Wednesday, April 29, 2009

New York Post Obama 100 DAYS, 100 MISTAKES

April 25, 2009 --


1. "Obama criticized pork barrel spending in the form of 'earmarks,' urging changes in the way that Congress adopts the spending proposals. Then he signed a spending bill that contains nearly 9,000 of them, some that members of his own staff shoved in last year when they were still members of Congress. 'Let there be no doubt, this piece of legislation must mark an end to the old way of doing business, and the beginning of a new era of responsibility and accountability,' Obama said." -- McClatchy, 3/11

2. "There is no doubt that we've been living beyond our means and we're going to have to make some adjustments." -- Obama during the campaign.

MORE: Obama's First 100 Days in Photos

3. This year's budget deficit: $1.5 trillion.

4. Asks his Cabinet to cut costs in their departments by $100 million -- a whopping .0027%! (more)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Krakatau ready to go?

Alert status of rumbling Mt. Slamet, Anak Krakatau raised

Agus Maryono and Yuli Tri Suwarni , The Jakarta Post , Purwokerto/Bandung | Sat, 04/25/2009 10:38 AM | Headlines

The Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center (PVMBG) recommended Friday five regental administrations in Central Java distribute facemasks in anticipation of the spewing of thick ash from rumbling Mt. Slamet.

The recommendation to the five regencies — Banyumas, Purbalingga, Pemalang, Tegal and Brebes — was made after seismic activity of the mount, which has begun spewing thick ash and molten lava from its crater, increased intensively.

The recommendation was made after the alert status was raised to level three (of four) on Thursday evening, just two days after the status was raised to level two.

"The local administrations should disseminate this recommendation to the people living around Mt. Slamet," chairman of the PVMBG Surono said.

He added that Bojong and Bumujawa districts in Tegal and Pulosari district in Pemalang are expected to be the hardest hit. (more)

Oils to Avoid Plague

By Ric / April 27,2009

This blend was created from research about a group of 15th century thieves and grave robbers who rubbed oils on themselves to avoid contracting the plague while they robbed the bodies of the dead and dying. When apprehended these thieves disclosed the formula of herbs, spices and oils they used to protect themselves in exchange for more lenient punishment.

This blend of therapeutic-grade essential oils was tested at Weber State University for its potent antimicrobial properties. Thieves oil was found to have a 99.96% percent kill rate against airborne bacteria. The oils are highly antiviral, antiseptic,antibacterial,anti-infectious and help to protect the body against such illnesses as flu, colds, sinusitis,bronchitis,pneumonia, sore throats, cuts etc.

Apply few drops to bottom of feet or stomach and rub into skin

Here is the receipt for the mixture place into a small brown bottle and add the amounts of herbs listed below

* Clove oil (syzgium aromaticum) 200 drops or 1/2 ounce.

* Lemon oil (Citrus limon) 175 drops

* Cinnamon Bark oil (Cinnamoomum verum) 100 drops

* Eucalyptus oil ( Eucalyptus radiata) 75 drops

* Rosemary oil (Rosimarinus officinalis ) 50 drops

You can also use in small spray bottle and mist the air in home and car, I also place mixture in a pan of water and place on wood stove during the fall, winter and spring.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Taking aim at gun bylaws

City restrictions that prohibit the sale, display and promotion of firearms -- but allow musketry at Fort York -- called 'absurd'


The Battle of York, fought in what is now Toronto 196 years ago tomorrow, is sometimes billed as the most dramatic day in the history of Toronto.

But for legal, law-abiding gun owners here, the drama has returned with a vengeance.

Granted, 2,500 American troops aren't looting and burning their homes as they did on April 27, 1813, but legal gun owners in the city are under increasing fire just the same, and it's costing the city millions of dollars.

In the Battle of York, defended only by a small force of 800 British soldiers, militiamen and Natives, the town of York was ultimately surrendered to the Americans, who looted, burned and plundered the town for the next three days.

Today, at Fort York between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., to commemorate the battle, history buffs can walk the battlefield complete with English country dancing, costumed military re-enactors marching, playing music, and firing muskets.

For the City of Toronto, firing muzzle-loading reproduction black powder guns on city property is okay, but Olympic target shooters are a threat to public safety.

The hypocrisy isn't lost on some gun lobby groups, who agree musket demonstrations are completely appropriate to commemorate the Battle of York, but wonder how the city can reconcile the double standard.

Last year, city council passed a series of bylaws that prohibit the sale, display and promotion of firearms on city property, and Fort York is owned by the City of Toronto.

"Nobody is suggesting ... that demonstrations like this at Fort York shouldn't happen. They are part of our heritage, we recognize that, we celebrate that," said Greg Farrant, manager of government relations for the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, which has more than 100,000 members across the province.

"But so too is hunting part of our heritage. Why there's a celebration of one aspect of our firearms heritage but a demonization of another part by the City of Toronto is mystifying."

In late March, the Toronto Sportsmen's Show announced they wouldn't hold the show at the city-owned Exhibition Place next year, but would move instead to the provincially owned Metro Toronto Convention Centre on Front St.

One of the key reasons, according to Ray Sriubiskis, vice-president of the Canadian National Sportsmen's Shows, was because the city's new policies would restrict the sale and promotion of guns at the show, which drew a crowd of 122,000 people this year.


Sriubiskis, too, thinks it's hypocritical of the city to promote the use of guns in a military context, but not for hunting or target shooting.

"Canada was built on the great outdoors. It's a very important part of our history, too, and we're denying that," he said. "We're trying to hide it, and that's a shame."

(In 2002, the province passed the Heritage Hunting and Fishing Act, which recognizes the importance hunting has played in shaping Ontario's social, cultural, and economic heritage. It also established hunting and fishing as a right.)

While the Sportsmen's Show gave the city $750,000 to use the Direct Energy Centre, Sriubiskis said the city's actual loss from the show's move could be "three times" that amount, including the food, labour, and parking revenues as well.

The city's new firearms bylaws, which not only ban the sale, display or promotion of guns, also restrict the creation of new shooting ranges anywhere in the city, not just on city property, and also ban companies from assembling, manufacturing or storing guns in the city if they're not already doing so.

In June of last year, the city also evicted two shooting ranges from city property, one of which was home to several Olympic shooters, and had been quietly operating at Union Station for 81 years.

The two ranges gave the city about $5,000 total in permit fees annually.

But more quietly, and more recently, the city also evicted the Toronto Sportsmen's Association, which had been operating at 17 Mill St., a heritage city property, for more than 30 years.

Peter Edwards, the association's executive director, said they received a letter in March telling them they had to leave because "we do not fit the criteria laid out by the City of Toronto, which says that you cannot sell, display or promote firearms on any property that's leased, rented or owned by the city."

Oddly, though, the association's office on Mill was for paperwork. There isn't a single firearm on the premise, according to Edwards. In fact, the association, which was created in 1925, spends most of its time teaching firearm and hunter safety courses for the federal and provincial governments respectively.

"We don't promote firearms. We promote safety," Edwards said, noting they have until June 30 to move out. "The city has given us the shaft."

The perceived double standard isn't lost on Edwards, either.

But Francine Antonio with the city's strategic communications said the city's zoning bylaw, which evicted the shooting clubs from Union Station and the Don Montgomery Community Centre, and prohibits companies from manufacturing, assembling or warehousing firearms doesn't apply to today's events at Fort York.

Neither does the city's laws banning the sale, display or promotion of firearms on city property, she said.

"The historical re-enactment of the Battle of York is not about the promotion of the use or sale of firearms. It's about the promotion of a significant part of Toronto's history," she said.


Stuart Green, a spokesman for Toronto Mayor David Miller who championed the city's firearms bylaws last year and is still lobbying the federal government for a nationwide handgun ban, said today's re-enactment is "not comparable" to the shooting ranges that were evicted from city property last year.

"This is a dramatic re-enactment and is not promoting the casual use or sale of firearms," he wrote in an e-mail to the Sun.

"It would fall under the same classification as a stage play or film shoot taking place on city property."

But Councillor Michael Thompson, a longtime critic of the mayor's views on legal firearms and their owners, said the hypocrisy of the musket firings today and the city's views on hunters exposes the new gun bylaws as nothing but a misguided "knee-jerk" reaction.

"At the end of the day, to simply make a bylaw to ban the promotion and use of guns on city property, and to try to label legal gun owners as the problem of what's ailing us, is unconscionable," he said, noting there is a more ironic point to be made by today's musket firings.

"Those muskets allowed us to have this independent and great City of Toronto where the now-mayor can put laws in place that say, 'Let's restrict the instrument that saved us,' " he added. "It's absurd."


