Tracking ID UA-126977798-1
It is no exaggeration to report that the second amendment of the United States constitution is under threat in a number of states. Almost ironically the first showdown is in Virginia, one of the 44 states which included in it's state constitution the following words: "That a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state, therefore, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; …" This text hearkens back to the original words of the Constitution of the USA: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." Virginia is home to the National Rifle Association (NRA) of the USA.
It is important to point out that only three countries in the world give their citizens the "right to bear arms"....Mexico, Guatemala and the USA. Both Guatemala and Mexico have strict restrictions on the types of firearms permitted, where purchase of firearms is permitted and who may buy firearms: no one with a history of mental illness, who deserted the army or the police and who has a police record. www.businessinsider.com/2nd-amendment-countries-constitutional-right-bear-arms-2017-10#united-states-4 However, illegal gun ownership in both countries is estimated to be high. Guatemala is reported to have the highest per capita gun ownership in Latin America.
The perception of the US violent crime rate from media, popular films and folklore is that we are a violent society. However, when using the data from the last twenty years and using statistics on the violent crimes of homicide and rape committed with guns or the threat of violence per 100,000 people; out of 193 countries, the US is not even in the top 100. worldpopulationreview.com/countries/violent-crime-rates-by-country/
Here are the top ten:
It seems every generation needs to be reminded of history. The steps toward disarmament in Europe began with disbanding hunting and gun clubs (in Hungary under Lazlo Rajik) and censoring specific groups of people from access and ownership of guns under Hitler (political opponents, Jews, Roma). mises.org/wire/brief-history-repressive-regimes-and-their-gun-laws
"Gun confiscation holds a special place in the halls of political repression. Gun rights might not guarantee victory against tyrants, but being deprived of them all but guarantees submission."
The three bills passed by the newly elected "Democrat" legislature and fiercely supported by the current Democratic Governor Ralph Northam, would severely restrict gun ranges, gun clubs, deny reciprocity for conceal carry permits from other states and overturn existing rights including banning open carry in vehicles. How the public responds is a beta test for other states.
Over 100 of Virginia's counties and cities have declared themselves "gun sanctuaries". Maryland declared they will try to pass similar laws while West Virginia has offered sanctuary to those Virginia counties who wish to retain all their second amendment rights. nationalfile.com/west-virginia-plans-to-accept-virginia-counties-that-secede-over-gun-control-concerns/ The massive rally to show support for the 2nd amendment and disapproval for Governor Northam and the Democrats in the legislature, was well attended even with freezing temperatures and completely peaceful. www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2020/01/20/virginia-gun-rally-updates/
The pro-gun rights rally and demonstration was an exercise of First Amendment rights which includes the right to assembly. I am including the actual words to remind you once more of this important cornerstone of our Republic which many countries do not include in their charter:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
There were a number of countries which did grant their citizens the right to own firearms and ammunition, until one or two "mass shootings" caused emotional reactions in the populace and knee jerk legislation to ban private ownership and strip citizens of "gun rights". Australia, Norway, the United Kingdom, Canada and recently, New Zealand are examples of nations with restricted gun "rights".
"Many politicians and gun control advocates say if more guns mean fewer mass public shootings, the United States should be the safest place in the world. Indeed, the US has relatively few mass public shootings compared to the rest of the world, but we would have even fewer if we could get rid of gun-free zones. Ninety-eight percent of the mass public shootings in the US from 1950 to 2018 occurred in places that banned general citizens from having guns for protection." crimeresearch.org/2019/06/the-danger-of-gun-free-zones-what-are-you-supposed-to-do-when-you-cant-have-your-gun-with-you/
The saying "use it or lose it" applies to our rights and skills. Exercise your right to "free speech" and gun ownership as an individual by practicing both. These are "perishable skills". Along with ownership comes responsibility for gun safety and accountability for what you say, express and write.
Vigilance is required to protect ourselves and our rights or we may be going down a path that countries such as China and Russia have taken. The USA is unique. Let's keep it that way. Vote and appoint politicians, legislators and law enforcement officials who will support and defend the Constitution and our rights.
Closing tonight from a country which does not grant their citizen these rights....Iraq. Law abiding citizens here do not have the right to "bear arms" but the criminals and violent extremists totally disregard the laws. There are no "gun free" zones when there is no effective rule of law.
Watch and listen to this short music video by Mr. Feshamon entitled: "Gun Control"
www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJXwGWAGXmI See it as a cautionary tale using our first amendment rights.
Until next week,
As often as I have witnessed "soft target" programs being used as shields for nefarious activities in various parts of our world, and by this I mean "humanitarian efforts" be they in education, health or the general catch all of "capacity building"...it still sickens me and I am still surprised when I see it happening.
However, after years of doing evaluations and being part of programs, schools, grand scheme projects in conflict zones, or what used to be labeled as "third world" countries-my eyes, ears and seventh sense is able to "case a place" rather quickly and sniff a scam/shield when I stumble upon or walk right into one.
