Coronavirus Updates

With the new announced deaths due to the virus, the mortality rate is closer to 4% than the previously thought 2%,but could be higher or lower. When comparing fatalities to the total number of recovered cases, the fatality rate is closer to 8% but there may be a lot of cases that are unreported/unconfirmed both in infections and fatalities. The WHO made an estimation on the infectious potential rating of the Wuhan coronavirus, pegging it at approximately a two. This puts the rate as similarly or more contagious than pandemic flu, but less that smallpox or polio.

Update 2/28/2020: Confirmed cases 84,188 with 2,876 fatalities. The CDC confirms three additional US cases, one of which is a second case of unknown origin. A sixth Diamond Princess cruise ship passenger has passed away. Mexico confirms first case. Nigeria confirms first case. South Korea cases increase to 2,337. Italy now has 888 cases, surpassing the Diamond Princess ship outbreak. The US has issued a travel advisory for Italy. Iran now has 388 cases. The WHO says the virus will soon be in all countries and raised the global alert from High to Very High. The WHO continues to say that they see no “community transmission” outside of China and so have no yet declared a pandemic. A dog in Hong Kong tests positive for coronavirus; two dogs in Japan have also tested positive. Health officials don’t know if the dog is actually infected or is carrying the virus because of environmental contamination.

Update 2/27/2020: Confirmed cases 83,105 with 2,858 fatalities. The US of case of unknown origin yesterday has been revealed to be in Solano County, CA (not Sonoma as earlier reported). The UC Davis Medical Center where that patient is being treated has sent some employees home to be monitored for symptoms as the infected patient was in the hospital for four days before being tested for coronavirus. The US now has 60 confirmed cases. New York has asked 700 people to self-isolate. Saudi Arabia has halted pilgrimages to Islam’s holy sites. China will extend school closures for another month. Australia has initiated its emergency response plan saying, “While the WHO is yet to declare the nature of the coronavirus and its move toward a pandemic phase, we believe that the risk of a global pandemic is very much upon us and as a result, as a government, we need to take steps to prepare.” South Korea has has 1,766 confirmed cases and yesterday exceeded China’s daily total of new cases for the first time. Japan closed all schools until the spring holidays in late March. Switzerland cancels the Engadin Ski Marathon, the country’s largest annual sporting event. The WHO says that it believes that Iran’s 10% fatality rate is due to undetected cases rather than a higher actual virulence. Italy now has 655 confirmed cases. Norway had its first case yesterday, and now adds three more today. Northern Ireland confirmed its first case. The Trump Administration announced that it plans to use Defense Production Act to force American companies to start manufacturing protective masks and other medical supplies. Germany announced it first case two days ago and now has 26 cases. France’s confirmed cases more than doubled today to 38. The Netherlands confirms its first case.

Update 2/26/2020: Confirmed cases 81,412 with 2,773 fatalities. France confirmed its second fatality from the virus. Italy reported its twelfth fatality. Hokkaido prefecture in Japan is temporarily closing schools as it tried to contain an outbreak. Nice, France has cancelled the last day of Carnaval celebrations. Iraq has closed schools and universities for ten days. Brazil confirms its first case. Greece confirmed its first case. North Macedonia confirms its first case. Norway confirms its first case. Pakistan reports its first two cases. Lebanon and Finland confirm  second cases. Iran reports 19 new fatalities. Italy confirms twelfth fatality and 400 confirmed cases. The US has found six new cases among the passengers evacuated from Japan aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship. 83 people are being monitored for the infection in Long Island’s Nassau County and another 8 under quarantine in Westchester county, NY. Orange County, CA declares a local health emergency. President Trump announces that VP Pence will lead the virus response as coronavirus czar. The CDC has confirmed the first US case of unknown origin in Northern California, but doesn’t reveal the exact location. Researchers have found that COVID-19 has an “HIV-like mutation” which makes it extremely infectious – up to 1,000 times more than the SARS virus. Chinese researcher Wang Chen, director of China’s Academy of Medical Sciences says that only 30 to 50 percent of infected patients test positive with the current diagnostic kits because COVID-19 is difficult to detect using nucleic acid testing.

Update 2/25/2020: Confirmed cases 80,598 with 2,712 fatalities. San Francisco has declared a state of emergency in order to prepare for the virus. The CDC says that a pandemic is not a question of “if” but “when” and also “circumstances suggest the virus will cause a pandemic.” Warnings of mask shortages in the US. The US Association of Public Health Laboratories says that that they still have no diagnostic or surveillance test outside of the CDC. Italy now has 322 confirmed cases with 10 fatalities. Germany confirms its first two cases. Austria places an Alpine hotel under lockdown after a receptionist contracted the virus. South Korea now has over 1,100 cases.

Update 2/24/2020: Confirmed cases 80,087 with 2,699 fatalities. Italy reports its seventh fatality and 219 confirmed cases. In Iran the official death toll is 12, but there have been reports from members of the government that it is actually as high as 50. The US has 53 confirmed cases.

Update 2/23/2020: Confirmed cases 79,744 with 2,629 fatalities. Italy reports a third fatality and over 100 confirmed cases. California has 8,000 people under “self-imposed quarantine” who have traveled to China but have no contacts with confirmed cases.

Update 2/22/2020: Confirmed cases 78,966 with 2,468 fatalities. South Korea is now reporting 556 confirmed cases. Italy has 76 confirmed cases and had a second fatality; Italy has declared a national emergency.

Update 2/21/2020: Confirmed cases 77,811 with 2,360 fatalities. There have been several reports now of cured patients in China having been reinfected with the virus. The director of the WHO says that the world is at a tipping point and time is running out to stop the virus before things get much worse, as infections in new countries continue to appear. Italy reports the country’s first COVID-19 fatality. In Italy’s Lombardy region, 50,000 in ten towns have been asked to self quarantine and public activities have been temporarily banned.

Update 2/20/2020: Confirmed cases 77,253 with 2,250 fatalities.

Update 2/19/2020: Confirmed cases 75,676 with 2,123 fatalities. A total of 621 people on the Diamond Princess have tested positive for coronavirus as Japan has started to release passengers from quarantine. A Japanese epidemiologist, Professor Kentaro Iwata, who spent a day on the ship described it as “completely inadequate in terms of controlling infections. There was not a single infection control professional on the ship, nor anyone professionally involved in infection prevention. The bureaucrats were in charge of everything.” In China, companies are telling workers that there is no money to pay them wages or that they shouldn’t have to pay full salaries to quarantined employees who don’t come to work.

Update 2/18/2020: Confirmed cases 75,198 with 2,009 fatalities. Japan has confirmed another 88 cases aboard the Diamond Princess, bringing the total of cruise infectees up to 542. The US state department and CDC have barred the US citizens who declined to board the evacuation flight from returning to the United States until next month. The original quarantine time is set to expire tomorrow. An analysis of over 44,000 laboratory confirmed cases of coronavirus has found the fatality rate to be 2.3%. Russia has banned all Chinese from entering the country. The UK-based Jaguar Land Rover factory will run out of Chinese parts in two  weeks, which may halt production lines. Thousands of shipping containers of frozen meat imports are piling up in China’s ports as a lack of truck drivers and closed transportation network severely slow their dispersal. In Tokyo, Japan, several companies are asking tens of thousands of employees to work from home in order to avoid an outbreak in the populous city. World health officials fear that Japan may be on the cusp of a large outbreak.

Update 2/17/2020: Confirmed cases 73,258 with 1,868 fatalities. There are now 896 cases outside of China. The numbers outside of China are currently doubling every six days. Of the US citizens evacuated from the Diamond Princess in Japan, fourteen have now tested positive for coronavirus. There are now 454 confirmed cases from that cruise ship.

Update 2/16/2020: Confirmed cases 71,244 with 1,770 fatalities. 760 million people are under quarantine in China. The US has chartered two 747 airplanes in order to evacuate approximate 400 US citizens quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.

Update 2/15/2020: Confirmed cases at 69,270 with 1,669 fatalities. Doctors working on the front lines of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak have told the Taiwan Times that it’s possible to become reinfected by the virus, leading to death from sudden heart failure in some cases. The cruise ship quarantined in Japan now has 355 confirmed cases.

Continue reading “Coronavirus Updates”

Doom and Bloom: Home Care for COVID-19 Patients – WHO Guidance

The Altons at Doom and Bloom Medical have a video up on the WHO recommendations for home care of a coronavirus infected patient who has been asked to stay at home after medical evaluation.

Coronavirus

In situations when hospitals may be overwhelmed or understaffed the WHO has released guidance for Home Care of patients with mild symptoms. All concerned patients should be first be evaluated in a medical facility before home care is initiated. These measures are meant to decrease public contacts and the spread of disease, and decrease the patient load on hospitals during epidemics and pandemics .

