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How to Relate to Our Gentile Hosts

Nazi Concentration Camp

How to Relate to Our Gentile Hosts

Rabbi Yehoishophot Oliver

At times, when I express criticism of the institution of secular western democracy, I hear the response, “If you don’t like it, then leave!”

With all due respect, such words can only come from a person who is stuck so deep in the golus (exile) that although he recognizes that he is a Jew, and may even consider himself an Orthodox Jew, his words indicate that he identifies himself primarily as a citizen of his country, and so to him, I’m being rude by questioning the perfection of the political institution upon which his country is founded. Since I’m disrespecting his country, he feels entitled to speak on behalf of that nation, and tell me that I should only stay if I agree to respect the rules.

But the Torah teaches that the Jewish people fundamentally don’t belong in golus. Despite our citizenship, we have been merely guests in various host countries. Just as in the past we didn’t belong in Egypt, Babylonia, Greece, Rome, Spain, Poland, Hungary, Germany, Iraq, Iran, and Morocco, so do we not belong today in USA, South Africa, Australia, and Canada. And we don’t even belong in the secular state of Israel (note that Eilat, which is not part of Eretz Yisrael, is part of the state, but much of South Lebanon, which is not part of the state, is part of Eretz Yisrael). We belong in only one place, and in only one state of being: In Eretz Yisroel with Moshiach Tzidkeinu.

Now, is it technically true that in western countries today, we enjoy much more freedom than that experienced in many other exiles? Yes, but that is not necessarily a good thing. The Alter Rebbe famously preferred persecution under the Czar to religious freedom under Napoleon, to the extent that he instructed his very own chassidim to put their lives on the line by joining the Czar’s army in the Franco-Russian war.

Yes, in western society we are free to practice Torah and Mitzvos without persecution. But this freedom also makes us free to assimilate, may G–d save us, and spiritual death is worse than physical death (see here). Do we wish suffering on ourselves—no (see here). But we dare not allow our awareness of the advantages of our current exile to blind us to its drawbacks, and to the difficult tests that we face (if anything, the challenges of our current exile are even more difficult than those of all previous times—see here), for then we will surely succumb to these tests, G-d forbid.

In other words, our hosts are not nice people who are good to us and therefore deserve praise, nor are they nasty people who torment us and therefore deserve condemnation. They are simply the agents of Hashem to carry out the decree of exile in accordance with His detailed plan of where the Jewish people need to be in order to accomplish what they need to accomplish.

Of course, viewing our hosts as merely channels for divine blessings does not mean we should take them for granted. The Jew should respect his gentile hosts just as any guest should respect his host. When they help us, whether materially or spiritually, we should thanks them appropriately, in accordance with the basic Torah principle that teaches us to acknowledge favours and not be ungrateful.

We should be particular to follow the civil law of the land, for “The law of the land is the [Torah] law”).[1] Moreover, we should avoid inappropriate behavior that would make a chillul Hashem (desecration of Hashem’s Name) and arouse our hosts’ eivah (hostility). On the contrary, we should pursue darkei sholom, ways of peace, and even pray for our hosts, as the Torah exhorts us, “Seek the peace of the [gentile inhabitants of the] city ... and pray for it, for through its peace, you will have peace.”[2] We should also do our part to influence them to follow the Sheva Mitzvos Bnei Noach, the Noahide laws.

But living peacefully, and respecting and expressing genuine gratitude to our hosts, does not mean identifying with them. Thanking them as appropriate for their assistance does not mean forgetting that they are merely conduits for Hashem’s blessings, as the Talmudic adage says, “Although the wine belongs to its owner, one gives gratitude to the butler”[3]: The main gratitude must be felt to the true source of the blessing. One should turn to Hashem in thanks for sending these nations to facilitate this freedom and prosperity.

Likewise, when suffering befalls us from the nations, G-d forbid, we must know that the reason it occurred was not because some craven anti-Semite decided to hurt Jews (may Hashem save us), but because there was a divine decree, as part of the broader decree of the exile, that this suffering would occur. No one can inflict harm unless Hashem so decrees it,[4] and its purpose is that we accept it as a divine punishment and turn to Hashem in sincere Teshuvah (see here), while at the same time doing our part in the natural order to protect Jews from harm as much as possible, whether through guards, the police, the army, and the like.

So our response to persecution should not be “Islam is bad because of suicide bombers, etc.” or even “democracy is good because our rights are protected, etc.” Our response should be: Everything that occurs during the exile comes from Hashem alone, and is a necessary part of the cleansing process of the exile. How does Hashem want me to view this event in terms of the way I have to grow and change as a Jew, and bring Moshiach now?

Fighting to recognize this is itself one of the tests we face in our current exile, and if you’re finding it difficult, don’t be surprised: Every test is difficult, because by definition, tests are supposed to be difficult.

And in every exile, we are called to stay true to Torah and Mitzvos despite the myriad tests that we face. The purpose of all the difficulties, suffering, and tests of exile is to cleanse us and bring us to do Teshuvah (see here). When we do Teshuvah sincerely, the exile in all its various locations and manifestations will come to an end. May Hashem be satisfied with our efforts, and send Moshiach now!

_________________
[1] Gittin 10b.
[2] Yirmiyahu 29:7.
[3] Bava Kama 92b.
[4] Cf. Tanya 138b.


Dedicated in honor of the birthday of my dear sister, Hinda Zelda Bracha bas Chana Feiga (Bracha Tsap) on 2 Adar by my parents, ovi mori, Reb Kasriel Oliver and family.

Dedicated in the merit of a speedy release for the captives Yonasan ben Malka (Jonathan Pollard), Sholom Mordechai Halevi ben Rivka (Sholom Rubashkin), Yaakov Yehuda ben Shaindel (Jacob Ostreicher), and Zeva Rochel bas Chaya (Wendy Weiner Runge).

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Reformism Is Not Judaism *

*This is not an attack on your average Jew who has had no Jewish Education and does not know any better. This is about the Bernie Madoff’s of the world who should know better and are leading Jews astray. I am sure that there are a handful of "Reformism" spiritual guides who mean well. Unfortunately, the damage has been done.

Times Of Israel: Why the Reform Movement is so Popular in Israel

Michael Boyden, April 23, 2013

It seems only natural to entitle this response with the exact opposite of the title of David Brent’s article in Times of Israel last Tuesday. David tells us that Reform Judaism is unpopular in Israel. Not only is it unpopular, he tells us, but “most Israelis agree that Reform Judaism is bad.”

It is not clear on what basis he reaches that conclusion. All public opinion surveys in recent years have shown precisely the opposite, so one can only assume that his observations are based upon his narrow circle of acquaintances rather than upon any objective assessment. (cont.)

Hmm... Popular, huh? That might very well be true.

First, let's take a look at some of the various strategies philosophies in which the "Reformismists" have manipulated struggled over the last few hundred years:

Rejecting the divine nature of the Torah sheb'al Peh (Oral Torah).
Respecting the historical aspect of the Torah sheb'al Peh, but not "feeling" bound by it.
Taking off their kippoth.
Putting their kippoth back on.
Making Shabbos on Sundays (like the goyim להבדיל)
Talking about spirituality, when that was seen to be attractive.
Talking about "social action" when that was seen to be attractive.
(Where was their "social justice" and "social action" for the sake of European Jews during the Holocaust?)
Refusing to make women "rabbis."
Making women "rabbis."
Refusing to make gays and lesbians "rabbis."
Making gays and lesbians "rabbis." 

Take your pick, depending on who you ask, the "Reform Movement" has tried them all. My main point here has something to do with hashqafah (perspective), but mainly about the hypocrisy involved throughout the history of "Reformism."

I have a theory, one which becomes increasingly more than just a theory, as each day passes.

Sure, the original "Reformismists" wanted to make life in Germany and France easier and more comfortable for Jews. But, in my opinion, that was simply the underlying selling point to it all.

The reality is that not only did they not believe in the unusurpable place which Torah sheb'al Peh holds in Judaism. They did not believe in Torah shebiKhtav (Written Torah) either! Yet, like the Tzadoqim (Sadducees), in my opinion, they knew all too well, just how powerful the Torah is. They knew that they could not attack it head; they had to attack it, a piece at a time.

Everything about the appearance of current day "Reformism" is connected to how to keep Jews stuck in galuth (exile), and duped into thinking that liberal, Western values and sensibilities are synonymous with Jewish values and sensibilities. Even though they are not. Intentional or not, it doesn't matter.

They call their path progressive, but it is anything but progressive. Many Jews are moving backwards, farther and farther away from The Almighty's precious Torah. And we have the "Reformismists" to thank for much of that.

Michael Boyden continues:
That a person should disparage “homosexual female tefillin wearing rabbis” probably says more about such an individual than it does about the rabbi, but that is another matter! (Incidentally, Bruria and Rashi’s daughters among others are reported to have laid tefillin.)
Throw a kippah, tallith, and tefillin on someone, who may or may not be Jewish, it doesn't matter in the least. It doesn't matter if that individual is a homosexual female or a heterosexual male. That individual may even be Jewish! The outward symbols, the accoutrements, do not magically turn that individual wearing them, into someone who leads those following to him, OR HER, down a Jewish path.

I do not even use the word "authentic" here, for that would give "Reformism" wriggle room for legitimacy, albeit minute. No doubt thy would take that ball and run with it.

As far as Rashi's Daughters are concerned, sure they were known to have worn tefillin. But, maybe Michael Boyden should take a look at their motivations for having done so. They were certainly not out to make a political statement about it, unlike certain other women. They were also tzanu'a (modest) about it. They had to be, because they were actually concerned about halakhah (Jewish Law). Whereas tzeni'uth (modesty) is the furthest concern from the minds of certain other women.

Well, so are "Reformismist" leaders are also concerned about halakhah, concerned about breaking it.

But there ARE some "Reformismists" who are concerned about halakhah. Of course, that depends on whom you ask, the day you ask, the year in history you ask, and, of course, his OR HER creative definition of halakhah. EVERYONE needs to have a creative definition of halakah! They're ALL the rage!

Maybe that is why "Reformism" is believed by some, to be so "popular." You get to do what you want, and even make it up as you go along!

There only seems to be one requirement: The acceptance of liberal, or "progressive," Western assimilationist ideology as being inherently Jewish,...even though it is not.

Whether this fills up their synagogues, or not, is irrelevant. Judaism is not a popularity contest; it is the prescribed way of life for a specific people, defined in a very specific manner

Of course, I have no problem whatsoever using the word "synagogue" when talking about "Reformism" places of gathering. Synagogue is, after all, a Greek word, Greek as in Hellenist, Hellenist as in those Jews killed in the battles leading up to one of the most politically-incorrect holidays celebrated in Judaism.

However, we should not think of these poor individuals, duped into believing that "Reformism" is Judaism, in the same way as the Hellenist Jews targeted by the Maccabees 2,176 years ago. It is not their fault. They do not know any better.

Boy, I'll bet that last sentence sure bruised a lot of egos, and switched on a lot of defense mechanisms. But, hopefully those individuals, some of them even Jews, will give themselves a break, and take the time to look into what Judaism really is. Leave a comment below, with your general location below, if you would like some help.

I have made few allusions to those who are "even" Jewish, or whom might be Jewish, throughout this post. That is due to those Jews who are told that they are "converting to Judaism," when in fact they are receiving nothing more than a sham conversion. Well, actually, it is something more than a sham conversion; it is a denigration of the Torah.*

Then there are those who are told that that they do not have to "convert," because they have a Jewish father.

It depends on which "Reformism" leader you ask. Maybe the time of day also makes a difference. I am not sure.

