COMING ATTRACTIONS: Vast Stretches Of Impoverished Appalachia Look Like They Have Been Through A War

Guest post by Michael Snyder

If you want to get an idea of where the rest of America is heading, just take a trip through the western half of West Virginia and the eastern half of Kentucky some time. Once you leave the main highways, you will rapidly encounter poverty on a level that is absolutely staggering. Overall, about 15 percent of the entire nation is under the poverty line, but in some areas of eastern Kentucky, more than 40 percent of the population is living in poverty. Most of the people would work if they could. Over the past couple of decades, locals have witnessed businesses and industries leave the region at a steady pace. When another factory or business shuts down, many of the unemployed do not even realize that their jobs have been shipped overseas. Coal mining still produces jobs that pay a decent wage, but Barack Obama is doing his very best to kill off that entire industry. After decades of decline, vast stretches of impoverished Appalachia look like they have been through a war. Those living in the area know that things are not good, but they just try to do the best that they can with what they have.

In previous articles about areas of the country that are economically depressed, I have typically focused on large cities such as Detroit or Camden, New Jersey. But the economic suffering that is taking place in rural communities in the heartland of America is just as tragic. We just don’t hear about it as much.

Most of those that live in the heart of Appalachia are really good “salt of the earth” people that just want to work hard and do what is right for their families. But after decades of increasing poverty, the entire region has been transformed into an economic nightmare that never seems to end. The following is a description of what life is like in Appalachia today that comes from a recent article by Kevin D. Williamson


Thinking about the future here and its bleak prospects is not much fun at all, so instead of too much black-minded introspection you have the pills and the dope, the morning beers, the endless scratch-off lotto cards, healing meetings up on the hill, the federally funded ritual of trading cases of food-stamp Pepsi for packs of Kentucky’s Best cigarettes and good old hard currency, tall piles of gas-station nachos, the occasional blast of meth, Narcotics Anonymous meetings, petty crime, the draw, the recreational making and surgical unmaking of teenaged mothers, and death: Life expectancies are short — the typical man here dies well over a decade earlier than does a man in Fairfax County, Va. — and they are getting shorter, women’s life expectancy having declined by nearly 1.1 percent from 1987 to 2007.

In these kinds of conditions, people do whatever they have to do just to survive. With so much poverty around, serving those on food stamps has become an important part of the local economy. In fact, cases of soda purchased with food stamps have become a form of “alternative currency” in the region. In his article, Williamson described how this works…

It works like this: Once a month, the debit-card accounts of those receiving what we still call food stamps are credited with a few hundred dollars — about $ 500 for a family of four, on average — which are immediately converted into a unit of exchange, in this case cases of soda. On the day when accounts are credited, local establishments accepting EBT cards — and all across the Big White Ghetto, “We Accept Food Stamps” is the new E pluribus unum – are swamped with locals using their public benefits to buy cases and cases — reports put the number at 30 to 40 cases for some buyers — of soda. Those cases of soda then either go on to another retailer, who buys them at 50 cents on the dollar, in effect laundering those $ 500 in monthly benefits into $ 250 in cash — a considerably worse rate than your typical organized-crime money launderer offers — or else they go into the local black-market economy, where they can be used as currency in such ventures as the dealing of unauthorized prescription painkillers — by “pillbillies,” as they are known at the sympathetic establishments in Florida that do so much business with Kentucky and West Virginia that the relevant interstate bus service is nicknamed the “OxyContin Express.” A woman who is intimately familiar with the local drug economy suggests that the exchange rate between sexual favors and cases of pop — some dealers will accept either — is about 1:1, meaning that the value of a woman in the local prescription-drug economy is about $ 12.99 at Walmart prices.

I would encourage everyone to read the rest of Williamson’s excellent article. You can find the entire article right here.

In Appalachia, the abuse of alcohol, meth and other legal and illegal drugs is significantly higher than in the U.S. population as a whole. In a desperate attempt to deal with the pain of their lives, many people living in the region are looking for anything that will allow them to “escape” for a little while. The following is an excerpt from an excellent article by Chris Hedges which describes what life is like in the little town of Gary, West Virginia at this point…

Joe and I are sitting in the Tug River Health Clinic in Gary with a registered nurse who does not want her name used. The clinic handles federal and state black lung applications. It runs a program for those addicted to prescription pills. It also handles what in the local vernacular is known as “the crazy check” — payments obtained for mental illness from Medicaid or SSI — a vital source of income for those whose five years of welfare payments have run out. Doctors willing to diagnose a patient as mentally ill are important to economic survival.