Learn which patients may be asked to stay home during illness and when they should be hospitalized. A link to a medical facility should be established for the entire duration of any home home care until all symptoms have cleared and the facility releases the patient and resolved. This connection will allow family members and the patient to be reassured there is contact with a medical professional for questions and concerns.

Home care takes planning and education about personal hygiene, basic infection prevention and control protocols, and how to safely care for the sick person without spreading it to other household members. Recommendations (from the World Health Organization) are detailed in this video. Also see our How To Build A Sickroom video.

Wishing you the best of health in good times and bad,

Related:

Organic Prepper: How to Prepare for Quarantine

Smart Survivalist: Low Cost Prepping – Your Survival on a Budget

Getting prepared at a low cost has always been a popular topic. Now that people have started to worry about the looming coronavirus pandemic, those who are unprepared are looking at getting prepared for the possibility of being quarantined for two to four weeks. Some have looked into their cupboards and realized (especially those living in big cities like New York) that they have nothing stashed because they are used to just hopping out and picking up what they need. Some have more money than others, but if you’re trying to stock up in a short amount of time your budget is limited. Here is The Smart Survivalist with Low Cost Prepping — Your Survival on a Budget. Canned beans, rice, and pasta are low cost staples. Make sure you have access to water and store some if you have space in case of power outages or other interruptions to your home water supply.

If you are only preparing for a 2-4 week quarantine, you can get by without having a full array of nutrition. For a short duration, you’re only worried about getting enough calories to survive through the period. For example, a 25 pound of oatmeal provides about 37,000 calories (not including adding milk, sugar or other toppings) or enough for almost 19 days at 2,000 calories per day. But you’ll need to eat almost seven cups of dry oats per day to get that many calories. So think about how much you’ll need to eat to feel full and how many calories you’ll have per day. Canned  beans tend to be rather high calorie per volume, so if you had oatmeal sometimes and beans other that would be more manageable from a caloric intake and fullness perspective. You may need to be creative to get a good variety of foods that fulfill your needs. And finally don’t forget hygiene products, too.

Low cost prepping is actually a doable task. We all should be prepared for the worst outcomes of today’s reality, but we don’t have to spend thousands of hard-earned dollars on survival equipment. It’s completely possible to just walk into Walmart, or Walmart’s counterpart in your country, and fill your survival list on a very small budget.

I’ve done my own research on this topic, and came up with a list of items that can make a big difference in disastrous events – yet each and every one of them does not cost more than five dollars. The items can be sorted into five important categories. I even took this research a few steps further and outlined ten of the cheapest and most useful of such items. And finally, I also discuss what necessary survival steps and techniques you can take without spending another penny…

All items on the low cost prepping list can be divided into 5 categories: first aid, water, food, hygiene items and emergency supplies. You might ask, do I need all of them? Well, a person can survive for 3 days without water, and as much as 3 weeks without food, but it would be a painful and probably lethal experience. And what if you are injured or running a fever? What if you are stuck on your roof for many days as your neighborhood is flooded?

As you can understand now, being fully prepared is a necessity. You will need the items that I am about to list, and trust me, I do not intend to suggest redundant or luxury items. These are the items that can be utilized when an actual disaster strikes, and all of them are on a budget. Just make sure you stock enough to last you at least a week. Also, before deciding on quantities, see how many members there are going to be in your group, and who they actually are. A child might need less food than a grown man…

s I mentioned earlier, you cannot survive for a long time without water. Fortunately, bottled water is cheap and non-perishable. You can stockpile as much as you need. You will need approximately 2 gallons for a person per day, which includes both drinking and sanitary needs. I would recommend buying even more than that, because you never know what might happen.

There is always the option of water purification, and I have written a thorough article about the best ways to purify water. Keep in mind, however, that some of the methods require additional investment, of time and/or money, while bottled water is always on a budget.

You can also stock on other low cost consumable liquids. Powdered milk costs less than $5, and one package is enough to prepare two gallons of milk. You can mix it with coffee and boiled water. Instant coffee and cappuccino mixes also cost under $5. This might not be your dreamy latte, but it’s something that can get you through a challenging day.

The total cost of products in the water category is no more than $30.

The most affordable and most reliable water filtering item is definitely LifeStraw (on Amazon). This award-winning tool has been globally recognized as a highly efficient water filter that allows you to drink any water directly. It’s ultralight, can be easly carried anywhere and nullifies the need for iodine tablets, as it removes 99.9999% of bacteries, parasites and pollutants. A trusty companion for every prepper and survivalist!…

Just like in case of water, you cannot survive without food. You need energy, nourishment, nutrients. For low cost prepping and for successful survival, we need to stockpile on food that costs less than $5 each and can last for years. It is also preferable to collect food that can be mixed with other food in order to create new dishes and break the monotony of identical dinners.

So first of all, there are cans. Canned goods can be your savior. You will need minerals and vitamins, but fresh vegetables and fruits expire quickly. The canned ones, however, can be consumed even if they are opened 2 years after they were packed. And these are the cans that I suggest to purchase:

  • Assorted beans. These can be chick peas, kidney beans, and several others. They fill you quickly and have tons of necessary protein.
  • Carrots (sliced)
  • Peas and carrots (a popular combination, and again a lot of protein)
  • Oranges or mandarins
  • Tomato sauce
  • Sliced potato
  • Lasagna
  • Mac and cheese
  • Cheese ravioli in tomato sauce
  • Italian pasta beef ravioli

In addition, there are foods that are not necessarily canned, but they can last for a very long time.

  • Pasta. This is an underrated food. Sure, it might seem boring, but it’s very cheap, very filling and can be prepared in minutes. You can always mix it with sauce or other goods. All in all, it’s a great source of carbs and energy.
  • Instant pudding (get several packs)
  • Flour – really inexpensive, you can make bread from it.
  • Sugar and salt – just keep them in dry places, don’t let them get wet!
  • Sardines
  • Ham
  • Chicken breast
  • Quaker
  • Raisins. Some don’t like them, but they are very nutritious.
  • Meatballs for pasta/spaghetti
  • Chicken pot pie soup
  • 5 pound bags of rice. Rice (particularly white one) can be stored away for a long period of time without going bad. It is very filling, very cheap and has tons of carbs to energize you when you most need it.
  • Peanut butter – a great calories source. Your body needs certain fats, and peanut butter has them. It’s delicious, and it provides you with additional energy that is needed for your survival.

The total cost of food mentioned here is no more than $175

Click here to read the entire article at The Smart Survivalist.

Related:

The Organic Prepper: How to Build a 30-Day Emergency Food Supply…Fast

Pantry Chart with shelf life (large image 1.5MB)

Doom and Bloom: If COVID-19 Isn’t A Pandemic, I Don’t Know What is

From Dr. Alton and Nurse Amy Alton at Doom and Bloom Medical:

The SARS-CoV2 virus, newest member of the coronavirus family has proven to be especially contagious, with over 80,000 cases and 2700 deaths so far. Cases of COVID-19 (the name for the disease) have been reported in more than 30 countries and community-wide outbreaks are confirmed in places like Italy in Europe, Iran in the Middle East, and South Korea (among others).

Although the grand majority of cases are still in mainland China, more cases are being reported outside China than inside these days. South Korea has more than 1,260 cases and one of them is a U.S. soldier. Italy has 320 cases and 12 dead. Iran only claims 139 cases but 19 deaths, much more than the 2 percent fatality rate seen in other countries. Most suspect this means that many tens of thousands are still undetected.

Meanwhile, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gave an opinion that “the immediate risk of this new virus to the American public is believed to be low at this time,” while also saying:  “It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more a question of exactly when”.

Despite the many cases that are popping out throughout the world, Most U.S. experts and World Health Organization (WHO) officials believe that COVID-19 is not yet at pandemic status. If the COVID-19 outbreaks all over the world aren’t a pandemic, what is?

WHO Regions

The World Health Organization should consider following their own definitions for pandemic disease. The different WHO phase alerts for infectious disease outbreaks are:

Phase 1: The disease is found circulating in animals; no known infections in humans. An example would be an outbreak in 2019 of vesicular stomatitis virus, a disease that affected more than a thousand premises holding horses. No cases were reported among humans, even those who worked daily with the animals.

Phase 2: The disease has caused proven infection in humans. The bird flu affected millions of poultry as well as a number of people who lived and worked in close contact with them.

Phase 3: Small clusters of disease occur in humans but do not affect entire communities. Measles virus may affect a number of non-vaccinated people in an area, but the large number of vaccinated individuals prevents it from running rampant.