Last chance for Weston, Toronto's rustbelt

At 21, Amanda Green isn't ready to give up on Weston. She wants spaces like the former employee building on the Kodak land, where she's pictured above, retooled for "green collar" jobs instead of being turned over to a mall developer.
Do you have historic photos of Weston? Send them to us at and we'll post our favourites.
Most of the factories in Weston-Mount Dennis shut down years ago. Now, residents are hoping an abandoned industrial site becomes ground zero for a green jobs renaissance

Forty years of economic boom and bust have shattered the industrial foundation of Weston-Mount Dennis.

For decades, these neighbouring communities northwest of downtown Toronto flourished, with their Victorian and post-war homes, small shops and a major rail line that fed one of the most industrious parts of the city.

But what was once the manufacturing backbone of Toronto – a thriving working-class hub where everything from bricks and bicycles to stoves and steel was built in local factories – is now an industrial wasteland. Companies that produced iconic Canadian products like CCM skates, Moffat stoves and Dominion Bridge steel closed or moved off-shore while subdivisions, shopping centres and fast-food outlets moved in. Locals figure up to 20,000 jobs have been sucked out of the area over the years.

Today, the landscape is one of abandoned factories, derelict storefronts and high unemployment. Youth crime is on the rise. A rash of shooting deaths and a chronic lack of municipal services have put it on the list of the city's 13 "priority neighbourhoods" in need of attention. The 2005 demise of Kodak Canada's photographic film and paper factory – a victim of the digital age – was the final blow. In the plant's heyday during the 1970s, it employed up to 3,000 people, most of whom lived a short stroll, streetcar or car-pool ride away. About 800 jobs were lost when the plant closed. To residents like 21-year-old Amanda Green, this is a "make or break" moment for Weston-Mount Dennis.

The 23-hectare Kodak lands, by virtue of their size and potential, represent a chance to recapture the spirit and energy of the area's industrial past.

Green and others believe that, as one of the city's last major pieces of available industrial land, it can become a showcase for how Toronto and other once-vital manufacturing centres in Ontario can retool for the future – especially in the wake of today's recession.

"What are we doing?" Green asked during a public meeting last month when a developer presented plans to build a mix of shops and offices on the abandoned Kodak lands.

"I am someone who watches the news and sees the loss of jobs in the manufacturing sector," she told more than 150 area residents. "We keep building things people can't afford. The majority of families in this community are single mothers. They'll never be able to shop here."

Green is a member of a new, environmentally conscious generation that is fighting urban sprawl, big-box shopping, consumer-oriented development and part-time, minimum-wage work with no security and no future.

They believe the Kodak site, which takes up the equivalent of 23 city blocks at the corner of Eglinton Ave. W. and Black Creek Dr., should become a city hub for green manufacturing.

They point to Pennsylvania, where more than 2,000 unemployed steelworkers have found new jobs building wind turbines in two retrofitted steel factories as an example of what could happen here. They look to American leaders like Dave Foster, the steelworker who heads the Blue-Green Alliance, which is spreading beyond Pennsylvania to other Rustbelt states and turning blue-collar manufacturing jobs into "green collar" employment in the emerging economy.

They believe Weston-Mount Dennis should be building solar heating cells, energy-efficient light bulbs or new streetcars to service LRT lines slated for Eglinton Ave. and Jane St. And they are talking to Ryerson University about opening a centre of environmental innovation on the site.

It's not all pie-in-the-sky. TTC officials at the public meeting said they want to build a storage and maintenance facility on the site for its new energy-efficient streetcars. If that happens, Bombardier, the company that just won the contract to build those streetcars, might assemble the new transit vehicles there.

For her part, Green, who works part-time as a receptionist in a local business, is trying to find full-time work to help pay for college or university so she can improve her prospects.

"You can't live on the kind of jobs that are available in this community," she said after the meeting. "And that's the problem."

Weston and Mount Dennis sprouted during the late 1790s around saw, wool and grist mills built by settlers along the banks of the Humber River north of what is now Eglinton Ave. W.

When the Grand Trunk Railway built its major northwest line through the area in 1856, industry set up nearby to take advantage of rail service to access raw materials and to transport products to market.

For more than a century, scores of Weston and Mount Dennis factories made products that were household names.

If you owned a bicycle or a pair of skates before 1983, they were likely manufactured at the CCM plant, which opened in 1917 on Lawrence Ave. W., east of Weston Rd.

The Moffat Stove Company, which moved to Denison Ave. west of Jane St. in 1893, is credited with inventing the first electric ranges for the domestic market. And although the Moffat family sold the business in 1953, stoves and refrigerators continued to be built at the Weston plant until the early 1970s.

The Dominion Bridge factory, which operated from the 1940s to 1990 at the corner of Jane St. and Trethewey Ave., forged steel trusses for downtown skyscrapers and the Rogers Centre's retractable roof.

Until 2005, all Kodak film and photography paper used in Canada were manufactured at the company's Mount Dennis plant.

People walked to work and to church. Their children attended the same schools. Shopkeepers knew customers by name. Local sports were dominated by company teams and employees' kids got priority for summer jobs.

One by one, the factories disappeared.

As industrial shipping switched from rail to truck, many plants relocated to highway sites, away from Weston's narrow residential streets. Weston's amalgamation with the former borough of York in 1967 pushed up local taxes, causing others to move to neighbouring municipalities with lower rates. Some businesses succumbed to changing markets, foreign competition and tough fiscal times. Others, mismanaged, drowned in red ink.

Production of Moffat brand stoves moved to a more efficient plant in Burlington in the 1970s and then off shore. CCM went bankrupt in 1983 after a bitter strike and charges of financial mismanagement, although the brand was bought by a Montreal firm that continues to use the name. Dominion Bridge folded in 1990 when construction methods changed, eliminating the need for steel trusses in office towers. And digital photography killed the Kodak plant in 2005.

Tim Hortons coffee is now sold on the site of the CCM plant. A Sobey's grocery store is under construction where Moffat stoves were once built. A housing development occupies the old Dominion Bridge site. The Kodak site is a pile of dirt awaiting development.

All of those well-paying manufacturing jobs have been replaced by low-paying service jobs or housing.

Allan Chard, 78, who worked at Kodak for 32 years, came to the same public meeting to hear about the future of the photography plant lands out of curiosity, but left early to catch the hockey game on TV.

He liked the look of the proposed European-style shopping complex with pedestrian streets and plazas covered by a retractable glass roof. And he welcomes the promise of some 2,000 retail, office and service jobs, many of them part-time, entry-level positions for area youth. But he, too, has his doubts.

"It looks nice, but it won't give people the kind of living we had," says Chard, who comes from a family of seven brothers and sisters who built their lives around stable, full-time factory jobs that formed the backbone of Weston-Mount Dennis.

In 1955, when Chard started with Kodak, everyone living in the working-class area between the Humber River east to Black Creek, and Eglinton Ave. north to Hwy. 401, wanted a job there.

"It was an excellent place to work – probably one of the best," says the retiree, who raised four children in the area. "They looked after their employees."

Sitting in the comfortable living room of the modest bungalow he and his wife, Gail, purchased in 1959 just west of the Humber River, Chard recalls Kodak's good times.

Salaries were above the industrial average. Most workers got five weeks' holidays and a week when the plant closed for Christmas.

Kodak had a defined benefit pension plan that was fully funded by the company. And it paid generous wage dividends to employees every February, Chard says.

Employees enjoyed shuffleboard or lawn bowling on the Kodak property over lunch. They returned after supper to play basketball and volleyball in a gymnasium with hardwood floors. And on Friday nights, they brought their families to movies in the company auditorium.

For years, Kodak fielded industrial league hockey and baseball teams that played against workers from CCM, Moffat, Dominion Bridge and AVRO, the former airplane manufacturer in nearby Malton.

All four of Chard's children had summer jobs at the plant.

Chard and his older brother, Donald, who also worked at Kodak, took retirement packages during the late 1980s when competition from Japan's Fuji Film forced the company to downsize.

Chard's older brother Gordon, 82, worked for 40 years at CCM, another landmark employer in the community.

He was foreman in the tool and maintenance departments when the 84-year-old company went bankrupt in 1983, throwing some 600 employees out of work. Gordon stayed until the bitter end, overseeing the removal of equipment as it was shipped for sale.

Weston residents could set their watches to the CCM factory whistle that signalled plant shift changes. And whenever there was a fire in town, the CCM whistle would blast a code that alerted volunteer firefighters to the location of the blaze, Gordon recalls.

