El Conquistqdor Francisco de Orellana

El Conquistqdor Francisco de Orellana
The Conquistador who put the Amazaon baisn "on the map"....Francisco Orellana

Monday, September 30, 2013

Bartering Coming of Age in the E-Century

Bartering Coming of Age in the E-Century

barterBartering is as old as man and has been around since the first caveman traded his animal pelts for a more efficient hunting weapon. Throughout most of man’s history, bartering has been the primary means of acquisition. Barter was, before currencies developed; and barter has always existed in one form or another as a parallel to monetary systems, even the Almighty US Dollar. Everyone has heard the stories of patients trading chickens for medical services from the local country doctors. Some may even wish that this was so today, but doctors are largely insulated from negotiating their bills by forming medical groups, with sometimes as many as three hundred doctors participating. [Aside, perhaps this is why today most patients are merely regarded as case-numbers by modern docs, rather than people with needs. Negotiating bills might have been a concrete means of identifying with people rather than case-numbers.]
Bartering was especially popular in the heyday of the Back-to-the-Land Movement of the 1970’s when many magazines such as Mother Earth News, Countryside and Small Stock Journal, Organic Farming and Gardening, all had great barter sub-categories in their classified section. Everything from caretaking farms for free room and board, to honey for chickens and eggs was fair game in these advertisements. Most bartering was successful because essentially it was an exchange of a need for a need by two (and sometimes more) individuals without the use of currency. The trouble was, and remains so, that bartering is a skill.  Like any other skill it is refined, developed, and honed through practice. Since most people are used to dealing in known currencies with a relatively known and stable value recognized by all, the need to ascertain values is circumvented.
Barter on the other hand, is based on need; therefore the more one needs an item the dearer the value. So different people trading for the same item may put different values on the item, depending on need and the circumstances of the exchange, thus it is vital that those involved in the exchange have a similar notion of the value. This entails knowing the market and the item. With money, a known value, it is not necessary to any great degree to be aware of these things.
In my previous corporate life I was a Contract Negotiator among other things, and was therefore trained in the art of negotiations. Indeed, there was even some barter involved in many of these negotiations depending on the country. I once recall negotiating with the nation of Malta for the goods that country produced in exchange for coal and calcined petro coke. Unfortunately for Malta, there was not much demand for the goods they had available, after all, how could I have convinced my boss that net ton of coal was equivalent to a pallet of diapers … no joke.  But I digress.
Now with uncertainties in the various economies of the world and the advancement of egalitarian communications such as the Internet I believe that conditions are poised for a resurgence of the Art of Barter. This is especially true where the so-called PIGS nations are concerned. Many of these nations are going through unprecedented austerities which have reduced them to acquiring the basic necessities of life. In these countries black-markets are rapidly developing and since the home-grown currencies are essentially worthless barter of goods and services is an integral part of daily life. Argentina, has since the late 1990’s, been in this situation and many of the citizens have become quite adept at trading.
Today, even in the West alternatives to cold cash are rapidly forming. The Bitcoin, though I admittedly know little of its mechanics, is becoming so popular that many governments are restricting it use, making it almost the tantamount to counterfeiting. In more popular venues, like EBay and Craigslist, there are sections which deal in trade and barter. Additionally, there are websites like these that specialize in items and services like: Elance to sell our skills; Freecycle to recycle unused items: and now there are new services that allow users to sublet their stuff: like AirBnB, which allows you to rent out a room in your house; Lyft for carpooling; or RelayRidesto rent out your car for an hour; or Snap Goodsto rent out idle tools or anything else. In modern parlance barter economies are also known as, peer-to-peer economies, or sharing economies and in Libertarian circles it is known as Agorism, although each of these include such concepts as local farmers markets, and various cooperatives.
As the economies slip and the banksters and governments are using nefarious means of absconding with the people’s hard-earned savings in the form of bail-ins and seizing of pensions and retirement accounts, popular alternatives like black-markets and barter are springing into place. Perhaps barter and trading are skills that preppers and homesteaders should begin to cultivate before times get too tough.
In the end the new grassroots economies forming are not really new but were and are encompassed within Distributism and the Catholic Social Teaching of Subsidiarity, that is, dealing on the most local level is the most efficient, as timely needs can be met as soon as they are apparent. Certainly, as we read the headlines this is definitely something to consider.
Richard of Danbury, D.S.G.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Dilemma of the Almanac