Phase 4: The disease affects entire communities. The disease now qualifies as an epidemic, but the risk for a pandemic, although increased, is not certain. With COVID-19 in early 2020, large areas in China were saturated with cases but no major community-wide outbreak had originated anywhere else for a time (outside of a cruise ship). Since then, other countries are reporting spikes in cases, with cases in South Korea doubling over the course of one day. In my opinion, COVID-19 has now passed this stage.

Community-wide Ebola outbreaks stayed in one region

Phase 5: Spread of disease between humans is occurring in more than one country in a region. The Ebola virus outbreak of 2014 is an example of this phase; cases affected communities in several different adjacent West African countries but no community outbreaks occurred outside of the region. In 2020, COVID-19 cases in nearby nations like South Korea and Japan are starting to accumulate, just as Ebola did in West African countries in 2014.

Phase 6: Community-level outbreaks exist in at least one additional country in a different region. With Ebola, cases in North America and Europe didn’t originate there and the infection didn’t take hold locally in any significant manner. Influenza, however, commonly reaches pandemic status on an annual basis.

COVID-19 in 2020 is developing large numbers of cases of human-to-human transmission outside of China. With outbreaks in Italy, Iran, South Korea, and elsewhere predicted to get worse before they get better, it’s clear you’ve got a pandemic on your hands. Right now.

I say this not just because of the cases that have been reported, but because we can only surmise that the number of cases documented is less than what really exist.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that real numbers are being held back. Statistics may be affected by the limitation on lab facilities to test for a disease. In some emerging infectious diseases, no test may be accurate enough to give proven results. In the COVID-19 outbreak, a number of people have tested negative using the current technology and still show symptoms.

Quarantines of entire cities in the face of a dangerous disease may lead those who are mildly ill to stay inside their homes and not seek care in overcrowded hospitals. As a result, many cases may not be counted.

Sometimes, however, a government may put out inaccurate numbers in an effort to avoid panic in its citizens. Certain regimes may limit the dissemination of information to give an unclear picture of the epidemic’s real effect on the country.

For example, we have no idea of how many cases of COVID-19 may exist in North Korea, a nation which borders China and most certainly has been affected. Yet, the government is completely silent about the SARS-COV2 virus.

Face Masks cannot be exported from China

When people are prepared, they can purposefully and rationally act to decrease their chance of infection. But to get prepared, most people look to their government’s health agencies for advice. Those health agencies should alert citizens with enough time to get the supplies they need and prepare.

Epidemics don’t just make people sick; they also disrupt the chain of supply. China, a major producer of face masks, has already mandated that they are no longer for export.  In the U.S., many personal protection gear items are already scarce.

It’s important to know that there’s no need to panic. Hopefully, the CDC opinion is correct in its assessment that the immediate risk to Americans is low . If we are to weather this storm, however, we need to be shown the black clouds on the horizon. Declare a pandemic and let’s work to get our communities ready with a plan of action. Complacency can be hazardous to your health.

Mises: Four Reasons Inequality Isn’t What You Think It Is

Here is a short article from the Mises Institute, describing why free markets are no enemy of inequality, but rather regulated markets are greater causes of harm – Four Reasons Inequality Isn’t What You Think It Is.

One of the defining characteristics of advocates for socialism is an obsession with equality. According to this line of thinking, inequality is the central problem of the modern world, and it demands a centralized solution. Thus, socialists—and more mild social democrats—push to use the power of the state to force the transfer of wealth from the productive and successful to those who are less so. This is the way to achieve social justice, they contend.

But inequality is not the societal plague that socialists allege it to be.

The Source of Wealth: Consumer Judgment

Contrary to popular belief, the way to make money is not to exploit one’s customers. The reality is the opposite. Wealth is created by identifying the problems that people have and creating products that provide a solution and improve their lives.

In this process, the consumer leads the process by expressing his own preferences in the marketplace. If a consumer feels that a product is overpriced, he will not make an exchange. If a product seems worthwhile, he will buy it willingly. The sum of these individual choices—to purchase or not—make or break a business on the market, and this is the consumers’ prerogative. In order to meet his own needs, a person must produce something that satisfies another’s needs, whether they be labor, industrial machinery, or fine cuff links.

Does Wealth Accrue at the Expense of the Poor?

One of the socialists’ key assumptions is that there is always a losing side in a transaction. They think that wealth is like a pie, and that the rich take the largest slice, leaving workers and customers with almost nothing. In reality the market is always expanding the pie, and voluntary exchanges are always win-win when they are made.

Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and all the other “evil capitalists” have managed to create an unprecedented amount of wealth, but not only for themselves. Those working for them have benefited from their jobs, and the people who buy their products and services have benefited from better or cheaper goods (or both). Other benefits include more time to pursue more important things, and in ways that cannot be quantified (i.e., they are measured in psychic profit). The entrepreneurs, in turn, have benefited from the services of their workers—which are well worth paying for. Entrepreneurs also benefit from the voluntary purchases made by their customers.

Profit and Competition Are Not Antithetical to Collaboration

Socialists pit profit and competition against an ideal of sharing and collaboration. But rather than being a wicked, stolen good, profit is a crucial incentive for collaborative human action.

People are always searching for the best and cheapest products in order to satisfy their needs, and their demands raise prices. The prospect of profit quickly pushes entrepreneurs into producing what people want—and what they are willing to pay for. Profits illustrate how much people value an entrepreneur’s services. Consumers only pay if the entrepreneur satisfies their desires.

As long as there are profits to be made, others enter the market. The competition spurs entrepreneurs to make production more efficient and cheaper, because the greater the competition, the more the businessman will have to do to earn the customer’s business. As more goods enter the market, consumers can be more picky about whom to purchase from, and prices drop. It’s their own demand that sets the prices, and once they are satisfied and there’s not as much profit in the business, entrepreneurs shift to making other things that people want.

As many Austrian and non-Austrian economists have figured out, the market is an everyday “voting system” of what needs to be produced. Every penny acts as a vote for how best to use limited resources. Profits point entrepreneurs toward what people want most badly. The resulting production is a form of collaboration rather than exploitation. People can do more, because they don’t have to do everything themselves, and they can focus on what they do best.

Income Inequality Is Heightened by a Restrained Market

The Left makes the mistake of arguing that only the rich have gotten richer and attack capitalism without looking at the facts. The market has made nearly everyone richer, not only in terms of income but also in terms of the overall quality of life and the products that they own.

Leftists also ignore income mobility in market economies, when studies show that in fact most people born to the richest fifth of Americans fall out of that bracket within twenty years while most of those born to the poorest fifth climb to a higher quintile and even to the top.

Though their rhetoric makes it seem surprising, this makes sense. As Ludwig von Mises pointed out in The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality, the businessman owes his wealth to his customers, and this wealth is inevitably lost or diminished when others enter the market who can better satisfy the consumer through lower prices and/or a better quality of goods and services.

The problem with income inequality today is that it isn’t entirely a byproduct of the free market but instead is the result of a market crippled by interventionist policies, such as regulations, expensive licenses, and the most complicated tax system in the history of this country. Such restrictions have limited competition and made wealth creation more difficult, causing the stagnation of the middle and lower classes.

Though leftists contend that these restrictions protect people from the “dangers” of the free market, they actually protect the corporate interests that progressives claim to stand against.

Colossal businesses like Amazon and Walmart in fact favor higher minimum wages and increased regulations. They have the funds to implement them with ease, and such regulations end up acting as a protective barrier, keeping startups and potential competitors from entering the market. With competition blocked, these businesses can grow artificially large and don’t have to work as hard to earn people’s business. Instead they can spend money on lawyers and DC lobbyists to fence small businesses out of the market.

Ironically, efforts to regulate businesses in the name of protecting laborers and consumers harms small businesses and makes everyone less equal than they could be in a free market.

Conclusion

Markets are not the enemy of inequality. Regulated markets are. The income inequality that naturally occurs in the free market as a result of human uniqueness is needlessly amplified by restrictive government policies to the detriment of all.

Voluntary exchanges in capitalism are mutually advantageous. If they weren’t, the exchange would never take place. People who live in countries with more economic and social freedom enjoy greater incomes and a higher standard of living. Free trade has contributed more to the alleviation of poverty than have all the government-run programs. Socialist intervention in the market can only distance man from eradicating poverty and from happiness: only unrestrained competition driven by profit can bring about the expansion of choice, the fall in prices, and the increased satisfaction that make us wealthier.

Off Grid Ham: Jumping Off the Grid for Beginners

Chris Warren at Off Grid Ham has written an off grid radio guide for those who are beginners to working their radios without mainline power. There are a bunch of useful links at the end of his article, too.

The demand and desire to take amateur radio off grid is absolutely there. The problem is that information about off grid radio is sprinkled around. It’s hard to find straight answers. Many radio and survival blogs occasionally address the issue, but to my knowledge, Off Grid Ham and OH8STN are the only two outlets that deal with off grid radio radio exclusively.