The factory also brought glamour to the community, since most National Hockey League players wore CCM skates and regularly visited the plant to have their blades ground and their kangaroo-leather boots custom fitted. Platinum blades were handcrafted for post-war figure skating darling Barbara Ann Scott. And a special bicycle was made there for French movie star Maurice Chevalier to ride during Expo `67 in Montreal.

In the mid-1980s, after CCM closed, the local business improvement association paid tribute to the area's cycling history by installing iron silhouettes of an old-fashioned, big-wheeled bicycle on lampposts along Weston Rd. But a plan to build a cycling museum and velodrome to attract tourists and athletes never got off the ground.

Too much had already been lost.

When Kodak cut its lunch hour to 30 minutes in the 1970s, workers no longer had time to shop on Weston Rd. And as manufacturing jobs at factories like CCM disappeared, so did the small local shops and restaurants that animated the street.

Other businesses also drifted away.

At one time, there were five car dealerships within several blocks. The last of those, Cruickshank Motors – a family-run business on Weston Rd. that opened in the 1850s building carriages and wagons – was sold in 2006 to another Ford dealer. But locals fear the dealership may soon fold to make way for condominiums.

Kresge's, Loblaws, Canadian Tire and even the LCBO have abandoned the community's main street for shopping malls like the Crosstown Centre near the 401, leaving beauty salons, barber shops and dollar stores in their place.

Today, one in four storefronts along Weston Rd. is vacant. One long-time realtor says pretty much everything is for sale.

But testaments to the industrial past of Weston-Mount Dennis remain.

In the kitchen of Chard's 84-year-old sister Marg Brown, an original white enamel Moffat stove gleams like the day in 1953 she and her husband Walter moved it into their new home. The original burners still glow red-hot seconds after Brown turns the knob to demonstrate.

Her pride is well-placed: She assembled burners for Moffat for most of her 29 years at the Denison Ave. plant just down the road from her home near Jane St. and Lawrence Ave. W.

Like many Weston factories operating during the 1940s, Moffat re-tooled for the war effort and hired women like Brown when she was still in her teens.

"Women were paid less than men in those days," she says. "It didn't seem like much at the time. But when you compare it to what people make now, maybe it was heaven."

Even though the company has been gone for more than 30 years, Brown still remembers the 15- to 20-minute walk to work and her favourite lunch, sardine sandwiches.

Seeking another job never occurred to her.

"I never wanted to move around too much," Brown says. "I never wanted to go too far from home."

It's a sentiment shared by young people like Green, who grew up here and desperately want to see it prosper again.

The Kodak lands are Weston's chance to re-invent itself, Green says.

Instead of approving the developer's plan for a shopping mall on that site, the city should be focusing on turning blue-collar jobs of the past into green industry employment for tomorrow.

"It would be an investment in the future of the community," she says, "as well as in the future of the planet."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


A biological food chain in the back yard produces fresh fish
for the table and compost for the garden.

By Philip and Joyce Mahan

After some study and experimentation, we have set up a productive food chain-- table scraps to earthworms to catfish--in our back yard. The project is satisfactory in many respects, utilizing waste materials to produce fresh fish for food and at the same time yielding ample compost for a small garden. The material cost is minimal. The whole operation can be set up for less that $15.00. The equipment occupies only about 12 square feet of space, and the entire assembly can be easily moved if necessary.

The materials can be very simple: Two 55-gallon steel drums, three panes of glass 24 inches square, and a medium-sized aquarium air pump. One of the drums will serve as a tank for the fish, oxygen being supplied by the air pump; and the second drum should be cut in half to provide two bins for the worms. The panes of glass are used as covers for the worm bins and fish tank, and for ease and safety in handling can be framed with scrap lumber.

We chose catfish because they are readily available in our part of Alabama, and reach eating size in a summer. Various small members of the sunfish family, such as bluegill or bream, would also be suitable. (more)

Shortage of Critical Commodities Seen Already

by Marygwen Dungan

Maybe you thought that less trade with China would mean fewer choices of lawn gnomes at Walmart this summer. And since you've recently sworn off, who cares anyway. Turns out China is also a leading provider of the raw materials used to make critical pharmaceutical drugs. We'll have fewer of those too and, in some cases, none at all.

What inspired me to write about this subject was the predicament of a friend in pain management. Last week a Wegmans pharmacy ran out of OxyContin® and several other prescription medicines. Customers were told that Wegmans' supplier did not have the ingredients to make several medicines and did not know when they would have them. Wegmans isn't a mom-and-pop corner store with no buying power. It's a 71-store chain on the east coast, is one of the largest private companies in the US and had sales of $4.8 billion in 2008. The active ingredient of OxyContin® is thebaine, an alkaloid compound distilled from opium. By law, it cannot be stored so each year's crop size is determined by expected sales. However, it's only February so the shortage in the US is not due to Asian exporters' supplies having run out.

The shortage of leucovorin, a generic used in the treatment of colon cancer, is so acute that many cancer patients are receiving lower-than-prescribed dosages or none at all. According to suppliers, the shortage is due to "manufacturing" delays. In an interview with Forbes, Michael Katz, chair of a committee of patients that advises the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG), said, "I've never heard of anything like it," nor had any of the doctors in the group. There is a fear that shortages will occur more frequently with generic drugs because the margins are so thin. Leucovorin is also called folinic acid, which is derived from vitamin B and, like most vitamins, vitamin B comes from China.

There is also a worldwide shortage of acetonitrile, a critical chemical ingredient used in the purification of pharmaceutical compounds. Acetonitrile is a by-product of the automotive industry and is in short supply due to the worldwide slowdown in that industry, which, in turn, has caused chemical production facilities around the world to close.

Going forward, a number of factors will influence the availability of life-saving medicines and other critical commodities.

Supply disruptions: The majority of growers and producers of the raw materials for drugs are in Asia. You remember the cliff dive of the Baltic Dry Index last year. It was a reflection of severe disruptions in international trade, which, in large part, was caused by the unwillingness of banks to accept letters of credit. This could be the reason for the shortages of opium distillates, vitamins and other raw materials, which are showing up in US pharmacies now.

Profitability and production stoppages: Indian pharmaceutical companies have stopped manufacturing some unprofitable drugs and they threaten to cut back on more. Their profits have been eroded by the fall in value of the rupee, which has raised their procurement costs for both packaging materials and bulk purchases of raw materials from China.

Distribution: Trucking companies across the country are both cutting back on routes and closing due to less business and higher costs. This reached crisis proportions during the gas price spike last spring and summer and is continuing due to reduced demand for hauling. Bankruptcies were up more than 118% by the second half of 2008. In a Reuter's interview, industry consultant Fred Crawford said he expects the acceleration of bankruptcies seen in the second half of 2008 to continue this year.

If demand for medicine decreases in a depression, it's not because people aren't sick. In fact, more people are sick, but they can't afford medical care. If you've come across the crisis-preparedness list of 100 Things that Disappear First, you know that drugs are at the top of the list. Well, we are in a crisis, we are ill-prepared and, sure enough, medicines are disappearing.

Cops can now 'take all your stuff'

Last Updated: 21st April 2009, 5:18am

There have been some terrible miscarriages of justice due to proceeds of crime legislation in other countries.

Whether Canada will do better remains to be seen.

To the surprise of at least one legal expert, the Supreme Court of Canada last week unanimously gave the provinces incredible powers to seize assets allegedly connected to crime.

For a country that has gained the reputation, whether deserved or not, of protecting the rights of the accused over the rights of victims, it's quite an about-face.

As one worried reader e-mailed the other day: "This is a terrifying development. If the police even suspect you of a crime, they can take all your stuff. They don't have to prove it."

Is he right? "Yes and no," says University of Manitoba law professor Michelle Gallant. The cops can take your car, for instance, if they think you're using it to sell drugs.

But the police have to persuade a judge that, on a balance of probabilities, the vehicle is connected to crime. And that's much easier to show than providing evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that someone is guilty of a crime.

In other words, if the police want your car, house, money or any other assets, they can get away with it without even arresting you as long as they convince a judge something doesn't smell right. No conviction necessary.

"It's kind of scary," says Gallant, an expert in proceeds of crime, who never thought Canada would embrace such wide-ranging legislation.

While the goal -- going after assets associated with crimes like drug trafficking -- is laudatory, it's an awful lot of leeway to give the government, she says.

At least Britain brought in a more narrowly defined law, limiting proceeds of crime proceedings to assets over 10,000 pounds ($18,000 Canadian).

"It does strike me as quite radical," says Gallant, of the top court ruling. "Now the state can sue anybody -- any asset -- and if it proves on a balance of probabilities that it's connected to crime, it can take it. That's quite an extraordinary power."

She would have been more comfortable with more restrictive proceeds of crime laws limited to assets over $100,000 and involving only serious crimes such as drug trafficking.