The Dilemma of the Almanac

almanacJust as we say that spring has sprung come April, we can say that fall has descended come late September. Fall is generally the time when the autumn colors of hardy chrysanthemums begin to pop-up on the nursery shelves, it is the time of vibrant Indian Summer, and also, when ubiquitous political placards begin to emerge on the front lawns. Fall is also the time of the publication of the various almanacs for the coming year.
The word almanac derives from the Greek word almenichiaka, which means calendar. The earliest almanacs were calendars that included agricultural, astronomical, or meteorological data. An almanac is an annual publication that includes information such as weather forecasts, farmers' planting dates, tide tables, and tabular information often arranged according to the calendar. Astronomical data and various statistics are found in almanacs, such as the times of the rising and setting of the sun and moon, eclipses and other astronomical events, hours of high and low tide, stated festivals of the Church, and so on. In former times, before the emergence of electronic communications these almanacs held a special place, not only for farmers, coastal mariners, and other outdoorsy types but for common folk in general. Their place in the past was much like the place of our annual calendars that we hang in the kitchen. They were a practical household reference for important information that may have been vital to wellbeing.
Almanacs have been around in some form or another since Old Testament times in a myriad of civilizations ranging from the Persians, to the Greeks, and on to the Hebrews. Essentially, they are sets of informational tables based on experiential history, which is, based on common human experience of various cycles of nature. While little more than curiosities and quaint knowledge to modern urban and suburban dwellers, for the small-holding homesteader and backyard gardeners they still offer a wealth of information from which garden, husbandry, harvest, and other activities benefit.
I’m sure we’ve all seen various publications of the “Almanac” but most of us don’t realize that here in the US there are at least four such publications: Farmer’ Almanac, published by Almanac Publishing Company of Lewiston ME; The Old Farmer’s Almanac, published by Yankee Publishing Incorporated, (also publishers of Yankee Magazine), of Dublin, NH; Harris’s Farmer’s Almanac, published by Harris Publications, of NY, NY; and finally, Blum’s Farmers and Planter’s Almanac, published by Blum’s Almanac Co., of Winston-Salem, NC.
Since no two products are ever quite the same, over the past few years I’ve bought all four publications to see which most suits my particular needs. However, at approximately $6 per issue buying each almanac can get pricey when one is on a budget. Below is my review of each starting with my own favorite proceeding to least favorite; giving the reasons why I favor or dislike each.
Blum’s Farmer’s and Planter’s Almanac – This is quite a user friendly almanac that has tabular information centralized in summary on the weather forecast pages by month. In addition, they have the fishing forecasts provided in a separate table. This almanac although predominantly geared to a more Southern readership is by far the most rural. While some tables are skewed to a more southerly climate, us Yankees can appropriately compensate. Like the other almanacs there is advertising but it is minimal and more geared to the rural, small-holding constituency. One of the better features is that the calendar is arranged according to the old liturgical calendar and illustrates the whole concept of Catholic Rural Solutions of living an agrarian life based on the Sacraments of the Church. For me this is by far the better of all the other almanac publications. It is not as readily available here in New England, and I suspect even in the northern Mid-Atlantic States, but it is easily found in large book and magazine outlets like Barnes & Noble or from a direct subscription.
Harris’ Farmer’s Almanac – This is a runner-up to my favorites and took considerable time and study to separate as my second favorite. Overall it is not as intuitive as the Blum’s Farmer’s and Planter’s Almanac but it comes close. It has all the features of the other almanacs and like Blum’s it is more appealing to rural small-holding homesteaders. Again, while there are fewer ads they are more directed to a rural and serious homesteader. If you elect to get two different almanacs Harris’ Farmer’s Almanac would be a good secondary subscription.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac – Here we have my third choice for almanacs largely because it begins to step away from the purist rural aspects of almanacs. It begins to get a little trendy, in my humble opinion, as can be seen in the ads. It tries to straddle the fence between serious small holding homesteading and pop-culture types of magazines, but captures the flavor of neither. It has all the features of the other almanacs though not arranged to may liking. It, like all the others, has great articles, but that doesn’t cut it in my book.
Farmer’s Almanac – Here is the granddaddy of all the old almanacs, nominally the oldest in publication, but I suspect it has come a long way from the useful fare of the frugal New England Swamp Yankee farmer. It is by far the hippest of the almanacs and features “hot & trendy” topics and articles; just what you’d expect of Yankee Magazine publishers. Its target market seems to be the stylish and trendy yuppies and back-to-land wannabes. Like the other almanacs it has many of the same tables and in that respect is quite useful, but if money is a consideration go for Blum’s Farmer’s and Planter’s Almanac or Harris’ Farmer’s Almanac first.
At the end of the day, my money is on Blum’s Farmer’s and Planter’s Almanac. It has all the bells and whistles but is arranged more handily. Its target market would seem to be serious frugal homesteaders, though there is overlap with some of the trendier-types finding some appeal to it. Basically, it is folksier. As a comparison, I liken the Blum’s Farmer’s and Planter’s to the original Organic Farming and Gardening Magazine as was published under the original Rodale family members, as compared to the renamed Organic Gardening magazine. Much like the original Mother Earth News compared the recent issues found today, I believe their original mission, purpose, goal, and target market has changed the latter two almanacs on my list are like the new Mother Earth News and Organic Gardening.
Essentially, as in most of life’s endeavors, we must find our niche in order to survive. Each of the above, though all almanacs, appeal to a different target market and each seems to have settled into their own market niches rather nicely. For the serious homesteader, though, Blum’s is the one to buy. All are now on newsstands as this is written.
 Richard of Danbury, D.S.G.

What???? Getting to the new airport in 30 minutes!!!!


Metro de Quito


The Quito metro will stretch from stations Quitumbe to El Labrador with capacity to transport up to 400,000 passengers/d. The line will run 22km with 15 stations and connect to existing transport corridors at 37km/h. The system will operate using 18 electric trains and 130 rail cars. Passengers will be able to travel north from Quitumbe to the Mariscal Sucre airport in 30 minutes, a route which currently takes two hours.

