Friday, December 14, 2018

Arrested Sichuan, China, House Church Members Criminally Charged

NOTE: This is a vivid reminder that in many parts of the world merely being a follower of Jesus is dangerous. Please take a few moments to pray for these brothers and sisters in Christ.
 
Chinese Church Leaders Officially Charged with Various Crimes

International Christian Concern (ICC) is reporting that after more than 100 members were arrested during the December 9 crackdown on Sichuan’s Autumn Rain Covenant Church in China, several detained leaders have been criminally charged.

Both Pastor Wang Yi and his wife Jiang Rong have been detained for allegedly inciting subversion of state power, a crime that can result in imprisonment of five years, but up to 15 years in extreme cases. Wang has not yet been allowed to meet with lawyers or family members. Jiang was issued “residential surveillance at a designated location,” where she could be held for as long as six months in facilities commonly known as secret prisons, subject to torture and abuse.

Elder Li Yingqiang who was responsible for posting updates and prayer requests online for the church, has been detained for allegedly picking a quarrel and inciting trouble on the internet. Additionally, deacon Ge Yingfeng and Lu Jinheng were detained for alleged illegal operations, according to South China Morning Post.

In the meantime, more than 50 seminary students from the church were sent to a “re-education camp.” However, they were released and sent home, accompanied by local officials after praying and worshipping for more than 48 hours under surveillance.

The church’s Facebook page was last updated on December 10 with prayer requests. Due to security concerns, the official prayer request updates are now shared through other social media channels to prevent local police from targeting more members.

In spite of the turmoil, many members continue to gather in homes for their weekly small groups. Videos and photos shared by Brent Pinkall on Facebook yesterday demonstrate the perseverance of these Christians as they sing praises and read the Bible together.

Although still under house arrest, Pastor Jin Tianming of Beijing’s heavily persecuted Shouwang church issued a statement in support of Pastor Wang Yi and Autumn Rain Covenant Church. He said, “When I read Pastor Wang Yi’s statement on his faith [issued 48 hours after his arrest], my heart was touched. I will say honestly in the Lord, his stance with respect to the church-state relations, is also my stance.”

He continued to call on Christians to “lift up our hands for Pastor Wang Yi and remember Autumn Rain Covenant Church [in prayers]!”

Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “While trumped up charges against Christians can land them in prison, the faith they live out will never be extinguished by the evil schemes of the communist government. We are closely following the plight and pleas of these Chinese Christians and will continue to raise awareness in order for the international community to rally behind them.”

----- This article is from a press release by International Christian Concern (ICC). You can visit their website at   https://www.persecution.org/   
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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Adaptability - The Key to Urban Survival


What is the key to urban survival? There are a lot of useful and important skills, of course, but I will suggest adaptability as the true key to urban survival. Adaptability doesn't come easy for most of us, but fortunately it is a skill that can be learned.

Things can change quickly. This is especially true in an urban environment, with its high population density made up of highly diverse peoples. That diversity adds a large element of unpredictability to any situation. Large population numbers also mean greater problems with crime, violence, homelessness, mental illnesses, substance abuse, government interference, and other problematic aspects of society. These problems do exist in small towns and rural areas, of course, but typically not to the extent they do in  a large city.

Cities also tend to be on the leading edge of change, be it social, political, economic, or technological. These changes are often fast-paced with unpredictable consequences. Living in a large city requires an ability to constantly adapt to these changes. This will especially be true as chaos increases in any collapse scenario, be it slow or sudden. So, what does adaptability look like? How can we be more adaptable?

Principles of Adaptability 

1) No whining. Change happens, like it or not. Whining won't stop it or make it better, and may make things worse as it distracts you from accepting and dealing with those changes.

2) Accept change.  Change happens. We don't have to like it, but we do have to deal with it. I suggest this version of The Serenity Prayer: "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, and the wisdom to know how to best deal with those changes."

3) Know yourself. Knowing yourself - your core values, beliefs and important goals- will help you not lose yourself. It is possible to stay true to yourself while staying flexible enough to deal with the changes and chaos around you. Figure out your core beliefs and what is truly important to you. Then look for ways to adapt without compromising yourself. Be defined by your core values, not your habits.

4) Think big picture. Don't get so caught up on the details that you lose sight of the big picture. For example: In the big picture, it is important to make a living to provide for yourself and your family. How you make that living is details, not big picture. Any job or career will do, it doesn't have to be only a particular job or particular career. You may have to adjust to economic changes, and that is okay.

5) Think ahead. Don't just be reactive. Be proactive. Yes, "proactive" is a business buzzword, but it has important applications in all areas of life. Change rarely happens without any advance warning, if you are paying attention. Pay attention, then do something. Don't just wait around for someone else to deal with it for you. And don't just look for problems - look for opportunities, too.

6) Look for opportunity.  Every change, every failure, every new situation presents both difficulties and opportunities. Don't get so focused on the difficulties that you fail to see the opportunities.