In the U.S., she adds, there have been shocking abuses of the system. She cites the case of a poor woman who lost her house because her son had been dealing drugs out of the place. And a lot of marginalized people have no control over what goes on around them.

Listen up, folks. Most of the provinces have similar provisions in their proceeds of crime legislation. If your kid is selling drugs out of your car, and you don't know it, the state could still seize the vehicle as an instrument of crime.

Imagine another scenario. A new immigrant flying back to his native country with a thick wad of cash for his relatives. "We use banks. They use envelopes," Gallant says of certain immigrant groups.


That's the kind of money the government might decide, on a balance of probabilities, is connected to crime.

The optimistic view is the provinces examined the U.S. and European proceeds of crime laws and got rid of "the worst bits," says Gallant.

On the other hand, we may have unleashed a Pandora's Box of potential abuses. We'll just have to keep our fingers crossed that Canadian judges have a finely honed sense of fairness.

"I'm ambivalent," Gallant says of the Supreme Court decision. "I'm not sure if I have a lot of faith in our proceeds of crime units (and) government's ability to apply these laws."


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Guns and Ammo Availability Overview

April 14, 2009

Jacob Herman

I have been reading many of the posts that are placed upon online message boards for the past several weeks about the shortages of arms and ammo. Many questions are posed and theories are liberally applied. We all know what the core reason for this rush on arms is, but there are other contributing factors that many don't understand. One of the top questions online or asked in person. Should I buy now or wait for the price to drop? Will the price go down or not? What should I do? Should I try to build or just buy straight out? I also hear many rumors from customers passed on from other gun shops that are completely untrue. I have read many comments and talked to many concerned people who are thinking about buying a firearm but are putting the purchase off for various reasons including those above. I have a great feeling when I help someone choose a weapon that may be used to defend that persons life one day. Personally I feel that our 2nd Amendment will soon be challenged. I am not a hunter or a bench rest shooter. I train with self loading rifles and handguns. I do this because one day I feel I may have to implement what I have learned to protect myself or a loved one very close to me. I have been into prepping for 15 years now and have seen many scares and times we thought were hard. The 94 Crime Bill, Ruby Ridge, Waco, Y2K, Sept. 11. Those of us who follow events are worry about our freedoms and maintaining our current way of living knew that those events were truly terrible, but we have a bigger enemy. We are fighting for our basic rights set down by our founding fathers. The 2nd had nothing to do with hunting or target shooting. It was emplaced so that a free man or woman could protect themselves, others near to them, and the country they bled and died for. With the surge in sales of firearms and related gear, long term food supplies, and general bulk commodities in general you get the feeling you are not the only person worried.

Because I feel that is the basic right of an American to be armed I wanted to put out some thoughts and observations on the current and possible future availability of arms and ammo in which to purchase of the common defense.

I work at a very large gun store in Middle Tennessee and have noticed this arms and ammo shortage first hand. Even though we have an extensive inventory on hand there is no way to keep up with demand.

Here are some things I am seeing across the board. There are exceptions to every rule, but most of this is hitting the proverbial nail on the head. There are still gun shops across the country, especially the one that I am employed at, whose goal is to provide service and a good quality reasonably priced firearm to the people of the surrounding area. Some areas are not experiencing such problems and some shops who have been in business for a time or order large volume are keeping more stock than the smaller 40-50 gun shops. Those shops which did not carry ammo by the case is probably having problems getting any ammo in stock from 22lr to 50BMG. Some states there is very little common caliber ammo in the entire state. The same goes for self loading rifle and handguns and items that go with them. Most firearms manufacturers have notices on the website telling of long delays.

Here are some of the reasons the demand has went higher than anything before, shortage of product, and why you should purchase at this time instead of waiting.

New owners are driving the demand. We have people who have never owned a gun or just hunted their entire life. They walk in and want the gun like the army uses. They buy the gun, stacks of mags, ammo and are asking about training classes ect. The high end shotgunners and big game hunters think a $1,500 dollar AR is cheap. It is compared to a competition trap gun. People who have no knowledge of this class of weaponry in general do not find these weapons expensive. A dependable AR-15 can be bought for the price of a nice set of golf clubs, and an AK clone for the price of a Coach handbag. A person who loses 30 dollars worth of Nike golf balls every Saturday does not find the $9.99 box of .223 Remington overpriced. To this group of buyers this is the only price they know. They were not in the market when the prices were lower. Very few of these people haggle on prices . They do not trade anything in, nor do they really seem to care what the price is. Many are looking at how the weapons increase in value, and how much they lose daily on the market. That makes firearms and ammo a better investment. I have sold untold cases of 9mm by telling how 5 years ago I was buying Federal 9mm for 102.00 dollar per thousand shipped to my house. Now the same case is $350-400 if you can find it. That is a great return on my investment if I choose to sell. They take the gun and drop the credit card and out the door they go.

People are also stocking up on multiples. We are having people buy 2,4, or 6 guns at a time. They want one to shoot, one to put up for hard times, and one extra. People are buying weapons for their entire families. I notice many retired couple buying weapons for the grandchildren to have one just in case they are not allowed to buy one. There are also a large number of older veterans of our military who tell me they haven't fired a semi auto since Vietnam or just Nam as they call it. They ask does the weapon break down the same and most of the can take an AR right down. They tell me they are buying the rifles because they do not like the looks of things.

Most of these buyers are financially stable so to speak. They have extra income to make purchases like this. They do not "have" to have a weapon. They just want one because they think someone will tell them they cannot own it. Ammo falls under the same concern. I have people buying a case of Federal .223 a week and going to plink with it. They think it is just fun and have no problem burning through money. These people are not going to need to sell the weapon cheap.

Extremely cheap surplus ammo is pretty much over. Americans have bought everything in the entire world that is not nailed down, and in some cases we pulled up the nails and bought that too. Years of a large disposable income coupled with a generation of baby boomers many of which have been shooting their entire lives have driven the supply of military. Surplus is pretty much over. The Yugo SKS's, Mausers , K-31's. We are dragging the bottom of the barrel at this time with all the European guns. There seems to still be an endless supply of M-91 Mosins but the Quality is much lower than the previous years. This is good news, but the big importers are running extremely low on many other rifles. There was a time in the United States not to long ago that none of these rifles were available unless they were war trophies. The kids that grew up playing with them reached an age that money was not a problem around the same time the government let the importation of the old warhorses. You think there will always be 70's production 7.62x54R light ball? Where did it go? It has been thrown down the barrel of the millions of $50-200 dollar surplus rifles that we have been importing for the past 20 years. It will go the same way that 8mm and 303.We will shoot it all up. I watched guys at Knob Creek make belts of 8mm a dozen feet long because it was .02 cents a round and no one cared. Well we care now because it is all gone or stuffed in a closet. Remember surplus .30 carbine ammo and a few years ago you still saw lots of U.S military 30-06 for sale. The only .30 carbine is new production with most of it coming from overseas ammo makers. If you have a Mosin, K-31 Swiss or any other non US caliber surplus buy enough ammo to wear the weapon completely out. By the time whoever owns the weapon and the ammo is done with it. The firearm should be depreciated out of its useful life. How many would shoot the Mosin Nagant rifle if it was the same price of domestic 30-06 or at worst a tax raising the cost to that of the 7.5 Japanese cartridge of the same era. This includes 150 grain 30-06 for the M1 Garand. There are very few commercial loads in that grain compared to all the other loadings. Current production is expensive in surplus calibers. Go price a new box of 8mm or 303 and be prepared for a sticker shock. With the costs of these rounds commercially 9mm and 5.56 the standard NATO loadings seem to very reasonable. With a sign of the pen on an executive order can stop all ammo imports for civilians. The SCOTUS has never ruled ammo to be part of the 2nd Amendment. We firearms community has suffered blows from policies that never went before the floor of congress. Such as the ban 7.62x39 Chinese, the ban on parts kits with barrels, or Imbel receivers for F.A.L rifles from South America. A simple ruling in essence stopped the production of sub $500 dollar rifles. A policy change , not a law passed in congress by your elected representative ,drove the price of each of the groups of parts or ammo through the roof overnight.

There is not Federal XM193 in the pipeline that I can locate. You find cases or maybe even a pallet for sale, but never the hundreds of thousands of rounds available as in years past. If you have a 50 BMG buy every round you can. Did you know there are only like 7 factories in the world that can make 50 BMG. The rifle and ammo is on the proverbial hit list of every gun control group. Very few countries in the world allow ownership of such rifles and the gun control groups would love to have the confiscated or at the very least have them put on the N.F.A registry and transfer like a fully automatic. The amount of people buying heavy caliber rifles and ammo is unheard of. Just 2 years ago very rarely would you have a customer wanting a 50BMG and even more rare was someone asking for .338 Lapua and .408 Chey-tac rifles and ammo. In the market we are having now any heavy caliber rifle capable of long distance shooting is very hard to obtain.

