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Daily Archives: March 1, 2014

Pro-Russian Protesters Storm Kharkiv City Administration Building; Klitschko Calls For General Mobilization | Zero Hedge

Pro-Russian Protesters Storm Kharkiv City Administration Building; Klitschko Calls For General Mobilization | Zero Hedge.

Even as Russia has officially deployed its military to the Ukraine, its unofficial involvement in The Crimean was well known for days. A much more notable development would be if protesters in the pro-Russian eastern part of the country were to seize control of the second largest city in the Ukraine, Kharkiv, located just miles from the Russian border as this would quickly give Russia a foothold into the east of the nation with the tactical escalation abilities such a takeover would entail. Which is why the following clip of pro-Russian protesters storming the city administration in Kharkiv is of importance: should Ukraine lose control of the city, or is forced to use troops against the people, it would be just the pretext Russia needs to “defend” citizens in this part of the country, the same argument it used for military intervention in the Crimean.

And in other news, Ukrainian boxer, vocal leader of the EuroMeidan opposition movement and potential future president, Vitali Klitschko just called for a general mobilization. After all he has the most to lose if the countercoup quickly sweeps away from power those who organized the original coup in the first place. From Reuters:

Vitaly Klitschko, a senior Ukrainian politician and likely presidential candidate, called on Saturday for a “general mobilisation” following Russian parliament’s decision to approve deploying troops in Ukraine’s Crimea region.

 

“Klitschko calls for a declaration on a general mobilisation,” the retired boxing champion’s political party UDAR (Punch) said, making clear he favoured a military mobilisation.

Finally, the world’s most useless organizations, the UN and European finance ministers, are pretending to be relevant:

  • UN SECURITY COUNCIL TO MEET 2PM TODAY TO DISCUSS UKRAINE
  • EUROPEAN FOREIGN MINISTERS TO HOLD EMERGENCY MEETING ON UKRAINE IN BRUSSELS ON MONDAY -EU DIPLOMAT

Time for another Obama appearance to explain just what the “costs” that he mentioned are in his opinion. Because Putin seems to have missed the message.

Ukraine Acting President Calls Emergncy Meeting Of Security Chiefs; Russia Threatens To Cut Off The Gas | Zero Hedge

Ukraine Acting President Calls Emergncy Meeting Of Security Chiefs; Russia Threatens To Cut Off The Gas | Zero Hedge.

All the dominoes are tumbling now. Moments after the Russian upper house of parliament approved the decision to use Russian troops in the Ukraine as expected, Ukraine’s acting president called an emergency meeting of security chiefs according to his spokeswoman. Oleksander Turchinov summoned his Security Council after Russian President Vladimir Putin sought parliamentary approval to deploy Russian forces in the Ukrainian region of Crimea. At this point the biggest and perhaps final wildcard is whether NATO does or does not get involved. If it does, and if Russia does not back off – which it has clearly telegraphed it won’t – futures may be looking at a limit down open on Sunday.

And while military escalation is now an official reality instead of merely YouTube clips of unidentified crap troops , Russia just sent another major warning shot across the bow when it issued several warnings on Saturday that Ukraine may lose a discount to the gas price it now pays to Gazprom due to Kiev’s outstanding gas debt. Russia’s state gas company Gazprom estimates Ukraine’s outstanding gas debt at $1.55 billion for 2013 and gas deliveries so far this year. This of course, was Russia’s trump card from the very beginning. Via Reuters:

“It seems that with such gas payments and fulfilment of its obligations Ukraine may not keep its current gas discount. The gas discount agreement assumed full and timely payment,” Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov told Reuters.

A price increase would deepen Ukraine’s already dire cash situation and could lead to a new “gas war” between Kiev and Moscow as well as interrupt gas shipments to Europe, which gets around third of its gas from Russia.

In December, Russia agreed to reduce gas prices for Kiev by about a third, to $268.50 per 1,000 cubic metres from around $400 which Ukraine had paid since 2009, after ousted President Viktor Yanukovich spurned an EU trade deal in favour of closer ties to Moscow.

The deal allowed for the price to be revised quarterly between the 5th and 10th day of the first month every quarter.

The news agency Interfax cited a representative of the Russian energy ministry as saying on Saturday that Moscow sees no reason to extend the discount to Ukraine for the second quarter – because of the outstanding debt.

If this continues to happen, is there any point in continuing the existing agreement on gas supplies at discount prices? No,” the agency cited an unnamed ministry representative as saying.

“It is important that the proposal for a reduced gas price is confirmed quarterly. It would be stupid and wrong to extend it to the second quarter.”

Ukraine’s newly appointed Energy Minister Yuri Prodan told reporters on Saturday that the price for Russian gas would stay unchanged in March but it could jump to around $400 per 1,000 cubic metres in the second quarter if the two sides fail to sign an agreement.

Ukraine, which has seen its currency spiralling down and cash and gold reserves falling significantly as a result of the political protests that led to the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovich last weekend, is in dire need of cash.

It faces a further $6 billion in foreign debt payments this year and has asked the International Monetary Fund for financial assistance of at least $15 billion. Ukraine’s newly appointed leaders estimated Kiev’s needs at around $35 billion.

Prodan told journalists that the Ukrainian energy firm Naftogas is in “active talks” with Gazprom over pricing. Ukraine consumes about 55 billion cubic meters of gas each year, and more than half of this amount is imported from Russia.

But far more important than Ukraine, which is merely a sacrificial lamb in the latest proxy war between east and west, is the Russian hint that what is likely to happen to Ukraine’s gas may soon hit Europe too if it also gets involved.

Apart from through Ukraine, Russian gas flows to Europe via Belarus and two subsea pipelines – under the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea. Gazprom plans to build another subsea pipeline – the South Stream – to bypass Ukraine by 2016.

So check to you NATO: will you defend the territorial integrity of Ukraine even as NATO actively pushed for a split in Yugoslavia some 15 years ago, or will it do the “right” thing… in the dark?

Ukraine Acting President Calls Emergncy Meeting Of Security Chiefs; Russia Threatens To Cut Off The Gas | Zero Hedge

Ukraine Acting President Calls Emergncy Meeting Of Security Chiefs; Russia Threatens To Cut Off The Gas | Zero Hedge.

All the dominoes are tumbling now. Moments after the Russian upper house of parliament approved the decision to use Russian troops in the Ukraine as expected, Ukraine’s acting president called an emergency meeting of security chiefs according to his spokeswoman. Oleksander Turchinov summoned his Security Council after Russian President Vladimir Putin sought parliamentary approval to deploy Russian forces in the Ukrainian region of Crimea. At this point the biggest and perhaps final wildcard is whether NATO does or does not get involved. If it does, and if Russia does not back off – which it has clearly telegraphed it won’t – futures may be looking at a limit down open on Sunday.

And while military escalation is now an official reality instead of merely YouTube clips of unidentified crap troops , Russia just sent another major warning shot across the bow when it issued several warnings on Saturday that Ukraine may lose a discount to the gas price it now pays to Gazprom due to Kiev’s outstanding gas debt. Russia’s state gas company Gazprom estimates Ukraine’s outstanding gas debt at $1.55 billion for 2013 and gas deliveries so far this year. This of course, was Russia’s trump card from the very beginning. Via Reuters:

“It seems that with such gas payments and fulfilment of its obligations Ukraine may not keep its current gas discount. The gas discount agreement assumed full and timely payment,” Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov told Reuters.

A price increase would deepen Ukraine’s already dire cash situation and could lead to a new “gas war” between Kiev and Moscow as well as interrupt gas shipments to Europe, which gets around third of its gas from Russia.

In December, Russia agreed to reduce gas prices for Kiev by about a third, to $268.50 per 1,000 cubic metres from around $400 which Ukraine had paid since 2009, after ousted President Viktor Yanukovich spurned an EU trade deal in favour of closer ties to Moscow.

