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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Government Electronic Surveillance

According to an former NSA employee and now a whistleblower, "Everyone in US under virtual surveillance". Here is the article from an interview with William Binney, posted on At the bottom of this post there is excerpts from a e-mail from Senator Rand Paul basically backing up what Mr Binney claims.

The FBI records the emails of nearly all US citizens, including members of congress, according to NSA whistleblower William Binney. In an interview with RT, he warned that the government can use this information against anyone.

Binney, one of the best mathematicians and code breakers in the history of the National Security Agency, resigned in 2001. He claimed he no longer wanted to be associated with alleged violations of the Constitution, such as how the FBI engages in widespread and pervasive surveillance through powerful devices called 'Naris.'

This year, Binney received the Callaway award, an annual prize that recognizes those who champion constitutional rights and American values at great risk to their personal or professional lives.

RT: In light of the Petraeus/Allen scandal while the public is so focused on the details of their family drama, one may argue that the real scandal in this whole story is the power, the reach of the surveillance state. I mean if we take General Allen – thousands of his personal e-mails have been sifted through private correspondence. It’s not like any of those men was planning an attack on America. Does the scandal prove the notion that there is no such thing as privacy in a surveillance state?
William Binney: Yes, that’s what I’ve been basically saying for quite some time, is that the FBI has access to the data collected, which is basically the emails of virtually everybody in the country. And the FBI has access to it. All the congressional members are on the surveillance too, no one is excluded. They are all included. So, yes, this can happen to anyone. If they become a target for whatever reason – they are targeted by the government, the government can go in, or the FBI, or other agencies of the government, they can go into their database, pull all that data collected on them over the years, and we analyze it all. So, we have to actively analyze everything they’ve done for the last 10 years at least.

RT: And it’s not just about those, who could be planning, who could be a threat to national security, but also those, who could be just…
WB: It’s everybody. The Naris device, if it takes in the entire line, so it takes in all the data. In fact they advertised they can process the lines at session rates, which means 10-gigabit lines. I forgot the name of the device (it’s not the Naris) – the other one does it at 10 gigabits. That’s why they're building Bluffdale [database facility], because they have to have more storage, because they can’t figure out what’s important, so they are just storing everything there. So, emails are going to be stored there in the future, but right now stored in different places around the country. But it is being collected – and the FBI has access to it.

RT: You mean it’s being collected in bulk without even requesting providers?
WB: Yes.

RT: Then what about Google, you know, releasing this biannual transparency report and saying that the government’s demands for personal data is at an all-time high and for all of those requesting the US, Google says they complied with the government’s demands 90 percent of the time. But they are still saying that they are making the request, it’s not like it’s all being funneled into that storage. What do you say to that?
WB: I would assume that it’s just simply another source for the same data they are already collecting. My line is in declarations in a court about the 18-T facility in San Francisco, that documented the NSA room inside that AST&T facility, where they had Naris devices to collect data off the fiber optic lines inside the United States. So, that’s kind of a powerful device, that would collect everything it was being sent. It could collect on the order over of 100 billion 1,000-character emails a day. One device.

RT: You say they sift through billions of e-mails. I wonder how do they prioritize? How do they filter it? WB: I don’t think they are filtering it. They are just storing it. I think it’s just a matter of selecting when they want it. So, if they want to target you, they would take your attributes, go into that database and pull out all your data.

RT: Were you on the target list?
WB: Oh, sure! I believe I’ve been on it for quite a few years. So I keep telling them everything I think of them in my email. So that when they want to read it they’ll understand what I think of them.

RT: Do you think we all should leave messages for the NSA mail box?
WB: Sure!

RT: You blew the whistle on the agency when George W. Bush was the president. With President Obama in office, in your opinion, has anything changed at the agency, in the surveillance program? In what direction is this administration moving?
WB: The change is it’s getting worse. They are doing more. He is supporting the building of the Bluffdale facility, which is over two billion dollars they are spending on storage room for data. That means that they are collecting a lot more now and need more storage for it. That facility by my calculations that I submitted to the court for the Electronic Frontiers Foundation against NSA would hold on the order of 5 zettabytes of data. Just that current storage capacity is being advertised on the web that you can buy. And that’s not talking about what they have in the near future.

RT: What are they going to do with all of that? Ok, they are storing something. Why should anybody be concerned?
WB: If you ever get on the enemies list, like Petraeus did or… for whatever reason, than you can be drained into that surveillance.

RT: Do you think they would… General Petraeus, who was idolized by the same administration? Or General Allen?
WB: There are certainly some questions, that have to be asked, like why would they target it to begin with? What law were they breaking?

RT: In case of General Petraeus one would argue that there could have been security breaches. Something like that. But with General Allen – I don’t quite understand, because when they were looking into his private emails to this woman.
WB: That’s the whole point. I am not sure what the internal politics is… That’s part of the program. This government doesn’t want things in the public. It’s not a transparent government. Whatever the reason or the motivation was, I don’t really know, but I certainly think that there was something going on in the background that made them target those fellows. Otherwise why would they be doing it? There is no crime there.

RT: It seems that the public is divided between those, who think that the government surveillance program violates their civil liberties, and those who say, 'I’ve nothing to hide. So, why should I care?' What do you say to those who think that it shouldnt concern them.
WB: The problem is if they think they are not doing anything that’s wrong, they don’t get to define that. The central government does, the central government defines what is right and wrong and whether or not they target you. So, it’s not up to the individuals. Even if they think they aren't doing something wrong, if their position on something is against what the administration has, then they could easily become a target.

RT: Tell me about the most outrageous thing that you came across during your work at the NSA.
WB: The violations of the constitution and any number of laws that existed at the time. That was the part that I could not be associated with. That’s why I left. They were building social networks on who is communicating and with whom inside this country. So that the entire social network of everybody, of every US citizen was being compiled overtime. So, they are taking from one company alone roughly 320 million records a day. That’s probably accumulated probably close to 20 trillion over the years. The original program that we put together to handle this to be able to identify terrorists anywhere in the world and alert anyone that they were in jeopardy. We would have been able to do that by encrypting everybody’s communications except those who were targets. So, in essence you would protect their identities and the information about them until you could develop probable cause, and once you showed your probable cause, then you could do a decrypt and target them. And we could do that and isolate those people all alone. It wasn’t a problem at all. There was no difficulty in that.

RT: It sounds very difficult and very complicated. Easier to take everything in and…
WB: No. It’s easier to use the graphing techniques, if you will, for the relationships for the world to filter out data, so that you don’t have to handle all that data. And it doesn’t burden you with a lot more information to look at, than you really need to solve the problem.

RT: Do you think that the agency doesn’t have the filters now?
WB: No.

RT: You have received the Callaway award for civic courage. Congratulations! On the website and in the press release it says: “It is awarded to those, who stand out for constitutional rights and American values at great risk to their personal or professional lives.” Under the code of spy ethics – I don’t know if there is such a thing – your former colleagues, they probably look upon you as a traitor. How do you look back at them?
WB: That’s pretty easy. They are violating the foundation of this entire country. Why this entire government was formed? It’s founded with the Constitution and the rights were given to the people in the country under that Constitution. They are in violation of that. And under executive order 13526, section 1.7 – you can not classify information to just cover up a crime, which this is, and that was signed by President Obama. Also President Bush signed it earlier as an executive order, a very similar one. If any of this comes into Supreme Court and they rule it unconstitutional, then the entire house of cards of the government falls.

RT: What are the chances of that? What are the odds?
WB: The government is doing the best they can to try to keep it out of court. And, of course, we are trying to do the best we can to get into court. So, we decided it deserves a ruling from the Supreme Court. Ultimately the court is supposed to protect the Constitution. All these people in the government take an oath to defend the Constitution. And they are not living up to the oath of office.

From Senator Rand Paul (R-TN)

Would you want government agents listening to your phone calls? Looking at your email? Spying on your online activity? Chances are they have, and you didn't even know it.

The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was originally designed to protect American citizens from having government wiretap their phones and eavesdrop on their conversations. But in 2001, the Bush Administration amended FISA through the Patriot Act to allow warrantless wiretapping.

In 2008, the Obama administration further loosened these restrictions. Today, we have a federal government that can go through citizens' private communications-telephone, email, Facebook-you name it.

We know that the federal government has looked at over 28 million electronic records since the FISA Amendment Act. We know it has gone through 1.6 million texts.

When I was given a classified briefing this summer to investigate the extent to which the federal government is spying on citizens, I was required by law not to disclose the discussion. But in determining how many times this has occurred, I can give you a fictitious number-gazillions.

This is not hyperbole. I can assure you, it is quite accurate in describing the number of times government has snooped though American citizens private information. We now have a federal government that is unrestrained by law.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is looking to ram through FISA reauthorization before Christmas. He has made it clear he certainly expects it to be done by year's end.

