The Mystery Plague That Is Killing Countless Birds In 9 States And Washington D.C. Has Gotten A Lot Worse

Large numbers of birds are dropping dead from a “mystery disease” throughout much of the eastern half of the country, and scientists still have absolutely no idea why this is happening.  They have tested the dead birds for a whole host of known illnesses, but those tests have not revealed the cause of this plague.  We are being told that a lot of the affected birds appear to develop neurological problems, and many of them go completely blind before they finally die.  The “mystery disease” has spread to more states since I first wrote about this plague, and at this point the list of affected areas includes Washington D.C., Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana.  If authorities are unable to find a solution, will this plague eventually spread across the entire nation?

I don’t know why the mainstream media is not giving this story more coverage, because this is quickly turning into a major crisis.

The following comes directly from a statement that was posted late last week on the official website of the USGS

In late May, wildlife managers in Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky began receiving reports of sick and dying birds with eye swelling and crusty discharge, as well as neurological signs. More recently, additional reports have been received from Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana. While the majority of affected birds are reported to be fledgling common grackles, blue jays, European starlings and American robins, other species of songbirds have been reported as well. No definitive cause(s) of illness or death have been determined at this time. No human health or domestic livestock and poultry issues have been reported.

The natural resource management agencies in the affected states and the District of Columbia, along with the National Park Service, are continuing to work with diagnostic laboratories to investigate the cause(s) of this event. Those laboratories include the USGS National Wildlife Health Center, the University of Georgia Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, the University of Pennsylvania Wildlife Futures Program and the Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory.

With each passing day, more birds are going blind and more birds are dying.

In Virginia, an animal control professional named Jennifer Toussaint will never forget the first time that she encountered baby blue jays that had been afflicted by this mysterious illness

Jennifer Toussaint, chief of animal control in Arlington, Virginia, can’t forget the four baby blue jays. In late May, worried residents had delivered the fledglings to her clinic just outside of Washington, D.C., within just a few hours. Each was plump, indicating “their parents had done a great job caring for them,” Toussaint says. But the birds were lethargic, unable to keep their balance, and blinded by crusty, oozing patches that had grown over their eyes.

Toussaint and her staff soon reached a gloomy diagnosis: the jays were the latest victims of a mysterious deadly disease that had emerged in their area just a few weeks earlier and had already killed countless wild birds. There was no known treatment, so they euthanized the jays. “It was difficult to feel so helpless,” Toussaint recalls.

Experts have never seen anything like this before, and they are in a race to try to find some answers.

Whatever is causing this, it appears to be affecting a wide range of species

Several species of birds have been affected by the mystery illness, according to the University of Pennsylvania: blue jay, European starling, common grackle, American robin, northern cardinal, house finch, house sparrow, Eastern bluebird, red-bellied woodpecker, Carolina chickadee, and Carolina wren.

And at this point, the “mystery disease” appears to have spread very widely.

For example, in the state of Virginia there have been confirmed reports “in the counties and cities of Alexandria, Arlington, Clarke, Fairfax, Falls Church, Fauquier, Frederick, Loudoun, Manassas, Prince William, Shenandoah, Warren, and Winchester.”

In Indiana, cases have now been identified in 53 different counties.

So if this is something that is spreading from bird to bird, it is spreading very easily and it is spreading very rapidly.

But at this point we don’t know for sure that it is some sort of a disease, because so far all of the tests that have been done haven’t come up with much of anything….

Natural resource management agencies in all of the affected states and D.C. are working with the National Park Service to investigate this event.

So far, several infectious agents have not been detected in any of the birds that have been tested, including Salmonella and Chlamydia, avian influenza, West Nile virus and other flaviviruses, Newcastle disease virus and other paramyxoviruses, herpesviruses and poxviruses, and Trichomonas parasites.

Something other than a disease could potentially be causing this plague.

We just don’t know.

At one point it was being theorized that eating cicadas was causing these birds to become ill, but scientists appear to have ruled this theory out

But the cicadas appear to be blameless. Birds tend to avoid eating fungus-ridden cicadas, and sick birds have been observed in areas where cicadas were rare. “It does not look like it’s a match,” says Brian Evans, a migratory bird ecologist with the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute.

So many strange things have been happening in 2021.

As I discussed yesterday, right now we are witnessing a horrifying plague of grasshoppers in the western half of the country, and at the same time we have a nightmarish plague of dead birds in the eastern half of the country.

On top of everything else, we are right in the midst of a “megadrought” which may end up becoming the worst in the entire history of our nation.

Many believe that it is just a “coincidence” that so many bad things are happening to us all at once, and perhaps they are correct.

But nobody can deny that our world has gotten a whole lot crazier over the last couple of years, and I expect quite a bit more craziness during the second half of 2021.