It takes around a year to fill a large ammo order from a major producer. The ore has to be mined from the earth. Primers made, cases formed, powder mixed and that takes time. The ammo plants are running round the clock. The ammo makers are again understanding how much the American shooting community is willing to pay for ammo. Last time we had a scare of 7.62x39 Russian the case price doubled at least. This is the same factor except across the board. Basic economics teaches us to sell for as much as we can and the consumer will pay. There are many buyers at the current prices. Even if there are no new restrictions set into place in the coming months or year. We as a shooting community have welcomed millions of new shooters into our club. That adds up to many more consumers buying ammo and parts that we came to expect in stock. There will be more 5.56 on the market when we pull out of Iraq, but not enough to lower the price. Stockpiles have to be replenished both at the military and local government level. Through the ever expanding war on drugs and terror we have armed nations around the world with M-16 style rifles. Most countries seeking membership in NATO also are swapping to 5.56 rounds. Not to mention the private security companies that are going to continue in the Middle East to fill the void left by a U.S military withdrawal.

I read online and talked people in the place I work who are waiting till these new gun owners are broke and on hard times. Their plan is to buy these weapons and ammo for pennies on the dollar. I do not believe this will be the case. Either times will get better and these guns will be sold at auction in 20 years after the purchaser passes or the grand children will get them. It's the same scenario with the Belgian Browning Shotguns and Colt pistols that were purchased so cheap in the 1950's and 60's. You can bet an auctioneer will know the value of the weapons before they begin. Estate actions did not list each gun in the advertising until a few years ago. With advertising guns at auction for the most part bring well over the top retail price. Ditto on the crates of ammo that have been stored with these guns. Some of the surplus ammo will be at a premium. Especially those calibers which can be used in popular Class 3 weaponry. This happened in the late 80's when people that ran out and bought HK's, AUGs, and Sigs after the Sporting Weapons Clause. When was the last time you ran into a broke person with one of these guns? It does not happen. They have money because they walked into any gun shop in the country and walked out with several thousand in cash. We as shooters have driven the value of these weapons just as we will guns in the future.

If something does happen to disrupt normal purchasing channels such a disaster or terrorist attack a person wanting a self loading rifle will not get the guns for a discount. Historically during those times weapons of any type were one of the most valuable items a person could possess. People who have new luxury care, and are able to spend $10,000 on rifles and ammo do not get that kind of buying power by making unsound financial choices. Think about it for a moment. There are still a many un-armed people in America that control large amounts of assets. If something becomes needed and is unavailable then the price will sky rocket not go down. The new gun buyers for the most part are educating themselves with the internet. They buy guns like they buy a flat screen or a new car. They are also storing back food and other supplies. That is another group of items that is becoming hard to get. Any long term storage food or materials to store food are becoming scarce. It is the same group of new gun owners prepping for an unforeseeable future. They know a rifle is valuable or they would not be buying it. There will always be someone buying a quality weapon and a good price regardless of the currency used. If your neighbor offers the new gun owner 200 lbs of rice why would you think said person will trade with you for a bowl of beans as I have read many times on the internet. Many of the people are buying for an investment. They want a top quality weapon, and some have even bought extras they say "just in case", never know what it will be worth one day.

I know many of you are going a little crazy over lack of reloading components. We have been through this before. Components drying up happened when there was a primer scare in the early 90's.Except we were not fighting a two front war and have troops at all corners of the globe. The push for micro stamping has driven demand more than anything else. Primers have shot through the roof in price as has brass. They may drop a little in price, though they are a consumable item. As long as reloading is cheaper that domestic production ammo then primers will continue to move at the current price.

While prices have went up most of the makers are not "gouging" the market. Prices were on the rise before any of this started. Commodity prices drive anything with metal from guns to office buildings. If commodities fall then ammo and gun prices will fall with them. Do not bet on this as China is buying raw materials at a tremendous rate to fund their 50 year expansion. Case tractors had four price increases last year along the same time as the firearms companies. It was across the board for manufacturing.

We are seeing a combination of free trade and international trade agreements along with the general unrest of the population driving prices up. There is large amounts ammo in countries overseas that will never be able to be imported here. The same problem stocks of surplus weapons. Most weaponry made in the last 40 years has been fully automatic and therefore it is unable to be imported in the original state. The best we can hope for is parts so the US makers can rebuild the guns. I have talked to people who have seen ware houses full of 8mm and 303 on buying trips overseas that was being destroyed. Many small to medium size countries have signed non-proliferation of small arms agreements with the U.N that are coupled to agricultural, cash, and military aid. Unfortunately for the American shooter these countries are a treasure trove of surplus weapons and ammo. This is especially true the semi stable African countries. Since only certain countries are able to export and few companies are willing to deal with the hassle this limits the amount of ammo available to US shooters. Along with US government restrictions on anything A.P or perceived as armor piercing such as Chinese 7.62x39. Not to mention the paperwork involved for an importer. Even the biggest ammo producers such as Lake City only produce 1.7 billion rounds per year with a vast majority going to military contracts. The ammo production has even become a problem for the United States government. Plants in Korea, Taiwan, Israel, and Spain produce US military ammunition. I shudder to think what would happen if the government began taking all the shipments from those countries. I.M.I and PMC in Korea provide a large percent of the ammo sold on gun store shelves.

I wrote this to urge you not to wait to buy weapons, ammo, gear, and parts. We are preparing for the worst. Plinking is fun, but that is not the intent of most people who are preparing for hard times. These weapons were meant to prep yourself and your family for a disaster of extended period of time. Being prepped means having the weapons and ammo in addition to other supplies you need to survive without assistance from another source. In The Patriots by James Wesley, Rawles when the characters were discussing what they should have bought but did not they used the term "hindsight is 20/20". Yes, we all would have bought 7.62x39 Russian at $55.00 per case or 308 at 12.5 cents per round if we would have known. Even those police trade in Bushmasters or Glock pistols. Those times are over. The American population is so accustomed to being able to have anything they desire within a short period of time. Even if an item is not available a large influx of cash could usually fix the problem. This is different because nothing short of revamping the entire industry or overbidding for commodities is going to bring up production. Considering the low profit margin is for many makers I cannot see a large manufacturing change. At current rates I can see quality 5.56 holding at .40-.60 cents per round unless a ban makes it through the Senate or a new policy is implemented such as micro stamping. Good 308 surplus is already over .70 cents per round in many cases. Match ammo to feed the hundreds of thousands of target rifles is almost $2.00 per round. One of the reasons for the already high price is the utter lack of 308 ammo on the surplus market compared to the millions of semi auto 308 rifles. If a new law is even mentioned concerning ammo you can expect a 100% increase over night with all calibers selling out. Even obscure calibers for hunting and antique weapons. Pistol ammo will continue to rise since the pistol market is on a steady growth. 9mm will always be the cheapest choice because of its usage in so many militaries and police departments around the world. 45 A.C.P is very vulnerable because the United States was one of the only countries to issue the caliber for any length of time. We have not had 45 caliber Colt pistols in normal U.S inventory channels for over 20 years now. Even though special units use the caliber there would not be enough production to offset costs. When buying a weapon for long term usage then keep in mind the ammo cost and the future cost. 7.62x39 Russian has become since the late 80's an extremely popular round. Before the fall of the U.S.S.R you only found those weapons in the hands of collectors and the ammo was not available. Some importers brought in small lots from friendly Easter European countries such as the excellent round from Lapua imported in the early 1980's. The ammo then was over $1.00 a round. Keep in mind that domestic production of this round along with 7.62x54R is limited at best because of the billions of rounds of imported ammo that has been brought in since the mid 1980's. The availability of this ammo could dry up overnight.