Oh, just one more thing, a suggestion for the Times Of Israel website. The subsequent times the word "rabbi" is applied to the likes of Michael Boyden, use these:

" "

I am sure that I will not be able to convince you not allow the use of the word "rabbi." The number of your readers would certainly take a nose dive, and you would not be able to reach Jews who need to be reached.
I can understand that.
But, if you use quotation marks, them you would be doing the Jewish community, in Israel and abroad a great service.
Unlike Haredi and Settler bashing HaAretz, Ma'ariv, Yediot Aharonoth, Haredi and the certain Settler-bashing Jerusalem Post, and even Settler-friendly Arutz 7, you would at least be making a move the direction of publishing the truth. Thus, you would be aiding those poor, duped individuals, those blindly following the "Reformismists," those following the "Reformismists" for saying what they want to hear, and even those who were fooled into thinking that they are Jewish, wake up from their numbed out state of assimilation and exile. Tell them them the truth. Tell them that "Reformism" is not Judaism.

Posted by Esser Agaroth

 
Jonathan Pollard

Obama and freedom for Jonathan Pollard

The American president and freedom for Jonathan Pollard
By ESTHER POLLARD, The Jerusalem Post
August 25, 2011
Executive clemency is not merely the president’s privilege, it's his solemn duty; US judicial process hijacked by a political agenda.

The extensive powers of clemency the American Constitution grants to the president are his solemn responsibility. This executive privilege is bestowed to enable the president to safeguard the rights of all American citizens.

In cases where the justice system has discharged its responsibility appropriately and the public good would be neither benefited nor harmed by the president’s intervention, it is entirely his prerogative whether or not to exercise executive clemency.

But in a case like that of my husband Jonathan Pollard, where the judicial system has been subverted to prosecute one American citizen excessively and where all legal remedies have been exhausted, there is a moral imperative compelling presidential intervention.

Incredibly Obama has responded with prolonged, inscrutable silence to a virtual deluge of appeals entreating him to exercise executive clemency to free Jonathan.

Now completing his 26th year of a life sentence, it is manifestly clear that the judicial process was hijacked by a political agenda.

As JJ Goldberg revealed in a 1998 LA Jewish Journal essay, “Crime and Punishment,” “high-ranking sources say that it was the Joint Chiefs of Staff who urged the judge, through then-Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, to ignore the plea agreement and throw the book at Pollard.... They wanted to send a message.... Pollard is still in
jail, these sources say, not because his crime merits his lengthy sentence ­ it doesn’t ­ but because too many American Jews still haven’t gotten the message.”

Weinberger himself ­ the man who drove Jonathan’s life sentence ­admitted in a 2002 interview with journalist Edwin Black that thePollard case had been blown out of all proportion. Asked why he had omitted any reference to Pollard in his memoirs, Weinberger replied that the Pollard case was “a very minor matter, but made very
important.” Asked to elaborate, Weinberger repeated, “As I say, the Pollard matter was comparatively minor. It was made far bigger than its actual importance.”

Jonathan is the only person in the history of the US ever to receive a life sentence for spying for an ally. This sentence has always been reserved for those who spy for America’s enemies. He received the life sentence without benefit of trial ­ the result of a broken plea bargain, which he honored and the US abrogated. By sentencing Jonathan as if he were an enemy spy, the American judicial system effected a defacto redefinition of Israel as an enemy, not an ally.

Every attempt to seek relief from Jonathan’s life sentence has been stymied. All legal remedies have been exhausted, without the merits of the case ever being heard in a court of law. Even the possibility of parole has been denied since the government placed an insurmountable obstacle in the path of his security-cleared attorneys, unjustly denying them access to the secret portions of their own client’s file. Without that access, those who oppose parole are free to fabricate reasons for keeping him in prison. The case has been appealed all the way up to the Supreme Court, which has refused to hear it.

Today, the only remedy that remains is executive clemency ­ the one area where the president’s power is absolute. Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution states: “[The President] shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States…” While the president may consult with the White House Legal Counsel or the Pardons Attorney, he is under no obligation to do so.

Prior to the Pollard case, no other clemency appeal in history has provided any president with such unprecedented, transparent, bipartisan support from senior American officials. Among those now calling for Jonathan’s release are a former director of the CIA, a former attorney-general and a former deputy attorney-general, a former deputy secretary of defense, a former vice president, a former White House legal counsel, two former secretaries of state, and former heads of the Senate Intelligence Committee, as well as sitting congressmen
and senators from both sides of the aisle. In the face of such an overwhelming appeal, President Obama maintains a stony silence. Even requests for clemency by the prime minister and president of Israel have met with absolute silence.

Rather than embrace his responsibility for executive clemency, the president simply remains silent while his appointees are given free rein to make a mockery of justice by deflecting responsibility back to the very system that failed in the first place.

To avoid having to respond to public inquiry, they claim they cannot comment because the issue is before the American justice system. The system that subverted justice 26 years ago is now being referenced as if it were about to spontaneously correct the injustice it has perpetrated.

The numerous appeals to President Obama now pending, requesting executive clemency for Jonathan Pollard, are my husband's last hope of resolving a 26-year-long injustice which now threatens to end his life in prison.

The sublimely moral task of saving Jonathan’s life, while at the same time safeguarding the American public by correcting this injustice, sits squarely with the president of the United States, Mr. Barack Obama.

Executive clemency is not merely the president’s privilege. It is his solemn duty.

The writer is the wife of Jonathan Pollard.

Release Jonathan Pollard Now!

For more information: www.JonathanPollard.org

From Justice for Jonathan Pollard Committee Urgent!

Please help us get this short video to go viral! How?

Here are the steps: Please watch the short video: "Should Jonathan Pollard be released?": YouTube Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eX8KY4VxoXXk

Please send it to at least 10 people (or more) with a request that each person who receives it from you, should please send it to 10 more people, who should in turn send it to 10 more people who should in turn send it to 10 more people and so on.

Please send the video link to anyone who has a large email distribution list and ask them to distribute it to their mailing list as a matter of "Pikuach Nefesh" (literally to save a Jewish life -- Jonathan's!) Please send the video link to Jewish organizations and groups, and ask them to share the video with their mailing lists, as a matter of Pikuach Nefesh (literally to save a Jewish life -- Jonathan's!)

Anyone who can post the video link to their website or blog is encouraged to do so.

Please take a few moments of your time to do your part in the mitzvah of pidyan shvuyim by ensuring that all of your friends and family receive the video link and that they watch it! May all who participate in the mitzvah of pidyan shvuyim by disseminating this video and by calling the White House at 202-456-1414 to tell President Barack Obama to Free Jonathan Pollard Now! be abundantly blessed! Thank you for your help. 


Eve of Redemption Signs Our Sages Gave Us

Here's an article from the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe's magazine, Feb. 1943 (הקריאה והקדושה), roughly translated from Yiddish. I post it on this blog to serve as a preamble to a subsequent post wherein I'll maintain, to my utter dismay, that the gangster regime now in power, the ruler of Edom, will again triumph in the next presidential election. I will refer back to this article to remind readers what this Jewish leader of his generation forewarned his flock. I have this premonition of imminent disaster I feel compelled to share with you, later. [The highlighting is mine.]
Our sages, who foresaw that this last diaspora, called "Edom", would endure nearly two millennia, also foresaw that, as it winds down to its terminating stage, Torah will have become enfeebled among a majority of Jews, and this would therefore bring back the age-old national Jewish scourge - the FALSE PROPHETS. These false prophets would then lead Torah-empty Jews through all 49 degrees of impurity, unfortunately.
The end-stage period would then necessarily have to be a horribly bitter one. It would spell outright danger wherein multitudes of Jews will undergo waves of spiritual suicide, even conversion, G-d forbid.
Accordingly, the sages decided to foretell the signs that will usher in and constitute the Messianic era's birth pangs - in order to save at least a remnant of those being swept away; And also so that some Jews, here and there, will be able to console their distressed brethren by disclosing to them these very signs, just as this periodical has been doing for a year and a half now. We've been telling you we are in the eve of the Messianic era; That we've been foretold the tragedies that will unfold; And that we can attenuate these problems, or entirely prevent them from occurring - by tearing you away from the modern false prophets, so you return to the warm fold of Torah, back to the ways our forefathers practised.
Our sages knew saving the entire Jewish nation would be very difficult because the false prophets will not loosen their grip. On the contrary, they will exert their strongest, spiritual pogrom ever against the Jewish nation, until the very last moment when, as our sages tell us, they themselves will finally perish during physical pogroms against the Jews.
The sages took as their task to rescue the innocent victims of the false prophets, those who might even question or doubt one of two things; Either the false prophets, or, the Torah and its true prophets. It was for the benefit of these 50-50 Jews or 50-50 believers for whom the sages foretold us the many signs by which to recognize the eve of the Redemptive Era.
The many signs serve each person as however he will understand them. In truth, however, all the signs really boil down to but a single sign - for they all point to this one point, that "And against all the gods of Egypt will I avenge myself, for I am G-d" (Ex. 12, 12). And why so? In order to finally and totally discredit the false prophets, so the Jewish masses strip away their allegiance to them and from the various idols of Egypt the false prophets would have them worship.
The modern idols our false prophets energetically promoted, and succeeded in convincing a huge Jewish populace to follow them, are well known: Political Freedom, Economic Certainty, and Godless Zionism. These are the 3 primary false idols. These extend to other such "isms", like Bolshevism, Bundism, Yiddishism, and dozens others.
The signs of the Era of Redemption our sages depict start out as follows: "The son of David will not come until …" such and such happens. These signs portend the utter destruction of the above 3 "isms", for which the false prophets should be dishonored.
Our sages tell us that after the known, bloody wars, the entire world will be ruled by the kingdom of Edom, the one Ovadiah the Prophet refers to as "You are greatly despised" (Ov. 1, 2). This means many nations will be ruled over by unabashed tyrants and oppressors who will put an end to all hope for Political Freedom, Economic Certainty or whatever other culture!
"Moshiach will not come," our sages say, "until the following signs will manifest":
1) "All cheap dominion will disappear" from Jewish notion. This means to say, until all new systems of rule most Jews place their hope in, will reveal themselves as being cheap and worthless, as was evident with Bolshevism in Russia, and other such unavailing systems. 2) "Mankind will lose hope in any redemptive process." Note the exact words of the sages; They did not say, "Until the Jews", but rather all "mankind" will lose their faith in any redemptive process. 3) "All judges or police (protectors of Jews) pass into oblivion." 4) "All conceit passes from among Jews", because all will become poor and enslaved.
The 4 above signs indicate that the false prophecy of Political Freedom will be shattered. Not only Jews but the other nations too will be robbed of freedom. No longer will hope be held out for redemption, or for returning to previous times.
"Moshiach will not come," continue our sages, "until ...":
5) "The last penny of savings will disappear." 6) "When they seek a sliver of herring for an invalid but can't find one". We can thus imagine what smidgen of better foods healthy people will be able to find, who command less mercy than sick people.
From the latter 2 signs we easily note how the idol of Economic Certainty will also be shattered. And our sages offer several more signs that will convince everyone that the idol of Culture will also lie in a shambles.
They say, "Moshiach will not come until,"
7) "All governments in the world are under the control of G-d-deniers." 8) "The number of students will diminish." 9) "Every event will have several interpretations". This implies strong censorship; When nobody knows the truth, and everyone has a different version of what happened. 10) "All souls will leave their bodies", which could mean all mankind will be obsessed with hunger, when their only concern will be to to hold on to dear life, where, like animals, no thought is given to nourish the soul with spirituality.
Under a reign of avowed G-d-deniers who will abolish education for the masses, except for a privileged segment, entire populations will slave for the state, eking out enough only to survive. With a press akin to that of Nazi Minister of Propaganda Goebbels, the idol of Culture will obviously be smashed, just like its two other "idol friends", Political Freedom and Economic Certainty.
All these 10 signs of impending redemption our sages show us actually constitute one sole general sign regarding G-d's claim, "And against all the gods of Egypt will I avenge myself", where these signs merely indicate the many ways one can be poked in the eye, in that generation.


RFID chips and Privacy

ScienceDaily (Nov. 25, 2008) — A research article published in the current issue of the International Journal of Intellectual Property Management suggests that Big Brother could be opening a privacy and security Pandora's Box if human rights, particularly regarding data protection are not addressed in the design of new RFID applications.