***Michael’s new book entitled “Lost Prophecies Of The Future Of America” is now available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.***

About the Author: My name is Michael Snyder and my brand new book entitled “Lost Prophecies Of The Future Of America” is now available on Amazon.com.  In addition to my new book, I have written four others that are available on Amazon.com including The Beginning Of The EndGet Prepared Now, and Living A Life That Really Matters. (#CommissionsEarned)  By purchasing the books you help to support the work that my wife and I are doing, and by giving it to others you help to multiply the impact that we are having on people all over the globe.  I have published thousands of articles on The Economic Collapse BlogEnd Of The American Dream and The Most Important News, and the articles that I publish on those sites are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the globe.  I always freely and happily allow others to republish my articles on their own websites, but I also ask that they include this “About the Author” section with each article.  The material contained in this article is for general information purposes only, and readers should consult licensed professionals before making any legal, business, financial or health decisions.  I encourage you to follow me on social media on FacebookTwitter and Parler, and any way that you can share these articles with others is a great help.  During these very challenging times, people will need hope more than ever before, and it is our goal to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with as many people as we possibly can.

Why Are Large Numbers Of Birds Suddenly Dropping Dead In Multiple U.S. States?

As if we didn’t have enough weird things going on, now birds are suddenly dropping dead in large numbers all across the eastern half of the country.  Before they die, a lot of these birds are exhibiting very strange symptoms.  Experts are telling us that in many cases birds are developing “crusty or puffy eyes”, and often they appear to go completely blind.  In addition, quite a few of these dying birds lose their ability to stay balanced, and we are being told that some even seem to be having “seizures”.  If scientists understood what was causing this to happen, that would be one thing.  But at this point they have no idea why this is taking place, and that is quite alarming.

So far, confirmed incidents of this strange phenomenon have been documented in Washington D.C., Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana.

Could it be possible that we are dealing with a “mystery disease” that started in one state and that has now spread to other surrounding states?

Or is something else going on here?

We are being told that “blue jays, common grackles and European starlings” are the most common birds that are being affected.

But whatever is happening is not just limited to one species of birds, and I think that should be a red flag.

If our best experts even had a decent working theory about why so many birds are dying, I probably would not have written this article.  But at this point they are openly admitting that they have absolutely no idea why so many birds are suddenly dropping dead…

“We’re experiencing an unusual amount of bird mortality this year,” said Kate Slankard, an avian biologist with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “We have yet to figure out what the problem is. The condition seems to be pretty deadly.”

In Kentucky, the bird deaths seem to have begun in late May.  The following comes directly from the official website of the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources…

In late May, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources began receiving reports of sick and dying birds with eye swelling and crusty discharge, as well as neurological signs. Wildlife agencies in Indiana, Maryland, Ohio, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and West Virginia have reported similar problems.

State wildlife agencies are working with diagnostic laboratories to investigate the cause of mortality. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife has sent more than 20 samples for lab testing to the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study at the University of Georgia. More results are pending, but no definitive cause of death has been identified at this time.

After testing 20 samples, they still have no idea what is going on.

According to Slankard, “hundreds of birds” in her state have now become victims…

“They’ll just sit still, often kind of shaking,” Slankard said. “It’s pretty safe to say that hundreds of birds in the state have had this problem.”

But of course the truth is that we have no way of knowing how many birds have actually been affected.

It could be thousands of birds in the state.

It could be hundreds of thousands.

We just don’t know, and Kentucky is just one of the states that has been hit.

In Indiana, authorities tested for avian flu and West Nile virus, but those tests came back negative

Indiana wildlife officials said there have been suspicious deaths of blue jays, robins, northern cardinals and brown-headed cowbirds in five counties. James Brindle, spokesman for the state’s Department of Natural Resources, said birds there have tested negative for avian influenza and West Nile virus.

One theory that is floating around is that these birds are ingesting large amounts of pesticides because of all the cicadas that they are eating.

Some experts are flatly dismissing that theory because “the disease has also appeared in states where cicadas are not present”.

But how can they be so sure that it is a disease if they have absolutely no idea why this is happening?

I don’t think that we should jump to any conclusions that are not backed up by science.

Obviously a lot more testing needs to be done.  If it does turn out to be a disease that is causing this, is it a disease that can also spread to humans?  Moving forward, that could be one of the most important questions that needs to be answered.

Hopefully we can get some solid answers, because this is not the first time something like this has happened.  Back in September, one expert said that it appeared that “hundreds of thousands” of birds were dropping dead in New Mexico…

Wildlife experts in New Mexico say birds in the region are dropping dead in alarming numbers, potentially in the “hundreds of thousands.”