The deal allowed for the price to be revised quarterly between the 5th and 10th day of the first month every quarter.

The news agency Interfax cited a representative of the Russian energy ministry as saying on Saturday that Moscow sees no reason to extend the discount to Ukraine for the second quarter – because of the outstanding debt.

If this continues to happen, is there any point in continuing the existing agreement on gas supplies at discount prices? No,” the agency cited an unnamed ministry representative as saying.

“It is important that the proposal for a reduced gas price is confirmed quarterly. It would be stupid and wrong to extend it to the second quarter.”

Ukraine’s newly appointed Energy Minister Yuri Prodan told reporters on Saturday that the price for Russian gas would stay unchanged in March but it could jump to around $400 per 1,000 cubic metres in the second quarter if the two sides fail to sign an agreement.

Ukraine, which has seen its currency spiralling down and cash and gold reserves falling significantly as a result of the political protests that led to the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovich last weekend, is in dire need of cash.

It faces a further $6 billion in foreign debt payments this year and has asked the International Monetary Fund for financial assistance of at least $15 billion. Ukraine’s newly appointed leaders estimated Kiev’s needs at around $35 billion.

Prodan told journalists that the Ukrainian energy firm Naftogas is in “active talks” with Gazprom over pricing. Ukraine consumes about 55 billion cubic meters of gas each year, and more than half of this amount is imported from Russia.

But far more important than Ukraine, which is merely a sacrificial lamb in the latest proxy war between east and west, is the Russian hint that what is likely to happen to Ukraine’s gas may soon hit Europe too if it also gets involved.

Apart from through Ukraine, Russian gas flows to Europe via Belarus and two subsea pipelines – under the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea. Gazprom plans to build another subsea pipeline – the South Stream – to bypass Ukraine by 2016.

So check to you NATO: will you defend the territorial integrity of Ukraine even as NATO actively pushed for a split in Yugoslavia some 15 years ago, or will it do the “right” thing… in the dark?

Putin Asks For Permission By Parliament To Use Military In Ukraine | Zero Hedge

Putin Asks For Permission By Parliament To Use Military In Ukraine | Zero Hedge.

Current US foreign policy in a nutshell: Barack Obama tells Vladimir Putin “there will be costs” if Russia invades Ukraine. What does Putin do? He invades Ukraine. Only this time it’s official: AP reports that the Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin has asked parliament for permission to use the country’s military in Ukraine. Putin says the move is needed to protect ethnic Russians and the personnel of a Russian military base in Ukraine’s strategic region of Crimea.

From the Kremlin website:

Vladimir Putin made an appeal to the Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation.

“In connection with the extraordinary situation in Ukraine, the threat to the lives of citizens of the Russian Federation, our compatriots, the personnel of the military contingent of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation deployed in the territory of Ukraine (Autonomous Republic of Crimea) in accordance with an international treaty, and pursuant to Article 102-1(d) of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, I hereby submit to the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation a letter on the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in the territory of Ukraine pending normalisation of the public and political situation in that country”

More from Itar-Tass

Putin also appointed Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin to be his official representative in the Federation Council when it considers his letter.

Earlier in the day, the Federation Council asked Putin to take “exhaustive measures” to protect Russians in Ukraine.

“We have urgently summoned the house Council and thought it necessary to make a statement assessing the current situation in Ukraine,” Federation Council Chairperson Valentina Matviyenko said.

She said a group of Russian senators, who had visited Crimea, had informed their colleagues about the situation in the Ukrainian autonomy and specifically in Sevastopol, the home base of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

“Today there is a real threat to the life and security of Russian citizens living in Ukraine. There is a threat to our military in Sevastopol and the Black Sea Fleet, and I think that Russia should not be a bystander,” she said.

The main purpose of the Federation Council’s appeal to the president is to urge him “to take exhaustive measures, all possible measures, to ensure the security of our citizens living in Ukraine, help our brotherly Ukrainian people achieve stabilisation and channel the current crisis into a civilised legal track so that the agreements that were signed by the opposition leaders and the head of state were implemented strictly,” Matviyenko said.

She noted that members of the Federation Council “asked the president to take exhaustive measures to prevent further escalation and put the resolution of the political crisis onto a legal track so that those who have grabbed power did not hurry so much and did not trample upon the rights of people and different regions of Ukraine.”

“The agreement [of February 21] clearly determined the sequence of steps. A constitutional reform first – it was supposed to be carried out with broad participation of public and political forces and regions in order to work out a consensus-based document that would be supported by all people in Ukraine. According to international practices, such serious documents should be adopted in a national referendum,” Matviyenko said.

Having expressed regret that this had not happened, she noted that “the speed with which presidential elections have been announced [in Ukraine] puts its legitimacy in question.”

“The agreement calls for forming a government of national accord, which means that it should include representatives of all political forces. In reality we see that the government, which was approved to the stomping of the Maidan, did not include all political forces and was formed from opposition parties only,” Matviyenko observed.

She also said that “the heads of regions were not summoned for consultation.” So “we can understand why there are protests in regions, except for Western regions of Ukraine,” she added.

Matviyenko called for finding “a calm, civilised and legal solution to the crisis” and stressed that “there is no need to demonstrate high political and diplomatic culture in this case because we can see that this is neither appreciated nor understood, and most importantly the security of people will not be ensured.

RIA further adds, the military use is virtually assured as it was leaders of Russia’s upper and lower houses of parliament who first called Saturday on President Vladimir Putin to stabilize the situation in Crimea and protect Russian citizens.  The leader of Federation Council, Russia’s upper house, said the use of military force in the former Soviet nation could be justified after the opposition swept into power in Kiev last weekend.

More from the RT:

In this situation it would even be possible, on the request of the Crimean government, to bring in a limited contingent [of troops] to guarantee security,” Valentina Matviyenko said.

The partition of Ukraine has become increasingly likely in recent days as heavily armed men understood to be Russian soldiers have taken control of key facilities and blocked roads in Crimea.

About 60 percent of the residents of Ukraine’s southern peninsula are ethnic Russians with the remainder of the population made up of Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars, who largely support the incoming regime.

The State Duma, Russia’s lower house, released a similar statement Saturday that said must Putin bring the situation in Ukraine under control.

“All available means” should be deployed to protect Russian citizens, said Sergei Naryshkin, a former head of the presidential administration and the current parliamentery speaker in the Duma.

The Crimea has been visited by a series of Russian Duma deputies in recent days, including former boxing champion Nikolai Valuev, former figure skater Irina Rodnina, and the first woman in space Valentina Tereshkova.

Pro-Russian protests calling for secession have taken place sporadically across the southern and eastern Ukraine since President Viktor Yanukovuych was toppled from power a week ago.

Meanwhile, international media has reported widespread military movements, believed to be units from Russia’s Black Sea fleet headquartered in Crimea, including tanks and helicopters that began on Tuesday. Ukrainian officials have accused the Kremlin of provoking conflict and called on Russia to return all soldiers to their bases.

And then this:

  • RUSSIAN FEDERATION COUNCIL AGREES TO PUTIN’S REQUEST FOR MILITARY INTERVENTION IN CRIMEA – DPA

Needless to say all of this is just for show: as we have been reporting for the past 4 days, Russian troops are long since in Ukraine.

More importantly, it appears Putin is not very concerned about the impact his actions will have on equity futures when they open for trading on Sunday evening: but… but… the artificial “on paper” wealth effect. On the other hand, he certainly has a lot of concern to keep geopolitical events of the type that keep the price of crude high, always at arms length.

Putin Asks For Permission By Parliament To Use Military In Ukraine | Zero Hedge

Putin Asks For Permission By Parliament To Use Military In Ukraine | Zero Hedge.

