Experts Cast Worried Eye on Ebola Spread

AFP | Ebola is historically rooted in Central Africa, although it has also caused past outbreaks in Uganda to the east.
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THE WAGES OF OPEN BORDERS: Experts say Colorado pot shops will be targeted by Mexican drug cartels

It would appear that the Mexican drug cartels — which operate freely in the United States thanks to Democrats’ open borders policies — are not big fans of the marijuana legalization effort.

Taking over a trade once ruled by drug cartels and turning it into an all-cash business could make pot shops prime targets for extortion, black-market competition and robbery. One veteran border narcotics agent told FoxNews.com Colorado’s legal pot industry will find it hard to keep the criminals from horning in on a lucrative business they once controlled.

“Mexico is already in Colorado without the risks,” the agent, who requested anonymity, said of the state’s heavy pre-existing cartel presence. “Legal businesses will likely see a rise in extortion attempts while law enforcement will see a lot of backdoor deals being made.”

“What is quite possible is that cartels will hire straw owners who have clean records who can apply for a license, then sell large quantities both legally and on the black market.”
– Denver DEA office spokesman Albert Villasuso

Cartels, especially the Juarez and Sinaloa, who have a strong presence in Colorado, could not have been happy with the estimated $ 1 million in sales Jan. 1, the first day of legalized retail sales. In 2012 the Mexican Competitiveness Institute issued a report saying that Mexico’s cartels would lose as much as $ 1.425 billion if Colorado legalized marijuana. The organization also predicted that drug trafficking revenues would fall 20 to 30 percent, and the Sinaloa cartel, which would be the most affected, would lose up to 50 percent.

Faced with such losses, the violent cartels could force their way in as black market wholesalers or simply rob pot dispensaries, which take only cash and have not been able to establish accounts with banks because of lenders’ fears of violating federal laws. But the general consensus is that the Mexican cartels will not quietly relinquish the Denver market.

…even if legal stores do face extortion efforts by cartel groups it is unlikely law enforcement will even be made aware of it if merchants are too frightened to come to police. Extortion has proven to be a lucrative ancillary enterprise for cartels in Mexico resulting in thousands of businesses closing rather than pay the quota, as it is called, or the store owners face the threat of death, which too has occurred.

But by all means, let’s grant amnesty to millions of illegals who’ve not had even a cursory background check, are defrauding our welfare, tax and medical systems to the tune of billions of dollars each year, and whose allegiances are completely unknown.

Hat tip: BadBlue News.

Doug Ross @ Journal

Experts Fear Nuclear Famine: “A Disaster So Massive in Scale that No Preparation is Possible”

nuke-famine

At last count, there are eight countries in the world that have officially designed, developed and tested nuclear weapons. Another two (Israel and Iran) deny they have built or are building such weapons, but the probability that Israel has them and that Iran is building them is believed by members of the international community to be extremely high.

That being said, it’s only a matter of time before a madman at the helm in any of these ten nuclear-armed states decides to push the button. With the global economy in shambles, the world’s super powers mobilizing military assets, and hundreds of trillions of dollars in unservicable debt soon to be realized by the financial community, how long before history rhymes with previous large-scale events that culminated in the fall of the Roman empire or the World Wars that  devastated tens of millions of lives in the 20th century?

War, it seems, is inevitable. Not just because of the many problems faced by mankind, but because of the nature of mankind itself.

Whether that war is a widespread nuclear conflict involving the world’s super powers, or a more limited event in the middle east involving Pakistan and India, according to a new report published by the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, a nuclear engagement (even a limited one) would lead to widespread destruction across planet earth, with at least 2 billion people at risk of starvation or death.

The kicker? The effects will be so long-lasting, according to the author of the study, that there’s pretty much nothing we can do to survive it:

The threat of nuclear war has been embedded in global consciousness since the invention of the atomic bomb. Most fears are focused on blast radius and radioactive fallout; but the long-term effects of a nuclear conflict could be far more concerning.

According to new research from the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and Physicians for Social Responsibility, a phenomenon known as “nuclear famine” is keeping experts up at night. The study estimates that more than 2 billion people are at risk.

Its author, Ira Helfand, says even a limited nuclear war could lead to “the end of civilization.”

Helfand theorizes it could occur in stages. The first is climate change. Existing literature shows that a regional nuclear war between India and Pakistan could drastically affect temperatures throughout the world. A 2007 study published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics predicts that the soot created by such an event could reduce temps by 1.25°C per year for at least a half-decade.

This would wreak havoc on global crops.

The final stage of this catastrophe is starvation.

