Friday, August 21, 2015

Building Community - Evaluating Potential Members

Many preppers, survivalists, and religious folks are looking to build community - be it an informal network of like-minded friends and neighbors, or a more formal arrangement where folks have a defined role within a group of people living and working together towards a common goal. If yuo are looking to build a community, you probably have some questions. Who should be in your group? Who shouldn't be in your group? How do you evaluate potential members 

Evaluating Potential Members for Your Community


0- The Basics  I am assuming the the person you are considering to join your group shares your goals for the community, and is of similar religious background and political views If not, why would you even be considering them for your group? 

If your group is a religious-based one, and person X is an atheist, then his inclusion in the group will not work, even if he is your cousin and a medical doctor. If you are forming a group over concerns about America's leftward lurch towards socialism, including your hippie socialist sister in the group will be a huge mistake. Sorry, but that is the harsh reality. Some people need to be excluded from the very start.

But is sharing common goals, religious backgrounds, and political views really enough? I've been talking to many current and former members of such groups, and the resonding answer is NO, it is not enough. Here are some additional considerations:

1- Stability   Look for signs of stability, or the lack of it, in their lives.  If they are holding a job – its a good sign.  If they bounce in and out of work often or spend large stretches of time unemployed  - it may be a bad sign. Same goes for other areas of their lives – friendships, relationships, living arrangements…  Do they have long-term relationships (spouse, friends, etc.), or do they bounce in and out of relationships often? Does their life seem full of drama where things seem to constantly go wrong and they always seem to have problems of one sort or another? Or does their life seem mostly drama free.  Of course context matters, so use common sense.  However, generally speaking, signs of stability in their lives are good, and signs of a lack of stability are warning flags.  Look for trends within their life, not one time events.

2- Friendship  If you cannot be close friends with someone, it doesn't make sense to include them in your group, no matter what skill sets they bring with them. You will be living and working closely together, depending on each other on a daily basis in very difficult and stressful times. This will create a more intimate relationship than just being a typical co-worker or neighbor. If there is  something about their personality that annoys you, it will only get worse in any collapse scenario.  If you don't like them, don't expect to be able to "put up with" them over the long-term, especially during stressful times. It will go wrong at some point. Some questions to consider: Do you enjoy being around that person?  Can you have a good time together? Are you both comfortable around each other?

3- Trust   Do you trust that person?  Do you feel you can tell them anything without them judging you, telling others, or spreading gossip?  Do you trust them to always tell you the truth? Do you trust them enough to always tell them the truth? Can you trust them to not put themselves above the group in a crisis? Can you trust them to take care of tools and other things belonging to the group, every bit as well as they take care of their own personal property? Can you trust them to make the same commitment of time, effort , and finances to the group that you are willing to make?

4- Reciprocity   By this category, I mean How do they treat other people? Is your relationship with them reciprocal (involving give and take on both sides)?  Do you get as much out of it as they do?  Are they a good host AND a good guest?  Are they a giver, taker or balanced?  (Taker is bad, balanced is best, giver may be okay as long as you or others don’t take advantage). How do they treat you and other people? Do they try to live by the golden rule, treating others  in the same way they want to be treated? As you get to know each other, do they seem willing to sacrifice (time, money, effort) as much for the group as you are? 

Warning Signs

1- Addictions   Addictions of any kind – drugs, alcohol, smoking, gambling, TV, etc – are a MAJOR warning sign.  Does their addiction control them?  Does it create chaos in their life, or hold them back? Avoid anyone with any form of addiction. Pray for them. Offer to help them find assistance in overcoming their addiction. But do not make them a part of your group until they have successfully and completely overcome their addiction.

2- Nuts/Crazies   There are lots of nuts and crazies in the world.  I'm not referring to people who are unusual or marching to a different drummer, but those who have actual serious mental problems.  Avoid them. Remember, at some point in a crisis, their meds will run out.Besides, the stress and chaos of a crisis will likely make their illness even more serious. This might seem heartless, but including them in the group will put everyone else in the group at risk. Besides, you can help people without making them part of your group. Pray for them. Help them find assistance and treatment for their illness before a crisis hits. Even check on them during a crisis if you can, providing food or other assistance if needed. But, don't being them into the group. 

3- Bizarre or Unusual Requests Early On   If you are just getting to know someone and they hit you with a bizarre or very unusual request, tread carefully. Bizarre requests might be to borrow a significant sum of money, or to quickly make a serious commitment, or to do something illegal or unethical.

4- Dishonesty  Its one thing to be guarded with personal information, and concerned with maintaining privacy. Its something else entirely to outright lie, especially about major issues. Don't expect someone to completely open up to you and tell you everything about their life, especially early on. But you should expect them to be honest in what they do tell you.

Skill Sets

It is a good idea to include a wide variety of skill sets in your group, and that is the area I most often see discussed when folks talk about building community. However, I suggest that skill sets should be at the bottom of your list of things to consider when building community. Having a wide variety of skills sets will be of little value to a group that falls apart because of other more basic problems. A group that splinters over personality clashes is no longer a group. All the skills in the world won't change that fact.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Basic Starter Tool Kit

When I was living in apartments back in the day, it surprised me how many of my neighbors had no tools whatsoever. I know this, because wherever I lived, I quickly became known as that guy with the tools - that my neighbors would constantly ask to borrow! Even basic tools like hammers and screwdrivers were in short supply with many of my fellow apartment dwellers. This post is for those folks who are completely new to the do-it-yourself world of self-reliance, as I explain what should be in a basic starter tool kit everyone should own.