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips can be found tagging everything from groceries and clothing to the experimental swipe-free credit cards used to pay for those goods. In library cards, warehouse inventories, and under-skin pet tags. They are also used for prisoner and parole tags, in hospital patient wristbands, and in smart passports.

According to Eleni Kosta and Jos Dumortier of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium, the benefits of RFID technology in innovation are beyond question. However, the threats posed to personal privacy should be taken into account at the design phase of the applications. Their increasingly widespread deployment means individuals do not necessarily know when, how and what kind of information about them is being transmitted at any given time from an RFID in a passport, in their shopping bags, or even when they visit the library.

RFID tags are powerful devices for use in a wide array of applications: stock inventory, logistics, security finance, buildings, and across international borders. However, they provide a seemingly innocuous medium for the collection and transmission of personal data, as well as the ability to track the movements of people.

The European Union has already recognized some of the concerns being raised. A recent European Commission report, "Communication on RFID" emphasized that privacy and security should be built into RFID information systems before their widespread deployment. Moreover,

European legislation on data protection applies to RFID technology when it entails the processing of personal data, Kosta and Dumortier point out. However, it is not always clear whether or not information stored on or transmitted via an RFID tag is personal data.

"In order to achieve a common approach towards RFID technology at the

European level, a unified interpretation of what is perceived as personal data is necessary," the team explains. "When information about an individual, such as name, age and nationality, is directly stored in an RFID tag, it is beyond doubt that it qualifies as personal data."

However, there are many instances when the information seemingly cannot be directly linked to an individual, but by linking the RFID tag number to a back-end database can be correlated with a credit card payment, for instance, and so provide indirect identification of the individual. "In this case, even if the data seem anonymous at first sight, the processing falls under the scope of application of the Data Protection

Directive, as the data can be easily linked to the credit card data", the team explains. Even vaguer are the cases when the information on the RFID tag cannot be linked to an actual person, or at least significant effort is needed for a link to be made.

The team counter the argument that honest citizens have nothing to fear from RFID. "A surveillance society where RFID tags reveal personal information and enable the tracking and tracing of the individuals, shall be contested, as every law-abiding citizen should be free from any kind of monitoring," they say.

An immigrant family shops at the local Supermarket.

Did you know that your bank, credit card company, insurance company, brokerage, and other companies you do business with can legally sell the personal information they collect from you to telemarketers, direct mailers, retailers, and others? Is it okay with you if these companies sell your social security number, credit card spending habits, account balances, or monthly income information to companies that want to use the information to target the people who are most likely to purchase their products or services?

The privacy notices you've no doubt been receiving in the mail from financial institutions you do business with probably ended up in your trash can, a move that you may come to regret unless you act quickly. These notices were NOT junk mail. Federal law now requires companies that collect personal information about you to give you the option to refuse to allow them to sell your personal information. But if you don't "opt-out" by responding to the notices or contacting these companies directly, your personal information can be sold to anybody willing to pay the price.

In some cases, those willing to pay the price have been criminals who illegally used the information to run scams where millions of dollars of bogus charges were charged to credit cards.

Your right to opt-out is limited, due to flaws in the law that do not protect consumers, but it is still worthwhile to opt-out. It's also worthwhile to write to your Congressional representatives to let them know that you expect them to pass legislation that will better protect the privacy of consumers.

If you're among the millions of Americans that tossed these privacy notices in the trash, you can still protect your personal financial information by contacting each of the financial institutions you do business with and instructing them NOT to disclose information about you to non-affiliated companies. Privacy Rights Now offers a sample form letter on their site that you can use or adapt.

When you open new accounts at financial institutions, or when a financial institution you do business with changes its privacy policies, you'll receive privacy notices in the mail. To protect your privacy, follow the instructions in the notices (you may have to complete a form or call a toll-free number).

In 2011 The Baby Boomers Start To Turn 65: 16 Statistics About The Coming Retirement Crisis That Will Drop Your Jaw

Do you hear that rumble in the distance? That is the Baby Boomers - they are getting ready to retire. On January 1st, 2011 the very first Baby Boomers turn 65. Millions upon millions of them are rushing towards retirement age and they have been promised that the rest of us are going to take care of them. Only there is a huge problem. We don't have the money. It simply isn't there. But the millions of Baby Boomers getting ready to retire are counting on that money to be there. This all comes at a really bad time for a federal government that is already flat broke and for a national economy that is already teetering on the brink of disaster.

So just who are the Baby Boomers? Well, they are the most famous generation in American history. The U.S. Census Bureau defines the Baby Boomers as those born between January 1st, 1946 and December 31st, 1964. You see, after U.S. troops returned from World War II, they quickly settled down and everyone started having lots and lots of babies. This gigantic generations has transformed America as they have passed through every stage of life. Now they are getting ready to retire.

If you add 65 years to January 1st, 1946 you get January 1st, 2011.

The moment when the first Baby Boomers reach retirement age has arrived.

The day of reckoning that so many have talked about for so many years is here.

Today, America's elderly are living longer and the cost of health care is rising dramatically. Those two factors are going to make it incredibly expensive to take care of all of these retiring Baby Boomers.

Meanwhile, the sad truth is that the vast majority of Baby Boomers have not adequately saved for retirement. For many of them, their home equity was destroyed by the recent financial crisis. For others, their 401ks were devastated when the stock market tanked.

Meanwhile, company pension plans across America are woefully underfunded. Many state and local government pension programs are absolute disasters. The federal government has already begun to pay out more in Social Security benefits than they are taking in, and the years ahead look downright apocalyptic for the Social Security program.

If we are not careful all of these Baby Boomers are going to push us into national bankruptcy. We simply cannot afford all of the promises that we have made to them. The following are 16 statistics about the coming retirement crisis that will drop your jaw.....

#1 Beginning January 1st, 2011 every single day more than 10,000 Baby Boomers will reach the age of 65. That is going to keep happening every single day for the next 19 years.

#2 According to one recent survey, 36 percent of Americans say that they don't contribute anything at all to retirement savings.

#3 Most Baby Boomers do not have a traditional pension plan because they have been going out of style over the past 30 years. Just consider the following quote from Time Magazine: The traditional pension plan is disappearing. In 1980, some 39 percent of private-sector workers had a pension that guaranteed a steady payout during retirement. Today that number stands closer to 15 percent, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute in Washington, D.C.

#4 Over 30 percent of U.S. investors currently in their sixties have more than 80 percent of their 401k invested in equities. So what happens if the stock market crashes again?

#5 35% of Americans already over the age of 65 rely almost entirely on Social Security payments alone.

#6 According to another recent survey, 24% of U.S. workers admit that they have postponed their planned retirement age at least once during the past year.

#7 Approximately 3 out of 4 Americans start claiming Social Security benefits the moment they are eligible at age 62. Most are doing this out of necessity. However, by claiming Social Security early they get locked in at a much lower amount than if they would have waited.

#8 Pension consultant Girard Miller recently told California's Little Hoover Commission that state and local government bodies in the state of California have $325 billion in combined unfunded pension liabilities. When you break that down, it comes to $22,000 for every single working adult in California.

#9 According to a recent report from Stanford University, California's three biggest pension funds are as much as $500 billion short of meeting future retiree benefit obligations.

#10 It has been reported that the $33.7 billion Illinois Teachers Retirement System is 61% underfunded and is on the verge of complete collapse.

#11 Robert Novy-Marx of the University of Chicago and Joshua D. Rauh of Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management recently calculated the combined pension liability for all 50 U.S. states. What they found was that the 50 states are collectively facing $5.17 trillion in pension obligations, but they only have $1.94 trillion set aside in state pension funds. That is a difference of 3.2 trillion dollars. So where in the world is all of that extra money going to come from? Most of the states are already completely broke and on the verge of bankruptcy.

#12 According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Social Security system will pay out more in benefits than it receives in payroll taxes in 2010. That was not supposed to happen until at least 2016. Sadly, in the years ahead these "Social Security deficits" are scheduled to become absolutely horrific as hordes of Baby Boomers start to retire.

#13 In 1950, each retiree's Social Security benefit was paid for by 16 U.S. workers. In 2010, each retiree's Social Security benefit is paid for by approximately 3.3 U.S. workers. By 2025, it is projected that there will be approximately two U.S. workers for each retiree. How in the world can the system possibly continue to function properly with numbers like that?

#14 According to a recent U.S. government report, soaring interest costs on the U.S. national debt plus rapidly escalating spending on entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare will absorb approximately 92 cents of every single dollar of federal revenue by the year 2019. That is before a single dollar is spent on anything else.

#15 After analyzing Congressional Budget Office data, Boston University economics professor Laurence J. Kotlikoff concluded that the U.S. government is facing a "fiscal gap" of $202 trillion dollars. A big chunk of that is made up of future obligations to Social Security and Medicare recipients.

#16 According to a recent AARP survey of Baby Boomers, 40 percent of them plan to work "until they drop".

Companies all over America have been dropping their pension plans in anticipation of the time when the Baby Boomers would retire. 401k programs were supposed to be part of the answer, but if the stock market crashes again, it is absolutely going to devastate the Baby Boomers.

State and local governments are scrambling to find ways to pay out all the benefits that they have been promising. Many state and local governments will be forced into some very hard choices by the hordes of Baby Boomers that will now be retiring.

Of course whenever a big financial crisis comes along these days everyone looks to the federal government to fix the problem. But the truth is that after fixing crisis after crisis the federal government is flat broke.

At our current pace, the Congressional Budget Office is projecting that U.S. government public debt will hit 716 percent of GDP by the year 2080.

But our politicians just keep spending money. In order to pay the Baby Boomers what they are owed the federal government may indeed go into even more debt and have the Federal Reserve print up a bunch more money.

So in the end, Baby Boomers may get most of what they are owed. Of course it may be with radically devalued dollars. Already we are watching those on fixed incomes being devastated by the rising cost of food, gas, heat and health care.

What is going to happen one day when prices have risen so much that the checks that our seniors are getting are not enough to heat their homes?

What are we going to do when those on fixed incomes are buying dog food because it is all that they can afford?

We are rapidly reaching a tipping point. As the first Baby Boomers retire the system is going to do okay. But as millions start pouring into the system it is going to start breaking down.

No, there is not much that we can do about it now. We should have been planning for all of this all along. Americans should have been saving for retirement and governments should have been setting money aside.

But it didn't happen.

Now we pay the price

Egypt Overturned, But Israel's Existence Still Questioned

A story of an Island and a Whale by Rabbi YY Jacobson

Art: Jacek Yerka

Two old Jewish men are standing in front of the Czar's firing squad.

The officer asks them if they would like a final cigarette.

One of them says, "No, I don't smoke, and you can drop dead."

The other whispers in his ear, "Shhh, Yankle, don't make trouble."