For readers who are not off the grid, or seek to expand off grid capabilities, I’ve put together this “off grid radio guide” for beginners that will answer the most common questions in one compact package. This is not a comprehensive guide; we’re just going to summarize main points. At the end of this article there will be links to additional information on the topics covered here.

Have a purpose!

off grid radio guide

Graphic courtesy of tunein.com

I’ve beaten this drum so much it may seem tiresome, but it cannot be overstated that having clearly defined goals is an absolute must. If you do not have a specific purpose in mind, then you’re just going to trip around randomly trying different things with no meaningful result. If you have the time and money to spend on dead-end projects, then by all means don’t bother with a roadmap; you’ll eventually find your way and probably have a great time doing it. Off grid radio guide

But for those of us who do not have the means to live like plans don’t matter, the first chapter in our off grid radio guide is to have a purpose. Your stated goal does not have to be complicated or lengthy. Here are a few examples:

  • Operate for a weekend or so while camping.
  • Helping kids/scouts/youth group with an educational project.
  • Involvement with contests and SOTA/POTA activities.
  • Energy independence/operate off grid full time from a home station.
  • Survivalist/prepper communications for when SHTF.
  • Curiosity/self improvement. Off grid radio guide

Your goals may change over time. I originally got into off grid ham radio just to experiment and fool around with solar panels. That lead to a large home station, several portable power setups, and this blog! Regardless of what your motivations are, make sure you can define them.

How much power will you need? Off grid radio guide

Answering this question is a major component of defining your purposes and goals.. After all, it doesn’t make sense to plan a power system without knowing how much power you’ll need.

If your plans include an engine-driven mechanical generator, choose one that will run at 33-50% of its maximum capacity while powering your equipment. This is the window where generators are the most efficient. You don’t want to push a generator close to its limit for extended periods, nor do you want a generator that is way oversized for the load it powers. Either of these two extremes are a bad idea.

Batteries.

Matching power needs to batteries is a very tricky dance because a battery’s performance can change with age, temperature, previous use, and physical condition. A handy rule to follow is that whatever number you come up with for your needed battery capacity, increase it by 50%. This will give you plenty of wiggle room for inherent factors that degrade battery capability.

When determining battery size, carefully consider the expected duty cycle you’ll be demanding of your equipment. Duty cycle is a ratio, expressed as a percentage, of transmit time to receive time. The more you transmit, the higher the duty cycle and the more battery you’ll need. At a minimum, figure a duty cycle of 25% and up to 80% if you run a lot of data.

Solar panel calculation.

No off grid radio guide would be worthwhile without discussing solar panels. The biggest variable is the sun itself. On a cloudy day, you may realize only 10% of your panel’s capacity. A solar panel will never hit its rated maximum power due to the varying levels of sunlight and the inefficiency of the system. Like batteries, include generous headroom in the form of more solar wattage capacity to make up for the losses…

Click here to continue reading at Off Grid Ham.

The Medic Shack: The Powergrid. Is it as screwed up as we think it is?

The Smart Survivalist: Off-Grid Batteries and Power Systems

The Smart Survivalist: How Much Does it Cost to Live Off Grid?

Virology Down Under: Past Time to Tell the Public It Will Go Pandemic

Virology Down Under is a website run by Ian Mackay, a PhD in virology. The following article was written for the site by Jody Lanard and Peter Sandman who are experts in risk communication and have written about risks involved with Ebola, Swine Flu and Zika in addition to Coronavirus. In Past Time to Tell the Public: “It Will Probably Go Pandemic, and We Should All Prepare Now the authors discuss the fact that governments should already be telling people to get prepared for a pandemic and banned public gatherings. The time for trying to contain the virus is past and pandemic preparedness is upon us. Don’t expect the government to keep the virus from your door.

In addition to the dangers of the virus itself, people should be prepared for product shortages off all types if the coronavirus goes pandemic. There have already been reports of things like face masks, and some auto manufacturers have warned that factories will need to close because of a lack of parts from China. But there are more common everyday items that are at risk of shortage, too. For example, Procter & Gamble has warned that it may have supply problems with over 17,000 of its products because they are supplied through over 380 companies in China. Procter & Gamble is a huge supplier of consumer products including such brands as Charmin, Crest, Tide, Vicks, Gillette, Pampers, Always, Tampax, Pepto-Bismol, Olay, Old Spice, Secret, and many, many other common household names.

We are starting to hear from experts and officials who now believe a COVID-19 pandemic is more and more likely.  They want to use the “P word,” and also start talking more about what communities and individuals can and should do to prepare.  On February 22, Australian virologist Ian Mackay asked us for our thoughts on this phase of COVID-19 risk communication.

Here is our response.

Yes, it is past time to say “pandemic” – and to stop saying “stop”

It’s a good time to think about how to use the “P word” (pandemic) in talking about COVID-19.  Or rather, it is past time.

It is important to help people understand that while you think – if you do think so – that this is going to be pandemic in terms of becoming very widespread,  no one knows yet how much severe disease there will be around the world over short periods of time.  “Will it be a mild, or moderate, or severe pandemic?  Too soon to say, but at the moment, there are some tentative signs that….”

The most crucial (and overdue) risk communication task for the next few days is to help people visualize their communities when “keeping it out” – containment – is no longer relevant.  The P word is a good way to launch this message.

But the P word alone won’t help the public understand what’s about to change: the end of most quarantines, travel restrictions, contact tracing, and other measures designed to keep “them” from infecting “us,” and the switch to measures like canceling mass events designed to keep us from infecting each other.

We are near-certain that the desperate-sounding last-ditch containment messaging of recent days is contributing to a massive global misperception about the near-term future.  The theme of WHO’s and many governments’ messages – that the “window of opportunity” to stop spread of the virus is closing – is like the famous cover page of Nevil Shute’s On the Beach: “There is still time … Brother.”

For weeks we have been trying to get officials to talk early about the main goal of containment: to slow the spread of the virus, not to stop it.  And to explain that containment efforts would eventually end.  And to help people learn about “after containment.”  This risk communication has not happened yet in most places.

So here is one more pitch for openness about containment.  Officials: Please read Containment as Signal, Swine Flu Risk Miscommunication, which we wrote in 2009.

One horrible effect of this continued “stop the pandemic” daydream masquerading as a policy goal: It is driving counter-productive and outrage-inducing measures by many countries against travelers from other countries, even their own citizens back from other countries.  But possibly more horrible: The messaging is driving resources toward “stopping,” and away from the main potential benefit of containment – slowing the spread of the pandemic and thereby buying a little more time to prepare for what’s coming.

We hope that governments and healthcare institutions are using this time wisely.  We know that ordinary citizens are not being asked to do so.  In most countries – including our United States and your Australia – ordinary citizens have not been asked to prepare.  Instead, they have been led to expect that their governments will keep the virus from their doors.

Take the risk of scaring people

Whenever we introduce the word “pandemic,” it’s important to validate that it’s a scary word – both to experts and to non-experts – because it justifiably contains the implication of something potentially really bad, and definitely really disruptive, for an unknown period of time.  This implication is true and unavoidable, even if the overall pattern of disease ends up being mild, like the 2009-10 “swine flu” pandemic.

Validate also that some people may accuse you of fear-mongering.  And respond that hiding your strong professional opinion about this pandemic-to-be would be immoral, or not in keeping with your commitment to transparency, or unforgivably unprofessional, or derelict in your duty to warn, or whatever feels truest in your heart.

It may help to consider the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” fallacy.  Feel free to say that “Jody Lanard and Peter Sandman say” that officials or experts – in this case YOU – are “darned if you do anddamned if you don’t.”  You’re only darned if you warn about something that turns out minor.  But you’re damned, and rightly so, if you fail to warn about something that turns out serious.

It’s simply not true, in principle or in practice, that you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t!  Over-alarming risk messages are far more forgivable than over-reassuring ones.

Push people to prepare, and guide their prep 

This is the most culpable neglected messaging in many countries at this point.

The main readiness stuff we routinely see from official and expert sources is either “DON’T get ready!” (masks), or “Do what we’ve always told you to do!” (hand hygiene and non-mask respiratory etiquette).

The general public, and many categories of civil society, are not actively being recruited to do anything different in the face of COVID-19 approaching.

A fair number of health care workers and communication officers tell us their hospitals and healthcare systems are just barely communicating about COVID-19. They want to be involved in how to prepare for “business not as usual.”  We’re guessing that many hospital managements are in fact preparing for COVID-19, but we worry that they’re doing it too quietly, without enough effort to prepare their staff.