Senator Rand Paul, a Great Patriot on my book, goes on to talk about a bill, called the "Fourth Amendment Protection Act", that he plans on introducing and he continues on askling for help, funding and calling your legislators.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Survival Firearm: Marlin Camp Carbine

I received this via e-mail, but I edited some of it to reduce the chances of exposing this young man's identity. In fact, that brings up a good point: I don't need to know your location or name other than what appears on your e-mail address. If you write me and do not want this to appear in print then let me know, otherwise you are going to have to trust me to edit any identification information for your OPSEC:

"Sir, I wanted to thank you for your information. I am new to survival prepping but I think I am an example of how you can do prepping when you are broke. I am a former Marine, 4 years in the Corps as a mechanic but first a rifleman. My wife left me and gave me a shit pot of debt which I am paying off. My father died last year too and left me a .45 pistol. As I am trying to get out of debt and do some prepping with basic foods. I work at a automotive shop and I am a good mechanic and not just with cars. I put cards up all over town advertising myself as a honest and responsible mechanic who does house calls. Think about it, most people have car trouble and can't get their car to a shop. I do estimates, routine maintenance, small repairs and even workout tows to my shop (my bosses) or any shop the person wants to go to.

I worked on a an older Olds for a elderly woman. I guess she liked me as I was respectful. She made brought me ice tea and asked me if I knew anything about guns. I said a little bit, so she showed me a couple guns that her husband left when he died a few years earlier. The end result was that she traded me a Marlin .45 Camp rifle and a old side by side shotgun for the labor and parts (oil, filter, air cleaner) I put into her Olds. The Marlin does not have any magazines. I think it can use the .45 pistol mags? And I am trying to get out of debt by am now thinking if the country collapses how would it be bad to have debt if everything is gone and they wouldn't be trying to collect. Thanks.

UrbanMan's reply: Mechanic Man, good for you finding multiple streams of income to fund not only your debt reduction but your survival preps. Remember that survival preparation for the coming collapse is not just about guns, but about stocked food, essential survival gear and equipment, maybe some junk silver coins or silver bullion, a defensible safe place to hide out and a plan that includes contingencies such as multiple Bug Out sites, maybe caches of essential supplies,....

Yes, the Marlin Camp Carbine can use the same magazines as your M1911 .45 ACP pistol. Make sure you stock up on them.  Camp carbines, which they also made in 9x19mm parabellum, are probably going for around $350-$450 at gun shows if you can find them, so yours is a real good find. However it is still a carbine firing a pistol caliber. The .45 ACP even when fired out of a carbine length barrel is still less than a 100 yard gun.

The pistol, carbine and shotgun that you now have is a great start to a survival battery. The good thing is your ammunition compatibility.  The bad thing is you don't have a gun using a longer range cartridge,..e.g.. .223 Remington, .308 Winchester, etc.  Via e-mail, I sent you links to several ammunition shops selling .45 ACP at the best prices you will find. I suggest you stock up on some ammunition. You did not send the make/model of the shortgun you traded for, but hopefully it is a 12 gauge. For any shotgun I suggest having a good supply of buckshot, slug and bird shot as well.

I am too trying to keep my debt as low as a I can. If (or really when) an economic collapse hits this country, it may not necessarily be an Armageddon type situation. Maybe it is a major depression type of collapse where the money supply is restricted and value deflated where interests rates skyrocket, so this is the scenario where having debt is not good, not to mention it just takes away from the maximum spending power you would otherwise have.But I would agree that if you could predict a total, catastrophic collapse having a brand new truck with extended fuel tanks, etc. would be a great thing to have especially if there weren't banks or financial corporations around to hound you for payments.  ha ha

With you being a mechanic, I think you have skills that may be in demand during a really bad collapse. In the latest James Wesley Rawles book, "Founders", one of the characters is a mechanic and built a pre-electronic ignition vehicle for survival, but it got shot to hell as they were bugging out and the character was forced to move on foot, - hence the Bug Out Bag and contingency just got to have them.

I don't want to be too redundant, but since you already have a good start of survial firearms, you may want to consider filling your other basic needs. Good luck to you.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Preparing for the Collapse Links, 24 December 2012

Confiscation of Guns Being Considered. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said, in the wake of the Sandy Hill Elementary School murders, that all options, including confiscation and mandatory sales (of privately owned guns) to the state, would be on the table next month when the New York State Legislature debates new gun control measures. Wow! I believe this is the first case of such a high level politician advocating the confiscation of guns. Any new state law in New York would certainly be challenged in court and eventually the U.S. Supreme Court would side with gun owners,...wouldn't they? Any attempts at forced confiscation would simply not work.  Let's hope calmer minds prevail.

Armageddon Proof Houses.. Sort of, or what some people think of as secure Bug In locations. Some of these people may be fooling themselves. Without stocks of foods, training, ability to procure or grow food, a water source, ability to provide your own protection,...a well thought out Bug Out plan,...well, all you readers know the drill.

Silver Prices About To Explode. I don't necesarily believe so, but I read alot of articles concerning financial predictions,...still a good idea to have some precious metals on hand for when the dollar collapses and we go to a gold-silver and/or barter system or when some type of monetary system eventually emerges after the collapse,....if we will have an "after collapse" society.

Dental Emergencies. How many of us consider dental problems in our post collapse medical planning? I certainly need to do more. I have dental cement, dental tools, a dental book, extra toothpaste, toothbrushes and floss, but that's about it.

Gun Control LoomingNow, more so than any time since 1934, the Government appears bound and determined to enact sweeping gun control through either legislation or executive order. This not only degrades Survivalists and their ability to buy and own firearms to protect themselves, but will again push preppers to the radical fringe in many people's eyes.

Preparing for the end of the World. Although the end of the world according to the Mayans has passed, this mainly photographic article from the Atlantic makes it worthwhile just to see the exceptional photos of preppers and end of the world believers.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Collapse will Beget Desperate Measures

The Fiscal Cliff,...the new year bringing large tax increases,...the nation's diminished capability to produce food and feed itself,.......natural disasters and drought further degrading our economy and agricultureral capacity,.........our manufacturing base moving outside the U.S. .....and close to 50 million people, more than 20% of the population, dependant upon Government welfare checks to eat, ....and, another large segment of the population dependent upon the government for their retirement pensions. All this spells a perfect storm for a rapid descent once the economic collapse.

I have written before that hyper inflation, or worse yet, a total economic collapse will turn millions or tens of millions of people into "criminals" in short order. All of the people reading this have in some way or form are prepared to provide their own security to counter a threat from hardened predators as well as simply desperate people . It is interesting to look at what is going on in Grece from an economic as well as a social or human dynamic perspective.

I think our pending economic collapse may not be so slow as what we are seeing in Greece right now. But what is going on in Greece with the population is worth studying. The article below, written by Oliver Staley of Bloomberg news and posted on the financial is interesting as it provides a personal look at the gloom from Greece's fall from grace.

Anastasia Karagaitanaki, 57, is a former model and cafe owner in Thessaloniki, Greece. After losing her business to the financial crisis, she now sleeps on a daybed next to the refrigerator in her mother’s kitchen and depends on charity for food and insulin for her diabetes.

“I feel like my life has slipped through my hands,” said Karagaitanaki, whose brother also shares the one-bedroom apartment. “I feel like I’m dead.”

Everyone here is dependent on their parents’ pensions. For thousands of Greeks like Karagaitanaki, the fabric of middle-class life is unravelling. Teachers, salaries slashed by a third, are stealing electricity. Families in once-stable neighborhoods are afraid to leave their homes because of rising street crime.

Karagaitanaki’s family can’t afford gas to heat their home this winter and will rely on electric blankets in the chilly northern Greek city. They live on the 785 euros (US $1,027) a month their mother collects monthly from their late father’s pension. Two years ago, Karagaitanaki sold her jewelry for 3,000 euros, which she gave to her two sons. Her blood sugar is rising because she can’t afford the meat and vegetables her doctor recommends and instead eats rice and beans she gets from the Greek Orthodox Church.

“We are waiting every month for my mother’s pension,” Karagaitanaki said. “If my mother dies, what can I do? Everyone here is dependent on their parents’ pensions.”

UrbanMan comments: What happens when the Greek Government can no longer pay those pensions checks?

No Money. Even as Greece reduces its deficit and accepts a European aid package that may include a 34.4 billion euro loan approved last month, conditions for Greece’s middle class are likely to worsen next year as austerity measures take a bigger bite, said George Tzogopoulos, a research fellow at the Hellenic Foundation for European & Foreign Policy in Athens.

“I don’t think there is a single Greek citizen who believes that things will be better,” Tzogopoulos said. “There is no money for people to spend.”

UrbanMan comments: People spending money is what drives the economy. Without any money to spend manufacturing and services stop. The economy and indeed the country collapses.