Yes it is going to cost you more than it would have yesterday to put back arms and ammo, but the cost will be less than it will be 12 or even 6 months from now. I hope that I am wrong, but someday we may be buying a box of 9mm for a dollar a round and having to show special licensing and talk about how we remember when you could buy the ammo for .25 cents a round and no questions were asked at a small gun store. Many firearms manufacturers are 12 months back ordered at the very least, and the buying has not even slowed down. If you need a rifle then go find a store that is not gouging prices and buy the whole rifle. Do not try to wait and build your only rifle. I have a dozen people call and come by the shop every day looking for parts and uppers. For years every time there was talk of a ban people would wipe out the stock of stripped and complete lowers for AR-15's and pre-bent AK style receivers. As with most things we imagined just get the part they may ban and we can buy the rest later. Well later is now and you have people with 10, 15, and even more lowers ready for uppers and lower parts kits. The top AK builders in the country are backed up 12 months and some are not even taking orders. This effect is being felt throughout the entire industry. Not only are center fire rifles and duty size handguns not available the fear the current administration will limit concealed carry has prompted thousands every week to obtain a permit to carry in hopes that if a new law is passed they will be grandfathered in. Now imagine a dozen going by every gun shop in the country every day. You can get a glimpse of how bad things could get by trying to locate 380 automatic ammunition. It is produced on the same line as 9mm NATO. With the civilian and military demand so high 380 production for civilian sales went idle for a time. At this time there is none available from ammunition distributors, and private sales are getting up to $60 dollars per box for a round that many people do not even consider suitable to carry. Some large online discount retailers have asked $75.00 or more and have sold out. This is several dollars for a round that was purchased under .50 cents each. When people are afraid they will pay any amount asked. If any of the smaller ammo makers are forced out of business due to legislation then the amount of available ammo will be hurt.

Parts have gone up in price so much that with most retailers and private sellers you are no longer saving any money. Also do not sit and wait on a SCAR or SIG 556 or Armalite AR-10 that may never appear. Just because a dealer has the weapon "on order" does not mean it will arrive. Last month Century was back ordered several million AK-47 clones. These rifles may never be even allowed to enter the country by the time the firearms are made overseas. If you have a chance to look on a distributor website you will see how backed up things are. For the most part you will not be able to locate one semi auto handgun or semi rifle of any caliber or configuration. I am guilty of the waiting for a certain weapon. I placed an FS2000 on order twenty months before it actually arrived. Looking back I should have known better to have held the money for so long because I passed up on more usable items such as a shooter grade FN-FAL. Little did I know that the rifle would not live up to the early advertising and hype that it generated. I chose not to purchase that rifle when it finally arrived, but I lost out on other options that today would have been a better choice. Waiting on a gun you may not like or will never arrive could cost you the opportunity of buying a reliable weapon today for the future. If the cost benefit of waiting does not add up then buy now. I cannot urge you enough to buy a self loading center fire rifle and handgun along with magazines and ammo at the present time. I had a customer tell me he had bought an AR-15 Bushmaster rifle then completely took it apart to sell the parts online. Made a profit, kept receiver and bought another new rifle which he planned to keep. He had a parts kit on order for four months. Go ahead buy the rifle and order the parts. You will be able to save the money by the time the parts or another gun arrives in 6-18 months. Remember to buy spare parts, cleaning kits, extra mags, ect. This is one of the biggest mistakes I see in people purchasing firearms. They put off the needed items for a later time. By the time you get around to taking the time to go back to the store or get online and look for everything either the price has changed or the item is no longer available. PMAGS and folding stocks are a great example. PMAGs were available for a time and people kept putting off ordering. A couple of months ago they could still be had for under $15 dollars. The same type of people buying Ak's wanted to add a Russian style side folder or one of the cheaper Romanian stocks. All of these items are either out of stock or in some cases doubled in price. I tried to talk customers into buying all the ammo they could take with them. They would buy a case and then say they would be back. By the time they took the time to come back the ammo was no longer available from any store or online source. If you see something you need or even high on your wish list then purchase it.

I do not see a massive price drop in the future. If you are wanting a weapon you need to be making plans to purchase one in the near future. Ammo is the same way. Buy all the ammo you can get ahold of. I have no idea when the supplies will be back up to what they were 12 months ago.

If you only have a 1500 dollars do not buy a 308 and a high end scope. Then not be able to buy magazines, ammo, and sites. An SKS and several cases of ammo along with training will beat and untrained man with a high dollar rifle every time. The FN-SCAR which is being sold at thousands of dollars over retail will do no good If you do not have ammo, mags, or a sling to carry the weapon. People buying the tools to prepare for civil unrest or a disaster either man-made or natural have a different priority than the weekend plinker who does not train nor plan to use a weapon for defense. That type person picks up his ammo on the way to the range every week and just like a golfer enjoys the sport of shooting for just that, a sport. The rest of American shooters, those shooters concerned about legislation of certain firearms or preparing for long periods of time that the weapon may be used to defend home and family need to be buying on a different time-frame. Even if buying now costs more up front one must value add the price of not having the firearm if you need it. If you keep the rifle locked in the safe and it is just a range toy then you can afford to wait for a good deal or a lower price. If one ever needs a self loading rifle or pistol to defend the life of a loved one then the value is much higher than that upon the tag.

Jacob Herman

Monday, April 13, 2009

Earth's natural wealth: an audit

* 23 May 2007 by David Cohen

"I GET excited every time I see a street cleaner," says Hazel Prichard. It's what they collect in their sacks that gets her juices flowing, because the grime and litter they sweep up off the streets is laced with traces of platinum, one of the world's rarest and most expensive metals. The catalytic converters that keep exhaust pollutants from cars, trucks and buses down to an acceptable level all use platinum, and over the years it is slowly but steadily lost through these vehicles' exhaust pipes. Prichard, a geologist at the University of Cardiff in the UK, reckons that tonnes of the stuff is being sprayed out onto the world's streets and highways every year, and she is hunting for places where it is concentrated enough to be worth recovering. One of her prime targets is the waste containers in road-sweeping machines.

This could prove lucrative, but Prichard is motivated by something far more significant than the chance of a quick buck. Platinum is a vital component not only of catalytic converters but also of fuel cells - and supplies are running out. It has been estimated that if all the 500 million vehicles in use today were re-equipped with fuel cells, operating losses would mean that all the world's sources of platinum would be exhausted within 15 years. Unlike with oil or diamonds, there is no synthetic alternative: platinum is a chemical element, and once we have used it all there is no way on earth of getting any more. What price then pollution-free cities? (more)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Alleged serial grifter turns self into police

'Had he given us notice, we could have had some paperwork done'

Matthew Coutts, National Post Handout

Alleged serial fraudster Shaun Rootenberg's surrender caught officers by surprise yesterday morning, when the man accused of impersonating his brother to bilk a bank out of $1.2-million walked through the front door of 32 Division headquarters.

"He pretty much just walked in, there was no announcement or anything. He just surrendered himself with counsel," said Constable Christopher Devereux, who has been part of an investigation into a series of alleged grifts, worth more than $2-million over the past two years.

"Had he given us some sort of notice, we could have had some of the paperwork done."

The former professional poker player, who tallied one third-place finish on the Canadian tour in 2005, surrendered to police at 8:30 a. m. to face accusations of fraudulently obtaining a substantial line of credit and mortgage from a Canadian financial institution.

In August, Mr. Rootenberg allegedly impersonated his brother in order to obtain a $650,000 mortgage and $550,000 line of credit. Within a week of acquiring the $1.2-million, police say he had already used $550,000 to cover personal expenses, and pay back alleged victims from a previous series of scams.

Mr. Rootenberg faces a number of charges stemming from a 2007 scam, in which he pretended he was an investment broker to convince three business associates in Canada and Florida to invest $850,000 in businesses with which he had no dealings.

Mr. Rootenberg missed a January court appearance into those charges.

In February, police launched a Canada-wide search tracking transactions Mr. Rootenberg made on a credit card obtained in the victim's name, which led them to believe he had travelled to Vancouver.

Const. Devereux said yesterday the search had resulted in several leads, but none that had confirmed his whereabouts.

"I asked him what brought him in now, and he said 'I just want to deal with it,' " he said.

Amit Thakore, Mr. Rootenberg's attorney, said only that his client wished to face the accusations.

Mr. Rootenberg, of Toronto, appeared in court yesterday charged with two counts of fraud over $5,000, personation, failure to comply and possession over $5,000, as well as one charge for failing to attend court. He will remain in custody until his next court appearance on March 19.

Police looking for alleged 'money-man' fraudster

Updated: Fri Feb. 13 2009 1:29:53 PM

Toronto police are looking for a "money-man" who is accused of using another person's identity to obtain a mortgage and line of credit worth $1.2 million.

Shaun David Rootenberg, 41, of Toronto, is charged with three criminal counts -- fraud over, personation and a fail to comply -- and police have issued a Canada-wide warrant for his arrest.

Det.-Const. Chris Devereux described the accused as a "money-man" who often finds investors for new businesses.

Rootenberg is also wanted on bench and surety warrants for separate charges relating to other alleged frauds.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Rootenberg is believed to be in the Toronto area, though he has spent time in Thornhill, and has been known to hang out in the Avenue Road area, typically between Eglinton and Lawrence Avenues, Devereux said. He has also spent time in Vancouver and Montreal during the past year.