The Whale The latest developments in Egypt have become a source of concern in Israel. The Jewish State is in doubt whether the new emerging powers in Egypt will honor the cold peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, signed three decades ago. This only underscores yet once again the vulnerable position of Israel, and how its very existence is still questioned. A revolution so inspiring and uplifting in the land of the Pharaohs, but Israel's right of existence is still not a simple matter.
Let us reflect a bit on this.
One of the great Talmudic sages related the following episode:
Once, while on a ship, we came to what we assumed was a large island, since we saw on it sand and growing grass. We disembarked the ship, went on to the island, built a fire, and cooked our meal. Yet what we assumed to be an island was really a fish. When the fish felt the heat, he rolled over and we were plunged into the water. Had the ship not been nearby, we would have drowned. -- Talmud Bava Basra 73b.
What is the meaning behind this absurd Talmudic tale, related by one of its great sages, Rabba the son of Bar Chana?
According to some of the great Talmudic commentators, this tale captures, in intriguing metaphor, one of the most essential truths about Jewish history, particularly one relating to the holiday of Purim, which will be celebrated in a few weeks.
The Journey From the moment they stood at Mt. Sinai more than three millennia ago, the Jewish people have been traveling on a lone and long journey. Their destination is a world healed, redeemed and reunified with its Creator; a society cleansed from ego-centricity, hatred and bloodshed; a universe permeated with moral and spiritual awareness, filled with "the knowledge of the Divine as the waters cover the sea" (in the words of the prophet Isaiah chapter 11). The Torah and its Mitzvos serve as their blueprint for this courageous voyage in a vast and seemingly endless sea.
Yet the waters have often become increasingly tumultuous and the voyage discouraging, if not apparently futile. So when in the midst of their journey they observed what seemed to be an island of serenity, an oasis of tranquility, a respite from a miserable fate, many of them abandoned the "ship" of Jewish consciousness and commitment for the perceived blessings of freedom and happiness.
The era in which the Purim story occurred was a classical example of this pattern. The king was married to a Jewish woman; large segments of Jewish society assimilated into Persian culture; the Jewish establishment played a pivotal role in the economical and political structures of the Persian Empire. The community had been invited to the royal feast and given status as equal citizens. In reciprocity, the Jews learned how to "behave;" how to become integrated and law abiding citizens. They did not demand kosher food or kosher wine at the feast, nor did they create any other waves that would disturb the equilibrium and make them stand out as Jews.
Seventy years after being expelled from their ancient homeland, their Temple being burnt to the ground, many of them had abandoned the old ship, secure in their belief that they have reached an island of serenity; they finally "made it."
Identity Crisis Throughout history, the struggle of Jewish identity and our relationships with the world around us has become so challenging, that it often caused us to redefine ourselves from within. Jean-Paul Sartre claimed in his Sur le Question Juif that the only thing Jews had in common was that they were the victims of hate. It is not Jews who create anti-Semitism, he said, but anti-Semitism that creates Jews. Arthur Koestler wrote: "Self-hatred is the Jews patriotism." Franz Kafka said: "What do I have in common with the Jews? I don't even have anything in common with myself."
Time and time again we have been lured into the faith that if we abandon the "ship" of Judaism-of Torah and Mitzvos-we would gain acceptance among the brotherhood of mankind. "Be a man in the street and a Jew at home," was the 19th century slogan by the Enlightened Jews in Western Europe. If only Jews weren't so Jewish we would have less anti-Semitism, so went the theory.
The past three centuries have produced a dazzling variety of movements, ideals and solutions to the age-old "Jewish problem," offering islands of hope for a people tormented by persecution and targeted for abuse. The Enlightenment (Haskalah) came to "civilize" us and allow us free entry into European society; the Marxists and Socialists promised to create a utopia for us and all of mankind; Zionism's goal was to grant us a State, a national identity, and thus cure anti-Semitism once and for all; Reform came to make us acceptable to the non-Jewish society and to inculcate us with humanistic values; secularism came to free us from the burdens of tradition which have supposedly hindered our progress and happiness.
All of these attempts have been brilliantly captured in that ancient Talmudic tale: Once, while on a ship, we came to what we assumed was a large island, since we saw on it sand and growing grass. We disembarked the ship, went on to the island, built a fire, and cooked our meal.
Disillusionment Yet, ironically, the end of the Talmudic tale also came to be:
What we assumed to be an island was really a fish. When the fish felt the heat, he rolled over and we were plunged into the water. Had the ship not been nearby, we would have drowned.
Each time we came to feel comfortable on the island, and we began at last to live out our latent dreams, the "fish" turned over and threw us back into the raging waters. In the days of Purim, when the Jews felt that they had successfully integrated into mainstream culture, under the very nose of a Jewish queen-the king was persuaded to issue forth a plan of genocide for the Jewish people.
Assimilation never cured prejudice. Not in the days of Purim, nor at any time in the future. It didn't even in 15th century Spain, where Jews converted to Christianity and yet still suffered from persecution under the vicious doctrine of limpieza de sangre ("purity of blood"), the forerunner of modern racial anti-Semitism. It didn't in 20th century Germany where Jews were often "more German" than the Germans. It didn't in the Modern State of Israel constructed as a secular democracy.
The historical truth remains that none of the above movements achieved their stated goals. The Holocaust made mockery of Jewish integration in the general humanistic world; Zionism created the State of Israel, which we cherish deeply, but only exacerbated the problems of anti-Semitism and still struggles to provide security for its citizens. Israel still needs to fight for its "right" to exist. Stalin "cured" us of the "paradise" of Marxism and Socialism; the Enlightenment apparently did not sufficiently civilize us; secularism has deprived generations of direction and meaning, leaving our youth thirsty for identity and purpose (1).
Our Hope "Had the ship not been nearby, we would have drowned," is how the Talmudic sage concludes the episode. What saved us during the time of Purim - and what has guaranteed our existence throughout our long and difficult history - was not forfeiting our identity and surrendering our truth; it was our animated relationship with the living G-d, the creator of heaven and earth, and our dedication to His Torah and Mitzvos that has allowed us to survive and thrive, till we reach the culmination of the voyage, speedily in our days (2).
1) Interestingly, the metaphor employed in the Talmudic tale is the fish. What the travelers felt was an island was really a fish waiting to plunge them into the waters. The zodiac sign for the month of Adar is Pisces, fish (mazal dogim.) As the book of Esther relates, the Persian Minister Haman chose a day in the month of Adar (the 13th) to exterminate the Jewish people (Maharsah to Bava Basra 73b). Conversely, what is unique about fish? They must remain submerged in their natural element of water to survive. So too, the Jewish people must remain in their habitat of Torah and Mitzvos for their continued existence (see Talmud Berechos 61a).
2) This essay is based on the commentary of the Maharsah (Rabbi Shmuel Eliezer Eidels) to Talmud Bava Basra 73b and on other sources.

Revealing the Hidden

Posted By Matzav Editor On March 3, 2011 @ 1:18 PM In Breaking News, Featured Opinion | 3 Comments

By Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz

The sefer which tells the tale of Purim is called Megillas Esther. In truth, the name contains two words which are diametrically opposed. The word megillah has at its root the word gilah, as in giluy, which means to reveal. The root of the name Esther is seiser, as in hester, which means hidden.

Thus, the translation of the words Megillas Esther would indicate that this is a sefer which reveals that which is hidden. If so, we would imagine that the Megillah would reveal the Hand of Hashem in all that transpired when Haman and Achashveirosh plotted to kill all the Jews in the 127 medinos under the dominion of Achashveirosh.

But, in fact, the Megillah doesn’t appear to be revealing any secrets. If you read the story the way it is written, without the Medrashim and the drashos of Chazal in Maseches Megillah, you would think that the Megillah is simply a depiction of a story which happened without any Divine involvement.

If the Megillah is, in fact, living up to its name of being megaleh the nistar, revealing that which is concealed, it should go beyond the tevah and relate how the Yad Hashem guided all the events that transpired.

The truth is, the Megillah does just that. During the time the events took place, the Jewish people were devastated. One day they celebrated in the palace of Achashveirosh and the next day they were slated for destruction. When one of their own was picked to be the new queen, sadness was felt throughout the Jewish world. When Haman publicized his plan to eradicate the Jews, they were despondent. When the king’s messengers fanned out across the kingdom, all hope was lost.

It was only when the story was complete and the people experienced it from beginning to its successful end that they saw how everything that had taken place was intertwined and coordinated from on High. They were able to trace one event after the other and see how they followed a pattern and were designed not only to deliver the Jews from the hands of their tormentors, but also to restore them to their former position of glory and strength.

Thus, the title of the sefer which tells this amazing tale is indeed correct. The Megillah really does perform the task which its name indicates. It is megaleh and reveals that which was nistar, hidden.

The halacha (Orach Chaim, Hilchos Megillah 690:6) therefore dictates that the Megillah must be read in order, and if one skips around, reading the later pesukim before reading the earlier pesukim, even if he reads the entire Megillah, he has not fulfilled his obligation. In order for the message of the Megillah to be absorbed, the story has to be read in its entirety, following the sequence of events. It is only in that way that the mitzvah of pirsumei nisah is realized.

Furthermore, the halacha (ibid., 17) is that the Megillah is folded before being read aloud in shul. The bracha that is recited following the reading can only be said when the Megillah is properly rolled up. This is to signify that it is only when we read the entire story from beginning to end and go back to the beginning that we can understand what really took place and celebrate the miracles which the day of Purim commemorates.

It is interesting that the bracha which we recite after the reading is written in the present tense, unlike most brachos recited to commemorate past events, which are said in the past tense. It is telling that before reading the Megillah, we say, “She’asah nissim laavoseinu bayomim haheim bazeman hazeh,” thanking Hashem for miracles which took place “on this day in those times.”

Perhaps that is because before we read the Megillah, we acknowledge that on this day of Purim, we are celebrating the miraculous deliverance of the Jews from Haman’s evil plan. But once we finish reading the entire story from beginning to end and we roll up the scroll, we recognize that just as the Yad Hashem becomes evident when reading the entire story as it transpired, so will we begin to realize the Divine Hand in so many other happenings which we thought were merely coincidental.

Therefore, when the Megillah is rolled up, we recite the blessing in the present tense and thank Hashem for fighting our battles, exacting retribution on our enemies and saving us in our times of danger. We now realize in hindsight how so many things which happened to us were not happenstance. We see history in a different light. We see our lives differently. Things that happened to us which we thought didn’t make sense are now viewed differently. People who are living through difficult, trying experiences are given new hope as they realize that everything happens for a higher reason and purpose. They look forward to the successful culmination of the nisayon.

These thoughts came to me in the merit of Sholom Mordechai ben Rivkah Rubashkin, whom we all daven for. He called me asking for a vort and some chizuk, and Hakadosh Boruch Hu put these ideas into my head to convey to him. For now, the purpose of his extreme suffering is still unrevealed. The way he accepts his lot, with emunah and bitachon, as he awaits his private giluy and geulah, can serve as a lesson to many of us as we stumble our way through life’s trials and tribulations in periods of seeming hester.

We are living through a historic period, when events are transpiring at a rapid pace. Countries are spiraling out of control, as the rest of the world watches helplessly. For no explainable reason, a plague of revolution has taken root in Arab states and is spreading like wildfire. Entrenched monarchies, dictators, and murderous sycophants who exercised tight control over a domicile public are either gone, going, or teetering.

Wise men who study these things are at a loss to explain how this all began and where it will lead. Egypt, the bulwark of normalcy in a sea of radicalism, is under military junta as it heads for democracy. The man who stood by America’s side against al-Qaeda, Hamas and Iran was publicly vilified by the leader of the free world and told to leave “now.” As he sits in isolation in his beachfront palatial estate, while neither we nor anyone else has any pity on him, Iran continues it victorious march throughout the area, celebrating the loss of its greatest nemesis in the region.

Mubarak was far from perfect. He was a virile anti-Semite who used State propaganda to vilify Israel in particular and Jews in general. Egyptian authorities are investigating how much money he plundered from the poor state he ruled over with an iron fist for three decades. But he served as a reliable and steady ally, and if Iran gains entry into that country and the Islamists win power, his removal will prove to be a detrimental turning point in history.

Already, Iran has sailed two warships through the Suez Canal, which Mubarak never permitted. The ships were on their way to Syria, where they will sit in port to remind the world of Iran’s overarching ambitions for the region and the world.

This took place as word leaked out that Syria is presently operating at least three nuclear enrichment sites. They are back in the nuclear weapons business and no one seems to know or care about it. The director of the International Atomic Energy Agency is lobbying not to include Syria is his upcoming UN report on the nuclear menace. He says that it will remove the focus from Iran. As if the world is about to focus on Iran. Perhaps the UN will issue another statement, as it has done previously and as it has done in the case of Libya and its maniacal dictator, who mows down innocent civilians in a bid to stay in power.

It should be obvious by now that a toothless UN resolution will stop neither Muammar Gaddafi nor Iran. Nothing short of total isolation coupled with a strong stand for democracy and basic human decency will influence events in those troubled areas governed by out-of-touch, irrational men.

We look around the world now and see Israel surrounded by a strengthened Hamas. We watch a revolution brewing in Jordan and Hezbollah in control of Lebanon. Among America’s few remaining Arab friends, Yemen is on fire, as is Bahrain and Oman. Saudi Arabia is quaking in its oil-drenched boots, praying that it will not be affected next by the spreading wildfire.

