Saturday, May 18, 2019

Money Mistakes of the Poor & Middle Class (plus solutions)

Common money mistakes typically made by folks in the lower and middle classes can "lock them in place," preventing them from improving their circumstances. These mistakes tend to be learned by example, unintentionally passed on from one generation to the next, thus dooming generations of the same family to the same financial struggles. The mistakes made are different between the classes, but are easily identifiable, as are the solutions.

The Poor

The money mistakes made by the poor are mostly related to the desire or need to get quick, easy money for a myriad of potential reasons - anything from an unexpected repair expense to "the rent is due and I don't have enough cash to cover it."  This problem is caused by a combination of poor planning and lack of capital  (savings). Here are some of the specific mistakes the poor make in trying to get quick cash:
  • Playing the Lottery - Studies have shown that the majority of lottery tickets are sold in poorer zip codes. Lotteries really are a sneaky tax on the poor. Other forms of gambling fit here, too.
  • Pay Day Loans - These loans are easy to get and therefore very popular, yet with their extremely high interest rates and short pay-back periods (the next paycheck), these loans trap folks in never-ending cycles of doom.
  • Car Title Loans - A high-interest way to lose your car.
  • Pawn Shops - Ever notice that these flourish in and near poor areas? There's a reason for that...
  • Rent to Own - High-interest installment plans on furniture and other items that were already overpriced to begin with.

Middle Class 

The money mistakes made by the middle class are mostly related to living beyond their means, often keeping up appearances to impress others. The more their friends and neighbors do it, they more they feel pressure to buy new cars, the most house they can afford rather than the house they need, take impressive vacations, and so forth. Here are some of the specific mistakes the middle class make while trying to "keep up with the Joneses":  
  • Credit Cards - There is over a trillion dollars of credit card debt in America, the vast majority of which is owed by the middle class.
  • Student Loans - There is nothing wrong with going to college, but there is something wrong with racking up tens of thousands of dollars in debt to get a degree in18th century French Poetry, Gender Studies, Social Justice, or some other useless major.
  • Car Payments - New car fever grips the middle class, with excuses like "I need it for work" and "safety and reliability." But, in reality, a well-maintained used car can be just as safe and reliable as a new car. Keep it clean and washed, and it'll probably be fine for work, too. Also in this category are payments for boats, motorcycles, ATVs and other expensive toys.
  • Loans or early withdrawals from retirement funds - Not only does this deplete your retirement savings, but may have severe tax implications.

Solutions

Reading through the above lists, the solutions should be obvious - Don't do those things! But how to get there from where you are now is the real question. Here are three ways to get there:

  • Build capital (emergency savings) - This is HUGE to your financial success. Do whatever it takes to build savings: Work extra hours, get a second job, have a massive yard sale, sell those expensive toys (ATVs, boats, home gyms, and so forth), downsize your car to get out of the payment, maybe even downsize your house if it is more than you really need... 
  • Be happy living within your means - This is an attitude adjustment, which is especially hard for many people. You CAN be happy without a brand new car, or without taking a Caribbean cruise this year, or without yet another pair of $300 shoes. Don't worry about what your neighbors have, or what your friends might think about you. Live within your means, and be happy with it.
  • Delayed gratification - Back in the days before credit cards, installment plans, and payday loans, if you wanted something you had to save money until you had enough to buy it outright.This meant you had to wait to get it. These days, Americans feel entitled to whatever they want, and entitled to it NOW! Banks and credit cards companies have made fortunes off this entitlement attitude. Developing a little patience will go a long way to you making your fortune!
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Need help with debt and personal finances?  I highly recommend Dave Ramsey's books, website, and radio show. 



Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Falsely-named "Equality Act" is a Deceptive Attack on Religious Freedom and Women's Rights

H.R. 5, the so-called "Equality Act" is scheduled to be voted on this week in the House of Representatives. Its stated purpose, in brief, is "to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation." But, as always, the devil is in the details, as the saying goes. In reality, the bill guts religious freedoms, limits parental rights, and even endangers Women's Rights. 

