CRIME DATA-MANIPULATION AND FEAR-PROPAGANDA

So, who manipulates data? Government, business (individual or entire industry as we constantly see in martial arts/self-defense), media, social organizations with agenda. They utilize a grouping of information to create a narrative on a topic for specific reason, most often of benefit to them. The data itself could be entirely legitimate and authentic (though it may not be)….it’s how it’s spun that’s important, and most people rarely dig deeper and go “Hey, wait a minute, that doesn’t sound right….” Remember, there are multiple benefits to data manipulation and if it fits a person’s narrative, they will often support their angle of it even if it’s different from the original source that was manipulating the data in the first place.

With regards to crime, the entities information-alter for any number of reasons: to create or change a market or push value of product (security/arms/training/surveillance), to alter public-opinion (shift-of-perspective/vote-swaying/neighborhood growth), to reinforce personal/individual message, to play on public emotion (fear/anxiety/paranoia as propaganda), to create perceived need where there isn’t one. It’s often done very subtly yet suddenly. Remember “Inception”, that Christopher Nolan movie from a few years ago? “An idea is like a virus. Resilient. Highly contagious. And even the smallest seed of an idea can grow.”

How is it done? Data can come in any number of ways and it always pays to research who the data was provided by and any satellite bodies backing or financing that data and why, what the sample-size is, and who stands to benefit by putting out said data. From the data-source, spinning a positive or negative message by selecting a skewed/cherry-picked portion of the data is often done. So is subtly changing the narrative of what that data actually means. This is accomplished by using a small sample-size to represent an entire geographic area, or to “chunk-up”/generalize and try to distract from a full-analysis of data as it pertains to a specific location/time/demographic. So what are some examples of this in the area of crime and violence?

*Telling people that an increase in in a certain kind of crime (murder, for instance) reflects a widespread elevation of violence, that crime is universally on the rise. Questions that need be asked: In what area? All parts of the city/province-state/country? Who’s getting murdered – is it a specific demographic? What were some choices made by the victim that could’ve altered the What were the victims doing, where, why, and when? Shouldn’t each case be assessed independently from others – with context and circumstance?

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*Issuing public-warnings or alerts to alleviate responsibility. When there were 3 separate female tourists killed here, I received almost immediate notice from the Canadian government, issuing security warning on higher-risks of violence in CR to Canadian residents and ex-patriots. Not even close, though I get why they’re obligated to do this for their citizens abroad. All 3 incidents were unique unto themselves, isolated, contributed to by at least some victim-naivete, and crimes of opportunity. That was late last year, 2018. There have been no further tourist-murders since. Calm has been restored. No epidemic occurred. CR tourism has not generally suffered..as could be expected. And the panic has gone quiet. But I bet the security, arms, and surveillance industries flourished for a time….and future votes were gained for the political-party righting the ship so quickly. (I’m not sure what they actually did but they promised lots originally and sometimes that’s enough, akin to a placebo) Questions that need be asked: Does it affect me directly? Are isolated incidents a reflection of the overall national safety? Who have been the targets and what could they have done differently? Do statistics reflect this warning?

*Creating false data from scratch. A few years ago when we had a medical tourism facilitation business, the statistics for foreign medical-procedure investment grew every year, according to the national medical-tourism promotional body. Often in double-digits. But whenever you’d contact the very same hospitals administration department where the statistics were supposedly compiled from, they were entirely perplexed, noting openly that they certainly weren’t the ones benefiting from this claimed increase. Note the promotional body projects these statistics globally (important for market-confidence), they’ve tried to get funding from the government-run international tourism board for years but to no avail (someone doesn’t seem to be buying the stats sheet), and they were in danger of becoming redundant (which they now are as they’ve been replaced by a broader-perspective body not at all limited to a small market-specialization) Questions that need asking: Data taken from? Source? Compiled by? Based on what sample size and from whom? Done by outside impartial entity?