First the outward signs of being "legitimate" are created. A logo with a western established icon and nation label such as "American" or "British" or "Canadian" or "United Nations" sponsored - clinic, refugee camp, school, or even university is designed. Then a website is posted with the stereotypical photos of children in need, then children smiling and all sorts of credentials displayed along with pictures of "events" with notable "officials" receiving "gifts". Then, "future plans" are presented, donations accepted and "testimonials" placed to give "credibility" to whatever program or project is being advertised.
Who is the audience for these advertisements? Well, that depends. There can be a number of registers advertising at once.
In the United States of America, National Human Trafficking Awareness Day is observed annually on January 11. Beginning in 2010, by Presidential Proclamation, each January has been designated National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. We are two weeks into January 2020-half way through a month supposedly dedicated to raising awareness and action-but I have not seen enough articles or alerts posted continuously online. As least not yet-hence my post this week as part of my personal effort to keep shining a light on this dark scourge on our earthly population and especially on our most vulnerable and innocent segment of the world's population...and our future.
Shamefully, my home state of Texas is listed as the #1 state in human trafficking and sex trafficking of children. Children from within the state and the USA as well as tens of thousands of minors from other countries are trafficked through Texas.
Some of these children trafficked to the USA are orphans culled/selected via "refugee camps", some are kidnapped and "disappeared", tragically some are sold by members of their own community or family. Some are "born into the sex trade" and into cartels or other criminal or extremist gangs. Some children are forced to be "child soldiers" and "enforcers as well as recruiters" for other children.
Children from Asia including: Russia, China, Thailand, Pakistan and from "war torn countries" of Afghanistan, Iraq, Ukraine, Syria and Iran are collected and dispersed throughout the world. When they get sick or grow older, become addicted or try to run away and their "usefulness" is at an end...they are often filmed, then "harvested" for their organs, sold again even after their death. A horrible fate for anyone. Human beings carry out these vile and evil acts. Human beings are not doing enough to protect our children and bring the perpetrators to "justice" and exposure.
The perpetrators of these crimes (the traffickers, johns, pimps) don’t fit a single stereotype. They represent every social, ethnic, economic strata and racial group. Some perpetrators are involved with local gangs, others are members of larger nationwide gangs and criminal organizations, and some have no affiliation with any one group. Traffickers can also be women – in fact, many women run established rings around the country. https://leb.fbi.gov/2011/march/human-sex-trafficking
A lack of food access is one reason children will be forced to trade sex for food. Food "insecurity" (not knowing where you next meal will come from) impacts millions of children around the world today-there have been a number of cases in different countries where those who were supposed to be distributing food that was donated "charged" children and families for the food. If they could not pay they were subjected to "trading" - sex - for something to eat.
FOUNDATIONS & ORGANIZATIONS AS "SHIELDS" FOR CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES INCLUDING SEX TRAFFICKING OF CHILDREN, BLACKMAIL, MONEY LAUNDERING
As part of their strategy to gain access and the trust of children and communities, some of the most high profile foundations dcdirtylaundry.com/the-clintons-laura-silsby-haiti-amber-alerts-human-trafficking/
and religious institutions which purport to "help children" and particularly "help victims of sexual abuse", are the most grievous offenders and predators of children. For more specifics read this excellent investigative report and summation by Corey Digs: www.coreysdigs.com/child-trafficking/are-bill-hillary-clinton-involved-with-child-trafficking/ (see captions under the photos above)
The Catholic Church has been prosecuted through it's member priests, bishops cardinals and nuns and so has the Anglican church and Islamic "schools" and "charities" in a wide range activities of their shield organizations and foundations. Individual investigations of other sects and "charities" with tax breaks because of their "religious affiliations" are not often covered in the media but hundreds of thousands of children have been sexually, physically and emotionally abused/used and denied justice and counsel over the past decades in the USA and globally.
Ignorance of this scourge on the children of our Earth is no excuse anymore. Moreover, most parents are unwittingly (perhaps) "sharenting" and posting multiple pictures of their precious children, and/or teacher/administrators proudly posting photos of their underage students on the worldwide net casting a "free view" for sophisticated criminal networks as well as individual predators to scan, file and possibly use to entrap or kidnap children for "product" for their "clients".
Read this (and other articles) to know some of the strategies they use easily online. Don't feed the beast! nationalpost.com/news/canada/photos-shared-on-pedophile-sites-taken-from-parents-social-media-accounts
Closing this morning with a music video from "Take No Glory" based on the true story of one victim. The song is entitled: "Beautiful Slave". I suggest you watch it more than once.
If you have children, work with children or just live in neighborhoods, communities with children...be vigilant for them. Learn to recognize the signs they have been abused, the signals they may use for "help". No matter the race, culture, language or economic strata most young children exhibit the same signs if you know what to look and listen for when you are with them. They are our most vulnerable and precious resource now and for the future. We owe them protection from harm.
Never underestimate the tactics used by the ruthless or the power of prayer as a shield. "Defende Omnis Innocentis" have the courage to "defend the innocent".