In a series of tweets Wednesday night, Franklin Graham summed up the concern many Christians have over the so-called Equality Act: "This week Congress is scheduled to vote on H.R.5, the Equality Act, a bill that represents what is being called “the most invasive threat to religious liberty ever proposed in America.”

"I and other Christian leaders wrote a letter to congressional leaders about the Equality Act. Contact your representatives in Congress and urge them to protect our families, our children, & our future by voting NO on the Equality Act."


"Congress needs to hear those who care about religious freedom loud and clear. Let’s light up the phones on Capitol Hill and the White House! Call your elected leaders about the Equality Act today at 202.224.3121."

The letter Graham and other Christian leaders sent to congressional leaders read in part: "As those tasked with the leadership of the church, and as those seeking to humbly convey Biblical truth for the benefit of every man, woman, and child in society, we the undersigned cannot remain silent concerning a dangerous bill pending in Congress known as the Equality Act (H.R. 5). Not only is it incompatible withGod’s Word(the Bible)and the historic teaching of the church, but the Equality Act is also riddled with threats to religious liberty and the sanctity of human life. For these reasons, we must state that we adamantly oppose this proposed legislation."

The letter goes on to give three main reasons the Equality Act should be defeated: 

"First, the ideology enshrined in the Equality Act—which falsely equates one’s sexual conduct with immutable characteristics like skin color and ethnicity—is a falsehood that openly contradicts the scriptural mandates we were given for our good (1 Thess. 4:3-8). We cannot remain silent and allow this lie to harm countless men, women, and children—whether in this or any other legislation. Passage of this coercive measure would lay the groundwork for this lie to enter classrooms across the nation, as public educators could be compelled to teach it to their students. No family would be safe from the long reach of the Equality Act."

"Second, the Equality Act would gut religious freedom protections—even the freedom currently enjoyed by houses of worship. Under its changes to the employment nondiscrimination provisions in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, some houses of worship would be barred from ensuring their leaders and other employees abide by their beliefs about marriage, sexual behavior, and the distinction between the sexes. Women who identify as men would have to be accepted as men and therefore potentially eligible to serve in positions reserved for men (such as a Catholic Priest or Jewish Rabbi). Religious employers that fall under Title VII may be forced to offer insurance coverage for medical procedures (such as hormone therapy or surgery related to “gender transition”) that violate biblical teaching. Finally, the Equality Act would expressly do away with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act’s application to its provisions, thereby precluding any religious freedom claims which clergy or others might bring.Under such restrictions,the pathway for the gospel would slowly be closed off.

"Third, the Equality Act is unacceptable because it is anti-life and creates a right to demand abortion from health care providers. The termination of human life in the womb is unacceptable to any biblically and historically faithful Christian. The responsibility to care for the “least of these” (Matt. 25:40) is a fundamental responsibility of Christ’s church, and any proposal that undermines a culture of life must be rejected."

The letter can be read in full on the Family Research Council website (link opens as a .pdf).

Concerns over the confusion and vagueness of "gender identity" is causing some feminist leaders to voice criticisms of the bill, including that it would render Title IX protections meaningless, allowing transgendered men to fully participate in women's athletics and compete for women's scholarships. They also claim that the bill would expose women to sexual predators claiming gender identities in order to gain access to women's shelters, bathrooms, and locker rooms.

Even if the bill passes ther House, it faces an almost impossible battle in the Republican-controlled Senate. Also, President Trump has already said he would veto the bill.
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Monday, May 13, 2019

Children Massacred in Assault on Syrian Christian Town

The following is an unedited press release from International Christian Concern. Visit their website at https://www.persecution.org/ for more on the ongoing persecution and genocide of Christians around the world.

Six Dead and Eight Wounded as Heavy Shelling Targets Believers

05/13/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that the Syrian Christian town of al-Suqaylabiyah came under heavy assault on May 12, 2019. Five children playing near a monastery, and one woman on a nearby street, were killed as a result of heavy shelling. Eight others, including six children, were wounded. The assault against the town continues through today.