*Media fear-mongering. Sensationalizing one story to build anxiety, stress, and fear in a market for viewership, popularity, and ratings. This is often the most transparent and easy-to-catch if one is coherent and questioning. Here we have a newspaper that posts dead bodies on the front page, shows open murdered corpses, half-naked women on the front, and glorifies violence. While one would think it wouldn’t have legs in a staunchly Catholic, conservative, passive-aggressive society….it’s quite the opposite. Remember, “all press is good press” for many and they’ve found a comfortable niche regardless of the comments on classlessness and inappropriateness abounding. Questions that need asking: How are their ratings? Do they have a history of hyperbole? What’s their personal agenda and what are their general political leanings? Who owns the station? How could they benefit from my knee-jerk reaction to their sensationalism?

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*Propaganda is byproduct of the avenues above and it can intentionally increase crime and violence as well. As we saw here in CR a short time ago, one video on Youtube from a supposed paramilitary group, coupled with (intentional?) rumors of natural resource/supply-and-demand shortages, government corruption, and a nervous population…and violence can be the product, not the cause. When you have political de-stabilization, lack of faith in the status quo and videos/pamphlets/fake news omnipresent, certain societal factions can be mobilized to rebel and unify. Governments, groups, and businesses know this. Violence can be created as well, rest assured.

Martial artists and self-defense authorities are noted for making vast, general claims about the state of current society to peddle fear and stress in potential clients….without the data. Crime is always rising. Murders are way up. Rapes are on the increase and women are in-danger. We’ve never lived in a more dangerous time. If you’re not learning (their) self-defense you’re naive and ignorant and nonchalant and should be shamed for not wanting to protect your family and lazy and a host of other ad-hominems they throw your way to guilt you into investing. There’s generally no data to back this up as, on the human timeline, we generally live in the safest time in recorded human history. They heard it on a promotional-snippet, heard a friend say it, have personal trouble avoiding conflict in their own life, relate their experiences and needs to every potential student’s, and a host of other context-delusional assessments that pertain specifically to them. Questions to ask: what style are they peddling? What program (women’s self-defense, seniors, kids, adult males) What’s their market? Do statistics and data back their claims? Does the current community level of violence jive with their promo-material?

The reality is that we “manipulate data” all the time. We generalize, distort, and delete parts of stories and anecdotes regularly to fit our narrative, manipulate (I mean, convince or influence….semantics, right) others, or convince ourselves of something we’re indecisive or unsure about. Communication is filled with these methods of filtering information….sometimes it helps us positively, sometimes not. Sometimes these perceptual filters are generally accurate, sometimes entirely off whether intentional or unintentional. So we do them as well….ad nauseum…to create our reality. We’re all experts at data-manipulation and propaganda, especially to ourselves. That being said, it should give proper perspective to take closer looks at information you’re fed…with an unbiased eye, or at least as unbiased as that eye can be.

Asking these questions and identifying the type of message and data being pushed go a long way towards understanding intricately the dynamic of how people can manipulate data and utilized propaganda to promote message….even on crime and violence. From what I see daily, current technological distractions and information-bombardment, coupled with personal factors like confirmation bias(es), decreasing attention-spans, micro-relatability – are huge factors in others’ ability to pull this off successfully. Relating to our personal safety and (especially) our stable mental health relating to it, be extremely cautious with the (often subliminal-)messaging you’re bombarded with. And ask the right questions….

(Thanks to Oleg Fadeev for the topic-inspiration.)

CHASING OUR TAILS

Being followed. I guess we should start by noting there are 3 areas worth exploring here, being followed while on-foot and moving, while in-car and moving, and being under surveillance while static. (I doubt many of us are worthy of ongoing covert surveillance so maybe I’ll leave that one to the PIs out there) We’ll Take note that I’m just a regular civilian with common-sense (which I like to think I’m blessed to have a fair amount of), not a highly-trained surveillance-operative. Maybe that’ll help you relate better to my particular experiences. I try and address safety concerns from my personal first-hand experience and perspective.