7) Ask different questions. Seek different perspectives. Be curious. Be open-minded, but not so not so open-minded that your brain falls out. In other words, don't compromise your core, but be willing to listen to other perspectives. And remember the acronym ASK - Always Seek Knowledge.  Never get to the point where you think you've got it all figured out, and that no one else is worth listening to. 

8) Make multiple plans. Don't just have a Plan A. You also need a Plan B. And a Plan C and even a Plan D are also useful. There's rarely just one way to a goal. Be willing to look for several different paths in case your first one becomes unworkable for some reason.

9) Stay positive.  This circles back to "stop whining" in point one, and goes beyond it, too. Don't let change and chaos get you down. Accept it, deal with it , and more on. All the while, stay positive. The Power of Positive Thinking, by Norman Vincent Peale, is one of the best selling self-help books of all-time for a reason - it works. The best way to stay positive when facing difficulties is by saying "I will overcome" and by focusing on dealing it, rather then letting it get you down and defeating you.  

Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9

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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Six Great Skills to Teach Your Children


Three Basics

1) Attitude of Self-Reliance -- Teach your children to start taking personal responsibility now for their own lives. Taking personal responsibility is the core of self-reliance. And self-reliance is the core of preparedness and survivalism. 

Teach them that taking responsibility means doing what needs to be done, not just what is fun or what you want to do. Taking responsibility means not waiting around for others to do it for you. Taking responsibility means not assuming if you don’t do it then someone else will. Take the initiative and do it yourself.

2) Strong Work Ethic -- Having a strong work ethic is a major key to success in life in any situation, not just in survival situations.  Teach your children the value of hard work. Hard work is good, healthy, and effective. Its importance is revealed throughout God's Word. The idea of "an honest day's work for an honest day's pay" is part of the traditional American value system. 

Children, even young children, should have chores that they are expected to do. And make them actually do their chores. Of course, the chores should be age-appropriate, but they should increase as they grow older and gain maturity and skills. Older children can work part-time jobs outside the home. You are not helping your kids by shielding them from hard work.

3) Biblical and Traditional Values -- Teach your children to have a relationship with God. Make prayer, scripture reading, and worship a regular part of their lives. Teach them the Commandments and the teachings of Jesus. Teach them to look to the perfection of God's Word as the ultimate authority for what is right and wrong, instead of the whim of worldly opinion. 

Also, teach them traditional American values - including the love of individual freedom & self-reliance, the importance of our Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the importance of private property rights (my article), the morality of capitalism (book by Fr Robert Sirico), the value of hard work, the value of human life, common decency towards others, and the traditional monogamous family unit as the basic building block of society. Be sure to teach them that our rights come from God, not from government.

Three Additional Shills

http://amzn.to/2h6mXzC4) First Aid (including knowledge of wild medicinals) -- If your children are old enough to be in school, they are old enough to learn basic first aid. They can advance their skills as they grow older. 

I would also start teaching them early on how to identify wild edibles and medicinals (book), adding to their skill sets collecting, preserving and using wild medicinals, as they mature. Consider having them start and tend a medicinal herb garden (seed kit). Again, start with the basics, and help them grow their skills as they get older.

5) Self-Defense Skills -- Teach your children situational awareness, which is more than just paying attention to what is going on around you, though that is an important start. It means both knowing what to look for, and how to assess (make decisions about) your surroundings. Check out my article on Situational Awareness and start teaching your children these skills. 

I also urge parents to enroll your children in a good martial arts class. Learning a martial art such as karate or judo can be a fun hobby, provide considerable health and fitness benefits, improve self-confidence, and is a life-long self-defense skill set. 

If your family or group has guns (and you should), then your children need to learn gun safety at a very young age. Two good resources are the Eddie Eagle GunSafe Club (a program of the NRA) and the book Toys, Tools, Guns & Rules: A Children's Book About Gun Safety.

It is up to you to judge the maturity level of your children and decide when they should start firearms training. I grew up around guns and was shooting and hunting with my grandfathers when I was still in my single digits. They were with me to provide guidance and supervision, but I was carrying and shooting my own gun. I also had to help clean anything I shot, even at that early age. 

http://amzn.to/2h6mXzC
Granny's Garden Seed Kit

6) Gardening Skills -- This covers planting, growing and preserving food, as well as saving seeds for the next year.  Have them help with your garden, or even set aside a small part as their garden (letting them choose what to plant and making them do the bulk of the work). I realize this may be difficult to do in the city, but perhaps you can join in a community garden in your area, or encourage your church to start one. At the very least, take your children on a field trip to a farm so they can learn that food comes from somewhere other than the store. 
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Egyptian Christian Receives Three-Year Prison Sentence for Insulting Islam

Note: Islam is NOT a tolerant religion. 