Signing off from Iraq,
Iran is in the mainstream global news this week because a few of it's most nefarious, effective and ruthless military leaders were killed while in the midst of plotting and interfering in Iraq. They were directing the attacks on the US embassy in Baghdad, killing American military and civilians in the region and coordinating with Latin American and Mexican cartel leaders to infiltrate and attack Americans through it's southern border. They trained, hired, planned attacks through their branches in Hezbollah, Hamas, the Houthis in Yemen, the Palestinian Jihad (PIJ) Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) and the Basij Militia-to name a few of their proxy units in the world. The continual fighting in Syria and the various battles with Daesh/ISIS involved some of the fighters/trainers from Iran as well.
"Harakat al Nujaba has close ties with Lebanese Hezbollah. The two groups have coordinated activities as Iraqi militia fighters entered Syria to battle rebels and jihadists. The militia was established to funnel fighters from two other Iranian-backed militias, Hezbollah Brigades and Asaib Ahl al Haq, into Syria. It has been spotted on several battlefields in Syria, including in Aleppo." https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2016/03/hezbollah-and-harakat-al-nujaba-are-the-twins-of-resistance-iraqi-militia-spokesman-says.php
Although most will say it is a nation' s right to determine it's own laws, punishments and protection for it's own citizens; it is also important to point out that millions of Iranians were affected by the cruel, relentless policing of Iran's Revolutionary guards, the elite Quds forces. This includes their actions against protesters peacefully demonstrating since 2017. Human rights organizations with insiders report over 1,500 confirmed deaths and over 9,000 injured during arrests, detainment or harassment in Iran. These are only conservative estimates. www.dailysabah.com/mideast/2019/12/23/death-toll-hits-1500-in-iranian-anti-government-protests
People forget (or never knew) of the bloody history of the "Islamic Revolution" that shook the world in 1979 and was responsible for over tens of thousands of deaths, arrest, detention and torture or disappearance of their own citizens.
Iran (Eran) has been a significant military and economic force in the world since around 550 BC. Until the 1930s other countries called Eran-"Persia" and before the use of guns (fire arms) the "Persian army" were famous for their cavalry and as archers. Eran instituted a policy of "tolerance" for those they conquered under the master leader and diplomat, Cyrus. He instituted laws protecting people's right to speak their own languages and practice their own religions. The "Cyrus Cylinder" was a collection of guidelines written on stone tablets and preserved to this day. It stated that while Zoroastrianism was the official religion, other religions were respected. Conquered peoples would be protected as long as they paid taxes and abided by Persian laws. Their places of worship were often rebuilt after battles and their cultural traditions and festivals permitted to continue "in freedom throughout the Persian empire". study.com/academy/lesson/the-persian-empire-religion-social-structure.html
iranians fought long and hard against invading Arabs in the mid 600s AD, but were part of the large Islamic conquest and submitted to Islam. Thereafter, Eran was ruled by a number of "dynasties" for the next thousand years, developing weapons, alliances and battling the Ottomans, Great Britain and Russia. After World War II and the development of Eran's natural resources (oil, natural gas, coal, copper, chromium, etc) the Shah (leader) of Iran had the financial resources to build up their military. Eran was ranked 9th in the world for their economic strength.
Eran began it's nuclear program in the late 1950s. "The U.S. provided Iran with its first research reactor — a nuclear reactor, a 5-megawatt nuclear reactor that is still functioning and still operational in Tehran. The United States built that nuclear reactor in 1967 on the campus of Tehran University. It also provided Iran with fuel for that reactor — weapons-grade enriched uranium." www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2015/09/18/440567960/born-in-the-u-s-a-how-america-created-irans-nuclear-program
"In 1953, amid a power struggle between Mohammed Reza Shah and Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the U.K. Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) orchestrated a coup against Mosaddegh’s government. The interference of these two outside intelligence/government forces changed the political landscape and direction of Iran."
In the 1970s, Eran paid out billions of dollars to purchase the latest equipment and weapons from the UK, Russia, Sweden, Canada, the Netherlands, the USA and Israel. The Shah (leader of Iran) Mohammed Reza Pahlavi reigned over a secular regime. He was the last of the Pahlazi dynasty. Iran recognized Israel in those years:
"On 18 July 1977, Iranian Vice Minister of War General Hassan Toufanian traveled to Israel where he met with Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and Minister of Defense Ezer Weizmann. They discussed a number of joint Israeli-Iranian military projects, among them Project Flower."
Politically, the Shah Reza Pahlavi envisioned a "social provisionary" state which provided for it's citizens all the benefits of "eastern and western" society including healthcare, education, infrastructure, defense and human "freedoms" under a monarchy. He included human rights, women's rights and literacy goals in his governing aims. The income from high oil prices and mineral exports was substantial. Eran had the possibility to raise the standard of living of it's citizens to the highest level in it's history, albeit it did so with many repressive measures against those resisting change. Arrests, detention and torture were part of the Shah's legacy as well as his "White Revolution" and leaping into the 21st century.
All these programs ended with the "Islamic Revolution" and the deposing and exile of the Shah of Iran as leader. Protests against the shah encouraged by those denigrating "westernization", western influences and promoting Shiite factions, divided Eran. Formerly secular leaders took an interest in the fundamentalist views of Ruhollah Khomeini in exile in France.