First, we should establish who (of the 5ws) would or might be following you as a private (generally) law-abiding citizen. Creditors/money-lenders/financial institutions, ex-girlfriends/wives wanting to catch you in some act, lawyers who may be planning case against you for false accusations or for employers/ex-employers, jealous spouses, someone with a grudge wanting to implicate you in something, envious family members….most often someone in our sphere of current/past interaction and very unlikely to be the FBI/CIA, government agencies, or hit-men. We’re usually not that important or glamorous, and hiring a private-investigator or surveillance team costs money that most lower-to-middle-class families or individuals simply cannot afford…at least not daily or weekly. As well, I’m not going to delve into male-on-female infatuation stalking as that entails an entirely different personal profile and safety-defenses. (these have powerful elements of emotional, personal, psychological natures)

For me over the years it has been ex-wife’s boyfriends/lovers, police (when younger for questionable activity or traffic infractions), a few road-raging drivers who feel I or the car I’m riding in has wronged him/her in some way or committed a traffic transgression, personal enemies. To think back, I’ve probably been tailed more than I should have due to poor lifestyle and friend choices earlier in life.

How to know for sure you’re being followed? With some of the above, it’s relatively easy. You spot them or their vehicle, maybe known close-affiliates. (friends/co-workers/family) Or you know you’ve committed a driving transgression or perceived one to somebody else minutes earlier. Other times it’s not quite so easy. Multiple consecutive turns can certainly help reveal. The 1st follow is normal, generally. A 2nd could be coincidence or similar route. A 3rd should definitely pique your curiosity and get your spidey-sense tingling, and a 4th should leave no doubt…has been my experience. Often either reveal intent or blow cover and nullify the pursuit. Sometimes they may be on to you and fall back in traffic, or pull over and wait a short time while watching where you go, or take a parallel street if they know the area. But if you’ve gathered some intel (which we’ll address a little later on), you should be able to pick back up on them when they re-integrate the pursuit.

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So what can we do. Well, first of all, don’t panic, “being followed” always has such stigmas, like that your life is in-danger or someone wants to kill you. Most times and for most average people, nothing could be further from the truth. There’s a specific reason you’re being followed and a reason the pursuant doesn’t want to be found out. So breathe (and continue to regulate your breathing), you’ll need calm to make some quick-thinking decisions while on-the-fly and if you’re panicked or deeply anxious or stressed, that’ll be more difficult to do.

Then make mental or physical note or hypothesis of the other 4ws & the how as well: why would the above be physically following you and what would they have to gain by it (information-gathering/intimidation/pattern-learning/living details/known affiliates), how (foot/vehicle/static surveillance/3rd-party questioning of acquaintances), when (times/days/conditions that may be consistent), where (is it the same ballpark locations? at the same places or general vicinity?)

Whether on-foot or in-car, call someone while being followed and let your pursuer know you’re calling while looking in the rear-view or making eye-contact if the pursuit doesn’t abate. Make sure to tell someone trusted to make note or file-away for future reference after the fact as well. Most pursuers don’t want 3rd-parties involved, don’t like being discovered, and aren’t fond of paranoid, nervous targets that can expose them or get them in trouble with law-enforcement or violence. There are times where simply acknowledging them and their presence may be a good tact but note that the information-gathering stops here, different methods of following you will be implemented, and at times hostility at being found-out could be the result. If yours is one of those times (and you’ll likely know by the context and type of follower it is) do it subtly…eye-contact or acknowledging greeting or genuine smile…don’t make a spectacle of it and keep it low-key. If feeling greatly threatened, make sure to open a police-report or call law-enforcement. Even if they won’t do a damn thing about it, it’s on-file and documented, should personal-defense or counter-violence means become necessary. It sets a precedent for future potential legal issues that may arise.

*As an asterisk to this, sometimes it’s prudent to not give away that you’re aware of their presence, if you’re information-gathering, for instance. Trying to learn more about your tail and their motives. If that’s the case, no peripheral head-turning while looking in mirrors, use your eyes alone. Sunglasses can aid here in preventing them from seeing pupil movement toward the rear-view mirror or in their direction if on-foot. 180-degree scans of the area while picking up whatever information you can as they pass into your moving vision. Try, while remaining attentive to traffic/driving and if pursued by car, to get the license plate number, make, model, color, and any identifying marks (bumper stickers/dents/unique features/paint scratches/rearview mirror hangings. Here in Costa Rica, as we’ve stated in a previous article, you can do a vehicle check online to find out owner, registration number, corporation names affiliated, and if you connect that name to social media and other online avenues, as we’ve shown, you can sometimes find out a ton of valuable information about your pursuer.