First, start with a basic Claw Hammer. Hammers are for, well, hammering, usually nails into things. The claw part on the opposite side from the head is used for extracting nails. Hammers can also be used to knock things apart, which can be a rather fun way of relieving stress, though that is strictly an "off-label" use!  For your starter kit, I suggest a 7 oz. hammer, though as you build your tool kit you'll want to add a heavier hammer and perhaps specialty hammers at some point.

Next, you need some screwdrivers. At a bare minimum for your starter set, I suggest four - two Phillips head (the ones that like kinda like a cross) in sizes #1 and #2, and two flat head screwdrivers (the ones with a straight edge) in sixes 3/16 and 1/4. You can buy screwdrivers in various lengths, but you'll probably start with six-inch ones. As you add to your tool kit over time, you'll probably want to add different lengths, sizes, and styles (yes, there are many more styles than just the most common Phillips- and flat- head screwdrivers). You can also buy screwdrivers with interchangeable bits, whcih can be a space saver.

You will also want a pair of needle-nose pliers (six-inch) and regular pliers (six-inch). Pliers are great for gripping, holding, bending, and twisting things (which can be surprisingly useful activities). The needle-nose pliers typically also come with built-in wire cutters/strippers, which can also be useful. Both regular and meddle-nose pliers come in various styles and sizes, and you'll be adding to your starter kit over time.

An adjustable wrench should also be part of your starter tool kit. Like other tools, they come in various sizes, and you'll probably get a larger one at some point (the big ones can get surprising expensive), but you should be okay starting out with the standard six-inch in length with a 3/4 inch opening.

A retractable tape measure will prove to be an invaluable addition to your starter tool kit, provided you use it, as it wil keep you from making too many mistakes. You can get them in almost any length imaginable, but I recommend a ten- or twelve-foot one for your starter kit. You can get longer ones later, if you need to...

A bubble level, sometimes called a spirit level, will help you make sure that pictures frames, tables, and other items are level. You could use a marble, but a level really is more convenient.

An Allen wrench set, also called a hex-wrench set,  are those weird-looking, L-shaped, hexagonal pieces of metal, that are surprising useful for putting together those some-assembly-required pieces of furniture you buy at the big box stores, among other things. They come in both SAE and metric sizes, and you'll want a set of each.

You'll also want to add a good utility knife/box-cutter to your starter kit. Great for cutting things. I also find a good, sturdy pair of scissors quite useful.

A final item to consider for your basic starter tool kit is a set of precision screwdrivers. There screwdrivers are especially deigned to fit very small screws, like those found on eyeglasses & sunglasses, and in watches & various electronics. Like regular screwdrivers, precision screwdrivers come in various lengths, sizes, and styles. For your starter tool kit, just get a basic set.

At this point, your most basic starter tool kit is complete.You'll probably want to add a bag, box, or case of some sort to store your tools in, to keep them together so you can actually find them when you need them.

You'll also find it handy to go ahead and buy a variety of hardware (items like nails, screws, bolts & nuts, picture-hanging wire, etc). You can typically find small kits of various hardware at the big-box stores. Don't forget duct tape!

For a more complete discussion of tools, see I recommend the book by James Wesley, Rawles Tools for Survival.

As you build your tool kit and workshop. don't forget about safety equipment like protective eye-wear, gloves, aprons, fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, and first aid kits! (Seriously, safety is important.  See my article Prepper Workshop and DIY Safety.)

The tool kit pictured at the top of this article is the Stanley 65-Piece Homeowner's Tool Kit, which mostly meets and even exceeds my criteria for a basic starter tool kit. In addition to the basic tools I mention in this article, it also has some additional drivers and a small socket set. The only thing missing that should be in a starter kit is an adjustable wrench, so you'll want to buy one to add to this kit (you can find one for a couple of bucks at any of the big box stores).

Monday, August 17, 2015

Benjamin Netanyahu's 2015 Speech to the US Congress


On March 3, 2015, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a speech to a joint meeting of Congress warning about the dangers of allowing Iran to gain nuclear arms. This was a response to the Obama administration's determination to achieve a deal with Iran, seemingly at all costs. Many people, including Netanyahu, think such a deal will guarantee that Iran eventually becomes a nuclear power. The following is the transcript of the speech, followed by a video of the speech:

Benjamin Netanyahu's 2015 Speech to the US Congress

Thank you. Thank you...

Speaker of the House John Boehner, President Pro Tem Senator Orrin Hatch, Senator Minority -- Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. I also want to acknowledge Senator, Democratic Leader HarryReid. Harry, it's good to see you back on your feet.

I guess it's true what they say, you can't keep a good man down.

My friends, I'm deeply humbled by the opportunity to speak for a third time before the most important legislative body in the world, the U.S. Congress.

I want to thank you all for being here today. I know that my speech has been the subject of much controversy. I deeply regret that some perceive my being here as political. That was never my intention. I want to thank you, Democrats and Republicans, for your common support for Israel, year after year, decade after decade.

I know that no matter on which side of the aisle you sit, you stand with Israel.

The remarkable alliance between Israel and the United States has always been above politics. It must always remain above politics.

Because America and Israel, we share a common destiny, the destiny of promised lands that cherish freedom and offer hope. Israel is grateful for the support of American -- of America's people and of America's presidents, from Harry Truman to Barack Obama.

We appreciate all that President Obama has done for Israel. Now, some of that is widely known.

Some of that is widely known, like strengthening security cooperation and intelligence sharing, opposing anti-Israel resolutions at the U.N. Some of what the president has done for Israel is less well- known.

I called him in 2010 when we had the Carmel forest fire, and he immediately agreed to respond to my request for urgent aid. In 2011, we had our embassy in Cairo under siege, and again, he provided vital assistance at the crucial moment. Or his support for more missile interceptors during our operation last summer when we took on Hamas terrorists.