Signs of Greece’s decline are everywhere in Thessaloniki, its second-largest city. Stores are closed in the fashionable shopping district downtown. Near an Yves Saint Laurent store, a man searched the trash bins for scrap metal, which he piled in the same shopping cart where his toddler daughter rode.

Outside a soup kitchen run by the Evangelical Church of Thessaloniki, men and women squabble over their place in line. Attendance at the kitchen’s twice-weekly dinners has climbed from 25 to about 140 in five years, said Antonis Sakellariou, a church elder.

Moving Away. In the once stable neighborhood of Kordelio, the unemployed and drug users gather in the parks, scaring away mothers and children, and crimes like chain snatching are on the rise. Many long-time residents have left, moving abroad or to their families’ villages, leaving behind empty houses, said Evangelia Rombou, 58, who has lived in Kordelio for 22 years.

“We feel like foreigners here,” Rombou said.

Greece’s economy has contracted every quarter for four years and one in four Greeks is jobless. Austerity measures have cut public employee salaries and benefits, reduced government services and raised taxes. Another round of cuts passed Nov. 8 raised the retirement age, reduced wages and pensions and means Greece will become the 17-nation euro region’s poorest country in two years, according to the European Commission.

For many unemployed Greeks, the vaunted European social safety net doesn’t exist. Only 17% of the 1.2 million jobless receive unemployment insurance, said Manos Matsaganis, an assistant professor at the Athens University of Economics and Business.

Poverty Line. Greece’s effective poverty rate has risen to 36% from about 20% in 2009, Matsaganis said. About 8.5% of Greeks now live in extreme poverty and can’t afford a basic basket of goods and services, he said.

The crisis is shredding the middle class, which is feeling the brunt of public-sector salary reductions and private job losses while paying higher taxes, said Elias Papaioannou, an associate professor of economics at London Business School.

Papaioannou, an Athens native who considered a career in Greece and now has no plans to return, compares the situation with the German occupation of Greece during the Second World War, when hyperinflation wiped out the middle class.

“People are suffering massively,” he said. “To me, it’s the collapse of the state.”

Afrodity Giannakis, 52, is a teacher earning 800 euros a month, cut from 1,200 euros a month. When she refused to pay a new, 420-euro annual property tax attached to her electricity bill, her power was cut. She called friends in a neighborhood solidarity group and with the help of an electrician, she was illegally reconnected to the grid within hours.

At War. “We’re at war,” Giannakis said. “The state is against us and we’re trying to protect ourselves and our rights, as much as we can. Things are becoming ferocious.”

Karagaitanaki has bright red hair, expertly applied makeup, and dressed in a white, quilted jacket accented with a Chinese-style pendant. She was raised in a working class family in Thessaloniki and began modeling as a teenager. At 16 she was crowned “Miss Northern Greece,” she said. Runway modeling took her across Europe — to Milan, Paris and Dusseldorf, she said.

In 1978, with her then-husband, Karagaitanaki opened her cafe in downtown Thessaloniki. Based on a Viennese coffee house, the small business attracted the city’s intellectuals and artists. Her younger brother, Maximus, began working there when he was 18, and eventually her two sons joined in. She divorced in 2000.

“We did everything ourselves,” Karagaitanaki said. “We built the cafe ourselves and that’s why people loved it.”

Taxes Surge. When it opened, the cafe’s rent was 400 drachmas a month. By 2010, after Greece’s economy surged and real estate boomed, the rent had climbed to 3,000 euros a month and other expenses rose, Karagaitanaki said. Bills for taxes and utilities climbed fourfold since 2000, she said. To cover her costs, she charged more.

UrbanMan's comment: Tax increases? Where have we heard that before - like that's going to help.

“I had to raise my prices, she said. “That’s why I lost my customers.”

The final straw came when the landlord raised the rent again and demanded an additional 40,000 euros for a new, 12-year lease, she said. She closed the cafe in 2010.

“It’s like losing my life,” she said with tears in her eyes. “The cafe was my life.”

Karagaitanaki said she recently passed the cafe, now a store selling organic beauty products, and cried after seeing that a tree she had planted in front was dead.

Futile Search. Losing the cafe left the family unemployed. Her two sons, aged 32 and 22, moved to Komotini in Eastern Greece, where their father lives, to open a bar there. Karagaitanaki moved in with her 84 year-old mother in April of 2010, joining her brother.

While Karagaitanaki sleeps on her daybed, her 6-foot, 3-inch brother folds himself onto a five-foot couch in the living room each night. Living in such close quarters mean the siblings fight over using the bathroom, she said.

“It’s like being a teenager,” she said. “The only good thing about it is that we can help my mother.”

Maximus Karagaitanakis, 49, said he looks for work daily, going to the unemployment office and asking friends who work in cafes and pubs. Mostly, though, he hangs around the apartment.

“It’s very, very hard,” he said.

Even before the crisis, Greeks tended to stay at home late into adulthood and often depended on parents for support, Papaioannou said. The crisis has made middle-aged Greeks even more dependent on their elderly parents for income, which puts pressure on pensions that are being cut, he said.

Cigarettes and Coffee. Karagaitanaki spends her days cleaning her mother’s apartment and helping a friend run a downtown coffee shop. In exchange, her friend buys her cigarettes and coffee.

UrbanMan's comment: People have to have their vices, cigerettes and liquor. And coffee is also a valuabel barter item. That's why I have roughly 40 bottles of alcholo (wine and booze) and lot's of coffee stockpiled. Some of that coffee I bought at $6 a container and now it's around $10.

In a drawer in her mother’s kitchen, Karagaitanaki keeps a folder of mementos. She has magazine clippings from her modeling days, when she sauntered down the catwalk in boxy ’80s fashions, and photos from parties held at the cafe.

She also has paperwork for a court date over her failure to pay 34,000 euros in back taxes owed by her cafe. Since she has no way to pay, she said she isn’t concerned.

Karagaitanaki also lacks health insurance after falling behind on her payments. While the Greek national health service covers hospital care, there’s no free primary care.

To treat her diabetes, she goes to the Social Solidarity clinic, a free medical center staffed by doctors and nurses volunteering their time. From the clinic she gets insulin and needles, which would otherwise cost her 150 euros a month, and dental care after diabetes destroyed her teeth, she said.

Medication Donations. When the clinic in Thessaloniki’s Chinatown opened in November 2011, doctors expected to primarily serve illegal immigrants who had no other options, said Stathis Giannakopoulos, a general practitioner who volunteers one night a month. Instead, at least half the patients are Greeks who have lost their health insurance. For medicine, they depend on donations of surpluses from drugstores and individuals, he said.

“This isn’t a way to treat a country,” Giannakopoulos said. “This a way to destroy a country.”

Like many doctors in Greece, Giannakopoulos’s salary has been cut, from about 2,000 euros a month in 2009 to less than 1,500 a month now.

While doctors have told Karagaitanaki to reduce starchy foods in her diet to help her diabetes, she said she can’t.

“It’s the most expensive illness because you should eat meat, fish, chicken, everyday,” she said. “How can we afford it?”

Standing in her mother’s kitchen, Karagaitanaki carefully cradles a bandaged hand. On a rainy day last month, she slipped on leaves and sprained her wrist. When she went to the hospital, she had 10 euros her mother had given her for the day. She paid 9 euros for X-rays and bandages.

“I had 10 euros and it cost 9,” she said. “Now I have 1 euro.”

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Will The Anti-Gun Movement After School Massacre Target Preppers?

I have been asked several questions concerning the hideous murders of children and teachers at the Sandy Hill Elementary School and how it affects preppers, with most of these questions relating to the legality, availability and affordability of what the unknowledgable call "assault weapons".

Really doesn't matter what I think as sales and prices of civilian AR's and Kalashnikov models are reportedly up in the same numbers they were when President Obama won his first election.

There is an emotional cry to "do something" about these unpredicable mass murders. That may result in further firearms restrictions, maybe high capacity magazines restrictions, certainly some type of ammunition controls , maybe taxes, maybe tracking of ammunition sales,......anybody's guess on which previously pro-firearms and pro-constitution legislators will roll over and support such measures.

But as far as legislative or executive order decisions affecting the other efforts of preppers or otherwise targeting us as some sort of state threat? I don't think least not in a great degree.  Then lo and behold an article comes out on the internet about "Survivalists worry ‘preppers’ will be scapegoated for Newtown shooting":

Ever since a relative of Newtown, Conn., shooter Adam Lanza suggested that his mother, Nancy Lanza, was a "survivalist" who stockpiled food and weapons, "preppers" have gone online to express concern that they may become targets of unwelcome attention.

"She prepared for the worst," Nancy Lanza's sister-in-law, Marsha Lanza, told reporters last weekend. "Last time we visited her in person, we talked about prepping—are you ready for what could happen down the line, when the economy collapses?"