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If on-foot, make note of as many identifying features as you’re able to catch; these days you can even subtly take a picture of someone else, often without them knowing (feigning looking at or typing on your cell, reversing camera-direction on your camera-phone, or if low-threat outright taking a photo or video as they’re in-range to put them on-the-spot. Finding a security-camera to have them walk in-front of shortly after you can be another bit of evidence should any legal issues or proof be needed. Have a decoy that’s with you break-rank and circle around to take video is another.

Different elements that you pass can help gain info without revealing you’re on to your follower. Utilizing reflections in store-mirrors/stands/window-glass. If outside, silhouettes or shadows after turning corners to expose their identity or catch them in the act. Positioning yourself so the sun is in their face to gain momentary knowledge or escape. You can utilize poles, display stands, aisles, building-angles, corners, barriers, other people, and apertures where he/she can’t see you but you can see them for concealment or to gain advantage of view/vantage points/escape routes. Utilize crowded areas by ducking/lowering body/using serpentine routes instead of straight line and diving into stores along the path to utilize the above-mentioned strategies.

What about by car? You can lose them in traffic naturally if ingested, utilize sudden lane-changes or abrupt turn-offs from alternate lanes if they’re trapped in the other lane from you on 4-lane thoroughfares. I’d recommend ‘not’ getting out of your car at any point to engage or confront. Road-ragers, jilted ex-lovers, PIs, strangers with potential unseen weapons, even police will all have different, yet usually equally-negative reactions to this. Threat, defense, anger, aggression.

Change your routes daily, even slightly. Even if you narrow it to 2-3 different routes you’re comfortable with and alter the times you depart or arrive at daily destinations, even by minutes. As a foreigner who stands out here, I often take backroads on daily routes (also to avoid the horrible traffic here), change portions of my routes when a longer drive is in-order (as well as for a solution to boredom), and use route-apps to give me the best-possible route automatically (which fluctuates from day-to-day) when heading into ingested traffic-areas. WhatsApp is a great app to utilize for upcoming traffic-blockages, roadblocks, police-checks, fastest routes, high-volume traffic areas (car). It does use GPS but with the demographic that’s usually following everyday citizens, I doubt they’re concerned with tracking you via GPS and one can always turn off GPS in your car if you lose pursuer if it’s a concern….or turn it off to prevent tracking in the first place. And, yes, the technology is available to almost anyone to track phone numbers via GPS, as this article explains and I’ve tried first-hand: https://www.trapcall.com/blog/track-phone-number/

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If the pursuit is aggressive or threatening, you can drive to/in front-of a police-station or call 911 while on-the-move as a deterrent or for assistance…but DO NOT lead them home or to meet the wife and kids for lunch. This last one applies to being on-foot as well. I cannot stress this enough and I made that mistake once when young. Nothing happened but it set an anchor for a lifetime even without the consequences.

As a rather common-sense element upon the realization you may be being monitored, cease posting your whereabouts on social media and turn off all apps that do so automatically (geotagging on Facebook & Instagram, for instance) I can’t stress this enough. I don’t use it at all. Ever. I don’t need to advertise when I’m not home and my house is unattended, don’t need to alert strangers on Facebook to my whereabouts, or tell the world what I’m doing and with whom.

WALKING THE KNIFE’S EDGE

Let’s take an honest look at knife usage for self-defense. I know I’m breaking my own rule by writing an article on knife-combat but it’ll be worth the hypocrisy, I assure you. There is likely no single bigger misunderstood element….and most often that misunderstanding comes from the instructor part of this equation – not the public, as it’s so often attributed. (Where do they get their misunderstandings…I wonder…)

So, in real-life case studies, what do we see playing out in the real-world?

BLADED-DEFENSE? I’ve seen a handful (maaaybe 2 handfuls) of public case studies where knife usage in a self-defense situation was defended successfully in a court-of-law. Note that these were generally a-l-l after lawyer-retention, court-case, hourly lawyer rates, some jail-time until trial, social stigmas, life on-hold, psychological trauma, and all the other elements that went with that successful defense. I have yet to see one knife defense where legal-case/police-intervention/serious-outcome didn’t end in this way in a public environment. Note also that most were the weapon-of-choice – carried for purposes of self-defense, not weapons-of-opportunity. They are rare in the grand scheme of things. Extremely rare.