Village Atmosphere Remains Tense Following July Mob Attack Against Christians Over Facebook Post 

International Christian Concern (ICC) is reporting that on November 27, Coptic Christian Abd Adel Bebawy was sentenced by an Egyptian court to three years in prison for “insulting Islam in the first degree.” His lawyer was granted access to the verdict on December 6 and has opened an appeal which is expected to be heard at the end of December.

Bebawy was originally arrested in Minbal, a village located in Upper Egypt’s Minya Governorate on July 6, 2018. He had posted on Facebook an image of God, the angel Gabriel, and a verse from the Quran. The day after he was arrested and charged by the police, a mob gathered in Minbal and attacked several Christian homes. It is common for Islamic extremists in Egypt to collectively punish the Christian community for the perceived wrongs of one individual.

One Christian woman, Mariam, shared with ICC shortly following the July attack, “The mob stoned the houses of all the Christians (in Minbal). The Christians were afraid and all locked themselves in their houses and closed the wooden shutters of the windows.”

The attackers have continued to make it clear that Bebawy and his family would not be welcomed back into the village. He has remained imprisoned since July. Regarding the recent verdict, a close relative shared with ICC how she “was expecting this to happen in the first degree. But what I hope is that he will be freed in the appeal.” 

She continued to say that she “didn’t care if [they] had to leave their village or the country, [I] just want his freedom.”

It is believed by those familiar with the case that the judge issued the three-year prison sentence so that the local community would not again form a mob. Hakem, a lawyer familiar with the case, said, “Usually the judge gives the maximum penalty in the first degree to secure himself that he applied the law knowing that the other judge in the second degree will reduce or set him free.” 

Egypt is designated by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom as a Tier 2 Country. According to the constitution, Islam is the official state religion and Sharia is the principal source of legislation.

Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “Egypt’s record on religious freedom has fluctuated greatly throughout the years. While the constitution guarantees freedom of religion to Christians, this does not necessarily exist in practice. 

The situation in Minbal shows how delicate the atmosphere is. We must not only pray for the release of Abd Adel Bebawy from prison, but also that any potential progress made toward securing his release would not incite further violence against Christians living in Minbal.”

----- This article is from a press release by International Christian Concern (ICC). You can visit their website at   https://www.persecution.org/ 

More Than 100 Sichuan, China, House Church Members Arrested

NOTE: Merely being a follower of Jesus is very dangerous in most parts of the world.

Leaders, Members of Autumn Rain Covenant Church Unaccounted For

International Christian Concern (ICC) is reporting that more than 100 members and leaders of Autumn Rain Covenant Church in China’s Sichuan province have been arrested. The arrests took place on December 9 after local authorities raided the homes of many church members.

According to a statement from the church, beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, the police raided and surrounded the church, arresting a church staff member. Around 9:00 p.m., members’ WeChat accounts and cellphone group discussions were blocked, while the church’s telephone line was also shut down. In the meantime, the police ambushed dozens of homes, arresting numerous church members and leaders, including Pastor Wang Yi and his wife. Some were forced to sign a document stating that they will no longer attend the house church.

A member requesting anonymity told Associated French Press, “Most church members were taken from their homes, and some were grabbed off the street. Some were found via their smartphone’s location and were taken away.”

“The police had the whole neighborhood under control, as well as the surrounding area,” he continued. “They didn’t let anyone get close.”

Radio Free Asia noted that the officers refused to provide legal documentation or provide a reason for the arrests. A video shared by the Chinese Christian Fellowship of Righteousness confirmed the illegal procedure, documenting the process in which the authorities snatched a Christian from his home, while his wife pursued and questioned their motives.

Elder Lee Yingqiang wrote letters to encourage fellow church members to stand strong in their faith. Despite the persecution, he said, “We will never change our statement of faith shared publicly earlier and our push for house churches to gather in public; we will also not change our stance insisting on the separation of church and state, and the wonderful inheritance of the path to cross of Chinese house churches – we will neither register with the Religious Affairs Bureau, nor join the state-sanctioned churches.”

In the latest updates shared by the church’s Facebook page, photos have surfaced, showing that several members released today were tortured during their detention. One brother shared that during the 24 hours he was detained, he received no food or water, while he was tied to a chair with little sleep. The administrator commented that “these criminal acts are just horrendous.” 

Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “Chinese authorities seek to intimidate the house church leaders and members by persistently threatening, harassing, and detaining them. They have the mindset that by doing so, Christianity in China will submit to the government’s control. What they don’t know is that Christians often grow stronger and more united after they experience persecution. 

Beijing’s scheme will never prevail, and its distorted view of religious freedom and human rights will continue to be condemned by the international community.” 

----- This article is from a press release by International Christian Concern (ICC). You can visit their website at   https://www.persecution.org/   

Monday, December 10, 2018

The Best Diet for Healing and Good Health

A news story I read earlier today caught my attention - Danish doctor warns: Vegan food may lead to mental retardation. This, of course, flies in the face of politically correct "conventional wisdom" which preaches a plant-based diet as the best diet for good health. Veganism - no meat or animal products whatsoever - is the most "pure" of plant-based diets, with vegetarianism - no meat, but eggs & dairy allowed - being seen as a somewhat acceptable compromise. Even the official healthy diet pushed by the USDA is plant-based, with grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans making up the bulk of the daily recommended intake of food, with relatively moderate amounts of dairy and meat. And we all know that fat = bad, so avoid fat at all costs.

