Stonewalled, by Sharyl Attkisson; This is One Book You Can’t Miss

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When I first saw the title, Stonewalled, by Sharyl Attkisson, I thought this was going to be just another reporter complaining about how difficult life in the world of journalism can be.  After all, it’s tough all over and journalism is no different.  Not only do they have to compete against the traditional broadcast news outlets, but also against cable news networks, and the plethora of blogs and other pseudo-news organisations.

Add to it the amount of risk each journalist takes every time they publish something of real substance and meaning.  Not only has history shown us that being a true investigative journalist, in the most historic sense of the phrase, it is difficult and dangerous.  It be dangerous for journalists who stand up and speak out, it is also dangerous for whistle blowers who know when they speak out their lives will be ruined, and quite possibly they are in danger.

In her book, Stonewalled, Sharyl Attkisson speaks plainly and honestly about what investigative journalism is, what news agencies have come to, and what it’s like to try to get blood from a turnip.  That’s my analogy, not hers.  Except she does get blood from a turnip.  She does it with hard work, perseverance, and great with risk to herself.

It’s been a long time since I’ve believed a corporate journalist was worth any salt.  It’s been even longer since I believed any news outlet was telling the whole truth.  I stopped having any faith in the media long ago.  It began to slip away when I noticed a disclaimer on a cable news channel saying their broadcast was “for entertainment purposes only”.  It was two o’clock in the morning.  From that moment on, I stopped caring what they said.  The news is not for entertainment.

Sure, I understand the reasoning behind the cable channel’s disclaimer.  It’s to prevent them from liability claims.  They are not bound to the same rules as broadcast channels.  The question keeps nagging, why don’t they want to held accountable for their words?

Wouldn’t you want to be known for speaking the truth at all times?  Your reputation depends on your ability to speak the truth at all times. The public wants journalists who are known to have the best interest of the public at the center of their work.  The public is tired of journalists and news outlets who merely say what they are told to say, or are willing to say nothing at all.

That’s the whole purpose behind the freedom of speech amendment.  Without journalists who pour over and publish everything our government does, the protections of the rest of the constitution will be lost.  Journalists represent the light shining in the dark.  Ms. Attkisson speaks about how the government, at every turn, is trying to shut out that light.

Government wants to stop reporters from reporting.  They know citizens can’t travel across the country to investigate for themselves.  That’s way this country has valued investigative journalists from the beginnings of this country.  We can’t let journalists be muzzled.

What can we do?  For starters we can create new ways to ensure Freedom of Information Act requests are filled.  Hold the government to a specific time window to fill requests.  Limit redaction.  Require digital copies of all documents to be uploaded to the public every day where every citizen may freely access them with anonymity.  Require all documents that are declassified or that are eligible for FoIA request to be uploaded to the public servers.  Do not allow the government to charge large fees to obtain information.  Ten cents a page for copies should be sufficient.  Currently, the Department of Justice is responsible for making sure FoIA is carried out.  That’s the fox watching the hen house.  Perhaps we should fine or jail individual people found responsible for failing to fill these requests in a timely manner.   We need to define what a timely manner is and then require that it be followed.  In the end, it still boils down to one thing only:  The honesty and integrity of those people who are holders of information that belongs to the public.

I don’t want to give away too much about Stonewalled.  These are just few ways her book got me to thinking.  I can’t wait to hear how it made you think.



Disaster Recovery or Gifts Preppers Give; Part 1

What gifts do you want for the holidays?  More importantly, which gifts do you want to give to your family and loved ones?  What do you mean it’s not even Halloween yet?  It’s never too early to start planning the gift giving for the year.  Especially if you have a large number of people on your list.  What if you considered giving a gift just outside of normal gifting habits?  If you care enough about someone to buy a for them, shouldn’t that gift make a difference in their life?

This is the first gift item we are planning to give every person on our shopping list:

This book, Disaster Recovery, by Sean M. Scott, is an essential for making sure you have thought of everything and are prepared for any disaster.  You might think I’m exaggerating.  Not so.  Even with the experiences of being prepared for just about anything and having lived without telephone, no indoor plumbing and other “old ways”, this book still had information to offer.