At a time like this, America is governed by a president who has lost the trust of the majority of his people and the world. People are at a loss to explain his lack of action in the face of the historic changes sweeping through a region vital to America’s immediate future. His disappearance from the world stage is as mysterious as it is dangerous. He has neglected his responsibility to encourage and support the forces of decency and democracy. He reads faint words of condemnation against the forces of evil and doesn’t back them up with anything real.

Analysts compare the American leader to former presidents and wonder what they would have done had they been in power, as simple people across the world seek freedom. In the place of a powerful advocate for liberation, we see an apathetic and arrogant president. It wasn’t that long ago that French fries became freedom fries as a symbol of a world furious with French vacillation in the face of terror. Today it is France which is taking the lead, together with England, in exercising leadership standing up to tyranny and dictators.

People search for answers as to how this all started and why this is happening. They wonder why Obama is so impotent in the face of a historic opportunity to spread democracy in parts of the world which have never experienced it. People fear how all this will end. Where will the street revolutions lead? Will the forces of liberty triumph or will those who seek to pull the world backwards emerge victorious?

We, who read the Megillah, know that we have to wait for the last chapter to be written to understand the inexplicable events of our day. Currently unfolding in front of our eyes is a historic drama whose outcome no one can predict. It is a time for us to do as the Jews in Shushan did, bayomim haheim bazeman hazeh, engaging in self-improvement and beseeching Heaven that the story ends positively for us and for all of humanity.

Article printed from Matzav.com - The Online Voice of Torah Jewry: http://matzav.com

URL to article: http://matzav.com/revealing-the-hidden

Bosnia war survivor warns of things to come in collapse of America


by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger Thursday, May 09, 2013

(NaturalNews) We are republishing two important stories here (with links to original sources) that you need to read. The first is a report from a man who survived the war in Bosnia. Although the source of this cannot be confirmed, the advice is extremely valuable regardless.

The second story, appended to the bottom of this article, lists 35 excuses that will get you killed if you fail to prepare for what's coming. This was originally published on SHTFplan.com and is sourced below.

Read both of these articles if you want to live.

Here's the first:

One year in Hell...
I am from Bosnia. You know, between 1992 and 1995, it was hell. For one year, I lived and survived in a city with 6,000 people without water, electricity, gasoline, medical help, civil defense, distribution service, any kind of traditional service or centralized rule.

Our city was blockaded by the army; and for one year, life in the city turned into total crap. We had no army, no police. We only had armed groups; those armed protected their homes and families.

When it all started, some of us were better prepared. But most of the neighbors' families had enough food only for a few days. Some had pistols; a few had AK-47s or shotguns.

After a month or two, gangs started operating, destroying everything. Hospitals, for example, turned into slaughterhouses. There was no more police. About 80 percent of the hospital staff were gone. I got lucky. My family at the time was fairly large (15 people in a large house, six pistols, three AKs), and we survived (most of us, at least).

The Americans dropped MREs every 10 days to help blockaded cities. This was never enough. Some -- very few -- had gardens. It took three months for the first rumors to spread of men dying from hunger and cold. We removed all the doors, the window frames from abandoned houses, ripped up the floors and burned the furniture for heat. Many died from diseases, especially from the water (two from my own family). We drank mostly rainwater, ate pigeons and even rats.

Money soon became worthless. We returned to an exchange. For a tin can of tushonka (think Soviet spam), you could have a woman. (It is hard to speak of it, but it is true.) Most of the women who sold themselves were desperate mothers.

Arms, ammunition, candles, lighters, antibiotics, gasoline, batteries and food. We fought for these things like animals. In these situations, it all changes. Men become monsters. It was disgusting.

Strength was in numbers. A man living alone getting killed and robbed would be just a matter of time, even if he was armed.

Today, me and my family are well-prepared, I am well-armed. I have experience.

It does not matter what will happen: an earthquake, a war, a tsunami, aliens, terrorists, economic collapse, uprising. The important part is that something will happen.

Here's my experience: You can't make it on your own. Don't stay apart from your family; prepare together, choose reliable friends.

1. How to move safely in a city

The city was divided into communities along streets. Our street (15 to 20 homes) had patrols (five armed men every week) to watch for gangs and for our enemies.

All the exchanges occurred in the street. About 5 kilometers away was an entire street for trading, all well-organized; but going there was too dangerous because of the snipers. You could also get robbed by bandits. I only went there twice, when I needed something really rare (list of medicine, mainly antibiotics, of the French original of the texts).

Nobody used automobiles in the city: The streets were blocked by wreckage and by abandoned cars. Gasoline was very expensive. If one needed to go somewhere, that was done at night. Never travel alone or in groups that were too big -- always two to three men. All armed, travel swift, in the shadows, cross streets through ruins, not along open streets.

There were many gangs 10 to 15 men strong, some as large as 50 men. But there were also many normal men, like you and me, fathers and grandfathers, who killed and robbed. There were no "good" and "bad" men. Most were in the middle and ready for the worst.
2. What about wood? Your home city is surrounded by woods; why did you burn doors and furniture?

There were not that many woods around the city. It was very beautiful -- restaurants, cinemas, schools, even an airport. Every tree in the city and in the city park was cut down for fuel in the first two months.

Without electricity for cooking and heat, we burned anything that burned. Furniture, doors, flooring: That wood burns swiftly. We had no suburbs or suburban farms. The enemy was in the suburbs. We were surrounded. Even in the city you never knew who was the enemy at any given point.

3. What knowledge was useful to you in that period?

To imagine the situation a bit better, you should know it was practically a return to the Stone Age.

For example, I had a container of cooking gas. But I did not use it for heat. That would be too expensive! I attached a nozzle to it I made myself and used to fill lighters. Lighters were precious.

If a man brought an empty lighter, I would fill it; and he would give me a tin of food or a candle.

I was a paramedic. In these conditions, my knowledge was my wealth. Be curious and skilled. In these conditions, the ability to fix things is more valuable than gold.

Items and supplies will inevitably run out, but your skills will keep you fed.

I wish to say this: Learn to fix things, shoes or people.

My neighbor, for example, knew how to make kerosene for lamps. He never went hungry.

4. If you had three months to prepare now, what would you do?

Three months? Run away from the country? (joking)

Today, I know everything can collapse really fast. I have a stockpile of food, hygiene items, batteries -- enough to last me for six months.

I live in a very secure flat and own a home with a shelter in a village 5 kilometers away. Another six-month supply there, too. That's a small village; most people there are well-prepared. The war had taught them.

I have four weapons and 2,000 rounds for each.

I have a garden and have learned gardening. Also, I have a good instinct. You know, when everyone around you keeps telling you it'll all be fine, but I know it will all collapse.

I have strength to do what I need to protect my family. Because when it all collapses, you must be ready to do "bad" things to keep your children alive and protect your family.

Surviving on your own is practically impossible. (That's what I think.) Even you're armed and ready, if you're alone, you'll die. I have seen that happen many times.

Families and groups, well-prepared, with skills and knowledge in various fields: That's much better.

5. What should you stockpile?

That depends. If you plan to live by theft, all you need is weapons and ammo. Lots of ammo.

If not, more food, hygiene items, batteries, accumulators, little trading items (knives, lighters, flints, soap). Also, alcohol of a type that keeps well. The cheapest whiskey is a good trading item.

Many people died from insufficient hygiene. You'll need simple items in great amounts. For example, garbage bags. Lots of them. And toilet papers. Non-reusable dishes and cups: You'll need lots of them. I know that because we didn't have any at all.

As for me, a supply of hygiene items is perhaps more important than food. You can shoot a pigeon. You can find a plant to eat. You can't find or shoot any disinfectant.

Disinfectant, detergents, bleach, soap, gloves, masks.

First aid skills, washing wounds and burns. Perhaps you will find a doctor and will not be able to pay him.

Learn to use antibiotics. It's good to have a stockpile of them.

You should choose the simplest weapons. I carry a Glock .45. I like it, but it's a rare gun here. So I have two TT pistols, too. (Everyone has them and ammo is common.)

I don't like Kalashnikov's, but again, same story. Everyone has them; so do I.

You must own small, unnoticeable items. For example, a generator is good, but 1,000 BIC lighters are better. A generator will attract attention if there's any trouble, but 1,000 lighters are compact, cheap and can always be traded.

We usually collected rainwater into four large barrels and then boiled it. There was a small river, but the water in it became very dirty very fast.

It's also important to have containers for water: barrels and buckets.

6. Were gold and silver useful?

Yes. I personally traded all the gold in the house for ammunition.

Sometimes, we got our hands on money: dollars and Deutschmarks. We bought some things for them, but this was rare and prices were astronomical. For example, a can of beans cost $30 to $40. The local money quickly became worthless. Everything we needed we traded for through barter.

7. Was salt expensive?

Yes, but coffee and cigarettes were even more expensive. I had lots of alcohol and traded it without problems. Alcohol consumption grew over 10 times as compared to peacetime. Perhaps today, it's more useful to keep a stock of cigarettes, lighters and batteries. They take up less space.

At this time, I was not a survivalist. We had no time to prepare -- several days before the shit hit the fan. The politicians kept repeating over the TV that everything was going according to plan, there's no reason to be concerned. When the sky fell on our heads, we took what we could.

8. Was it difficult to purchase firearms? What did you trade for arms and ammunition?

After the war, we had guns in every house. The police confiscated lots of guns at the beginning of the war. But most of them we hid. Now I have one legal gun that I have a license for. Under the law, that's called a temporary collection. If there is unrest, the government will seize all the registered guns. Never forget that.

You know, there are many people who have one legal gun, but also illegal guns if that one gets seized. If you have good trade goods, you might be able to get a gun in a tough situation. But remember, the most difficult time is the first days, and perhaps you won't have enough time to find a weapon to protect your family. To be disarmed in a time of chaos and panic is a bad idea.

In my case, there was a man who needed a car battery for his radio. He had shotguns. I traded the accumulator for both of them. Sometimes, I traded ammunition for food, and a few weeks later traded food for ammunition. Never did the trade at home, never in great amounts.

Few people knew how much and what I keep at home.

The most important thing is to keep as many things as possible in terms of space and money. Eventually, you'll understand what is more valuable.

Correction: I'll always value weapons and ammunition the most. Second? Maybe gas masks and filters.

9. What about security?

Our defenses were very primitive. Again, we weren't ready, and we used what we could. The windows were shattered, and the roofs in a horrible state after the bombings. The windows were blocked -- some with sandbags, others with rocks.

I blocked the fence gate with wreckage and garbage, and used a ladder to get across the wall. When I came home, I asked someone inside to pass over the ladder. We had a fellow on our street that completely barricaded himself in his house. He broke a hole in the wall, creating a passage for himself into the ruins of the neighbor's house -- a sort of secret entrance.

Maybe this would seem strange, but the most protected houses were looted and destroyed first. In my area of the city, there were beautiful houses with walls, dogs, alarms and barred windows. People attacked them first. Some held out; others didn't. It all depended how many hands and guns they had inside.

I think defense is very important, but it must be carried out unobtrusively. If you are in a city and SHTF comes, you need a simple, non-flashy place, with lots of guns and ammo.

How much ammo? As much as possible.

Make your house as unattractive as you can.

Right now, I own a steel door, but that's just against the first wave of chaos. After that passes, I will leave the city to rejoin a larger group of people, my friends and family.

There were some situations during the war. There's no need for details, but we always had superior firepower and a brick wall on our side.

We also constantly kept someone watching the streets. Quality organization is paramount in case of gang attacks.

Shooting was constantly heard in the city.

Our perimeter was defended primitively. All the exits were barricaded and had little firing slits. Inside we had at least five family members ready for battle at any time and one man in the street, hidden in a shelter.

We stayed home through the day to avoid sniper fire.

At first, the weak perish. Then, the rest fight.