“The kids went out to play after some days of calm,” Father Maher Haddad, a local priest, told the Associated Press. The report continued, “A rocket struck near a group of children, instantly killing five and wounding others… the woman was killed in a nearby street by a separate rocket.”

The deceased children were aged between six and 10. While two of the children’s names have not been made public, the names of the other three children are Inzik Ruzuk, Suheir Jarzas, and Jessica Samardzin. The name of the woman killed is Hala Makaskas.

The author of this assault is unknown, although it was observed that the rockets were fired from nearby Idlib. Al-Qaeda affiliate Tahrir al-Sham is active in Idlib and has a history of attempting to seize Christian towns in the area of al-Suqaylabiyah. However, some believe that the rockets originated from militants backed by Turkey through the National Liberation Front. The town has suffered widespread material damage as a result of the attack.

Syrian state media says that the regime is currently retaliating against the al-Suqaylabiyah attack, although whom they are targeting is not clear. This retaliation comes in the context of the regime already having increased its own assault on Idlib through raids and the dropping of illegal barrel bombs.

“The rebel-held areas of Idlib province and northern Homs province have been under sustained attack by the Syrian regime since April 30, killing and wounding dozens while forcing some 150,000 people to flee their homes in rebel-held areas,” reported al-Araby.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that the violence in the broader area has increased at an alarming pace. It said, “The death toll rises… 450 people in the period since the morning of the 20th of April 2019 until the 12th of May 2019.”
 
Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “The Syrian Civil War is a sad example of the indiscriminate killing of civilians and senseless violence. As the situation escalates in Idlib, many have warned that an increase of targeted massacres would be the result. It has started—with Christians paying a high cost as they are often viewed as vulnerable, second-class citizens. Their villages have become a pawn in a greater strategy for the multiple factions involved in the civil war. We must keep the families of the deceased in our prayers, and offer up continued prayers for the safety of those believers who find themselves caught between Syria’s warring sides.” 

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Important Documents, and How To Secure Them

Paperwork. Its the bane of modern civilization, and the more government we get (and we're always getting more government), the more paperwork we are required to keep up with. But, in order to function in modern society, we need that paperwork. It true now, it will be true during future any future crisis we may face, and it will be true even after a collapse. Despite the common prepper fantasy of a post-collapse world in which there is virtually no government (such a lovely dream), the truth is that even if the government totally collapses, a new government (probably worse than we have now) will form. And the first thing they will want to do is see our paperwork. You just wait and see.

In all seriousness, in modern life there are important documents that we need to keep up with, like it or not. This begs two questions: What are those important documents? and How do we best secure those documents so that we have them when we need them?


Important Documents you may need include:
  • Birth Certificates
  • Marriage Certificates
  • Death Certificates 
  • Wills, Powers-of-Attorney
  • Military discharge papers
  • Copies of credit cards, bank numbers, and other financial info
  • Contact information and account numbers for insurance, investment accounts, utilities, etc. 
  • Tax, insurance, and other financial records
  • Copies of driver's licenses and social security cards
  • Title & Registration information for your vehicles
  • Passports
  • Medical and immunization records
  • Health Insurance information
  • Pet Records (registration, vaccinations, etc.) 
  • Copies of your high school diploma and collage degrees
  • High School and College Transcripts
  • 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 need to keep. There may be other documents you'll need depending on your own particular circumstances.  

You probably already have paper copies of most of these documents at home in desk drawers or a file cabinent. Your first action step is to collect everything together, look through what you have, and see if you are missing anything. If so, start collecting copies of the missing documents. 

Next, organize and store your important documents together in a secure place, probably in your home. A lockable, fire-proof safe, file cabinent, or ducument bag will work nicely. ROLOWAY makes a large-capacity document bag that is fire-proof (to 2000 degrees F), water-resistent, and lockable. It is available on Amazon for about $45. This is a great storage solution for most folks.


Copies of important documents should be included in your bug-out bag. These can be digitized and loaded on an encrypted USB memory stick (for a free and easy encryption method, see my article from February). I carry a USB memory stick on my key chain and a back-up in my bug-out bag. I personally like and use the rugged GorillaDrive menory sticks (I posted a review to my website). You could also put an encrypted copy of your documents on your smart phone.

