Monday, November 11, 2019

Syria: ISIS Attack on Armenian Christians Leaves Two Priests Dead

The following is an unedited press release from International Christian Concern (ICC). Please check out their website at for more on the persecution and genocide of Christians around the world.

ISIS Takes Credit for Violent Attack Against Armenian Church Leaders
11/11/19 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on November 11, 2019, gunmen affiliated with the Islamic State (ISIS) attacked a car known to be carrying Armenian Christian leaders who were traveling from the Syrian city of Qamishli to Deir ez-Zor. The attack left two priests murdered, and wounded a deacon. ISIS has officially claimed responsibility for the incident.

The attack on the vehicle took place as three nearly simultaneous car bombings occurred in the city of Qamishli, which is well known for its religious and ethnic diversity. One of the explosions occurred near a Chaldean church.

The Armenian church leaders were traveling to Deir ez-Zor to inspect an Armenian Catholic Church which has suffered damage because of the Syrian conflict. Father Hanna Bidu, also known as Father Abrahim Petoyan, was killed instantly during the attack. His son, known as Father Hovsep Petoyan, reportedly succumbed to his injuries in the hospital. The deacon, Fati Sano from the Armenian al-Hassakeh Church, was wounded.

“(An) armed group at the entrance of the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor was targeting a car that was carrying the father,” reported the Assyrian Monitor for Human Rights. “This armed group targeted and killed the priest and his father, while the third person was injured. Father and his companions were headed to Deir ez-Zor city this Monday morning on a mission to follow the status of waqf of the Armenian Catholic Church.” 

The incident was confirmed by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Video footage obtained by Hawar News shows that the car used by the priests had a special tag in its front window which acknowledged that it was traveling for business with the Armenian Catholic Church. The video shows significant frontal damage to the vehicle, placing the two front seat occupants within a direct line of fire.

“Pastor of the Armenian Catholic Community of Qamishli, Priest Hovsep Petoyan, and his father, Priest Abraham Petoyan, were traveling in a vehicle en route to Deir ez-Zor when terrorists opened gunfire on their car and killed them,” stated the Armenian Press. “The Armenian Catholic priests were heading to inspect the condition of the Catholic Church.” 

ISIS’s official Amaq media outlet claimed responsibility, saying, “Two Christian priests were killed today, ISIS shot them down.”

ISIS was officially declared militarily defeated in Syria this past March. However, reprisal attacks following the October death of ISIS leader al-Baghdadi in Syria were expected. Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria also prompted fears that it would allow opportunities for ISIS militants to take advantage of the resulting chaos. This is the first deadly incident since its military defeat in which ISIS has successfully targeted church leaders in the Levant.

Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “Today’s violence in northern Syria and the targeting of Armenian leadership is a tragedy that deeply wounds the region’s entire Christian community. Christians have long warned that ISIS will seek every opportunity to continue its genocide against religious minorities. Meanwhile, Turkey’s actions in the area have generated an environment of instability. Armenian Christians, whose ancestors were killed by Turkey’s genocide, find themselves caught between violent actors across all of Syria. We must keep the Christian community of Syria in our prayers, and urge for an end to this senseless conflict.” 

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A brief essay on the proper relationship between the Citizen and Politics.

A brief essay on the proper relationship between the Citizen and Politics.

By Tim Gamble

This essay isn't about which candidate or party to support with your vote, money, or time. In that sense, this is a non-partisan essay. Rather, this essay concerns itself with how a prepper, survivalist, Christian, or any other American for that matter, should approach politics.

First, let's get one thing straight: politics affects everyone. You can ignore it, but you can't hide from it. Politics affects everything from the health of the economy, to whether or not government respects your rights (government doesn't give you rights - those come from God - but government often tries to deny you those rights). From zoning laws to EPA regulations, sales taxes to the education system, directly or indirectly we all are affected by politics. For better or for worse, and it seems too often to be for worse, politics affects your life everyday, and in many ways.

Therefore, you must deal with politics. But how? There are many ways: One response is to simply try to ignore politics as best you can (but you will still have to deal with consequences of politics). Another response is to try to manipulate politics to your advantage (the elites in big business and the political class are masters of this manipulation). Most people today choose one of those responses, at least to some degree. I suggest a third - respond as a true Citizen of the Republic.

Before I define how a Citizen  of the Republic responds, let me say this: Politics will not save us. What is wrong with America goes well beyond politics and 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. 

The United States of America is a Republic, NOT a Democracy

The first thing a Citizen of the Republic should realize is that the United States is NOT a democracy. It is a Republic, and that is a very good thing. Democracy is Evil. It is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to eat for dinner. In a democracy, rights come from government, and therefore are subject to change with the passing whims of the times. The rights of individuals, even basic rights such as the rights to life, free speech, free exercise of religion, and even self-defense, can be ignored or even taken away by the government or a simple majority vote of the people.

In a Republic, Rights are external from government. Rights come from a Higher Authority (God, the Creator, Natural Law, Nature and Nature's God, or whatever one wishes to call that Higher Authority). Since Rights don't come from the government, government cannot take away or change those Rights. Not even by majority vote. 

Those Rights from God (or whatever you wish to call the Higher Authority) are therefore "unalienable," literally un-a-lien-able. A "lien" being a legal claim on something belonging to another (a lien on a house, for example, where someone other than the owner, typically the government or a bank, claims an interest over the house, typically over money owed). Something being unalienable means that no one can claim an interest over it other than the owner. In the case of unalienable Rights, no one - not even government, not even a majority of voters - can make any claim against those Rights. Well, they can and do try, but those efforts are immoral, unjust, and not valid under a Republic.