With his best guess, Helfand breaks the at-risk into three groups: (a) 870 million people already facing malnourishment, (b) grain-importing nations, and (c) the entire population of China. The first group gets more than 75% of its nutrition from grain, and a significant portion would not be able to afford higher prices.

Grain-importing nations, like South Korea, Japan, most of North Africa, and the Middle East, would be hard hit by trading partners who suddenly decide to stop exporting. Additionally, China’s 1.3 billion citizens would use up their rice and wheat reserves in a few months, and international hoarding may make open-market purchases impossible.

As Helfand has said: ”This is a disaster so massive in scale that really no preparation is possible. We must prevent this.”

With the vast majority of the world’s nations still unable to build the bomb, a blanket approach could work. ICAN pleads that the “very survival of humanity depends on nuclear weapons never being used.”

Fool.com via IPNNW Study

The nuclear-armed nations of the world didn’t just build these weapons so they can look at them. Sure, our leaders may claim these weapons are merely deterrents designed to prevent war, but the fact is, advanced weaponry has always been used for the purposes of conquering. Our modern era is no different.

We came dangerously close during the Cuban missile crisis in the early 1960′s. Cooler heads prevailed that day.

And even if starting a war is unintentional, it could happen. On at least one occasion, in 1983, the United States and Russia were literally minutes away from a full-scale confrontation under both country’s policies of mutually assured destruction. It turns out that was a false alarm – but the world was almost destroyed as a result. This is one of the incidents we know about, and given the secrecy behind such military operations, it’s quite possible that there have been more.

The bottom line is that we must assume these weapons will be used at some point – that should be a given. What we don’t know is the scale of the nuclear engagement. It could be that Russia, the United States, Israel, China and North Korea just start lobbing intercontinental ballistic missiles by the hundreds, in which case we’re all pretty much toast. Or, it could be a limited war, with the conflict in India and Pakistan finally coming to a head.

Whatever the case, even if those dropped bombs detonate thousands of miles away from you, there is a strong likelihood that you will feel the direct effects in the form of an almost immediate climate change, food scarcity, extreme price rises, and the riots and looting that are sure to follow.

As with any disaster, whether its a nuclear war, global financial collapse, or a natural disaster, we can fully expect the worst of the worst. As the IPPNW report notes:

We would have to expect panic on a far greater scale following a nuclear war, even if it were a “limited” regional war,  especially as it became clear that there would be significant, sustained agricultural shortfalls over an extended period.

It is probable that there would be hoarding on an international scale as food exporting nations suspended exports in order to assure adequate food supplies for their own populations.

Though the report suggests it is impossible to prepare for such an event, one could argue that survival is certainly possible.

Assuming we survive the nuclear impact and fallout because we live in a strategic location (or just got lucky!), your most immediate concerns would be food, water and self defense, all of which must be considered before such an event occurs if you intend to improve your odds of survival.

Surviving a nuclear winter will, of course, not be easy. According to the report, two billion people could die as a result – probably within a matter of months or a year. A similar scenario would play out should a disaster like a Super EMP weapon or solar flare take out our national (or global) power grid.

Regardless of the disaster, the aftermath, like any crisis or emergency, is survivable.

From the standpoint of preparedness, this means having long-term food stores and a preparedness plan to go along with them. You’ll first need to survive the initial “die-off” as millions of people search for food and resources. Then, when your own food stores run out, you’ll need to be able to produce your own by way of micro-farming and raising your own livestock.

What it will boil down to is adaptability. We can’t predict what will happen or what we will face. But understanding the potential threats, how to mitigate them when they occur, and the options we have available should our best laid plans fail gives us a much better chance of surviving disasters than just pretending like they can’t ever happen.


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

14 Experts Predict Economic Catastrophe for 2014 and Beyond

Guest post by Michael Snyder

Some of the most respected prognosticators in the financial world are warning that what is coming in 2014 and beyond is going to shake America to the core. Many of the quotes that you are about to read are from individuals that actually predicted the subprime mortgage meltdown and the financial crisis of 2008 ahead of time. So they have a track record of being right. Does that guarantee that they will be right about what is coming in 2014? Of course not. In fact, as you will see below, not all of them agree about exactly what is coming next. But without a doubt, all of their forecasts are quite ominous. The following are quotes from Harry Dent, Marc Faber, Gerald Celente, Mike Maloney, Jim Rogers and nine other respected economic experts about what they believe is coming in 2014 and beyond…

Harry Dent, author of The Great Depression Ahead: “Our best long-term and intermediate cycles suggest another slowdown and stock crash accelerating between very early 2014 and early 2015, and possibly lasting well into 2015 or even 2016. The worst economic trends due to demographics will hit between 2014 and 2019. The U.S. economy is likely to suffer a minor or major crash by early 2015 and another between late 2017 and late 2019 or early 2020 at the latest.”