“It appears to be an unprecedented and a very large number,” Martha Desmond, a professor at New Mexico State University’s department of fish, wildlife, and conservation ecology, told NBC’s Albuquerque affiliate KOB.

But whatever was causing those deaths to happen in New Mexico seems to have stopped.

Is there any connection between that event and the deaths that are happening in the eastern half of the country now?

I wish that I had the answer to that question.

We live at a time when pesticides, high technology and other forms of human activity are having a greater impact on birds and animals than ever before.  But we have also entered an era when I believe that great pestilences are going to become very common.

Obviously something is killing all those birds, and hopefully scientists will have something solid to tell us very soon.

With each passing day, our world is getting crazier, and so much is going wrong all around us.

Many are hoping that 2020 and 2021 will just turn out to be anomalies, but I am entirely convinced that they are just the very small tip of a very large iceberg.

***Michael’s new book entitled “Lost Prophecies Of The Future Of America” is now available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.***

About the Author: My name is Michael Snyder and my brand new book entitled “Lost Prophecies Of The Future Of America” is now available on Amazon.com.  In addition to my new book, I have written four others that are available on Amazon.com including The Beginning Of The EndGet Prepared Now, and Living A Life That Really Matters. (#CommissionsEarned)  By purchasing the books you help to support the work that my wife and I are doing, and by giving it to others you help to multiply the impact that we are having on people all over the globe.  I have published thousands of articles on The Economic Collapse BlogEnd Of The American Dream and The Most Important News, and the articles that I publish on those sites are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the globe.  I always freely and happily allow others to republish my articles on their own websites, but I also ask that they include this “About the Author” section with each article.  The material contained in this article is for general information purposes only, and readers should consult licensed professionals before making any legal, business, financial or health decisions.  I encourage you to follow me on social media on FacebookTwitter and Parler, and any way that you can share these articles with others is a great help.  During these very challenging times, people will need hope more than ever before, and it is our goal to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with as many people as we possibly can.

War On The Homeless: Cities All Over America Are Passing Laws Making It Illegal To Feed And Shelter Those In Need

homeless-man-public-domainIf you want to be a “Good Samaritan” to the homeless in your community, you might want to check and see if it is legal first.  All over the country, cities are passing laws that make it illegal to feed and shelter the homeless.  For example, in this article you will read about a church in Maryland that was just fined $12,000 for simply allowing homeless people to sleep outside the church at night.  This backlash against homeless people comes at a time when homelessness in America is absolutely exploding.  In a previous article, I shared with my readers the fact that the number of homeless people in New York City has just set a brand new all-time high, and the homelessness crisis in California has become so severe that the L.A. City Council has formally asked Governor Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency.  Sadly, instead of opening up our hearts to the rapidly growing number of Americans without a home, way too many communities are trying to use the law to force them to go somewhere else.

For nearly two thousand years, churches have been at the forefront of helping the poor and disadvantaged, but now many communities are trying to stop this from happening.  Earlier today, I was absolutely stunned when I came across an article that talked about how a church in Dundalk, Maryland has been fined $12,000 for allowing the homeless to sleep outside the church at night…

“I showed up Wednesday morning to find a citation on the door that said we’re going to be fined $12,000 and have a court date because we have unhoused homeless people sleeping outside the church at night,” said Reverend Katie Grover with the Patapsco United Methodist Church.

Grover added that the men and women who sleep outside their doors do so because they have nowhere else to go and because they feel safe there.

“We feel we here as a church that it’s scriptural mandate that’s it an imperative to care for the least, the last, the lost, the poor, the hungry,” she said.

The authorities in Dundalk say that the church is running a “non-permitted rooming and boarding house”, and the severity of this fine is likely to put the church in significant financial difficulty if it is forced to pay it.  You can watch a local news report discussing this story on YouTube right here

Of course Dundalk is far from alone.  All across the U.S. laws have been passed that specifically target the homeless.  According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, the following are some of the most typical ways that the homeless are targeted…

  • Carrying out sweeps (confiscating personal property including tents, bedding, papers, clothing, medications, etc.) in city areas where homeless people live.
  • Making panhandling illegal.
  • Making it illegal for groups to share food with homeless persons in public spaces.
  • Enforcing a “quality of life” ordinance relating to public activity and hygiene.

There are some people that have been feeding the hungry for decades that now find that their work has been suddenly made illegal.  For instance, down in Houston a Good Samaritan named Jay Hamberger is outraged that the help that he has been providing to the homeless for 27 years has now made him an outlaw

Jay Hamberger has been bringing food to Houston’s homeless for 27 years. He feels the city is infringing on his right to help others by requiring him to have prior permission to distribute food on public and private property.

“I’ve done it with impunity for 27 years now, and I’m the most law-abiding outlaw, because what I’m doing is illegal,” Hamberger said. “My understanding is that there’s no legal way to make this right with the city.”

