near all-time highs.  In the event of a full-blown war, Hamas probably could be easily convinced to join the fray.  And if Hamas jumps in, the rest of the Palestinians might not be far behind.

In addition, ISIS now has territory near the border with Israel

Because of the strategic importance of the terrain, Iran and Hezbollah have been building infrastructure there for some time.  But their interest in the Golan skyrocketed in December.

The reason: ISIS gained a foothold there when the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade of the Free Syrian Army “defected” from the de facto alliance with the U.S.-Arab coalition against Assad, and declared its allegiance to ISIS.  The Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade had been one of the most active rebel factions holding territory directly adjacent to the “area of separation” between Syria and Israel administered (in theory) by the UN.  In particular, it has held the southern line of confrontation with Syrian regime forces, in the transit corridor leading to the Quneitra border crossing.

Needless to say, ISIS would be extremely interested in any conflict with Israel.

And of course there are all of the other surrounding Islamic nations that are not too fond of Israel either.

The truth is that the Middle East is a perpetual tinderbox.  One spark could set the entire region on fire.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama continues to do all that he can to undermine Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The animosity between the two is well known, and now an “Obama army” of political operatives has been sent to Israel to help defeat Netanyahu in the upcoming elections.

The “leader” of this “Obama army” is Jeremy Bird, who was the national field director for Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign.  But he has plenty of company.  Just check out the following list that was compiled by WND

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Besides Bird, the 270 Strategies team includes the following former Obama staffers:

  • Mitch Steward, a 270 Strategies founding partner who helped the Obama campaign build what the U.K. Guardian called “a historic ground operation that will provide the model for political campaigns in America and around the world for years to come.”
  • Mark Beatty, a founding partner who served as deputy battleground states director for the Obama campaign. He had primary responsibility for Obama’s election plans for the battleground states.
  • Marlon Marshall, a founding partner at 270 Strategies who joins the team after holding several key positions in national Democratic politics, most recently as deputy national field director for the 2012 Obama campaign.
  • Betsy Hoover, a founding partner who served as director of digital organizing on the Obama campaign.
  • Meg Ansara, who served as national regional director for Obama for America where she was responsible for overseeing the 2012 programs in the Midwest and southern states.
  • Bridget Halligan, who served as the engagement program manager on the digital team of the 2012 Obama campaign.
  • Kate Catherall, who served as Florida deputy field director for Obama’s re-election campaign.
  • Alex Lofton, who most recently served as the GOTV director of Cleveland, Ohio, for the 2012 Obama campaign.
  • Martha Patzer, the firm’s vice president who served as deputy email director at Obama for America.
  • Jesse Boateng, who served as the Florida voter registration director for Obama’s re-election campaign.
  • Ashley Bryant, who served most recently as the Ohio digital director for the 2012 Obama campaign.
  • Max Clermont, who formerly served as a regional field director in Florida for Obama’s re-election campaign.
  • Max Wood, who served as a deputy data director in Florida for the 2012 Obama campaign.

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As the first month of 2015 wraps up, our world is becoming increasingly unstable.

In addition to the oil crash, the collapse of the euro, looming stock market troubles, civil war in Ukraine, tensions with Russia, an economic slowdown in China and imploding economies all over South America, now we have more war in the Middle East.

And if lots of missiles start flying back and forth between Israel and Hezbollah, it could potentially spark the bloodiest war in that region that any of us have ever seen.

So what do you think about the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah?  Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…

27 Facts That Show How The Middle Class Has Fared Under 6 Years Of Barack Obama

27 Facts That Show How The Middle Class Has Fared Under Barack ObamaDuring his State of the Union speech on Tuesday evening, Barack Obama is going to promise to make life better for middle class families.  Of course he has also promised to do this during all of his other State of the Union addresses, but apparently he still believes that there are people out there that are buying what he is selling.  Each January, he gets up there and tells us how the economy is “turning around” and to believe that much brighter days are right around the corner.  And yet things just continue to get even worse for the middle class.  The numbers that you are about to see will not be included in Obama’s State of the Union speech.  They don’t fit the “narrative” that Obama is trying to sell to the American people.  But all of these statistics are accurate.  They paint a picture of a middle class that is dying.  Yes, the decline of the U.S. middle class is a phenomenon that has been playing out for decades.  But without a doubt, our troubles have accelerated during the Obama years.  When it comes to economics, he is completely and utterly clueless, and the policies that he has implemented are eating away at the foundations of our economy like a cancer.  The following are 27 facts that show how the middle class has fared under 6 years of Barack Obama…

#1 American families in the middle 20 percent of the income scale now earn less money than they did on the day when Barack Obama first entered the White House.

#2 American families in the middle 20 percent of the income scale have a lower net worth than they did on the day when Barack Obama first entered the White House.

#3 According to a Washington Post article published just a few days ago, more than 50 percent of the children in U.S. public schools now come from low income homes.  This is the first time that this has happened in at least 50 years.

#4 According to a Census Bureau report that was recently released, 65 percent of all children in the United States are living in a home that receives some form of aid from the federal government.

#5 In 2008, the total number of business closures exceeded the total number of businesses being created for the first time ever, and that has continued to happen every single year since then.

#6 In 2008, 53 percent of all Americans considered themselves to be “middle class”.  But by 2014, only 44 percent of all Americans still considered themselves to be “middle class”.

#7 In 2008, 25 percent of all Americans in the 18 to 29-year-old age bracket considered themselves to be “lower class”.  But in 2014, an astounding 49 percent of all Americans in that age range considered themselves to be “lower class”.

#8 Traditionally, owning a home has been one of the key indicators that you belong to the middle class.  So what does the fact that the rate of homeownership in America has been falling for seven years in a row say about the Obama years?

#9 According to a survey that was conducted last year, 52 percent of all Americans cannot even afford the house that they are living in right now.

#10 After accounting for inflation, median household income in the United States is 8 percent lower than it was when the last recession started in 2007.

#11 According to one recent survey, 62 percent of all Americans are currently living paycheck to paycheck.

#12 At this point, one out of every three adults in the United States has an unpaid debt that is “in collections“.

#13 When Barack Obama first set foot in the Oval Office, 60.6 percent of all working age Americans had a job.  Today, that number is sitting at only 59.2 percent…

Employment Population Ratio 2015

#14 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the average duration of unemployment in the United States has risen from 19.8 weeks to 32.8 weeks.

#15 It is hard to believe, but an astounding 53 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year.

#16 At the end of Barack Obama’s first year in office, our yearly trade deficit with China was 226 billion dollars.  Last year, it was more than 314 billion dollars.

#17 When Barack Obama was first elected, the U.S. debt to GDP ratio was under 70 percent.  Today, it is over 101 percent.

#18 The U.S. national debt is on pace to approximately double during the eight years of the Obama administration.  In other words, under Barack Obama the U.S. government will accumulate about as much debt as it did under all of the other presidents in U.S. history combined.

#19 According to the New York Times, the “typical American household” is now worth 36 percent less than it was worth a decade ago.

