News roundup for Tue, Feb 15, 2022

In the news, we have big happenings on two fronts: Canada and Ukraine.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has invoked the Emergency Powers Act, putting Canada into a state of martial law to quell the trucker protest that has been happening for over two weeks. Trudeau stopped short of deploying the military but has empowered banks and financial service providers to freeze accounts without a court order, without fear of legal repercussions.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has cried foul, claiming that the conditions have not been met to invoke the Emergency Powers Act:

Previously, Canadian authorities re-opened the Ambassador Bridge, which had been barricaded by truckers. The Ambassador Bridge is a key trade route between Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan.

Finally, in truck protest news, the rumored trucker protest convoy did not materialize, at least on the day of the Super Bowl.

Putin and Ukraine: For weeks, the United States government has been warning that Russian President Vladimir Putin would launch an invasion of Ukraine at any time. That was looking more likely to happen, as CBS News reported Monday that Russian units were entering battle formations.

In response, the United States State Department is moving the rest of its non-essential diplomatic staff from Kyiv to Lviv—nearly 400 miles away—and destroying computer equipment.

In an address to the nation, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced that the Russian invasion would begin Wednesday, February 16th. But he quickly recanted the statement, saying that he was ironically quoting media reports.

After all the build up, Russia then extended something of a diplomatic olive branch, requesting more talks to peacefully resolve the situation.

Other news: You won’t be surprised to learn that things are getting more expensive. Mortgage rates in the United States have surged to the highest level in over two years, climbing from 3.55% to 3.69% in a single week. To put that in perspective, rates hit 3.72% at the start of 2020. The Federal Reserve may be forced to raise rates this year due to inflation not seen since the early 1980s: the official year-over-year number is 7.5%.

Gas prices are continuing to climb, thanks to the tensions over Ukraine, jumping 39% year-over-year. At one station, I saw the price jump up 15 cents overnight. Let us know what you’re seeing.

In viral news, the new Avian flu going around has been detected in Virginia and Kentucky, threatening livestock production. You don’t have to worry about getting sick, unless you’re a chicken or a turkey, but it could impact the food supply and prices.

Finally, yet another study has shown a link between COVID and short-term risk of cardiovascular disease. “We show that, beyond the first 30 d[ays] after infection, individuals with COVID-19 are at increased risk of incident cardiovascular disease spanning several categories, including cerebrovascular disorders, dysrhythmias, ischemic and non-ischemic heart disease, pericarditis, myocarditis, heart failure and thromboembolic disease,” the study authors wrote.


    • brownfox-ffContributor

      What you can do about it:

      • Keep some cash on hand. If your bank goes down for any reason, you may still want to buy food or fuel. Do you have some cash for that?
      • Keep building a pantry
      • Check your Go Bag. If you needed to leave in a hurry, could you?
      • Consider a Go Bag for work. Or your vehicle. Would you need to leave from your place of work?
      • Think about recovering your digital life. If you had to leave suddenly and lost or left your computer, could you get your accounts back? (pardon the self-plug: I made a small kit for that)
      • Review your finances.
      • Keep your vehicle topped up. Avoid the rush; Fill up with gas when you reach half a tank.
      • Get some exercise
      • Take a break

      Good luck this week

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    • brownfox-ffContributor

      >In viral news, the new Avian flu going around has been detected in Virginia and Kentucky
      >You don’t have to worry about getting sick, unless you’re a chicken or a turkey

      It seems the whole goal of this website is: don’t be a turkey.

      12 |
      • Eric brownfox-ff

        The main concern is that meats, especially chicken and turkey, will become less available and more expensive. The usual prepper advice applies: have some food stored.

        7 |
    • Hardened

      > Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said at Monday’s news conference that banks would be able freeze personal accounts of anyone linked with the protests without any need for a court order.

      This is one of the reasons why cryptocurrencies (such as Bitcoin) are so important.  The government can’t do this to personal wallets holding cryptocurrencies.

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      • Eric Hardened

        Government are certainly capable of confiscating Bitcoin. For a backup supply of money, I would keep it simple and just hide a stack of cash in a ziplock bag. Your odds of being able to actually use it in an emergency are substantially higher, since it doesn’t rely on electricity, internet access, and specialized infrastructure.

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      • Hardened Eric

        > Government are certainly capable of confiscating Bitcoin.