Lots of businesses, especially smaller ones, are doing off-the-cuff pre-pandemic planning.  Several trade journals have articles about how specific industries should prepare for a likely pandemic.  Around February 10, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted interim guidance for businesses.  But we have seen almost nothing in mainstream media citing this guidance, or recommending business continuity strategies like urgent cross-training so that core functions won’t be derailed because certain key employees are out sick, for instance.

Pandemic planning research suggests that employees are likeliest to say they will show up for work during a pandemic if three specs are met – if they think their family is reasonably safe; if they think their employer is being candid with them about the situation; and if they have a pandemic-specific job assignment in addition to or different from their routine “peacetime” assignment.

Hardly any officials are telling civil society and the general public how to get ready for this pandemic.

Even officials who say very alarming things about the prospects of a pandemic mostly focus on how their agencies are preparing, not on how the people they misperceive as “audience” should prepare.  “Audience” is the wrong frame.  We are all stakeholders, and we don’t just want to hear what officials are doing.  We want to hear what we can do too.

We want – and need – to hear advice like this:

  • Try to get a few extra months’ worth of prescription meds, if possible.
  • Think through now how we will take care of sick family members while trying not to get infected.
  • Cross-train key staff at work so one person’s absence won’t derail our organization’s ability to function.
  • Practice touching our faces less. So how about a face-counter app like the step-counters so many of us use?
  • Replace handshakes with elbow-bumps (the “Ebola handshake”).
  • Start building harm-reduction habits like pushing elevator buttons with a knuckle instead of a fingertip.

There is so much for people to do, and to practice doing in advance.

Preparedness is emotional too

Suggesting things people can do to prepare for a possible hard time to come doesn’t just get them better prepared logistically.  It also helps get them better prepared emotionally.  It helps get them through the Oh My God (OMG) moment everyone needs to have, and needs to get through, preferably without being accused of hysteria.

It is better to get through this OMG moment now rather than later.

Offering people a list of preparedness steps to choose among means that those who are worried and feeling helpless can better bear their worry, and those who are beyond worry and deep into denial can better face their worry.

Yet another benefit: The more people who are making preparedness efforts, the more connected to each other they feel.  Pandemic preparedness should be a communitarian experience.  When a colleague offers you an elbow bump instead of a handshake, your mind goes to those lists of preparedness recommendations you’ve been seeing, and you feel part of a community that’s getting ready together.

This OMG realization that we have termed the “adjustment reaction” (see http://www.psandman.com/col/teachable.htm) is a step that is hard to skip on the way to the new normal.  Going through it before a crisis is full-blown is more conducive to resilience, coping, and rational response than going through it mid-crisis.  Officials make a mistake when they sugarcoat alarming information, postponing the public’s adjustment reaction in the vain hope that they can avoid it altogether.

Specific pandemic preparedness messages

Below are links to specific preparedness messaging we drafted for a possible H5N1 pandemic.  The links are all from our 2007 website column What to Say When a Pandemic Looks Imminent: Messaging for WHO Phases Four and Five.  Each item is in two parts – a draft message (a summary sentence followed by a few paragraphs of elaboration), then a risk communication discussion of why we think it’s an appropriate pre-pandemic message.  Because these were written with H5N1 in mind, the pandemic they contemplate is more severe and less likely than the one we contemplate today.  So some changes may be called for – but frankly, in our judgment, not many.

One of the scariest messaging failures in the developed world is not telling people vividly about what the end of containment will look like, for instance the end of contact-tracing and most quarantines.

The FAQs on the Singapore Ministry of Health webpage (https://www.moh.gov.sg/covid-19/faqs) can serve as a model that other developed countries can adapt to start talking to their publics about this now, to reduce the shock and anger when governments stop trying to contain all identified cases.

What’s working for us

We’d like to share with you some of our recent everyday life experiences in talking about pandemic preparedness with people who perceive us as a bit knowledgeable about what may be on the horizon.  Some of this overlaps with the more generic comments above.

1.      We’ve found it useful to tell friends and family to try to get ahead on their medical prescriptions if they can, in case of very predictable supply chain disruptions, and so they won’t have to go out to the pharmacy at a time when there may be long lines of sick people.  This helps them in a practical sense, but it also makes them visualize – often for the first time – how a pandemic may impact them in their everyday lives, even if they don’t actually catch COVID-19.  It simultaneously gives them a small “Oh my God” moment (an emotional rehearsal about the future) – and something to do about it right away to help them get through the adjustment reaction.

2.      We also recommend that people might want to slowly (so no one will accuse them of panic-buying) start to stock up on enough non-perishable food to last their households through several weeks of social distancing at home during an intense wave of transmission in their community.  This too seems to get through emotionally, as well as being useful logistically.

3.      Three other recommendations that we feel have gone over well with our friends and acquaintances:

  • Suggesting practical organizational things they and their organizations can do to get ready, such as cross-training to mitigate absenteeism.
  • Suggesting that people make plans for childcare when they are sick, or when their child is sick.

4.      And the example we like the best, because it gives every single person an immediate action that they can take over and over: Right now, today, start practicing not touching your face when you are out and about!  You probably won’t be able to do it perfectly, but you can greatly reduce the frequency of potential self-inoculation.  You can even institute a buddy system, where friends and colleagues are asked to remind each other when someone scratches her eyelid or rubs his nose.  As we noted earlier, someone should develop a face-touching app – instead of a step-counting app to encourage you to walk more, how about an app to encourage you to auto-inoculate less!  And track your progress, and compete with your friends, even!

The last message on our list – to practice and try to form a new habit – has several immediate and longer-term benefits.

Having something genuinely useful to do can bind anxiety or reduce apathy.  You feel less helpless and less passive.

And you can see yourself improving.

And you can work on your new habit alone, and also in a pro-social communitarian way.  Others can help you do it, and you can help them.

And it yields real harm reduction!  It is arguably the endpoint of what washing your hands is for, and it helps when you can’t wash your hands out in the world.

Like all good pandemic preparedness recommendations, it helps you rehearse emotionally, as well as logistically.

The bottom line

Every single official we know is having multiple “Oh my God” moments, as new COVID-19 developments occur and new findings emerge.  OMG – there is a fair amount of transmission by infected people with mild or subclinical cases!  OMG – there is a high viral load early on in nasal and pharyngeal samples!  OMG – the Diamond Princess, how can that have been allowed to happen!  And on and on.

Officials help each other through those moments.  They go home and tell their families and friends, sharing the OMG sensation.  And then what do they tell the public?  That they understand that “people are concerned” (as if they themselves weren’t alarmed), but “the risk is low and there’s nothing you need to do now.”

Ian, it sounds like you want to argue on behalf of preparedness.  Encouraging all stakeholders to prepare logistically should start now, if not sooner.  And you are in a position not just to encourage logistical preparedness, but also to encourage government sources and other experts like yourself to do the same.  Perhaps even more important, in our judgment: You can try to encourage emotional preparedness, and try to encourage other official and expert sources to encourage emotional preparedness – guiding people’s OMG adjustment reactions instead of trying to stamp them out.

Related:

The Organic Prepper: The CDC Warns Businesses, Schools, Communities to Prepare NOW for Covid19: “THE DISRUPTION OF DAILY LIFE MIGHT BE SEVERE.”

Organic Prepper: Why COVID-19 Could Be the Pandemic that Changes Everything

Cat Ellis, the herbal prepper and author of The Wuhan Coronavirus Survival Manual, has written an article about the coronavirus for The Organic Prepper. There is still a lot that we don’t know about the coronavirus, but we do know that it is highly contagious. There is still some question about the fatality rate, but estimates are still above 2% which is many times the rate for influenza but about the same as for the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918.

…What was not known from the beginning was the rate of transmission and what percentage of people who become infected will become seriously or critically ill.

Worldometers breaks down the number of total active cases into mild and serious/critical categories. As of February 24, 2020, about 82% have a mild illness, and about 18% have a serious/critical illness requiring hospitalization. This is up from a rate of approximately 13% serious/critical cases just a few weeks ago.

Could this mean that the virus is mutating to become more dangerous? Possibly. But it could also just mean that as more data is collected, this additional data gives us a clearer picture of the real case fatality rate. Remember that the data we’ve received from China all along has been questionable. As the virus spreads to countries with more transparency, what we thought we knew is bound to change.

The same source cites the rate of transmission at between 2 to 3, meaning if there were a room with 10 people, and a person infected with this virus entered the room, you could reasonably expect 2 to 3 people to also become infected. For perspective, that is also 2 to 3 times as contagious as the flu.

The Worldometers coronavirus tracker, which is in line with several other coronavirus trackers from Johns Hopkins, BNO News, and Visa List, also lists the results of closed cases, i.e. cases with an actual outcome. Of the known outcomes, 91% recovered and 9% were fatal. What this means is that out of all the confirmed COVID-19 cases, about 18% will lead to serious or critical illness requiring hospital-level care and that 9% of that subset will die.