The United States was intentionally created by our Founders as a Republic, not a democracy. They knew and feared the dangers of democracy, and wanted to protect themselves and their fellow Citizens from it. Sadly, since the early days of our founding, the United States has slowly been slipping away from a Republic, and into a democracy. In recent decades, and even more so in recent years, this process has been greatly accelerated. Today, we stand on the brink of becoming a full-fledged democracy, with the last remnants of the old Republic slipping away. This is the source of most of our nation's political problems, and has made the people little more than slaves of a government which demands ever-increasing control over our lives, rights, money, and property.

Note: The word "democracy" does not appear anywhere in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, or the Bill of Rights. Nor does it appear in any of the fifty state constitutions. We were never intended to be a democracy. 

Limited Government

The way our Founding Fathers protected the Citizens of the Republic from democracy was through the concept of Limited Government. They created a government limited in both size and power by the Constitution, with our unalienable Rights guaranteed (not granted)  in the Bill of Rights. 

The Constitution establishes and limits the scope of the federal government. It sets up a system of checks-and-balances intended to keep government and politicians from exceeding their limits of power as set forth in the Constitution. The Bill of Rights specifically guarantees that government will respect the unalienable Rights of the people. In other words, the Constitution and Bill of Rights intend that the Citizens of the Republic be more powerful than the government that represents them.

It has taken more than 100 years for the elites in the political class to successfully re-interpret our Founding documents to subvert the Republic into a democracy, and to successfully dumb-down the American people to accept, and even applaud, the evils of democracy. 

Amendment X of the Constitution: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Respond as a Citizen of the Republic

Democracy is mob-rule. It is divisive, and based in emotion, selfishness, and greed. It is easy to manipulate. Reason and logic, and an unwavering belief in the Higher Authority, are the cure to democracy. Think; don't react emotionally. Consider the consequences, both intentional and unintentional, of your words, actions, and votes. 

To enable you to think with reason, not emotion, you need to learn real history, real economics, and real civics, rather than the pro-democracy and pro-collectivist propaganda taught in public schools over the last several generations.

Be independent of government. Do not look to government for hand-outs, freebies, or special favors. Be self-reliant. The less dependent on government you are, the less power government will be able to exert over you.

Don't look to government to "make life fair" or to "get even" with people who may be richer or more successful than you. One of the most successful tactics of the collectivists is to convince people that they are "victims" and need government to protect them and make things right. Don't ever think of yourself as a victim.

Don't look to government to redistribute the wealth of others. Holding a gun to someones head and demanding they give you money is theft. Having the government hold a gun to someones head, demanding their money, and then giving their money to you, is also theft. Don't ever think you are entitled to anything without having to earn it first, other than your God-given Rights.

Realize the sole legitimate purpose to government is to protect the unalienable Rights of its Citizens; to protect Life, Liberty, and Property. The role of government is not to protect individuals from their own mistakes and bad choices. 

But what about helping the poor, widows, orphans, and others who cannot help themselves? Shouldn't we help them? Isn't that what Jesus' taught? Yes, He did.  The role of government is to protect the Life, Liberty, and Property of all, especially those who cannot help themselves. But, help beyond that is the proper role of the Church, charities, and individuals. When Jesus, and later the Apostles, taught us to help others, it was always a command to us as individuals and as His followers (the Church). Never did Jesus or the Apostles teach that such help was the role of the government. On the contrary, we are expected to help each other. 

Work hard to elect candidates to public office who realize that we are a Republic, not a democracy, and who understand the difference. Look for candidates who are pro-Constitution, pro-Bill of Rights (all of them), pro-Free Market Capitalism, and pro-Liberty. This is important on the federal level, but also and especially on the state and local levels.

In considering politicians, character matters, especially integrity. If a politician or candidate is dishonest, you cannot trust them to keep their word to respect the Constitution and our unalienable Rights. Liars rarely keep their word.

Pay attention to what your elected officials actually do, and hold them accountable. Not just in DC, but in your state and hometown, too.

Beware of politicians using a crisis to enact laws taking away our liberty, even "temporarily." Realize that temporary laws, such as the income tax was supposed to be, are never temporary. Once government successful takes on an expanded power, it never willing lets it go. Government doesn't care about you as an individual, or about your rights. Government only cares about expanding and protecting its power.

Politicians and government officials often use crises, real or imagined, as the excuse to expand government power. By definition, government power can only be expanded at the loss of individual liberty.

"We must pass this law (or this tax) in order to stop terrorism, stop crime, stop climate change, win the war on drugs, and protect the children. If you are against this law or this tax, then you must be a potential terrorist, or a criminal, or hate children." -- any politician, anytime, wanting to pass a new law or tax

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Monday, November 4, 2019

Warning Signs of Childhood Cancer

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in children younger than 15 years old (the leading cause is accidents). The good news is that, detected early, the overall survival rate for childhood cancers now exceeds 80%. The problem is in early detection. How do you distinguish the normal bumps, bruises, and illnesses of childhood from more serious illnesses such as cancer? This is made especially difficult in young children, who may not be able to properly identify and explain their symptoms to adults. 

Regular medical checkups for children are especially important for that reason. Although no one, young or old, enjoys going to the doctor, and it can be both costly and time-consuming, delaying or even skipping checkups can be dangerous. 