#20 The poverty rate in the United States has been at 15 percent or above for 3 consecutive years.  This is the first time that has happened since 1965.

#21 From 2009 through 2013, the U.S. government spent a whopping 3.7 trillion dollars on welfare programs.

#22 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the number of Americans on food stamps has gone from 32 million to 46 million.

#23 Ten years ago, the number of women in the U.S. that had full-time jobs outnumbered the number of women in the U.S. on food stamps by more than a 2 to 1 margin.  But now the number of women in the U.S. on food stamps actually exceeds the number of women that have full-time jobs.

#24 One recent survey discovered that about 22 percent of all Americans have had to turn to a church food panty for assistance.

#25 An astounding 45 percent of all African-American children in the United States live in areas of “concentrated poverty”.

#26 40.9 percent of all children in the United States that are living with only one parent are living in poverty.

#27 According to a report that was released late last year by the National Center on Family Homelessness, the number of homeless children in the United States has reached a new all-time record high of 2.5 million.

Unfortunately, this is just the beginning.

The incredibly foolish decisions that have been made by Obama, Congress and the Federal Reserve have brought us right to the precipice of another major financial crisis and another crippling economic downturn.

So as bad as the numbers that I just shared with you above are, the truth is that they are nothing compared to what is coming.

We are heading into the greatest economic crisis that any of us have ever seen, and it is going to shock the world.

I hope that you are getting ready.

89 Tips That Will Help You Prepare For The Coming Economic Depression

89 Tips That Will Help You Prepare For The Coming Economic DepressionWhat do we need to do in order to prepare for the coming economic collapse?  Are there practical steps that we can take right now that will help us and our families survive the economic depression that is approaching?  As the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog, I get asked these kinds of questions a lot.  Once people become convinced that an economic collapse is coming, they want to know what they should do.  And so in this article I am going to share some key pieces of advice from some of the top experts in the entire country.  If you are not convinced that economic disaster is on the way, this article might not be for you.  Instead, I would encourage you to go to my website where you will find more than 1,200 articles that set out the case for the coming economic collapse in excruciating detail.  For those of you that are interested in getting prepared, I apologize in advance for the outline format of this article.  To examine each of these points in detail would take an entire book.  In fact, I am the co-author of a book that will soon be published that discusses many of these things in great depth.  But you don’t have to wait for a book to get prepared.  Mostly, it comes down to common sense.  In this article, I share 89 common sense tips that will help you get prepared for the coming economic depression.  Hopefully a lot of people will find these to be very helpful.

This first set of tips are 11 things that I strongly encourage my readers to do…

#1 Have An Emergency Fund – This is so important that I wrote an entire article about this recently.

#2 Don’t Put All Of Your Eggs Into One Basket – In addition to having an emergency fund, you will also want to have gold, silver and other hard assets.  It is also a very good idea to keep a limited amount of cash at home in case you can’t access an ATM during a major emergency of some sort.

#3 Reduce Your Expenses And Get Out Of Debt – During a time of crisis you want to be as “lean and mean” as possible.  If you simplify your life and reduce your debt load now, you will be in much better shape when the next economic depression does arrive.

#4 Move Your Money Away From Unsafe Investments – When the financial world falls apart, you don’t want your finances to be exposed.  Markets tend to go down much faster than they go up, and during the next great financial crisis millions of Americans that have their life savings in stocks and bonds are going to get totally wiped out.

#5 Store Food And Supplies – Your dollars will never stretch farther than they do right now.  You probably will not need emergency food and supplies in the short-term, but the truth is that none of us ever knows when a major emergency will strike.  During 2014, my wife and I felt more of an urgency to stock up then ever before, and I hope that people are using this brief period of relative stability to do what they can to get prepared.

#6 Learn To Grow Your Own Food – Anything that you can do to become more independent of the system is a good thing.  This includes growing your own food.  And the truth is that some of the most expensive items in the grocery store these days are fresh fruits and vegetables.

#7 Defending Yourself And Your Family – As our world become increasingly unstable, people are going to become a lot more desperate.  And desperate people do desperate things.  You are going to need to have a plan for that.

#8 Move Away From The Big Cities If Possible – For a lot of people that are dependent on their current jobs, this is simply not possible right now.  But if it is possible for you, this is something that I strongly recommend that you think about.  Being stuck in the middle of a major city is not going to be a good place to be in the years ahead.

#9 Be Ready To Bug Out – There may come a time when you are forced to evacuate from your current location.  This may happen with very short notice.  If this ever does happen to you, the key will be to be prepared for it.

#10 Build A Community – Your neighbors and close friends can be an invaluable resource.  A cord of multiple threads is not easily broken, and if you have people that you can depend upon during a crisis that can make a world of difference.

#11 Have A Back-Up Plan And Be Flexible – Mike Tyson once aptly observed that everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. The years ahead are going to require a great deal of flexibility, and you may find that the plans that you have made need to be altered.  So don’t get fixated on just one approach.

When there is a major emergency, some of the most simple items suddenly become some of the most important.

The following are 11 items that I recommend that every household have on hand…

– an axe

– a can opener

– flashlights

– battery-powered radio

– extra batteries

– lighters or matches

– fire extinguisher

– blankets

– sewing kit

– duct tape

– tools

And here are about a dozen more key items that should be on your list from Survival Mom

  • Lightsticks.  You can pick up one of these every time you wander into a Home Depot.  They don’t need batteries and can be hung around the neck with a string making it easier to spot everyone in your party when it gets dark. An alternative is the UVPaqlite, which never needs batteries.
  • Wool socks and sweaters.  People have literally frozen to death wearing their layers of cotton knit tees and hoodies.  For true survival conditions, nothing beats wool.
  • Upholstery needles and thread.  What if a sleeping bag or tent rips and you have no way of mending it?
  • Roll of quarters.  Handy for phone calls, although payphones aren’t as common as they used to be, and laundromats, but if you put it in a sock and wield it like a sling, you have a handy-dandy weapon! If the quarters are pre-1965 and 90% silver, you have a whole new type of currency.
  • Pencils.  Forget the pens.  They can run out of ink and freeze in cold weather.  With a pocket knife, you’ll always have a sharp pencil.
  • Super glue.  Professional hockey players always have this on hand to seal up small cuts, and the glue itself is harmless.  Unless you get it in your eye, like I did.  But that’s a story for a different type of post!
  • Rubber bands.  String just doesn’t cut it when what you really need is a rubber band
  • Tampons in a cardboard tube.  Did you know a tampon can be fit snugly into a bullet wound?  Guys on the battlefield carry these with them.  Just be aware that the blood in the wound will begin to clot.  Leave it to a medical professional to remove the tampon from the wound.  They’re also good for kindling.
  • Paracord belt.  It’s an accessory and survival tool in one!
  • Waterproof wrist watch.  Makes perfect sense.  I had just never thought of it.
  • Animal repellant trash bags.  Use these when you’re camping and animals will stay the heck away from your trash.
  • Safety pins.
  • Dental floss.  Besides helping to keep your teeth clean, it makes sturdy thread for mending.