What about that 2% mortality rate? Part of the problem with calculating a case fatality rate is that you can’t actually know the true mortality rate (case fatality rate) until the outbreak is completely over. Until then, there are still cases without an outcome. In COVID-19, there are thousands more cases without outcomes yet.

The case fatality rate of 9% comes from taking the total cases of fatalities (2,701) and dividing it by the total number of cases with outcomes (30,334), then multiplying by 100 to get a case fatality rate of almost 9%…

If this virus continues to spread, it would be reasonable to expect massive disruptions to modern life, manufacturing, shipping, and shortages of all kinds. The number of fatalities from other illnesses, accidents, and lack of services would be in addition to the fatalities from the coronavirus itself. If you are preparing for this, remember that you aren’t just preparing for a cushy 2-week staycation. You’re preparing for something that affects many other facets of your life.

The entire system will be at risk in the event of a massive outbreak and shortages of all sorts could soon follow…

While containment still remains the mainstay of WHO and CDC policy, if we pay attention to what our government, military, and world health agencies are telling us, they are preparing for a full-on coronavirus pandemic.

We have authorities in infectious disease telling us to have food and plans in place in the event you suddenly find yourself under travel restrictions or in a full-blown, lock-down quarantine. I’m not sure what else there is to say except this is not a drill.

I hope that containment will still save the day. Perhaps we will do better in the United States than some others will, and not see COVID-19 spread any further, unlike Italy with large clusters forming seemingly overnight, leading to school and work closings in multiple cities.

While I always hope for the best, I also always plan for the worst. You won’t get much time to prepare if things begin spreading rapidly where you are. You’d be wise to do so ahead of time.

Click here to read the entire article at The Organic Prepper.

Pandemic Preparedness for Businesses

This post attempts to gather some resources and information for businesses to make a pandemic preparedness plan. Every business will be a bit different – what applies to a city government will not be the same for a family run espresso bar. In the case of a pandemic, you will need to deal with the possibility of quarantined employees and customers, protecting the health of employees against the possibility of infectious customers, dealing with travel restrictions, possible death of key employees, communication difficulties, and much more. It’s best to at least have an idea of what sorts of problems your business may face before it actually faces them. While the current coronavirus is not epidemic in the US as of yet, you can learn a lot about business effects just by paying attention to what is happening in China and elsewhere.

As part of the planning process you need to:

  • identify core services, and what is needed to maintain the supply chain
  • identify staffing arrangements, such as telecommuting, succession planning and cross-skilling
  • protect the health of staff
  • develop a communications strategy for employees, customers and suppliers
  • consider financial implications, such as cash flow, cost increases and insurance
  • identify contingency plans for the unexpected
  • schedule how the plan will be tested and updated.

CDC Business Pandemic Influenza Checklist (pdf)

CDC Iterim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to COVID-19

Pandemic Preparedness for Faith Based Organization (pdf)

AlertFind: Pandemic Planning Templates – several templates linked at this website

OSHA: Preparing Workplaces for an Influenza Pandemic (pdf)

FEMA: Pandemic Continuity of Operations Template (pdf)

EDEN: A Guide to Preparing a Business Disaster Plan For Pandemic  (pdf) – a powerpoint overview

Example plan: Hotel Assoc of Canada Pandemic Plan (pdf)

BizChangers: Business Risks from Pandemics and Epidemics (pdf)

Some AIHA pandemic recommendations

Singapore Manpower Ministry COVID-19 guidelines for businesses and employers.

From NuWire:

Employers Need to Prepare Now

Prudent employers will assemble a pandemic team and plan if they have not done so already. The pandemic team should develop a coordinated and efficient pandemic response plan so that the needed public health information is gathered and transmitted; the communications to managers and employees about operations, cleaning protocols, leave and benefits is consistent and effective; and anticipated disruptions managed effectively while avoiding litigation risks and panic within the workplace.

The pandemic plan should provide pre-established means of communication and planning including:

  • Operational alternatives to shift production to unaffected areas and mitigate disruptions from quarantines and high absenteeism;
  • Education of employees on basic health precautions at work and at home, not reporting to work when sick or exposed, leaving work promptly when symptoms occur, and mechanisms for tracking who is ready to return to work or obtaining employee releases to return to work;
  • Implementing increased prevention and transmission precautions by increased cleaning protocols, disposal of employee tissues and cleaning up after sick employees;
  • Selection of safety equipment for key personnel possibly including masks, gloves and cleaning supplies and equipment, and the educational requirements for its application, use, removal, and disposal;
  • Redesign of procedures and operations to limit the face to face interactions of employees in group meetings, lines at time clock, cafeteria, elevators, etc.
  • Education of management concerning employee communications, transmitting self-disclosed infection information from employees, sending employees home who want to stay at work, and communicating with employees too scared to report.
  • Develop and communicate travel restrictions to any known infected areas.
  • Specific assignments for an emergency response team should include the following in the event that further response is necessary:
  • coordinating with federal, state and local authorities in control of public health and safety in case of quarantines and inoculation efforts;
  • developing and implementing evacuation procedures if they become necessary;
  • preparing facility shutdown check-lists;
  • identifying key personnel whose presence is important to continue vital company functions; and
  • determining methods for communicating effectively with employees.

Liberty Blitzkrieg: Critical Thinking Has Never Been More Important

Michael Krieger at Liberty Blitzkrieg has a brief article on the elites’ disdain for the citizenry.

There are several reasons I spend so much time discussing and analyzing the current state of affairs. The primary motivation, aside from a drive to share personal opinions and spread awareness, is to encourage people to think critically. I don’t want readers to agree with everything I say, I want people to become inspired to think for themselves.

The ruling class doesn’t want you to think, they want you to simply accept the nonsensical stories they tell you. By contrast, I don’t want readers to blindly accept any of my conclusions, rather, I want my work be a case study on how to deploy independent logic and insight to a variety of topics and situations.

While I haven’t discussed the 2020 presidential campaign much here, I comment on it quite a bit over at Twitter, and people often ask why I discuss the circus at all. The reason isn’t because I expect a politician to come save us and make everything right again, but because the establishment response to populist-type candidates is so instructive.

Although Trump hasn’t done much of anything to address our nation’s core fundamental problems; such as a two-tier justice system, central bank power, financial feudalism, aggressive militarism/empire, rogue intelligence agencies, civil liberties abuses and tech giant censorship, his unexpected victory over chosen one Hillary Clinton nevertheless exposed many individuals and institutions for the frauds they are. Bernie Sanders’ run is doing the same thing. You don’t have to like the specific policies of Trump or Sanders to appreciate how any candidate with even a hint of grassroots populism puts the “elites” into panic mode.

It’s important to understand the ruling class doesn’t actually fear Trump or Sanders individually — any one person can be dealt with. What they really fear is you. They fear people flocking to unapproved candidates and then talking about things the establishment doesn’t want them talking about. This is the main reason the whole Russiagate fantasy was unrolled against Trump and pushed hysterically by mass media.

By ensuring “the resistance” to Trump revolved around some invented intelligence agency narrative, the power structure was able to prevent large numbers of people from talking about anything real or significant for four years straight. Although it didn’t remove Trump from office, it successfully reduced hitherto thoughtful people into emotionally broken mental midgets.

This is the reason the exact same tactic was just unrolled against Bernie Sanders, with Jeff Bezos’ Washington Post reporting the day before the Nevada caucuses that Russia is also supposedly helping Sanders. It’s ridiculous, but you have to understand the strategy here. If Sanders can’t be prevented from winning the nomination, the establishment needs a plan B, and that plan appears to be Russiagate all over again. These people aren’t very creative.

When it became clear Trump couldn’t be stopped he was smeared with being a tool of the Russians, and the same seeds are being planted around the Sanders campaign. It doesn’t matter how preposterous it is, the primary goal is to ensure nobody ever talks about anything important. Absent Russia hysteria, a Sanders vs. Trump matchup would quickly become a battle of who’s more populist, and issues that make so-called elites very uncomfortable would become widely discussed.  The ruling class doesn’t want the public talking about such things so they need to turn the election into a complete circus if Sanders can’t be blocked. Instead of talking about economic insecurity, healthcare, the cost of college and wars for empire, the goal is to make Sanders and Trump spend the entire campaign season arguing about who hates Russia more.

The important takeaway here is how completely terrified and decrepit the ruling class of this country really is. They have no argument or philosophy about anything important. As such, their only tactic is to overwhelm the public with nonsense and invented narratives in order to divide, befuddle and control the masses while keeping the imperial oligarchy running exactly as it has for decades. Once you see the game, it’s impossible to unsee it, but the good news is we all possess within ourselves the power they fear most. The power to think for ourselves and to reject ridiculous lies.