This PC bit of conventional wisdom is wrong, in my opinion. It very much overemphasizes carbs at the expense of fats and proteins. Science proves that there are Essential (meaning necessary for life) Fats and Essential Proteins, but there are no essential carbohydrates. 

The best, healthiest, and most natural (for our biology) human diet is one high in fats (yes, fats - just avoid the man-made unhealthy trans-fats), moderate in protein, and low in carbs. And when you choose carbs, choose the ones that will have the highest impact: high in nutrients, fiber, and water. These high impact carbs include coniferous vegetables (such leafy-greens, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts), tomatoes, peppers, avocados, nuts, and berries. Of course, over-eating anything is bad for you, so watch those serving sizes.This is basically the advice of several diets, including Keto, Atkins, and Paleo. It is also has some similarities to several traditional diets (such as Mediterranean and Japanese) long-known as being very healthy.

My Experience

My own personal experience has convinced me of the benefits of the high fat, moderate protein, low carb way of eating. I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes 4 years ago with an A1C of 10.1 (which is extremely high). My blood sugar is now normal (5.6), and maintained without the use of insulin or medications (no, I don't take Metformin, or any other diabetes medication). How have I done this? I changed to a high fat/low carb diet, lost 25 pounds, and stay physically active. 

Even my after-meal blood sugar levels have evened-out. When I was first diagnosed, my after-meal blood sugar would spike to 350+ (dangerous). Now, my after-meal blood sugar usually remains below 140 (at both the 1- and 2-hour marks). 

These results weren't achieved overnight. It took about 2½ years, and I worked with a good doctor (not one who just parrots "conventional wisdom") who monitored my progress and A1C levels on a regular basis. And I monitored my blood sugar levels very closely as I discovered what foods and food combinations I could and couldn't eat.

Disclaimers: Of course, I am NOT a doctor.  I base this article solely on what I've read and personally experienced. Only a medical professional has the expertise to officially diagnose any disease or medical condition, and I strongly believe in having regular medical check-ups for early detection of potential health problems.
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Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Paradoxes of Survival

Have you ever noticed that there are several paradoxes within the ideas of the prepper and survivalist communities?

A paradox is defined as two contradictory statements that both derive from sound reasoning. In essence, both statements are apparently correct, even though they seem mutually exclusive. Within the prepper and survivalist communities, these paradoxes are often the source of much argument. In my opinion, our survival depends on successfully navigating these paradoxes.

Paradox:  "You need people/community" vs. "You're on your own/trust no one."

Many folks, including myself, tend to push the need for community during and after a major SHTF event. We point out that humans need rest, and that no one can work or be on guard duty 24/7, therefore we need others to give us rest. We also point out that a lone wolf, or even a lone family, will only have a limited set of skills to draw from, and that a larger community of folks will have a much greater range of skills and knowledge. 

Other folks point out that larger communities can have their share of problems, such as disputes over leadership and conflict between opposing personalities, opinions, and beliefs. They point out that the bigger the group, the greater the chance of not remaining unnoticed, and that a larger group size means a greater chance of problem individuals, which will jeopardize the group. They also point out that we cannot know how individuals will react under extreme pressure until they actually face it, and that desperate people do desperate things, no matter how "good" a person they may be under normal circumstances.

Actually, both sides are factually correct. They make equally valid points. There are both benefits and disadvantages to being a lone wolf (or lone family) and to being a part of a larger community. Navigating this paradox will require thought and effort before any SHTF events happens. No matter which way we choose to go, we need to be honest about its potential problems, and figure out ways to address those problems ahead of time.

Paradox:  "You need to be armed, trained, and wiling to defend yourself & family" vs. "Avoiding conflict is paramount to survival."

I commit this paradox all the time in my articles. I am a firm believer in being armed,  well-trained, and willing to defend yourself and your family. Yet, I also say that you should try to avoid potential conflict at all costs, that avoiding trouble is always the safest bet. 

This seems contradictory to some extent. One person may say "You want to avoid trouble, but you're running around with a gun and ready to use it? You're actually looking for trouble, and will probably find it." Another person may say "What? You're armed and know how to defend yourself, yet you don't want to? You're either naive or a coward." I've had people tell me both of those things. 

I navigate this seeming paradox by realizing that both sides are correct: that avoiding conflict when possible is always the best option, but having the ability and willingness to defend myself and my family when necessary is always prudent. I will not go out looking for trouble. Nor will I be "trigger-happy" in my eagerness to earn my macho-stripes. Yet I will not hesitate to lethally defend myself and my family if such a necessity is ever forced on me.