“They come in and want to be diagnosed as soon as they can for the crazy check,” the nurse says. “They will insist to us they are crazy. They will tell us, ‘I know I’m not right.’ People here are very resigned. They will avoid working by being diagnosed as crazy.”

The reliance on government checks, and a vast array of painkillers and opiates, has turned towns like Gary into modern opium dens. The painkillers OxyContin, fentanyl — 80 times stronger than morphine — Lortab, as well as a wide variety of anti-anxiety medications such as Xanax, are widely abused. Many top off their daily cocktail of painkillers at night with sleeping pills and muscle relaxants. And for fun, addicts, especially the young, hold “pharm parties,” in which they combine their pills in a bowl, scoop out handfuls of medication, swallow them, and wait to feel the result.

Of course this kind of thing is not just happening in the heart of Appalachia. All over the country there are rural communities that are economically depressed. In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, economic activity in about half of the counties in the entire nation is still below pre-recession levels…

About half of the nation’s 3,069 county economies are still short of their prerecession economic output, reflecting the uneven economic recovery, according to a new report from the National Association of Counties.

So what are our “leaders” doing to fix this?

Well, they plan to ship millions more of our good jobs overseas.

Unfortunately, I am not kidding.

Republicans in the House of Representatives are introducing “fast track” trade promotion authority legislation that will pave the way for rapid approval of the secret trade treaty that Barack Obama has been negotiating. The following is how I described this insidious treaty in a previous article

Did you know that the Obama administration is negotiating a super secret “trade agreement” that is so sensitive that he isn’t even allowing members of Congress to see it? The Trans-Pacific Partnership is being called the “NAFTA of the Pacific” and “NAFTA on steroids”, but the truth is that it is so much more than just a trade agreement. This treaty has 29 chapters, but only 5 of them have to do with trade. Most Americans don’t realize this, but this treaty will fundamentally change our laws regarding Internet freedom, health care, the trading of derivatives, copyright issues, food safety, environmental standards, civil liberties and so much more. It will also merge the United States far more deeply into the emerging one world economic system.

Once again, our politicians are betraying the American people and millions of jobs will be lost as a result.

Not that the economy needs another reason to go downhill. The truth is that our economic foundations have already been rotting away for quite some time.

But now the ongoing economic collapse seems to be picking up steam again. For example, the Baltic Dry Index (a very important indicator of global economic activity) is collapsing at a rate not seen since the great financial crash of 2008

Despite ‘blaming’ the drop in the cost of dry bulk shipping on Colombian coal restrictions, it seems increasingly clear that the 40% collapse in the Baltic Dry Index since the start of the year is more than just that. While this is the worst start to a year in over 30 years, the scale of this meltdown is only matched by the total devastation that occurred in Q3 2008. Of course, the mainstream media will continue to ignore this dour index until it decides to rise once again, but for now, 9 days in a row of plunging prices is yet another canary in the global trade coalmine and suggests what inventory stacking that occurred in Q3/4 2013 is anything but sustained.

Soon economic conditions will get even worse for Appalachia and for the rest of the country. The consequences of decades of very foolish decisions are rapidly catching up with us, and millions upon millions of Americans are going to experience immense economic pain during the years to come.

Read more Michael Snyder.

Doug Ross @ Journal

DHS Insider: “Preparations Have Been Finalized to Respond to a Crisis of Unprecedented Magnitude Within the United States”

policestate-america

Editor’s Note: One of the questions oft asked in alternative news circles is why, if elements within the U.S. government intend to collapse our economy and implement martial, no one within these circles has spoken out. The fact is that scores of people have made it their duty to alert the American people to what’s going on behind the scenes. They’ve told us of the corruption and backroom deals. They’ve given us the warning signs to look for, many of which have already come to pass. They’ve even made us aware of the government’s response should the worst come to pass. Detractors often dismiss the warnings and insider reports as bogus, often claiming that if the sources are anonymous they can’t be legitimate. But do we blame them for taking extreme steps to protect their identities? Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning showed their faces, and now they will spend their lives as targets. Given what happened to these whistle blowers, is it any surprise that others with insider knowledge refuse to speak out in an official capacity?

The following warning comes to us from an anonymous source embedded deep within the Department of Homeland Security who has taken it upon himself to share his knowledge with our audience through the generous contrtributions of the Hagmann and Hagmann Report via the Northeast Intelligence Network. The insider has taken extraordinary measures to remain anonymous, but given what we know the government is up to and the signs we see all around us, does his desire for anonymity make his claims any less legitimate than if he had included his name?