However, in a SHTF situation, you may not have ready access to a computer, so it might be wise to have hard copies of some documents. I have two 9x6 clasp envelopes containing documents that fit easily in my bug-out bag without adding a lot of weight or taking up much room. Insert them in a plastic zip bag for waterproofing.  

In your bug-out bag, you don't have to have everything as paper copies. That would just take up too much room. For example, when I recently refinanced my home, the mortgage paperwork was over 160 pages long. No problem on a memory stick (the mortgage company emailed me the entire package as a .pdf), but I'm not lugging a hard copy of all that around with me in my bug-out bag. Instead, I just put the two-page summary (which has all the important numbers and information) in the 9x6 envelope I previously mentioned.

Keeping copies, paper or digital, of your important documents off-site (away from the originals) is a good idea. I recommend keeping a seperate set at your bug-out location if possible. Another possibility is keeping a set at work or a trusted relative or friend's place.

What about bank safe depost boxes? This could be an option for some people. Just remember a few things: First, you won't have 24/7 access to the documents, as banks are generally closed at night, on weekends and holidays. Also, in many SHTF circumstances, banks may not open during normal business hours becuse of inclement weather (such as blizzards or hurricanes), natural disasters (earthquakes, wildfires), or "bank holidays" during financial disasters. Finally, if you are forced to suddenly bug-out it is doubtful you'll have time to swing by the bank to collect your documents, even if the bank is open.
 
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Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Survival in the Emerging Highly-Centralized, Politically-Correct, Socialist/Fascist Surveillance State

Its not hard to predict where the Elites are wanting to take us. Look at where Obama was pushing us. And where Hillary was going to push us had she won in 2016. And where the current Democratic Presidential candidates are openly saying they will push us. Take an honest look at where recent social, political, business, and technological trends are taking us.  Just look at the open hostility towards traditional values and beliefs. Just look at the attempts by Big Tech to shut out conservative and Christian voices, or any voice that doesn't totally embrace their politically-correct leftist agenda. Just look at the messages being beamed into our heads on a daily basis by movies, TV, music, and other aspects of pop culture. And I could go on and on. Those of us who are not aware of where we are headed have simply chosen to be willfully ignorant.

So, how do we survive the emerging highly-centralized, politically-correct, socialist/fascist surveillance state?

Self-reliance is the key. Be able to think for yourself, and do for yourself as much as possible. The more self-reliant you and your family are, the less you will be controlled by what is coming, and the more you'll be able to resist. Do everything you can to build as much self-reliance as you can while there is still time. 

Thinking for yourself means uncluttering your mind of all the rubbish coming out of the mainstream media, pop culture, and academia. Turn off CNN, MSNBC and the late-night comedians. Tune out much of the current pop culture. Explore the alt-media, but don't just blindly accept what their pushing. Read a variety of sources, investigate, and think for yourself. Ask yourself questions: Does this really make sense? Is it logical? Does it fit what I already know to be true? Does it give facts that I can check, or is it just speculation? 

Self-reliance is also being able to do for yourself. Take responsibility for your own life. Don't sit around waiting for others, or the government, to do things for you. Get informed. Make your own decisions. Learn skills. Gain experience. (You may be interested in a previous article I wrote: What is Self-Reliance?)

Get out of the System. Again, the less you need the System, the less you will be controlled by it. How do you get out of the system? It isn't easy (by design). But here are some ideas I've  given before, but are worth repeating:
  • Homeschooling is better than parochial & private schools is better than public schools. 
  • Working for yourself is better than working for a small business is better than working for a large corporation or the government.
  • Owning out-right is better than paying a mortgage is better than renting.
  • A credit union is better than a small regional bank is better than a big national bank. 
  • Paying cash is better than a credit card.
  • Going all cash & barter is best of all, but probably impossible in practical terms.
  • Taking care of your health is better than needing a hospital.
  • Entertaining ourselves (reading, family game night, hosting a bar-b-que, going bowling, going fishing, etc.) is better than relying on TV, the movies, and pop culture.
  • Living in a small rural community is better than living in a city is better than living in a mega-city.
And the list could go on and on. Its not easy getting out of the system, and may be impossible to do so completely, but shed yourself of as much of the system as you can. 