Current US foreign policy in a nutshell: Barack Obama tells Vladimir Putin “there will be costs” if Russia invades Ukraine. What does Putin do? He invades Ukraine. Only this time it’s official: AP reports that the Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin has asked parliament for permission to use the country’s military in Ukraine. Putin says the move is needed to protect ethnic Russians and the personnel of a Russian military base in Ukraine’s strategic region of Crimea.

From the Kremlin website:

Vladimir Putin made an appeal to the Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation.

“In connection with the extraordinary situation in Ukraine, the threat to the lives of citizens of the Russian Federation, our compatriots, the personnel of the military contingent of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation deployed in the territory of Ukraine (Autonomous Republic of Crimea) in accordance with an international treaty, and pursuant to Article 102-1(d) of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, I hereby submit to the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation a letter on the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in the territory of Ukraine pending normalisation of the public and political situation in that country”

More from Itar-Tass

Putin also appointed Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin to be his official representative in the Federation Council when it considers his letter.

Earlier in the day, the Federation Council asked Putin to take “exhaustive measures” to protect Russians in Ukraine.

“We have urgently summoned the house Council and thought it necessary to make a statement assessing the current situation in Ukraine,” Federation Council Chairperson Valentina Matviyenko said.

She said a group of Russian senators, who had visited Crimea, had informed their colleagues about the situation in the Ukrainian autonomy and specifically in Sevastopol, the home base of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

“Today there is a real threat to the life and security of Russian citizens living in Ukraine. There is a threat to our military in Sevastopol and the Black Sea Fleet, and I think that Russia should not be a bystander,” she said.

The main purpose of the Federation Council’s appeal to the president is to urge him “to take exhaustive measures, all possible measures, to ensure the security of our citizens living in Ukraine, help our brotherly Ukrainian people achieve stabilisation and channel the current crisis into a civilised legal track so that the agreements that were signed by the opposition leaders and the head of state were implemented strictly,” Matviyenko said.

She noted that members of the Federation Council “asked the president to take exhaustive measures to prevent further escalation and put the resolution of the political crisis onto a legal track so that those who have grabbed power did not hurry so much and did not trample upon the rights of people and different regions of Ukraine.”

“The agreement [of February 21] clearly determined the sequence of steps. A constitutional reform first – it was supposed to be carried out with broad participation of public and political forces and regions in order to work out a consensus-based document that would be supported by all people in Ukraine. According to international practices, such serious documents should be adopted in a national referendum,” Matviyenko said.

Having expressed regret that this had not happened, she noted that “the speed with which presidential elections have been announced [in Ukraine] puts its legitimacy in question.”

“The agreement calls for forming a government of national accord, which means that it should include representatives of all political forces. In reality we see that the government, which was approved to the stomping of the Maidan, did not include all political forces and was formed from opposition parties only,” Matviyenko observed.

She also said that “the heads of regions were not summoned for consultation.” So “we can understand why there are protests in regions, except for Western regions of Ukraine,” she added.

Matviyenko called for finding “a calm, civilised and legal solution to the crisis” and stressed that “there is no need to demonstrate high political and diplomatic culture in this case because we can see that this is neither appreciated nor understood, and most importantly the security of people will not be ensured.

RIA further adds, the military use is virtually assured as it was leaders of Russia’s upper and lower houses of parliament who first called Saturday on President Vladimir Putin to stabilize the situation in Crimea and protect Russian citizens.  The leader of Federation Council, Russia’s upper house, said the use of military force in the former Soviet nation could be justified after the opposition swept into power in Kiev last weekend.

More from the RT:

In this situation it would even be possible, on the request of the Crimean government, to bring in a limited contingent [of troops] to guarantee security,” Valentina Matviyenko said.

The partition of Ukraine has become increasingly likely in recent days as heavily armed men understood to be Russian soldiers have taken control of key facilities and blocked roads in Crimea.

About 60 percent of the residents of Ukraine’s southern peninsula are ethnic Russians with the remainder of the population made up of Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars, who largely support the incoming regime.

The State Duma, Russia’s lower house, released a similar statement Saturday that said must Putin bring the situation in Ukraine under control.

“All available means” should be deployed to protect Russian citizens, said Sergei Naryshkin, a former head of the presidential administration and the current parliamentery speaker in the Duma.

The Crimea has been visited by a series of Russian Duma deputies in recent days, including former boxing champion Nikolai Valuev, former figure skater Irina Rodnina, and the first woman in space Valentina Tereshkova.

Pro-Russian protests calling for secession have taken place sporadically across the southern and eastern Ukraine since President Viktor Yanukovuych was toppled from power a week ago.

Meanwhile, international media has reported widespread military movements, believed to be units from Russia’s Black Sea fleet headquartered in Crimea, including tanks and helicopters that began on Tuesday. Ukrainian officials have accused the Kremlin of provoking conflict and called on Russia to return all soldiers to their bases.

And then this:

  • RUSSIAN FEDERATION COUNCIL AGREES TO PUTIN’S REQUEST FOR MILITARY INTERVENTION IN CRIMEA – DPA

Needless to say all of this is just for show: as we have been reporting for the past 4 days, Russian troops are long since in Ukraine.

More importantly, it appears Putin is not very concerned about the impact his actions will have on equity futures when they open for trading on Sunday evening: but… but… the artificial “on paper” wealth effect. On the other hand, he certainly has a lot of concern to keep geopolitical events of the type that keep the price of crude high, always at arms length.

Contribute (content) to the site

No, this is not about contributing money. It is about contributing content in the form of a website suggestion or post. I am not involved in this ‘journey’ to make money; although it would be nice to sell enough copies of my book to fund its publication and the website, but that is not my main motivation. I tell myself that the main motivation is to share information so we can better understand just what the hell is going on in this world.

Whether you ‘believe’ the information that is shared is entirely up to you. I make no claim as to sharing the ‘truth’. I firmly believe that the narrative we believe is based on many things, not least of which is how it aligns with our personal preconceptions, observations, and biases. Thus, the category term ‘Cognitive Bias’.

That being said, I open the floor to others to contribute to this site. No, there will no be remuneration in the monetary sense.

If you are connected to the suggested link somehow, I would simply ask that you include a link to my site as well.

I alone am the arbiter of what content the site contains (see this). I will judge based on how it ‘aligns’ with the topics/issues/perspectives of the site as a whole, but I will try to hold my own prejudices in check during such decisions.

To suggest a site or offer a ‘post’ for my new ‘Cognitive Bias’ section (to which I’ll be moving my previous ‘Musings’ posts), please email olduvai at rogers dot com.

Steve
March 1, 2014

What you should know about edible plants in the United States…

What you should know about edible plants in the United States….

by Guest Blogger on February 28, 2014

This is a guest post by Christine W and entry for our non-fiction writing contest.

blackberries

I once read a very interesting article from a survivor of the Bosnian Collapse in the late 90’s. This was a true end of the world as they knew it event, and it was fascinating and eye opening to read. One of the things the man talked about in his extensive article was the most useful skills to posses. Medical knowledge was the highest on his list. Lacking real world medical training, people with the knowledge of the uses of herbs and plants were able to trade and use that knowledge to survive.

Most people in America can’t identify even 1% of the plants that surround them. They don’t know useful from poisonous or nutritious from useless plants. And yet there are dozens of plants that grow even in urban settings that are not only edible but down right lifesaving if you only can identify them. For 15 years I have been a gardener and outdoorswoman. Much of my knowledge has come from being a curious person interested in the world around me, and also from searching for natural ways to heal common ailments for myself and my children.