Paradox:  "Skills are the most important aspect of survival" vs. "You need stockpiles of food, gear, and other supplies."

Another seeming paradox in which both sides have valid points. The fact is, we need both skills and tools & supplies to survive any future chaos.  The best my to navigate this is to strive for balance in our preparations. It is not just about one or the other. We need both.

Paradox:  "You need to bug-out as soon as possible" vs. "Hunker-down in your current location for the best chance of survival." 

This is a big within the prepper and survivalist community: bug-out or hunker-down? Actually, we need to be prepared for both. Circumstances we dictate which we actually do. For most people in most circumstances, the best option will be to hunker-down and ride out the event in your current location unless and until it becomes ore dangerous to do so than it is to bug-out. But you also don't want to wait too long to bug-out, as the very act of bugging-out itself is dangerous and may become much more so depending on the event and circumstances. 

Navigating this paradox will require 1) preparing for both and 2) making decisions beforehand as to when and under what circumstances to bug-out.  Think through these issues now, before SHTF. A lot will depend on your individual circumstances, but you need to be prepared for both possibilities.

These are only four possible paradoxes within the prepper and survivalist community. What others can you think of, and how will you navigate them?
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Iraq’s One-Year Military Defeat of ISIS Marred by Security Concerns - ISIS 2.0?

“ISIS 2.0 is something possible.”

12/9/2018 - Today marks the one-year anniversary of the declared military defeat of the Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq. However, displaced Iraqi Christians are very worried about the continued ISIS presence and ideology in the Nineveh Plains. Historically, a large part of the population of the eastern portion of the Nineveh Plains is made up of Assyrian Christians. Before ISIS invaded Nineveh, Christians made up around 40% of the population within the plains.

An estimated 200,000 Christians were forced to flee the Mosul region of Nineveh.  Most have still not been allowed to return to their homes, as Muslims have to taken the opportunity to claim those homes for themselves.

On December 9, 2017, Iraq’s former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared that all of the country’s territory previously held by ISIS was fully liberated. ISIS reached the height of its power in Iraq when, in June 2014, the militants’ declared an Islamic Caliphate. The declaration was made from Mosul, the administrative capital of the Nineveh Governorate.

However, many Iraqi Christians worry that this liberation is not permanent. Majid, a Christian who suffered the consequences of ISIS, told International Christian Concern (ICC), “I think before we celebrate ISIS’s defeat anniversary, we should go back to our history. We never experienced a stable situation during the past six decades… ISIS 2.0 is something possible.” 

Sareeh, one of the Christians displaced by ISIS, shared with ICC, “I want to describe ISIS in my terms. ISIS was one strong negative impact on Christians’ lives, but not the worst. Actually seeing each other suffering made it easier to accept the reality. I think the worst happened since 2003 until now… I think ISIS is still in Iraq, the only difference is they threw [down] their weapons and they will pick them back up at any weak point.” 

Milad echoed this concern that it is only a matter of time before the region is again destabilized by ISIS. He told ICC, “There are two types of people right now. Some are looking to go back to Ankawa; others are trying to sell their houses in Qaraqosh and Bartella and purchase in Ankawa. But the price difference is huge, all of that is because of ISIS expectations.” 

One year after their declared military defeat, ISIS has maintained a presence in key locations throughout the Nineveh Plains and the surrounding areas. Many local sources estimate that nearly half of the Christians displaced by ISIS have refused to return home, citing reconstruction and security challenges.

Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “The ideology of ISIS remains strong despite their military defeat in Iraq one year ago. ISIS existed before their self-declared caliphate, and they continue to exist although they no longer hold large swaths of territory in Iraq. 

Christians are living within an environment where security and law are absent. For those who have returned to the Nineveh Plains, they are living among an unprecedented level of destruction. ISIS may have been militarily defeated in Iraq, but their genocidal ideology and its consequences will affect Christians for generations.”    

----- This article is from a press release by International Christian Concern (ICC) and other sources. You can visit the ICC website at   https://www.persecution.org/ 

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Special Gear, Skills, and Tactics for Urban Survival

This article is part of my Urban Survival series. If you missed the first two articles, click the following links to read: Advanced Urban Survival and 22 Practical Urban Survival Tips. These articles can be read in any order.

The following is a list of gear and skills I would especially recommend to urban dwellers, along with how they might be used for urban survival (their "tactical use"). Some of the gear listed should be part of your urban everyday carry (edc), while other gear should be part of your home survival gear, bug-out bag, or get-home bag. 

Although the term "urban" is most often used to specifically mean big cities, in truth most people live in urban areas. By this, I mean most of us live in and inter act with "civilization." Few people today truly live in remote wilderness areas completely cut off from civilization.We are around other people, businesses, cars, roads, trains, stores, homes, apartments, power plants, power lines, and other aspects of civilization. We are all urban dwellers, including folks living in small towns or even out in the "boondocks." Because of this you will likely find much of this gear and information useful, even if you don't live in a mega-city.