"The Iranian Revolution, also known as the Islamic Revolution, was the revolution that transformed Iran from an absolute monarchy under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to an absolute Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, one of the leaders of the revolution and founder of the Islamic Republic. It began in January 1978 with the first major demonstrations and concluded with the approval of the new theocratic Constitution by referendum. The Shah went into exile in January 1979. Ayatollah Khomeini became "Supreme Leader" of the country—in December 1979."
Ayatollah Khomeni immediately imposed a rigid form of sharia law and formed special military units and "religious police patrols" to enforce those laws. The former rights given to women were declared null and void. courses.lumenlearning.com/suny-hccc-worldhistory2/chapter/the-iranian-revolution/
For a quick but unique view of Iran's history in the 20th century I highly recommend the Iranian (in exile) film maker Marjane Satrapi's 2007, "Persepolis" linked here online in English and available in other languages: www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZ22VyjJ6n8 "Satraps" in ancient Persia were the governors of the province system Persians set up in their empire.
In the past 18 months protests within Iran, due to rising cost of living, corruption, repression and frustration - resulted in a brutal crackdown by the Quds (led by Qassem Solemani) and their further interference into Iraq's governing - with an agenda to commandeer Iraq's rich natural resources as well. With the death of Solemani and his cohorts, hundreds of thousands celebrated in many parts of the world adversely affected by Iran and especially by Solemani and his policies of inciting terrorist acts, brutality and disruption.
People in Syria, Jordan, Iraq and expat Iranians in Armenia, Canada, the UK, Australia,the USA and other countries posted videos of dancing, fireworks, marches and handing out "sweets and delicacies" during the official "days of mourning" declared by Iran's current Ayatollah Khomeni.
The belligerent threats and hyperbolic rhetoric we read and hear is more common in the "near" East and the Middle East. Did you know Iran has a declared "Death to America" day which is November 4-recalling the day Americans were taken hostage from their own embassy in 1970s. The Iranian government declared in 1987, an official day and official chants against the USA. Over thirty years of continual hate propaganda on an entire generation, indoctrinated in Iran. www.nationalreview.com/2020/01/death-to-america-iran-philosophy-for-40-years/
There is projection from numerous political camps, think tank types, former military advisers, intelligence analysts, academics and leaders about what will happen next. There are rumors printed as if they are "confirmed" strategies and "targets" from both the Iranians and the Americans. The location, value and number of "targets" are changed daily. As one contributor to Rudaw news. net from Kurdistan wrote:
"Whatever Iran’s capabilities, they pale in comparison to those of the United States. At a moment’s notice, Washington could take out other Iranian leaders, Iranian oil refineries, Iranian bases in Syria, or any number of targets." www.rudaw.net/english/analysis/06012020
In response to the responses from both sides Iraq leader Muqtada al- Sadr issued the following statement on Sunday, January 5:
"I call on Iraqi resistance factions especially, and factions outside of Iraq, to instantly meet to announce the formation of ‘International Resistance Regiments’,” Sadr said.
Sadr became the founding leader of southern Iraq’s Mahdi Army in 2003, during US occupation of the country. His militia killed and injured scores of American servicemen.
He disbanded the militias in 2008. However, he announced the reactivation of the Mahdi Army on Friday, (January 3, 2020) referring to himself as the “head of Iraqi National Resistance".
Other militia leaders such as Kataib Imam Ali’s Shibl al-Zaidy have also pledged allegiance to the proposal.
Hassan Nasrallah, head of Hezbollah, vowed to expel US troops from Iraq in a speech made on Sunday.
Sadr’s call to arms means the two major Shiite parties, who hold over 100 out of 329 parliamentary seats, are now threatening US forces with military action.
This is a gathering of forces foreseen for at least a decade. Each nation/government outwardly threatening has internal divisions-Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon-the USA. Which "targets" they choose to demonstrate their "resolve" and even "vengeance" will no doubt incur "collateral damage" in the civilian population, loss of life, injury, property destruction and trauma. Unfortunately there has been a build up of a nuclear style game of "chicken and concession" between the US and Iran since before 2000.
Other administrations have wagged their flaccid fingers about "red lines crossed" and done nothing but send billions in cash and equipment. Finally this week, they realize there is a "new deal-new players" who mean "business".
We know there will be at least some "show" of force in the coming weeks and months. We pray they select their "targets" with discrimination, and with the ultimate aim of "de-escalation" of tensions. We pray innocents are not caught in the crossfire.
Closing with strong theme song from Zack Hemsey - "Don't Get In My Way".
Read between the lines/lyrics and the notes as you will, but turn up the volume for full effect: www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIt6hRhM33g
Remember the 5 Ps'=Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance!
Stay healthy and alert,
Not only the end of a tumultuous year but the last day of a bellicose decade in much of our world. War escalated in countries labelled as "conflict zones" and the most horrific brutality against civilians since the times of Ghenghis Khan was at it's peak this past decade, with the Islamic "caliphate" of ISIS/Daesh and it's tentacles in Africa, Central and South Asia continuing in the Middle/Near East.