I have been amazed at the amount of plants growing near me that can be used for healing, and have compiled a small list of what I consider the important common plants that grow in the USA, things you can find right out your back door. I am sure there are thousands more! Knowledge is power, so I recommend that you should start now when it comes to identifying wild and not so wild food and medicinal sources. Once you can recognize a plant start noting where you see them, what time of year they flower in your area and when they bear fruit. I go out for drives along country roads and memorize where plants, bushes, berries, and helpful trees are growing.

You can also look around your neighborhood. Rose Bushes will provide you with rose hips that are high in vitamin C and can save you from scurvy in the winter. Echinacea also known as Purple Coneflowers are popular in gardens can boost the immune system and also have a host of other uses. Look up color photos of plants on the internet to help you identify them, or join a wild crafting group if one is available. Having a print out of each plant with multiple pictures and uses of them, along with how to use them and dosages, is very important in a SHTF event. There are many books specifying every area of America for finding wild foods and they often have excellent color pictures and identification keys. I keep a few of them in my purse when I go up to the wild and try to identify as many helpful plants as possible. Often these books are inexpensive so picking them up is a good idea.

As a note I say where you can find the below plants. We live in the dry west so most plants only grow near water sources. However I know that in other areas of the country rain is more plentiful so the growing habitat is much different. If you are gathering post or during SHTF remember your personal safety and weigh the possible benefits vs. danger of running into other hungry people. Never go alone even now as accidents happen and wild animals many times enjoy wild foods as much as people do. Meeting a hungry bear while picking berries is a highly unpleasant event! When you head to any wilderness take precautions and let people know where you are going and when you are coming back. Always take a first aid kit, water, a good map, and some food with you.

Caution! As with any wild foraging check and double check your identification before eating anything, do not take another person’s word on the safety of a plant. Some wild foods are debated on their safety as some people will have a reaction where other do not. Also if you have food allergies be wary and careful when trying new things. Remember that when harvesting wild foods make sure they are not sprayed with poisons or chemicals. I am not a doctor and am not giving medical advice. If you want to try natural remedies do your research and also talk to your doctor. Even though these plants are natural they can still be very strong medicines and even interact with other medication you are taking!

Alfalfa – Amazingly enough, this plant, a common feed for animals, is one of the most useful in a TEOTWAWKI collapse, or even just in a financial collapse where you suddenly become dirt poor. Alfalfa is highly nutritious and can be used to treat several conditions. The most important in my mind being bleeding, hemorrhaging, hemorrhaging after birth, and heavy menstrual bleeding. Blood loss is a common problem where medical care is limited and people are exposed to hard physical work or dangerous situations.

Childbirth for women is the most fatal event during life in 3rd world countries, many of the deaths coming from hemorrhaging after birth. Drinking a tea made from alfalfa, or eating alfalfa in the last few weeks of pregnancy can help prevent hemorrhage or excessive bleeding due to several compounds it contains, this includes vitamin K which is essential to blood clotting. I used this supplement under my midwifes supervision during my last two pregnancies.

My first two births went off well except that I hemorrhaged after birth. After my second birth I hemorrhaged so severely that I was only saved by my midwife administering emergency shots of anti hemorrhaging drugs (which will not be available to most women in a SHTF event). For two months after I was weaker than normal and under strict instructions to take it easy. My next two births went well and I barely bled at all, even compared to normal bleeding. Both times I was taking alfalfa at the end of my pregnancy. Pregnant women should not take it until the last three weeks of pregnancy due to the fact that as it has hormone properties that could cause labor and miscarriage.

Once a woman is considered full term at 37 weeks that is not such an issue. Taking too much alfalfa for longer than a month can have the opposite effect and cause bleeding to be worse! Newborns need Vitamin K for proper development and usually receive an injection soon after birth, but during or after a SHTF event those shots may not be available and doctors recommend mothers consume foods with high vitamin K so that it will be passed to the nursing child. Dried or fresh alfalfa can be used in the human diet and also as a compress on wounds to help them stop bleeding. In application to a wound it is essential to boil the water for 10 minutes to kill bacteria and then boil the alfalfa added for a few minutes thus killing any bacteria on the plant leaves. Alfalfa helps people who are nutritionally deficient.

It helps a great deal with vitamin C deficiency when used fresh, for it contains more vitamin C than some citrus fruits. Scurvy is caused by a vitamin C deficiency and is a common problem for people during famines, or when there is a lack of fresh fruits and vegetables. It also has very high B vitamin levels and Vitamin D levels which help with problems such as rickets, a common disease especially effecting children who have poor diets or are not exposed to enough sunlight. This is a common problem when living in a war zone or an area where people must stay inside much of the time due to violence as Vitamin D cannot be manufactured by the body and is mainly created by the skins exposure to the sun.

Alfalfa is also easy to store when dried and is very cheap. It is a good item to keep on hand. Alfalfa is grown everywhere in the USA and can be found along ditch banks and country roads growing wild, in fields as well as in farm yards. It does not need to be reseeded every year so a field that had it last year will have it this year as well.

Raspberry Leaf – Raspberries (also known as redcaps, bramble berries, dewberry, and thimbleberry) grow wild in the USA and are even considered an invasive species. They come in red, black, purple, and golden fruit all of which is essentially the same plant, but these other fruit colors do not generally grow in the wild like the common red does. Obviously the fruit is edible but the leaves and even roots can be used for highly effective remedies. The most well known is for aid to painful menstruation, to regulate and normalize a woman’s cycle, and also to help shorten and lessen the pain of childbirth. I am all for shortening the length of childbirth; having had four children naturally! Caution must be used however as raspberry leaf can cause uterine contractions, so it should only be used once labor has begun or a week before birth is expected. It can be used by non-pregnant women during and right before menstruation. Another equally important use of raspberry leaf is it’s use as a cure for diarrhea. More on that in the Blackberry Section. These plants are found near water, in boggy areas, besides stream banks, in gullies, on ditch banks, or growing anywhere that gets plentiful rainfall.

Blackberry Fruits, Leaves, and Roots – Diarrhea is one of the most common killers in third world countries due to contaminated water supplies and poor water treatment facilities. As a country collapses the infrastructure of water treatment always breaks down, and waterborne illness explodes. Preparation for such disease is essential when we plan for a SHTF event.

Diarrhea is especially fatal to children and the elderly, and is frightening at how fast it kills. Soldiers in battle frequently suffer from dysentery due to bad water as well. For centuries blackberries (and to a lesser extent any of the bramble berry varieties such a red caps, black caps, Marion berries, dewberries, and raspberries) have been used for treating diarrhea, dysentery, food borne illness, and even the more deadly waterborne illnesses. This must be remembered to be a treatment, not a cure as diarrhea is a symptom of an infection in the body which must be treated as well.

Blackberry Root Bark is the most effective remedy for diarrhea, but if you can’t get to the roots the leaves are highly effective as well, even dried ones. Last is the fruit which can be eaten or a syrup or juice made from the fruit. A syrup or juice is especially useful when treating small children. One teaspoon of root or leaves per boiling cup of water, steeped for 20 minutes, then sweetened with honey if possible due to its healing and soothing properties is a good dosage. It is the tannins in the blackberry plant that help with diarrhea . Blackberries are even more invasive than red raspberries and grow profusely throughout the USA. If in a dry region look for them along streams or down in gullies and canyons. The leaves and root bark are easy to dry, and the leaves can be eaten and are high in nutrition.

Elderberries – I grew up eating wild elderberries, these are a round purple-ish blue fruit that grows in clusters on a bushy tree. The bush flowers in late spring depending on your area and the fruits are ripe in early fall. They are very common growing wild and like water so they grow either near bodies of water or in areas that get plenty of water. I often see them growing in old farm yards or homesteads because the pioneers and old farmers used them not only for health but as a much needed fruit. They also can be found in gullies and draws. The fruit has a dusty powder on it, but care should be taken as the red elderberry, the stems of all elderberries that connect to the fruit, and also the unripe fruit, are poisonous.