Marc Faber, editor and publisher of the Gloom, Boom & Doom Report: “You have to say that we are again in a massive financial bubble in bonds, in equities, in [other] asset prices that have gone up dramatically.”

Gerald Celente: “Any self-respecting adult that hears McConnell, Reid, Boehner, Ryan, one after another, and buys this baloney… they deserve what they get.

And as for the international scene… the whole thing is collapsing.

That’s our forecast.

We are saying that by the second quarter of 2014, we expect the bottom to fall out… or something to divert our attention as it falls out.”

Mike Maloney, host of Hidden Secrets of Money: “I think the crash of 2008 was just a speed bump on the way to the main event… the consequences are gonna be horrific… the rest of the decade will bring us the greatest financial calamity in history.”

Jim Rogers: “You saw what happened in 2008-2009, which was worse than the previous economic setback because the debt was so much higher. Well now the debt is staggeringly much higher, and so the next economic problem, whenever it happens and whatever causes it, is going to be worse than in the past, because we have these unbelievable levels of debt, and unbelievable levels of money printing all over the world. Be worried and get prepared. Now it [a collapse] may not happen until 2016 or something, I have no idea when it’s going to happen, but when it comes, be careful.”

Lindsey Williams: “There is going to be a global currency reset.”

CLSA’s Russell Napier: “We are on the eve of a deflationary shock which will likely reduce equity valuations from very high to very low levels.”

Oaktree Capital’s Howard Marks: “Certainly risk tolerance has been increasing of late; high returns on risky assets have encouraged more of the same; and the markets are becoming more heated. The bottom line varies from sector to sector, but I have no doubt that markets are riskier than at any other time since the depths of the crisis in late 2008 (for credit) or early 2009 (for equities), and they are becoming more so.

Financial editor Jeff Berwick: “If they allow interest rates to rise, it will effectively make the U.S. government bankrupt and insolvent, and it would make the U.S. government collapse. . . . They are preparing for a major societal collapse. It is obvious and it will happen, and it will be very scary and very dangerous.”

Michael Pento, founder of Pento Portfolio Strategies: “Disappointingly, it is much more probable that the government has brought us out of the Great Recession, only to set us up for the Greater Depression, which lies just on the other side of interest rate normalization.”

Boston University Economics Professor Laurence Kotlikoff: “Eventually somebody recognizes this and starts dumping the bonds, and interest rates go up, and inflation takes off, and were off to the races.”

Mexican Billionaire Hugo Salinas Price: “I think we are going to see a series of bankruptcies. I think the rise in interest rates is the fatal sign which is going to ignite a derivatives crisis. This is going to bring down the derivatives system (and the financial system).

There are (over) one quadrillion dollars of derivatives and most of them are related to interest rates. The spiking of interest rates in the United States may set that off. What is going to happen in the world is eventually we are going to come to a moment where there is going to be massive bankruptcies around the globe.”

Robert Shiller, one of the winners of the 2013 Nobel prize for economics: “I’m not sounding the alarm yet. But in many countries the stock price levels are high, and in many real estate markets prices have risen sharply…that could end badly.”

David Stockman, former Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan: “We have a massive bubble everywhere, from Japan, to China, Europe, to the UK. As a result of this, I think world financial markets are extremely dangerous, unstable, and subject to serious trouble and dislocation in the future.”

And certainly there are already signs that the U.S. economy is slowing down as we head into the final weeks of 2013. For example, on Thursday we learned that the number of initial claims for unemployment benefits increased by 68,000 last week to a disturbingly high total of 368,000. That was the largest increase that we have seen in more than a year.

In addition, as I wrote about the other day, rail traffic is way down right now. In fact, for the week ending November 30th, U.S. rail traffic was down 16.3 percent from the same week one year earlier. That is a very important indicator that economic activity is getting slower.

And we continue to get more evidence that the middle class is being steadily eroded and that poverty in America is rapidly growing. For example, a survey that was just released found that requests for food assistance and the level of homelessness have both risen significantly in major U.S. cities over the past year…

A survey of 25 American cities, including many of the nation’s largest, showed yearly increases in food aid and homelessness.

The cities, located throughout 18 states, saw requests for emergency food aid rise by an average of seven percent compared with the previous period a year earlier, according to the US Conference of Mayors study, published Wednesday.