During the day, the streets were practically empty due to sniper fire. Defenses were oriented toward short-range combat alone. Many died if they went out to gather information, for example. It's important to remember we had no information, no radio, no TV -- only rumors and nothing else.

There was no organized army; every man fought. We had no choice. Everybody was armed, ready to defend themselves.

You should not wear quality items in the city; someone will murder you and take them. Don't even carry a "pretty" long arm, it will attract attention.

Let me tell you something: If SHTF starts tomorrow, I'll be humble. I'll look like everyone else. Desperate, fearful. Maybe I'll even shout and cry a little bit.

Pretty clothing is excluded altogether. I will not go out in my new tactical outfit to shout: "I have come! You're doomed, bad guys!" No, I'll stay aside, well-armed, well-prepared, waiting and evaluating my possibilities, with my best friend or brother.

Super-defenses, super-guns are meaningless. If people think they should steal your things, that you're profitable, they will. It's only a question of time and the amount of guns and hands.

10. How was the situation with toilets?

We used shovels and a patch of earth near the house. Does it seem dirty? It was. We washed with rainwater or in the river, but most of the time the latter was too dangerous. We had no toilet paper; and if we had any, I would have traded it away.

It was a "dirty" business.

Let me give you a piece of advice: You need guns and ammo first -- and second, everything else. Literally everything! All depends on the space and money you have.

If you forget something, there will always be someone to trade with for it. But if you forget weapons and ammo, there will be no access to trading for you.

I don't think big families are extra mouths. Big families means both more guns and strength -- and from there, everyone prepares on his own.

11. How did people treat the sick and the injured?

Most injuries were from gunfire. Without a specialist and without equipment, if an injured man found a doctor somewhere, he had about a 30 percent chance of survival.

It ain't the movie. People died. Many died from infections of superficial wounds. I had antibiotics for three to four uses -- for the family, of course.

People died foolishly quite often. Simple diarrhea will kill you in a few days without medicine, with limited amounts of water.

There were many skin diseases and food poisonings… nothing to it.

Many used local plants and pure alcohol -- enough for the short-term, but useless in the long term.

Hygiene is very important, as well as having as much medicine as possible -- especially antibiotics.

Original source:
http://personalliberty.com/2013/05/06/one-year-in-hell/

35 excuses that will doom the non-prepper
As of today it is estimated that ONLY 1% of the population actually goes to much of any effort to prepare and store up enough of what they need to survive a true calamity. This means a huge majority of the population fails, yes fails, to have much of anything if and WHEN what they need each day to live evaporates quickly. Most people have no clue what life will be like after the grocery stores close. They simply cannot grasp the horrors that will befall those people that have not put away for tomorrow or prepared contingencies for life threatening emergencies.

Instead of taking some time, effort , and money to safeguard themselves and their families, they have a wide array of reasons (excuses) for why prepping is crazy and not at all necessary.

There exist a magnitude of what are called TRUE civilization altering or world-as-we-know-it ending events that could happen. Many have already occurred throughout history, as well as within just the last decade. The fact is , it's only a matter of time before these catastrophes happen again.

People who choose not to prepare for their families will be faced with life and death situations that few have ever experienced before.

Without water people will die within a few days. Without food people will die within a few weeks. Without everyday necessities people will die in hordes from varying ailments and diseases. Without what they are accustomed to on a daily basis, people will suffer and most will die. This absolutely does not have to happen to such a high percentage of the population, but sadly it will unless more people understand there is no real excuse for NOT preparing.

The following are 35 of the most common excuses and causes cited by the 99% of the population who don't prepare.

1. Oh come on, it is never going to happen, my area is safe, I am safe.

Fact or Answer: The overall odds increase of having a mega or even a lesser catastrophe as the population grows and cities grow in size. Just like increasing the size of a target, it is easier and more likely to get hit. Even if your area doesn't get hit, your location can be cut off from getting vital supplies from areas that DID get hit. Every single spot on the planet is a target, from natural disasters to terrorism to war to pandemics to a black swan event that no one expects. No one is invulnerable anywhere and living this way is delusional and totally unrealistic.

2. I am convinced that everything is recoverable and my area will get back to normal quickly.

Fact or Answer. The media and government have longed ingrained into people's minds that no matter what happens, it is repairable. Fortunately up until now there has not been a type of event that is so severe and widespread that recovery is very long or requires massive clean-up involving millions of people and trillions of dollars. There are potential disasters that occur on regular time frames that could easily be ranked as hundreds of times worse than anything we've ever seen in our lifetimes. The New Madrid fault zone and San Andreas fault are a couple of examples. A solar induced super EMP (electro magnetic pulse) which occurred in 1812, 1857, and 1859 is another. Fukushima is a recent example how bad things can get almost in a matter of just 24 hours.

3. No matter how horrible it is, help will eventually come, I just have to wait it out.

Fact or Answer. Help can come IF there are people and resources available. All of the recent disasters have been fairly isolated and allow the majority of the unaffected population to come to the rescue of those in need. What happens when an entire country is affected - or most of the world? Assuming that your government or someone will reach your area with help and supplies no matter what is dangerous. The government is going to spread help to areas of the highest priority FIRST. Your area could be weeks or months away from help and you could be long dead before help and supplies arrive.

4. Even if something happens, there are plenty of food and supplies for everyone in my city.

Fact or Answer. Ever seen towns and cities cut off by winter storms? Food in supermarkets, food warehouse stores, and restaurants, are extremely limited - perhaps one to seven days at best. To prove this take your population where you live and divide this by the number of grocery stores in your city or town. Now go into one of these stores and look around and consider how fast a few hundred or a few thousand people could empty that store. You see all those trucks coming in each day carrying food and supplies for these stores. Imagine those deliveries stopping. Food will disappear faster than anyone can imagine.

5. My state government, my community, my neighbors will not abandon me and let me starve.

Fact or Answer. It's a pure numbers game. If food and other necessities are not there for the state to distribute, then everyone who has failed to put away for such a disaster will go hungry. Your neighbors are likely to be in the same boat as you if 99% of the people don't prep. Those that did prepare are likely to not share with a bunch of people that choose not to. Taking food from those that did store up will not be an easy task, as they will likely be well armed. It is extremely selfish to expect your neighbor to sacrifice their family because you determined that preparing was too much effort. Simply don't be the 99% that don't prepare.

6. I have a 3 day supply of food, the government and others tell me that this is plenty.

Fact or Answer. Three days go by awfully quickly, and as we saw in Hurricane Katrina help took much longer than that to arrive. If it is possible, a bare minimum of 30 days worth of food, water, and other supplies should be considered for all families. In the past, during "lightweight" SHTF events, help arrived 1-2 weeks after the disaster occurred such as areas hit by a great earthquake or mega hurricane. Severe disasters require much longer times for real help to arrive.

7. I have lots of credit cards, I will purchase anything I need in my city or nearby cities.

Fact or Answer. First of all, credit is something that ONLY works when systems connected to the outside world function properly. People think that these little "magical" pieces of plastic will save them in all circumstances. This misconception is something that will flatten those who go out and try to buy food because the banks are not allowing or are simply unable to process any credit or debit cards. Cash is necessary for buying what you need - have a fair amount in ALL denominations from 20's down to 1's. Additionally, if your backup plan is to drive to another city to purchase emergency supplies you may not be able to get out of your area due to lack of fuel or closed roads. Again, have your own supplies BEFORE it happens.

8. My water faucets will have water, even if it is temporarily shut off, they will not let us go thirsty.

Fact or Answer. Water pipes that bring water to your home require power, without power there is no water. Those expecting water trucks to bring drinking water to their neighbor should not count on it. Those who plan on drinking unsafe water from ponds, lakes, and other catchment basins are just asking to become very ill. If someone doesn't store much food, at least there should be water stored for drinking. 1/2 gallon per person per day minimum, not to forget the household pets either. Water could be down for weeks. Cases of bottled water are one way to store water for longer terms and can be neatly stacked in a small corner of your home. Many stores sell safe water storage units that can be filled up with plain tap water. A good water filter is something that all households should have for outside water should city supplies be inoperable or contaminated. Learn how to catch rainwater and dew. Dehydration is something that will kill scores of people because they have not taken water storage seriously. Without clean water you're dead in 72 hours.

9. There is no room to store supplies that will never be used anyway.

Fast/Answer. Vertical storage is one way even very limited amount of space can be used to put away what someone's needs. There are all sorts of "dead spaces" around the home. Under the bed, closet shelves, or your garage are a couple of ideas. Square footage of a home is 2 dimensional, as there is usually about 8 feet of space up to down between ceiling to floor. Even people living in tiny apartments find room to store up emergency needs.

10. I can't rotate supplies, everything will get old and have to be thrown away.

Fact or Answer. Many items can be consumed way past the ‘best by dates'. Those that feel that they still can't store up items even in cans because of some use by or best by date, can store up a lot of other items that don't have to be rotated. There are everyday items that can be forgotten about and will still be just as good as when you first stored it. Sounds crazy, but there are items that will fetch a high barter value that people need and want. Toilet paper is one key supply that can be traded for food and other items because it will never lose its demand. Other barter items such as cigarettes and alcohol have extreme value just about everywhere. It would be wise to always store up what you eat each day in cans, as canned foods have a very long shelf life so long as they are kept dry, cool and undamaged.

11. I don't have extra money to store up anything for disasters.

Fact or Answer. There are many coupons online, in newspapers, and in stores. Manufacturers want to attract new customers to try their product so badly that they often offer food for free or near free. People live on coupons with very limited money sources using coupons. Stores also offer reduced pricing on overstocked items. Collecting these supplies will add up if one is willing to start doing so. Never pass up an opportunity to get something for free, especially if it can be stored for later use or barter.

12. It is too much work to bother with.

Fact or Answer. Even a person that is hardly an expert prepper who has stored up something will fare far better than the 99% that have not. Simply picking up extra food and other supplies at the market each time and putting these into boxes in some isolated part of the home will add significant reserve supplies. This is very limited effort that will reap huge results WHEN you need it. You don't have to work that hard to put away a decent amount of what you will need someday.

13. I have absolutely no idea what to store or how much.

Fact or Answer. What do you use each day and every week? This is what you want to store up. Buy your regular household staples in jars, bottles, or well sealed packages for longer term storage. How much can be determined simply by asking yourself, ‘how long do I want to be self sufficient during a disaster?' Have a time frame - a month, two months, etc. You should be able to easily determine how much of something you will use in a certain amount of time.

14. I don't need any protection after a disaster, the police, national guard, military will protect us.

Fact or Answer. Even those that don't like firearms should consider owning one. The larger the distance between an attacker and your family, the less chance that someone you love will get injured or killed. A firearm gives you this distance. At least have something to defend your family with. There are some real psychos out there that will certainly take advantage of the lawlessness that will come with no police or military force. How many police does your city have per citizen? This ratio is one golden reason to have self protection before, during, and after a disaster. There may be no way of reaching law enforcement even if they are available after a true disaster as all cell towers and phonelines may be fried for whatever reason.

15. The power grid will come back on, until then I have LED flashlights that last forever.

Fact or Answer. First of all when they say on commercials that the light will last for 100,000 hours they are referring to the bulbs. Batteries run out of energy. You should have many extra batteries to avoid the dark with LED lights. Many accidents happen in the dark and flashlights should not be the only source of lights. Candles are cheap and last several hours and can be used to warm up food and a small heat source. You don't want to live nights without some source of light - it will get so dark sometimes that you won't even be able to see your hand in front of your face. Besides light, the power grid may not come back up for weeks, or ever if something catastrophic enough has happened. Another grave consideration is what is called temperature control of your environment as excessive cold or heat kills hundreds or thousands of people in stable times every year. You will likely lose the ability to stay cool or warm in the event of a power grid failure. Weather insulation of your surroundings before anything occurs is a preparation that many should consider doing NOW. A back-up electric generator with back up fuel is one option. For those who can afford it or know how to build it themselves, a solar or wind driven electric system is a viable long-term solution. You may have to live a long time without power, as the grid is a lot more frail than people realize, so consider alternative energy supplies now.