Privacy is paramount. The more I study what is going on, the more I realize the importance of privacy, and how difficult it is to guard.  I also think privacy is one of the most overlooked aspects of prepping. Think about and take steps to protect your privacy, both online and in real life.

Get back to prepping. Or get started. Yeah, I know. Being a prepper has gone out-of-style the last couple years. Many preppers took vacations from prepping after Trump won. Others have been intimidated away from prepping and survivalism by the media's constant portrayal of us as paranoid nut-jobs (and potentially dangerous). But being prepared for life's emergencies, be it a house fire, an unexpected job loss, a recession or even a war, is a major part of self-reliance. Get back to prepping.  Or get started for the first time if you are not one. Don't know where to start? Check out my article A quick, no frills, down & dirty guide to preparing for the End for an outline of basic preparedness.
 

Prepare for the Loss of Freedoms (for our own good, of course).

They will come for our Free Speech rights, primarily through "hate speech" laws and "anti-bullying" policies, along with cooperation of Big Tech to suppress politically incorrect speech. These things sound great until you learn, too late, how they define "hate speech" and "bullying." (Hint: Its really not about stopping the N-word or protecting kids from being picked on in school.)
 

Recent polls shown that most millennials have already been turned against Free Speech, having been taught that it is just an excuse for "hate." This trend will continue to grow.

They will come for our Freedom of Religion (again, in the name of stopping "hate").  And they will continue to redefine Freedom of Religion as mere freedom of worship (see my 2015 article on this subject). The two are vastly different, and its important to know that difference. It is the much broader Freedom of Religion that is guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.


They are coming for our Freedom of the Press as government allows Big Tech to deplatform, demonetize, and otherwise freeze out all but the "main-stream" (corporate) media.  This is the reason government will never move against Big Tech in any meaningful way - they need them to do their dirty work of controlling news and information.


Of course, they are coming for our Second Amendment rights .  Note the increasing popularity of "Red Flag" laws to get guns out of the hands of people with "mental health  issues," along with the American Psychological Association's recent declaration that "traditional masculinity" such as "ambition" and "competitiveness," are harmful, therefore a potential cause to take your guns under a red flag law!


We need to plan for these eventualities just as carefully as we plan our food and water storage. What plans have you made?
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Have serious concerns regarding privacy? You should. Here is a two-volume book set that may interest you:

The Complete Privacy & Security Desk Reference: Volume I: Digital (Volume 1)

The Complete Privacy & Security Desk Reference: Volume II: Physical (Volume 2)

Monday, May 6, 2019

Egypt: Another Coptic Church Forced to Close After Easter Prayers Anger Islamic Hardliners

Plight of Egypt's Coptic Christians Continues to Worsen
 
International Christian Concern (ICC), a Christian human rights organization, is reporting that on April 30, 2019, a "reconciliation meeting" was held in the Upper Egypt village of Nagib after threats of a potential Muslim mob attack led security officials to close the village’s only church. This situation escalated after it became known that the church did not have the necessary government permits to practice religious rites. 

Egypt has no grantees of Freedom of Religion, and all non-Muslim religious groups must register with the government and obtain special permits in order to meet or practise religious rites. These permits are difficult to get, and can be revoked at any time without notice or reason. Egypt’s 2016 Church Construction Law contains language which allows church legalization permits to be indefinitely delayed. Reconciliation meetings are often used to further restrict the rights of Christians to practice their faith.

Church leaders were not permitted to attend the reconciliation session in Nagib. Despite promises given before the session that the church would be reopened and permits issued, it was instead agreed that the church building would remain closed until the permits are issued at an unknown date.