Political repression and civilian expression were part of a see saw action by governments against their own citizens in Chile, Lebanon, Iraq, Venezuela and Hong Kong. Earlier in the decade civilians were also targeted by snipers from outside their nation in Ukraine, Syria and Nigeria.
Violence escalated among citizens in the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and the USA. Criminal networks, cartels and gangs killed thousands of people of all ages in Mexico, Honduras, Belize, in Pakistan and the USA.
The weapons/armament industry prospered, expanded and produced more "instruments of death and destruction" during the last ten years. (See graphs below)
Millions of children have been injured both physically and emotionally by the violence they had to live through, and tens of thousands were permanently injured, killed, endured torture, rape and unjust imprisonment. Moreover, the violence of sexual abuse, exploitation and child sex trafficking surged, and child slavery increased in the past decade. Child sex trafficking has become a multi billion dollar "business" and the United States has the despicable distinction of the being #1 in the world for child sex trafficking profits within it's borders. www.usatoday.com/story/news/investigations/2019/07/29/12-trafficking-statistics-enormity-global-sex-trade/1755192001/
Noble sounding names were given to the actions taken by other countries to attack Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Libya in the past decade. "Operation Iraqi Freedom" "Operation Enduring Freedom" neither of which provided real or lasting freedom to either country. Both countries endure rampant corruption, resurgence of insurgent groups (Taliban, Iranian militias, Daesh) loss of life, income, infrastructure and security.
"Operation Inherent Resolve" was one of the most vacillating and confused missions which changed from year to year and supported/allowed some of the worst terrorist groups including Al Nusra, Al Qaeda, ISIS/ISIL and Hezbollah to run rampage over Syria and promote a civil war in which it is estimated over 570,00 were killed, over 3 million externally displaced and over 6 million internally displaced. 200,000 maimed, injured or suffering effects from chemical attacks. www.statista.com/topics/4216/the-syrian-civil-war/
The "vultures" in the form of supposedly humanitarian non-governmental organizations such as the "White Helmets" proved to be predatory, participating in organ trafficking, kidnapping, child sex trafficking and fraud in Syria, Iraq and Turkey: "A recent panel at the UN Security Council in New York revealed the shocking evidence of White Helmet involvement in organ trafficking in Syria. The lucrative trade of human body parts, bones, blood and organs is one of the most protected and hidden harvests of war." www.rt.com/op-ed/449431-syria-white-helmets-organ-traders/
This was also the decade that finally, abuses committed by those who were supposed to be "peace keeping" and upholding "human rights" in conflict and natural disaster areas, were revealed. The United Nations Peace Keepers were involved in some of the worst abuses of the local population.
In Haiti, (for example) the UN’s longest peacekeeping mission resulted in girls as young as 11 forced to trade sex for food. Instead of peacekeeping, it appears that it was UN sanctioned pedophilia. Hundreds of babies have been born who were fathered and abandoned by UN Peace Keepers. deepclips.com/clip/3226/sick-un-peacekeepers-in-haiti-fathered-hundreds-of-babies-traded-food-for-sex-with-girls-as-young-as-11
"The United Nations High Commission for Human Rights released a list of countries—Bangladesh, the DRC, Morocco, Niger, and Senegal—whose foreign troops have been accused of sexually assaulting six minors during peacekeeping missions in the Central African Republic in 2014. The U.N. has launched investigations into both sets of allegations and announced today that the remaining DRC troops were confined to their barracks and would be sent home once the investigations are complete. Numerous similar allegations of sexual assault involving officers from Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Burundi, Morocco, Cameroon and Rwanda in recent years that have gone for the most part undisciplined." Up until just recently, those that tried to report or "whistleblow" on the UN corruption, pedophilia, rape, fraud and illegal weapons sales-were the ones who were disciplined and terminated from their posts. www.businessinsider.com/ap-exclusive-un-whistleblower-targeted-in-misconduct-probe-2019-4
As a new year, a new decade and the possibilities of new directions opens up for us=let us not forget those who gave their lives for what they believed was a road toward peace, justice and freedom. They carried the torch for these ideals and pass it onto us.
In particular I am including two short video tributes to female/women in the military and militias from the coalitions and from the Peshmerga units. All the faces you see spotlighted, including entire "Squads" of the Peshmerga (sometimes with young men) were killed in the past few years fighting ISIS/Daesh and their followers. Some suffered horribly before dying and their bodies were used in "propaganda" videos and photos online by terrorist/jihadi sites.
I am asking you to take a few minutes to watch and remember them and those women who died investigating child trafficking, fraud, abuses of children in many parts of the world. Some who are known such as Jennifer Moore (aka Task Force) in Washington, D.C.- Monica Petersen in Haiti-Lisa Marie Akbari in Afghanistan, to name just a few. Most will never be known but may they be remembered in our prayers for their courage and commitment.
Here is the link to the Kurdish/Pershmerga tribute with music: www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_Rtcrr1jUs
"De zu were hevale" roughly translated...means "I am for you comrade/friend"
Here is the tribute to female fallen warriors from the USA and other countries working with the US in Afghanistan and Iraq:
Enjoy your celebrations and a very Happy, Hopeful New Year and New Decade!