Here is my list of useful urban gear, in no particular order: 

1) USB Key (also called a memory stick or flash drive). I consider this almost a must in today's digital world, especially if you, like me, don't fully trust online cloud storage. It allows you to carry files between home, work, and school, as well as back-up copies of important documents and information you don't want to lose. You can even keep a photo log of expensive household items for insurance purposes in case of fire or theft.

I have a Gorilla Drive on my keychain (and a back-up in my bug-out bag that I regularly update). I keep a copies of my important personal papers and pictures on it (encrypted with Rohos software), lists of family & friends, along with their contact and other information, maps & driving directions to assorted destinations I may need, music files (you gotta have some fun), and various videos and .pdf files relating to survival and prepping. I've also installed the PortableApps Platform which allows me to carry mobile versions of various applications such as Firefox, Open Office, VLC media player,  and a .pdf reader, among others. Since it is on my keychain, it goes wherever I go.

2) Window Breaker / Seat Belt cutter. You should have one of these within easy reach in each of your vehicles. I have a Smith & Wesson Extreme Ops knife in the driver's door pocket of my vehicle, which has both a window breaker and seat belt cutter on it. Other folks may prefer a vehicle escape tool. Either way, a vehicle accident is one disaster many of us will face at some point, and we may need to extricate ourselves or someone else.

3) Water Key (aka Sillcock Key).  Water Keys will allow you emergency access to those recessed, knobless water spigots on the sides of commercial buildings, and at many parks and golf courses. Water is key (pun intended) in any survival situation, wilderness or urban, so keep one of these in your bug-out bag, and another in your vehicle or get-home bag.   

4) Personal Water Filter. Again, water is key, and it needs to be clean. A personal water filter is something you should have in you bug-out bag and in your get-home bag or car kit. There are many different ones available to choose from, so pick one that suits your needs and lifestyle.. A larger water filter for the home is also a must, of course.

5) Electrical Key (aka control panel key). Electrical keys look similar to water keys, except they open up most electrical cabinets and control panels, gas & water meters and shut-off systems,  train/bus/subway windows & doors, elevator control panels, and so forth. There are many different ones available, but the 11-in-1 key is the most versatile. A good item for your bug-out bag and get home bag.

6) Local Maps. You need to know your way around, and out of, your city. Remember, GPS and Google Maps might not be available in a disaster. Not just road maps, but also maps of rail lines and greenways in your city, too. If you ever have to bug-out on foot, abandoned train tracks may be your best option, rather than trying to hike along congested and dangerous roadways. 

7) Local Knowledge.  Okay, this isn't really a piece of gear, but you need to really know the city in which you live. Its more than just knowing the roads. You need to know where the bad neighborhoods and high crime areas of your city are, and how to avoid them. You also need to know people. Do you know an honest mechanic? A good and dependable plumber? A babysitter you can trust with your kids? Do you know your neighbors? Do you know your local elected officials? Do you know what their plans are for your city? Do you follow the local news, or maybe listen to a local talk radio show? Get to really know you city and its people. Build a network of people you trust, and who have reason to trust you.

8) General Tools.  Tools are wonderful inventions that allow us to do more than we could with just our hands. Everyone needs tools, even city folks. Here are some recommendations: 

A good pocket knife is something most folks should carry (mine is a Swiss Army Knife, but pick whatever best suits your life and needs.). A multitool is a great addition to anyone's EDC and I highly recommend getting one (I always carry my Leatherman on my belt). A multi-bit screwdriver is also quite handy, so carry one in your bag, briefcase, or EDC kit.  Make sure you have a bit that fits the screws on your eyeglasses or sunglasses. I've also found that a pair of scissors is very useful to have on hand. Carry one in your briefcase or bag. 

Of course, you should a good tool kit at home, even if you live in a small apartment. For what to include, please see my article Basic Starter Tool Kit.

9) Handcuff Key. Check your local laws, but surprisingly these are legal most places. It is, of course, illegal to hide them from law enforcement for the purpose of escape, so if you ever get legitimately arrested, immediately let the officer know you have one on you. Its not just good cops that have access to handcuffs, but lots of people, good and bad. Having access to one of these might come in handy some day. Consider keeping a universal handcuff key in your bug-out bag or even an EDC kit. You can also get "hidden" keys in survival bracelets, zipper pulls, and so on. Again, check the laws in your area.

10) Lock Picks. If you know how to use them, lock picks could come in quite handy at times. If you don't know how to use them, they won't do you any good.   

11) Useful Shoes. Not just shoes, but useful shoes. Shoes you can walk in, run in, climb in, and will protect your feet. So, not high heels, sandals, clogs, or flip flops. Not even wingtips. Sure, you may need these type shoes for work, but you should always have a pair of more practical shoes with you for when you need them. Perhaps keep them in your car? Or a spare pair at work? I'm lucky enough to not have to dress up for work, so my everyday shoes are hiking shoes, which are a great compromise between athletic shoes and boots. Of course, I also have work boots at home for when I need them.