He is described as being 5'8", weighs about 165 pounds and has dark grey hair that is receding, police said. He drives a 2006 black BMW X-5 and usually wears glasses.

Rootenberg has two children with an ex-wife, though he is not believed to have contact with them, Devereux said.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-3207.

Friday, April 10, 2009


The following is a compilation of handloading tips for 9x19mm that have been contributed by CZF Members. I have given credit to individual members when they are directly quoted, but the majority of the text represents the general consensus of several dozen reloaders who also own CZs. I want to thank everyone who has contributed to the CZF Reloading Forum over the years. There is a wealth of knowledge here that has helped me, and I hope this "compilation" will be useful to new reloaders in particular.

Much of this information is generally applicable to all cartridges, but the 9x19mm (a.k.a. 9mm Luger, 9mm Parabellum, et al.) will be the only cartridge covered in this presentation.

The following is in no way intended to substitute for a reliable general reloading manual. I cannot begin to fully present all of the necessary information in this format. Without having read a general manual such as the Hornady, Lyman, or Speer offerings, much of this article will not even make sense, I'm afraid. (more)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

the Truth About Facebook

Livestock for Survival

by Bobbi A.

With a cynical eye on the rapid downward spiral of events, it seems prudent to plan for a very long time of sustainable living. In this case survival depends not only on your stockpiled preps, but also in your ability to sustain food production past the end of your stored supply.

Let’s assume, to begin with, that you have reasonably stocked retreat. I’m not talking a stock to the level described in “Patriots”, but rather one that includes a year (or more) of food, basic ammo, firearms, reliable water, heat and power source … the basics.

Now it’s time to look past the first year or so and decide how you will continue to produce food and supplies for your family. Hunting is often an option, but it can’t be considered a long-term complete food source, as it is not nutritionally complete.

Much has been said about keeping heirloom (open pollinated) seeds, and this cannot be stressed enough. But you have to plant and harvest a crop each year to continue to re-supply your seeds. Most retreats seem to be in colder climates as they tend to have a lighter year-round population load. If you’re up in the mountains, altitude will play a significant factor in what you can hope to grow. Staples such as corn require heat days in order to properly pollinate and “set”. You generally want to lay in a supply of varieties that have the shortest maturity date. That means from the time you plant that seed to the time you harvest the crop is the shortest possible number of days.

Using “short season” varieties gives you two advantages. First, if you have a crop failure for some reason, you can often have time to replant. Secondly, if you’ve harvested your first crop, you have time to put another crop in the same space.

As summer approaches, consider a great time to practice crop production, if you haven’t already. It is not as simple a poking a seed into some dirt. Get a couple of good gardening books, or better yet, books on basic farming. Carla Emery’s Encyclopedia of Country Living and the Reader's Digest Back to Basics are both excellent reference books that cover everything from farming to livestock to making basic necessities.

Having a huge variety of seeds is not as important as having plenty to the right seeds for your needs. If you just can’t live without brussel sprouts, by all means, lay in some seeds. But stick mostly to the basics: wheat, corn, squash/pumpkin, beans, peas, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, peppers, and your basic herbs. If you haven’t planted fruit trees, now is the time to get started on that. It takes several years for trees to be come productive. Also give consideration to other perennials such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and grapes. Again, it take a few years for these (except for strawberries) to get into full production.

Besides your garden, fields and orchards, you’ll need to take a serious look at what sort of livestock will fit in to your situation. Eventually, you will probably need some sort of animal power for transportation and heavy work.

The most efficient feed-to-food converter is a chicken. One hen will lay approximately one egg every other day. Peak production (during the summer) generally is an egg a day. Winter drops to an egg every third day or so without significant extra light in the chicken coop. You can expect to raise two or three sets of chicks each summer. Hens will get “broody” and sit on eggs to hatch them once the weather is warm. In order for the eggs to be fertile, you of course must have a rooster. The best ratio is one rooster to every ten hens. A family of four would do well with 25 laying hens and three roosters. The extra eggs produced during the warm months can be frozen or used for feed for other animals. You can even feed the [well-pulverized and unrecognizable] eggshells back to your chickens to give them adequate calcium. During the spring, summer and early fall, you don’t even have to provide chickens with any feed. They are excellent consumers of all sorts of insects and bugs. “Free range” chickens pretty much feed themselves during the warm months. If predators are an issue though, you’ll want to keep them in a moveable cage (called a “chicken tractor”) so they don’t become a snack for some varmint. Raccoons are especially fond of chickens, as are weasels.

If you know that the stuff is hitting the fan, try to order 50 chicks or so [and buy a 50 pound sack of chick starter feed at your local feed store]. Chicks arrive in the mail. Ideal Poultry and Murray McMurray are two excellent sources. If you order “straight run” chicks, you’ll get a mix (about 50/50) of hens to roosters. The best all-round chicken in my opinion is the Astralorp. They start to lay early (at about five months of age) and consistently, they are good mothers and are big enough to still be a reasonable source of meat. The roosters tend to stay calm and usually are not aggressive. Chicks will cost you around $1.50 each. The price varies with the breed, the supplier and the time of year. Ideal tends to have good sales, which you can keep up with by signing up for email alerts.

Another excellent feed-to-food converter is the basic goat. I’ll say right off that they are tough to keep fenced in. Goats are terrifically intelligent and are phenomenal escape artists. If you keep goats, make absolutely certain that your gardens, crop grounds and trees are well fenced off and well protected. Goats can decimate fruit trees in minutes. Goats produce milk, meat and leather. A doe can kid as early as eight months old, but it’s best to wait until they are yearlings. Goats’ gestation is about five months and they tend to only breed in months that have “R” in the name (Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr). There are some aseasonal breeders, but don’t count on it. If your does are bred in early September, you might be about to get them bred back again in April, two months after kidding. Goats usually have twins and triplets. Bucks can be smelly and can be aggressive during rut.

The breed of goat really is an individual preference. Goat enthusiasts will extol the virtues of their particular breed, but mostly it comes down to basics: good dairy does will give about a gallon of milk a day. Goat milk, properly processed, is indistinguishable from fresh cow’s milk. If you have never consumed fresh milk, you ought to give it a try. It is completely different from what you purchase in the store. It makes store-bought taste like water. Goat milk is white, it does not separate as easily as cow’s milk (it takes longer to skim enough cream for butter), and it is often well-tolerated by people with lactose issues. During grazing months, a goat will produce milk just with pasture (grasses, clovers, and browse). A small amount of grain is nice at milking time so the does will be excited to come in to the milking area. It beats chasing them all over Creation. IN the winter, they will require hay and a little grain if you intend to keep milking. Some people “dry off” their does in the winter in preparation for kidding. You have to allow about two months of no milking before the doe kids so that her body has time to produce the colostrum the kids need in order to survive.

Goats are capable of pulling small, fairly light carts and helping with basic garden work (muzzled, of course). They can work individually or as a team of no more than two. They are also good packers capable of carrying about 30 pounds (for a full grown adult goat). For a family of four, two or three does and one buck is plenty. And yes, you can keep doe kids and still breed them back to their sire (or their brothers). Line breeding is not recommended over the long-haul, but it’s perfectly fine until things stabilize and you can trade genetics with a neighbor.

Sheep are extremely important, in my opinion, but are rarely discussed. They don’t have a terrific feed-to-food ratio, as they require a bit more protein. But for what they give you in return, they are an excellent survival animal. Besides meat and terrific hides, sheep produce wool. Wool is one of the very best natural fibers. It is somewhat flame retardant, retains its warmth even soaking wet, and is incredibly versatile. It can be spun into yarn, felted, woven, and even worked with “raw”. Lanolin is the “grease” on the wool. Once cleaned, it is an excellent, lasting softener for badly chapped/burned skin.
Sheep are not very smart, and so they really require looking after. If you have a predation problem, you’ll want to keep sheep close-in, or have some sort of guardian (human or animal) with them at all times. Sheep are similar to goats in breeding and birthing habits. In fact, you can keep sheep and goats together without any problems. They do not interbreed (although you may see the males trying it anyway).
Merino sheep are the best for fine wool production: the kind of wool you can wear next to your skin and not feel “itchy”. They are hard to find in the United States. Virtually any sheep, except “hair sheep”, will work for survival purposes. Larger breeds such as Columbia, Suffolk, and Corriedale will have more coarse wool, but they will produce bigger (meatier) lambs on less feed.