This is just another example of how our society is being strangled to death by control freaks.

If I see someone that is desperately hungry and I want to give that person food, then I am going to do it no matter what the law says.

Unfortunately, as the homelessness crisis continues to escalate these types of laws are only going to increase.  Even in supposedly “tolerant” areas of the country we are seeing draconian measures being implemented.  For example, just check out the new ordinance that was just passed in Los Angeles

LA legislators passed an ordinance that would ban people from sleeping in cars and recreational vehicles (RVs) near homes, parks and schools. Advocates see the ordinance as the latest move to criminalize homeless people.

The Los Angeles City Council voted in favor of the ordinance on Wednesday. Banning people from sleeping near homes, schools and parks in their vehicles, would, if signed into law, only make it legal to sleep overnight in cars and RV’s in industrial or commercial districts from 9:00pm to 6:00am.

As millions of Americans have fallen out of the middle class in recent years, we have seen an explosion in the number of people living in cars, trucks and recreational vehicles.  This is something that I addressed in my recent article entitled “Living In A Van Down By The River – Time To Face The True State Of The Middle Class In America“.  During this time of the year many that live in their vehicles head for warmer climates, and cities like Los Angeles are responding to the influx of homeless people by trying to force them to go somewhere else.

And this “war on the homeless” has actually been ramping up for quite a while.  Just check out these numbers from the Washington Post

Cities have enacted a wave of crackdowns and new laws against panhandling, camping and other activities associated with homelessness. They say such efforts help preserve the renewed vitality, curbing crime, health problems and behaviors that bother residents and disrupt business.

Between 2011 and 2014, the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty found that bans on sleeping in cars shot up 119 percent, citywide camping prohibitions jumped 60 percent, anti-loitering laws increased 35 percent and anti-begging laws increased 25 percent in a survey of 187 cities.

Homeless people do not have a permanent address, and there is always a temptation to try to force them to go somewhere else so that they become someone else’s problem.

But the truth is that we have a massive national crisis on our hands.  The number of homeless children in this country has increased by 60 percent since the end of the last recession, and the number of homeless people sleeping in shelters has risen to record levels in major cities on both the east and west coast.

And considering the fact that about two-thirds of the country is currently living paycheck to paycheck, how bad will things get once the next major recession strikes?

Poverty is growing all over the nation, and at the same time hearts all over America are growing very cold.

I truly fear for what this country is going to look like just a few years from now.

In Every City In America There Are People Ready To Riot, Loot And Set Things On Fire

Baltimore Riot - YouTube ScreenshotThe city of Baltimore has been transformed into an “absolute war zone“, and the governor of Maryland has declared a state of emergency as the rioting in “Charm City” continues to escalate.  The funeral for Freddie Gray has unleashed a firestorm of violence, and none of it is going to do anyone any good.  To their credit, some of the leaders of the African-American community are standing up and loudly condemning the violence.  They know that smashing cars, throwing rocks at police and looting stores is not going to solve anything.  But just like we saw in Ferguson, there are lots of people out there that are ready to riot, loot and set things on fire at the drop of a hat – all they need is an opportunity.  The social decay that has been eating away at the foundations of our society for generations is now manifesting in some very ugly ways.  We have raised an entire generation of young people in a “value free” environment, and now we are getting to experience some of the consequences of our foolishness.  And what we are witnessing in Baltimore right now is just the start.  Eventually, we are going to see scenes like this all over the nation.

Thanks to social media, the violence that we saw in Baltimore on Monday is being broadcast to the entire planet.  The whole world is getting a really good look at what the decline of America looks like.  The following is how the New York Times described what took place…

Angry youths could be seen surrounding a police cruiser and smashing its windows in what police described as an organized attack by criminals — not demonstrators. Cars were set on fire, and stores’ windows were smashed in. Heavy smoke poured out of a CVS drugstore, which had earlier been overrun by looters. Several other businesses, including a liquor store and a check-cashing shop, were also looted.

You can find some incredible photos of looting in progress right here.  Do those young people believe that they are actually doing something constructive that will make a difference in our society?  Of course not.  They are opportunists that are taking advantage of the chaos to commit crime.

And you know what?  A lot of older African-Americans were absolutely disgusted by what they were seeing.  The following is just one example

Barbara Taylor, 60, has lived in the neighborhood near the store for 15 years. As she spoke, a group of teenagers carrying cases of soda and Arizona Iced Tea walked by. “All I can see is crime,” said Taylor. “The people doing this don’t live around here. They’re kids coming in to our neighborhood and breaking it apart. There is no reason for this.”