In each of those moments, I called the president, and he was there. And some of what the president has done for Israel might never be known, because it touches on some of the most sensitive and strategic issues that arise between an American president and an Israeli prime minister. But I know it, and I will always be grateful to President Obama for that support.

And Israel is grateful to you, the American Congress, for your support, for supporting us in so many ways, especially in generous military assistance and missile defense, including Iron Dome.

Last summer, millions of Israelis were protected from thousands of Hamas rockets because this capital dome helped build our Iron Dome.

Thank you, America. Thank you for everything you've done for Israel. My friends, I've come here today because, as prime minister of Israel, I feel a profound obligation to speak to you about an issue that could well threaten the survival of my country and the future of my people: Iran's quest for nuclear weapons. We're an ancient people. In our nearly 4,000 years of history, many have tried repeatedly to destroy the Jewish people. Tomorrow night, on the Jewish holiday of Purim, we'll read the Book of Esther. We'll read of a powerful Persian viceroy named Haman, who plotted to destroy the Jewish people some 2,500 years ago. But a courageous Jewish woman, Queen Esther, exposed the plot and gave for the Jewish people the right to defend themselves against their enemies.

The plot was foiled. Our people were saved. Today the Jewish people face another attempt by yet another Persian potentate to destroy us. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei spews the oldest hatred, the oldest hatred of anti-Semitism with the newest technology. He tweets that Israel must be annihilated -- he tweets. You know, in Iran, there isn't exactly free Internet. But he tweets in English that Israel must be destroyed. For those who believe that Iran threatens the Jewish state, but not the Jewish people, listen to Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, Iran's chief terrorist proxy. He said: If all the Jews gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of chasing them down around the world.

But Iran's regime is not merely a Jewish problem, any more than the Nazi regime was merely a Jewish problem. The 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis were but a fraction of the 60 million people killed in World War II. So, too, Iran's regime poses a grave threat, not only to Israel, but also the peace of the entire world. To understand just how dangerous Iran would be with nuclear weapons, we must fully understand the nature of the regime.

The people of Iran are very talented people. They're heirs to one of the world's great civilizations. But in 1979, they were hijacked by religious zealots -- religious zealots who imposed on them immediately a dark and brutal dictatorship.

That year, the zealots drafted a constitution, a new one for Iran. It directed the revolutionary guards not only to protect Iran's borders, but also to fulfill the ideological mission of jihad. The regime's founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, exhorted his followers to "export the revolution throughout the world.''

I'm standing here in Washington, D.C. and the difference is so stark. America's founding document promises life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Iran's founding document pledges death, tyranny, and the pursuit of jihad. And as states are collapsing across the Middle East, Iran is charging into the void to do just that. Iran's goons in Gaza, its lackeys in Lebanon, its revolutionary guards on the Golan Heights are clutching Israel with three tentacles of terror. Backed by Iran, Assad is slaughtering Syrians. Back by Iran, Shiite militias are rampaging through Iraq. Back by Iran, Houthis are seizing control of Yemen, threatening the strategic straits at the mouth of the Red Sea. Along with the Straits of Hormuz, that would give Iran a second choke-point on the world's oil supply.

Just last week, near Hormuz, Iran carried out a military exercise blowing up a mock U.S. aircraft carrier. That's just last week, while they're having nuclear talks with the United States. But unfortunately, for the last 36 years, Iran's attacks against the United States have been anything but mock. And the targets have been all too real. Iran took dozens of Americans hostage in Tehran, murdered hundreds of American soldiers, Marines, in Beirut, and was responsible for killing and maiming thousands of American service men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Beyond the Middle East, Iran attacks America and its allies through its global terror network. It blew up the Jewish community center and the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires. It helped Al Qaeda bomb U.S. embassies in Africa. It even attempted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador, right here in Washington, D.C. In the Middle East, Iran now dominates four Arab capitals, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa. And if Iran's aggression is left unchecked, more will surely follow. So, at a time when many hope that Iran will join the community of nations, Iran is busy gobbling up the nations.

We must all stand together to stop Iran's march of conquest, subjugation and terror.

Now, two years ago, we were told to give President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif a chance to bring change and moderation to Iran. Some change! Some moderation!

Rouhani's government hangs gays, persecutes Christians, jails journalists and executes even more prisoners than before. Last year, the same Zarif who charms Western diplomats laid a wreath at the grave of Imad Mughniyeh. Imad Mughniyeh is the terrorist mastermind who spilled more American blood than any other terrorist besides Osama bin Laden. I'd like to see someone ask him a question about that. Iran's regime is as radical as ever, its cries of "Death to America,'' that same America that it calls the "Great Satan,'' as loud as ever. Now, this shouldn't be surprising, because the ideology of Iran's revolutionary regime is deeply rooted in militant Islam, and that's why this regime will always be an enemy of America. Don't be fooled. The battle between Iran and ISIS doesn't turn Iran into a friend of America.

Iran and ISIS are competing for the crown of militant Islam. One calls itself the Islamic Republic. The other calls itself the Islamic State. Both want to impose a militant Islamic empire first on the region and then on the entire world. They just disagree among themselves who will be the ruler of that empire. In this deadly game of thrones, there's no place for America or for Israel, no peace for Christians, Jews or Muslims who don't share the Islamist medieval creed, no rights for women, no freedom for anyone. So when it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy.

The difference is that ISIS is armed with butcher knives, captured weapons and YouTube, whereas Iran could soon be armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs. We must always remember -- I'll say it one more time -- the greatest dangers facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons. To defeat ISIS and let Iran get nuclear weapons would be to win the battle, but lose the war. We can't let that happen.