Importance of Crop Rotation on Small Holdings

Crop Rotation is Wise Husbandry of the Land

crop-rotationMany of us learned about the importance of farmland crop rotation in grade school. Generally, it was taught in the context of the 20th Century Dustbowl, that is, at least to us urban and suburban Baby Boomers. However, the treatment of this was rather shallow and other than the concept, most of us, even longtime gardeners, have little understanding of how it works in detail, to say nothing of implementing it in our own garden regime and technique. Crop rotation is not just for large family farms but should be part of a healthy and prolific backyard and small holding garden.
BTW, although the Big-Ag does pay lip service to crop rotation, they generally rely on massive doses of inorganic chemical fertilizers and nutrients to sustain marketable yields. They generally maximize the years between rotation as much as possible skirting the edge of massive crop failure. It is just another example of leadership just kicking the can down the road a little further. Sooner or later the consequences of such poor agricultural practice will manifest.
To get beyond the mere concept of our youth we mustn’t plant the same crops, year after year, in the same plot, row, or bed. However, most people make the mistake of planting crops of the same family in succession. As an instance, where you last year planted tomatoes this year you will plant eggplant. Yes, you’ve not successively planted the same plant but your planted two plants from the same family, that is, the Nightshade family. With minor differences these two different plants utilize the same nutrients and therefore, deplete the soil of the same minerals and nutrients decreasing the overall fertility of the plot where they are grown.
So exactly how do we avoid this? The most effective way is to plant successive planting of vegetables into six recognized plant groups, they are as follows:
            Crop Rotation Plant Groups
[ Group I ]
• Cucurbitaceae (Gourd Family)
– Cucumber
– Watermelon
– Cantaloupe
– Honeydew Melon
– Summer Squash
– Winter Squash
– Pumpkin
[ Group II ]
• Cruciferae (Mustard Family)
– Cabbage
– Broccoli
– Cauliflower
– Kohlrabi
– Collard
– Kale
– Brussels Sprouts
– Chinese cabbage
– Turnip
– Radish
• Chenopodiaceae (Beets Family)
– Swiss Chard
– Spinach
• Compositae (Sunflower Family)
– Lettuce
– Globe Artichoke
– Jerusalem Artichoke
[ Group III ]
• Solanaceae (Nightshade Family)
– Tomato
– Pepper
– Eggplant
– Potato
• Convolvulaceae (Morning-glory Family)
– Sweet potato
• Malvaceae (Cotton Family)
– Okra
[ Group IV ]
• Alliaceae (Allium Family)
– Onion
– Garlic
– Leek
– Shallot
• Chenopodiaceae (Beets Family)
– Beets
• Umbelliferae (Parsley Family)
– Celery
– Carrot
– Parsnip
– Parsley
[ Group V ]
• Gramineae (Grass Family)
– Sweet corn
[ Group VI ]
• Leguminosae (Pea/Bean Family)
– Snap Bean
– Pea
– Cowpea
– Black-eyed Pea
Within each of the groups the plants generally have similar insect, disease, and soil nutritional content characteristics. Thus a disease like tomato mosaic can affect the successive planting of potatoes, eggplant, peppers, or tobacco. This cycle of disease progression can be severed by planting any one of the other food groups in rotation after harvest of the current vegetable.
In addition to this plan, it is also a good idea to let the plot, bed, or row lie fallow for a year, that is, without planting anything, every three to five years. During this fallow period you can apply goodly amount of compost and natural soil minerals and nutrients to prepare for the subsequent year. You will find that when done properly and consistently your yields will improve from year to year. To determine soil fertility it is important to regularly have your soil analyzed by your local agricultural agency, which can be done for a nominal fee. I generally, have this done in spring when the ground can be worked, which generally is early to mid-March.
For other details of soil and soil nutrition please consult past issues of Catholic Rural Solutions.
Richard of Danbury, D.S.G.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

We Took a Gamble on Ecuador

By Donald Murray
"How could you have possibly moved to Ecuador without ever visiting?"
My wife Diane and I get that question fairly frequently. As a former military guy, I was accustomed to being told where I was going to live. I learned early on to bloom where I was planted. So, while I certainly wouldn’t suggest that everyone follow our lead, it’s worked out great for us.
Our journey to Ecuador started a few years ago. First the bottom fell out of the U.S. economy...and the equity in our home vanished in a few months. Then I had my second heart attack and lost my job—just about the time that retirement was looming. With the loss of our home equity and the rapid depletion of our small nest egg, we began to look for other opportunities to rescue our retirement on our fixed income.
We first considered Stateside locations but found nothing that fit what we sought with regard to our budget and desired lifestyle. I did not want to be one of those folks who needed to work until death just to squeak by, so we expanded our search to include the entire globe.
Having lived in Alaska for many years as well as Florida, we felt a bit like Goldilocks. We wanted a climate that was neither too hot nor too cold. We wanted to be close to an ocean. We also wanted a relatively safe environment with a stable government and currency...an accessible and affordable health care system...affable people...and a culture that was accepting of North Americans. Last but not least, we sought an affordable cost of living.
Our search turned up a few places, such as Mexico, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and a few others that didn’t ring our bells...until we discovered Ecuador.
Diane and I talked of an exploratory trip...but after a brief discussion, we decided it wasn’t necessary. We had each traveled internationally—so we knew we were both adaptable—and had seen Central America and Mexico. I had also seen Asia and Australia. And because we knew we could always return to the States...we were happy to commit to Ecuador.
Thanks to some friends we met through the Internet, we selected the Bahia de Caraquez/San Vicente area—on the Pacific Coast—as a landing zone. From there, we reasoned, we could explore the coast, north and south, and make a more permanent selection. Our friends arranged a great condo for us in a nice, small enclave in San Vicente.
When we got to San Vicente, Manabi province, we loved it. Nestled between the Bay of Caraquez—where the wide Chone River empties into the Pacific Ocean—and the rolling coastal hills, the small town is an example of a true, small Ecuadorian fishing and farming community where the people work mostly with their hands to earn a living.
Fish vendors sell their daily catch from makeshift stands along the sidewalks or in the large, open market on the outskirts of town. Fresh fruits and vegetables can be bought all along the main street. From almost anywhere in this small community, one has a stunning view of the Bay of Caraquez and the striking skyline of Bahia de Caraquez on the other side.
As luck would have it, we found nothing we liked better and now San Vicente is still our home.
San Vicente Ecuador
Living here, I have much more time to slow down and enjoy life. In my spare time, I write and have recently published a Kindle e-book called "Our Ecuador Retirement...The First 8 Months" about our experience.
So while not everyone can make an international move without visiting their prospective home first, for me and Diane, it worked out fantastically. From past experience, we know we will bloom wherever we are planted...and if we don’t like a place, we can always try another.
After all, nothing in this life is permanent...and there are a whole lot of adventures just waiting to be experienced.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Expats reveal why they fell in Love with Ecuador......