In addition to regular checkups, parents and guardians should be aware of the warning signs of childhood cancer. Although these symptoms can occur for reasons other than cancer, seek medical advice if any of the following are persistent and/or otherwise unexplainable. (This list comes from materials provided by St. Jude Children's Research Hospital,)
  • Persistent/unexplainable fever
  • Fatigue and paleness
  • Swelling or lumps anywhere on the body, especially in the neck, armpit, or groin
  • Nausea or loss of appetite
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Change of disposition, e.g. whining or crying spells, unusual irritability
  • Regression of toilet habits
  • Stumbling or falling
  • Double vision or other eye problems
  • Easy and frequent bruising
  • Nosebleeds or bleeding from any part of the body
Other possible symptoms include (additional symptoms from information provided by the American Cancer Society):
  • Persistent/unexplainable weight loss
  • Bone and joint pain
  • Frequent headaches or dizziness
  • Ongoing pain in a specific area
  • Limping or difficulty walking
Again, these symptoms may occur for reasons other than cancer. What you are looking for are symptoms that are persistent and/or otherwise unexplainable.

If your child frequently exhibits any of these symptoms, seemingly without cause, seek medical advice as soon as possible. Early detection is absolutely key to the successful treatment for childhood cancers. 

The American Cancer Society provides the following information about seeing the doctor (links are to pages on their website):

"The doctor will ask about the child's medical history and symptoms, and will then examine your child. If cancer might be causing the symptoms, the doctor might order imaging tests (such as x-rays) or other tests. Sometimes if an abnormal lump or tumor is found, the doctor might need to remove some or all of it so that it can be looked at under a microscope for cancer cells. This is known as a biopsy.

If your child is found to have cancer, you can learn about coping and moving forward after the diagnosis is made in If Your Child Is Diagnosed With Cancer."

Sources: Information in this article comes from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and the American Cancer Society. Please visit their websites for more information.
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Sunday, November 3, 2019

The Prepper Stockpile: Baking Soda and Vinager

The Prepper Stockpile is a new occasional feature on this website. Each article will highlight items preppers and survivalists might want to include in their stockpile of supplies due to their usefulness. This week's edition feature two household chemicals, baking soda and vinegar, both with many multiple uses. (For last week's Prepper Stockpile, featuring Borax and Epsom Salt, click here.)

Baking Soda - Where to even begin? Baking soda is useful for almost everything - cooking & baking, cleaning, odor control, personal hygiene, first aid, and pool maintenance, among many other uses.

It makes a great substitute for toothpaste, can be applied under the arms in place of deodorant, can be mixed with warm water for an antacid, or used as a gargle to help ease coughs and sore throats. Baking soda mixed with water to form a paste and applied to the skin can help sooth insect stings, sunburn, and itching due to poison ivy/oak.  There's even some evidence that baking soda may be useful in the prevention and treatment of cancer and kidney disease. 

Baking soda can be used to kill cockroaches (fill a shallow dish with equal parts baking soda and granular sugar, place near where you suspect the roaches are) and other insect pests (as a plant spray, combine 2 gallons of water with three tablespoons of baking soda and three tablespoons of cooking oil - spray on plants once a week). 

In cleaning, it helps cut through grease, can be used to kill mold and mildew, removes coffee and tea stains, and can freshen the smell of upholstery, carpet, and even pet beds. Got some oil stains on cement or concrete? Sprinkle on some baking soda and scrub with a wet brush to reduce or even eliminate the stain.  It can even be used to clean silver and jewelry.

Baking soda can be used as a safe way to extinguish grease and electrical fires. Baking soda mixed with vinegar can help unclog drains and toilets. The uses of baking soda go on and on and on. Just google "uses of baking soda" for many dozens of other ideas.

Vinegar Vinegar has lots of uses relating to cooking, canning, and food preservation. Its also useful in cleaning, unclogging and deodorizing drains and toilets, disinfecting cutting boards and counter-tops, eliminating mold & mildew, and polishing silver, brass & copper objects. 

Vinegar can be used to clean and sanitize canteens, water bottles, thermoses, jars, and other containers.  Vinegar can be used to help remove the glue residue of bumper stickers, price tags, and decals. Pouring some vinegar on a rusty screw or hinge can help unstick it.  Some folks even use vinegar soaked rags staked in and around their garden to keep out deer, dogs, rabbits, and raccoons, which can't stand the smell even after the vinegar has dried (I've never tried this method myself, so can't vouch for its effectiveness - comment below if you have).  

A number of medical studies have shown many health benefits of vinegar, especially apple-cider vinegar, including improving insulin sensitivity and decreasing blood sugar levels (both fasting and post-meal) for folks with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. My own experience as a type-2 diabetic has convinced me that consuming vinegar with a meal lowers my after-meal blood sugar spike by 25-40%.  

As with baking soda, the list of possible uses goes on and on and on. Just google "uses of vinegar" for lots more ideas. 

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Saturday, November 2, 2019

News Brief: Social Security Changes for 2020

Here's a quick roundup of the major changes for Social Security coming in 2020:
  • Monthly benefits will increase by 1.6%
  • Maximum monthly benefit will rise to $3,011 per month (currently $2,861 per month)
  • Annual social security tax cap (the maximum amount of earnings subject to social security tax) will rise to $137,700 (currently $132,900)
  • Earnings limit on retirees receiving social security before full retirement will rise to $18, 240, after which the deductions of $1 for every $2 earned will go into effect
  • Earnings limit on retirees receiving social security after full retirement will rise to $48,600, after which the deductions of $1 for every $3 earned will go into effect

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Thursday, October 31, 2019

Easily expand your Bug Out Bag into a *realistic* INCH Bag

The bug-out bag (BoB) is a prepper mainstay. Most of us know about them and have one. But what about the INCH Bag? What exactly is an INCH Bag? How is it different from a Bug-Out Bag? Who needs one? And does it really have to be an entirely different bag from the bug-out bag? 

INCH Bag = I'm Never Coming Home Bag

Unlike the bug-out bag, which is designed for short-term use (typically three days) and an eventual return home, the INCH bag is designed for much-longer use in situations when you expect to never return home.