The line of legality and public stigma of using a blade against someone without one (regardless of advantage-discrepancy) is pretty steep. How we see most bladed-arts handle this is almost always via the murder or permanent-damage route. 16-cut combos, biomechanical maiming, lethal targeting….over-excess of brutality that would and will be seen as overkill in the court-of-law by judge, jury, lawyers, and public. Are there times where these can be successful legally? Yes, there are documented case-studies, as mentioned above. What aided in them be deemed “successful” (in spite of the above byproducts)? Superior forces – multiple opponents, bigger/trained/notoriously-violent/male attack on female victim/younger/armed opponent(s), immediate threat to life, you exhausting all other possibilities. (see ability/opportunity/intent/preclusion tenet present in most Western countries, generally included even here in Costa Rica as well)

DUELS? Simply do not happen very often outside of prison or in lower-class rural areas of (most often) undeveloped nations, sometimes in developed ones though a needle-in-a-haystack. (Here we’ve had some incidents of migrant machete “fights” over social indiscretion, women, land, money, alcohol, etc. but even here, they’re hardly omnipresent. Poor neighborhoods and rural. Even in prison, “shankings”, educational lessons, and hits seem to take far more precedence than the equal-footing duel. They are incredibly rare in the grand scheme of things.

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Yet these 2 are often the focus in the MA/SD worlds to civilians/citizens, with far more focus than given to counter-blade. Blade-on-blade and blade-on-empty-handed aggressor.

So…when else then? Let’s explore a little deeper than many tend to. What contexts have at times shown themselves to be even somewhat viable for actual “successful” knife usage situations? (*noting that “successful” does not include psychological/mental/emotional trauma that may also be a financial burden and a long-term venture)

-War, though with the post-WW2 Geneva Convention and the invention of long-range/distance, chemical, and technological weapons-of-war, I’d say that’s likely even lower than civilian instances – and the majority of us aren’t at war…other than with ourselves.

-Brandishing. Deployment to intimidate. The hope/whim that presentation will be sufficient to nullify the threat. (presentation)

-Brandishing with command presence. Adding aggressive body language and weapon-positions/motions that reinforces the above presentation.

-Brandishing with command presence and adding verbal reinforcement. Implied or direct threats added to the above two.

Now, caveats. Let’s acknowledge that 2 things have to happen for the above 3 to have the desired impact: 1) you to be willing to follow-through on the escalating stages or stand-alone tactics above should your bluff be called, and 2) that you sell it to the other party such that they believe that #1 will happen. Should those not happen, we cycle back to the 2nd paragraph in the article. Rinse. Repeat. Also, be aware that brandishing itself is illegal in many areas so we’ll cover that aspect below a little further as we introduce further aspects…and if your knife is outside the legal limits of length, style, and type, it still may be moot. (The Scalp-Stealer Mach 2 might not be a great tool for self-defense use either….so you know)

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When else?

-Pressing. Putting the knife with pressure against the opponent in some manner to gain psychological upper-hand, intimate via threat, or escalate the above 3. Throat, abdomen, back/kidney, face, groin, etc. Upping the stakes on the threat. (accepting the bluff can also be called here but there’s perceived greater risk in doing so) For instance, an old schoolmate of mine had this happen outside a bar in Manitoba (witnesses corroborated his account) He was the instigator, the scenario ended with him having a blade put to his throat by the other gentleman to avoid further violence. It worked. No harm, no foul outside of injured pride.

-Closed-folder used as a fistload or compact pocket-stick. (would apply to situations/contexts similar to other impact weapons with regard to legality)

-Using the carried-blade as a justification for a lower-force tool – a decoy. I was told of a case in the US where a pencil was used for self-defense and the verdict was swayed because the user claimed restrained self-defense, noting he was also carrying a “more-lethal” blade on him at the time of assault.

-Non-lethal, minor cuts. Always a risk but cutting hands, arms, legs, clothes, superficial areas. Hardly target-focused and not at all the surgical bio-mechanical variety claimed accessible and medically-viable under great duress (a debate for another time), but generally to create space, demotivate attack/attacker, or allow for escape. I’ve heard many of these, a few ended badly and with unintended results, many not.