But that, my friends, is exactly what could happen, if the deal now being negotiated is accepted by Iran. That deal will not prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. It would all but guarantee that Iran gets those weapons, lots of them. Let me explain why. While the final deal has not yet been signed, certain elements of any potential deal are now a matter of public record. You don't need intelligence agencies and secret information to know this. You can Google it. Absent a dramatic change, we know for sure that any deal with Iran will include two major concessions to Iran. The first major concession would leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure, providing it with a short break-out time to the bomb. Break-out time is the time it takes to amass enough weapons-grade uranium or plutonium for a nuclear bomb.

According to the deal, not a single nuclear facility would be demolished. Thousands of centrifuges used to enrich uranium would be left spinning. Thousands more would be temporarily disconnected, but not destroyed. Because Iran's nuclear program would be left largely intact, Iran's break-out time would be very short -- about a year by U.S. assessment, even shorter by Israel's. And if -- if Iran's work on advanced centrifuges, faster and faster centrifuges, is not stopped, that break-out time could still be shorter, a lot shorter. True, certain restrictions would be imposed on Iran's nuclear program and Iran's adherence to those restrictions would be supervised by international inspectors. But here's the problem. You see, inspectors document violations; they don't stop them.

Inspectors knew when North Korea broke to the bomb, but that didn't stop anything. North Korea turned off the cameras, kicked out the inspectors. Within a few years, it got the bomb. Now, we're warned that within five years North Korea could have an arsenal of 100 nuclear bombs. Like North Korea, Iran, too, has defied international inspectors. It's done that on at least three separate occasions -- 2005, 2006, 2010. Like North Korea, Iran broke the locks, shut off the cameras.

Now, I know this is not gonna come a shock -- as a shock to any of you, but Iran not only defies inspectors, it also plays a pretty good game of hide-and-cheat with them. The U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency, the IAEA, said again yesterday that Iran still refuses to come clean about its military nuclear program. Iran was also caught -- caught twice, not once, twice -- operating secret nuclear facilities in Natanz and Qom, facilities that inspectors didn't even know existed. Right now, Iran could be hiding nuclear facilities that we don't know about, the U.S. and Israel. As the former head of inspections for the IAEA said in 2013, he said, "If there's no undeclared installation today in Iran, it will be the first time in 20 years that it doesn't have one.'' Iran has proven time and again that it cannot be trusted. And that's why the first major concession is a source of great concern. It leaves Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure and relies on inspectors to prevent a breakout. That concession creates a real danger that Iran could get to the bomb by violating the deal.

But the second major concession creates an even greater danger that Iran could get to the bomb by keeping the deal. Because virtually all the restrictions on Iran's nuclear program will automatically expire in about a decade.

Now, a decade may seem like a long time in political life, but it's the blink of an eye in the life of a nation. It's a blink of an eye in the life of our children. We all have a responsibility to consider what will happen when Iran's nuclear capabilities are virtually unrestricted and all the sanctions will have been lifted. Iran would then be free to build a huge nuclear capacity that could product many, many nuclear bombs. Iran's Supreme Leader says that openly. He says, Iran plans to have 190,000 centrifuges, not 6,000 or even the 19,000 that Iran has today, but 10 times that amount -- 190,000 centrifuges enriching uranium. With this massive capacity, Iran could make the fuel for an entire nuclear arsenal and this in a matter of weeks, once it makes that decision.

My long-time friend, John Kerry, Secretary of State, confirmed last week that Iran could legitimately possess that massive centrifuge capacity when the deal expires. Now I want you to think about that. The foremost sponsor of global terrorism could be weeks away from having enough enriched uranium for an entire arsenal of nuclear weapons and this with full international legitimacy. And by the way, if Iran's Intercontinental Ballistic Missile program is not part of the deal, and so far, Iran refuses to even put it on the negotiating table. Well, Iran could have the means to deliver that nuclear arsenal to the far-reach corners of the earth, including to every part of the United States.

So you see, my friends, this deal has two major concessions: one, leaving Iran with a vast nuclear program and two, lifting the restrictions on that program in about a decade. That's why this deal is so bad. It doesn't block Iran's path to the bomb; it paves Iran's path to the bomb. So why would anyone make this deal? Because they hope that Iran will change for the better in the coming years, or they believe that the alternative to this deal is worse?

Well, I disagree. I don't believe that Iran's radical regime will change for the better after this deal. This regime has been in power for 36 years, and its voracious appetite for aggression grows with each passing year. This deal would wet appetite -- would only wet Iran's appetite for more. Would Iran be less aggressive when sanctions are removed and its economy is stronger? If Iran is gobbling up four countries right now while it's under sanctions, how many more countries will Iran devour when sanctions are lifted? Would Iran fund less terrorism when it has mountains of cash with which to fund more terrorism? Why should Iran's radical regime change for the better when it can enjoy the best of both world's: aggression abroad, prosperity at home?

This is a question that everyone asks in our region. Israel's neighbors -- Iran's neighbors know that Iran will become even more aggressive and sponsor even more terrorism when its economy is unshackled and it's been given a clear path to the bomb. And many of these neighbors say they'll respond by racing to get nuclear weapons of their own. So this deal won't change Iran for the better; it will only change the Middle East for the worse. A deal that's supposed to prevent nuclear proliferation would instead spark a nuclear arms race in the most dangerous part of the planet. This deal won't be a farewell to arms. It would be a farewell to arms control. And the Middle East would soon be crisscrossed by nuclear tripwires. A region where small skirmishes can trigger big wars would turn into a nuclear tinderbox.