Out of all the countries International Living writes about, one in particular shines. It’s topped our Global Retirement Index—our pick of the 22 best countries to retire in the world—five years in a row...has a temperate climate year-round...offers a higher quality of life at an affordable price (cost of living can be as low as $900 a month)...and has a city, town or village to suit every taste or budget.
There’s a lot to love about living in Ecuador...and all the expats we’ve spoken to have fallen hard.
—That includes IL’s two longest-serving editors, Dan Prescher and Suzan Haskins. They’ve been living in and traveling to this beautiful country on-and-off for the past 12 years.
What was it that appealed to them about Ecuador?
"If you’ve ever been here, you’d know the answer to that," Suzan explains. "It has miles of unspoiled beaches. Rich rainforest. The amazing Galapagos Islands. Historic colonial cities, and clean and healthy rural villages...
"It doesn’t hurt that Ecuador boasts extraordinary weather. No down parkas or snow shovels needed here. In its cities, you’ll find great restaurants and shopping—a truly first-class infrastructure and excellent hospitals.
"And then, of course, there’s Ecuador’s famous affordability. You don’t need a massive income to live well in Ecuador."
Though Suzan and Dan left Ecuador for a few years to try life in other Latin American counties...they couldn’t stay away.
"We tried out a couple of other places," Suzan says. "But none of them felt quite like home. So, we came back to Ecuador for a visit... and now we’re back for good. When we add up all that Ecuador has to offer, no other place matches up."
—Suzan and Dan are not the only people who have compared Ecuador to other Latin American countries...and declared it a winner. When Diane McVicker and her best friend Sharri were suddenly laid off from their office jobs in their late 50s, they decided to look abroad for a place where two retired women could live safely, affordably and comfortably.
"We narrowed our list of probable places to three: Ecuador, Panama and Costa Rica. But there was something about Ecuador that kept drawing us to it. Cost-of-living wise, it looked like a much better location for two retired women. And Ecuador has such a varied climate, with the mountains and coastal areas and amazing diversity of ecosystems that our choice of where to live was very varied."
The variety was so great that the pair decided not to settle... They now split their time between living on the country’s Pacific Coast and the colonial city of Quito.
—A change in the job market was what prompted Edd Staton and his wife Cynthia to make the move to Ecuador, too. After being downsized in their 50s, the couple began a search that led them to a city they had never heard of: the colonial city of Cuenca. Far from struggling to pay bills or having to search for replacement employment, the couple today loves how they can enjoy the finer things in life...for much less.
"On a budget of around $1,800 per month, Cynthia and I live in a beautiful two-story penthouse apartment with expansive views of the city," Edd says.
"We can spontaneously decide to catch a $2 taxi to enjoy a free symphony performance, then stroll home in the cool evening air. I can call any of our doctors on their personal cell phones to make a $25 appointment to see them today—no waiting around.
"And we have a healthier lifestyle here, too, with fresh, inexpensive produce readily available at markets throughout the city and good, filling lunches abounding from as little as $2."
—For John Curran and his partner Sue, it was love at first sight when they scoped out Ecuador as a retirement destination. The couple today lives in Vilcabamba, a mountainous area, nicknamed "The Valley of Longevity" for its long-living residents. It ticked every box on the couple’s retirement list...and then some.
"We were looking for a rural mountain setting, good weather, a healthy environment, access to clean water, good food, a population that spoke either English or Spanish, Internet access, a bit of land, and just enough of a house so we could live on the property while renovating," John explains.
"After researching various properties on five continents over five years, we found just what we were looking for in Ecuador: so much so that we agreed to buy our property five minutes after seeing it on our first day ever in South America. We hadn’t even seen the nearby town of Vilcabamba yet."
While John doesn’t recommend buying a property outright so quickly, for Sue and him, it’s a decision they’ve never regretted.
"In Ecuador we found one of the most beautiful and bio-diverse countries in the world," he says. "And with a low cost of living, a government that leaves us alone, and some of the friendliest people you’re ever likely to meet, Ecuador more than exceeded our expectations."
If you think Ecuador is just the kind of place you could love, too, then good news. We’re about to introduce you to the network of people who can guide you from where you are now...to enjoying the good life in Ecuador.
Bringing together the best experts and expats we know in Ecuador, this community will help you navigate the tricky stuff—like securing residence and visas...finding the best locales for your taste...acquiring top-quality health care...and availing of the retirement program that could see your costs slashed in Ecuador—and show you everything you need to know to do it quickly, easily and safely.
We very rarely open up membership to this well-connected group. Today we’ll open the doors to you...but only until Friday. Don’t delay. Ask to join today.
Erica Mills
Managing Editor, IL Postcards