        The only way a government can confiscate your Bitcoin is if they get ahold of the secret key in your possession.  If you’re careful with it then this is very difficult for them to do, unlike fiat money in a custodial account which can be frozen at the flick of a switch.

        This is the reason Bitcoin was created.  It’s got a fascinating history and I encourage everyone to educate themselves more about it.

        I know what I’m talking about on this point; it’s what I do for a living.

        2 |
      • Carlotta SusannaStaff Hardened

        Since @Hardened mentioned crypto, I thought I’d link to the Bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and blockchain for preppers guide.

        Main takeaways:

        • Crypto is still much speculation. Start investing in crypto only after you have your basic finances in check (look at @Brownfox’s links on finances and cash). Afterward, you can soundly invest 3-5% of our liquid net worth.
        • As @Eric mentioned, governments can’t control it but can enact laws against it.
        • You still can’t buy much stuff with crypto.
        • You need a working computer and internet, so crypto (for now) is more like an extra insurance policy. Or a smart way to diversify your portfolio/risks.

        Edited to add: Small PSA: if you click on the “View discussions in forum” button near the title of any guide, you will see a list of all the relevant forum and blog posts. 

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    • atlanticrando

      Howdy, longtime lurker, but wanted to chip in since this has been a very sensitive subject and rightwing media and some international media are portraying it in some odd ways:

      The Emergencies Act isn’t “martial law” in the traditional sense. It broadens police/government abilities and can involve military usage, but it doesn’t suspend any elements of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It’s also capable of being overturned by the opposition parties in Parliament. So for example, this is not at all a case where freedom of assembly is curtailed, a curfew has been imposed, etc. across the country.

      I’m not a Trudeau fan by any stretch and I’m sympathetic to civil liberties arguments that the act wasn’t necessary because there were laws and injunctions on the table that should have given the police all they needed to do the job. The fact of the matter is the city and province were either dragging their feet or in totally over their heads. It’s really not an ideal response, but the feds were sort of backed in a corner to do something by the city and province’s ineptitude. 

      Some examples of possible implications given by the government, as reported by the Toronto Star:

      This includes powers to create no-go zones around critical infrastructure such as border crossings and downtown Ottawa, halt public assemblies that “breach the peace” in those red zones, commandeer tow trucks in order to remove big rigs blocking streets, and freeze or suspend protesters’ bank accounts and vehicle insurance coverage.

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      • Karl Winterling atlanticrando

        The term “martial law” refers to measures like:

        1. The military assumes a law enforcement role because the local civilian government is unable or unwilling to enforce laws. The federal government did this in the 1960s to protect black college students in the South during desegregation.
        2. The military takes over civilian administration of government, which can happen as a response to a natural disaster.
        3. Suspend rights to a legal hearing on unlawful imprisonment, which is rare and hasn’t happened in Canada.

        The Emergencies Act allows the government to restrict freedom of movement or assembly, force private businesses to assist the government, and makes it a crime to impede the government’s efforts. Right now, it looks like Trudeau declared the emergency because police and local officials in Ottawa failed to deal with the protests effectively and the longer the protests continue, the more protesters believe that they have a right to engage in illegal activity as opposed to a right to be heard. A norm in liberal democracies is that protesters can get away with a limited amount of illegal activity (like breach of the peace) to make their voices heard. It really isn’t an ideal situation no matter what your perspective is.

        6 |
    • Bill Masen

      History has shown us time after time that ” Socialism” inevitably leads to repression, Even my left leaning friends are alarmed at Mr Trudeaus action. Indeed even Canada’s left leaning Civil Liberties Union has condemn this move and says it does not come close to the required standard.

      -3 |
      • Eric Bill Masen

        “History has shown us time after time that ”Socialism” inevitably leads to repression”

        This statement, combined with defining “socialism” as any government-provided services, are staples of right-wing propaganda and not appropriate for this site.

        Trudeau has threatened to violate civil liberties. That is bad. It’s also unrelated to whether he also supports left-leaning policies such as state-run healthcare.

        4 |
      • Bill Masen Eric

        No sir,

        1 it is a statement of FACT, there are no socialist states that have not become ever more repressive and totalitarian,  Russia, China, East Germany, Cuba, Venezuela, Romania , Vietnam, Cambodia etc etc

        2 Trudeau is a socialist in the same mould as the socialists in the UK.

        3 However out of respect my my friends on this forum I will leave and not return because being able to talk about politically inspired threats to preppers cannot be ignored.