Of course the biggest targets on Monday were police officers.  It is becoming extremely dangerous to be a police officer in America today, and this is something that I wrote an entire article about recently.  During the violence on Monday, seven police officers were seriously injured.  At least some of the injured had broken bones, and one was described as being “unresponsive”

“We have seven officers who were injured during the course of this,” said Baltimore Police Capt. Eric Kowalczyk. “They have broken bones, one of them is unresponsive. This is not okay. Our officers went out to that situation to make sure that the people who live in that community were safe and we’re going to continue to do what we can to make sure that those people stay safe.

“It’s a group of lawless individuals,” Kowalczyk said of the rioters. “What we know is that they are a group of criminals with no regard for the people in the community.”

Later on Monday, we found out that a total of 15 police officers had received some sort of injury during the course of the day.  To say that the streets of Baltimore have become a “war zone” is not an overstatement in the least.

This is what America is becoming, and this is only just the beginning.  As I mentioned yesterday, I went on the record publicly regarding my belief that civil unrest was coming specifically to Baltimore during a speech I gave on the evening of April 11th.  That was about a week before Freddie Gray died.  But little did I know that it would start happening before the end of the month.  The following are some tweets that contain scenes from the violence that we witnessed on Monday…

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Make sure to watch that last video.  It shows a man literally being dragged out of his store and ruthlessly beaten by a gang of young thugs.  Because of the decisions that we have made as a society, this is what the future of our country is going to look like.  This is something that I have been warning about for years, and now it is here.

So let us mourn for America, because the nation that so many of us love is slipping away a little bit more every single day.

Why Does Maryland Have The Most Millionaires Per Capita? The Answer Might Make You Angry

Raining MoneyThe fat cats in Washington D.C. are living the high life, and they are doing it at your expense.  Over the past decade, there has been one area of the country which has experienced a massive economic boom.  Thanks to wildly out of control government spending, the Washington D.C. region is absolutely swimming in cash.  In fact, at this point the state of Maryland has the most millionaires per capita in the entire nation and it isn’t even close.  If you have never lived there, it is hard to describe what the D.C. area is like.  Every weekday morning, hordes of lawyers, lobbyists and government bureaucrats descend upon D.C. from the surrounding suburbs.  And at the end of the day, the process goes in reverse.  Everyone is just trying to get their piece of the pie, and it is a pie that just keeps on growing as government salaries, government contracts and government giveaways just get larger and larger.  Of course our founders never intended for this to happen.  They wanted a very small and simple federal government.  Sadly, today we have the most bloated central government in the history of the planet and it gets worse with each passing year.

If you were to ask most Americans, they would tell you that the wealthiest Americans probably live in cities such as New York or San Francisco.  But thanks to the Obama administration (and before that the Bush and Clinton administrations), the state of Maryland is packed with millionaires.  In particular, the Maryland suburbs immediately surrounding D.C. are absolutely overflowing with government fat cats that make a living at our expense.  Every weekday morning, huge numbers of them leave their mini-mansions in places such as Potomac and Rockville and drive their luxury vehicles to work in the city.  As the Washington Post has detailed, at this point approximately 8 percent of all households in the entire state of Maryland contain millionaires, and the rest of the area is not doing too shabby either…

In Maryland, nearly 8 out of every 100 households in 2014 had assets topping $1 million, giving the state more millionaires per capita than any other in the country, according to a new report from Phoenix Marketing International.

The rest of the Beltway isn’t lacking in millionaires either: The District and Virginia ranked in the top 10 among those with the highest number of millionaire households per capita in 2014. In Virginia, which was No. 6 on the list, 6.76 percent of the state’s 3.17 million households are millionaires. And in the District, which rounds out the top 10, 6.25 percent of its more than 292,000 households are millionaires.

And while not too many of them are millionaires, your average federal workers that toil in D.C. are doing quite well too.

Once upon a time, it was considered to be a “sacrifice” to go into “government service”.

Not anymore.

If you can believe it, approximately 17,000 federal employees made more than $200,000 last year.

Overall, compensation for federal employees comes to a grand total of close to half a trillion dollars every 12 months.

In fact, there are tens of thousands of federal employees that make more than the governors of their own states do.

Does that seem right to you?

If you want to live “the American Dream” these days, the Washington area is the place to go.  Just check out the following description of the region from the Washington Post

Washingtonians now enjoy the highest median household income of any metropolitan area in the country, and five of the top 10 jurisdictions in America — Loudoun, Howard and Fairfax counties, and Falls Church and Fairfax City — are here, census data shows.

The signs of that wealth are on display all over, from the string of luxury boutiques such as Gucci and Tory Burch opening at Tysons Galleria to the $15 cocktails served over artisanal ice at the W Hotel in the District to the ever-larger houses rising off River Road in Potomac.

And of course let us not forget the fat cats in Congress.