If anyone thinks -- if anyone thinks this deal kicks the can down the road, think again. When we get down that road, we'll face a much more dangerous Iran, a Middle East littered with nuclear bombs and a countdown to a potential nuclear nightmare.

Ladies and gentlemen, I've come here today to tell you we don't have to bet the security of the world on the hope that Iran will change for the better. We don't have to gamble with our future and with our children's future. We can insist that restrictions on Iran's nuclear program not be lifted for as long as Iran continues its aggression in the region and in the world.

Before lifting those restrictions, the world should demand that Iran do three things. First, stop its aggression against its neighbors in the Middle East. Second... Second, stop supporting terrorism around the world. And third, stop threatening to annihilate my country, Israel, the one and only Jewish state. Thank you.

If the world powers are not prepared to insist that Iran change its behavior before a deal is signed, at the very least they should insist that Iran change its behavior before a deal expires. If Iran changes its behavior, the restrictions would be lifted. If Iran doesn't change its behavior, the restrictions should not be lifted. If Iran wants to be treated like a normal country, let it act like a normal country.

My friends, what about the argument that there's no alternative to this deal, that Iran's nuclear know-how cannot be erased, that its nuclear program is so advanced that the best we can do is delay the inevitable, which is essentially what the proposed deal seeks to do? Well, nuclear know-how without nuclear infrastructure doesn't get you very much. A racecar driver without a car can't drive. A pilot without a plan can't fly. Without thousands of centrifuges, tons of enriched uranium or heavy water facilities, Iran can't make nuclear weapons.

Iran's nuclear program can be rolled back well-beyond the current proposal by insisting on a better deal and keeping up the pressure on a very vulnerable regime, especially given the recent collapse in the price of oil.

Now, if Iran threatens to walk away from the table -- and this often happens in a Persian bazaar -- call their bluff. They'll be back, because they need the deal a lot more than you do.

And by maintaining the pressure on Iran and on those who do business with Iran, you have the power to make them need it even more. My friends, for over a year, we've been told that no deal is better than a bad deal. Well, this is a bad deal. It's a very bad deal. We're better off without it.

Now we're being told that the only alternative to this bad deal is war. That's just not true. The alternative to this bad deal is a much better deal. A better deal that doesn't leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure and such a short break-out time. A better deal that keeps the restrictions on Iran's nuclear program in place until Iran's aggression ends.

A better deal that won't give Iran an easy path to the bomb. A better deal that Israel and its neighbors may not like, but with which we could live, literally. And no country... ... no country has a greater stake -- no country has a greater stake than Israel in a good deal that peacefully removes this threat.

Ladies and gentlemen, history has placed us at a fateful crossroads. We must now choose between two paths. One path leads to a bad deal that will at best curtail Iran's nuclear ambitions for a while, but it will inexorably lead to a nuclear-armed Iran whose unbridled aggression will inevitably lead to war.

The second path, however difficult, could lead to a much better deal, that would prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, a nuclearized Middle East and the horrific consequences of both to all of humanity.

You don't have to read Robert Frost to know. You have to live life to know that the difficult path is usually the one less traveled, but it will make all the difference for the future of my country, the security of the Middle East and the peace of the world, the peace, we all desire.

My friend, standing up to Iran is not easy. Standing up to dark and murderous regimes never is. With us today is Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel.

Elie, your life and work inspires to give meaning to the words, "never again.'' And I wish I could promise you, Elie, that the lessons of history have been learned. I can only urge the leaders of the world not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Not to sacrifice the future for the present; not to ignore aggression in the hopes of gaining an illusory peace. But I can guarantee you this, the days when the Jewish people remained passive in the face of genocidal enemies, those days are over.

We are no longer scattered among the nations, powerless to defend ourselves. We restored our sovereignty in our ancient home. And the soldiers who defend our home have boundless courage. For the first time in 100 generations, we, the Jewish people, can defend ourselves.

This is why -- this is why, as a prime minister of Israel, I can promise you one more thing: Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand. But I know that Israel does not stand alone. I know that America stands with Israel. I know that you stand with Israel. You stand with Israel, because you know that the story of Israel is not only the story of the Jewish people but of the human spirit that refuses again and again to succumb to history's horrors.

Facing me right up there in the gallery, overlooking all of us in this (inaudible) chamber is the image of Moses. Moses led our people from slavery to the gates of the Promised Land. And before the people of Israel entered the land of Israel, Moses gave us a message that has steeled our resolve for thousands of years. I leave you with his message today, (SPEAKING IN HEBREW), "Be strong and resolute, neither fear nor dread them.'' My friends, may Israel and America always stand together, strong and resolute. May we neither fear nor dread the challenges ahead. May we face the future with confidence, strength and hope. May God bless the state of Israel and may God bless the United States of America.

Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you all.  You're wonderful. Thank you, America. Thank you. Thank you.

###

Speech starts shortly after the 26-minute mark.
Speech starts shortly after the 26-minute mark.


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Getting Out of Babylon! (part two)

This is a follow-up of my previous article entitled Getting Out of Babylon! If you haven't read it, just click the link to read the details. Here is a quick recap of suggestions on how you can get out of the worldly system:
  1. Get out of the cities and suburbs. 
  2. Get out of the pop culture and entertainment system.
  3. Get out of the doomed financial system.
  4. Get your children out of the public school system. 
  5. Get out of our failing healthcare system. 
  6. Get out of liberal/progressive churches and synagogues.
There are also some other tips and suggestions in the original article in addition to those main points. 