11) Other Items. There are, of course, lots of other items I could name that would come in handy for city folks, including a smart phone & a spare charger, power bar, cash & coins (there are still lots of uses for quarters), earloop face masks, an individual first aid kit, hand sanitizer and/or wet wipes, and so on....

12) Skills. There are lots of skills urban folks should master: employment skills, interpersonal skills, negotiating skills, basic tech skills, OPSEC (see my article), situational awareness & the OODA Loop (see my article), and being a Gray Man (which requires some Local Knowledge so you'll no how to fit in and be inconspicuous). 

Self defense is a skill everyone should master. I recommend everyone take a good non-lethal self-defense course. A good self-defense course won't just cover self-defense, but also give info on avoiding dangerous situations. Finally, if you can carry a gun legally, do so. Know and obey the laws, get all the proper licenses and permits, get well-trained, and practice gun safety, of course. But carry if you can. 

This article just scratches the surface of urban survival, but hopefully it has given you some ideas and some food for thought. Again, I urge you to check out my other articles on urban survival mentioned at the top of this article.
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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Preparing for Big Tech Censorship

You realize by now that there is a building wave of censorship by Big Tech companies against viewpoints that they deem hateful or politically incorrect. Of course, they define what that might be, in any way they wish, which basically means any viewpoint other than a politically-correct progressive (leftist) point-of-view. Hold to traditional, conservative, libertarian, or populist views, and they have you in their cross-hairs.

I won't waste your time or mine trying to prove it to you. If you've been paying attention, you already know what's going on. Instead, I am going to give you three ideas of how to prepare for ever-increasing censorship by Big Tech.

First, get yourself am external (portable) hard drive as soon as possible. Make it a big one. They are relatively cheap. A basic plug-and-play (meaning ready and easy-to-use right out of the box, with no special software required) 1TB external hard drive is only about $50, with each additional TB running about $20 more. Mine is a Toshiba Canvio Basics. It works with Windows right out of the box, and can be easily reformatted to work with a Mac.

Now, connect it to your PC or laptop and start filling that up with your favorite content (videos, podcasts, articles, blog posts, news stories, etc.) that might get banned in the growing purge of free speech on the Internet. You are creating an off-line archive for yourself of the content you may want in the future, but might no longer be available. 

An added bonus of doing this is you can also back-up all your personal files onto the external hard drive. If you ever need to bug-out, just slip the hard drive into your bug-out bag. It is only about the size of a man's hand and weighs less than 6 ounces. 

Second, protect yourself from being censored by Big Tech. Don't cease being yourself, or proclaiming facts and truth, but don't give them an easy excuse for banning your social media accounts or deplatforming your blog, website, podcast, or video channel. This means NEVER make a threat of physical violence against any person, politician, journalist, celebrity, or group of people.  Not even in jest. Threats of physical violence are both illegal and against the terms of service of every Internet platform.  Also, avoid the use of certain "trigger" words like the N word or the F word. Most folks don't out of common decency, but there are a few folks who relish seeing how far they can push things. All you are really doing is giving them an easy excuse to ban you. 

Third, make back-up accounts and start using Alt Tech and Alt Media. Get a second Twitter account or a second Facebook account (or a second whatever) if you don't want to lose access to those platforms if your main account is ever restricted or banned. For example, I have a backup Twitter account (its @ShadowTLG) for when Twitter finally bans my main account, @TimGamble, which they've already restricted twice that I know of over this year. Avoid posting political or controversial content to your back-up account so it doesn't get banned at the same time. 

Alt Tech are the new tech companies that are rising up to challenge Big Tech. Examples: GAB is the Alt Tech alternative to Twitter. Minds is an Alt Tech alternative to Facebook. BitChute is an Alt Tech alternative to You Tube. There are many others. 

Be aware that Alt Tech has many problems of their own, ranging from technology issues, to financial issues, to public relations issues. Some of these companies will make it as viable alternatives to Big Tech. Others will simply disappear. Only time will tell which is which. 

Alt Media is the alternative to Corporate Media (aka Main Stream Media). There are simply too many to name, but check out Whatfinger News at https://www.whatfinger.com/ which is a great news aggregator site for Alt Media. You will find plenty of links to various Alt Media sources. Bookmark your favorites (including Whatfinger) and consider subscribing to their email lists so you can still find their content if they get deplatformed from social media.
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Sunday, December 2, 2018

Pastor and Five Evangelists Arrested for Preaching in Uganda


This news is a stark reminder that in many parts of the world proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ is still illegal and can lead to imprisonment or even worse. 

International Christian Concern (ICC) is reporting that on Saturday, November 24, Pastor Tom Palapande and his team of five evangelists were arrested in eastern Uganda. Local Muslims reported to the Ugandan police that the Christians were using the Quran to undermine the prophet Mohammed and people of the Islamic faith.