In in a "never returning home" scenario, you will never again have access to the food, water, supplies, tools, documents, books, family photos & heirlooms, mementos, and other items you left behind when bugging out. All your worldly possessions will be reduced to what you took with you, and perhaps what you cached or prepositioned elsewhere.

INCH bags take these factors into account. Bug-out bags don't.

I've read many articles and watched many videos on INCH bags, and think that most make the same mistake: trying to extend the usefulness of their bags by simply adding more tools, gear, supplies and other stuff (and thus, a lot more weight), while ignoring some of the ramifications of never being able to return home again

Leaving home to never return doesn't mean living in the wilderness for the rest of your life. Yes, you may need to extend the usefulness of your bag from 3-days to maybe a week or two, but the fact is you will return to civilization at some point - to your predetermined bug-out location or some other safe haven - just not to your current home. Perhaps your home was looted and burned. Or maybe it is permanently behind "enemy lines" in the case of military invasion or civil war.  Or perhaps radiation due to a nuclear incident (nuclear war, dirty bomb, or nuclear accident of some sort) has made your home unlivable.  Whatever the reason, you are barred from your home and all the stuff you had there, but not from civilization itself. 

This means, though you need to prepare for more than 3 days, you don't need to figure out ways to survive permanently in the wilderness without resupply. The real long-term problem in an INCH situation is the irreplaceable stuff you're permanently leaving behind: important documents & records, family photos & heirlooms, personal mementos, etc. Eventually, you'll be able to replace most of the other stuff you leave behind - food, supplies, tools, gear, books...

The questions to ask yourself is "What do I really need to start over again? What is really important to me?"  Having a lot of stuff may be nice, but it isn't really necessary. My answer to those questions are: My life. My health. My relationships (God, family & close friends). Everything else can eventually be replaced or done without.  

So, with that in mind, here is my solution to the unrealistic "everything but the kitchen sink" approach to the INCH Bag. 

Convert the bug-out bag into a realistic INCH bag with a few minor but important modifications that won't add too much weight or bulk. 

I am assuming you already have a bug-out bag, so I won't go over what all you need in one. Instead, here are my suggestions to adjust your already existing BoB into a realistic INCH bag. 

1-  Water is the most important survival consideration, but it is heavy and bulky. You can't just carry more water with you, rather you need to focus on having the ability to collect and treat water. Maybe your bug out bags already contains some ways to collect & treat more water.  If not, here are some ideas to address this issue:

My BoB contains two water bottles (I also have a canteen of the over-the-shoulder variety). Definitely not enough water to last a week or two. Additionally, for collecting and treating water, I have the following: 
These items don't add much weight or take up much room in your bag, yet greatly extend your ability to provide water for yourself.

2- Food is another important consideration, and difficult to take a lot of it with you in your BoB. I personally don't use freeze-dried foods or MREs in my BoB because they are too bulky. Instead I use health & energy bars, and emergency ration food bars. This allows me to carry at least an entire week's worth (or more) of emergency food in the same amount of space (or less) as 3 days worth of freeze-dried foods. Additional compact options include foil-packs of  chicken, tuna, and salmon, as well as peanut butter (many servings of needed fats, protein, and calories in a single jar).  Another great thing about these options is that they don't have to be cooked.

You may be able to supplement the food in your bag with wild edibles by teaching yourself about them now, before SHTF. I also have a small fishing kit (a Ronco Pocket Fisherman) that I keep in my vehicle and can attach to my bag if I need to strike out on foot.

Now that we've covered how to extend your food and water without adding much weight or bulk, lets look at what to do about those things you'll have to leave behind.

3- Copies of important documents should be included in your expanded BoB or INCH bag. These can be digitized and loaded on an encrypted file on USB memory stick (I use and recommend Gorilla Drives). I have one on my key chain and a back-up in my BoB. Very small and light-weight. I also have copies in an encrypted folder on my Samsung Galaxy. 

However, in a SHTF situation, you may not have ready access to a computer, and your smart phone may be lost or damaged, so it is wise to have hard copies of some documents. I have two 9x6 clasp envelopes containing documents that fit easily in my BoB without adding a lot of weight or taking up much room. Insert them in a plastic zip bag for waterproofing. Documents you might want to include: 
  • Birth Certificates
  • Marriage Certificates
  • Death Certificates
  • Copies of credit cards, bank numbers, and other financial info
  • Contact information and account numbers for insurance, investment accounts, utilities, etc. 
  • Tax and other financial records
  • Copies of your driver's license and social security card
  • Passports
  • Medical and immunization records
  • Title & Registration information for your vehicles
  • Pet Records (registration, vaccination, etc.) 
  • Copies of your high school diploma and collage degrees
  • High School and College Transcripts
  • Military discharge papers
  • Contact information for family, friends, co-workers, etc.
  • Home and Property deeds
  • Mortgage information  
This is only a partial list of possible documents you may want to keep. Decide for yourself what you should keep for  your circumstances. Remember, you can keep everything in digital form, but only some hard copies in your INCH bag. It simply isn't practical to lug hard copies of everything around with you.

For example, when I recently refinanced my home, the mortgage paperwork was over 160 pages long. No problem on my memory sticks (the mortgage company emailed me the entire package in .pdf form), but I'm not lugging a hard copy of all that around with me. Instead, I put only the two-page summary (which has all the important numbers and info) in one of the 9x6 envelopes I previously mentioned. 

4- Family photos, personal mementos, and family heirlooms make up another category of stuff you will lose when you never return home. This is where developing the right attitude comes in handy. Remember my earlier comments on figuring out what is really important - our lives, our health, and our relationships. It may hurt to lose stuff for which you have sentimental attachment, but better to lose that stuff than to lose our lives. 