But don’t just get focused on acquiring things.

Some of the most important elements of preparation involve things that we need to do for ourselves.

Acclaimed survival expert James Wesley Rawles has put together a “personal list” of things that everyone should think about before a crisis strikes.  A lot of these things are topics that “preppers” never seem to write about…

*****

Spare glasses.

Prescription and nonprescription medications.

Birth control.

Keep dentistry up to date.

Any elective surgery that you’ve been postponing

Work off that gut.

Stay in shape.

Back strength and health—particularly important, given the heavy manual tasks required for self-sufficiency.

Educate yourself on survival topics, and practice them. For example, even if you don’t presently live at your retreat, you should plant a vegetable garden every year. It is better to learn through experience and make mistakes now, when the loss of crop is an annoyance rather than a crucial event.

“Comfort” items to help get through high stress times. (Books, games, CDs, chocolates, etc.)

*****

If you have a serious illness or disease, that is going to need to be one of your top priorities when making preparations for the coming crisis.

This next tip comes from an excellent article that Dave Hodges published recently…

If you or your family has a chronic health condition, it is critical that you have 6 months to a year in medicine. Also, you should research natural alternatives to treatment for health conditions in case you are not able to meet this goal due to the inability to obtain prescriptions. Don’t forget to obtain some pain medication and antibiotics in case of unforeseen emergencies.

Probably one of the most popular topics for preppers to write about is food storage.

But those that are new to prepping are often very confused about how to get started.

It doesn’t have to be complicated.  If you start out by focusing on staples that you eat all the time, you should be in great shape.  The following are some recommendations about food storage that Pat Henry of the Prepper Journal has shared…

  • Rice – First off, buy a 50lb. bag of rice. These contain 504 servings and I don’t know too many people who won’t eat rice. It is simple to cook and stores for years if you keep it cool and dry. This bag at Sam’s costs about $19 now.
  • Beans – Next buy a bag of dry beans. This will check off the Beans part of your Beans, Bullets and Band-Aids list. A good size bag is about $5 and makes 126 servings. Buy two if you think your family would like them.
  • Canned meat – Cans are great for fruits and vegetables and anyone can find something they will eat. For canned meat, I recommend tuna or chicken because it tastes a heck of a lot better than Spam and you can easily mix that into your rice. For the meat you will need approximately 35 cans. Each can has about 3 servings and this will be the most costly, but they last over a year usually and your family probably eats chicken or tuna on a semi-regular basis anyway so restocking this should be simple.
  • Canned Vegetables – you will need about 40 cans of vegetables and again this can be whatever your family will eat. Expect to pay around a dollar each so $40 for veggies to last your family a month.
  • Canned Fruit – again, simple fruits that your family will eat. These can even be fruit cocktail if that is the safest thing. At Costco they have the #10 cans of fruit like pears or apple slices and each of these has 25 servings. 5 of these will cost about $25 and give your family their daily dose of fruit.
  • Oatmeal – Good old-fashioned oatmeal is simple to cook and store. A normal container has 30 servings each so purchase about 4 of these and your family won’t starve for breakfast. At $2 each that is about $8 for breakfast for a month for a family of four. Could you exchange Pop-tarts? Maybe, but I find oatmeal more filling and less likely to be snacked on.
  • Honey- Honey is a miracle food really as it will never go bad if you keep it dry and cool. Honey will last you forever and Sam’s has large containers that hold 108 servings. You can use this in place of sugar to satisfy the sweet tooth. Honey even has medicinal properties and you can use this to add some flavor to your oatmeal for breakfast.
  • Salt – Same as honey, salt will never go bad if you keep it dry and helps the flavor of anything. You can buy a big box of salt for around $1 and that will last your whole family a month easily.
  • Vitamins – I recommend getting some multivitamins to augment your nutrition in the case of a disaster or emergency. Granted, rice and beans aren’t the best and you won’t be getting as many nutrients from canned fruit and vegetables so the vitamins help to fill in the gaps and keep you healthy. One big bottle costs about $8. You will need to get a kids version too if you have children small enough that they can’t or won’t swallow a big multivitamin.

And as I mentioned above, another key to getting prepared is self-defense.  If you make all the preparations in the world, but somebody comes along and steals them from you, they won’t end up doing you any good.

The following are some basic tips about home security from prepping expert Todd Sepulveda

*****

Front Door – Your front door is a layer. But it shouldn’t be your only layer. Besides reinforcing the strike plate with 2 inch screws, you should have a solid deadbolt. Another layer could be a storm door with a lock or even burglar bars. A good latch is valuable too! If you want to add even more layers, utilizing a security door bar is a good idea. But you don’t only want to make sure that your front door is securely layered. Take some time to layer all the doors in your home.

Windows – Every window has a lock. But you can add a layer by including sliding window locks for about $5. Other options would include tint or blinds, which would make it harder for someone to look inside your house.

Burglar Alarm – A burglar alarm is a serious layer. Alarms can be monitored by an alarm company or they can be self-monitored. Self-monitored systems have greatly advanced and will even allow you to view your home on your smartphone.

Dogs – A dog or dogs can be a great layer, especially if they bark. My dogs alert me the minute someone is in the front of the yard. They run and bark at the door and don’t stop until I open it. Outside dogs are a layer to your perimeter. A big dog on the other side of the fence will make any criminal think twice.

Outside Lights – Lights that are mounted on the outside of your home, especially ones that are triggered by motion sensors are a must! Roaches run when you turn on the lights! Someone who is watching your house will not want to approach it if they know the lights are going to draw attention to them.

Outside Landscaping – Bushes can be a layer around windows. It is important that you don’t create an environment that will create a hiding place for someone to lay in waiting. Make sure that the bushes you choose to plant are thorny and cause a lot of discomfort if someone wants to go through them.

Personal Defense – A firearm is a layer that you would want to have if needed. If you want to use something that is not so deadly, you can always pick up a can of ColdSteel Inferno to spray in someone’s face. Having a few of these cans hidden in different parts of the house is a good idea.

Safe Room – A safe room would be a last ditch layer. Some people are putting them into their homes. If this is a scenario you want to take, you should research the necessary components for a “safe” safe room.

Neighborhood Watch – Although a Neighborhood Watch isn’t just focused on your home, it is a layer that could cause the bad guys to go looking in a different neighborhood altogether. Neighborhoods that have a Neighborhood Watch usually post signs in the entrances of their neighborhood.

Neighbors – Even if you don’t have a Neighborhood Watch, you should get to know your neighbors, especially those pesky ones that stay in everyone’s business…because they are going to keep a lookout! You gotta take some bad with the good!

Street Lights – Sticking with your neighborhood, it would be a good idea to immediately report any street lights that are out to the city or county that manages them. Again, light causes the roaches to run for cover!