According to CNN, our Congress critters are now wealthier than every before…

The typical American family is still struggling to recover from the Great Recession, but Congress is getting wealthier every year.

The median net worth of lawmakers was just over $1 million in 2013, or 18 times the wealth of the typical American household, according to new research released Monday by the Center for Responsive Politics.

And while Americans’ median wealth is down 43% since 2007, Congress members’ net worth has jumped 28%.

Not only that, there are nearly 200 members of Congress that are actually multimillionaires

Nearly 200 are multimillionaires. One hundred are worth more than $5 million; the top-10 deal in nine digits. The annual congressional salary alone—$174,000 a year—qualifies every member as the top 6 percent of earners. None of them are close to experiencing the poverty-reduction programs—affordable housing, food assistance, Medicaid—that they help control. Though some came from poverty, a recent analysis by Nicholas Carnes, in his book White Collar Government: The Hidden Role of Class in Economic Policymaking, found that only 13 out of 783 members of Congress from 1999 to 2008 came from a “blue-collar” upbringing.

Incredible.

But even though almost all of them are quite wealthy, they don’t hesitate to spend massive amounts of taxpayer money on their own personal needs.

For example, according to the Weekly Standard, more than five million dollars was spent on the hair care needs of U.S. Senators alone over one recent 15 year period…

Senate Hair Care Services has cost taxpayers about $5.25 million over 15 years. They foot the bill of more than $40,000 for the shoeshine attendant last fiscal year. Six barbers took in more than $40,000 each, including nearly $80,000 for the head barber.

And in one recent year, an average of $4,005,900 was spent on “personal” and “office” expenses per U.S. Senator.

So the grand total would have been over 400 million dollars for a single year.

That seems excessive, doesn’t it?

And even when they end up leaving Washington, our Congress critters have ensured that they will continue to collect money from U.S. taxpayers for the rest of their lives

In 2011, 280 former lawmakers who retired under a former government pension system received average annual pensions of $70,620, according to a Congressional Research Service report. They averaged around 20 years of service. At the same time, another 215 retirees (elected in 1984 or later with an average of 15 years of service) received average annual checks of roughly $40,000 a year.

If you can believe it, there are quite a few former lawmakers that are collecting federal pensions for life worth at least $100,000 annually.  The list includes Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, Trent Lott, Dick Gephardt and Dick Cheney.

Of course the biggest windfalls of all are for our ex-presidents.  Most Americans would be shocked to learn that the U.S. government is spending approximately 3.6 million dollars a year to support the lavish lifestyles of former presidents such as George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

So does this make you angry?

Or are you okay with these fat cats living the high life at our expense?

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

Employment Recovery? 1,600 Workers Apply For Just 36 Jobs At An Ice Cream Plant In Maryland

Ice Cream - Photo by ElinorDThe stock market may be soaring to unprecedented heights, but things just continue to get even tougher for the middle class.  In this economic environment, there is intense competition for virtually all kinds of jobs.  For example, more than 1,600 applications were recently submitted for just 36 jobs at an ice cream plant in Hagerstown, Maryland.  That means that those applying have about a 2 percent chance of being hired.  About 98 percent of the applicants will be turned away.  That is how tough things are in many areas of the country today.  It is now more than five years after the great financial crash of 2008, and the level of employment in the United States is still almost exactly where it was at during the worst moments of the last recession.  And this is just the beginning.  The next major financial crash is rapidly approaching, and once it strikes our employment crisis is going to get much, much worse.

Working at an ice cream plant does not pay very well.  But at least it beats flipping burgers or stocking shelves at Wal-Mart.  And in this economy, there is no shortage of desperate workers that are willing to take just about any job that they can find.  The following is how a Breitbart article described the flood of applications that were received for just 36 positions at an ice cream plant owned by Shenandoah Family Farms in Hagerstown, Maryland…

Thanks to persistent unemployment and low availability of low-skill jobs, Shenandoah Family Farms’ ice cream plant in Hagerstown, Maryland has received over 1,600 applicants for a grand total of 36 jobs. Many of those applicants are former workers at the Good Humor plant that was bought by Shenandoah Family Farms. “You’d think that after 20-some-years working someplace at least somebody would think you area a good person, that you’d show up on time every day, and that would be worth something,” Luther Brooks, a 50-year-old former worker at the plant told the Washington Post. “I can’t get nothing. I’ve tried.”

Anyone that believes that the economic crisis is “over” is just being delusional.  It may be “over” for the boys and girls that work on Wall Street, but even their good times are only temporary.

Of course most Americans are not fooled by the propaganda being put out by the mainstream media.  According to a recent CNN poll, 70 percent of all Americans believe that “the economy is generally in poor shape”.

And according to another survey, the economy is still the #1 concern for American voters by a good margin and unemployment is still the #2 concern for American voters by a good margin.