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The railway line that keeps on rolling

On the road: In Ecuador

 Robert Kunstaetter 


 As I boarded the modern, glass-encased railway carriage I couldn't help but

 As I boarded the modern, glass-encased railway carriage I couldn't help but
think that this had not always been a tourist train. I first rode these rails 25 years ago on the roof of some 1920s-vintage rolling stock. At the time, wheels screeched, Andean scenery lurched and swayed around me, and I hung on for dear life. These thrills came to an abrupt end in 2007, when two tourists were decapitated by an overhead wire and riding the roof was prohibited.

At the dawn of the 20th century this was not a tourist train at all. Rather it was Ecuador's pride and joy, the result of an internationally acclaimed 11-year effort by president Eloy Alfaro and US entrepreneur Archer Harman. Alongside Alfaro's sweeping liberal reforms, these rails carried the country into the new century.
It is a spectacular 464km line with a unique set of switchbacks to climb the daunting slope known as the Devil's Nose. It runs from Durán, outside the port city of Guayaquil, up to Ecuador's capital, Quito, at 2,850m above sea level. The line first passes through 87km of delta lands and then, in another 80km, climbs to 3,238m, before reaching Riobamba in the heart of Ecuador's "Avenue of the Volcanoes". The highest point is 3,619m, after which the line falls and rises on its way to Quito.

The G&Q railway remained the backbone of transportation in Ecuador for more than 60 years, but time and neglect eventually took their toll and by the turn of the millennium only a few short segments remained in service. There was often talk of reviving the railway but only in 2007 did the current government, ideological heir of President Alfaro, undertake this task.

The line from Durán to Quito reopened earlier this year. From new concrete ties to the modern rolling stock, this is unquestionably a formidable achievement, but what remains unclear is the purpose of the refurbished railway. For it still offers only a series of short – still spectacular but no longer cheap – tourist rides, plus an all-inclusive four-day/three-night package priced at US$1,270 (£850). Was this the dream of Eloy Alfaro and Archer Harman?

Footprint's 'Ecuador & Galápagos Dream Trip' is out now, priced £9.99 (footprinttravelguides.com


Friday, September 6, 2013

Map: Where You Don’t Want to Be When It Hits the Fan

When it hits the fan America’s population centers will explode in violence, looting, and total breakdown of law and order.

It’s a theory put forth by numerous survival and relocation specialists, and one that makes complete sense if you consider what happens in a truly serious collapse-like scenario.
Survival Blog founder James Rawles calls them the golden horde:
Because of the urbanization of the U.S. population, if the entire eastern or western power grid goes down for more than a week, the cities will rapidly become unlivable. I foresee that there will be an almost unstoppable chain of events:
Power -> water -> food distribution -> law and order -> arson fires -> full scale looting
In his recent documentary Strategic Relocation, retreat expert Joel Skousen echoes Rawles’ warnings:
The number one threat that I concentrate on. It’s not terrorism, it’s not natural disaster, it’s not even government or war.
The major threat is population density.
Because every crisis that threatens, even a local crisis, can turn exponential because of close proximity to people who cannot help themselves. Even good people panic in a crisis…
So, where should you be when it happens?

To find the answer, let’s consider where we shouldn’t be.
Recent U.S. census data indicates that out of the 3000 counties in the United States, fully 50% of the population lives in just 146.

If you want to have any chance of surviving a wide-spread catastrophic event by avoiding the hordes that will be searching for critical resources in its aftermath, then check out the following map to get a visual reference of the areas you want to stay away from.
(For a complete list of the counties highlighted on this map click here)
When considering your retreat locations or emergency evacuation routes, be familiar with the population densities of the area you’re headed to, as well as those counties in your immediate vicinity.

In his book Patriots, James Rawles specifically points out that Highway 80, running through California, will be one of the busiest evacuation routes in the country as millions of people pour out of major cities to flee disaster or in search of  food.

So, no matter where you are located, consider your proximity to high traffic thoroughfares going in and out of the city. During Hurricane Rita, which hit Houston several years ago, every major pipeline out of the city was jammed for hundreds of miles. Interstate 45 from Houston to Dallas was bumper to bumper traffic. Normally a 4 hour trip, those who didn’t evacuate in time were stuck on the highway without food, gas, sanitation, or potable water for upwards of 15 hours.

This is why Joel Skousen suggests that those looking for strategic retreat locations or homes outside of major cities consider highway proximity. Be at least 5 – 7 miles away from any major thoroughfare, which is generally outside the range people want to venture off familiar roads, and far enough away to make any ‘walkers’ too tired to attempt the trip without ample clean water and food.

If you have no choice but to be in a major metro area during a serious emergency situation, consider strategies that can help you remain sustainable in the city even in the midst of panic.

 Mac Slavo
September 5th, 2013

Seeds of Destruction

Keeping up with the news in the U.S.A from Richarde of Danbury.....