All but four cities reported an increase in demand for assistance between the period of September 2012 through August 2013.

Unfortunately, if the economic experts quoted above are correct, this is just the beginning of our problems.

The next wave of the economic collapse is rapidly approaching, and things are going to get much worse than this.

So what do you think?

Which of the individuals quoted above do you think are right on the money and which ones do you think are way off base?

Read more at The Economic Collapse Blog

Doug Ross @ Journal

EXPERTS: Obscure Obamacare provision “gives people the green light to commit fraud”

Guest post by Tori Richards

Tucked inside nearly 11,000 pages of the Affordable Care Act is a little-known provision that doles out three months of free health care to individuals who choose to default on their premiums.

People who receive the federal subsidy to be part of Obamacare will be allowed to incur a three-month “grace period” if they can’t pay their premiums and then simply cancel their policies, stiffing the doctors and hospitals.

Their only repercussion is that they have to wait until the following year’s open enrollment if they want coverage on the exchange.

“It will help break the system,” said Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, one of a core group of Republicans who oppose Obamacare. “This is a huge piece of evidence to show this can’t work, you will break the system and bankrupt people involved.

“The hospitals, doctors and insurance companies will be left holding the bag. There will be disagreements over who will pay for what. Lawyers will get involved because we are talking about a lot of money,” he said.

Under Section 156.270 of the Affordable Care Act, the insured needs to pay a premium for just one month before qualifying for the three-month grace period. The insurance company must pay the claims during the first month of the grace period; during the second and third month doctors and hospitals are left to collect unpaid bills.

This loophole wasn’t lost on some unnamed individuals who queried the Department of Health and Human Services during an open comment period for the new law in 2011.

While officials at HHS did not respond to requests for comment on this story, they did offer a glimpse into their thinking in a March 27, 2012, report contained in the Federal Register.

“HHS will continue to explore options for incentivizing appropriate use of the grace period,” the register said. “HHS will monitor this issue moving forward and will continue to work on the development of policies to prevent misuse of the grace period.”

Experts say the federal government has given people the green light to commit fraud.

In a sense, it legalizes fraud,” said Wesley J. Smith, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute of Human Exceptionalism and a frequent critic of the Affordable Care Act. “It legalizes putting your burdens on the insurance companies’ shoulders and never paying your premiums. The government wants people to be irresponsible and apparently they want the whole system to descend into chaos.”

In Massachusetts, where a variation of Obamacare already exists, the problem already has emerged, said Devon Herrick, senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis.

“People are signing up and getting care and bailing out,” Herrick said. “I was talking to an insurance agent a few years ago (in Massachusetts). She said once a week she would get a call from a college girl who discovers she’s pregnant and wants health insurance. That’s an example of a condition that you can schedule.”

Some medical professionals are bracing themselves for the worst.

The Texas Medical Association is educating its members about the loophole and receiving feedback from worried doctors. Many in that state operate on a shoestring budget, sometimes taking out loans to stay in business.

“It’s pretty scary,” said Dr. Stephen Brotherton, president of the Texas Medical Association, and in private practice in Fort Worth. “I fix your torn ACL, you don’t pay for your insurance and three months later you’re off the rolls for non-payment.”

And any doctor who is paid by the insurance company during the last two months of the grace period will have to return that money, he said.

“Our overhead is about 50 percent; I get $ 100 and it costs me $ 50 to stay in business,” Brotherton said. “The most obvious solution is anything through the exchange, we’re not taking it.”

The California Medical Association has taken the step of notifying the American Bar Association about the situation.

“The more nefarious insureds may take advantage of HHS-acknowledged opportunities to game the grace period and get 12 months of coverage for the price of nine before simply enrolling in a new plan under (Obamacare’s) guaranteed issue requirements,” wrote Association associate director C. Brett Johnson.

He chronicled a potentially nightmarish situation for a doctor:

“For instance, an oncology practice generally purchases the drugs to be used in a course of chemotherapy up front — which can run into the tens of thousands of dollars — and is then reimbursed by the payor as part of the medical service. Costs such as these are on top of the costs of displacing other patients with coverage.”

So what can be done about this now? Not much, says Gohmert. Changing the law would require a signature by Obama, and Gohmert holds out no hope for that scenario.

“You have a president who says doctors are greedy — they do surgery just so they get the money,” Gohmert said. “That’s what the president said. That same president will certainly be willing to say, ‘Greedy doctors are demanding more money – we just need to have Washington take over all health care.’”

Contact Tori Richards at tori@watchdog.org and on twitter @newswriter2.

Doug Ross @ Journal