In other words, “It’s the economy, stupid!

The American people can see that mid-wage jobs are disappearing and that the middle class is being systematically eviscerated.  The following is a short excerpt from a recent Business Insider article

A startling number of middle-class jobs may be headed toward extinction.

More than any other job class, mid-level positions have struggled to recover from the recession, and only a quarter of jobs created in the past three years are categorized as mid-wage. There are high-skilled professional jobs that require college degrees and low-skilled service jobs for less educated workers, but the middle is getting squeezed.

As mid-wage jobs disappear, they are being replaced by low wage jobs.  As I mentioned yesterday, one recent study found that about 60 percent of the jobs that have been “created” since the end of the last recession pay $13.83 or less an hour.

And this is just the beginning of the decline of the middle class.  Another great financial crisis is rapidly approaching, and once it arrives things are going to get much worse than they are right now.

A number of very prominent experts believe that this next great financial crisis could begin in 2014.  For example, in a recent article entitled “Top Ten Trends 2014: A Year of Extremes“, Gerald Celente warned that “an economic shock wave” could hit the United States by the middle of the year.  Here are some excerpts from that article…

-“In 33 years of forecasting trends, the Trends Research Institute has never seen a new year that will witness severe economic hardship and social unrest on one hand, and deep philosophic enlightenment and personal enrichment on the other. A series of dynamic socioeconomic and transformative geopolitical trend points are aligning in 2014 to ring in the worst and best of times.”

-“Such unforeseeable factors aside, we forecast that around March, or by the end of the second quarter of 2014, an economic shock wave will rattle the world equity markets.”

-“Nearly half of the requests for emergency assistance to stave off hunger or homelessness comes from people with full-time jobs. As government safety nets are pulled out from under them – as they will continue to be for the foreseeable future – the citizens of Slavelandia will have no recourse but action.”

You can read the rest of that article right here.

And according to the Wall Street Journal, United-ICAP chief market technician Walter Zimmerman in convinced that 2014 will mark the beginning of a massive stock market decline.  In fact, he believes that over the next couple of years it could fall by more than 70 percent…

In what may be the bearish call to end all bearish calls, one technician believes 2014 will be the year of “major reversals,” with the Dow Jones Industrial Average expected to start a two-year decline that could eventually take it down more than 70% to below 5000.

If his forecast is correct, it will make what happened in 2008 look like a Sunday picnic…

“Based on our longer-term time cycles the present stock market rally must be considered the bubble to end all bubbles,” Mr. Zimmerman wrote in a note to clients.

He doesn’t believe the Dow Industrials will hit a long-term cycle low until 2016, somewhere in the 5770 to 4650 range. The Dow hasn’t seen those levels, which are 65% to 72% below current prices, since late-1995 to mid-1996.

So what do you think the rest of 2014 will bring?

Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…

If One Storm Can Turn D.C. Dark For Several Days, What Would A Massive EMP Burst Do?

Sometimes we all get a little reminder of just how completely and totally dependent we are on the power grid.  Massive thunderstorms that ripped through Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Washington D.C. and Virginia left millions without power over the weekend.  At this point it is being projected that some people may not get power back until the end of the week.  The “super derecho” storm that pounded the Washington D.C. area on Friday night with hurricane-force winds is being called unprecedented.  But the truth is that there are other events that could happen that would be far more damaging to our power grid.  For example, a substantial EMP burst over a major U.S. city would fry virtually all of the electronics in the city and take the power grid in the area down indefinitely.  A gigantic EMP burst over the entire country (caused by a massive solar storm or a very large nuclear explosion high in the atmosphere) could theoretically take down the entire national power grid.  Just try to imagine a world where nobody has any electricity, nobody can pump gas, nobody can use their credit cards or get any more money, where most vehicles won’t start, where nobody has the Internet, where all cell phones are dead and where nobody can heat or cool their homes.  That is how serious an EMP burst could potentially be.  We are talking about an event that could be millions of times worse than 9/11.

Hopefully this latest storm has reminded Americans about how vulnerable our power grid really is and about how close we really are to being knocked back to the late 1800s.

Let’s review some of the damage that this “super derecho” storm caused to the D.C. area….

-Thousands of businesses have been forced to close temporarily because they cannot operate without electricity

-Many federal agencies were closed on Monday because there was no power

-Many 911 call centers throughout Northern Virginia were down over the weekend and could not respond to emergencies

-Without electricity, many families have not been able to cook warm meals

-Without warm water, many families have not been able to take hot showers

-A “boil water advisory” was put into effect for several areas of northern Virginia

-Many families that still do not have power are in danger of losing much of the food in their refrigerators and freezers

-Many gas stations were not able to operate because of a lack of electricity and so this has made filling up the gas tank a major hassle for many families

-Hundreds of traffic lights are still out and this is making commuting a major problem in some areas

-Without air conditioning many families are absolutely sweltering as high temperatures remain well above 90 degrees

-During the power outage some people have been without cell phone service because many cell phone towers were inoperable

-Without electricity, thousands upon thousands of people have not been able to use their computers for several days and this is causing a lot of frustration

-Several major websites were totally knocked offline by the storms as Robert McMillan of Wired Magazine explained….