Additional Suggestions

7. Get away from the news media. I didn't include this suggestion in the original article because I have mixed thoughts on it. On one hand, it is good to be an informed citizen, and it is necessary to be aware of the potential threats we face. On the other hand, much of what passes for news today is little more than what I call "water cooler gossip" and is actually a distraction, not informative. Besides, most news outlets are heavily biased by both ideology and political correctness. With the main-stream media, this bias slants heavily towards a leftist ideology that is directly opposed to Christianity, Judaism, and traditional Western values. But even much of the so-called alternative media is suspect, biased in different ideological directions than the MSM, but still biased (and, frankly, often with a noticeable amount of crazy mixed in).

Paying attention to the news can be a frustrating, upsetting, depressing, anger-inducing distraction. But we still need to be informed. My personal solution has been to greatly reduce my consumption of news. I still pay attention to the news, focusing on a few outlets that I consider to be reasonably good (though not perfect, of course), but I am no longer the news junkie I used to be. I no longer listen to talk radio. I no longer watch the FOX News prime time shows (I stopped even before the GOP debate). I no longer pay attention to the Sunday morning news shows (sorry Chris Wallace, et al.). I certainly don't read newspapers or magazines.

So, how do I get my news? Several ways: I quickly scan Drudge Report most days. This gives me a "feel" for what is happening in world. If there is a major news story, I can then dig into it and find out more. I'm often on Twitter, so I am alerted to major breaking news that way. Again, I can then dig into news stories that seem important to me. I'll occasionally catch Lou Dobbs' show on FOX Business. I do like the World Magazine website (and follow them on Twitter). They are a Christian news site, and thus favor that worldview. I also follow the Washington Free Beacon on twitter, as well as a few others. Since I listen to Christian radio, I do get some news that way.

This greatly reduces my exposure to  the worldly news media, but I'm still exposed to it. I watch/listen/read the news with a critical outlook, being aware of bias and trying to ignore the distractions.

8. Get out of the political system. This is another suggestion about which I have a mixed opinion. As I've said elsewhere, "What is wrong with America goes well beyond politics & economics. It is a spiritual sickness which infects the USA. No politician, no election, no piece of legislation, will cure spiritual sickness. We must appeal to a Higher Authority for that kind of healing." In other words, its too late for political solutions. Besides, our current two-party system, dominated by elites and special interests, is also little more than a frustrating, upsetting, depressing, anger-inducing distraction. On the other hand, I do think we have a duty to at least try to be good citizens, and that means casting informed votes as best we can.

Rather than stepping completely away from the political system, I am striving to achieve some measure of balance. For me this means I no longer support any political party, instead supporting individual candidates on a case-by-case basis. I am an Independent, not a Republican, Democrat, or even a Libertarian. I am skeptical of all politicians, regardless of their party affiliation or even their professed ideology. I do not look to any party, politician, or candidate to "save America." I no longer listen to talk radio. I do not donate to political parties or political think tanks. Although I do still follow politics to some extent, I no longer get wrapped up in it. (Confession: I did watch the recent GOP debate, but in hindsight consider it a waste of my time.)

I do support certain causes, such as traditional values, Constitutional-literacy, and Religious Freedom. I think it is important to help educate people on Real History and Real Economics. I may support individual candidates that I deem worthy. But I am no longer a political junkie.

 Replace the Worldly System With What?

We are trying to get out of the worldly system. But what are we trying to replace it with?

My short answer: God's system.

In all things, put God first. I often pray this short pray, which you may have even seen me Tweet on occasion: "I confess the Lordship of Jesus Christ over every aspect of my life, health, heart, mind, body, soul, and spirit."

We are to be concerned with living our lives in a way pleasing to God, not the World. It doesn't matter what the Government wants us to do, or what our neighbors or co-workers think of us. Public opinion is meaningless. Don't try to be trendy, fashionable, modern, worldly, sophisticated, politically correct, socially acceptable, or anything else. Don't try to "fit in" with the world. Follow God. Fit in with Him.

Develop your relationship with God, not the World. Pray. Read the Bible. Look to God for your priorities and values, for your knowledge of right and wrong. Build good, strong relationships with your family and other like-minded people.Do what is right, even if the World says otherwise.

Our nation and our fellow man may have chosen to build their own Worldly system. But that doesn't mean we have to follow their lead. Be different. Be one of God's chosen. It is a difficult road, but a worthy one. 

If you liked this article, you may also be interested in my Six-point Plan for Taking Back America.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Tool Tip: Lending Tools

 Ever had someone borrow tools from you, then forget to return them? Or, if they did return the tools, they were rusty or otherwise damaged? Its happened to me several times. I once had a socket set returned with two missing sockets. A hammer was returned with one of its claws broken (no explanation, apology or offer to buy me a new one). And a very nice set of precision screwdrivers was never returned (a co-worker who kept promising to remember to return it, up until the day he quit and I never saw him again). It seems people, even well-intentioned ones, have trouble taking care of something if its not actually their own personal property. Its enough to make me want to quit lending my tools, especially my high-quality, costly ones.

On the other hand, I want to be friendly and helpful towards others. And building goodwill with our family, friends, and neighbors is a good thing. So, what to do?

My solution to this quandary was to create a set of "lending tools." This is a box full of  cheap, no-name hammers, screwdrivers, wrenches, pliers, saws, and other tools. Some of the tools in the box are old or low-quality tools culled from my good tools. Others are no-name, made in 3rd world sweat-shops, bargain basement tools purchased at Wal-Mart or the dollar stores. Many were bought super cheaply at yard sales. They may be low-quality, but they are good enough to get the job done. And if they get lost or broken, who cares. My good tools are safe and sound, right where I can find them when I need them.

Click here for my other Tool Tips.

Click here for my article on a Basic Starter Tool Kit.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

My Take On the Dangers of This Fall

Question from Alice in Minnesota: I've noticed that a lot of people in the preparedness and survival community seem very worried that something bad will happen this Fall. Do you agree with them? And what should we be doing to prepare?