While We Slept Seeds of Destruction Were Sown

…But while men were asleep, his enemy came and oversowed cockle among the wheat and went his way. (Matt 13:25)

 Deceit, corruption, cronyism, and special interest has always been the watchwords of the American Political System from the birth of our nation; now however, it is so ingrained that it can be regarded, as businessmen call it, simply a custom of the trade. While it seems our alleged two party system of Democrats and Republicans ostensibly disagree on issues, in reality they are merely two sides of the same coin. Take, for instance, the whole Syrian situation. We now have prominent Republics calling for uniting behind the President, despite only 9% of the American people being behind any attack on Syria. …but I digress. The matter at hand has seemingly less effect but actually represents the ongoing struggle for the populous’ access to healthy food.

Way back in March, 2013 the President signed a bill passed by Congress designed to fund government function through this September, 2013. House Resolution 933, a 587-page emergency spending bill passed to avert a government shutdown. Since HR 933 had to pass, it got larded up with a lot of special interest pork deals, including Section 735, a cheap play to be sure, known as the “Monsanto Rider” or the “Monsanto Protection Act.”
Section 735 appeared mysteriously — without benefit of debate — while the House bill was under review by the Senate Appropriations Committee. It orders the Department of Agriculture to ignore any federal court decisions that would block use of USDA-approved seed containing Genetically Modified Organisms.
The result is that GMO crop seed, most significantly corn and soybean (predominantly Monsanto seed for crops resistant to Monsanto’s Round-up herbicide) already in the ground can stay in the ground, no matter what any court might say. The language relieves Missouri-based Monsanto and a handful of other seed and fertilizer companies of a great deal of risk.
While the legislation is only designed to last until now, September, 2013, (unless the funding is extended), it sets a bad precedent for law; and though most Americans are unaware, US laws at all levels are extensively based on precedent. SO unless a court rules such language of Section 735 as unconstitutional, it can go on and on and even be converted into permanent law.
It is interesting that one of the chief sponsors of the bill is Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. additionally; the bill also took money away from a school breakfast program to ensure that fewer meat inspectors would be laid off because of federal budget cuts. This assures big poultry operations, like Tyson Foods and Perdue Farms, that while a few children may have to skip breakfast, their business will not suffer unduly from budget cuts.

By sheer coincidence, Tyson is headquartered in Arkansas, the home state of Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, chairman of the Agriculture appropriations subcommittee. The new chairman of the full appropriations committee is Sen. Barbara Mikulski, Democrat of Maryland. Guess which state Perdue Farms calls home?It’s amazing that the Republicrats can get on so well when money is on the table.
While Jesus’ parable of the Wheat and the Tares left the fruits to mature only to be separated at harvest with the tares tossed in the fire, the consequences of this deception perpetrated by our Congress will affect the finances and health of the innocent American people. Not to worry, however, most Americans will simply read this and then flip on the tube, eat some GMO chips, and drink GMO tainted beers made from wheat. In the Orient they call this karma, however I prefer the phrase: what goes around comes around, meaning such outlandish deceptions are the result of the electorate’s apathy.
Richard of Danbury, D.S.G.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

How to make wads upon wads of cash... South American style...

Peter Coyne, seeking investment shelter from D.C.’s crooks and mobsters....

 "Here's how McCain's tweet should have read:" writes one reader, referencing John McCain's photo in yesterday's episode. Recall he was caught playing poker during the committee hearing on the pending Syrian strike.

"Scandal! Caught playing iPhone game at hearing debating whether or not to launch a strike that will likely kill thousands of people fighting against al-Qaida, possibly starting WWIII and borrowing more money to do it. LOL!"

C'mon… His hands were tied. We all know John would've sent a more forthright tweet if it weren't for Twitter's 140-character limit...

OK, truth is the 140-character element of Twitter is a politician's godsend. It's a short, sweet and completely deceptive way to communicate. The perfect tool for pulling a mob job on America, just like the one our own Chris Mayer detailed for you yesterday.

Oh, that reminds us…

"A deal's a deal," writes Chris this morning. We're happy to report that we crossed over our petition's 1,500-signature threshold early this morning. Now Chris will share what we believe is the safest way you can build wealth. He's agreed to unlock your access to the "Chaffee Royalty Program."

Now, here's the important part…

To access these four royalty plays, you need to be in your seats tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m. You'll receive an email with the subject line, "The Chaffee Royalty Program, Revealed."

If you want the first crack at Chris' "Chaffee Royalty Program" that has turned every $1 invested into $50… keep your eyes peeled for that email tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m. Inside you'll find the full details of how to get started with Chris' royalty plays right away.

In anticipation, Chris makes the "Case for Royalties" in today's episode. Given, the choppy waters the markets are sailing into the next few weeks, his analysis couldn't be more timely. More on that below…

Back to what we were writing about...

"I think Chris Mayer missed something in yesterday's mob job essay," writes one reader. "The Fed is the biggest mob job in the history of the world. We all live in a debtors' prison. We work so that the super-rich people can live high on the hog. The Federal Reserve System is set up -- probably not intentionally -- so the amount of money in circulation is controlled by the very few…"

We would add that they try their best to control the money in circulation… Carla Salazar reported in The Huffington Post this morning that Peruvian teenagers seem to be cutting in on the action.

A 13-year-old Peruvian boy was arrested after being found with a sack of $700,000 in counterfeit bills. He was able to show police how it was done. Peru is now the No. 1 dollar counterfeiter. $103 million in counterfeit bills has been confiscated in Peru in the last 10 years. Fifty percent of that has been since 2010.