We’ve long argued that any manufactured event would be telegraphed to the general public by whistle blowers on the inside. Deny the possibility if you so choose, but this insider, along with others who have shared their information may well be the only warning you’ll ever receive. As the Insider notes, most people simply have no idea what’s coming, nor do they care to. One morning they’ll wake up and all hell will have broken loose.


DHS insider gives final warning
by Douglas J. Hagmann

Under the cover and amid the distraction of the Christmas bustle, I had my last “official” contact with a source inside the Department of Homeland Security known as “Rosebud” in my writings. My source is leaving his position, retiring along with numerous others choosing to leave this bureaucratic monstrosity. For this contact, my source took unprecedented measures to be certain that our contact was far off the radar of prying government eyes and ears. I was stunned at the lengths he employed, and even found myself somewhat annoyed by the inconvenience that his cloak-and-dagger approach caused. It was necessary, according to my source, because all department heads under FEMA and DHS are under orders to identify anyone disclosing any information for termination and potential criminal prosecution.

“DHS is like a prison environment, complete with prison snitches,” he said, referring to the search for leaks and leakers. And the warden is obsessed. Ask anyone in DHS. No one trusts anyone else and whatever sources might be left are shutting up. The threats that have been made far exceed anything I’ve ever seen. Good people are afraid for their lives and the lives of their families. We’ve all been threatened. They see the writing on the wall and are leaving. It’s not a joke and not hype.”

The following is a narrative from my source, prefaced with the instructions to “take it or leave it,” and “disregard it at your own peril.” He added that it’s now up to each American to act on the information themselves or suffer the consequences. “I’ve resigned myself to the fact that most [Americans] will never be convinced of the reality that is taking place right in front of them.”

The plan explained

“According to every internal document I’ve seen and read, and from the few people I’ve spoken with who understand what’s going on, preparations have been finalized to respond to a crisis of unprecedented magnitude within the United States. The response will include the use of lethal force against U.S. citizens under the instructions of Barack Obama.”  But why?

“‘It’s the economy, stupid,’” he began, paraphrasing a campaign slogan coined by James Carville for Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign.  ”Just as I disclosed in our first meeting, the crisis will be rooted in an economic collapse. I told you last year, at a time when gold and silver were setting record highs, one specific indicator that time is very short. It is the final ‘smack down’ of the metals, gold and silver, that will presage the orchestrated economic collapse that is being planned by the bankers of Wall Street. Everybody needs to understand that this is a deliberate collapse of the U.S. economy with the oversight of the White House and the full knowledge of the Justice Department.  Everyone seems to be waiting for some big, history making event that will signal the start of the collapse. The fact is that the collapse has already started. It’s incremental, like a snowball rolling down a hill. It gets bigger and rolls faster. Well, this snowball is well on its way down the hill.”

“I don’t mean to sound repetitive, by I can’t stress this enough. Contrary to what you hear, we’re already in an economic collapse, except that most people haven’t a clue. The ‘big bang’ comes at the end, when people they wake up one morning and can’t log in to their bank accounts, can’t use their ATM cards, and find out that their private pension funds and other assets have been confiscated,” he stated.

“I’ve seen documentation of multiple scenarios created outside of DHS. Different plans and back-up plans. Also, please understand that I deliberately used the word ‘created,’ as this is a completely manufactured event.  In the end it won’t be presented that way, which is extremely important for everyone to understand. What is coming will be blamed on some unforeseen event out of everyone’s control, that few saw coming or thought would actually happen. Then, another event will take place concurrent with this event, or immediately after it, to confuse and compound an already explosive situation.” I asked for specifics.

“As I said, there are several scenarios and I don’t know them all. I know one calls for a cyber-attack by an external threat, which will then be compounded by something far removed from everyone’s own radar. But it’s all a ruse, or a pretext. The threat is from within,” he stated. “Before people can regain their footing, a second event will be triggered.” Again, I asked for specifics.

“I’ve seen one operational plan that refers to the federal government’s response to a significant terrorist attack on U.S. soil. Information at these levels is compartmentalized. I don’t have specifics, just plans for the response. The response will be controls and restrictions on travel, business, and every aspect of our lives, especially gun ownership and speech that incites people against the government. I guess some people would call it Martial Law, and they would not be incorrect. But understand that this will be a process deployed in stages. How quickly of a process remains to be seen.”