        All the best.

        -2 |
      • Karl Winterling Bill Masen

        A fair definition of “socialism” is something more like:

        • Public ownership of major productive industries, including natural resources, utilities, and mass transit. Public ownership usually doesn’t extend to homes, personal property, or small businesses.
        • Limits on how much wealth or property a single person or private entity can own.
        • Extensive or very generous publicly financed anti-poverty/welfare assistance and retirement entitlement programs.
        • Strong regulation of the economy, especially strong control of the circumstances under which businesses can hire or fire workers.
        • Larger companies have to use revised accounting systems that include metrics of social and ecological cost as well as a recognition that the company has a responsibility to measure its success or failure to provide people with reasonably-priced products and services.

        Whether someone fits this definition is a “spectrum” deal rather than a simple “yes vs. no” deal. Some of these issues touch on prepping or bring up legitimate civil liberties concerns. The blog has brought up concerns about inflation and political attempts to regulate the meat industry, which obviously touch on prepping. I think (!) it’s a valid topic to write about on the forum because (again) it’s a “spectrum,” some of these ideas are becoming more popular, and you can ask “How can I prepare for the effect of XYZ policy if it could impact prepping or cause personal SHTF?” without arguing over politics.

        Focusing on specific politicians or political advocacy takes the focus off of prepping and keeping people informed with factual information. You can go elsewhere if you want to engage in advocacy or get something off your chest.

        3 |
      • Gideon ParkerStaff Bill Masen

        Bill we want you to stay, but that comment was crossing the line of the “no politics rule”. It’s not a big deal so we hope you stay.

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    • John Grayman

      Thanks, Josh!! 

      5 |
    • woodrow

      We’re out in the sticks and our internet went out for two hours, the way it does, leaving me wishing I had downloaded that book I’ve been meaning to read.  But it had me worrying, if the Ukraine thing blows up, a cyberwar the likes of which we have not yet seen is likely to break out, and I don’t mean just Russia and Ukraine. While the U.S. has not specifically threatened cyber action against Russia (that we know of) it is possible that U.S. measures will ultimately include this. Which leaves the U.S. open to cyber-retaliation.  I do so much financial business over the internet that I wonder about the consequences of a digital shutdown for a lengthy period of time.  Not sure if cash in the house is going to take care of my credit card and utility bills. To say nothing of Health Insurance premiums. Any advice about functioning as a fully embedded citizen under an extended (months) internet shutdown?

      7 |
      • Supersonic woodrow

        Even if it wasn’t from a cyber attack, my internet goes down periodically and I like to have some books, movies, and music downloaded onto my devices so I can still entertain myself and have access to resources I need without access to the internet. Netflix and Spotify are great, but they aren’t always available to stream from.

        For an extended internet outage, make sure you have downloaded offline or printed off various account numbers, phone numbers, etc so you can at least attempt to continue to pay your bills. If it truly is an extended cyber attack internet outage the bank, health insurance, and credit card company’s systems will probably be down as well. But all of that will be a minor inconvenience compared to the panic and effect that a long term outage would have on our society. Everything from traffic lights, deliveries, utilities, and more are all powered by the internet and electricity. We would seriously be in a world of hurt as a whole if the internet went down for a long time.

        3 |
      • brownfox-ffContributor Supersonic

        Well said. Having reliable sources of entertainment is important to consider!

        One other possible mitigation might be to have some money at different types of financial institutions – e.g. one local credit union and also an account at a regular bank. This might help in some situations if one part of infrastructure goes down, but another stays online.

        If there is a long-term major outage, however, I agree that most cards are off the table and it may be an unknown, emergent situation.

        2 |
      • Hardened woodrow

        Woodrow, I understand your concern.  I work in computer security and I’m not worried about this for a couple of reasons:

        1.  We’re already engaged in a low-level cyberwar pretty much constantly.  It’s not as visible as conventional war to most people and it’s not a binary “on” vs. “off” kind of thing.

        2.  Russia invading Ukraine isn’t important enough for a cyberwar to escalate.  We have no troops on the ground there.  Contrast this with, e.g., Syria in which both US and Russian troops are in active combat roles.

        3 |