Preppers, also known as survivalists, have been popularized by the National Geographic reality show "Doomsday Preppers." They range from people who believe the world will end soon to those who want to be better prepared in case a natural disaster hits.

Some preppers pursue "shelter in place" strategies, turning their homes into fortresses and stockpiling food, while others plan to flee their homes when the time comes and survive in the wilderness. Many swap tips and stories on online message boards, where discussions about Nancy Lanza and the possible blowback on preppers from her apparent connection to the community sparked debate over the weekend.

Adam Lanza, 20, is believed to have shot his mother while she slept before driving to a nearby elementary school and killing six adults and 20 children. People who knew Nancy Lanza, 52, and her son have told reporters that she took Adam to shooting ranges and legally owned five guns. It's suspected that three of the guns recovered at the scene of the crime belonged to his mother. On Sunday, the New York Post ran a cover story that seemed to lay blame for the shooting at her feet, titled "Gun-obsessed mom taught murderer son to shoot: Trained to Kill."

One leading prepper, Daisy Luther, was outraged by the cover, and wrote on her blog the Organic Prepper that the media is using the shootings to "demonize" preppers and that the tactic may be a form of "psychological warfare."

"I don’t know why Adam Lanza went on a rampage and killed 26 people last week. But I do know that it wasn’t because his mother was a homeschooling prepper who stored up food and taught him to fire a gun at a paper target," she wrote.

An anonymous poster on the conspiracy website GodlikeProductions also worried that preppers may now become "targets" to blame for the tragedy. "If I was you guys I'd keep any prepper type activities close to the vest," the poster wrote.

Others commented that preppers need to be more careful in keeping their weapons locked away. "I may be out of line (and i know you guys will let me know if i am!) but i am thinking that if i had guns in the same house with a [mentally ill] son, i would have invested in a gun safe and kept the keys on me," wrote one prepper named Peter Simcox on "A good prepper is going to secure the arms almost as a first reponsibility."

Other preppers chimed in to say that it's still unknown how Adam Lanza accessed the weapons in the first place and that they might have been locked away. A friend of the family told NBC's the "Today" show that Nancy Lanza insisted her son use weapons responsibly and taught him to do so when they went to ranges for target practice together.

"Guns require a lot of respect, and she really tried to instill that responsibility within him, and he took to it," friend Russell Hanoman said. "He loved being careful with them. He made it a source of pride."

Monday, December 17, 2012

Survival Planning: Free Topographical Maps

Topographical  (Topo) maps are a great asset to planning practically anything...Bug Out Routes, Caches, and many more uses.  The commonly available mapping tools on the web may not be available if the collapse is severe enough. Best to have them as hard copies and also electroncially, as files on your laptop or PDA type device.

A sharp reader posted how to get free topo mapping files, in a comment to a previous post, so I thought I would re-post where more readers could see it.

Free Detailed Maps

There is an invaluable tool for your pre and post SHTF operations that allows you detailed and accurate mapping for your location(s). Here is a link to the U.S. Geological Survey Map Store where you can download free, detailed topographic, contour, road maps, even including satellite images.

First click on this link.

Now Double-Click and Click-and-Drag to zoom in on the area you want. Once you have narrowed down to the area you want, then:

Select “O MARK POINTS:" instead of "O NAVIGATE:" on the right side of the window.

There is a Pull-Down window near the middle of the right side of the window indicating either “30 Minute and larger” or “7.5 to 15 Minute”. For most practical topographic purposes you will do better with the 7.5 to 15 Minute maps.

Click on the map in the center of an area you want to map out. The map will then refresh with a marker pointing to your spot.

Left click on the target dot of your marker. This will create a popup window showing all maps available which include the spot you selected.

Find the most recent map and click on the file size for the map rather than any other column.

This will generate a .zip file name which you can download through a “Save As” window.

Once Saved, go to the folder where you saved it.

Right click on the name of the .zip file, and select “Extract All…”.

Be sure to use the browse function to place the final map where you want it stored on your PC.

The unzipped file will be in a PDF format.

The newest maps (2010 and later) actually contain multiple layers including satellite images. If you download and install the TerraGo software (available free at the lower left corner of the map window) you can select and manage which layers you view with Adobe Reader.

Friday, December 14, 2012

US Power Grid Vulnerable to Attack, Disaster and Collapse

US Power Grid Vulnerable to Just About Everything by Jen Alic of

As Washington hunts ill-defined al-Qaeda groups in the Middle East and Africa, and concerns itself with Iran’s eventual nuclear potential, it has a much more pressing problem at home: Its energy grid is vulnerable to anyone with basic weapons and know-how.

Forget about cyber warfare and highly organized terrorist attacks, a lack of basic physical security on the US power grid means that anyone with a gun—like disgruntled Michigan Militia types, for instance--could do serious damage.

For the past two months, the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has been tasked with creating a security strategy for the electric grid and hydrocarbon facilities through its newly created Office of Energy Infrastructure Security. So far, it’s not good news.

“There are ways that a very few number of actors with very rudimentary equipment could take down large portions of our grid,” warns FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff. This, he says, “is an equal if not greater issue” than cyber security.

FERC’s gloom-and-doom risk assessment comes on the heels of the recent declassification of a 2007 report by the National Academy of Sciences.

The National Academy of Sciences on 14 November warned that a terrorist attack on the US power grid could wreak more damage than Hurricane Sandy. It could cause massive blackouts for weeks or months at a time. But this would only be the beginning, the Academy warns, spelling out an “end of days” scenario in which blackouts lead to widespread fear, panic and instability.

What they are hinting at is revolution—and it wouldn’t take much.

UrbanMan's comment:So what would happen if the grid went down starting widespread fear, panic and instability,....and as the article says, possible revolution?

Several immediate effects come to mind: lack of power for heating in cold winter months could potenially create tens of thousands of casualties - mostly elderly as well as create angry groups of rioters and looters, mainly youths and young adults to begin with.

The combined Army and National Guard could not control these mainly urban population centers as well as food supply depots, lines of comunciations and existing working power stations or protect the workers attempting to repair  the problem.  It would be a huge problem to provide power to run the plants that produce, package and ship the nations food supply. Look around your community and imagine no food for four or five days, about ten to fourteen days? What would your community look like?

So what is being done to mitigate risk? According to FERC, utility companies aren’t doing enough. Unfortunately, FERC does not have the power to order utilities to act in the name of protecting the country’s energy infrastructure. Security is expensive, and more than 90% of the country’s grid is privately owned and regulated by state governments. Private utilities are not likely to feel responsible for footing the bill for security, and states may not be able to afford it.

One key problem is theoretically a simple one to resolve: a lack of spare parts. According to the National Academy of Sciences, the grid is particularly vulnerable because it is spread out across hundreds of miles with key equipment not sufficiently guarded or antiquated and unable to prevent outages from cascading.

We are talking about some 170,000 miles of voltage transmission line miles fed by 2,100 high-voltage transformers delivering power to 125 million households.

"We could easily be without power across a multistate region for many weeks or months, because we don't have many spare transformers,” according to the Academy.

High-voltage transformers are vulnerable both from within and from outside the substations in which they are housed. Complicating matters, these transformers are huge and difficult to remove. They are also difficult to replace, as they are custom built primarily outside the US. So what is the solution? Perhaps, says the Academy, to design smaller portable transformers that could be used temporarily in an emergency situation.

Why was the Academy’s 2007 report only just declassified? Well, its authors were worried that it would be tantamount to providing terrorists with a detailed recipe for attacking and destabilizing America, or perhaps for starting a revolution.

The military at least is preparing to protect its own power supplies. Recently, the US Army Corps of Engineers awarded a $7 million contract for research that demonstrates the integration of electric vehicles, generators and solar arrays to supply emergency power for Fort Carson, Colorado. This is the SPIDERS (Smart Power Infrastructure Demonstration for Energy Reliability and Security), and the Army hopes it will be the answer to more efficient and secure energy.

Back in the civilian world, however, things are moving rather slowly, and the focus remains on the sexier idea of an energy-crippling cyberattack.

Last week, Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) urged House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) to pass a bill—the GRID Act--which would secure the grid against cyberattacks.

"As the widespread and, in some cases, still ongoing power outages from Superstorm Sandy have shown us, our electric grid is too fragile and its disruption is too devastating for us to fail to act," Markey wrote. "Given this urgency, it is critical that the House act immediately in a bipartisan manner to ensure our electrical infrastructure is secure."

This bill was passed by the House, but has failed to gain any traction in the Senate.

FERC, of course, is all for the bill, which would give it the authority to issue orders and regulations to boost the security of the electric grid's computer systems from a cyberattack. But it’s only a small piece of the security puzzle, and FERC remains concerned that authorities are overlooking the myriad simpler threats to the electricity grid. These don’t make for the easy headlines, especially since they are not necessarily foreign in nature.