There is some good news - scrapbooks and family photos can be digitized and carried with you, as can genealogy records. Personal awards, articles, certificates, blue ribbons, and even trophies can be scanned or digitally photographed. Some family heirlooms may have to be left behind and lost forever, but even they can be photographed. No, it is not the same as still having it, but it is better than nothing.  

The bottom line of this article, is that you can easily turn your bug-out bag into a real INCH bag without adding too much weight and bulk. Just keep in mind what INCH really means (it is not living in the wilderness forever) and think through what you really need.

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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Privacy Statement, Cookie Policy, and Important Notices

The following is posted at the bottom of EVERY page of, as well as in the FAQs section of this website. I post it again here to go "above and beyond" in terms of compliance and transparency. Thank you for your patronage of this website!

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The purpose of this website is to provide information and opinion on a variety of topics typically relating to self-reliance. emergency preparedness, wilderness survival, homesteading, gardening, and bushcraft (outdoor skills). It also contains religious content (from a traditional Christian perspective), political & economic content (from a limited government and pro-Capitalism perspective), and educational materials.

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India: American Pastor from Tennessee Arrested and Detained

Hindu extremism has been on the rise in India since 2014, when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took power. The BJP embraces an anti-Westernization idea logy which sees Christianity as a political and cultural threat. 

The following is an unedited press release from International Christian Concern (ICC) regarding the latest incident. Please check out their website at for more on the persecution and genocide of Christians around the world.

Pastor Targeted After Telling Customs Officials He Is a Christian

10/29/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) learned that Pastor Bryan Nerren, a Christian pastor from Tennessee, has been arrested and detained in India after being accused of violating the country’s Foreign Exchange Management Act. 

According to the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), Pastor Nerren and two other pastors from Tennessee arrived in India on October 5 to attend two conferences in India and Nepal. The ACLJ reported that Pastor Nerren was then targeted and arrested by Indian customs agents after he told them he was a Christian.

After the three pastors arrived in New Delhi, Pastor Nerren was detained by customs agents while proceeding through the domestic security check for a flight to Bagdogra. According to the ACLJ, the pastor was carrying funds to cover the expenses for the two conferences as well as the two-week trip for himself and the other pastors. Customs agents questioned Pastor Nerren about the funds and their usage for about an hour. According to reports, Pastor Nerren has been traveling to India and Nepal for the past 17 years to train people to become Sunday school teachers.

According to the ACLJ, customs agents specifically asked Pastor Nerren if he was a Christian and if the funds would be used to support Christian causes. After fully explaining what the funds were to be used for, the customs agents told Pastor Nerren he was free to go. However, when Pastor Nerren arrived in Bagdogra, he was arrested and transported to Siliguri where he was incarcerated for six days and denied any visitors, including those from the US Consulate.

Pastor Nerren was able to secure bail after six days in jail. However, the judge has retained Pastor Nerren’s passport and ordered a travel ban. A hearing regarding Pastor Nerren’s case was scheduled for October 22, but it did not take place. Another court date has been set for Pastor Nerren’s case on December 12. According to the ACLJ, Pastor Nerren is effectively trapped in Siliguri.

Religious intolerance and instances of persecution have steadily escalated in India since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a political party founded on Hindu nationalist ideology, took power in 2014. 

According to the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI), 147 instances of religiously motivated violence against Christians were documented in 2014. In 2018, after four years of BJP rule, EFI documented 325 instances of religiously motivated violence against Christians.

William Stark, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “We here at International Christian Concern are deeply concerned by the arrest and detention of Pastor Nerren. We are most concerned by reports that Pastor Nerren was targeted by Indian customs officials after he told them he is a Christian. 

Article 25 of India’s own constitution protects religious freedom for all of the country’s citizens. In addition, Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights also protects religious freedom. However, it seems these protections are being denied to Pastor Nerren due to his identity as a Christian.
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Sunday, October 27, 2019

Worried about inflation? Here are 8 steps to help you prepare.

Many folks are getting worried about the possibility of high inflation in the future. Concerns over the growing national debt, the ongoing trade war with China, and the political Left's push to embrace full-blown socialism are fueling these concerns. The news coming out of Venezuela, which is currently experiencing very high inflation, is only driving home the point of how devastating high inflation can be. Rather then sitting around worrying about the possibility of high inflation, here are eight practical steps you can take now to protect your family later.

1- Get your finances in order.
Reduce your living expenses as much as possible. If you are in debt, try to pay it off (a good use for any end-of-year bonus checks). Refinance larger debt (such as mortgages) into low fixed rate loans if possible. Set aside an emergency fund. Look for ways to increase your income.
My articles, Financial Preparedness: Get Back to Basic and Quick Financial Tips for Preppers (and Everyone Else), give many practical tips, ideas, and details for getting your financial house in order.  

2- Stock up on canned & dry foods, water, medicine, soap, toothpaste, first aid supplies, matches, firewood, shoes, clothing, and any other necessities you might need that will store for at least a year without spoiling. Consider buying your next set of tires now.

3- Raise a portion of your own food by planting a garden. Consider planting fruit & nut trees and berry bushes if you have the room. If you live in an apartment or condo, consider participating in a nearby community garden (or starting one).

4- Make improvements to your home’s energy efficiency to reduce the impact of high energy inflation. Most homes and other buildings are not very energy efficient, and lots can be done to improve their energy efficiency, leading to lower energy costs. These improvements can range from the inexpensive (such as filling in gaps where pipes & wires come into the house with a can of spray foam insulation, which has the added benefit of blocking insects and other pests from entering your home) to the expensive (such as replacing your old windows with energy efficient windows). Consult your tax preparer regarding energy improvements to your home, as some improvements may be tax deductible.