“Many years ago we were praying in our houses with the priest because there was not an [existing] church,” a local Christian told Watani. “Now there are more than 400 Coptic persons in our village and the number of us increases day by day… During the last feast days (Orthodox Easter) many Copts prayed and the police had secured the building, but then the police asked Bishop Georgius to close the church because some Muslims in the village disagreed.” 

"This is a very hard situation. You can see kids praying in tears because of their feelings of fear … that is very painful for us as Christians personally. I don’t trust in the government promises, but we have to continue praying for [a] reopening [of] the church,” added another local Christian, who wished to remain anonymous.

Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “Once again, Egyptian Christians have been denied the right to practice their faith because Islamic hardliners do not want a Christian presence in the village. The situation calls into question whether local police were adhering to the rule of law, or to the rule of the mob. By closing the church and giving in to their demands, Egyptian security officials are putting local Christians at risk of future mob violence.”

As is the situation in most Muslim-majority countries, is is difficult to obtain accurate demographic information on non-Muslim religious groups due to legal discrimination and political manipulation of census data. However, it is estimated that of Egypt's population of nearly 95 million, approximately 15% are Christian (mostly Coptic).  

Sources: 1) Press Release from International Christian Concern dated May 3, 2019.  2) Information from the Egypt entry of Pray for the World, a resource from Operation World.  3) Additional demographic information from the Wikipedia entry for Egypt.
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Thursday, May 2, 2019

Modern Survival Skills: Don't Become a Victim

One modern survival skill we all need to develop is the ability to not look like a victim. This is different than situational awareness and being the gray man (blending in), although are three are related skills.

A thought experiment: Think like a bad guy for a minute. You're a thug looking for his next victim. What are you looking for? First and foremost you want an easy mark. Sure, you'd like a target with a lot of value, so that is on your mind too, but only secondarily. You don't want to get caught, hurt, or killed. So you'll take the easy $20 from the apparent pushover instead of the $200 from the tough dude that looks like he can easily handle himself in a fight. Of course, your dream victim is the easy prey that also looks rich. You live for those targets.

Based on the thought experiment, your quest to not become a victim has two main tactics. First, you must avoid looking like an easy target to the bad guy. Second, you must avoid looking like a rich (high value) target to the bad guy.

Avoid looking like an easy target to the bad guy. What can make you appear like an easy target?
  • Not paying attention. Most people simply don't pay attention to what's going on around them. They are focused on their phones, engrossed in their I-Pods, or simply walking about absorbed in their thoughts, rather than paying attention to their surroundings. This makes them very vulnerable.
  • Lack of self-confidence. People who lack self-confidence give off an obvious vibe. They slouch, keep their heads down, rarely look right at people, never make eye-contact, and seem to purposely ignore their surroundings. They just want to be unseen, which ironically makes them highly visible to the bad guys. 
  • Looking unable to defend yourself. Whether you have physical infirmities, appear grossly overweight & out-of-shape, or simply carrying an armload of  packages while wearing high heels, if you look like you cannot defend yourself, the bad guys will take notice.
  • Loners. A lone pedestrian or shopper looks like a much easier target than someone with a group of people. 
  • Cover of darkness. Darkness, whether the literal darkness of night or the metaphorical darkness of an isolated or hidden place, gives the bad guy great confidence that they can "get the drop on you" and get away without being seen by other people.
Here are some things to do:
  • Learn and practice situational awareness (read this article please)
  • Don't get distracted by your phone or anything else (pay attention)
  • Walk confidently, head up, and make it obvious you are looking at your surroundings
  • Take a self-defense course (it will improve your self-confidence)
  • Improve your health & fitness
  • Wear practical shoes, clothes
  • Travel, walk, shop in groups
  • Park in a highly visible, well-light location near the entrance
 