The mechanics explained

As I said, people continue to look for something big to happen first, followed by a militaristic response by the federal government against U.S. citizens. Based on what I’ve seen, I don’t believe it will happen this way, although there is one unthinkable exception. That exception would involve a ‘decapitation’ of our leadership, but I’ve seen nothing even remotely suggestive of that. But I’ve heard and even read articles where that is mentioned. Frankly, though, that’s always been a threat. I suppose that if the leadership is deemed useless, or becomes a liability to the larger agenda in some manner,  it could happen. The precedent exists. Let’s pray that it’s not the case now.”

“I don’t think anyone except the initiated few know the precise series of events or the exact timing, just a general overview and an equally general time period. I think we’re in that period now, as DHS has their planned responses finalized. Also, the metals are important because it’s real money, not Ponzi fiat currency. The U.S. has no inventory of gold, so the prices are manipulated down to cause a sell-off of the physical assets. China is on a buying spree of gold, and other countries want their inventory back. The very people causing the prices to drop are the ones who are also buying the metals at fire sale prices. They will emerge extremely wealthy when the prices rise after the U.S. currency becomes wallpaper. A little research will identify who these people and organizations are.”

“I’d like to add a bit of perspective that might help explain the events as I described. Do you remember former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announcing that the Pentagon was unable to account for $ 2.3 trillion in the defense budget? That was on September 10, 2001, the day before the attacks of 9/11. Some suggest that 9/11 was  orchestrated, in part to cover up the missing money, which is ludicrous. The result, however, was that suddenly the accounting issue took a back seat because of the attacks. The result will be the same. That’s a perfect example of the mechanics of what we are about to experience. It’s going to take years to sort out, and when it’s finally sorted out, the damage will have long been done.”

“Please note a few final things. The relationship that exists between DHS today and the executive branch is well beyond alarming. DHS and other organizations have become the private army of the Oval Office. The NSA, and I’ve got contacts there, is taking orders from the Oval Office. The IRS is under the virtual control of the Oval Office in a manner that would make Nixon cower. Even though all roads appear to lead to the Oval Office, they lead through the Oval Office. It’s not just Obama, but the men behind him, the people who put him there. The people who put him there are the ones who created him.” I asked who created him.

“First, ask yourself why there was such an all out effort to marginalize anyone talking about Obama’s eligibility in 2008. Even so-called conservatives pundits fell for the lie that such questions were nothing more than a diversion. They were following a specific drumbeat. That should tell every rational adult that he is a creation of the globalists who have no allegiance to any political party. He is the product of decades of planning, made for this very time in our history. He was selected to oversee the events I just disclosed. Who has that ability? He’s a product of our own intelligence agencies working with the globalists. He should be exhibit ‘A’ to illustrate the need to enforce the Logan Act. Need I say more?”

As often said by another of my sources, the U.S. is a captured operation. The lie is bigger than most people realize or are willing to confront. That is, until there is no other option. By then, it might be too late.

This report was originally published by Douglass J. Hagmann at The Northeast Intelligence Network. You can follow Doug’s nightly broadcasts at the Hagmann and Hagmann Report.


SHTF Plan – When It Hits The Fan, Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You

What has Czar Putin been up to in recent weeks? Where is he headed in 2014?

What will Czar Putin do in 2014? (photo credit: Vasily Maximov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images/NYT)

What will Czar Putin do in 2014? (photo credit: Vasily Maximov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images/NYT)

(Washington, D.C.) — Vladmir Putin sees himself not so much as Russia’s president but as an old-time Czar for the modern age. All knowing. All powerful. Unchecked power. Determined to expand his territory and grow his power and personal wealth. This is what makes him so dangerous.

What has Czar Putin been up to in recent weeks, and where is he headed in 2014? Yesterday, the New York Times published an interesting article considering such questions. I commend it to your attention.

“President Vladimir V. Putin’s freeing of Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, Russia’s best-known prisoner, by swift, personal fiat capped a remarkable string of single-handed decisions of late,” reports the New York Times. “On Tuesday, he outmaneuvered the West for sway over financially troubled Ukraine with a unilateral decision to provide $ 15 billion in loans. On Wednesday, at his direction, Parliament passed an amnesty bill that could free thousands of prisoners. On Friday, he pardoned Mr. Khodorkovsky, the former Yukos oil tycoon and onetime aspiring political rival. That was just last week.”