16. Again and again I hear these fear mongers exaggerate the threat level, another false alarm.

Fact or Answer. While Y2K, the Mayan calendar and many others have been wrong, there have been many times when a disaster has been a lot worse than anyone could have predicted. Two of the most powerful tsunamis caused calamities that rank the worst of all time -- one is widespread radiation release in Japan, and event that is likely killing people as you read this. Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Wilma, and recently Sandy were far worst than predicted. Tornadoes have destroyed entire cities. Deepwater Horizon caused the worst oil disaster on record. Many wars and terrorist attacks have brought untold suffering in this century alone. These are still lightweight disasters and are dwarfed in comparison to what has happened before and will happen again. Preparedness is the only answer for the common person to help survive what is eventually coming.

17. I have a good car and family in other areas, if anything happens I will just go stay with them.

Fact or Answer. One of the worst assumptions is that family or friends will openly accept you and yours and let you live with them. Even if they do, you may not be able to get to them. Your car or vehicle may be disabled for any number of reasons, or the roads may be unusable because law enforcement will not allow ANY travel or because they have been destroyed. Planning on how to stay safe where you are should be your foremost option. Bug out only as a last resort (unless you have a complete bug out strategy and destination already in place).

18. I work all week long and I am going to spend my extra money on fun rather than fear.

Fact or Answer. Self indulgences seldom have much or any lasting benefits. People often blow their money on something that was nothing more than fleeting fun. In the end it is often expensive and worthless. A good plan is to do anything that will bring long time enjoyment and help you live your life with less stress. The amount of stress you and your family will suffer after a true disaster strikes and you have nothing to feed yourself and your family will be well beyond what any job or most of life's agonies can bring. Entertainment can help live life better. Not storing up for emergencies can help end your life in true anguish.

19. Survival supplies taste bad, I can't live on this for long at all.

Fact or Answer. Some supplies have high sodium contents, others are near or at goumet levels. Practically everything that someone enjoys can be found in a can at the supermarket or other food retailer. Just because food is stored up, doesn't mean that it has to taste bad. Most of what people cook for everyday meals - rice, beans, flour, oatmeal, etc. - can be stored for quite a while.

20. If a true catastrophe occurs we are going to die anyway, besides that I don't want to live through it anyway.

Fact or Answer. To each his own, but when you look at the faces of your family or your own face in the mirror, this feeling kind of changes its tone. Even during the worst disaster there are going to be survivors, why should it not be you and your family? Here is something very few people understand - after a very bad catastrophe the planet and the life, vegetation and animals, have a remarkable recuperative ability. In other words, times are likely to get better each day after a true disaster. There are of course exceptions, but in all likelihood there will be slow to moderate improvement as time goes on. The main objective to have enough of what you need to get through the worst parts of it.

21. Survival and prepping for the worst is negative, as long as I stay positive, only the positive will happen.

Fact or Answer. One of the most positive things is to have what you need when the situation presents itself. Too many people live like the proverbial ostrich with its head buried in the ground. Not being realistic with worldwide situations that are way beyond your control is negative. It is denial. Wishing that the economy will not collapse, a mega earthquake will not hit an area way overdue, that war will not develop in the Middle East and so on, will most likely not work. Prepping and being ready for such an event(s) will work to help better safeguard you and your family and increase your chances of surviving it dramatically.

22. Preppers / Survivalists are radical, paranoid, conspiracy driven out of touch with reality, I don't want anything to do with them.

Fact or Answer. Out of touch with reality is depending on the government to come to your rescue when they simply can't because of the magnitude of a particular disaster. Preparing and storing up food, water, and other needs has nothing to do with associating with anyone but your immediate family and friends. If you don't like preppers and their way of thinking, no one is saying you have to become friends with anyone to store up what you need for later. Letting your personal views of people that prepare influence your family's well being for the future makes no sense. Buying insurance in the form of what your family will need after it becomes no longer available for an undetermined period of time makes excellent common sense for everybody.

23. I don't know why everyone is so worried, times are better and safer now than ever in human history.

Fact or Answer. The old doomsday clock put out by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists puts the clock at 5 minutes to midnight. Since 1960 the clock has only been closer to midnight between 1981-1988 during the height of the cold war. In 1991 it was set at 17 minutes to midnight. Most of the time it was set 7 minutes or higher. As competition grows with increasing population, resources grow less plentiful. While it can be argued that the earthquakes, volcanoes and other natural disasters are all part of a regular cycle, man-made conflicts and needs are something never experienced with 7 billion people trying to get what they need out of limited resources of water, food, arable land, energy and much more. If anything, times are becoming a lot scarier and gives even more support to the notion of preparing to what the future may hold for us.

24. There is so much to prepping, I'll take my chances that nothing will happen.

Fact or Answer. There is a lot to knowing what to do after a disaster, but it takes little no know to simply put away what you need everyday in life. Just the simple act of putting away canned food and water and other necessities like toilet paper will put you into a better situation that most of the people you know. Those people that even put away a month's worth of what they need will likely survive better than at least half of the population after a mega SHTF event. Just start putting away and continue it and someday you will probably be grateful you did.

25. All my investments go right into what makes me money and gives me security for the future.

Fact or Answer. Many people cannot find a better investment for the future than to have what they need within arms reach. Banks are closed most of the time, and online trading is only good if the internet and phone lines are up. While having a stable portfolio is important, especially if nothing happens, not having an investment in the things you use each day to live life with ease makes no sense. Buying stocks in precious metals is equally worthless compared to actually having the precious metals in your hands or your safe in a situation when the stock and commodities markets collapse or are inaccessible.

26. Why bother storing up that much food and supplies, mobs will just come in and take it.

Fact or Answer. If you tell everyone that your house is a grocery store, then when something does happen you can expect big problems. If no one knows you have food, it is much less likely you will have any mobs come after you. Good self defense is essential to guard your supplies as many people are cowards and just don't have the gall to try to force themselves in while being shot at, many times people will back off just because there is a gun aiming at them. Also something to consider is that many people will become quite weak after lack of food and water and after a few days the threat level will diminish significantly.

27. I have a refrigerator and a cupboard full of food, 2 cases of water, a 12 pack of toilet paper, I am all set.

Fact or Answer. So many people are totally clueless to what they DON'T HAVE. First of all the water of 2 cases will be used up in 3-4 days by a family of four. If the power goes off everything in the refrigerator will have to be eaten within a couple of days. A cupboard full of food is not a bad start, but most pantry sizes would store about a week's worth of supplies. Something is always better than nothing, but people need to see just how much they actually need for a certain amount of time. Exaggerating what you actually have is very counterproductive - and poses a risk to the well being of your family should disaster strike.

28. If something happens I will just run to the grocery store and stock up before it closes.

Fact or Answer. This is not a bad idea if you see a crisis is imminent. For many preppers, heading to the grocery store at the first sign of trouble and adding goods to what they already have, such as fruit and vegetables that will perish within a short time, may help reduce psychological and physical strains of the initial impact. Depending on this as a plan to stock up because you have nothing in your current supplies, however, is not a good idea and quite dangerous. What will you use to purchase what you need? Do you have cash on hand to purchase these last minute supplies or are you planning on using your possible inactive credit or debit card? Even with a wad of cash, the stores might not be open. Your best course of action is stock up before anything happens, you cannot depend on any store to provide what you need after a disaster.

29. If we become sick after a disaster we have good medical treatment centers that will care for us.

Fact or Answer. Medical response could be overwhelmed and could takes days or weeks to come back online. It is likely that the number one killer after a calamity will be disease. Extreme preventative care of yourself and your family is all too essential. Germ control and ‘hand awareness' of germs is top priority here. Storage of anti-bacterial soaps, bleach, and other disinfectants are something no home should be without. Investment in a really well stocked first aid kit is an excellent survival item for everyone.

30. Nothing is as bad as it ever seems, stop overblowing everything as doomsday.

Fact or Answer. Tell that one to Hurricane Katrina and Sandy survivors that were told it would not be that bad by the mass media. Tell people in Haiti or people devastated by the two killer mega tsunamis about it not being all that bad. Ask people who went through World War 2, the Korean or Vietnam war, or in Syria or Iraq how much less worse it was. Preparing for the worst means that you can much better handle those worst-case scenarios that have occurred regularly throughout history.

31. If disaster strikes everybody will band together and save the day.

Fact or Answer. Nice sentiment, but throughout history this idealism has proven to be less than reality. Take away the hope of recovery with a bad enough situation and people revert back to the survival of the fittest. Depending on the good will of human nature can and does lead to vast disappointment and individual disaster. Depending on your own self and what you can put away is a lot more stable and reliable.

32. People have become way too civilized to wage a world war and take what you have and act like savages.

Fact or Answer. There are too many examples to disprove this of people's nature. Given the severity of the circumstances, people are capable of anything as long as most of them can JUSTIFY their actions in their minds. Trust in yourself and then others. Trusting in society's self righteousness to not act like criminals is a true stretch. Good self defense and a cautious nature will take you far.

33. There are food banks and emergency preparedness places nearby to me, they will take care of us.

Fact or Answer. It is all about volume, these places are meant to feed people on a SHORT TERM basis to keep people from starving to death immediately. You will likely have to exist on a snack size package of crackers and maybe an energy bar per day. You might get a couple of bottles of water if you are lucky. Depending on these places for handouts is a losing proposition with any disaster that is even moderately tragic. You could store up way more from a couple of weeks worth of extra items bought at the store than what these places are likely capable of feeding you with.

34. FEMA , the Red Cross, and other government agencies are huge and have the whole country backing them.

Fact or Answer. Even if these organizations and government agencies can get to you, their supplies and what they can give out is severely limited, much like local and state run emergency preparedness centers. Think about just how many people one million is and how much daily food that means. Try to think of tens of millions of people needing all sorts of food, clean water and other supplies. The logistics of distribution on this scale is a nightmare for any planner. Even if there was enough food, imagine standing in 4-10 hour lines to get some crumbs and a drink of water. Now imagine going into a room of your house and simply getting what you need. Kind of makes the idea of prepping sound a lot better doesn't it?

35. I can always wait until tomorrow to start prepping, there is always time.

Fact or Answer. No there isn't always time. Eventually that tomorrow does come. When world or national events have deteriorated enough to scare many more people into prepping it is probably too late. The best time to start preparing was yesterday, the next best time is right now. Everyday that goes by without putting away what you need is going to make it that much more difficult to store up enough of what you need for survival. Time runs out quickly, start preparing today and find out how rewarding it is when you have what you need right there in your own home.

It is not an overblown statement that says 99% of the population could perish during the next mega calamity based on the sole reason that they did not prepare. Without food, water, means of keeping yourself clean and disease free, and the many other necessities that people have become way too dependent on to survive everyday life, people cannot live and won't. Those rare 1% that choose to prepare and sacrifice those everyday pleasures and expensive distractions will have what they need as flocks of those unprepared will die in massive numbers because society can no longer support them. Those 99%, though, have the conscious choice of not becoming a statistic and truly doing something about it with a lot less than they realize. All it takes is some time, effort and dedication to spending any available extra money and resources on living "life insurance" such as food, water, and everyday needs.

Original source:
http://www.shtfplan.com/emergency-preparedness/life-or-death-choices-...

Is your Bug Out Bag Going to Get You Killed?

A bug out bag is designed in theory to give you everything you may need to live for at least 72 hours outside of your home and should be considered as part of any comprehensive plan for disaster or true preparedness.  The tendency with bug out bags is to throw everything but the kitchen sink in them to cover every conceivable scenario or need. When this happens you have people with Bug Out Bags that weigh more than they do. Not only could this seriously slow you down at the precise time you need to be light on your feet, but having a bag that is overloaded with a lot of stuff you could live without or which more likely couldn’t help you at all, could get you killed.