As the end of the year and the decade runs toward us, in advertising, tech, government pronouncements-machines in various forms-be they robots, drones, AI, are proclaimed as problem solvers, labor replacements and cost cutters throughout the world. In a number of fields this is and will be true. However, fortunately in the arts, machines cannot compare and will never be able to spontaneously create or even re-create actual human beings playing instruments, dancing in diverse styles, painting with expression or singing in an authentic, unique voice. Machines can never exchange the human touch or elicit reconciliation of emotions as human to human contact may given the "right" environment and time.
Throughout history music has been used to drum up emotions and resolve for battle as well as stirring crowds to celebrate victories or wail against defeat. There is some form/style of music for every culture, every occasion and every emotion. The 'language' of music, particularly written music, is easily read. It requires few words and the "notes" are translatable to every instrument for anyone who takes the time to learn. How they are interpreted is entirely individual. The braver an individual is infusing their instrument with their own experience, skill and humanity-the more depth and resonance the music will project as a soloist or as part of an ensemble.
Musical traditions which require mastery of the instrument (including the human voice) discipline in listening to others, following a "leader" or conductor, recognizing harmonies, sensing rhythm, pitch, certain physical postures, breath control, tuning/tone and stamina; are ones which elevate the human being and potentially our human condition.
Music, more than any other of the performing arts-is able to bring people of all "sizes, colors, shapes and backgrounds" together. If children are taught well and/or encouraged in their natural abilities in music-this foundation can last for their lifetime and serve as a means of communication and rapport building wherever they live or travel. Often by attempting to sing, play music and dance from different traditions/cultures-one gains a kinesthetic understanding more profound than from speech or documents. Music and dance exchange energy in a uniquely human realm. These arts also have the effect of releasing emotions including "joy", "harmony", "hope" and "wonder".
In terms of sheer numbers, the United States of America has many and diverse "youth music programs and organizations" (from orchestras, to jazz ensembles, drumming and choral groups) . However, in terms of importance placed on music education and teacher's training in music the USA, Canada and the UK are not in the lead.
"Many countries have strong, well-funded music programmes that are supported by a national belief in the value of music (and arts) education. For example, music education thrives in countries like Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark, where it often extends beyond the classroom to include extra-curricular musical instruction that is publicly subsidised.
350 hours in music for trainee teachers in Finland, and 160 hours in South Korea which is in contrast with less than 20 hours in Canada, England and the USA.
In Canada, England and the United States, music education is less consistent; varying from district to district and, indeed, from school to school. In Canada, 38 per cent of respondents to a recent survey reported that music is either taught by teachers with no musical background or not taught at all.
In the United States, music programmes, particularly in public schools, are often underfunded or abandoned altogether under budgetary pressure. While funding is still an issue for music education in England, a network of 123 music hubs was set up by the government across the country in 2012; enabling access to a musical instrument for more than 1 million children." musiceducationworks.wordpress.com/2015/05/24/music-education-compared-in-countries-around-the-world/
Extensive research has proved the benefit of music/music education on health, on expanding human capabilities including cognitive function, social skills and motor/task competencies. Yet, school systems (in most of the world) continue to push computer/tech education and cut funding to music and arts programs, even physical education/movement programs...consistently.
There is no substitute for human interaction in terms of reconciliation. When words fail to reach another human being, music and/or art may be a more "open hand". Music has proved to have healing qualities for the body, mind and spirit. Music can open repressed memories, soothe wounded souls and stimulate "movement" on all levels.
Music can support reconciling the "self" and reconciliation between human beings. After experiencing grief, trauma, violence, torture, rape, imprisonment, displacement, addiction-music can be one tool for recovery-especially for children. Music is used to "program" children and "recruits" (from government military units to terrorist and criminal groups) and can be utilized to "re-program" rewire neural circuits to de-escalate rather than charge aggressive actions and decision making.
"Music and art therapy can be implemented anywhere, from counseling offices to classrooms. For example, one common technique is to incorporate art therapy into primary school classrooms to help children access and process their emotions. By bringing safe art supplies into the classroom, art therapy can be used to encourage both healing and learning without feeling the need to micromanage, which might have the opposite effect.
Music therapy can also be used in hospitals to aid in healing for people of all ages. Whether utilized in a children’s ward play area or in a group of elderly people, using music to heal is an effective therapy that could really make a difference for someone suffering from trauma.
Music and art therapy can also be combined with journaling or painting to music. These techniques can help people affected by trauma learn to create more and express emotions that otherwise might overwhelm them." www.musicthinktank.com/blog/music-therapy-as-a-way-to-process-trauma.html
“When I paint, I become more comfortable, my dreams become stronger,” reports one young Yezidi refugee in the Bajed Kandala refugee camp in Iraq. www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/14122019
Machines and AI don't dream. Don't let them crush or replace our human ones, our humanity.
Last year at this time I was in Henan province just before the Chinese President declared Christmas "forbidden", but we had a Christmas concert up in the Yuntai mountains and I taught the children "Jingle bells" at their teachers' request. It brought smiles to all our faces whilst learning and singing.