Signs – Don’t underestimate the power of a cheap sign. A sign on a fence that reads “Beware of Dog” or a Security company sign on the front lawn somewhere will cause the bad guys to think twice before attempting to break into your house.

*****

If you do need to leave your home during a crisis, you should have a “bug out bag” ready for each member of your family.

The following are 7 key items that Survival Cache recommends including in each bug out bag…

1. Water

2. Food

3. Clothing

4. Shelter

5. First Aid Kit

6. Basic Gear

7. Weapons

Finally, it is important to remember that nobody is perfect and that everyone makes mistakes.

The following are 14 common mistakes that Backdoor Survival says a lot of preppers make…

1. Failure to inventory stored food supplies

2. Failure to perform a risk analysis and prepping for the most likely disruptive events first

3. Preparing mostly to bug out rather than bugging in

4. Failure to evacuate at just the right time

5. Having the gear but not knowing how to use it

6. Underestimating other humans as a threat

7. Spending your entire budget on gear instead of on food, water, and medical supplies

8. Lacking the knowledge to properly store your food supplies

9. Buying gear and supplies while ignoring the need to develop skills

10. Relying only on yourself and ignoring like-minded members of your community

11. Just because someone else does something does not mean that you should do it to

12. Falling victim to prepper procrastination

13. Obsessing about being behind the curve-ball

14. Forgetting that there is a life beyond prepping

Are there any additions that you would make to this list of tips?

Please feel free to add to the discussion by posting a comment below…

 

Obama Declares War On ‘Extremism’ – Are You An ‘Extremist’ According To His Definition?

Prison Camp - Public DomainDo you know what an “extremist” is?  In the wake of the horrible terror attacks on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in France, Barack Obama is speaking very boldly about the need to win the war against “extremists”, and he has announced plans to host a major global summit on “extremism” next month.  And on the surface that sounds great.  But precisely how are we supposed to determine whether someone is an “extremist” or not?  What criteria should we use?  As you will see below, your definition of an “extremist” may be far, far different from the definition that Barack Obama is using.  When you do a Google search, you will find that an “extremist” is defined as “a person who holds extreme or fanatical political or religious views, especially one who resorts to or advocates extreme action.”  According to Wikipedia, “extremism” is “an ideology (particularly in politics or religion), considered to be far outside the mainstream attitudes of a society or to violate common moral standards.  Extremism can take many forms, including political, religious and economic.”  Please notice that neither of those definitions uses the word violence.  In this day and age, you can be considered an “extremist” simply based on what you believe, and as you will see later in this article there are now tens of millions of Americans that are considered to be “extremists” and “potential terrorists” according to official U.S. government documents.

When you use the word “extremist”, you may have in your mind a picture of ISIS fighters or the terrorists from the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

But for elitists such as Barack Obama, the word “extremist” has a much broader meaning.  In recent years, it has become a code word for those that do not have an “enlightened” view of the world.  If your views on politics, religion or social issues are extremely different from the liberal, progressive views of “the mainstream” (as defined by the mainstream media and by “mainstream” politicians such as Barack Obama), then they consider you to be an extremist.

Early in the presidency of George W. Bush, we were told that Islamic terrorists were the enemy.  And so most of the country got behind the idea of the War on Terrorism.  But over the years that has morphed into a War on Extremism.  In fact, the Obama administration has gone so far as to remove almost all references to Islam from government terror training materials

Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole confirmed on Wednesday that the Obama administration was pulling back all training materials used for the law enforcement and national security communities, in order to eliminate all references to Islam that some Muslim groups have claimed are offensive.

“I recently directed all components of the Department of Justice to re-evaluate their training efforts in a range of areas, from community outreach to national security,” Cole told a panel at the George Washington University law school.

Now, much of the focus in law enforcement training materials is on “domestic extremists”.  We are being told that “domestic extremism” is just as great a threat to our national security as terror groups overseas are.

But exactly who are these “domestic extremists”?

Well, the truth is that you may be one of them.

I want to share with you a list that I have shared in a couple of previous articles.  It is a list of 72 types of Americans that are considered to be “extremists” or “potential terrorists” in official U.S. government documents.  This list will really give you a good idea of what Barack Obama means when he uses the word “extremist”.  Each of these 72 items is linked, so if you would like to go see the original source document for yourself, just click on the link.  As you can see, this list potentially includes most of the country…

1. Those that talk about “individual liberties”

2. Those that advocate for states’ rights

3. Those that want “to make the world a better place”

4. “The colonists who sought to free themselves from British rule”

5. Those that are interested in “defeating the Communists”

6. Those that believe “that the interests of one’s own nation are separate from the interests of other nations or the common interest of all nations”

7. Anyone that holds a “political ideology that considers the state to be unnecessary, harmful,or undesirable”

8. Anyone that possesses an “intolerance toward other religions”

9. Those that “take action to fight against the exploitation of the environment and/or animals”

10. “Anti-Gay”

11. “Anti-Immigrant”

12. “Anti-Muslim”

13. “The Patriot Movement”

14. “Opposition to equal rights for gays and lesbians”

15. Members of the Family Research Council

16. Members of the American Family Association

17. Those that believe that Mexico, Canada and the United States “are secretly planning to merge into a European Union-like entity that will be known as the ‘North American Union’”

18. Members of the American Border Patrol/American Patrol

19. Members of the Federation for American Immigration Reform

20. Members of the Tennessee Freedom Coalition

21. Members of the Christian Action Network

22. Anyone that is “opposed to the New World Order”

23. Anyone that is engaged in “conspiracy theorizing”

24. Anyone that is opposed to Agenda 21

25. Anyone that is concerned about FEMA camps

26. Anyone that “fears impending gun control or weapons confiscations”

27. The militia movement

28. The sovereign citizen movement

29. Those that “don’t think they should have to pay taxes”

30. Anyone that “complains about bias”

31. Anyone that “believes in government conspiracies to the point of paranoia”

32. Anyone that “is frustrated with mainstream ideologies”

33. Anyone that “visits extremist websites/blogs”

34. Anyone that “establishes website/blog to display extremist views”

35. Anyone that “attends rallies for extremist causes”

36. Anyone that “exhibits extreme religious intolerance”

37. Anyone that “is personally connected with a grievance”

38. Anyone that “suddenly acquires weapons”

39. Anyone that “organizes protests inspired by extremist ideology”

40. “Militia or unorganized militia”

41. “General right-wing extremist”

42. Citizens that have “bumper stickers” that are patriotic or anti-U.N.

43. Those that refer to an “Army of God”

44. Those that are “fiercely nationalistic (as opposed to universal and international in orientation)”

45. Those that are “anti-global”

46. Those that are “suspicious of centralized federal authority”

47. Those that are “reverent of individual liberty”

48. Those that “believe in conspiracy theories”

49. Those that have “a belief that one’s personal and/or national ‘way of life’ is under attack”

50. Those that possess “a belief in the need to be prepared for an attack either by participating in paramilitary preparations and training or survivalism”