The fruit and flowers have been proven in clinical trials to help with many ailments, but especially in respiratory infections such as bronchitis and also to help thin mucus. The fruit are very high in vitamin C and are used to treat the flu and to boost the immune system. Elderberries would be good for an insurance against scurvy. Harvesting is easy and making juice, syrups, or tinctures from them is the best way to use them for healing.

The flowers are used to make a tea or tincture for respiratory ailments and compresses for wounds. They also are good in pies, jams, jellies, and to make wine and liquors. There is some evidence that they should be cooked before consuming as uncooked raw fruit can cause stomach upset. Elderberry syrup is safe for children.

Other Berries – Obviously there are many berries growing throughout the United states, many of them not only edible but beneficial as well. Getting a good book on berry identification for your area is an excellent idea.

Rosehips – Wild roses grow all over the USA along roads, up in the mountains, and in forests. They are usually found as just a single flower, meaning they are a single layer of petals in a ring around the central part of the flower, maybe five petals in a ring. Roses are also grown in many yards and gardens, and there are even rose varieties grown specifically for large rosehips. Rosehips are the main and most helpful part of the plant for use. Wild roses have small hips compared to their cultivated cousins, but size doesn’t matter when it comes to food and medicinal value.

They can be eaten raw in a pinch, but the most common way is to chop the hips roughly and pour 1 cup boiling water over two teaspoons of the chopped hips. Allow them to steep for 20 minutes and sweeten with honey, or, if for a child under two years of age, sugar or syrup. Rose hips are higher in vitamin C than citrus fruit and not only prevent, but also treat scurvy.

They are easy to identify and easy to harvest. Rose hips make a tea that is tart and pleasant to drink. They can help treat urinary tract infections and the flu, and rose hips also boost the immune system. When fresh veggies and fruit are unavailable, rosehips can be found even in winter and still be eaten as they do not rot easily and cling to the rosebush. Rosehips are generally a reddish color, and it is wise to look for ones that are still firm, not black or with mold or rot on them. They can be used to make syrup, jelly, jam, wine, and juice. The flowers of roses are also edible but make sure you don’t eat them if they are been sprayed with pesticide.

Bachelor Buttons – Bachelor Buttons, also known as cornflowers, are a flower that grows wild and cultivated across the USA. They are popular in wildflower or cottage gardens and are also drought tolerant and reseed prolifically in the wild. The common color is a cobalt blue, but especially in gardens they come in white, light pink, and purple. The flower is the part used and is most commonly utilized as an eyewash for injured or infected eyes. This is usually done by steeping the flowers in fresh boiled water, cooled, and then applied over the eyes on a moistened rag.

A similar rinse for cuts and sores in the mouth aids healing. In this instance it is best to spit out after swishing around the mouth. Furthermore, they can also be used in the same form to wash cuts, scrapes and bruises. Combine one teaspoon of dried cornflower petals, or five fresh blossoms with one cup of boiling water. Cover and steep for 15-20 minutes; after this you may strain and consume. If taking internally it is best for no longer than two weeks. Cornflower tea has been used to calm diarrhea, treat urinary tract infections, and for anxiety or nervousness. This flower can be found along road sides, in fields, and in clearings. They love full sun and they are very easy to grow. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use this internally. If you have allergies to daisies or ragweed you should not use this at all.

Lambs Quarters/Wild Spinach – Lambs Quarters, also known as wild spinach, goosefoot, pigweed, good king henry, and fat hen, is considered by most gardeners as a weed, but is in fact is a highly nutritious and delicious plant that grows everywhere and is easy to identify. It is nicer than common spinach because it is slow to bolt in the heat of summer, and because while tasting like spinach, it is even more nutritious. It can be cooked or eaten raw and the stems leaves and seeds are all edible. It can also be frozen, canned or dried for later eating. Lamb’s Quarters is a good survival food and can be found in yards, abandoned lots, fields, gardens, and along roads. You can cut it off almost to the root, yet it comes up and starts leafing out again.

Dandelion – Dandelion is another common yard weed that grows almost everywhere, including in the mountains. I never dig up the dandelions in my yard but use them and also feed them to our rabbits. We do not treat our yard with chemicals. It is highly nutritious, and all parts are edible- including the roots which can be dried and used as a coffee substitute. It has been used as a diuretic and to cleanse the blood of toxins. The milk that comes when you cut the plant can be used on wounds and is highly effective to use on warts. I have used the milk on three of my children’s warts and all three times it made them disappear naturally without pain or scarring. It must be applied every day for a good month to the warts. A tea made from all parts of the dandelion is absurdly rich in nutrients and would be well utilized by those suffering from malnutrition.

Wild Onions – Wild onions are easy to identify because they smell like onions! They are considered a weed in many parts of the country, and they can be eaten like regular onions while being a healthy addition to the diet and are easy to dry for future use. They can be in yards or near places that have a constant water supply or good rain.

Pine Trees/Spruce Trees – Pine trees are common all across the USA and several parts of the tree can be used both medicinally and nutritionally. The needles themselves are rich in vitamin C and can be steeped in boiling water to create a tea to fight scurvy (vitamin C deficiency), and they are also high in vitamin A and beta carotene. Spruce tip tea or pine needle tea is useful to treat sore throat, cough, colds, and chest congestion. This is a very important survival food as it is so readily available and easy to find. The best tasting needles are young tender ones, but older needles work just the same nutritionally. Pine nuts that are found in pine cones are rich in calories, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals and are high in vitamin K which helps stop bleeding. The inner bark of pine trees is even edible but should only be used in an emergency because to get at it you kill the tree.

Pine Sap has many uses and is highly effective for use on wounds when mixed as a salve to prevent and treat infection. It is also used as a flu and cold treatment when mixed with honey or made into a tincture. It not only fights the infection inside but also soothes sore throats.

Chopped pine needles added to a hot bath can help with skin problems since they contain natural sulfur, they also sooth sore muscles and joints. Pine oil can be used by adding a few drops to boiling water and then breathing in the steam; there is evidence that it helps cure sinus infections, bronchitis, and breaks up mucus. Pine oil kills germs and can be used to clean surfaces during illnesses, although, it must always be diluted and never applied straight to skin.

However, pine oil is a distilled product and must go through special processing and may not be easy to replicate after SHTF (although what a skill to have!) Use roughly chopped pine needles, with boiling water poured over, then cover your head with a towel over the bowl and breath deeply. Pine needles are also a natural flea and bug repellent and can be used to stuff beds and cushions to deter them. The scent of pine is generally very calming. Caution – Pregnant women should not use pine needle tea as there is fear it could cause miscarriage. There are three varieties of toxic pine, and it is highly recommended to learn how to identify and avoid them. They are Norfolk Island Pine, Yew, and Ponderosa Pine.

Crabapples – These are a variety of apple that are often overlooked as an edible fruit because they are unpleasant for fresh eating. They are very good for cooking and if sweetened can be made into pies, jams, jellies, syrup, wine, pickled, and when mixed with other fruits dried in fruit leather. They were mainly used by our forefathers as an addition to cider making as they added depth of flavor and a bit of tartness to the finished product. There are many varieties of crabapple tree and the fruit can be quite large as they are grown for their pretty look. They are grown in many yards and businesses as a decorative tree and the fruit is most often left to rot. Most people I have asked are eager to let me pick off their trees since otherwise they eventually fall and have to be raked up. They also can be found growing wild and in old orchards or farms. Crabapples are high in vitamin C and make a pleasant tea when sweetened. They have been used to treat urinary infections and can also be juiced to make cider vinegar which is one of the most healthy things you can make. For the best flavor harvest after they have been frosted on.