“The Muslims came in the company of their Sheikhs and disrupted our open-air market preaching as the police watched. We were then arrested and taken to Soronko district police headquarters for questioning. We were charged with causing public disturbance and inciting violence, offenses [to which] we responded not guilty. The police locked us up from Saturday to Monday so as to investigate the matter,” Pastor Tom told ICC following his release.

He added,  “We were not causing any violence. We are evangelists known across eastern Uganda for…answering questions on Islam and Christianity. When the Sheikhs fail to answer questions, they usually turn their disappointment to us because we know how to handle the Quran and the Bible. We also hold public debates with them and they hate us because, through our ministry, many Muslims have converted to Christianity.” 

On Sunday, members of Pastor Tom’s church were praying for him and the other evangelists. “We missed church service for the first time this year. The church was praying for us, and on Monday we were released, but with conditions: not to hold and discuss the Quran,” Pastor Tom continued.

The arrest and resulting detention have not discouraged Pastor Tom from preaching the Gospel.  Pastor Tom stated, “We keep doing this because it is a command from our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul and Silas risked their lives for the name of Jesus; so do we. The danger will not keep us quiet because how shall they hear unless someone preaches to them?

This past June, Pastor Tom was attacked in a stoning while preaching in Kuwait, where the population is approximately 95% Muslim. As a result, he sustained an injury to his forehead. “The injury almost blinded me, but [I was saved] thanks to my small local church that contributed some little money for me to seek treatment,” the pastor remarked.

Pastor Tom concluded, “The biggest challenge is having evangelical churches and pastors partnering with us. Many pastors watch from a distance due to the threat of being killed or their churches burnt.”

Nathan Johnson, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “These kind of attacks on Christians in East Africa are becoming increasingly common. The Ugandan government must ensure that these men have the right to spread their message to anyone. The government must ensure that the rights of Christians are protected equally.”

----- This article is from a press release by International Christian Concern (ICC). You can visit their website at   https://www.persecution.org/ 

Saturday, December 1, 2018

There's a Major Difference Between Being a Leader and Just a Boss

This article is a response of sorts to several articles I've read recently on leadership and survival. My concern is that those particular authors don't seem to understand the important difference between being a leader and being a boss. What they describe isn't actual leadership, but rather ways of establishing themselves as the boss of their survival group or post-SHTF community. 

First, let me say this: If you want to be your group's or community's leader, you should be a leader now. Not just in your eyes, but also in the eyes of those you lead. You will not magically turn into a leader once SHTF happens, no matter how you plan to exert your dominance. If folks don't already see you as a leader, you have a lot of work to do before you actually become one. The good news is that leadership skills can be developed. Start by understanding the difference between being a leader and just a boss. 

A leader and a boss have the same starting point. They both have a purpose, goal, or mission that they want to accomplish. They both set about accomplishing their mission by utilizing others. That is where the differences start.
 
A boss drives others by depending on his position (authority) to make them obey his orders. This is often accomplished through fear and intimidation. It is Do as I say or face repercussions. At work, the repercussion might be public chastisement, a bad evaluation, the withholding of a pay raise or promotion, or even being fired.. In a survival situation, the repercussions may range from public criticism  to being thrown out of the group. Worse are those who seem to want to maintain their "leadership" by showing favoritism to "good" followers and disfavor to "bad" followers. Establishing your dominance by withholding food & supplies from "bad" followers while doling out favors to your preferred followers will keep people in line. Sure...  More likely, it will cause resentment and an eventual uprising against your tyranny.  

By contrast, a real leader depends on the goodwill he generates in others to get them to join him in his mission.  He develops this goodwill by inspiring others with his example and generating enthusiasm in them for his vision. People follow a leader not out of fear of the consequences, but rather because of their respect for him and their belief in his vision. Rather than punishing "bad" followers, he works with others to develop them and to find the best way to use each individual. Even in large organizations like a multinational corporation or an army, the top leader does this to the next rung of leadership under him, who in turn develop the next rung of leaders, who in turn develop... and so on until even those at the very bottom are being developed and utilized according to their individual abilities. 

I once worked for a man who was a truly great  leader. He reluctantly had to fire someone not just because of their incompetence, but actual criminal activity on the job. It was how he handled the firing that demonstrated true leadership. The firing was a last resort after trying hard to help this individual. The day after he fired the person, he called the rest of the staff together and apologized to us for having to do so.  He accounted for it as his failure - first for hiring the wrong person, then for being unable to successfully develop him. He also took the opportunity to express his vision for the company, using words like "we" and "us" much more than words like "I" and "me."

A boss would never have apologized or taken the blame upon himself. Instead, most bosses would have used the fired worker as an example to the rest staff as to what could happen to "problem" employees. It is the Do as I say or face repercussions method of establishing their authority and dominance

In early 2017, I wrote a well-received article entitled How To Be a Survival Group Leader. If you are interested in this topic, please read (or reread) it. It goes into a lot of detail on how to be a good leader, as opposed to just a boss.
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