51. Those that would “impose strict religious tenets or laws on society (fundamentalists)”

52. Those that would “insert religion into the political sphere”

53. Anyone that would “seek to politicize religion”

54. Those that have “supported political movements for autonomy”

55. Anyone that is “anti-abortion”

56. Anyone that is “anti-Catholic”

57. Anyone that is “anti-nuclear”

58. “Rightwing extremists”

59. “Returning veterans”

60. Those concerned about “illegal immigration”

61. Those that “believe in the right to bear arms”

62. Anyone that is engaged in “ammunition stockpiling”

63. Anyone that exhibits “fear of Communist regimes”

64. “Anti-abortion activists”

65. Those that are against illegal immigration

66. Those that talk about “the New World Order” in a “derogatory” manner

67. Those that have a negative view of the United Nations

68. Those that are opposed “to the collection of federal income taxes”

69. Those that supported former presidential candidates Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin and Bob Barr

70. Those that display the Gadsden Flag (“Don’t Tread On Me”)

71. Those that believe in “end times” prophecies

72. Evangelical Christians

Do you fit into any of those categories?

Personally, I fit into a couple dozen of them.

That is why alarm bells should go off whenever Barack Obama speaks of the need to crack down on “extremism”.

If Barack Obama wants to denounce Islamic terror, he should do so.  But because of his extreme political correctness, he goes out of his way to avoid any connection between Islam and terror.  Instead, he speaks of the need to recognize “Islam’s role in advancing justice, progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings” and he insists that “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”

Meanwhile, our liberties and freedoms are being eroded a little bit more with each passing day.  In the name of fighting “terrorism” or “extremism”, our government is constructing a Big Brother police state control grid all around us.  I like the way that Ron Paul described what is happening to us just the other day

If Americans were honest with themselves they would acknowledge that the Republic is no more. We now live in a police state. If we do not recognize and resist this development, freedom and prosperity for all Americans will continue to deteriorate. All liberties in America today are under siege.

It didn’t happen overnight. It took many years of neglect for our liberties to be given away so casually for a promise of security from the politicians. The tragic part is that the more security was promised — physical and economic — the less liberty was protected.

With cradle-to-grave welfare protecting all citizens from any mistakes and a perpetual global war on terrorism, which a majority of Americans were convinced was absolutely necessary for our survival, our security and prosperity has been sacrificed.

It was all based on lies and ignorance. Many came to believe that their best interests were served by giving up a little freedom now and then to gain a better life.

The trap was set. At the beginning of a cycle that systematically undermines liberty with delusions of easy prosperity, the change may actually seem to be beneficial to a few. But to me that’s like excusing embezzlement as a road to leisure and wealth — eventually payment and punishment always come due. One cannot escape the fact that a society’s wealth cannot be sustained or increased without work and productive effort. Yes, some criminal elements can benefit for a while, but reality always sets in.

Reality is now setting in for America and for that matter for most of the world. The piper will get his due even if “the children” have to suffer. The deception of promising “success” has lasted for quite a while. It was accomplished by ever-increasing taxes, deficits, borrowing, and printing press money. In the meantime the policing powers of the federal government were systematically and significantly expanded. No one cared much, as there seemed to be enough “gravy” for the rich, the poor, the politicians, and the bureaucrats.

The country that our forefathers founded is dying.

Now, individuals and organizations that attempt to restore the values that our founders once believed in so strongly are regarded as dangerous “extremists” that need to be watched carefully.

Sadly, most Americans don’t even realize what is happening to this nation.  As long as they are fed a constant diet of mindless entertainment, most Americans are perfectly content to let “the experts” do their thinking for them.

We are steamrolling toward oblivion, and most of the country is dead asleep.

So is there any hope for us?  Feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…

All Over America, Government Officials Are Cracking Down On Preppers

Police State Big Brother Prison Grid - Public DomainWhy would the government want to punish people that are just trying to work hard, become more self-sufficient and take care of their families?  There are approximately 3 million preppers in the United States today, and often they appear to be singled out for punishment by bureaucratic control freaks that are horrified at the thought that there are families out there that actually want to try to become less dependent on the system.  So if you use alternative methods to heat your home, or if you are not connected to the utility grid, or if you collect rainwater on your property, or if you believe that parents should have the ultimate say when it comes to health decisions for their children, you could become a target for overzealous government enforcers.  Once upon a time, America was the land of the free and the home of the brave, but now we are being transformed into a socialist police state where control freak bureaucrats use millions of laws, rules and regulations to crack down on anyone that dares to think for themselves.

For example, people have been burning wood to heat their homes since this country began.  And this is still very common in rural areas.  But the Obama administration does not like this at all.  The Obama bureaucrats at the EPA fear that our little wood stoves may be contributing to “global warming”, so they have outlawed the production and sale of 80 percent of the wood stoves that are currently in use.  The following comes from a recent Forbes article

It seems that even wood isn’t green or renewable enough anymore. The EPA has recently banned the production and sale of 80 percent of America’s current wood-burning stoves, the oldest heating method known to mankind and mainstay of rural homes and many of our nation’s poorest residents. The agency’s stringent one-size-fits-all rules apply equally to heavily air-polluted cities and far cleaner plus typically colder off-grid wilderness areas such as large regions of Alaska and the American West.

While EPA’s most recent regulations aren’t altogether new, their impacts will nonetheless be severe. Whereas restrictions had previously banned wood-burning stoves that didn’t limit fine airborne particulate emissions to 15 micrograms per cubic meter of air, the change will impose a maximum 12 microgram limit. To put this amount in context, EPA estimates that secondhand tobacco smoke in a closed car can expose a person to 3,000-4,000 micrograms of particulates per cubic meter.

Most wood stoves that warm cabin and home residents from coast-to-coast can’t meet that standard. Older stoves that don’t cannot be traded in for updated types, but instead must be rendered inoperable, destroyed, or recycled as scrap metal.

Does that make you angry?

It should.

There are other preppers that try to use very “clean” methods to power their homes, but that is still not good enough for some government control freaks.

For example, one prepper down in south Florida that had gone “off the grid” was recently ordered by a court to connect back to the grid or face eviction from his home.  The following is an excerpt from a recent article by Guiles Hendrik

Think you are still free to make choices in your life? Do you think the government will allow you to live independent of their utility monopolies? If you think so, try opting for renewable non-grid tied power and utilize environmentally friendly composting toilets and your own self-sufficient water supply. Today, those life choices could land you in jail if you live in South Florida. Take the case of Robin Speronis.

Robin Speronis has lived off the grid, independent of the city’s water and electric system. A Florida court ruled this off-the-grid living illegal last week and has given Robin until March to connect her home to a municipal water line or face possible eviction. Further, officials in the city of Cape Coral have justified this by deeming Robin’s home “unsanitary,” citing the International Property Maintenance Code. First of all, since when did we begin to locally recognize “international codes?” Where in the US Constitution does it provide for international jurisdiction over local codes? Ironically, this “international” code mandates that homes be connected to an electricity grid and a running water source, even though most of the world lives without reliable electricity and municipal water and sewer. Further, the code is outdated and obsolete because it was written without consideration to both old and new technologies that relegate the need for grid tied power and municipal water as unnecessary and expensive; especially, in locations where it simply isn’t feasible to have grid tied utilities. Nonetheless, Speronis’ home does in fact have power and water through far cheaper and more environmentally friendly means — solar panels and rainwater, but that reality is ignored by the local government.