UrbanMan's comment:  Survialists have to consider developing some type of power solutions. A minimum level would probably be small solar panels to charge batteries for FRS or other radios, flashlights, small lanterns, etc. Beware of some of the cheap solar panels kits. Most are made in China.

I have several small wattage ridig solar panel kits, all but one still in the box, and I will use for barter or I may rig into my Bug In location grid. Right now they are boxed in order to trade or to pack for Bug Out. 

And I have some individual solar powered motion detection lights that I have installed on the sides of my house for perimeter security, and if necessary can use for lights at night inside buildings as they are portable if you install these, with wing nuts rather than lock washers and bolts.

Solutions from Science offers some higher end solar systems that are still portable. This is solidly constructed kit. Getting what is advertised. Click on Solutions from Science to get more information on this solar generator.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Armageddon Arsenals

Kelly at Orion Entertainment sent us notice of a television showed called Armageddon Arsenals that will premiere Thursday December 13th on Discovery's Destination America. This promises to be an entertaining show as Orion Entertainment production goes inside the fascinating world of weapons other words,, me and friends of ours.

Here is the press release:

Denver, Colorado--Officials from Orion Entertainment have announced that 'Armageddon Arsenals' will debut Thursday Dec. 13 at 10pm Eastern on Discovery's Destination America network. The series explores the weapons and security aspects of the massive new prepping movement, focusing on individuals and families across the country who are preparing for a variety of worst case scenarios--many of them more plausible now than ever.

"Once thought of as a fringe movement," says Orion Entertainment President Chris Dorsey, "millions of Americans now call themselves doomsday preppers and are taking extraordinary measures to plan and prepare for catastrophic events. While some viewers might find weapons caching extreme, by the end of the episode many will be asking what they should be doing to prepare. There is a lot of uncertainty and fear in the country and preppers are a manifestation of the larger national movement toward self-reliance."

The one-hour pilot features weapons preppers in Texas, Utah, and Colorado who have amassed significant arsenals but who have also created elaborate security strategies to stay safe should the unthinkable happen. As one of the featured preppers warns, "If things get really bad it won't matter how much food and water you have stored if you can't protect it."

Watch the trailer on You Tube:

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Government Preparing for Martial Law

UrbanMan: I get a few e-mails from time to time asking my opinion on scenarios that could bring about martial law: if it is possible that our Muslims enemies could generate attacks on the homeland in sufficient density to force martial law;......domestic terrorism such as attacks and bomb threats that some may think the government is behind in some sort of conspiracy in order to generate an excuse for, or a popular calling for martial law; and/or, if an economic collapse or hyper-inflation is sufficient to create wide spread food shortages and riots, would the government implement martial law.

While not a conspiracy theorist by nature, nor believing that the government in all it's capacity would have the resources to control this country by force, it is a bit concerning that in the space of one year the government passing the NDAA and the lesser known NDRP, and is considering a new law authorizing warrantless electronic searches. SO,.....while I remain to been convinced of a larger government plan, I do know that the economy will get worse, affected by natural conditions such as disasters and droughts;....that the dollar will inflate causing much more of our income to go towards essentials such as food and further stimulating a downward slide in the economy as less moeny will be able to expand businesses.

I remain oriented towards planning and preparing for bad times, no matter what the cause. But I do contiue researching and analyzing the potential causes and course of events that would make our preparations a worthwhile endeavor. Below is an article written by Tony Adkins of the Conservative Daily:

A warning from the Conservative Daily

In December of 2011 on New Year’s Eve, President Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), declaring the entire United States a “battlefield” and giving the U.S. government the right to detain an American citizen indefinitely and even assassinate them, if they are suspected of terrorism—without due process.

Then, in March of 2012, Obama signed the National Defense Resources Preparedness Executive Order (NDRP) that effectively declares peacetime martial law, giving the President authority over food and water, production, fuel, transportation, livestock and more if the government decides it is an emergency.

Since September 11, 2001, the government has found every way to make exceptions to our Fourth Amendment protections and claim legal right to search and seizure of our private property—all in the name of safety, of course. But haven’t the terrorists “won” when America ceases to be America? They want to kill our freedoms and they want us to live in fear. They don’t have to do much, because our own government is moving their agenda along by killing our

The average, law-abiding American may not see the small yet consistent changes in our Bill of Rights protections, but we are the ones who need to pay attention to these attacks on our freedom and stop them before government takes total control. At one point or another, the long arm of the government will reach into every American home and by then, it will be too late to change our path.

Journalist Chris Hedges brought suit against the constitutionality of the NDAA, resulting in federal judge Katherine Forrest’s ruling that it was, in fact, unconstitutional (the Obama administration continues to insist it is within the realm of the law). In an interview he said of the NDAA, “It is a huge and egregious assault against our democracy. It overturns over 200 years of law, which has kept the military out of domestic policing. It’s an extremely frightening step backwards for American democracy. And I think that for those of us who care about civil liberties, the right of dissent and freedom, we have to stand up.”

We want to catch the radical Islamists and others who want to kill us, but we do not accept the government eliminating our Bill of Rights protections and having full, unchecked authority while doing it. We cannot give up our freedoms as the government tries to “fix” problems that have already happened.

Our job is to remain watchful of our rights and make sure our government doesn’t take the focus off the real terrorists and begin labeling anyone who simply has a dissenting opinion, the enemy.

This is a concern because the Department of Homeland Security funded a study, which hardly mentions Islam at all, yet labels terrorists as including:

Americans who are suspicious of centralized federal authority; Americans who believe their way of life is under attack; People opposed to abortion; Americans who are reverent of individual liberty

Our warnings on this issue are not meant as “doom and gloom” conspiracy theories or crazy rants with no basis in fact—they are just that, warnings, because we see too much power and control being concentrated in the hands of the government and this regulation crept into the hands of one man in the Oval Office is what has us so concerned.

Many have warned of possible martial law in the U.S., even those outside of it. Igor Panarin, dean of the Russian Foreign Ministry School for future diplomats, lectured in 2009 that the U.S. would begin to collapse in 2010 and compared America to Nazi Germany. He said mass immigration; economic decline, moral degradation and the collapse of the dollar will send America reeling into another civil war.

Regardless of whether you believe comments coming out of Russia, given our current circumstances, that scenario is not out of the question.

Absolute power given to any person, regardless of their worldview, is dangerous. Lord John Dalberg-Acton warned, “Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.”

Actions being taken by President Obama are not entirely new. The NDRP is rooted in the Defense Production Act of 1950, which gave the government the power to dispense “national resources” in the event of an emergency. Unlawful detainment of U.S. citizens occurred during the Civil War and under Roosevelt during World War II. What Obama is now doing is “editing” these Acts and Executive Orders to further the framework for a complete takeover by the executive branch, should he declare America is in an emergency.

And since Obama has been President, everything has been an emergency. The stimulus, Obamacare, Internet regulation and war in Libya, to name just a few, have all been pushed because “we can’t wait.” Now, government departments are stockpiling ammunition, checkpoints and riot gear. The U.S. is on the verge of an economic collapse. The United Nations continues to poke its nose into our business and our President is complicit in their meddling.

That is why the current versions of the NDAA and NDRP are so troubling. The NDAA is a broadly vague bill that is needs to be reviewed in its entirety. It is the same Act that allows the government to run propaganda on American people. Its language in direct opposition to what the United States of America stands for. And this is how America dies, slowly, little by little, with signing statements and amendments and executive orders that the American people hardly notice and of course the media giants rarely report.

Why is Congress silent on this? We sent them to Washington to represent our interests and defend our rights under the Constitution. On their watch, we are experiencing the unraveling of hundreds of years of guaranteed and protected freedoms.

Tell them to govern by the Constitution and reject all attempts at destroying it, or we will kick them out of office and vote someone in who will. Fax them now and demand they support S. 2175 and H.R. 5936, which will repeal the mandatory military detention requirement and ban indefinite detention and military commissions from the United States.

Involved citizens like you who keep up with what is really going on in Washington are the last line of defense against tyranny. It is not okay for our government to lock up American citizens without charges or due process. If they will not defend our Constitution, we will.