This is why we need to place relentless pressure on these people and never let up. When they feel pressure, they get scared. When they get scared, they become desperate. When they become desperate, they make mistakes. After enough mistakes, we win.

 

WA-GOAL Alert 2020-1 Public Hearing for Magazine Ban Feb, 25th

From the Washington Gun Owners Action League:

GOAL ALERT 2020-1
Legislative Update from Olympia 22 February 2020

PUBLIC HEARING ON HB 2947 (MAGAZINE BAN)

Last night they posted a public hearing in the House Finance Committee at 8 a.m. on 25 February (Tuesday morning).

If at all possible, try and get to Olympia to speak in opposition to the bill and to the underhanded way the Democrats are manipulating the process to pass an unconstitutional bill (“The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired… “)

If you can’t get to Olympia, burn up the telephone lines to Olympia voicing your concerns. Legislative Hotline 800-562-6000.

PUBLIC HEARINGS SCHEDULED:
25 Feb House Finance House Hearing Room “A” John L. O’Brien Bldg
8:00 a.m. HB 2947

LEGISLATIVE HOT LINE: You may reach your Representatives and Senator by calling the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000. Toll free!!! The hearing impaired may obtain TDD access at 1-800-635-9993. Also toll free!!!

1-800-562-6000 TDD 1-800-635-9993

“The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain or employ an armed body of men.”

Article 1, Section 24
Constitution of the State of Washington

Forward Observer: After the Area Study – Next Steps

Chief intelligence analyst Sam Culper of Forward Observer posts on the progression of intelligence products you and your group should work on to be prepared for local disasters and emergencies in After Area Studies: The Next Steps in SHTF Intelligence.

For the past few weeks, I’ve made Area Studies the primary focus of the blog and social media presence. If you want to get started in local intelligence for disasters and emergencies, the Area Study is your starting point.

For those new to SHTF Intelligence, here’s a progression of intelligence products, skills, and tasks you should be doing.

1. The Area Study – This intelligence product is the foundation of local intelligence efforts. It’s here, most importantly, where we learn 1) the significance of “Intelligence Value” and 2) the importance of identifying your intelligence gaps.

“Intelligence Value” is what what we assign to information that’s relevant to our mission. The more critical a piece of information is, the higher its intelligence value.

For instance, if your mission is pulling your neighbors out of flood waters, then knowing who needs to be helped and where they live becomes mission-critical information. During this mission, identifying these neighbors becomes one of your top priorities. Other information of intelligence value could include: future flood stages, anticipated depth of area flooding, debris in the area that could pose a hazard, other areas that could be affected by flood waters, how long the flooding will last, and the list goes on.

If flooding is a risk, then you’re going to want to put local flood zone maps in your Area Study.

An “intelligence gap” is literally a gap in our knowledge. These gaps are things we need to know but don’t. Identifying your intelligence gaps is a critical step because it’s here where we identify what we need to collect. All intelligence gathering is directed through these intelligence gaps in the form of Collection Requirements. Once we have our Collection Requirements, then we can focus on collecting.

Through our Area Study, we want to identify threats, assets, fault lines, and vulnerabilities, among other things. Intelligence reduces uncertainty about the future. If I don’t understand my Operating Environment, then I won’t understand my assets and liabilities. I can’t plan for preparedness and security if I don’t understand who and what will affect my community’s security.

If you want to get started on an Area Study, the best and easiest way is to take my Area Intelligence Course.

2. Build Local Networks – While doing your Area Study, with a particular focus on the Human Terrain, you’re going to want to start building your local intelligence network.

In our Area Study, we should be identifying our neighbors and other important or valuable people in the area. If you don’t know your neighbors, go meet them. I recently moved to a new area and started taking walks when my neighbors are getting home from work. It gives me an opportunity to introduce myself and start learning more about them. I’m building rapport with them and looking for signs of like-mindedness. (I started a Neighborhood Watch in my previous neighborhood, which allowed me to go door to door and get contact information to begin this process. I highly recommend doing that. Joining a website like NextDoor will also give you opportunities to meet and communicate with your neighbors.)

In my Area Study, I need to separate these people into three categories: A) develop, B) inform and influence, and C) monitor.

A. I need to develop like-minded people. At a minimum, that means building a relationship with them. The end goal is to develop these neighbors into valuable and cooperative members of a neighborhood watch and/or preparedness group. If you can build enough trust and rapport, invite them to the gun range or other training with you. Get them “bought in” to developing tactical, medical, communications, intelligence, and/or other skills, especially if they share the same concerns about the future.

B. I need to inform and influence my neighbors who are indifferent towards preparedness. People are busy and get distracted. Between work schedules, their kids’ football practice and karate, Netflix, news propaganda, and other things, it’s easy to completely ignore the country’s fault lines. Many times, these people would be very concerned if they knew about the risks and dangers. It’s our job to inform them and then influence them towards preparedness. (My parents are a great example. I’ll relay to them information that concerns me and they can’t believe FoxNews isn’t talking about it. Over the years, I’ve worked on informing and influencing them towards preparedness. Last time I visited, my dad had a closet stacked floor to ceiling with food and water. It’s a start.) Share information in NextDoor, invite these people over for dinner, get your kids on the same soccer team; whatever you have to do to gain access and start building trust and rapport with these people, do it. Once you can prove that a) you’re not a weirdo and b) that you’re an intelligent and competent human being, then you can being sharing information to inform and influence. (Ask for their opinion on these things. See where they sit. Confirm their suspicions, encourage their own self-study of these threats, and, most importantly, don’t become “that guy.”)

C. I want to monitor neighbors who are sketchy, involved in criminality, or could otherwise oppose or disrupt our efforts for community security, especially during a disaster or emergency. (I’m not saying to peer out your window or to conduct surveillance. Just keep an eye out.) Familiarity is a double-edged sword. Yes, it’s always good to get to know your neighbors, but it’s not always good for them to get to know you. Identify these people. If you have to, run background checks. See if these people are “familiar faces” to local law enforcement. Ask your like-minded neighbors what they know about these people. Determine the threat level of the people in this category, add that information to your Area Study, and make considerations when planning for disasters and emergencies.

What we ultimately want to do is move people up the chain: turn B’s into A’s, and develop A’s into security partners.

Once we’ve done our Area Study and identified our collection requirements, we can start relying on our A’s and security partners to, wittingly or unwittingly, provide us with information of intelligence value.

C. Get Your ACE in Gear – The Analysis & Control Element (ACE) is our local intelligence cell. It’s the control room of our intelligence efforts. We’ve demonstrated the value of running of an ACE numerous times, including Operation Urban Charger (2015) when we battletracked the Ferguson riot.

During a disaster or emergency, we’ll need to produce real-time intelligence. If you expect to make decisions, you must be well-informed. You only bridge that gap through an intelligence effort.

This is why I, as much as possible, steer preppers away from accumulating more stuff and towards developing a local intelligence network and building an ACE.

When this disaster or emergency strikes — be it a hurricane, flood, wildfire, EMP/CME, grid down, protracted conflict, whatever it may be — I want to have my preparedness group form an ACE to direct collection, monitor the security situation, and produce real-time intelligence. (Read my Ultimate ACE Startup Guide here.)

In the ACE, we need a central repository for information and group members who know what to do with it. This means that I have to train up my preparedness group in intelligence skills. Much of intelligence collection is intuitive — you have questions, you need answers, and you go find that information somewhere with the skills and resources you have.

What requires some education and training is running an entire network and getting your information turned into actionable or predictive intelligence. Improving your intelligence gathering skills means more efficient collection of a greater intelligence value. Improving the way you analyze information means more accurate and timely intelligence. That results in improving your security, surviving, and/or winning a conflict. This is why I teach intelligence collection and analysis for a living…

Click here to read the entire article at Forward Observer.

Gold, Goats ‘n Guns: Don’t Be Fooled by the Deplatforming of Facebook

From Tom Luongo at Gold, Goats ‘N Guns is this piece on current internet censorship efforts and why you shouldn’t fall for it.

The push for speech control escalates. There is now a concentration of stories concerning social media companies and their role in shaping political thought.

We are nine months from a pivotal presidential election in the U.S. and the push is on to ensure that the outcome goes the way those in power want it to.

Three times in as many weeks billionaire busybody George Soros has attacked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, demanding he be removed because he is working to re-elect Donald Trump.

This seems like an absurdity. But it isn’t. It’s all part of the game plan.

Create a controversy that isn’t real to seed a narrative that there’s a problem in need of a solution. Facebook has been the center of this controversy to inflame passions on both sides of the political aisle to ensure the desired outcome.

They want regulation of all social media companies to create unscalable barriers to entry for new ones while curtailing free speech on the existing ones.