Tim's Response: You're right. A lot of folks are worried that some sort of "shit hits the fan" event will happen in September or October. Some are worried about the Jade Helm military exercise, others are concerned with biblical prophecy, still others are growing alarmed over the general direction of world events, as well as continuing bad economic trends. For whatever reasons, right now I sense more angst from the prepper/survivalist community than I have in several years.

There may be genuine statistical reasons to worry about the Fall. Historically, September and October seem to play host to an abnormally large number of bad events - the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the stock market crash of 1929, and the economic crisis of 2008, just to name a few. I don't know if this Fall will see a similar major event or not, but I will certainly be paying attention!

How should we prepare for whatever may happen this Fall? Sadly, with September now less than a month away, it is too late to do some things. There really isn't enough time to move away from the big city and set-up your homestead. But, if that is on your things to do list, don't stop working towards that goal because you're worried about this Fall. There is no guarantee something bad will happen yet. It may be sometime next year before the SHTF, or the next year, or the year after... Keep working your long-term plan.

If you do want to prepare specifically for an event within the next few months, I do have a few suggestions:

First, stockpile lots and lots of water, food, first aid & medical supplies, personal hygiene supplies, cleaning & sanitation supplies, and other useful items. If you have a fireplace or wood stove, stockpile wood for it now. Make sure you have a least a few hundred dollars in cash stuck back in a safe, well-hidden place.


Second, work on enhancing your personal and home security as much as possible in the coming weeks. Get a gun if you don't already have one, and learn to use it! Stock up on ammo. Consider replacing your easy-to-kick-in doors with heavy duty security doors. Consider installing burglar bars on your windows, and enhancing the outdoor lighting around your home. Make sure your smoke detectors are working, and get a couple of fire extinguishers if you don't already have them. Go over security plans with your family.


Third, do not skip or put-off appointments with your doctor, dentist, or eye doctor. Get those things taken care of now, just in case you can't later.

Fourth, do not skip or put-off any needed car maintenance or repairs. Get the oil changed. Inspect and fix the brakes if necessary. Service the transmission. Get new tires if you need them. Replace the battery if it is getting old. You don't want to have to deal with a broken-down vehicle in the midst of an emergency. If you can safely store some extra gas (in containers designed for that purpose), do so. Don't store gas inside your house or apartment!

Fifth, if you don't already have a bug-out location, its probably too late to buy one. Instead, figure out somewhere else you can go in an emergency - perhaps to a relative's or friend's house (somewhere away from where you are now, and away from a big city). You may even want to preposition some clothes, food, and other supplies at their house.  Don't have a friend or relative you can stay with? Maybe your best bet would be camping at a national or state park, or private campground. Decide where, determine how much it will cost, and make sure you have the appropriate gear.


Monday, August 3, 2015

How to afford being a prepper...

Being a prepper can get expensive!  There's lots of stuff you probably want to get - reference books, food, buckets & lids, first aid supplies, guns & ammo, knives, tools, pressure canners, jars, lids, dehydrators, backpacks, and lots of other gear. On top of all that stuff, you may need to move to a safer location and buy some land to homestead. Perhaps a pickup truck is on your wish list. You probably also want to get out of debt, build some emergency savings, and maybe buy some silver and gold.  And don't forget about the cost of learning new sills, such as first aid classes and self-defense courses. How on earth are you going to afford all that?

Think. Research. Plan. Then, Buy.

When faced with the stark reality of the problems we face, an understandable desire to rush out and buy a bunch of food, ammo, and other supplies often hits people. We feel threatened, and buying stuff makes us feel like we're doing something about it.

Resist that temptation. Instead, take the time to calmly think through your situation, formulate a plan, determine your actual needs, prioritize those needs, do your research, and then spend your limited money in a thoughtful and organized way. This will help you make fewer, and less costly, mistakes then if you just rush out on a spending spree.

Learn from the experiences of others. Prepper Webiste is an excellent source of current links to  articles and blog posts of preppers and survivalists of all sorts. Totally Homestead is a great source of links to various homesteading websites and blogs. Make use of these two resources.

Want a good idea of what might happen in an economic and political crisis? Learn from history. Although no two countries, and no two crisis, will ever be exactly alike, there are lots of things we can learn from past events. I HIGHLY recommend Fernando Aguirre's book The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse. Based on his experiences having lived through the collapse of Argentina's economy and the rise of a socialist dictatorship, Aguirre doesn't rely on theories of what might happen, but gives lots of concrete examples of what actually happened during and after an economic collapse.

Before making purchases, check a number of reviews to make sure that the item in question is what you want and expect.  I've posted a number of book and knife reviews on this website. There are lots of reviews on Amazon. You Tube is also a great source of reviews. 

A Penny Saved Is a Penny Earned.

This maxim by Benjamin Franklin is very true. If you can find $25 worth of savings from you budget, then you suddenly have $25 more to spend on your preparations. It is as if you earned an extra $25. Most of us think our budgets are already fairly tight, so you may be wondering How can I save money? 

First, realize that small purchases add up to big money.  Money spent on little things - sodas, snacks, and impulse items of all sorts - can add up really quickly. A great example is a guy I used to work with who constantly complained about not having any money. Every afternoon he would head down to the break room and buy a Pepsi and a Snickers bar from the vending machine. It was only a $1.75, but he spent that money five days a week. Over the course of a year, that adds up to almost $450.