And when would these be considered “successful” in the post-event aftermath? If the opponent doesn’t know your identity. No law enforcement are involved. No charges filed or report made. No trip to the hospital is necessary. Superficial wounds. Or you don’t wait around to find out the above. (no maiming, disfigurement, heavy-bleeding, permanent injuries, life-threat, etc.) Maybe the offender also doesn’t want to be held accountable, risk an assault charge, have a criminal record, can’t afford a lawyer or hospital bills for minor injuries, initiated the confrontation and isn’t well-versed in legal aspects, etc. None of which you’ll know beforehand or can assume will be true when making the decision to use.

*Let’s also acknowledge that a) most of these occurrences are, of course, anecdotal by nature and from either first-hand participants or witnesses – not actual media reports or court cases out of necessity (so, admittedly, there is obviously some room for error but when isn’t there even in a court case in a battle of “closest-to-acceptable” perception-twisting for others’ benefit). And b) that future legal-battles are still a potential concern should things come to light and circumstances change as, though “successful”, all could still be illegal in nature.

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Any others? Sure. Unsolved murders. You went too far and didn’t get caught…yet. And, if not, can you live with yourself? Keep the secret? Deal psychologically with taking a life? Manage your guilt? Your cross to bear, I guess.

So, to summarize, successful (meaning circumventing jail-time, lawyer/court fees, criminal record, trial, social stigmas that result) knife-presence in a violent scenario has to have a number of things go right for it to occur. Low-level of force & minimal receiver-injury plus not having the situation escalate out-of-hand. An opponent (and witnesses) unwilling to press charges/go to police/identity offender and not have law enforcement be needed at the scene. OR…successful knife-usage by going through the legal process and “winning” after financial/legal expenses and possibly jail-time awaiting trial. Witnesses (if applicable) supporting you, proving justifiable self-defense against superior force or dire circumstance within the legal channels, a good lawyer, a money supply, and a judge/jury believing your case from their personal (often suburban and isolated) perspective. (not your industry peers) And NONE of these including possible psychological, emotional, spiritual, and/or mental trauma resulting from the act itself and potential therapy that may come with it.

To be clear, I love knife-training. Dueling. Playing. Drilling. Handling. Strategizing. Footwork. Measurement. Timing. It’s fun, focus-forced, and attribute-building…but I don’t teach it for self-defense any longer. (Though I don’t begrudge those who do so responsibly) I don’t advocate student-carry. I don’t glorify it and write how-to articles on it. I don’t push it over more legally-viable and higher-percentage stoppers whether improvised, tertiary, or strategically-placed/carried. AND, to be absolutely clear, I am NOT referring to those circumstances where the other option of the above-mentioned is death. Of course, legal/psychological/mental/fiscal issues would always be preferable to the alternative of dying, at least we hope that’s the case. And these are profound choices you’re going to have to make yourself….personally….well prior to an event actually happening. (training or not) This is directed at those multi-bladed murder-advocates who teach others offensive/aggressive knife-defense or knife-fighting or negligent bladed-defense to whatever type of transgression on the sliding scale of attack-seriousness.

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But, that being said, as we can see, the window for successful bladed self-defense is pretty streamlined and narrow and even what’s deemed as successful bladed SD has a fairly steep cost. The above examples also don’t require 20 years of stylistic TMA knife-training. At all, whatsoever. And, to be extra clear, this also isn’t factoring in the wildly unpredictable nature of blade-attack response. Knives are simply not a guaranteed stopper. We see it time-and-again in case studies, Youtube videos, historical references, personal anecdotes from survivors and medical professionals. There is no specific area to cut, set immediacy of cutting/stabbing shutdown, ensured blood-loss amount, bio-mechanical-cutting surety….that will guarantee the stop of a motivated, intent-driven, aggressive attacking person. Case studies prove this out – they are wildly erratic, hugely unpredictable, and human will and adrenaline are quite the things. Even medical professionals have been at a loss to explain how some victims are walking and talking in the ER after great blood-loss and 40 puncture wounds. Big knives, bigger damage-potential, sure…but that legal-length thing, again. (and acknowledging public-carry is different than private-positioning for a home-invasion are different things entirely)