Wild Plums – These are native to the USA and grow in all parts. They are small and are usually a yellowish red color. Wild Plums are a tasty fruit for fresh eating and are useful in making jam, jelly, syrup, pies, and pickles. They are very high in vitamin C and Iron. Dried or fresh they are a good laxative and treat anemia.

Cattails – A well known wild food that grows in marshy or wet areas these are easy to identify. All parts of the plant are edible in different seasons and have good food value. The root can be pounded and applied to cuts and scrapes as a poultice. As these always grown near or in water be careful of pollution.

Rhubarb – This is not necessarily a wild food but it is so common that noting where it grows is a good idea. This plant comes back year after year for practically ever and you see it often in abandoned lots, old farmsteads, abandoned homes, or in peoples gardens. Most people never use it and are happy to give away to those who will. Harvesting in the spring is best when it is tender. Rhubarb can be made into jam, sauce, syrup, put into pies, cakes, and breads and canned. Rhubarb is rich in B- complex vitamins such as folates, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, thiamin, and pantothenic acid and good levels of vitamin K. It has been used to treat stomach problems. The leaves are poisonous, only the stalks should be eaten.

Daylilies – These grow all over the US and in many places they grow wild or have taken over lots of land and gardens as they are hardy and invasive. They are edible. The shoots when young in spring can be cooked like asparagus or eaten raw, the flowers should be harvested in summer and can be fried like squash flowers, chopped and added to salads, and immature buds cooked like green beans. The tubers can be gathered year round and cooked like corn. They have been used to treat arsenic poisoning.

Nuts – There are so many trees that produce edible nuts that all I can recommend is that you get a good identification book and start looking around you. Nuts are high in nutrition, healthy fats, and calories so they make an excellent survival food. A couple of varieties that are overlooked by people are acorns and pine nuts found in pine cones. Acorns have good food value but are bitter so most people avoid them, meaning that you will have more opportunity to gather them. Learn how to process them to get out the bitterness.

Wild Strawberries – Also known as Alpine strawberry, Common Strawberry, Mountain Strawberry, Pineapple Strawberry, Wild Strawberries, Wood Strawberry, Woodland strawberry. These grow prolifically all over the USA and although the fruit is very nice to eat (but tiny) the leaves have great food value and have been used to treat diarrhea when made into a tea. The leaves contain beneficial minerals and vitamins. The root is also used to treat diarrhea. These like shady places but also can grow in sunny clearings and fields..

Wild Violets – The leaves and the flowers are edible and can be found growing in many yards and gardens where they are considered a weed. They are purple-ish blue or white and can be found in the shade of forests or moist clearings. They can be added to salads or cooked. The medicinal uses are many and they make a lovely salve for irritated skin and rashes and also a tea can be made from the leaves and flowers to ease the pain of headaches and arthritis as well as to treat diarrhea. They appear early in spring and grow all summer long in the shade. They are loaded with vitamin A and C which makes them a good remedy for colds and flu. The flowers can be added to jellies during the cooking stage and turn the liquid a lovely violet color.

Ferns – Several fern varieties are edible and are often called fiddleheads, however care must be taken as there are also several non edible varieties that can cause mild to severe illness. Invest in a good identification book or print many pictures out of edible varieties off the internet for better identification. These must be harvested in early to late spring. They are fried, steamed sautéed, boiled, and pickled and are rich in vitamin A and C.

Wild Greens – There are so many kinds that it would take a good sized book to describe them all and I highly recommend buying a field guide and searching them out. Some that are common and worth investigating are mustard, watercress, stinging nettle, miners lettuce, sorrel, red clover, and sweet coltsfoot. Most greens are best harvested in the spring and early summer when they are tender and young.

Willow Tree – The willow tree has been used for thousands of years to treat pain. It grows in yards and woods across the United States. The bark of the tree, especially that of the White Willow tree is what as used and has the same actions of aspirin for treating pain and fever Use 1 to 2 teaspoons of willow bark to 8 oz of boiling water and boil for 5 to 10 minutes. Then turn off heat and allow to steep for 20 to 30 minutes more. Drinking 3 to 4 cups throughout the day is recommended to be effective. Gathering and drying the bark in spring summer and fall would be a good idea to have a store through winter. This is a real medication similar in its side effects to aspirin, it interacts with several drugs and can cause the same stomach problems as aspirin so research it well before use. Pregnant and nursing women, and children under two should never use willow bark.

Mints – Mints are not a really wild species but are so highly invasive once planted in a garden that they quickly spread and can take over vast tracts of land. There are many varieties and just as many uses both as a food as well as medicinally. Mints are high in vitamin A and spearmint in particular is high in minerals. It is often used internally to treat stomach upset, headaches, body aches, reduce fever, for sore throats and cough, anti flatulence, and diarrhea. Externally mint is an excellent insect repellent and can be use to treat lice, muscle aches, soothe insect bites, hair care, and vaginitis. A simple tea is used internally and is quite pleasant, externally a similar tea can be made and cooled before application.

Mushrooms – Wild mushrooms can be very helpful both medicinally and nutritionally but great care must be taken as so many varieties are deadly. I won’t go into them here but invest in a good full color photographic field guide, and even then be carefull! The only mushroom I feel very safe harvesting is morels because they are so distinctive and only have one similar species to contend with. As my father said they look like a brain!

Tree Saps – There are several trees that produce edible saps that can be boiled down into sweet syrups. Most commonly we think of the maple tree, and all maples produce sap although the sugar maple is the most well known and produces the highest volume per tree. There are however several other trees that produce good sap for human use. Pine trees are one but the sap is more for medicinal use than for pleasurable eating. Birch, Walnut, and Sycamore all produce an edible sap for syrup making. Obviously these are high in sugar content which equals calories. As a caution only stick to the above or other documented non poisonous trees for sap. Tree sap syrup has many vitamins and minerals making them a good survival food.

Wild Leeks Or Ramps – These are a leek or onion like bulb that are common throughout the United States in forested areas and grow often near streams or on hills. The leaves when torn or bruised smell of onion or garlic so they are easy to identify. The plant resembles lily of the valley. These are found and harvested in the spring. When harvesting only take half of what you find so they can continue to propagate.

Supplies For Harvesting – A good pair of boots and weather specific clothing, good identification books or literature, a small hand shovel, a good sturdy bucket/basket with a handle/or canvas bags, a knife for cutting, gardening gloves, a sidearm for meetings with predators of the four legged to two legged kind.

M.D. Creekmore recommends you get a copy of The Forager’s Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants.

Savagery for All | KUNSTLER

Savagery for All | KUNSTLER.

A glance through the annals of history tells us that the Golden Age of Ukraine occurred just as western Europe was emerging from its long, dark, post-Roman coma around the 10th and 11thcenturies, A.D. After that, it was a kind of polo field for sundry sweeping hordes of mounted hell-bringers: Tatars, Turks, Cossacks, Bulgars, Napoleon’s grand army. In modern times, its population was divided between allegiance to Russia or to the Germanic states of the west. The Russian soviet regime treated it very badly. As many Ukrainians starved to death under Stalin’s “terror famine” of 1932-1933 as Jews and others were killed later in Hitler’s death camps. Stalin went on to try and totally erase Ukraine’s ethnic identity.

The Nazis wanted to go even further: to erase the Slavic population altogether so that the great fertile “breadbasket” of Ukraine could provide lebensraum for German colonizers. Stalin foolishly signed a non-aggression pact with Hitler in 1939 — had he not read Mein Kampf?  Less than two years later, Germany turned around and invaded Russia, using Ukraine as doormat and mud-room for a horrific struggle that left Kiev, the capital city of Ukraine, a virtual ashtray, and 28,000 villages destroyed.