More Details: Saving Energy

5- Take care of your health so that you are less likely to need expensive medical treatment. Now is also the time to get any elective procedures you've been considering, such as LASIK eye surgery, mole removal, or orthodontics.

More Details: Steps to Good Health 

6- Think about your and your family’s personal security. Crime and even civil unrest are likely to increase. Take steps now to protect yourself and your family. Also, pay close attention to preventing identity theft.

7- Investing in gold, silver and other commodities could be quite profitable during a period of very high inflation. Gold & silver investing should be on your “to do” list, but it should be near the bottom after you’ve taken care of other basics first. Remember, wealth is not wealth if you owe it to someone else.

8- Take steps to protect your current job. The employment situation his excellent at the moment, but good times won't last forever. High inflation will mean higher costs of raw materials for manufacturers and inventory for retailers. It will also mean that their customers will have less discretionary income, reducing sells. Companies will try to manage these higher costs and slowing sells by reducing labor costs (wage freezes, hiring freezes, and eventually layoffs).

The single most important thing you can do now to survive any future chaos is to start taking responsibility for your own life.

Note Well: Economic times are good right now, but nothing lasts forever. The time to prepare for bad times is during the good times, before it is too late. 
Of Interest:

I own and recommend "Emergency Food Storage & Survival Handbook" by Peggy Layton. I have previously written a book review, which you can read by clicking here, but the bottom line is that this book is by far the best emergency food storage book I've read. HIGHLY recommended.

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Saturday, October 26, 2019

The Prepper Stockpile: Borax and Epsom Salt

The Prepper Stockpile is a new occasional feature on this website. Each article will highlight items preppers and survivalists might want to include in their stockpile of supplies due to their usefulness. This week's edition feature two household chemicals, Borax and Epsom Salt, each with many multiple uses.
Borax - Borax is best known for its use as a laundry detergent, but there are a myriad of other uses, too.  An excellent disinfectant, Borax can be used for a large variety of cleaning tasks, including odor control, a very effective all-purpose cleaner, and removing mold, mildew, rust, and various types of stains. It can be used to unclog drains and toilets. Mixed with equal parts of sugar, it can be used as a bait to kill cockroaches, ants and other insect pests. Mixed with equal parts of salt, and a little elbow grease, it can be used to scrub clean cast iron cookware without leaving behind a soapy taste. Borax is also used in candle-making to treat wicks (makes them burn longer with less smoke and ash). 

In the Garden:  Borax is a natural weed-killer. Dissolve 10 ounces of Borax in 4 ounces of warm water. After the Borax dissolves, add 2.5 gallons of water and mix thoroughly. This mixture treats an area of about 1,000 square feet. Use a garden sprayer to apply evenly, adjusting the amount to fit the space you're treating.

Borax can also be used in small amounts to fertilize boron-deficient soil. Typically, use 1 tablespoon of Borax per 100 square feet of soil. You can sprinkle it on the soil, then till it in. Or you can mix 1 tablespoon of borax with 1 gallon of water and sprinkle 1 ounce of the solution around the soil of each plant. 

Note: Borax can be toxic to people and pets. Store safely, and do not consume borax.
Epsom Salt - Epsom Salt can be used to make a very relaxing soaking bath. It relieves pain, sprains, bruises, and muscle cramps (things we all may be suffering from in a long-term, grid-down scenario). It is used to soothe tired aching feet, and  fight foot and toe-nail fungus.  It also makes for an excellent facial scrub and body wash. Mix with water and spray on the skin to reduce the itching from mosquito bites and insect stings. It also provides sunburn relief. 

In the Garden:  Epsom salt can be used in the garden to control slugs, snails, and other pests. For slugs and snails, sprinkle the Epsom Salt in a narrow band around each plant. It also makes for a safe and natural insecticide spray. Mix 1 cup of Epsom Salt with 5 gallons of water (adjust for your needs: 1/2 cup for 2.5 gallons, 1/4 cup for 1.25 gallons, etc.), then spray on the plants.

Adding a tablespoon of Epsom salt to the soil around each tomato plant is a great boost to tomato production. Other vegetables will also benefit from the magnesium in Epsom salt. Roses and houseplants may also benefit from small doses of Epsom salt.

Note: Even though Epsom salt is a type of magnesium-based “salt,” it should not be consumed like regular salt since it acts as a powerful laxative. If you do use it as a laxative, follow the directions on the package closely to prevent over-use, and be sure to drink plenty of water.  

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Imprisoned Chinese House Church Member Released After Seven Months

Finally, a bit of good news for Christians in China, via the following unedited press release from International Christian Concern (ICC). Please check out their website at for more on the persecution and genocide of Christians around the world.

Imprisoned Chinese House Church Member Released

Gou Zhongcan Returns Home After Seven Months in Prison 

10/24/2019 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on October 22, Gou Zhongcan from Early Rain Covenant Church (ERCC) in Sichuan was released and returned home to Bazhou city. Gou was detained in March and spent the last seven months in prison.

Gou is currently recovering since his vision deteriorated in prison. Otherwise, he is generally in good health, according to another ERCC member, Jia Xuewei.

Gou went missing on March 15, while he was visiting a friend in Zhejiang. His cellphone and computer were taken away from him. Three days later, he was spotted at the Hangzhou East Train Station being escorted by multiple plainclothes police officers. His head was shaved and he was handcuffed.