Closing with scenes most media won't show you of Christmas celebrations in Syria openly practiced after the first "defeat of Daesh/ISIS" in December 2017-2018. Music, artistic decorations and celebrations can be seen from Damascus to Homs to Aleppo. The common song here is the American "Jingle Bells".
Please watch this short video with open eyes, heart and mind:
Merry Christmas, Happy Hannuka, Happy Holidays to you and yours!
All my life I have had to fight. As a child in a family that constantly moved and changed schools, I had to fight to defend myself and my younger siblings in the days when school yard and neighborhood fights were just part of life. Since I was always one of the shortest and skinniest kids, I could not rely on strength or height but needed to learn strategy, tactics...especially evasion techniques...as well as how to ignore insults and "de-escalate" if possible. My father taught me to run fast, jump hurdles and endure tackling. I learned how to use humor, wild and unexpected physical as well as mental moves, and fight verbally. Soon I realized how to buddy up with stronger, bigger friends=mates=and how to back off, fight "dirty" and "live to fight another day". I became a fierce fighter, but I wasn't yet a warrior.
A true "warrior" trains and fights for peace. It may seem a contradiction and counter intuitive but those who relish disruption, discord, criminal exploits, who revel in creating chaos, cruelty and destruction seek out individuals, communities, tribes and nations who are not well defended, are not "warriors". They are the predators and they lust for prey. They have their own rules. They deviate from what is considered a code of "honor" but do not underestimate their strength.
Peace is only achieved and kept through strength. Strength must be cultivated, trained, practiced and combined with other means to expand and endure. Noble peace is founded on principles and virtuous ideals as well as action.
I suppose most people think those in the military (of any nation) are de facto "warriors" since they are taught to use weapons, to defend and to kill. However, throughout human history, we know because of written and illustrated historical texts and drawings; the most successful "warriors" are those who have a rigorous, disciplined, continual relentless training, who pledge to a cause and a higher purpose than themselves, and who commit to a code of honor within their cadre with severe consequences for disobedience. There are warriors who pledge to a ruler, a commander and there are spiritual warriors-warrior monks, warrior societies within tribes. There are human beings who war with the dark forces outside and inside themselves. There are warriors who "fight" to defend the land and all the creatures and natural resources therein, as part of their community. These are some of the significant differences between a true "warrior" and a member of the military.
There is a foundation of reverence in a warrior culture, a nation which values it's warriors and nations who limit their "fighting class". Warriors are not living just to fight but to keep the peace and protect their loved ones. Peace requires restraint, compromise, commitment, respect, trust, honor and protection.
It is my opinion that peace also requires "love". Warriors may love the act of fighting but more, they "love" the code, the ideals and way of life for which they fight. They "love" each other most when having to fight an outside force. You can sense this feeling most acutely when you are preparing and in the midst of a fight/battle. It is a bonding sensation almost as strong as when you give birth to your children and first hold him/her to your own skin. Poets describe these phenomena, yet no amount or careful choice of words can actually describe this energy. It would be like trying to describe swimming in the ocean to someone who has never seen nor swum in an ocean. You can only approximate. You have to experience "the fight" to actually know what the historians, poets, singers and soldiers are speaking about when they attempt to recount the feats of a "warrior".
The warrior culture within most of the over 500 Native American tribes in North America are the longest living line of warriors on the planet. Their codes, feats, ceremonies can be dated back tens of thousands of years. We have the scientific knowledge to understand that when certain people say that they have "warrior blood" or that certain attributes are "in their DNA" they are correct in terms of epigenetics. www.geneticsdigest.com/epigenetics-a-beginners-guide-to-how-it-works-examples/ The behavior, thought patterns and muscle memories can be transferred down generations. See a short documentary about Native American warrior culture for men and women throughout US history, entitled "The Warrior Tradition" at this link: www.spiritalk.net/
What is left out of historical accounts of battles and training, is the root of Native American warrior societies, which is "ceremony". The spiritual component to becoming a warrior is integral although specific rituals and the way ceremonies are conducted are unique to each tribe. . Only in the last hundred years or so, have inter tribal ceremonies been created to include those who may have lost their traditions through genocidal actions. The true warrior does not act only because of a paycheck, in fact they should not expect any "reward" in return for a noble or heroic feat. There are usual celebrations for victory and return but these are also part of "ceremonial warrior culture".
There are no short cuts for traditional ceremonies if conducted by an actual tribal elder, "Medicine" man/woman who has undergone the trials, lessons and ceremonies over many years and been known to have the "power" necessary to be an intercessor. You cannot just "sign up" to be a "warrior" there are a number of signs you need to receive and you have to be selected/chosen to undertake the grueling training and be humble enough to accept correction and even be told "you are not ready" or "this is not for you". This process takes years, not weeks or months.
The Shaolin warriors of China are arguably the second longest line of living warrior societies tracing their ancestry in what is now the Henan province of China, back over 4,000 years. Their powers, discipline and successes have been written in history and legend for over 2,500 years in the East. Only in the 20th century was the West introduced to a few of the Shaolin fighters, warrior monks, philosophy and "exercises". American television and film both demonized and mythologized Kung Fu and Shaolin training. Bruce Lee became and still is a worldwide martial arts icon, however there are tens of thousands of Shaolin over the last hundred years and most keep a low profile especially in the new surveillance/social "credit" system in place in communist China.