Like goats, you’d want two or three ewes and one ram. Rams can be dangerous. Repeat: rams can be dangerous. There is a product available called a “ram shield”. It is a leather piece that fit over the ram’s face so that he can’t see straight ahead to charge. However, his vision is fine for eating and wooing the ewes. (By the way, it works on goat bucks, too). After one Suffolk ram kept charging me, it is standard on our rams except for the Merinos. I’ve never had an aggressive Merino ram. Not to say it couldn’t happen; it just hasn’t happened yet. Merinos are smaller and when the rams fight during rut, the Merinos can take quite a beating. With the other rams wearing shields, it helps keep the Merinos from getting clobbered. It’s best to have a separate ram area away from the ewes once the girls are bred. It’s just safer for the shepherd/ess during feeding and lambing time.

Hogs are not for everyone, but they are one of my favorites. They produce a lot of meat, they are smart and easy to manage if you treat them decently, and they can grow fat on table scraps, roots, and forage. One sow can produce 20 or more piglets in a year. That a lot of meat and useful fat (soap-making). My experience is that colored pigs do better on pasture and forage than white pigs. I have no idea why this is true, but it seems to be. I don’t think the breed makes much difference, as long as the pigs aren’t white. Contrary to the stories, pigs do not like to be dirty. However, they cannot sweat to lower their body heat, and they must be provided with a place to cool off. A shallow concrete “pool”, access to a creek or pond, or even occasional hosing off will work. If pigs cannot get cooled off any other way, then they will wallow in a mud source.

Pigs “root” (dig) almost from the minute they are born. This is a terrific help in the fall when you want to get your garden turned over. They are omnivores and will graze, browse, and yet still consume table scraps and meat. Pigs are a good way to dispose of any accidental animal carcasses that you can’t eat yourself. Pigs are extremely smart (some say smarter than dogs). Boars can be dangerous, just like any other male, especially when he’s chasing a female. If you see the boar slobbering (white foam), stay out of the pen. He’s wooing a lady. We tame our pigs by hand-feeding eggs to them. After a few days, the pigs will come when you call. I have never even been charged by a pig, and I feel comfortable around ours. However, I never forget that they have razor-sharp teeth and that they weigh about 600 pounds when full grown! I never let the kids go into the hog pens unless I am standing right there. We’ve never had a problem, but I don’t believe in being foolish either.

Sows’ gestation is 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days. Sows will have between 8 and 15 piglets per litter. Many times, sows will have fewer “faucets” than piglets and you’ll have to make sure every gets their fair share of food in the beginning. Within a week, the piglets will be running everywhere and helping themselves to whatever Mom is eating. Piglets can be weaned at one month, but we generally leave them on until the sow weans them herself. The nutrition they receive from the sow doesn’t cost me anything and it helps the piglets get an excellent start.
Pigs can be butchered at about 160 pounds, which will give you about 80 pounds of meat and 20 pounds of lard. Pigs raised on pasture have much less lard and more lean meat. A little corn each day will help them gain weight faster, but much of that weight gain is fat and is probably a waste of valuable resources.
One sow and one boar will keep your family fed and provide lots of meat for trade.

As for larger stock, cattle and horses are generally what most people think of. They have great benefits but also great draw-backs.
Cattle produce milk, meat and hides. They also have a poor feed-to-food ratio compared to smaller stock. However, cattle can provide muscle as oxen for pulling, farming, and carting things around. Oxen can be male or female, so even your milk cow can be your ox in a pinch. Cows eat a lot. Figure on a milk cow eating 30 to 50 pounds of hay a day in the winter time. That’s a lot of hay if you’re putting it up by hand. Bulls are dangerous, but necessary to keep your cow bred (unless you can trade for the service a neighbor's bull). It takes about a year or so to get a calf to butcher size, which means you’re going to be feeding that calf over the winter (more hay). However, your cow will produce five to eight gallons of milk a day (on average). That’s a lot of milk for your household, for trade, or for feeding chickens and hogs. Cow milk separates easily.

A cow’s gestation is about nine months and they will breed any month of the year. You can continue to milk the cow up until about two months before she calves. Cows usually have just one calf. Dairy cows produce far more milk than beef cows, but they have less meat. A good solution is to have a dairy cow and a beef bull. The resulting calf will have more meat at butcher time. However, if you’re trying to raise a replacement milk cow, this won’t work in the long run.

There are many breeds of dairy cows. Dexters are excellent dual purpose (milk/meat) for a small group. They are little cows, about the size of a pony. They consume half the feed of a full size cow, produce two to three gallons of milk daily and have a beefier carcass. They dress out at about 65%. The down side is that they are still relatively expensive ($1000 for a cow/$800 for a bull). If you look carefully, especially in this down economy, you can probably find them quite a bit cheaper. Dexters are docile and make excellent oxen.

Jerseys are another “homestead” favorite due to their smaller size and high percentage of butterfat in the milk. Jerseys are 800-1,000 pounds full grown and produce 5-to-8 gallons of milk daily. The milk is rich in butterfat and slightly sweet. I think it’s the best milk. We have a Jersey cross milk cow for our family’s use.

Horses are a huge help, but not necessary to survival. They consume a lot of feed without producing any food in return. Most of the work horses do can also be done by oxen. However, I’d rather ride a horse than an ox any day. If you have plenty of pasture, plenty of feed and plenty of shelter during storms, then by all means keep a couple of horses. Again, a mare or two and a stallion keeps things sustainable.

It’s unlikely that most people would be able to keep each of these animals, or even that they would want to. The idea is to carefully consider what you need to supply for your family over a period of years. What livestock can you add to your retreat planning to help insure a sustainable food supply? Other possibilities include rabbits (meat/hides), geese (down/eggs), ducks (higher protein eggs) or domestic turkeys. Both of the books mentioned above for farming practices have a wealth of information for small-scale livestock production.

The other thing to consider is mobility. If you’re already living at your retreat, adding large stock is relatively simple. If you’re going to have to bug out, you’ll have to consider what you can take. I know that I can put three goats, three sheep, six piglets, and 30 chickens in and on the back of my Suburban. I know because I tried it. It took me 30 minutes to get all of them safely loaded and/or crated. [JWR Adds: My #1 Son mentioned that you should have videotaped this exercise--it would be very popular on YouTube!] I’d have to leave my cattle and horses if I had to bug out, but I could take enough livestock to keep us going for the foreseeable future.

So give consideration to what you will do when your stash runs out. How will you feed your family, your neighbors, your group if hunting is difficult or impossible? What can you do that is sustainable and practical? Think about what works for you in your situation. It’s easy to butcher poultry. It’s a bit more complicated for sheep or goats, and it takes some serious planning for a 600 pound pig!
Think ahead and be prepared.

Home- Building With Earthbags

Building with earthbags (sometimes called sandbags) is both old and new. Sandbags have long been used, particularly by the military, for creating strong, protective barriers, or for flood control. The same reasons that make them useful for these applications carry over to creating housing. Since the walls are so substantial, they resist all kinds of severe weather (or even bullets) and also stand up to natural calamities such as earthquakes and floods. They can be erected simply and quickly with readily available components, for very little money.

Earthbag building fills a unique niche in the quest for sustainable architecture. The bags can be filled with local, natural materials, which lowers the embodied energy commonly associated with the manufacture and transportation of building materials. The fill material is generally of mineral composition and is not subject to decomposition (even when damp), attractive to vermin, or other word it is extremely durable. The fill material is generally completely non-toxic and will not offgas noxious fumes into the building.

Earthbags have the tremendous advantage of providing either thermal mass or insulation, depending on what the bags are filled with. When filled with soil they provide thermal mass, but when filled with lighter weight materials, such as crushed volcanic stone, perlite, vermiculite, or rice hulls, they provide insulation. The bags can even act as natural non-wicking, somewhat insulated foundations when they are filled with gravel.

Because the earthbags can be stacked in a wide variety of shapes, including domes, they have the potential to virtually eliminate the need for common tensile materials in the structure, especially the wood and steel often used for roofs. This not only saves more energy (and pollution), but also helps save our forests, which are increasingly necessary for sequestering carbon.

Another aspect of sustainability is found in the economy of this method. The fill material can be literally "dirt cheap," especially if on-site soil is used. The earthbags themselves can often be purchased as misprints or recycled grain sacks, but even when new are not particularly expensive. Burlap bags were traditionally used for this purpose, and they work fine but are subject to rot. Polypropylene bags have superior strength and durability, as long as they are kept away from too much sunlight. For permanent housing the bags should be covered with some kind of plaster for protection, but this plaster can also be earthen and not particularly costly.

The ease and simplicity of building with earthbags should also be mentioned, since there is much unskilled labor available around the world that can be tapped for using this technology. One person familiar with the basics of earthbag building can easily train others to assist in the erection of a building. This not only makes the process more affordable, but also more feasible in remote areas where many common building skills are not to be found.