Excerpts from this interesting article:

  • Earlier this month, Mr. Putin shocked Moscow’s political and media circles with a surprise announcement that he would remake RIA-Novosti, the semi-independent state news agency, under the direction of a Kremlin loyalist.       
  • The decisions demonstrate Mr. Putin’s singular ability not only to wield executive power but also to bend the legislative and judicial branches of government to his will, and to exert heavy control over the Russian news media.       
  • “What we are seeing is a president who has no limits on his power in a country that never was democratic, that never had anything called a balance of power — where one of the estates could balance the power of another,” said Vladimir Posner, one of Russia’s most prominent television journalists, with his own nightly show on Channel One, the premier government-controlled station.       
  • “There is no Fourth Estate,” he said. “And as a matter of fact there is no Second or Third Estate. There is just the First, just the presidency. That’s the way things are today in Russia.”       
  • As he prepares to begin his 15th year as Russia’s paramount political leader, Mr. Putin’s sweeping authority gives him far more leverage than his counterparts in the West to influence the course of events and, at times, to set the agenda in world affairs.       
  • In defiance of the United States, Russia granted temporary asylum to the former national security contractor Edward J. Snowden, with Mr. Putin portraying him as a whistle-blower.
  • Mr. Putin also averted an American military strike on Syria with a plan to disarm its chemical weapons.       
  • Yet all of his recent moves carry serious risks. Releasing Mr. Khodorkovsky could well set loose a vengeful rival, with the money and will to do everything possible to force Mr. Putin from power. The bailout of Ukraine could easily turn into a financial debacle, exacerbating Russia’s own creeping economic problems, should Ukraine continue stumbling toward default.       
  • And scrapping RIA-Novosti, a respected news agency, in favor of a replacement already being derided as a Soviet-style propaganda arm could undermine the credibility needed to cultivate the public image that Mr. Putin has sought for Russia as a re-ascendant power, able to challenge the West.       
  • Supporters of Mr. Putin say that his actions reflect sure-footed pursuit of a plan to build a greater Russia, evidenced by mega-vanity projects like the Sochi Olympics that will burnish the image of both the president and his country. A magnanimous gesture like freeing Mr. Khodorkovsky, they say, demonstrates his statesmanship and deflects any criticism of authoritarianism.
  • Critics say the recent moves are tactical, aimed at retaining power that is sure to slip as the flood of cash from the country’s vast fossil fuel reserves, which generated unprecedented wealth during his tenure, slowly recedes. By this view, Mr. Putin is impulsive and increasingly isolated, unchecked by opponents or even by formerly trusted advisers….
  • Experts said Russia’s slowing growth was another factor in Mr. Putin’s recent decisions, prompting him to take steps to improve the investment climate to attract foreign capital, as well as to lift his own popularity in case the economy takes a dive. In part because of a slowing economy and rising prices, Mr. Putin’s approval rating stands at 61 percent, its lowest point since 2000, the first year of his presidency, according to the Levada Center, a polling agency here.
  • Chris Weafer, a senior partner at Macro-Advisory, a consulting firm based in Moscow, said that the release of Mr. Khodorkovsky was a positive sign, but that more would be needed to reassure skittish foreign investors. “The reason investors are wary is not because of the arrest of Khodorkovsky 10 years ago,” he said. “It’s the corruption, the poor business climate, the perception that there is little respect for the rule of law.”
  • Sergei M. Guriev, a former rector of the New Economics School in Moscow, said in a telephone interview that he, too, believed that the president’s recent decisions had been dictated in part by economic challenges. “There is no external crisis, and yet the Russian economy is growing only at one-and-a-half percent a year,” he said. “Oil prices are high, and yet the Russian government is balancing the budget with difficulty. Not everything is going so well.”

————————


Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog

LEVIN: Uhm, History Tells Us That a President Does NOT Need to Have Been a Governor

Mark Levin drops some science on those who insist that the next president has served as a governor:

Lincoln is considered our greatest, if not our second greatest president by most. He was never a governor. He was never a senator. He was an extraordinary man, and he was a public man, and people knew much about him. The Lincoln-Douglas debates — and those weren’t the only debates! He gave some magnificent speeches too. But again, all that aside. My point is to categorize and say we have to have a person who’s served as governor because they make executive decisions. Okay great.

And that’ll be the strength of that candidate, should that candidate run. But thats not the test. The test is to get the right person. And the right person will make mostly the right decisions. Take a measure of the person. So if you have somebody who has been a governor, or just a garden variety Republican. Whether they’re a big-government Republican or a RINO. I don’t care if they’ve been a governor or not. I’m not interested. They have to come to the office or seek the office with a certain set of a principles and value that we share. Someone who is intelligent, confident, and articulate and knowledgeable, and has a capacity for the office. They’ve been governor, great. If they haven’t, fine.

Also: Democrats will never, ever, ever, ever be able to say a GOP candidate doesn’t have enough “experience” to serve as president.

Hat tip: BadBlue News.

Doug Ross @ Journal