Congressman Ron Paul says, “The Bill of Rights…is a key check on government power against any person.” Are we willing to let that check be eliminated? Sincerely, Tony Adkins, Conservative-Daily.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Ruger 10-22, the Survivalist's Necessary Rifle

Anonymous has left a new comment on our previous post titled "Urban Survival Tool – Survival Rifle":   "I just bought a Ruger 10-22 "Take Down" instead of the AR-7. It was a few more dollars but well worth it. It's a very well made rifle, breaks into 2 parts right in front of the receiver, very reliable, and you can get 30 round clips for it. It comes with a very nice soft backback case that will fit in most back packs and bug out bags. Nothing against the AR-7 but the 10-22 has a lot of pluses. "

UrbanMan's comments: I too have a Ruger 10-22. I also have two other .22 LR rifles and one handgun, another Ruger product - the Mark II. There are many after market accessories made for the Ruger 10-22,...from extra capacity magazines, to stocks both full length and folding, to scopes, bases and mounts, trigger kits, muzzle breaks (as if you needed one), and many others. The Ruger 10-22 cas it comes out of the box is as good as factory original gets. I would suggest adding some extra capacity magazines and none are better for the Ruger 10-22 than those that comes from the factory.

This means the Ruger BX-25 magazine (shown at right) which is a 25 round curved box magazine if you couldn't figure out the round count from the name. Pro-Mag makes a 50 round drum magazine which is worth looking at. I have tried many of the plastic magazines even the ones with steel feed lips but I would hesitate to recommend them.

Pro-Mag, 50 round drum magazine, shown at left, is another option.  I don't have one and I think I'll be sticking with my factory 10 round magazines and the 25 round box magazine. 

Double K makes essentially a speed loader pouch, advertised on Cabela's that shows two Ruger factory 10-22 magazines fitting into where you would normally carry the speed loaders for revolvers.  I didn't even think about this, nor do I have any other pouches to keep my 10-22 factory rotary magazines, so I tried them in an old speed loader pouch - it's a tight fit but they'll work. 

While many will take exception to my calling either a .22 LR rifle or specifically a Ruger 10-22 a necessary component of the Survivalist's firearms battery, I'll stick to my guns (no pun intended) and say that one is absolutely necessary.

From training to hunting small game there are many uses. Ammunition is cheap and a lot of it is easily stored in small spaces. While I also have an AR-7. It is a true survivalist's rifle as it stays inside it's butt stock and inside one of my Bug Out bags.

Monday, December 3, 2012

More Comments: Survive the Collapse by Bugging In

Lot's of debate on whether to Bug In or Bug Out.  I don't think anyone can cast a blanket solution for either.  Way too many factors depending on the situation.  Here is an Anonymous comment regarding a previous post that analyzed the question: "Bugging In - Not the Answer?":

”There will be hundreds of thousands of people with the same idea as you. Hunting, fishing, foraging...etc. I live in a small city next to Lake Erie, and I know that thousands of people will be using the lake and the rivers for their survival. I will not go anywhere near there in a real survival situation. The wooded areas will be teeming with "wanna-be" hunters trying to bag dinner for their family when the food runs out. I have very few places I can bug out to, and I have a feeling that there will be a mass exodus from this area if we lose utilities, and trucked in food anyway. That is unless the National Guard, police, and other agencies do not shut down or restrict travel. My job, and skills will keep me local anyway, as I will be part of the emergency response personnel working. So bugging in is my only viable route. Plus, I have aged parents living locally, who can't travel to well. My father can barely walk. I have built a family plan that has turned into a neighborhood plan. We will all stick together, or die separately. That's my two cents. “

UrbanMan replies:: Thanks for your comment, it is worth much more than two cents. You evidently saw the reader comment “get a field guide, learn edible plants and go live in the woods” and the responding comment that “get a field guide for edible plants?,… yeah and they will find you dead in the woods,…..with your field guide open laying besides you.”

Both are true comments.  I am prepping for a Bug In at my suburban location. You are helping my point about people make the conscious decision to Bug In, despite additional disadvantages or risks. Has to be a conscious decision weighting all the threat factors and your resources. In your case, it sounds like the major risks of trying to survive by yourself or in a real small group are mitigated with the development of a neighborhood plan.

The major disadvantage of a larger survival group, prepping and living separately, is that some will prep harder than others, and some will hold a grudge on people would did not prepare as well as they should have. Basically, your plan is like mine, aside from my core group of now, eight families consolidated at my house. The neighbors I have been talking to will be offered support, more on the advice side than the giving them supplies side.  But every decision will be weighed based on the security and safety of the group.

If a person plans well, given geographic variables such as anticipated refugee routes, and areas that will be a target of looter gangs such as warehouse areas, shopping malls, even smaller strip malls and individual retail stores, then I think it is possible to be reasonable safe if an adequate survival team is developed,  precautions and procedures instituted, supplies stocked and contingency plans developed.

You know that probably a large extent of your procedures, be it security procedures, individual or team responsibilities, additional training requirements, communications plans, will most likely be decided after the need or threat already exists,…meaning after the initiation of the collapse. Most people will simply not get it until the need is starring them right in the face. Let’s hope it is not too late. I think the bigger survival team you have within your neighbor will make it easier to rally non-team families and members into your group for the greater good.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Computer Security for Pre and Post Collapse

With the significant amount of preppers that believe in the probability that the coming collapse will be either generated by the Government or will result in a heavy handed Government exerting martial law across the land, I offer this article on computer security.

While the Government has phenomenal capabilities when it comes to electronic tracking and eavesdropping, this capability is spread across many different agencies, so it is not a central location manned by 25,000 intelligence analysts per shift. It is really a bunch of diverse agencies and even separate offices within these agencies who don’t like to share information because it degrades the other’s power and status. So when people try to convince me of large government conspiracies, I always think and sometimes speak out and say,…”Really? This is the same government that is bankrupting social security?...the same government that purchases $3,200 office chairs and $5,000 hammers?.......the same government that wear clown suits to work, shoots funny videos and posts them to You Tube? “

Some of this article came from a Yahoo! article on computer security when shopping, but the same principles apply. See bottom of article on the Poor Man's e-mail communications.

Browsing the web anonymously? Think your online activities are private? Think again. Not only are your surfing sessions tracked by websites, search engines and social networks, but often your Internet service provider (ISP), web browser, government and potentially hundreds of online tracking companies. Whether it's to collect valuable marketing data or prevent terrorist activity, movie piracy or kiddie porn, everything you think you're doing privately in the comfort of your home is anything but private.

But just because you want to spend time online anonymously doesn't mean you're a cybercriminal or have something to hide. Not only do regular folks want privacy, but remaining anonymous can also protect yourself from malicious types out to steal your identity for financial gain — from spammers and scammers alike. And so there are a few things you can do to reduce the odds every click is tracked, archived and shared. The following are a few suggestions on where to start.

How does Facebook know to show you ads for your local gym, supermarket or college? This is because your computer's unique Internet Protocol (IP) address, assigned by your ISP, reveals your geographical whereabouts. Even if your computer generates a different IP address every time you boot up or log online, this number (e.g. can still tell of your general location.

And so there are many different solutions that can hide your Internet connection, allowing you to remain anonymous while online. Some are websites, such as free "online proxy servers" that conceal your identity — simply point the web address (URL) to the proxy server and surf right from their website (check out for a list of great options).

Others prefer Virtual Private Network (VPN) software that encrypts your online sessions. The browser-independent Hotspot Shield from AnchorFree, for example — available for Windows, Macs, iPhone and Android — channels all web activities through a personal VPN and secures all Internet communications by turning all HTTP traffic into the safer HTTPS (which is what your bank uses for a safe connection).

Free to use but with more features packed into the "elite" version ($29.95), Hotspot Shield is ideal for email and instant messaging, too, and reduces the likelihood of identity theft because you're not leaving a digital footprint -- including cyber-snoopers and rogue connections at Wi-Fi hotspots, hotels, airports, and so on.

Similarly, Tor is free software that defends you against Internet surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy. Short for "The Onion Router" — which gets its name for its "layered" approach to the encryption process -- Tor provides online anonymity as the software routes Internet traffic through a worldwide volunteer network of servers to conceal your location or online usage patterns.

Use USB sticks.  
In some cases, software to encrypt your connection is kept on a USB drive — therefore you can remain safe and secure even when using a public PC.

SurfEasy ($59.99) is a tiny USB key that fits into a credit card-shaped case to be kept in your wallet. When you plug it into a PC or Mac -- be it your own computer or a communal one -- it instantly launches its own password-protected browser and you're good to go -- no proxy or network settings to configure. Your browsing session is handled through SurfEasy's fast and secure private proxy network.

Your IP address will be masked throughout the session. A fr

ee alternative is called Tails, which can be downloaded and installed onto a USB stick to run independently of the computer's original operating system. Like SurfEasy, it lets you browse the web anonymously -- on virtually any computer — as all connections are channelled through the aforementioned Tor network.

Browser tweaks Anonymous proxy software is a great way to mask your IP address online, but there is still plenty of information about your web surfing habits stored on your computer — which could also be viewed over a network, say, at the office, by your IT department. At least it's somewhat easy to control your privacy settings directly in your web browser — unless your business forbids non-administrators from making changes to your browser settings, that is.