"Counterfeiters earn up to $20,000 in real currency for every $100,000 in false bills they produce, after expenses," HuffPo quotes an investigator from Peru's fraud division saying. In one week, counterfeiters are able to produce $600,000 worth of bills.

$120,000 profit for a week's work? We'd say Peruvians have a case for counterfeiting.

There's a three-step process: Computer design, stamp etching and applying varnish. Then they're given texture and sanded. Add a Peruvian homespun touch -- using syringes, needles and glue to put security strips on bills -- and poof, you've got a greenback.

Chalk it up to cheap labor… We think it's a riot that even America's specialty export, the U.S. dollar, is being "made in Peru." And we can safely assume that the counterfeiters won't be "tapering" anytime soon…

The Fed's a different story.

We have two weeks till we find out if taper talk is for naught. The Fed's latest Beige Book for the upcoming FOMC meeting Sept. 17-18 rehashed stale points. Consumer spending is up. Growth is "moderate" or "modest." Inflation is still low, and the employment situation is still lagging.

"Let's put these clues together," writes Chris Mayer in today's episode of The Daily Reckoning. "We have another fiscal crisis imminent with a looming debt ceiling drama. We have a Federal Reserve that is already doing a huge and unsustainable amount of 'stimulus' buying. And we have an economy far weaker than it's been in a more than a decade despite the bluster over GDP."

And he forgot to mention Syria…

Where's an investor to put his money? Despite the cash being made in Peru, we don't recommend counterfeiting. Instead, you should consider what we've been talking about all week: royalties.

The Daily Reckoning

Peru Is Dollar Counterfeiting Expert Of The World

Comment from Blog: If Peru is number 1................Ecuador must be number 2. In fact...some cash businesses in Ecuador are excepting these fake dollars! They are worth more than the ones being printed by the Fed Bank in the US.

By CARLA SALAZAR 09/05/13 03:26 AM ET EDT

peru dollar Counterfeiting

LIMA, Peru -- The police colonel was stunned by the skill of the 13-year-old arrested during a raid on counterfeiters in Lima's gritty outskirts, how he deftly slid the shiny plastic security strip through a bogus $100 banknote emblazoned with Benjamin Franklin's face.

The boy demonstrated his technique for police after they arrested him on the street with a sack of $700,000 in false U.S. dollars and euros that he'd received from a co-conspirator and he led them to a squat house where he and others did detail work.

With its meticulous criminal craftsmen, cheap labor and, by some accounts, less effective law enforcement, Peru has in the past two years overtaken Colombia as the No. 1 source of counterfeit U.S. dollars, says the U.S. Secret Service, protector of the world's most widely traded currency.

In response, the service opened a permanent office in Lima last year, only its fourth in Latin America, and has since helped Peru's police arrest 50 people on counterfeiting charges.

Over the past decade, $103 million in fake U.S. dollars "made in Peru" have been seized – nearly half since 2010, Peruvian and U.S. officials say. Unlike most other counterfeiters, who rely on sophisticated late-model inkjet printers, the Peruvians generally go a step further – finishing each bill by hand.

"It's a very good note," said a Secret Service officer at the U.S. Embassy. "They use offset, huge machines that are used for regular printing of newspapers, or flyers."

"Once a note is printed they will throw five people (on it) and do little things, little touches that add to the quality," he said, speaking on condition he not be further identified for security reasons.

The phony money heads mostly to the United States but is also goes smuggled to nearby countries including Argentina, Venezuela and Ecuador, said Col. Segundo Portocarrero, chief of the Peruvian police's fraud division.

Peru became more attractive to counterfeiters as Washington's decade-long Plan Colombia program tightened the screws not just on drug traffickers in that neighboring Andean nation but other criminals as well, he speculated.
Counterfeiting in Peru, meanwhile, got better.

"It's much more profitable than cocaine," said a top investigator on Portocarrero's team, noting another of Peru's illegal exports.

U.N. crop estimates suggest Peru has also overtaken Colombia as the world's leading cocaine producer. But the investigator, who spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons, said counterfeiting is a better business since cocaine production has much higher overhead and transport and processing are far more complicated. Criminal penalties tend to be much higher as well.

Counterfeiters earn up to $20,000 in real currency for every $100,000 in false bills they produce after expenses, the investigator said.

He described the process:

First, design: Software such as Corel Draw or Microsoft Office is used. Then comes photolithography, the etching of metal plates, offset printing and finishing.

Finishing is next: A sheet of bills is lightly coated with varnish. Individual bills, typically 12, are then cut from the sheet.

Security strips are inserted with needles and affixed with glue applied with medical syringes. (Hold a $20 bill up to the light and you can see a strip with "USA TWENTY" printed repeatedly across it).

The bills now pass through what counterfeiters call an "enmalladora," or netting machine: Two rollers covered with coarse fabric to give them a rough texture.

The last step: Sand down the bills with fine sandpaper.

"It takes four or five days to make $300,000" in counterfeit notes, the investigator said.

Well-crafted bills are easily introduced into circulation in the United States in retail stores, where clerks are less vigilant, the Secret Service agent said.

Only $100 bills get shipped by counterfeiters to the United States, while $10s and $20s are sent to Peru's neighbors, Portocarrero said. Demand is particularly great in Argentina and Venezuela because currency controls make the dollar so coveted and they mostly circulate on the black market.