Culture, as we know, is resilient. But given that history, one wonders what the current disposition of all these historical tides portends. The few thousand Americans not completely distracted by tweeting the content of their breakfasts or shooting naked selfies or texting behind the wheel — yea, even the gallant minority not mentally colonized by the slave-masters of Silicon Valley — must wonder what the heck happened in the streets of Kiev last week. Or, as Sir Mick Jagger famously said at the deadly Altamont Speedway festival, “Who’s fighting, and what for?” By the way, don’t count the editors of The New York Times among the aforementioned gallant minority of digital idiocy resisters. Today’s front page contained this rich nugget:

KIEV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s acting interior minister issued a warrant on Monday for the arrest of former President Viktor F. Yanukovych, accusing him of mass killing of civilian protesters in demonstrations last week…. Arsen Avakov, the acting official, made the announcement on his official Facebook page Monday.

Perhaps there’s a trend in this: all government information around the world will henceforth be transmitted by Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg will come to lead a New World Order of universal friendship. Remind me to send a friend request to Arsen Avakov and de-friend Victor F. Yanukovych.

I suppose the geopolitical bottom-line in all this is that the Ukrainians must feel more comfortable tilting toward a de-Nazified Germany than submitting to the attentions of a de-sovietized Russia. Both would-be patrons are dangling money before a rather cash-strapped Ukraine, which is faced by bond interest payouts that it can’t possibly come up with, not to mention some scratch to just keep the streetcars running. (Forgive me for pointing out that Ukraine at least has streetcars, unlike the USA, which just has cars on streets.)

Given the International Monetary Fund’s record as the West’s official loan shark, would a Ukraine government be wise to turn there for a handout? Meanwhile, is everybody pretending that the Ukraine is not crisscrossed by a great web of natural gas pipelines? And is it not obvious that the gas flows in one direction: from Russia to Europe. So, how exactly would it benefit western Europe if Ukraine got more cuddly with them? Russia could still shut down the gas valve at the source? If the Europeans had any common sense, you’d think they would just butt out of this struggle and quit dangling money and offers of friendship to a nation whose greatest potential is to be a perpetual battleground in yet another unnecessary dreadful conflict.

Let’s hope the American government is just grandstanding in the background because we have less business in this feud than in the doings of Middle Earth. National Security Advisor Susan Rice was flogging ultimatums around on “Meet the Press” yesterday — some blather about right of the Ukrainian people “to fulfill their aspirations and be democratic and be part of Europe, which they choose to be.”

If anything, the uprising in Kiev last week should remind us that Europe’s history is long and deep in bloodshed and that one particular Ukrainian politician who employs snipers to shoot through the hearts of his adversaries is not the only person or party across that broad region capable of reawakening the hell-bringers. There are quite a few other countries over there that could disintegrate politically in the months ahead, nations faced with insurmountable financial and economic troubles. The USA has enough problems of its own. Maybe it should tweet a message to itself.

Savagery for All | KUNSTLER

Savagery for All | KUNSTLER.

A glance through the annals of history tells us that the Golden Age of Ukraine occurred just as western Europe was emerging from its long, dark, post-Roman coma around the 10th and 11thcenturies, A.D. After that, it was a kind of polo field for sundry sweeping hordes of mounted hell-bringers: Tatars, Turks, Cossacks, Bulgars, Napoleon’s grand army. In modern times, its population was divided between allegiance to Russia or to the Germanic states of the west. The Russian soviet regime treated it very badly. As many Ukrainians starved to death under Stalin’s “terror famine” of 1932-1933 as Jews and others were killed later in Hitler’s death camps. Stalin went on to try and totally erase Ukraine’s ethnic identity.

The Nazis wanted to go even further: to erase the Slavic population altogether so that the great fertile “breadbasket” of Ukraine could provide lebensraum for German colonizers. Stalin foolishly signed a non-aggression pact with Hitler in 1939 — had he not read Mein Kampf?  Less than two years later, Germany turned around and invaded Russia, using Ukraine as doormat and mud-room for a horrific struggle that left Kiev, the capital city of Ukraine, a virtual ashtray, and 28,000 villages destroyed.

Culture, as we know, is resilient. But given that history, one wonders what the current disposition of all these historical tides portends. The few thousand Americans not completely distracted by tweeting the content of their breakfasts or shooting naked selfies or texting behind the wheel — yea, even the gallant minority not mentally colonized by the slave-masters of Silicon Valley — must wonder what the heck happened in the streets of Kiev last week. Or, as Sir Mick Jagger famously said at the deadly Altamont Speedway festival, “Who’s fighting, and what for?” By the way, don’t count the editors of The New York Times among the aforementioned gallant minority of digital idiocy resisters. Today’s front page contained this rich nugget:

KIEV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s acting interior minister issued a warrant on Monday for the arrest of former President Viktor F. Yanukovych, accusing him of mass killing of civilian protesters in demonstrations last week…. Arsen Avakov, the acting official, made the announcement on his official Facebook page Monday.

Perhaps there’s a trend in this: all government information around the world will henceforth be transmitted by Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg will come to lead a New World Order of universal friendship. Remind me to send a friend request to Arsen Avakov and de-friend Victor F. Yanukovych.

I suppose the geopolitical bottom-line in all this is that the Ukrainians must feel more comfortable tilting toward a de-Nazified Germany than submitting to the attentions of a de-sovietized Russia. Both would-be patrons are dangling money before a rather cash-strapped Ukraine, which is faced by bond interest payouts that it can’t possibly come up with, not to mention some scratch to just keep the streetcars running. (Forgive me for pointing out that Ukraine at least has streetcars, unlike the USA, which just has cars on streets.)

Given the International Monetary Fund’s record as the West’s official loan shark, would a Ukraine government be wise to turn there for a handout? Meanwhile, is everybody pretending that the Ukraine is not crisscrossed by a great web of natural gas pipelines? And is it not obvious that the gas flows in one direction: from Russia to Europe. So, how exactly would it benefit western Europe if Ukraine got more cuddly with them? Russia could still shut down the gas valve at the source? If the Europeans had any common sense, you’d think they would just butt out of this struggle and quit dangling money and offers of friendship to a nation whose greatest potential is to be a perpetual battleground in yet another unnecessary dreadful conflict.

Let’s hope the American government is just grandstanding in the background because we have less business in this feud than in the doings of Middle Earth. National Security Advisor Susan Rice was flogging ultimatums around on “Meet the Press” yesterday — some blather about right of the Ukrainian people “to fulfill their aspirations and be democratic and be part of Europe, which they choose to be.”

If anything, the uprising in Kiev last week should remind us that Europe’s history is long and deep in bloodshed and that one particular Ukrainian politician who employs snipers to shoot through the hearts of his adversaries is not the only person or party across that broad region capable of reawakening the hell-bringers. There are quite a few other countries over there that could disintegrate politically in the months ahead, nations faced with insurmountable financial and economic troubles. The USA has enough problems of its own. Maybe it should tweet a message to itself.

Is Weird Winter Weather Related to Climate Change? by Fred Pearce: Yale Environment 360

Is Weird Winter Weather Related to Climate Change? by Fred Pearce: Yale Environment 360.

24 FEB 2014: ANALYSIS

Is Weird Winter Weather
Related to Climate Change?

Scientists are trying to understand if the unusual weather in the Northern Hemisphere this winter — from record heat in Alaska to unprecedented flooding in Britain — is linked to climate change. One thing seems clear: Shifts in the jet stream play a key role and could become even more disruptive as the world warms.

by fred pearce

This winter’s weather has been weird across much of the Northern Hemisphere. Record storms in Europe; record drought in California; record heat in parts of the Arctic, including Alaska and parts of Scandinavia; but record freezes too, as polar air blew south over Canada and the U.S., causing near-record ice cover on the Great Lakes, sending the mercury as low as minus 50 degrees Celsius in Minnesota, and bringing sharp chills to Texas.