You can disable cookies — tiny text files stored on your computer with information about where you've been online, passwords and other info — and you should also delete your browser history to cover your tracks. All major web browsers — such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome or Safari -- allow you to delete your surfing history: simply go to the Options or Settings in your favorite browser and you'll see how to do this.

You might want to turn off auto-complete or someone on your computer could type in a few letters in a search engine or web address (URL) bar and any recent places you visited could fill in automatically. And don't click to allow sites to "remember my password" or someone could gain access to your private or financial information.

The easiest thing to do, however, is to see if your web browser has settings for surfing incognito — most of the major browsers do today. By enabling these privacy settings, your browser won't save any history (and download history), search queries, cookies or passwords. On a related note, Twitter recently announced a "Do Not Track" feature that prohibits the service from collecting info about its millions of users. Nice.

And Microsoft, in June 2012, said its upcoming Internet Explorer 10 browser -- expected to launch alongside Windows 8 later this year -- will not collect data about the online activity of its users by default. 'Do not track' tools and plug-ins Google raised a few eyebrows earlier in 2012 with its revamped privacy policy, which was updated to allow for the sharing of information between its various services such as Google Search, Gmail and YouTube. Therefore, if you search for recipes in Google Search you might be presented with cooking-related videos on YouTube. Handy? Sure. Invasion of privacy? Debatable. You could choose not to log into your Google account when using these services (er, or not use them at all) or you might want to install one of the free browser plug-ins that tell Google and other advertisers to back off.

One called Do Not Track Plus from Abine blocks marketers, search providers and social networks from tracking your online activity — and it's compatible with all major web browsers. After it's installed, a small icon will appear to the right of the browser's address bar to tell you if a website wants to send data from your visit to other companies. Speaking of requiring a login name and password on a variety of sites, some web-based services like Anonymizer can automatically generate temporary email addresses with unique usernames and passwords for any site you wish to access (excluding your bank or shopping sites, of course, or you can't access your account).

Similarly, another solution called BugMeNot lets users post free usernames and passwords for shared access to popular websites like video sharing sites and newspapers.

Poor Man’s secure E-mail
One of the easiest things to protect communications from two or more different people or groups that are geographically separated is to use the same e-mail account. This would require giving the account e-mail and password either face to face or through hard copy correspondence,….yes, the U.S. postal service is good for something.

Each party can access the e-mail account and left a message for the other saved in the drafts folder so the message does not have to be sent out over the internet. The subject line and to address should be benign and fake respectively. Using simple encryption, such as a book code, for the text of the e-mail text can enhance message security from all but the most sophisticated agencies.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Survival Weapons Training

Harold wrote me via e-mail and asked: "I am now totally focused on prepping. I think that within the next six years we will be without cars and electricity and that means without cell phones and computers. There will not be anyone to protect us except ourselves. My old friend is a local Deputy Sheriff and believes the same thing. We have stocked up an old hunting cabin that we use here in Kentucky. Both of us are in our late 50's. I have hunted all my life and can easily live in the woods, real comfortable there. I have a Browning BAR in .30-06 and am no stranger to taking deer but I am knowing that my rifle skills for defending my home or my cabin can be much improved. What are your recommendations for using a rifle for defending? God Bless. "

UrbanMan's comments: Harold, you are on track preparing a Bug Out location and having perhaps the beginnings of a survival team with your Deputy Sheriff friend. I find it interesting that you have a six year time frame for what is commonly called the collapse, the economic collapse, The End Of The World As We Know It (TEOTWAWKI) or simply SHTF. ...take your pick of monikers,...end result the same - our survival at risk.  The larger the collapse, the higher the threat to our culture surviving.

The BAR is a great rifle. I like the detachable magazine capability of it and hope you have several extra magazines. However ammunition is expensive for routine battle rifle training. Even a semi-auto .22 rifle like the Ruger 10-22 would allow you to train consistantly and not going broke.

Some of the skills you need to have to employ a firearm sufficiently for any purpose including defensive purposes include:

Accuracy. Being able to hit what you aim at.

Train on multiple targets. Most people go out and shoot one target. Taking a page from the practical pistol, rifle and shotgun community, some of they drills they incorporate includes multiple targets.

Speed. Shooting multiple targets,....... accurately!

Magazines changes or re-loading. This is a muscle memory drill that the more you do it the better and faster you will become. If you do not have a magazine fed gun, then you will rapidly appreciate one.

Clearing Malfunctions is another task. You may rarely get them so you will have to intentional make up the scenarios and it helps to have a training partner so you can do to for each other.

Positional shooting - shooting from all different positions.

Weak hand and strong hand only shooting, in case you are wounded or injured you can still operate the gun.

Stress situations. When you are being shot at your stress level goes up (duh!). What this causes is increased heart rate; rapid, shallow breathing; sometimes tunnel vision; increase in gross motor skills; decrease in complex motor skills. It's hard to replicate in training, but physical exertion followed by conducting your shooting drills will give you a small idea of what stress does to your skills sets.

Tactics. Learn how to use cover and concealment. If you have a survival buddy or team learn how to fire and manuever as a team.

Prepare for the Defense.  Look over your properties where you think you may have to defend yourself.  Consider what the natural and concealed routes are that attackers would use.  Consider clearing areas you need to clear to give our fields of observation and fire.  Consider early warning devices to alert you, and emplacement of  obstacles to force attackers into areas to your advantage.

Bug Out route.  What if you are in danger of losing your position?  Consider a Bug Out route or method of safely as can be withdrawing from your home or cabin.  Establish a rally point if you have a team so in case separated, you can link up.  

A cache of supplies would be a good idea in case you are forced to Bug Out without much gear, equipment or supplies.

Consider going to a shooting school. Kyle Lamb of Viking Tactics hosts many such course mostly for military and law enforcement types. People and agencies I have worked with have contracted Kyle Lamb to run training for their personnel and tactical teams. You may not be able to attend any training but as luck would have it Kyle Lamb hosts training videos on You Tube, just enter "Kyle Lamb Viking Tactics" and see a slew of videos on shooting drills he recommends. Here is the video on a drill he calls the "396". Good luck to you Harold. .....Oh yeah, consider getting a magazine fed rifle.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Coming Collapse, Late November 2012 Edition

The Economic Collapse blog consolidated many different sites as they composed the massive list of lay offs and firings after Obama won re-election.

From the Blaze,.... major corporations have all announced layoffs in just the past two days...

Energizer; Exide Technologies; Westinghouse; Research in Motion Limited; Lightyear Network Solutions; Providence Journal; Hawker Beechcraft; Boeing (30% of their management staff); CVPH Medical Center; US Cellular; Momentive Performance Materials; Rocketdyne; Brake Parts; and Vestas Wind Systems; Husqvarna; Center for Hospice New York; Bristol-Meyers; OCE North America; Darden Restaurants; West Ridge Mine; United Blood Services Gulf;

From the American Thinker, we get a list of other companies downsizing,......

Teco Coal officials announce layoffs; Momentive Inc plans temporary layoffs for 150; Wilkes-Barre officials to announce mandatory layoffs; 600 layoffs at Groupon; More layoffs announced at Aniston Weapons Incinerator; Murray Energy confirms 150 layoffs at 3 subsidiaries; 130 laid off in Minnesota dairy plant closure; Stanford brake plant to lay off 75; Turbocare, Oce to lay off more than 220 workers; ATI plans to lay off 172 workers in North Richland Hills; SpaceX claims its first victims as Rocketdyne lays off 100; Providence Journal lays off 23 full-time employees; CVPH lays off 17; New Energy lays off 40 employees; 102 Utah miners laid off because of 'war on coal', company says; US Cellular drops Chicago, cuts 640 jobs; Career Education to cut 900 jobs, close 23 campuses; Vestas to cut 3,000 more jobs; First Energy to cut 400 jobs by 2016; Mine owner blames Obama for layoffs (54 fired last night); Canceled program costs 115 jobs at Ohio air base; AMD trims Austin workforce - 400 jobs slashed; 100 workers lose jobs as Caterpillar closes plant in Minnesota; Exide to lay off 150 workers; TE Connectivity to close Guilford plant, lay off 620; More Layoffs for Major Wind Company (3,000 jobs cut); Cigna to lay off 1,300 workers worldwide; Ameridose to lay off hundreds of workers;

From a Sy Harding on Forbes we get the analysis that people are generally ignorant of the coming collapse,...

The global economic recovery from the 2007-2009 financial collapse stalled last year and continues to worsen this year, with the International Monetary Fund cutting its forecasts for global economic recovery yet again, including for the U.S., and warning last week that risks of the world dropping back into a global recession “are alarmingly high”, and that “no significant improvements appear in the offing.”

That certainly sounds like the IMF doesn’t have much confidence that the ‘Troika’ (the IMF, EU, and ECB) will be successful with the euro-zone rescue plans and stimulus measures announced a month ago.