When I started my own prepping journey, a bug out bag was high on my list of priorities. I read a lot of articles and watched a ton of YouTube videos about this subject and as you can imagine, there are as many bug out bag ideas as there are grains of sand at the beach. The bags all share a common goal in that they are supposed to keep you alive if you have to leave your house for some period of time.  I think where the line gets blurred however is what your own idea of the duties of your bag are for. What do you really “need” in order to “live”? If your Bug Out Bag contents look more like what you would pack in a suitcase for a vacation, you may want to reconsider your options.

What is the purpose of a Bug Out bag?

OK, let’s start with what a Bug Out bag is most typically used for and go from there. A 72-hour bag or kit is usually listed as the standard we as preppers should aspire to and is actually what FEMA recommends on their website. Again, this means that your bug out bag should have enough supplies to get you through 72 hours. What you put in here though should vary by person and need. If you have considered whether you will bug out or hunker down, preparing a bug out bag could be the next step in the process.

Your bag is meant to be something that you can quickly grab and run out the door. Your bug out bag should be pre-packed with the appropriate supplies and ready at a moment’s notice. Ideally you would have practice with your bag and lugging it around through various terrain and experience actually living off the supplies that you have stored in there. A bug out bag is different in  scope from a Get Home Bag, but you may have some of the same types of contents in both.

At a minimum your bug out bag should cover the 3 basic necessities you need to live; food, clothing and shelter. After that we look at supplies to make your life more comfortable or more secure.

Do I need a Bug Out Bag?

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Bug Out Bag Options

Great question! The answer depends on what you are going to use it for I think to a large extent. Bug Out Bags come in two main flavors or types. The first type is the bag that you plan to strap on and head out into the woods or use to hike to a remote location. This might be your retreat hidden away in the woods in a small town somewhere away from your home. This could also be for those who figure they are just going to hike deep into a national forest and live off the land until whatever crisis they are avoiding has passed.

For most people, I think a Bug Out Bag is more along the lines of a pre-packed suitcase so they can get out of dodge quickly without having to stop and pack. These types of bug out bags are very useful for people who may live in wildfire, flooding or hurricane areas although I would hazard to guess that not many people in today’s society would be able to have a wildfire, flood or hurricane sneak up on them. If you are completely unaware of what is going on around you then you most likely won’t have any bag packed and ready to go in the first place. For the rest of us, fires, hurricanes and floods are generally forecast and announced with more than ample time to prepare, pack and get out of the way. Are there circumstances where this is not the case? Of course, but we are talking in general terms here for the most average prepper scenario.

How can my bag get me killed?

There are two main ways I can see how not thinking logically about your Bug Out Bag can end up hurting you. The first is weight. Let’s assume that your bug out bag’s purpose of use is that you plan to walk out of town with it strapped to your back before the zombie hordes can breach the city. This will be your bedroom dresser, kitchen pantry, shelter, entertainment center and medicine cabinet all rolled into one tidy package. The average weight guidelines for a fully loaded backpack are no more than 25% of your overall body weight. For a 200 pound person (in good health) that is 50 pounds.

How many of you are used to walking with 50 pounds of weight on your back for 20 miles? How many of you think your bag would actually weigh more than 50 pounds? Do you know how much 3 gallons of water, the recommended amount you need for each person – for 3 days weighs?

Having a bug out bag that is too heavy can cause injury very easily. Not only that, but it can wear you out much faster and make running, something you may have to do when the zombies are hungry, very difficult to do. Unless your bag is packed the right way, your center of balance will be off and you can just about forget doing any type of tactical movement with a heavy pack like this.

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It aint heavy, it’s my Bug Out Bag!

Am I talking about trained Navy Seals? No, I am talking about Mr. and Mrs. Joe Public who are probably just like most of us. We have jobs where we sit at a desk most days and aren’t training daily with 50 pound packs like the 10th Mountain division. What about your children? Will they be able to carry all of the supplies needed on their backs as well? Probably not in all cases.

The second way I can see having a large pack could be dangerous is from the standpoint of a total collapse scenario where massive amounts of society are displaced, scared, hurting and desperate. With a large pack you are a greater target. If there are truly desperate people and they see you with a big pack full of supplies and goodies they may be more inclined to relieve you of that extra weight. If their children are freezing or starving and you are walking around with the Wal-Mart camping section attached in a big bright orange pack, they may decide that you need that less than they do.

How can we avoid this problem?

Pack Smarter – A bug out bag should be viewed as a life preserver in most situations, not a convenience store. When I see lists out there that have as their contents miscellaneous hardware and tools, saws and fishing gear I have to wonder what these people are going to do. Most of us, if there is really some type of disaster won’t have any place to fish at all. You aren’t going to likely be fixing a radiator hose on your car either. If you were, that is a different pack for a different purpose. Think smart about your bag and what needs to go in there.  If all hell breaks loose in your town, what will you really need to survive? Will a change of clothes, something to shelter you from the elements and a means to make a fire be most of what you need? Add in some food and a little water with a backup to get filtered water elsewhere, simple first aid and you have the basics covered. Will all of this weigh significantly less than 50 pounds? It should.

There are ultra-light hiking fanatics that try to scrounge every single ounce of weight out of their packs in order to have a much lower weight pack and thus a happier hiking experience. You can see a lot of great ideas for making your gear weight much lower on this site. You can start with these tips, but even if you take 30 pounds out somewhere, you can’t start throwing other items like your books on edible plants in your pack and still save weight. Think about what your bag is for, how you will be using it and pack accordingly. Remember, this is just to save your life. If you have a bug out bag and you are leaving your world behind, you won’t be staying at the Ritz. Some discomfort should be anticipated so I would plan on leaving the Kindle behind.

Blend In – Packing lighter can certainly help with weight and with less weight should come less bulk. With less bulk you should have a smaller footprint for your supplies and may be able to pack everything you need to stay alive in a smaller backpack. This will help you look like everyone else out there and not like you are hiking the Appalachian Trail. Just for the record, I am not recommending that all you need is one seriously packed survival Altoids can, but we can think about the bag that we are using to save our lives in a logical way.

Hopefully this gives you some ideas on packing your Bug Out Bag. I would love to hear your ideas and perspectives in the comments below.

ALERTS --DHS INSIDERS ULTIMATE WARNING!

DHS insider: It?s about to get very ugly

By Douglas J. Hagmann

7 June 2013: Something quite unexpected happened just hours ago, in the dark of night, during a two-day layover in Washington, DC. My son and I are scheduled to take part in a seminar outside of Raleigh, North Carolina this weekend, so we combined our travels to include a side-trip to DC for a business meeting we had previously arranged. It was during this layover that something seemingly ripped from the pages of a spy novel took place.

While I was in the middle of a perfectly good and well needed sleep in the very early hours of this morning, I received a message. I cannot disclose how I received this message, at least not now. The discerning reader will understand why, which, by the way, would make a very interesting story alone. The message was extremely clear and precise. I was to meet my high level DHS insider at a very specific location in Washington, DC at a time when most ?normal? people, except third-shift workers are still asleep. And, I was to come alone and make certain that I was not being followed, and I was to leave any cell phone or electronic device behind.

Seriously? I thought, as I was still trying to make sense of it all. Is all this really necessary? Is this really happening? I considered waking my son to accompany me, but opted to follow the instructions to the letter. Besides, I thought, he?s not the most affable middle-of-the-night person. I left a hastily written but detailed note in my hotel room before my departure in the event something happened. I looked at the digital clock on my rental car (my personal car would never survive our long distance trip). It was 3:20 a.m.

The meeting

I felt like I was part of a spy movie set in our nation?s capital. A chill rose up my spine as I waited in the dark of a chilly, misty and foggy pre-dawn morning. I was to meet with my DHS insider source at a time when most of the nation is asleep, at a place I could swear was featured in the movie All the President?s Men. No one and I mean no one knows I?m here, I thought, as I could see one of the most recognizable national landmarks in the distance.

My source appeared out of nowhere, or so it seemed, and handed me a cup of coffee with the astute observation that I looked like I needed it. So tell me, I asked impatiently, why do we have to meet at this time, at this location, and under such specific circumstances? ?Because this might be our last meeting,? he stated.

Maybe it was the lack of sleep, the time, the place, or the chill of the misty rain that caused my sense of foreboding. ?Explain,? I asked in an almost demanding tone. So he did, without mincing words.

The details

?If anyone thinks that what?s going on right now with all of this surveillance of American citizens is to fight some sort of foreign enemy, they?re delusional. If people think that this ?scandal? can?t get any worse, it will, hour by hour, day by day. This has the ability to bring down our national leadership, the administration and other senior elected officials working in collusion with this administration, both Republican and Democrats. People within the NSA, the Department of Justice, and others, they know who they are, need to come forth with the documentation of ?policy and practice? in their possession, disclose what they know, fight what?s going on, and just do their job. I have never seen anything like this, ever. The present administration is going after leakers, media sources, anyone and everyone who is even suspected of ?betrayal.? That?s what they call it, ?betrayal.? Can you believe the size of their cahones? This administration considers anyone telling the truth about Benghazi, the IRS, hell, you name the issue, ?betrayal,?? he said.

?We know all this already,? I stated. He looked at me, giving me a look like I?ve never seen, and actually pushed his finger into my chest. ?You don?t know jack,? he said, ?this is bigger than you can imagine, bigger than anyone can imagine. This administration is collecting names of sources, whistle blowers and their families, names of media sources and everybody they talk to and have talked to, and they already have a huge list. If you?re not working for MSNBC or CNN, you?re probably on that list. If you are a website owner with a brisk readership and a conservative bent, you?re on that list. It?s a political dissident list, not an enemy threat list,? he stated.

?What?s that exactly mean, being on that list, that is,? I asked, trying to make sense of it all.

?It means that there will be censorship under the color of authority of anyone in the U.S. who is attempting to expose what?s going on in our name. It?s about controlling any damning information from reaching epidemic proportions. It?s damage control to the extreme. It?s about the upcoming censorship of the internet in the name of national security. The plans are already in place. These latest reports about ?spying eyes? have turned this administration and others connected to it into something very, very dangerous. They feel cornered and threatened, and I?m hearing about some plans they have to shut down the flow of information that is implicating them of wrongdoing. Time is short,? he stated.

?How are they going to do this? How is it even possible?? I asked.

?First, they intend to use the Justice Department to silence journalists like in the Rosen case, but they won?t stop there. They will use a host of national security policies, laws, letters, whatever to take out the bigger threats,? he stated.

Next, they will use some sort of excuse, an external threat, and I believe it will be a combination of the economic collapse and a Mid-East war that will begin in Syria to throttle the information that is accessible on the Internet. And you know what? People will believe it!?

Based on what I?ve seen, most of which I should not have seen, the DHS is co-ordinating efforts with other federal agencies to begin to threaten American citizens with incarceration for non-compliance. You know the old talk of color coded lists? Well, this is what they will be using. People exposing the truth about Benghazi, killing the U.S. Dollar, even those questioning Obama?s legal status and eligibility to be President are the current targets. And they?ve had five long years to get to this point. The ugly truth is that these policies and practices did not start under Obama, but long before. This is about the killing of our Constitutional Republic. The murder of our country and the stripping of our rights. While many have been preoccupied with one issue, few have seen the bigger issue. This is the ?end game,? for all the marbles,? he stated.

More to come

?Please,? pleaded my source, ?get this information out while you can. Tell people what I?m saying, that we don?t have much time, that after the latest exposure of spying, Obama, Jarrett, Axelrod, and others, including members of Congress, have put their plans into high gear. This is about the Marxist takeover of America. This is about our country being able to survive another July 4th holiday. This is about a world war about to break out that will kill millions of people, all because of the agenda of this administration.?

?They are very dangerous and will do anything and everything to stop the onslaught of negative information that?s being reported by the main stream media. But only about one quarter of the real information is being reported. The other three quarters will be the game changer. But first, tell people what I?ve said. Let them know that more will follow but get this information out right now while the internet is still relatively free. Do it today.?

My source provided additional information, but I am abiding by his wish to get this much out. I am writing now to let people know that we are in for seriously dangerous times ahead. Deadly times. War, and censorship under the color of authority and under the pretext of of national security. It?s about to get a lot uglier. Stay tuned.