Counterfeiters employ the methods of cocaine traffickers to get their product abroad: Couriers carry notes in false-bottom suitcases, hide them in handcrafts, books, food products. People have even swallowed bills rolled up in latex for intestinal journeys.

As far as Peru's police can tell, their nation's counterfeiting business is run by domestic syndicates.

Top bands include "Los Nique," for whom the 13-year-old was working when he was arrested in 2012. Its boss, Joel Nique Quispe, was also arrested last year and sentenced to 12 years in prison. With good behavior, he could be out in four years. The 13-year-old, who cannot by law be identified because he is a minor, was released. He was not charged because of his age.

Another band is headed by Wilfredo Cobo, who is also in prison. First arrested in 2008, he was released two years later and arrested again last year. Portocarrero said Cobo used brothers in Italy, Spain and France to introduce counterfeit euros into Europe, routing them through Chile and South Africa.

For all their skill, says Portocarrero, Peruvian counterfeiters' handiwork will always get tripped up by the infrared scanner banks used to authenticate currency. That, he says, owes to their continued reliance on standard "bond" paper, the variety used by consumers that is available in stores and that easily disintegrates when wet.

If they were able to obtain "rag" paper, the cloth type used for banknotes, all bets would be off, Portocarrero said.

"The day they get it and perfect the finish a bit more, (their bills) will go undetected."

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Considering Vilcabamba, Ecuador? Read This

John Curran
Oh boohoo! A lot of my family and friends back in Wisconsin were complaining on Facebook about the winter they had this past spring. Here in Vilcabamba, Ecuador, we didn’t get any snow this year. Again! Can you imagine? And it’s 83 degrees today. I just hate it when the temperature is not between 60 and 80 like it usually is.
So then my better half says, "We need to drive to town and pay some bills, get some groceries, maybe stay for dinner." "What? Gas costs $1.48 a gallon you know! They don’t just give it away." And we have to drive five miles to Malacatos to get gas because Vilcabamba doesn’t allow filling stations over environmental concerns.
So we go up our dirt road and wouldn’t you know it? Traffic was backed up! Some "jackass" was blocking traffic with a load of sugar cane. We waited for what seemed like an entire minute for the burro to move over. Then we get to the stop sign at the end of our road and there’s a pickup taxi ahead of us waiting to make the turn on to the highway. Those taxis are everywhere! Probably because they’re cheap. "If you charged more than $3 for the 15-minute ride to our house maybe more people would get their own vehicle!"
First we go to pay the water bill. It was a bit dry last month so we went over our allotment of 4,000 gallons per month watering all our beautiful plants and trees. As a result, we had to pay a surcharge on top of our normal monthly bill of $1.70. I could have used those 30 cents to buy a fresh mango.
When we walk around town, we always run into happy people—with their smiling and their waving and their greeting. As usual, everybody was in such a cheery mood—apparently oblivious to the fact it was 83 degrees!
Then we go to pay our Internet bill. $50 for a 1MB connection. $50! We live outside of a small town on a dead end dirt road in a rural mountain valley in a remote part of southern Ecuador. It can’t be that hard to get Internet service out here. The fact that it works like 99% of the time should be proof enough!
When we do our grocery shopping, as usual, we have to go to more than one mom-and-pop store to get everything we want which means a walk around the town square. That’s 10 minutes of my life I’ll never get back. Sheesh! I could walk across a Wal-Mart parking lot in 10 minutes.
At every shop it’s the same thing, all year round, "This all you got for fresh fruit? Mangoes, pineapple, bananas, plantain, oranges, apples, pears, lemons, papaya, strawberries, and all this stuff here I don’t know what it is?"
The fresh vegetable selection was even more disappointing: just some cabbage, tomatoes, carrots, beets, peppers, peas, potatoes, onions, avocados, and some weird looking things I couldn’t identify. So we only got one big bag of produce. $9! (With the year-round growing season, I could grow my own you know!)
It got so late that we decided we should go out for dinner. So many choices and yet not one McDonald’s. Eventually we decided we should go to one of the most expensive restaurants, located just outside of town. Everyone raves about the view from their open-air dining room. View? What view? There’s nothing to see because of all the mountains.
It’s no Micky D’s, but the food is pretty good, I mean if you like fresh fish with all the fixin’s for $8. But get this, the beer is $1.25 for a big 20-ounce bottle and it doesn’t come in anything smaller or cheaper! I mean really. Who can drink that much beer?
So eventually our day is done and we head for home. Not one blinking streetlight on our road. If it weren’t for the moon and the stars shining through the pollution-free sky, I wouldn’t have known where I was going. Then when we finally get home, it’s so quiet all we can hear is the Vilcabamba River winding its way through the valley. How am I supposed to get any shuteye with all that racket?
Hmmph! Goodnight!
Editor’s note: John may be being facetious above...but that’s because he really can’t imagine any better life than the one he enjoys in Ecuador. In Ecuador, he’s cut out stress...slowed down...and learned how to live the good life for less. And if you dream of doing the same, you can.
Whether you long to live in the mountains of Ecuador...by the beaches of its Pacific Coast...or in one of its perfectly preserved colonial cities...one essential guide—Escape to Ecuador: Everything You Need to Know to Retire Better, Invest Well, and Enjoy the Good Life For Less—will show you how to do it. With information on all those destinations...as well as details on the practical stuff, like health care...real estate...and visas and residence...it’s your key to the good life in Ecuador.