Shaolin have a sad history of being betrayed by Chinese emperors, foreign "allies" and their own governments. They still maintain their traditions and vows although the Chinese government has made Dengfeng (sacred Shaolin/Kung Fu training center) more like a theme park similar to what happened to some Native American tribal members who were put on display and in rodeo/clown and "western traveling shows" as a not so subtle way to denigrate them and make a profit off them. More restrictions and scrutiny are put on Shaolin monasteries and training schools and Shaolin keep having to go further up into their mountains. Shaolin need their privacy and certain traditions are not written down but only passed on from Shifu (masters) to student and in person. Not everyone is meant to train Shaolin or become a Shaolin "warrior" or "monk" it takes years of rigorous training, observation by the Shifu and/or monks, dedication and destiny. There are certain physical requirements which have proven to be necessary and should not be overlooked. The Shaolin in Dengfeng "theme park" area in Henan province is open to tourists. They have had to lower their standards because of the communist government interference. Because of this, the acrobatics and physical endurance are "performance" oriented but as my Shifu's pointed out when we visited there....they have "no power". They have lost the "qi" and they are trained as if in a factory, not individually.
Shaolin vow never to murder/kill. They vow to protect, defend and if necessary restrain those trying to harm them or any in their communities, or anyone who is vulnerable, weak and in need of help. They are not to deliberately kill. They have their own strict form of Buddhism which is often seen as antithetical to government aims. Communist governments demand atheism and subservience to "the state". Reverence for "masters", family, ancestors is actively and insidiously disparaged. The silence used in training is being replaced by mandatory, government approved patriotic songs, chants and political sayings blasted into training centers and schoolyards continuously combined with surveillance cameras and large screens displaying the "President for Life" photos, videos and admonitions. This is done to supplant/replace the centuries of Shaolin wisdom, codes of honor and loyalty. It is heart breaking to behold.
Throughout human history we have records of warrior societies such as the Assyrians, Spartans, the Romans, Vikings, Mongols, Samurai, Zulu, Aztec, the Knights, Nepalese Gurkas, the Diyak (wild men) of Borneo and Maori. Most of these warrior cultures and societies have died out. A few have their traditions partially intact but the majority of their ancestral lines are mixed and their training has been watered down and redirected toward entertainment as a means of income. Weapons and gear have changed significantly. Training the whole human being in all aspects-physical, emotional, spiritual-needs complete support and isolation from the wider world. Few can afford to keep such cultures in contemporary society. (see photos below)
Unfortunately, there are "fighting" societies which train and maintain their "legions" for criminal purposes. They use some of the same exercises as ancient warrior cultures have used successfully, but combine their inculcation with fear, terror, cruel punishments, ruthless competition and excesses as rewards. Did you know the Assyrians created many of the strategies used in modern armies and by Daesh/ISIS including psyops, slavery, torture/interogation? They also recounted what is known now as Post Trauma reactions. Watch this clip for more specifics: www.youtube.com/watch?v=8c5Wip0STNI
In their own minds, their leaders consider themselves as warriors and will even preach to their captive audiences that they are part of a "war" on another religion, another ideology, another group of people who are "infidels", "inferior", "capitalists", etc. They will twist their "codes" to require killing, stealing, raping, torturing, kidnapping, destroying property of their "tribe". They will recruit people who are easy to manipulate, who are psychopaths and who can supply them with any skills they need and who have money and resources. They exploit children as "product", "weapons" and "exchange". They have the most sophisticated recruitment tactics, IT, communication methods and they know how to break rules, codes and spirits. I suggest you read this recent report and watch the embedded video to be reminded of how present these threats are: www.breitbart.com/europe/2019/12/15/cubs-of-the-caliphate-isis-boy-tells-reporter-we-will-slaughter-you/
This is not new. The Hashshashins of Persia and Syria, (where the word "assassin" is derived) the Ninjas of Japan, the Mamluks, the mercenaries of the Foreign Legion, and criminal organizations of La Cosa Nostra to Vor v Zakone, prison gangs and cartels have a fierce and bloody history which continues to this day. Their existence is a compelling reason why the "warrior ethos" needs to be maintained and nurtured through the next generations. They adapt their methods and refine their tactics-we must never be behind. Remaining vigilant must be an integral part of the warrior's life and essential component of a "free society".
Signing off with a video from Dengfeng at the Fawang Shaolin temple in Henan province. It is for advertising, but you do get a glimpse of a part of the morning training for older children. Training is usually 5 hours a day six days a week. Some days training is hours longer depending on the season. www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIpXjISZtZ8
The training center I was at last winter (November-April) was not in the commercial part of Dengfeng and was "rougher" in terms of facilities, but the natural beauty of the mountains, and the deeply good hearts of the Shifus and their authentic training was a privilege to participate in with over 500 Chinese children. For their privacy I will not include any photos here, but do intend to describe my time there in my next book.
Happy Holidays wherever you may be...