It made me think of things I could do that I had not done, as well as things that inspired me to do that I otherwise would not have thought about.  For instance, the information got me to thinking about contractors that would offer services after a disaster.  Of course we already know it is important to be careful about who you hire and to check for the legitimate business licenses.

What the book inspired me to do was to put together a list of contractors who already do business in the region and their reputations.  This is important because after the disaster so many companies “spring up” to “help” those afflicted with the disaster.  Unfortunately, in a disaster zone it may be difficult to gain the information needed in a timely manner.  Having this list will help me determine who I will hire to help our family recover from the disaster.

After the list is completed, I’m considering contacting each of the contractors to meet them personally, hopefully to make an arrangement with them in advance of a disaster that puts us close to the top of the list of people the contractor will help.  This makes us think of contractors differently.  On any normal day, a contractor is someone who hopes to be chosen by you for a job.  After a disaster, that same contractor is someone you hope will choose you.

Ladies and gentlemen, that was just from a tiny portion of chapter one.  There is so much more information in each chapter there isn’t space here to tell you.  Each chapter is well written, compact, and to the point.  You won’t be able to find “unnecessary” words as with so many other books.  It has information for every member of the family.

This book changes the way you think about all things disaster related.  For the unprepared it’s a wake up call.  For the modestly prepared, it is mental check on what needs improvement.  For the full grown prepper, it is a breath of fresh air in the face of people who think “prepper” is a four letter word.  Our extra copies will be for gift giving and stowed in the vehicles and camping gear.

Note:  We posted this because we truly believe in the mission of this book.  This inexpensive award winning book can save lives, save homes, and save families hundreds of thousands of dollars after a disaster.

Book Review: Surviving Doomsday

Where we live is susceptible to almost every natural disaster.  Since it only snows about every 100 years here, that isn’t a problem.   Everything else is up for grabs.  Currently we are experiencing the worst drought I have ever seen.  If there is dew on the grass we feel blessed.  While we live in a semi-rural area, we live just 20 miles from a large city and just 180 miles in two directions from two large metropolitan cities.  Things could get hairy in a hurry if things went bad.

Considering how many people are not prepared for an emergency and the current state of international politics, unprepared people need something to bring them up to speed quickly.  While you can’t get every skill you need from a book, you can get all the information you need right now from Surviving Doomsday by Richard Duarte.

Most people skip the introductions in books.  When you read this book, make sure you read it first.  The story is compelling and heartfelt.  It is why the book exists.  If you are not a prepper, you should be after you read the introduction.

Surviving Doomsday is not for “doomsday preppers” as seen on T.V.  This well written book is for the average person.  Anyone can pick up this book and gain the knowledge they need to prepare.  Even if you have been prepping for a long time, this book will be useful to you.  It helps you think of things you might not have thought.

Lists are provided to make your shopping and packing easier.  Advice on preparing your mind and body for a world changing event is offered.  This is a good read dedicated to helping all people become prepared for any emergency.  And that is something we don’t have enough people doing.


Did You Forget Your Farmer’s Almanac?

Grandpa didn’t read just anything.  He didn’t have time.  If he couldn’t gain information from reading material, he didn’t read it.  He kept exactly three subscriptions, a newspaper, a magazine, and The Old Farmer’s Almanac.

Every year, my grandfather would sit at the breakfast table with the newest almanac, checking to see what was expected.  Only once a year did I ever see grandpa read at the table when there was a meal it.  When I was about 9 years old I asked him about it.  I must have been 10 years old.  I asked him about it and he explained the purpose of  almanacs.  He said they predict the weather and tell when to plant things.  He also told me that the weather predictions weren’t accurate, but to be fair, no weather predictions were accurate in 1966.  It was a source of information about what to expect over the next 12 months.  As soon as he went out to feed the cows, I picked it up to see what was in it.   While I didn’t “need” the information at that time in my life, I knew eventually I would want an almanac of my own.

I’ve been reading the 2013 southern edition.  Some of the articles are for the whole country, while some information is for this region.  There are recipes and articles on a variety of topics.  The charts on tides and phases of the sun and moon are a handy.  Should TSHF and we have no technology to use to get information important to fishing and food production.  This magazine has something for everyone.  From farming to fishing and more, this annual publication is worth the small price of $5.99.  If you are serious about being prepared, it is important to consider getting The Old Farmer’s Almanac every year.