Incredibly, most Americans still seem to believe that we live in a “free country”.  But we don’t.  Our lives are very tightly constrained by literally millions of laws, rules and regulations, and more are being added every single day.

Even some of our most basic fundamental rights have been seriously eroded.  One of these is the right to make basic health decisions for our own children.  In New York state, children that have not received all of the designated vaccines can now be banned from attending public school, and this requirement was recently upheld by a federal appeals court

New York state’s requirement that children be vaccinated before attending public school does not violate their constitutional rights, a federal appeals court in Manhattan said on Wednesday.

In affirming the requirement’s constitutionality, a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also upheld a previous ruling by a federal judge that students exempted from the requirement for religious reasons can be barred from school when another child has a disease preventable by a vaccine.

The decision was the latest to go against three parents from New York City who say their religious rights were violated when their children were kept out of school as a result of the immunization policies. The parents’ lawyer, Patricia Finn, said her clients planned to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

So what are we free to do without government interference these days?

Not much.

In fact, in some states we can’t even sit on our own land and collect the rain as it falls from the sky for our own personal use.

If you do this in the state of Oregon, for example, you could go to prison

Gary Harrington, the Oregon man convicted of collecting rainwater and snow runoff on his rural property surrendered Wednesday morning to begin serving his 30-day, jail sentence in Medford, Ore.

“I’m sacrificing my liberty so we can stand up as a country and stand for our liberty,” Harrington told a small crowd of people gathered outside of the Jackson County (Ore.) Jail.

Several people held signs that showed support for Harrington as he was taken inside the jail.

And of course these are just a few examples.  Almost every single day there are more stories in the news about government bureaucrats cracking down on preppers.  They almost seem to relish the opportunity to go after the “non-conformists”.

But the good news is that the number of Americans that are seeking to become less dependent on the system just continues to grow.

So what about you?

Are you a prepper?

My friend Daisy Luther recently wrote a piece entitled “45 MORE Signs That You Might Be One of Those Crazy Preppers“.  The following are some of the most interesting “signs” from her list…

*You spend your days off digging an underground bunker in your backyard.

*Your family doesn’t dare take something from the food stockpile without marking it off the list.

*Your kids know how to don a gas mask in 30 seconds.

*Everyone in your survival group carries the same firearm so that ammo is standardized.

*Your family is no longer surprised when you announce, “Hey, we’re going to learn how to make (insert anything here)!”

*You have long since accepted the idea that if you’re not on someone’s list, you’re probably not doing it right.

*You don’t just rotate food, you rotate ammo.

*Moving to a new house is no longer “moving”, but “strategic relocation”.

*Your kids think it’s a fun game to see who can find the most potential weapons in a room.

*Your EDC includes a knife, firearm w/extra mag, flashlight, mylar blanket, Chapstick, and an ounce of silver — and that’s just for when you’re walking the dog.

*One criterion for your new winter coat is that it fits over your body armor.

You can read her entire article right here.

America was built by people that loved their families, worked hard and were self-sufficient.

Now our government is specifically targeting those kinds of people.

What in the world is happening to us?

On The Verge Of The Next Economic Crisis, 62 Percent Of Americans Are Living Paycheck To Paycheck

Money Emergency Funds - Public DomainNearly two-thirds of all Americans are completely and totally unprepared for the next economic crisis.  As you will read about below, a new survey has found that only 38 percent of Americans have enough money on hand to cover “a $500 repair bill or a $1,000 emergency room visit”.  That essentially means that 62 percent of the people in this country do not have an emergency fund.  Even after the extremely bitter financial lessons that millions of Americans learned during the last recession, most of us are still choosing to live on the edge.  That is utter insanity, and when the next major economic downturn strikes most people are going to find themselves totally unprepared.

The number one thing that you need to do to get ready for the coming economic collapse is to build up an emergency fund.

I know that is not the most “sexy” piece of advice in the world, but it is the truth.  Just think about it.  During the last recession, millions of Americans suddenly lost their jobs.  Because they did not have any cushion to fall back on, millions of them also suddenly could not pay their bills and their mortgages.  Foreclosures skyrocketed and countless families went from living a very comfortable middle class lifestyle to being out on the street in very short order.

And now because the people of this country have been so foolish it is going to happen again.

Because of my website, people are constantly asking me what they should do to prepare for the coming economic collapse.

I think that they expect me to say something like this…

“Sell everything that you possibly can and buy gold and silver, go purchase a llama farm, and dig a bunker where you can bury 10,000 cases of MREs.”

Not that there is anything wrong with those kinds of preparations.

But before you do anything else, you have got to have an emergency fund.  My recommendation is to have an emergency fund that can cover at least six months of expenses in case something happens.

Sadly, a solid majority of Americans do not have any emergency cash at all.  The following comes from the Wall Street Journal

Only 38% of those polled said they could cover a $500 repair bill or a $1,000 emergency room visit with funds from their bank accounts, a new Bankrate report said. Most others would need to take on debt or cut back elsewhere.

“A solid majority of Americans say they have a household budget,” said Bankrate banking analyst Claes Bell. “But too few have the ability to cover expenses outside their budget without going into debt or turning to family and friends for help.”

The survey found that an unexpected bill would cause 26% to reduce spending elsewhere, while 16% would borrow from family or friends and 12% would put the expense on a credit card. The remainder didn’t know what they would do or would make other arrangements.

And of course this is not the only poll that has come up with these kinds of results.  In fact, a Federal Reserve survey from last year produced similar numbers

The findings are strikingly similar to a U.S. Federal Reserve survey of more than 4,000 adults released last year. “Savings are depleted for many households after the recession,” it found. Among those who had savings prior to 2008, 57% said they’d used up some or all of their savings in the Great Recession and its aftermath. What’s more, only 39% of respondents reported having a “rainy day” fund adequate to cover three months of expenses and only 48% of respondents said that they would completely cover a hypothetical emergency expense costing $400 without selling something or borrowing money.

Meanwhile, the financial condition of most American families is far worse than it was just prior to the last major economic crisis.  As a recent MarketWatch article detailed, the average family currently has far less wealth than it did back then…

But while the jobs market is improving and the Affordable Care Act has given an estimated 15 million people access to medical care, the Great Recession does appear to have taken its toll on Americans’ finances; in fact, they’re 40% poorer today than they were in 2007. The net worth of American families — that is, the difference between the values of their assets, including homes and investments, and liabilities — fell to $81,400 in 2013, down slightly from $82,300 in 2010, but a long way off the $135,700 in 2007, according to a report released last month by the nonprofit think tank Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C.