Hurricane-like storms knocked an Amazon data center in Ashburn, Virginia, offline last night, and a chunk of the internet felt it. The six-hour incident temporarily cut off a number of popular internet services, including Netflix, Pinterest, Heroku, and Instagram.

But to be honest this was not a major disaster.

After a few days the damage will be fixed and people will start to forget what just happened.

Well, what if the damage was permanent and the entire nation had to go without electricity for the foreseeable future?  The following is from a USA Today article by Dan Vergano….

The sky erupts. Cities darken, food spoils and homes fall silent. Civilization collapses.

End-of-the-world novel? A video game? Or could such a scenario loom in America’s future?

There is talk of catastrophe ahead, depending on whom you believe, because of the threat of an electromagnetic pulse triggered by either a supersized solar storm or terrorist A-bomb, both capable of disabling the electric grid that powers modern life.

As I have written about previously, an EMP attack could fundamentally change life in America in a single instant.

What would you do if such a scenario happened?

Would you try to go somewhere?  Even if the electronics in your car were not totally fried, you would not be able to pump more gas anywhere.

Would you try to call someone?  Most phones would be totally dead and all normal communications networks would be down.  So who would you call?

Would you bunker down and try to survive on what you have at home?  Most of the food in your refrigerator and freezer would rapidly go bad and most Americans only have enough food to last a few days or a few weeks.  In addition, most Americans would no longer be able to heat or cool their homes, so extreme cold and extreme heat would become huge problems very quickly.

How in the world would any of us survive in a world without electricity?

In past centuries our forefathers knew how to survive in such a world, but most of us do not have the same skills or resources that they had.

The following is how an article in the Wall Street Journal once described what a massive EMP burst would do to this nation….

No American would necessarily die in the initial attack, but what comes next is potentially catastrophic. The pulse would wipe out most electronics and telecommunications, including the power grid. Millions could die for want of modern medical care or even of starvation since farmers wouldn’t be able to harvest crops and distributors wouldn’t be able to get food to supermarkets. Commissioner Lowell Wood calls EMP attack a “giant continental time machine” that would move us back more than a century in technology to the late 1800s.

What would you do if you were suddenly cut off from all electricity, all money, all modern forms of communication, all modern forms of transportation and all modern forms of shopping?

Don’t think that it can’t happen.

Scientists tell us that massive EMP bursts generated by gigantic solar storms have hit our planet in the past and that it is inevitable that it will happen again.

In addition, nations all over the planet are aware of what an EMP burst can do and have been developing “Super-EMP” weapons that can take power grids down in a single strike.

The following is a short excerpt from a statement by Dr. Peter Vincent Pry to the United States Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security on March 8th, 2005….

Russian and Chinese military scientists in open source writings describe the basic principles of nuclear weapons designed specifically to generate an enhanced-EMP effect, that they term “Super-EMP” weapons. “Super-EMP” weapons, according to these foreign open source writings, can destroy even the best protected U.S. military and civilian electronic systems.

That doesn’t sound good.

But perhaps even more troubling is that North Korea has been reportedly developing this type of weapon.  In fact, it has been reported that North Korea may have tested a “Super-EMP” weapon all the way back in 2009….

North Korea’s last round of tests, conducted in May 2009, appear to have included a “super-EMP” weapon, capable of emitting enough gamma rays to disable the electric power grid across most of the lower 48 states

In time, these kinds of weapons will get into more and more hands.

Will someone try to use this kind of weapon at some point?

Frank Gaffney, the president of the Center for Security Policy, believes that a single EMP burst could potentially end up killing the vast majority of the population of the United States….

“Within a year of that attack, nine out of 10 Americans would be dead, because we can’t support a population of the present size in urban centers and the like without electricity”

Once you understand these kinds of threats, it makes it a lot easier to understand why preppers are so busy preparing for the future.

Our world is becoming incredibly unstable.  Another major economic crisis could hit us at any time, war in the Middle East could erupt without warning, earthquakes and other natural disasters are becoming more frequent and society seems to get a little crazier with each passing day.

The era of tremendous peace and prosperity that we have all been enjoying is rapidly coming to an end.  In a world filled with instability and chaos, it only seems prudent to take some precautions.

You might want to get prepared while you still have time.

The Economic Collapse