Avoid looking like a high-value target to the bad guy. What makes you appear to be a high-value target?
  • Observable value. Are you wearing flashy or expensive clothing? Wearing an expensive watch or jewellery? Driving an expensive car? Live in an expensive neighborhood? Bad guys will take note.
  • Observable behavior. Did you just visit an ATM? Or walk out of a bank? Then bad guys may assume you now have some extra cash on you. Dis you flash a wad of cash while paying for something? Nearby bad guys took note. Did you get cash back from the cashier while shopping? Those people in line around you saw the cashier hand you the cash. Think about your actions, what you are actually doing at the moment, and how those actions may appear to a bad guy.
Here are some things to do:
  • Don't wear expensive clothing and accessories, especially when noticeably nicer than what other people are wearing around you. Try to blend in (gray man)
  • Don't drive an expensive car, especially in or near bad areas of town
  • Be careful to not let others see how much money you have on you (especially true whenever you take out your wallet to pay for something)
  • Pay special attention to your surroundings when you are at or just left a bank or ATM, or after getting cash back at a store (watch especially for people who may be following you)
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Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Turkey Still Denies Armenian Genocide, Detains Activist for Merely Mentioning It

Tim's comments: Despite Turkey's persistent denials, the Armenian Genocide was a very real historical event.  The Armenian Genocide was the systematic extermination of overt 1.5 million Armenians (Christians) by the Muslim government of the Ottoman Empire (present day Turkey), from 1915 to 1923. Most of those murdered died in the network of 25 concentration camps set up by the Turks, or in forced death marches. 

The following unedited press release from International Christian Concern (ICC) details the efforts still being made by Turkey to deny and even prevent discussion of the Armenian Genocide.  You can visit the ICC website at https://www.persecution.org/ for more on Christian persecution around the world.

Turkey Detains Armenian Activist for Referencing Genocide

Armenian Activist Arrested in Istanbul on Armenian Genocide Commemoration Day 

04/30/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on April 24, 2019, local Istanbul police detained and interrogated Turkish-Armenian activist Alexis Kalk for comments made at a memorial service which referenced the 1915 Armenian Genocide.
 
Armenians are an ethnic-religious minority belonging to the Christian faith whose human rights have been severely repressed in Turkey. The Armenian Genocide was perpetrated 104 years ago by the declining Ottoman Empire. Also known as the Armenian Holocaust, more than 1.5 million Armenian men, women, and children were murdered, while countless others were displaced.

The heir to the Ottoman Empire, today’s Republic of Turkey, continues to actively deny the Armenian Genocide. The government’s narrative is that the genocide was an act of self-defense. On the anniversary of the genocide, President Erdogan tweeted that it “was the most reasonable action that could be taken in such a period.” The state’s denial of the genocide stands in contradiction to historic research and is often viewed as encouragement of further violence against Armenians.

Alexis Kalk referenced the genocide while speaking at a memorial service for Sevag Balıkçı, an Armenian murdered eight years ago on the genocide’s anniversary. During the service, Kalk called this murder a hate crime, an allegation that the Turkish courts deny. He emphasized the continued need for justice for victims of the Armenian Genocide. “We will continue the struggle for justice, equality and brotherhood for all those victims of murder, Sevag Şahin Balıkçı and those sacrificed during the Armenian Genocide,” said Kalk.

According to the Public Radio of Armenia, police detained Kalk that evening and said that they wished to discuss his remarks regarding the Armenian Genocide. He was held in custody and interrogated before being released the same day.

Sources close to Kalk say that this was an intimidation tactic intended to discourage similar remarks, as the detainment occurred just hours before a scheduled Armenian Genocide commemoration. This event was planned after the government banned commemorative activities in two other locations where these activities are traditionally held.

The genocide decimated most of Turkey’s Armenian community, erasing their historic presence. It is estimated that only 60,000 remain, and many continue to report incidents of discrimination and harassment. According to a statement by Eren Keskin, chairperson of the Human Rights Association (İHD), “Again, we are going through a period of severe human rights violations. The cursed heritage continues in new forms.” 

Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “In Turkey, history matters. The government not only actively denies the 1915 Armenian Genocide, it also continues with Ottoman-era policies that relegate Christians to second-class citizens. Turkish-Armenians are particularly hard-pressed on every side. The government refuses to let them grieve on commemoration day, a refusal which extends to the denial of basic human rights during all other days of the year. The genocide may have happened over 100 years ago, but its tragic consequences and the worldview which inspired it live on.”
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