Meanwhile China and Japan, the world’s second and third largest economies, are in a serious economic slowdown. China’s stock market is down 40% from its peak in 2009. Japan’s market is down 22% from its 2010 peak and still 51% beneath its peak in 2007.

U.S. corporations seem to be preparing for the difficult times ahead. They are hoarding capital and refusing to invest it in their futures, apparently being to make sure they can pay their bills and survive anything that might lie ahead.

The fear of corporate managements could also be seen in the way that corporate insiders sold off holdings and continued even after the Fed announced its QE3 stimulus measures. Hedge-fund managers likewise did not participate in the June rally, instead selling off as well.

Private-equity funds are having a similar under-performing year, up on average of only 4%. As the Journal says, that is not what their investors planned on. The funds were also suspicious of the rally, and are sitting on close to $1trillion in cash.

However, U.S. consumer confidence has jumped to 83.1 in October from 78.3 in September!!

And at 83.1, consumer confidence is getting close to the 87 level it averaged in the year prior to the 2008-2009 recession. That’s a lot more recovery than global economies have achieved, including that of the U.S. Is it just due to the pixie dust being puffed out by Wall Street and the Fed, about to be blown away by the gathering storm others see coming? We are likely to soon know the answer.

All this before we face the Govermental Fiscal Cliff that is finally in the mainstream news after heading this way for the past five years. Wait until the Department of Defense lays off a butt load of civil service and downsizes the military. Further military cuts will impact negatively not only major defense contractors (see Boeing in the list of lay offs) but local businesses around military installations.

Taxes are going up; more government spending and debt; inflated prices from everything from fuel to food.

Then there is the National Drought,...
And finally, the ability of the United States to produce food to feed the people has greatly diminished simply because of the great drought that has occured.  The worst U.S. drought in decades has deepened again after more than a month of encouraging reports of slowly improving conditions.

60.1 percent of the lower 48 states were in some form of drought as of Tuesday, up from 58.8 percent the previous week. The amount of land in extreme or exceptional drought — the two worst classifications — increased from 18.3 percent to 19.04 percent.   Read the entire article on the national drought conditions here.

Stock up people,..prepare well. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Federal Government Planning on Warrantless Surveillance of Your E-mails

UrbanMan's comments: I have always thought that the Federal Government's Law Enforcement Agencies needed the ability to quickly gain approvals for electronic surveillance so they could timely react to threats. I thought that the separations of authority for the various federal agencies would provide some safe guards. I thought the warrant requirements of the Patriot Act would serve to provide Americans with another safeguard on Government intrusions into our freedoms and constitutional rights. Then a report on Yahoo titled "Senate bill rewrite lets feds read your e-mail without warrants" concerning a Senate bill being proposed by Senator Leahy (D-CT) and reported as being quietly re-written to give not only more surveillance capability but warrantless capability.

I have been middle of the road between people who think the Government is going further and further into a Geroge Orwell envisioned government and the people who think the Government is there to help us. It is the obvious over reach of this bill that not only concerns me about our rights and privacy, but also pushes me to plan to survive in a decayed infrastructure and also in a total collapse, because this is just crazy and a possible sign of things to come.

A Senate proposal touted as protecting Americans' e-mail privacy has been quietly rewritten, giving government agencies more surveillance power than they possess under current law.

CNET has learned that Patrick Leahy, the influential Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee, has dramatically reshaped his legislation in response to law enforcement concerns. A vote on his bill, which now authorizes warrantless access to Americans' e-mail, is scheduled for next week.

Leahy's rewritten bill would allow more than 22 agencies -- including the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Communications Commission -- to access Americans' e-mail, Google Docs files, Facebook wall posts, and Twitter direct messages without a search warrant. It also would give the FBI and Homeland Security more authority, in some circumstances, to gain full access to Internet accounts without notifying either the owner or a judge. (CNET obtained the revised draft from a source involved in the negotiations with Leahy.)

Revised bill highlights

> Grants warrantless access to Americans' electronic correspondence to over 22 federal agencies. Only a subpoena is required, not a search warrant signed by a judge based on probable cause.

> Permits state and local law enforcement to warrantlessly access Americans' correspondence stored on systems not offered "to the public," including university networks.

> Authorizes any law enforcement agency to access accounts without a warrant -- or subsequent court review -- if they claim "emergency" situations exist.

> Says providers "shall notify" law enforcement in advance of any plans to tell their customers that they've been the target of a warrant, order, or subpoena.

> Delays notification of customers whose accounts have been accessed from 3 days to "10 business days." This notification can be postponed by up to 360 days.

It's an abrupt departure from Leahy's earlier approach, which required police to obtain a search warrant backed by probable cause before they could read the contents of e-mail or other communications. The Vermont Democrat boasted last year that his bill "provides enhanced privacy protections for American consumers by... requiring that the government obtain a search warrant."

Leahy had planned a vote on an earlier version of his bill, designed to update a pair of 1980s-vintage surveillance laws, in late September. But after law enforcement groups including the National District Attorneys' Association and the National Sheriffs' Association organizations objected to the legislation and asked him to "reconsider acting" on it, Leahy pushed back the vote and reworked the bill as a package of amendments to be offered next Thursday. The package (PDF) is a substitute for H.R. 2471, which the House of Representatives already has approved.

One person participating in Capitol Hill meetings on this topic told CNET that Justice Department officials have expressed their displeasure about Leahy's original bill. The department is on record as opposing any such requirement: James Baker, the associate deputy attorney general, has publicly warned that requiring a warrant to obtain stored e-mail could have an "adverse impact" on criminal investigations.

Christopher Calabrese, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, said requiring warrantless access to Americans' data "undercuts" the purpose of Leahy's original proposal. "We believe a warrant is the appropriate standard for any contents," he said.

An aide to the Senate Judiciary committee told CNET that because discussions with interested parties are ongoing, it would be premature to comment on the legislation.

Marc Rotenberg, head of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said that in light of the revelations about how former CIA director David Petraeus' e-mail was perused by the FBI, "even the Department of Justice should concede that there's a need for more judicial oversight," not less.

Markham Erickson, a lawyer in Washington, D.C. who has followed the topic closely and said he was speaking for himself and not his corporate clients, expressed concerns about the alphabet soup of federal agencies that would be granted more power:

There is no good legal reason why federal regulatory agencies such as the NLRB, OSHA, SEC or FTC need to access customer information service providers with a mere subpoena. If those agencies feel they do not have the tools to do their jobs adequately, they should work with the appropriate authorizing committees to explore solutions. The Senate Judiciary committee is really not in a position to adequately make those determinations.

The list of agencies that would receive civil subpoena authority for the contents of electronic communications also includes the Federal Reserve, the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Maritime Commission, the Postal Regulatory Commission, the National Labor Relations Board, and the Mine Enforcement Safety and Health Review Commission.

Leahy's modified bill retains some pro-privacy components, such as requiring police to secure a warrant in many cases. But the dramatic shift, especially the regulatory agency loophole and exemption for emergency account access, likely means it will be near-impossible for tech companies to support in its new form.

A bitter setback

This is a bitter setback for Internet companies and a liberal-conservative-libertarian coalition, which had hoped to convince Congress to update the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act to protect documents stored in the cloud. Leahy glued those changes onto an unrelated privacy-related bill supported by Netflix.

At the moment, Internet users enjoy more privacy rights if they store data on their hard drives or under their mattresses, a legal hiccup that the companies fear could slow the shift to cloud-based services unless the law is changed to be more privacy-protective.

Members of the so-called Digital Due Process coalition include Apple,, Americans for Tax Reform, AT&T, the Center for Democracy and Technology, eBay, Google, Facebook, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, TechFreedom, and Twitter. (CNET was the first to report on the coalition's creation.)

Leahy, a former prosecutor, has a mixed record on privacy. He criticized the FBI's efforts to require Internet providers to build in backdoors for law enforcement access, and introduced a bill in the 1990s protecting Americans' right to use whatever encryption products they wanted.

But he also authored the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, which is now looming over Web companies, as well as the reviled Protect IP Act. An article in The New Republic concluded Leahy's work on the Patriot Act "appears to have made the bill less protective of civil liberties." Leahy had introduced significant portions of the Patriot Act under the name Enhancement of Privacy and Public Safety in Cyberspace Act (PDF) a year earlier.

One obvious option for the Digital Due Process coalition is the simplest: if Leahy's committee proves to be an insurmountable roadblock in the Senate, try the courts instead.

Judges already have been wrestling with how to apply the Fourth Amendment to an always-on, always-connected society. Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that police needed a search warrant for GPS tracking of vehicles. Some courts have ruled that warrantless tracking of Americans' cell phones, another coalition concern, is unconstitutional.

The FBI and other law enforcement agencies already must obtain warrants for e-mail in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee, thanks to a ruling by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2010.