Ideas to Avoid Impulse Purchases:
  • Don't to pay attention to TV, radio, or print ads. Hit the mute button. or simply don't watch or read the ads.
  • Don't watch infomercials or home shopping channels.
  • Leave junk mail unopened. Recycle catalogs, fliers, and leaflets unread.
  • Don't use shopping as a form of entertainment or a means to relax. Don't go to the mall or shopping center just to have something to do.
  • Avoid social shopping with friends. People tend to talk each other into things, not out of them.
  • Shop only with lists, and stick to them.
  •  Don't browse Amazon, eBay, or other Internet sites. Shop them the same way you would a physical store - with a list.
  • Shop with cash only. Spending cash feels more real than using checks or credit cards, so you are apt to spend less.
  • If you do find an item you think you can't do without, wait at least 24 hours before buying it. Chances are the impulse will pass.
Second, look to big categories for big savings. This list may both inspire & horrify you:

1- Stop smoking. In my home state of NC, a pack-a-day habit will cost you more than $2000 a year. In many other states the cost is much higher (due mainly to taxes). Think how much food storage or ammo you could buy this year just by not smoking. Or how much debt you could pay off.

2- Conquer your other addictions. It is not just smoking which is costly, but all addictions - alcohol, gambling, drugs, etc. Not only are they bad for your health (physical and emotional), but they wreck havoc on your financial life, too.

3- Brown bag your lunch. Many of us eat out for lurch during the week, but this can be costly, even if you stick to the fast food value meals. If you spend just $5 a lunch eating out (and you probably average more unless you truly do stick to the dollar menu at McDonald's), it will cost you over $1200 a year.

4- Skip the next version of your iPhone, iPad, and other electronic toys. It will cost you hundreds of dollars to impress people by having the absolute latest toy. Do you really care that much about impressing others? If so, why? Besides, there is rarely hundreds of dollars worth of improvements from one version to the next.

5- Drastically reduce your entertainment expenses. Watch a DVD at home instead of going to the movies. Get a library card (lots of free knowledge and entertainment). Have a family game night at home. Cut back on your cable/satellite TV package (going from the EVERYTHING INCLUDED package to a more basic package could save you more than $100/month, $1200/year).

6- Skip the expensive vacation. "Staycations" are the hot new trend anyway. Stay home, relax, and visit local swimming pools, parks, and museums. The savings will range anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars depending on your family size and what your normal vacation is.

7- Shop around for a better deal on your bank accounts. Fees vary widely between financial institutions. Be especially aware of over draft fees. Switching from a high cost mega-bank to a low cost credit union potentially could save you hundreds of dollars a year. Same goes for your car insurance, home owners insurance, and other financial products. If you haven't shopped around lately, you could be missing out on hundreds of dollars worth of savings.

8- Don't ever take a pay-day loan. These loans are stunningly overpriced, and borrowers often get trapped into constantly taking out these loans each payday. If you really need short-term cash, talk to your bank or credit union. Many have started programs similar to pay-day loans, but with a much less expensive interest rates. If you really are desperate for a one-time short-term loan, take the uncomfortable step of asking a friend, family member, or even your church for help.

9- Drop the gym bill. Unless you are a professional bodybuilder, there are cheaper ways to get the exercise you need. Walk, ride a bike, go hiking on the weekends, get an exercise DVD or two, do your own yard work (use a push mower), garden, buy a set of barbells or free weights (and use them), get a jump rope, do yoga at home (get a friend to join you)... Depending on what your gym charges, the potential savings is hundreds of dollars a year or more. 

Ways to Raise Money

I wish I had a magic solution to the problem of how to raise money for prepping, but I don't. No one, not even Uncle Sam, is giving out free money for people to become more self-reliant. The only ways to raise money that I know of entail sacrifice of time, talent, effort, or property. Here is my list of ways to raise money:
  • Get a raise, or more hours, at your primary job. Tough to do during bad economic times, I know, but a great way to raise extra money if you can pull it off.
  • Get a second, or third, job. In my twenties, worked a second job for years at a B. Dalton Booksellers, mostly on weekends. It only netted me about $80/week (this was 20 years ago), but over the course of a year that was more than $4,000. A second job will pay off a lot of debt or buy a lot of supplies.
  • Do odd jobs. Can you sew, tutor, mow lawns, bake, babysit, or do "handyman" jobs? Post or handout fliers around your community. If you have a pick-up truck or van, you can rent it & yourself out for a lot of odd jobs involving hauling.
  • Start you own side-business. Perhaps one you could eventually turn into a full-time business. Some ideas include gardening and lawn care, small engine repair, tinkering (repairing/sharpening knives, tools, and other small metal items), leather-working, wood-working, catering, making/selling gift baskets, auto-detailing, Camper & RV cleaning service... 
  • Collect money owed to you. If you loaned money to a friend or relative, it is time to collect. Asking a friend or family member to pay back money you've lent them is uncomfortable, and may lead to some icy Sunday dinners at Grandma's, but it is your money after all. And you need it.
  • Cancel your subscriptions. Most newspapers and magazines will refund the unused portion of your subscription when you cancel. It might not be much, but every little bit helps.
  • Hold a yard or garage sale. Get rid of your junk and un-clutter your life while making a few bucks. If you live in an apartment, maybe there is a nearby flea market you can sale your stuff at? Or ask a friend if you can hold the yard sale at their place.
  • Sell your stuff online. Half.com is a great place to sell books, DVDs and CDs. I have had much success selling my stuff there. Of course, eBay is also a great place to sell all types of stuff.
  • Sell big-ticket items in your local classified ads. This is a great way to sell individual items such as ATVs, exercise equipment, furniture, electronics, and so forth.
  • Rent out a room. If you have a spare bedroom, consider renting it out. If you rent an apartment, consider taking a roommate. Be careful who you are renting to, of course, checking references and so forth. And be sure to use a written contract!