So we have a lot less wealth, and almost two-thirds of us have no emergency cushion to fall back on whatsoever.

What could go wrong?

In addition, there is lots of evidence that much of the country has not bothered to make any preparations at all for even a basic emergency that would last for just a few days.  For example, the following are results from a survey conducted by the Adelphi Center for Health Innovation that I featured in a previous article

  • 44 percent don’t have first-aid kits
  • 48 percent lack emergency supplies
  • 53 percent do not have a minimum three-day supply of nonperishable food and water at home
  • 55 percent believe local authorities will come to their rescue if disaster strikes
  • 52 percent have not designated a family meeting place if they are separated during an emergency
  • 42 percent do not know the phone numbers of all of their immediate family members
  • 21 percent don’t know if their workplace has an emergency preparedness plan
  • 37 percent do not have a list of the drugs they are taking
  • 52 percent do not have copies of health insurance documents

What are all of those people going to do if there is an extended crisis or disaster in this nation?

That is a very good question.

Meanwhile, the signs that we are on the verge of the next major economic crisis just continue to grow.  Yesterday, I shared 10 things that happened just prior to the financial crisis of 2008 that are happening again right now.

Today, we learned that a major oil driller down in Texas has just declared bankruptcy, and many more energy companies are expected to follow suit in the coming months.  The following is from the Wall Street Journal

[S]igns of strain are building in the oil patch, where revenue growth hasn’t kept pace with borrowing. On Sunday, a private company that drills in Texas, WBH Energy LP, and its partners, filed for bankruptcy protection, saying a lender refused to advance more money and citing debt of between $10 million and $50 million. Neither the Austin-based company nor its lawyers responded to requests for comment.

Energy analysts warn defaults could be coming. “The group is not positioned for this downturn,” said Daniel Katzenberg, an analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co. “There are too many ugly balance sheets.”

And we also learned today that teen retailer Wet Seal is going to be closing two-thirds of its stores.

Dozens more retailers are expected to make similar announcements over the coming months.

We are moving into the most chaotic time for the U.S. economy that any of us have ever seen, and most Americans are totally oblivious to what is happening and are totally unprepared.

So what is our country going to look like when tens of millions of unprepared people are blindsided by a crisis that they never saw coming?

The American People Are Utterly Clueless About What Is Going To Happen As We Enter 2015

Wrong Way - Public DomainThe American people are feeling really good right about now.  For example, Gallup’s economic confidence index has hit the highest level that we have seen since the last recession.  In addition, nearly half of all Americans believe that 2015 will be a better year than 2014 was, and only about 10 percent believe that it will be a worse year.  And a lot of people are generally feeling quite good about the people that have been leading our nation.  According to Gallup, once again this year Hillary Clinton is the most admired woman in America and Barack Obama is the most admired man in America.  I don’t know what that says about our nation, but it can’t be good.  Unfortunately, when things seem to be going well common sense tends to go out the window.  A couple days ago, the Guardian ran an article entitled “Goodbye to one of the best years in history“, and a whole lot of people out there are feeling really optimistic these days.  But should they be?

Sadly, what we are experiencing right now is so similar to what we witnessed in 2007 and early 2008.  The stock market had been on a great run, people were flipping houses like crazy and most people were convinced that the party would never end.

But then it did end – very painfully.

The signs of trouble were there, but most people chose to ignore them.

Sadly, the exact same thing is happening again.

On Monday, the price of oil hit a brand new five year low.  As I write this, U.S. oil is sitting at a price of $53.76 a barrel, which is nearly a 50 percent decline from the peak earlier this year.

There is only one other time in history when the price of oil has declined by more than 50 dollars a barrel in such a short time frame.  That was back in the middle of 2008, shortly before the worst stock market crash since the Great Depression.

Unless the price of oil starts really bouncing back, the U.S. economy is going to be hit really hard.

Since 2009, oil industry employment has risen by 50 percent.  And jobs in the oil industry pay quite well.  One figure that I saw put the average weekly wage at about 1700 dollars.

But now we aren’t going to be gaining those types of jobs.  Instead, we are going to rapidly start losing them.

Already, the oil rig count has dropped for three weeks in a row and is now at an 8 month low.  And as the oil industry suffers, all of the industries that it supports are also going to start feeling the pain.  In fact, Business Insider is reporting that Texas business executives are “freaked out” about what is happening…

Business executives in Texas are worried about the drop in oil prices.

On Monday, the Dallas Fed’s latest manufacturing survey showed that activity in Texas was slowing down.

The latest composite index came in at 4.1, widely missing expectations and down big from November’s reading. Expectations were for the index to come in at 9, down from 10.5 last month.

So while most Americans are feeling really good about the coming year, many of those with an inside view are becoming quite alarmed.  One Texas business executive went so far as to say that the stunning decline in oil prices was going to make things ugly … quickly.

Meanwhile, the 9 trillion dollar U.S. dollar carry trade is starting to unwind.

The following is an excerpt from a recent Zero Hedge article

Oil’s collapse is predicated by one major event: the explosion of the US Dollar carry trade. Worldwide, there is over $9 TRILLION in borrowed US Dollars that has been ploughed into risk assets.

Energy projects, particularly Oil Shale in the US, are one of the prime spots for this. But it is not the only one. Economies that are closely aligned with commodities (all of which are priced in US Dollars) are getting demolished too.

Just about everything will be hit as well. Most of the “recovery” of the last five years has been fueled by cheap borrowed Dollars. Now that the US Dollar has broken out of a multi-year range, you’re going to see more and more “risk assets” (read: projects or investments fueled by borrowed Dollars) blow up. Oil is just the beginning, not a  standalone story.

If things really pick up steam, there’s over $9 TRILLION worth of potential explosions waiting in the wings. Imagine if the entire economies of both Germany and Japan exploded and you’ve got a decent idea of the size of the potential impact on the financial system.

And that’s assuming NO increased leverage from derivative usage.

Ouch.

And yes, as that last excerpt mentioned, derivatives could soon become a massive problem.  The big banks are holding trillions in commodity derivatives that could blow up if the price of oil does not rebound.  Overall, there are five U.S. banks that each have more than 40 trillion dollars of exposure to derivatives of all types, and the total global derivatives bubble is at least 700 trillion dollars at this point.

At the same time, many are becoming concerned that the unprecedented bond bubble that we are witnessing could soon implode and trillions of dollars of “wealth” could disappear into thin air.

In fact, Bloomberg says that we should “get ready for a disastrous year” for bonds…

Get ready for a disastrous year for U.S. government bonds. That’s the message forecasters on Wall Street are sending.

With Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen poised to raise interest rates in 2015 for the first time in almost a decade, prognosticators are convinced Treasury yields have nowhere to go except up. Their calls for higher yields next year are the most aggressive since 2009, when U.S. debt securities suffered record losses, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

That certainly does not sound very optimistic, does it?