In conclusion, you need to really study the above examples as they’re what true case-studies, documented incidents, anecdotes, and witness testimonies are predominantly based on….in the real-world. I’ve never ever heard of a successful 16-cut surgical targeting shutdown attack against a right-cross…yet. But I’ll be the first to admit I’m wrong when and if it happens. Keep me posted if it comes to a neighborhood near you…

GRADUAL UNREST IN A FOREIGN ENVIRONMENT

Lots of anxiety and stress in the country right now with a new tax being implemented (deemed deeply unfair to the middle-to-low-class, while the upper-class go untouched). New progressive ideas that are seen as “1st-World” while fundamental staples like infrastructure, education, poverty, and wage go unaddressed. A government that’s lost the faith and trust of the people. Misinformation and fake news (some misunderstood, others planted intentionally) causing unrest, anger, and paranoia. Strikes, protests, blockades in random pockets of the country preventing the working-class from getting to work to feed their families and causing greater disconnect within the same class/demographic. Rising violent episodes, including one with law enforcement, force, and student protesters. And polarizing figures in the middle of it all calling for a coup d’etat – the same polarizing figures who last election pushed an agenda of misogyny, unifying of church and state, a personal police force that answered only to leadership, and backed by the money of shady religious powers from the US. It’s a powder-keg of explosive proportions hanging in the balance, to be sure and most media aren’t adding all of the elements involved here at the moment.

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Now, there are various phases of this that can be addressed in terms of how to prepare and, rather than taking a holistic approach and widening the scope of this article unnecessarily – let’s address the immediate threat first. The one that’s the current greatest issue without overwhelming ourselves with the ones that aren’t….yet. What can one do, within context, to manage safety in the midst of surprise strikes, protests, rallies, and blockades.

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I’ll share what what we’re doing differently daily at this stage.


-carrying bottled-water supply in case of running into strikes, barricades, or protests. Long waits can cause dehydration and waiting is far safer than trying to crash or pass the blockage. (you also then have a place to urinate should I need to and the wait is exorbitantly longer than expected, without leaving the relative safety of your vehicle

-making sure there’s a car-charger for your cell phone with plug-in in case you get low on battery or need to communicate with LE, concerned parties, or 1st-responders/medical-assistance/paramedics


-have a small 1st-Aid kit in the glove-box for whatever needs become necessary

-make sure you leave valuable (jewelry, big bills, items of value) at home as these blockages tend to draw the curious, opportunistic, and hostile in crowds to capitalize on trapped drivers…especially foreigners that stand out. Carry small local-currency bills


-wear common, humble, low-key, non-branded clothing to blend-in and not draw attention. Speaking the local language certainly helps not put a target on my back from interviews and prying questioning


-make sure the Waze application is working and updated on my phone as it’s the only GPS program that gives prior micro-details on upcoming/high-volume traffic, stoppages, LE-presence, and fastest-route availability


-wear running shoes or comfortable footwear when knowing you’ll be entering high(er)-risk areas for quick and fluid movement if needed. Generally, if you don’t need to go into the center of the city or populated suburban pockets – don’t. There are almost always other, close-to-home options for the time being.


-make sure the car has at least half-a-tank of gas in case of long lines, times where the car needs to stay running in anticipation of quick departure or route-switches. This also goes for back-up propane re-fills as often shortages of gasoline, propane, and other services occur due to the strikes, government regulation, or slowing of outside services entering the country out of concern over the state-of-things.


-make sure the spare tire is full and tire-change equipment is ready to go in case of intentional puncture, fluids topped-off, small change for quick toll exit


-as an aside, it wouldn’t hurt to have a bug-out bag ready to go or stored in the trunk, should the situation deteriorate over the next couple of weeks

Now, these have the potential to change and alter as/if the threat, unrest, and events increase but first steps first. Start building your prep in stages to avoid being taken away by public hyperbole and panic. By being anxious over grand scope of where this can lead, you contribute to the phalanx of anxiety and pressure that can cause this to explode. Don’t be a feeder, be a responder. Remember too, that empathy to the cause of these barricades goes a long way – many of these protests are entirely justified here (some are not) but be aware that peer-pressure and pack-mentality is a very real thing in people that it might otherwise not be. Keep you posted with further progressions and matching preparations. Head-up.