Warren Buffet would call that a moat. I call it tyranny.

Enter Attorney General William Barr.

He weighed in recently that we need to have a conversation about Facebook et.al. in relation to their Section 230 immunity under the Communications Decency Act.

Section 230 grants immunity to companies like Facebook and Google from prosecution for content hosted on their services as they argue they are not publishers but rather just pass-through entities or platforms of user-generated content.

Now, it’s pretty clear for the past few years the social media companies have been acting with open editorial bias to deplatform undesirables. They rewrite broadly defined terms of services and EULAs (End-User Licence Agreements) which they use to justify controlling what content they are willing to host.

And that’s where the Section 230 immunity comes into play. The big tech companies want to have it both ways, be a neutral platform legally but self-define ‘neutrality’ in such a way that benefits them politically, economically and socially while insulating themselves from breaching contracts with their customers.

What’s clear from Barr’s comments he’s approaching this from a law enforcement perspective.

“We are concerned that internet services, under the guise of Section 230, can not only block access to law enforcement — even when officials have secured a court-authorized warrant — but also prevent victims from civil recovery,” Barr said. “Giving broad immunity to platforms that purposefully blind themselves — and law enforcers — to illegal conduct on their services does not create incentives to make the online world safer for children.”

And this clearly doesn’t address the real issue. That’s your sign there’s something wrong here.

Both political parties are unhappy with the current situation and that should be your red flag that a great stitch-up is in progress. Because the end goal here is government oversight that has bipartisan support.

That support has to be manufactured from both sides. The left wants protection from ‘fake news’ and ‘Russian meddling’ while the right wants a level playing field to air ideas in the public square.

Didn’t you all notice how both of these things became issues right after the wrong person won the 2016 presidential election and the British people made the wrong decision about EU Membership?

I’m sure you noticed the blatant bias exhibited by Facebook, Google, YouTube, Twitter, Reddit and the rest of these protected platforms and wondered why they were allowed to act so egregiously with seemingly no recourse?

The big tech companies don’t want more government oversight, they simply want to continue to have their have their editorial take and enforce it too while taking your money and suppressing your voice.

Government intervention is not the solution here. In fact, it is the goal of the entire exercise…

Click here to read the entire article at Gold, Goats ‘N Guns.

Sunday Prayer for Difficult Times

Sovereign Commander of the Universe,
I am sadly harassed by doubts, fears, unbelief, in a felt spiritual darkness.
My heart is full of evil surmisings and disquietude, and I cannot act faith at all.
My heavenly Pilot has disappeared, and I have lost my hold on the Rock of Ages;
I sink in deep mire beneath storms and waves, in horror and distress unutterable.
Help me, O Lord, to throw myself absolutely and wholly on thee, for better, for worse, without comfort, and all but hopeless.
Give me peace of soul, confidence, enlargement of mind, morning joy that comes after night heaviness;
Water my soul richly with divine blessings;
Grant that I may welcome they humbling in private so that I might enjoy thee in public;
Give me a mountain top as high as the valley is low.
Thy grace can melt the worst sinner, and I am as vile as he;
Yet thou hast made me a monument of mercy, a trophy of redeeming power;
In my distress let me not forget this.
All wise God,
They never-failing providence orders every event, sweetens every fear, reveals evil’s presence lurking in seeming good, brings real good out of seeming evil, makes unsatisfactory what I set my heart upon, to show me what a short-sighted creature I am, and to teach me to live by faith upon thy blessed self.
Out of my sorrow and night give me the name Naphtali — ‘satisfied with favor’ — help me to love thee as they child, and to walk worthy of my heavenly pedigree.

The Valley of Vision

 

Max Velocity: Assessing Your Tactical Gear Needs


Max Velocity Tactical has an article up on assessing your tactical gear needs. In addition to the article text, there are several lengthy videos going into more detail and showing you various gear.

I have written extensively about gear, and made videos. I will post some general gear videos below. This is why I came up with the MVT Lite Fight concept which, I believe, goes a long way to covering the bases of a basic gear setup. Having said that I have written extensively about gear, and being spurred to write this because it is cropping up again on the MVT Forum, is not a criticism – it is going to come up for each one of you, and is a journey that never ends.

On that note, after some thought, I would like to introduce a new way of thinking about gear. This is because we are always talking about how our gear should suit the mission, but on the other hand we may be equipping ourselves because it is what others do, and we may be imitating; there are plenty of good reasons for that if we are imitating best practices. Also, we don’t have unlimited resources, so our standard gear is likely to follow a similar format. That is generally the idea behind the MVT Lite Fight concept, with a scaleable set of gear. Then we might get specialist missions, where we may have to carry more gear or stay out longer, or deal with a winter environment, etc.

One thing I would like to say is that you should strike a fine line between not having everything you need, and having too much. Many non-mission-essential things you can get away with not having, but if you carry things for every eventuality, you will make yourself a tactical no-go due to weight. Oh, did I mention PT?

So, what is this new way?

Perhaps what we should do is first consider the point or purpose of the mission. Then, build back from that purpose. Examples could be surveillance, security patrol, or raid. Consider what the purpose is, and then build back from the equipment to the man in order to sustain the reason we are on the mission.

Let’s take a security patrol as an example – and clearly we will be helped in this by Intel, which we may be able to get hold of due to conduct of an IPB, and continuing exposure (through patrolling) to the tactical environment.

Security patrolling – what is the purpose? To detect and react to threats? This will come down to mission, and what you expect to do once you discover a threat; engage, break contact, surveille if not seen? Because it is a security patrol, let’s build back from the rifle. If this was a surveillance patrol, we could equally build back from the surveillance equipment you will need to achieve this. You will also see that although we have a ‘Lite Fight’ concept, it isn’t really ‘Light’ once you include mission critical gear, it is just lighter than it could be if you took the kitchen sink.

So:

  • Rifle – this is our purpose, as security patrol riflemen, and thus we build the gear to feed this purpose.
  • Mags to feed it – how many? I always think 8 mags is a realistic first line scale.
  • Type of optic – terrain and engagement distances?
  • Night use? IR laser? IR Flood? NODs? White light?
  • Oil to keep it running.
  • Duration of patrol – rifle cleaning kit?
  • Solid rod in case of stuck case.
  • Spares? To what extent? Spare BCG?
  • Handgun? Applicable in the environment?

Thus, we build what we need to operate our rifle.

Next, mission specific gear based on threat and operational concept:

  • Threat level: ballistic plates or not? Helmet? Chest rig? Full battle belt?
  • Communications? Radio – to who? Do we have a QRF?
  • Vehicles or not? Foot or mounted?
  • Profile: type of clothing / uniform based on the tactical situation. Overt or low profile?
  • Maps, navigation equipment?
  • Notebooks, recording equipment of any type?

Next, we can look at other factors to keep the man who operates the weapon going, probably based on duration of patrol, threat, and weather considerations.

  • Water – quantity?
  • Food / energy?
  • First aid / medical?
  • Duration of patrol?
  • Summer or Winter?
  • Overnight / sleep or not?
  • Need to heat food / water or not?
  • Clothing and spares? Spare socks?
  • Weather appropriate clothing and survival gear?
  • Resupply? When and how?
  • Misc items such as bug spray, water purification (method?) etc.

If this had been a surveillance patrol, what we might have done was build back through the relevant surveillance equipment we were going to take on the mission with us, including how to operate and keep it running fit for purpose – in which case the rifle is secondary in a security or emergency role. If it were a raid or ambush, we might want to consider additional aspects such as more ammunition (how?), potential for QRF for support and / or casualty evacuation. Prisoner handling and equipment – the list goes on.

What is really happening here is that you are basing your mission equipment on the Intel picture, and building it based on your combat estimate as part of mission planning. What is likely is that you will have a basic set of gear with a couple of options – what type of patrol pack or larger ruck to take, for example. Plate carrier or chest rig? etc.

You can certainly have a reaction kit, or basic fighting kit, set up in case of bumps in the night or standard missions, but you will need to have the ability (probably through a couple of different load carriage systems / sizes) to pack for specific missions.

So based, on that, I haven’t really told you anything, because you are going to have to decide a lot of it for yourselves. Err on the side of less gear, so long as you have what is necessary for the mission. Too much “what if this happens” is going to weigh you down, and you simply can’t leave the wire ready for all conceivable circumstances and an endless duration of the operation.

Basic factors:

  • Type of mission, working back from the main equipment used to achieve the mission i.e. rifle, surveillance equipment etc.
  • Duration.
  • Size of team.
  • Terrain.
  • Weather.
  • Operating environment.
  • Mounted or dismounted.
  • Support available.

Continue reading “Max Velocity: Assessing Your Tactical Gear Needs”