Anyone with even a minimal amount of intelligence should be able to see the massive financial bubbles that the central banks of the world have created, and anyone with even a minimal amount of intelligence should be able to see that we are heading for a massive financial implosion which will be extraordinarily painful.

Unfortunately, as I wrote about yesterday, the American people have become “zombiefied“.  Instead of thinking for themselves, they let “the matrix” do their thinking for them.  And right now “the matrix” is telling them that everything is going to be just fine in 2015.

If you do not think that there is a propaganda machine that tells us what to think, I want you to watch the video posted below very carefully.  This video makes it so obvious that even a small child can understand it…

 

A Cyber War With North Korea And An Economic War With Russia

North KoreaIn addition to all of our wars in the Middle East and the war that has erupted on the streets of America, we are now engaged in a cyber war with North Korea and an economic war with Russia.  Without a doubt, the United States has the capability to do a tremendous amount of damage to both of them.  But what about the damage that they could potentially do to us?  We have a society that is absolutely teeming with soft targets.  Our Internet infrastructure is extremely vulnerable, our debt-based economic system is already teetering on the edge of disaster, and government officials freely admit that security at key facilities such as power plants is sorely lacking.  And these kinds of bitter conflicts have a way of escalating.  The North Koreans and the Russians are both very proud, and neither one is going to back down any time soon.  If a foreign power wanted to really make us hurt, it wouldn’t take much imagination at all.  There are thousands of ways to do it.  So Americans should not just smugly assume that we are untouchable.  In a war, it is often those that are overconfident that get hurt the worst.

Last week, Barack Obama blamed North Korea for the nightmarish hack attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment and he promised that the U.S. would respond.

Well, it looks like that response began on Monday.  According to Bloomberg, North Korea’s connection to the Internet was totally cut off…

North Korea’s limited access to the Internet has been cut off, according to a network-monitoring company, days after the U.S. government accused the country of hacking into Sony Corp. (6758)’s files.

North Korea, which has four official networks connecting the country to the Internet — all of which route through China — began experiencing intermittent problems yesterday and today went completely dark, according to Doug Madory, director of Internet analysis at Dyn Research in Hanover, New Hampshire.

Needless to say, that got the attention of the North Koreans.

On their end, the North Koreans are still denying that they had anything to do with the attack on Sony.  And we may never know the actual truth.  In reality, Russia could have carried out such an attack.  Or it could have been the Chinese.  Or it could have even been a false flag cyberattack conducted by a three letter U.S. agency.  We just don’t know.

But what we do know is that North Korea is now vowing to take action against “the White House, the Pentagon and the whole U.S. mainland“…

“The DPRK has already launched the toughest counteraction. Nothing is more serious miscalculation than guessing that just a single movie production company is the target of this counteraction. Our target is all the citadels of the U.S. imperialists who earned the bitterest grudge of all Koreans,” a report on state-run KCNA read.

“Our toughest counteraction will be boldly taken against the White House, the Pentagon and the whole U.S. mainland, the cesspool of terrorism,” the report said, adding that “fighters for justice” including the “Guardians of Peace” — a group that claimed responsibility for the Sony attack — “are sharpening bayonets not only in the U.S. mainland but in all other parts of the world.”

So can North Korea back up those bold words?

We shall see.

But without a doubt our Internet infrastructure is very vulnerable.  As I have written about previously, our big banks are under Internet attack every single minute of every single day.  And in recent months we have seen a whole host of retailers and major corporations get hacked.

This is an emerging threat that should not be underestimated.  As a society, we have become extremely dependent on the Internet, and these attacks are constantly becoming more powerful and more sophisticated.

I think that Steve Quayle put it very well during one recent interview…

“Cyberwarfare is increasing dramatically as we speak. There are serious concerns about the ability of the United States’ banking system to whether extremely sophisticated cyberattacks. The Sony breach is just one example of how a detrimental cyberattack can bring one of the world’s most prominent entertainment giants to its knees.”

And we do know that the North Koreans take hacking very seriously.

In fact, it has been reported that North Korea has a small army of hackers that are continually harassing the western world known as “Unit 121″…

Just like in a Bond movie, an army of teenage geniuses tap away at keyboards in fortified complex tucked away from prying eyes in a rogue state, bent on bringing cyber-carnage to their Western enemies on the orders of their leader who is bent on revenge.

But this isn’t the plot line from a film. This is North Korea in 2014. And the cyber-warriors inside have diverted from their usual work of disrupting governments and big business to turn their collective fury on Sony.

The building, the Kim Il-Sung Military Academy, is one of four North Korean universities known to train children, hand-picked for their intelligence from all around the country, and turn them into recruits for an elite group of hackers simply known as Unit 121 or Bureau 121.

Meanwhile, the struggle between the United States and Russia over Ukraine has escalated into a full-blown economic war.

At first, both sides started slapping each other with relatively minor economic sanctions.

But then things started escalating.  I think that things really began to get serious for the U.S. when Russia started to make moves against the petrodollar.  This is not something that has been reported on much at all by the mainstream media in the United States, but it is a very big deal.  If you want to become enemy #1 in the eyes of the U.S. government, just start attacking the petrodollar.  So when Russia began cutting the U.S. dollar out of oil and natural gas transactions, that definitely got the attention of some folks in Washington.  You can read much more about what Russia has been doing in this regard in this article, this article and this article.

Of course Washington was not just going to sit back and let this happen.  The Obama administration has retaliated by going after two of the most important pillars of the Russian economy – oil and the ruble.  And without a doubt, a tremendous amount of damage has already been done.

At this point, Russia is facing a full-blown currency crisis, major banks are starting to fail and economists are forecasting a deep recession for next year

The central bank bailed out its first victim of the collapsing currency, authorities announced a tax on grain exports to protect domestic stocks and a Reuters poll of 11 economists predicted that Russia’s gross domestic product would fall 3.6 percent next year.

Russia has been hit by what Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev recently called a “perfect storm” of plummeting oil prices, sanctions related to its military action in Ukraine, and a flight of investors’ capital — made worse by a lack of structural reforms that means the economy is overwhelmingly dependent on oil revenues.

But don’t count out the Russians just yet.

They are a very crafty people, and they are not afraid to fight dirty.

And it is important to keep in mind that the Russian Bear never forgives and it never forgets.  Most Americans don’t realize this, but right now anti-American sentiment in Russia is actually higher than it was at the end of the Cold War era.  Many Russians believe that this is a new Cold War, and that the United States is the greatest force for evil on the entire planet.

So while many Americans view this current conflict as a temporary foreign policy tussle about Ukraine, many Russians view this as a long-term struggle that is absolutely critical to the future of humanity.  If you doubt this, you should check out some of the things that their leading thinkers have been saying.

This conflict between the United States and Russia is not going to end any time soon.  And someday down the road, it could evolve into something more than just an economic war.  But before that happens, the Russians have a whole host of other ways that they can damage us.

Yes, the United States can hurt Russia.

But Russia can also hurt us.

In the end, this conflict is not going to be good for anyone.

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