Since then, Gou’s lawyer has been unable to locate him despite multiple attempts. China Aid reported in July that Gou was detained and held in the basement of a public security bureau office for refusing to reveal the passwords to his computer and cell phone. When Gou’s elderly father was finally allowed to meet with him, he shared that his son did not look well, but that he had been singing hymns and worship songs while being detained.

This was not the first time that Gou has been jailed. At 23 years old, he was a reporter and was imprisoned for more than 10 years for reporting on the inhumane treatment of prisoners in China to human rights organizations abroad. While in prison, he was greatly tormented.

Gou came to Christ in 2016 after he was released, and began attending ERCC.

A Chinese Christian familiar with the case shared on Twitter yesterday, “Brother Gou Zhongcan from ERCC in Chengdu, who was arrested in March earlier this year has returned home yesterday. Thanks be to God that the captive has been delivered!”

Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager for Southeast Asia, said, “What great news to know that Gou is finally free. But the Chinese government has not relented on the persecution of Christians. ERCC pastor Wang Yi and elder Qin Derfu are still criminally detained on trumped up charges and their lawyers and family have not been able to see them, even after 10 months. We should continue to put pressure on Beijing so that they will be set free. None of them deserved imprisonment in the first place.”

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Buyer's Guide for Used Tools

Regardless of the type - hand tools, power tools, woodworking tools, yard & garden tools -  quality tools can be quite expensive. Yet, having the right tools is essential for anyone trying to be self-reliant, as any homesteader or DIYer can attest. The question is: How can we find good quality tools at an affordable price?

The answer may be in finding and buying good quality secondhand (used) tools. Sure, there are some potential pitfalls in buying anything used, but there are some incredible deals out there if you are willing to look for them.

What is a good quality tool?  

What makes a good quality tool are the materials, design, and workmanship that goes into manufacturing it. You'll eventually learn to tell the quality of a tool by eyeballing it, but if you want some idea of name brands, here's a quick but incomplete guide to brands with a stellar reputation for quality (ultimately it is a matter of opinion, and opinions vary).

Quality Hand Tool Brands:
  • Craftsman
  • Snap-on (including Williams)
  • Wright
  • Armstrong
  • Blue-Point
Stanley (including Proto) is also good quality brand, though maybe a half-step down from the others listed above. 

Quality Power Tool Brands:
  • DeWalt
  • Bosch
  • Ridgid
  • Makita
  • Milwaukee
Those brands are all considered  professional “job site” power tools and are used by the pros. Other quality power tool brands, though perhaps a half-step down from the above list, include Hitachi, Porter-Cable, Skil and Delta.

How do I know if a used tool is still in good shape? 

Caveat emptor - let the buyer beware! We can hope sellers are honest about their merchandise, but you should take personal responsibility in making sure the used tools you buy are in good shape. Closely inspect and even test used tools before you buy them.

For hand tools, watch out for rust, dents, bends, and other signs of neglect, misuse, or damage. Make sure any moving parts, such as on an adjustable wrench, move freely. Make sure handles are firmly attached, and look for cracks and other damage where pieces connect.

For cutting tools, such as saws, axes, and knives, be sure to check the cutting edge to see if it is dented, chipped, warped, or dull. Same goes for the edges of tools like shovels and hoes. Also, look for cracks or other damage wherever two parts fit together (for example, the handle and blade of a shovel).  Make sure any moving parts still move without difficulty.

For power tools, be sure to always plug in and test the tool to make sure it works. Walk away from any seller who doesn't want you to test it before buying it, no matter what their excuse. Be sure to examine the entire length of the power cord for fraying or crimping (big dent), and check for bent or broken plug prongs. Check for rust, cracks, and other signs of neglect or damage. Make sure all safety features are still intact and working. 

For all tools, look for signs of previous repairs, including welding spots, tape, or glue. Repairs or damage may be disguised by unscrupulous sellers. For example, a fresh coat of spray paint may be applied to tools to hide rust, scratches, and other damage, or even to make repairs less obvious. 

Remember, you may be able to sharpen or fix damaged tools. However, be realistic about your skill in doing so, and always pay the lowest end (or less) of your price range for damaged tools needing repairs.
Very Important:  Don't buy tools with safety features removed or altered, no matter how cheap.  

Where do I look for good-quality secondhand tools? 
  • Yard sales, garage sales, and estate sales
  • Flea markets
  • Thrift stores, consignment shops, and salvage stores
  • Pawn shops(expect good, but not great, deals as they are typically very aware of current market prices)
  • Online sites such as eBay, CraigsList, etc. (but be aware that you probably won't be able to inspect the tools first, so check the return policy)
  • Classified ads in your local newspaper (especially good for the more expensive power tools)
  • Many small businesses (barber shops, mini-marts, etc.) often have a bulletin board where folks can post items for sale
How much should I pay for a good-quality secondhand tool?

Typically, you should expect to pay 30% to 50% of the new price for a quality secondhand tool that is still in good condition. The better the tool, the higher the price, of course.

Remember, you can often find new tools on sale as much as 25% off, or even more, especially around Christmas time. Given that fact, it makes little sense in my opinion to ever pay more than 50% of the new retail price for used tools, no matter how "barely used" the seller claims them to be.

If you don't know what the price of new tool would be, then take a notebook around to places like Home Depot, Lowe's, and Ace Hardware. Jot down the type of tool, brand name, size, and price. Then take your notebook with you to use as a reference when you shop for secondhand tools.