Everyone is blaming the jet stream, which drives most weather in mid-latitudes. That would be a significant development. For what happens

polar jet stream

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
The polar jet stream may be driving a “hemispheric pattern of severe weather.”

to the jet stream in the coming decades looks likely to be the key link between the abstractions of climate change and real weather we all experience. So, is our recent strange weather a sign of things to come? Are we, as British opposition leader Ed Milliband put it this month while surveying a flooded nation, “sleepwalking to a climate crisis”?

The story gets tangled because trying to identify long-term trends amid the noise of daily weather is hard.

The U.K. Met Office, which keeps a global weather watch, said in a rushreport put out in mid-February that we are experiencing a “hemispheric pattern of severe weather,” and that the events are linked. The most extreme days of the U.S. cold event, for instance, coincided with some of the most intense storms over the U.K. And physically the connection is through the polar jet stream, which the report said showed a “persistent pattern of perturbations” — in other words, it ran wild.

The polar jet stream is a narrow stream of fast wind circling the globe from west to east at the top of the troposphere from 7 to 12 kilometers up, and usually between 50 and 70 degrees north. It forms where cold, dense air from the Arctic meets warmer and less dense air from mid-latitudes. At the

Climatologist Jennifer Francis links ‘this bizarre winter’ to changes in the jet stream caused by a warming Arctic.

boundary, winds rush in to equalize the pressure difference. The earth’s rotation diverts these winds to travel eastward.

As the jet roars around the world, it drags weather systems with it. Most of Europe’s weather rides in under the jet stream from the Atlantic, and most of the western U.S.’s weather comes from the Pacific in a similar manner.

This year, the jet has been unusually far north in the Pacific, bringing balmy weather to Alaska. But across the Atlantic it has been unusually far south, unusually persistent, and 30 percent faster than normal. It has sent more than 30 storms, many of them much larger and more intense than normal, crashing into the shores of Britain in the past three months. With the storms have come high winds and heavy rains almost every day, delivering amounts of precipitation unseen in records going back more than a century — and probably exceeding anything else in the last 250 years, according to the Met Office report.

At the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago this month, climatologist Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University linked “this bizarre winter” to climate change, and in particular to changes in the jet stream caused by a warming Arctic. “Weather patterns are changing,” she said. “We can expect more of the same.”

Francis notes that the Arctic has been warming faster than the rest of the planet in recent decades, driven by melting ice that replaced reflective white surfaces with dark, energy-absorbing ocean. That is expected to continue. While lower latitudes will also warm, the result will be to reduce the temperature gradient between polar and mid-latitude air that drives the jet. So, says Francis, we can expect the jet to slow. A slower jet is generally more meandering and inclined to get “stuck,” delivering unchanging weather.

There is one problem with this analysis as regards recent events, says Tim Woollings, who researches atmospheric dynamics at Oxford University in England. While the jet stream has indeed been “stuck” for the past two months, delivering cold weather to North America and storms across the Atlantic, it is not slow and meandering. Across the Atlantic at least, it has been fast and remarkably straight. “That is the exact opposite to the weak meandering jet of your hypothesis,” Woollings told Francis in an email exchange last week that both shared with Yale Environment 360.

That certainly doesn’t prove Francis wrong. Woollings agrees that Francis’s prediction of a stuck meandering jet looks very like the situation in the Pacific this winter. But it does complicate claims that this winter’s

Britain’s Met Office says the real driver of recent climate patterns has been the jet stream over the Pacific Ocean.

extremes can be blamed on man-made climate change.

So what is going on? The Met Office came to the conclusion that the real driver of the action in recent months was not in the Arctic or the Atlantic, but far away in the western Pacific Ocean. The jet stream, remember, is a global wind, circling the earth. This winter, the jet stream over the Pacific has been deflected much further north than usual. This, according to the Met Office, is likely a consequence of some combination of heavy rains over Indonesia, warm Pacific waters, and unusual pressure systems.

The displaced Pacific leg of the jet stream dragged warm air up over Alaska. But, once east of the Rockies, it met the dense cold air of the Arctic and plunged south. A long way south — as far as Texas at times. This southward excursion of the jet brought freezing weather across much of the U.S. But it also brought that cold polar air into contact with warm southerly breezes. Thus the temperature gradient at the boundary between polar and non-polar air was exceptionally great. At times, says Francis, Arctic air was meeting tropical air as the polar jet coalesced with the sub-tropical jet, which forms where tropical air meets air from the north.

The scientists agree that this exceptional temperature difference dramatically speeded up the jet stream as it pushed out over the Atlantic on its unusually southerly trajectory. A fast jet stream is usually also a straight jet stream. And the southerly route allowed the surface air it pulled along to pick up unusual amounts of moisture evaporating from the warm waters of the Atlantic.

The result was that the jet slammed a long succession of intense storms into southern England, where they would normally hit Scotland or miss the U.K. altogether. The storms contained huge volumes of moisture. And, to add to the tumult, the fast winds across the Atlantic also whipped up big waves and tidal surges; so in places record flood flows coming down rivers met flood waters coming off the sea. Parts of Britain were submerged.

Where does this leave us on climate change? It is no great surprise that there is confusion. Weather is weather. It is always changeable, with a large

Scientists remain uncertain about how the major features of world’s weather will respond to global warming.

random element. Stuff happens. The Met Office notes that the winter’s weird weather has a range of causes besides the jet stream, including unusual upper atmosphere winds over the North Pole, and anomalies in the eastern Pacific that have delivered severe drought to California. There is, the Met Office says, no compelling evidence from this winter to suggest that there is a new emerging pattern.

But that doesn’t mean nothing is going on. Long-term trends are hard to spot, and natural variability is still generally dominant over the subtle changes in climate, or “average weather.”

Yet there are some instances where attribution is possible. For example, climate researchers have persuasively argued that a few intense heat waves — such as the one that killed 70,000 people in western Europe in 2003 — would have been highly unlikely without the added impetus of global warming. But for weather extremes other than rising temperatures, unambiguous attribution of even extreme events is very hard to make, whatever the suspicions that something is up.

Climate scientists remain very uncertain about how most of the major features of the world’s weather will respond to global warming. The climate will change, for sure, but exactly how is a tough call.

El Niño, the Asian and African monsoons, Atlantic hurricanes, the jet streams: The most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), issued last October, puts a big question mark over the likely trends for all of them. And while Francis suggests the polar jet stream should slow as the Arctic warms, the IPCC noted that most climate models predict a faster polar jet.

Actual trends so far don’t tell us much. According to the Met Office, the number of storms crossing the Atlantic in a normal year is no higher today

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than 150 years ago. But Xiaolan Wang of Environment Canada, a government agency, last yearreported evidence that winter storms are becoming stronger over the North Atlantic. This may not have anything to do with the jet stream, however. These storms could just be picking up more moisture from an Atlantic that is now substantially warmer than in past decades.

Data from weather stations around the world reveal more extreme precipitation events — and more droughts, too. This is firmly in line with the predictions of climate models and is “what is expected from fundamental physics,” says the Met Office. A warmer atmosphere will contain more energy, and more moisture from evaporation, says Woollings. It already does. And, in general, more energy and moisture will mean wetter storms in many places.

Weird weather is definitely on the agenda, and the jet stream is very likely to be an important part of it. The nightmare scenario is that Francis will be proved right about the jet stream becoming more “stuck” in a particular trajectory, but that, as happened this winter, it will get stuck while traveling at express speed and bringing strong winds and heavy rain with it. The Met Office says the Francis scenario “raises the possibility that disruption of our usual weather patterns may be how climate change may manifest itself.” If so, that would indeed unleash the perfect storm.

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