For what I call "Lending Tools" (generic no-name tools that you wouldn't mind lending out to others), I would pay no more than $1 each, less if you can. And it is worth putting together a lending tool set, in my opinion. That way when friends and neighbors "forget" to return them, or return them damaged, its not a big deal.
Tools for Survival: What You Need to Survive When You’re on Your Own, by James Wesley Rawles, details the tools needed to survive anything from a short-term disruption to a long-term, grid-down scenario. Chapters include:
  • Gardening, Farm, and Ranch Tools
  • Food Preservation and Cooking Tools
  • Sewing and Leatherworking Tools
  • Electrical and Electronics Tools
  • Medical and Sanitation Tools
  • Knives and Traditional Handtools
  • Rifles, Shotguns, and Handguns
  • Archery
  • Timber, Firewood and Lumber Tools
  • Fire Prevention and Firefighting Tools
  • And chapters on many other tools...
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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Want to save America? Rebuild its foundations.

It took a long time, over 100 years, but they (I will discuss who "they" are in a future article) simply took out the foundations our nation was built upon. They slowly, but effectively, took away our spiritual foundation - Judeo-Christian beliefs, values, and worldview. They destroyed our foundation of traditional family life - first decreasing & eliminating the role of men, then turning the role of parents over to government schools & regulations, and finally destroying the traditional definition of marriage altogether.

They destroyed our intellectual foundation - for generations now public schools have taught little more than leftist ideology and propaganda, rather than real history, real economics, and real civics. Finally, they destroyed our foundation of self-reliance - turning the average person into little more than a government slave, with a massive sense of entitlement, and little or no self-initiative or sense of self-responsibility.

There's not much as individuals we can do to restore those foundations for society as a whole, but here are a few ideas that may help us to begin to rebuild those foundations for ourselves and our families. It is time to rebuild America's foundations.

Rebuild Our Spiritual Foundations
  • Pray - "Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving." -- Colossians 4:2 (ESV). By the way, check out my Patriots' Prayers page!
  • Read the Bible. You probably already have one - its that dusty book on the shelf that's covered with cobwebs. Don't know where to start? For modern readers, I suggest the Gospel of Mark. Its short, fast-paced, and action-packed. Better yet, read it with your family!
  • Go to Church - If you're already attending one, great! If not, then find a good church in your area, and go. I suggest checking out an Orthodox church if you have one nearby, but I may be biased in this suggestion.
  • Invite a Friend or Neighbor to Go to Church with You. - In a recent poll, a large percentage of the un-churched said they would go if someone invited them. Invite them.
  • Not Sure About God? - Talk to a pastor or priest about your doubts.  Or read a good book on apologetics - Josh McDowell has several excellent books you may find useful. A classic recommendation is C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity.
  • Not Sure About Organized Religion? - I get it. Atheists and the Left have for decades been attacking organized religion. And pop culture has long ridiculed it, so its not surprising many folks have doubts about organized religion. There are a few exceptions - it is made up of imperfect humans, after all - but overall religion has had a wonderful and beneficial effect on civilization. Read Dinesh D'Souza's What's So Great about Christianity? Read the article Defending the Faith: How religious faith benefits society by Dr. Daniel Peterson. Read the article How Christianity Shaped Western Civilization by Dr. Andrew Stebbin.

Rebuild Our Family Foundations
  • Designate one night a week as Family Night. No TV. No video games. No phones. No Internet. Just family.   
  • Go to Church as a family.  
  • Pray together as a family. Maybe pray daily?  
  • Have a family Bible study. Maybe your pastor or church has some resources to help you with a family Bible study. 
  • Go for a family walk. 
  • Go for a family picnic. 
  • Have a family game night.  
  • Spend an afternoon together playing at the local mini-golf course. 
  • Take a hike together at a nearby park or greenway. 
  • Reach out to an estranged family member, even at the risk of rejection.

Rebuild Our Intellectual Foundations 
  • Study Real History, Real Economics, and Real History. Not the propaganda they teach in schools, but from a traditional perspective that is pro-liberty, pro-capitalism, pro-religion, and pro-natural rights. 
  • Read the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. They definitely don't want you to do this. You can find the text of The Constitution and the Bill of Rights on this website, or buy a pocket copy of the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence for only a $1.00 on Amazon.
  • Check out the #HistoryHub section of my website. You will find the text of over 40 primary historical documents, plus many other secondary sources, history lessons and book reviews, to aid your study of history.
  • Check out my Real History Book list for history books without leftist ideology or political correctness.
  • Hillsdale College has numerous college-level courses online for free that you can register to take, including courses on the Constitution, History, Economics, and Public Policy, among others. All courses are from a traditional pro-Constitution, pro-Capitalism, and pro-Liberty point of view.
  • The Mises Institute website has lots of articles on economics from a pro-capitalism and pro-liberty perspective.
  • Whatever Happened to Penny Candy, by Richard Maybury, is a short (190 pages), easy-to-read (aimed at high school level), and interesting (written as a series of letters from an uncle to his nephew), this is the perfect book for someone wanting to learn about real economics, but finds most economic books intimidating or boring. Another book by Maybury is Whatever Happened to Justice? which takes a similar look at natural law and the development of common law.

Rebuild Our Foundation of Self-Reliance

Self-Reliance is a mindset, an attitude, of taking responsibility for our own lives, rather than looking to the government, our parents, or society at large to help us have stable and successful lives. It is also something that has been intentionally erased from large portions of the American people through generations of public education and government dependence. Here are two articles I've written to introduce and explain the concept of self-reliance:
The key to being self-reliant isn't really the knowledge, skills, or abilities you have. Those are more the tools of self-reliance. Rather, it is the mindset you have. It is knowing that you aren't entitled to anything that you haven't first earned, other than the inalienable rights God have given to us all. It is knowing, and accepting, that life is hard work, and that it often doesn't seem fair. It is developing the willingness and the desire to work hard to create for ourselves the life we want.

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