Perspective

Once we have a name for something, we sort of consider it solved. Such is the case with PTSD…

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This evening my son and I, with his Mom and another young war veteran, were sharing stories. Daniel related how the unit to which he had been assigned the 1-325th Red Falcons of the 82nd Airborne had recently been deployed to the Middle East. A young lieutenant that Daniel had gotten to know a little before he retired from the unit was killed by an IED. He shared how another soldier with whom he had gone through boot camp had been assigned to the Old Guard, the troops whose mission is to guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and provide honor guards at the Arlington National Cemetery. That young soldier had just committed suicide because of the bullying and hazing he had endured in the unit.

So often, once we have a name for something, we sort of consider it solved. Such is the case with PTSD, Post-Truamatic Stress Disorder. There, you see, we named it and now we know it so we don’t need to do any more with it. We can kind of tuck it away in the corner of our sub-conscious until we hear of the next young soldier’s death due to hazing and bulllying and we nod our heads knowingly. If so and so had just gotten some help for his PTSD maybe his suicide would not have happened, we say. That makes for an easy perspective when it isn’t your son, your husband, your father. Now my son owns two wrist bands, silver and shiny. Etched in them are the names of his battle buddy and of his Lieutenant.  It made me recall the POW/MIA bracelets of the late 60’s and early 70’s. I wonder whatever happened to mine? I began to wonder whatever became of my MIA… perspective.

The young veteran with whom we were talking shared how he hoped that when the tatoo he was in the process of getting down his arm is finished there will be a worn American flag there. Underneath the  flag will be the words, “Lest We Forget”… perspective.

Very recently, I attended a memorial service for a young firefighter, killed senselessly in a one car traffic crash. His 8-year-old son. who was also in the truck. was treated and released. I watched that young boy stand strong and true at the service, as I’m sure hie believed would make his daddy proud. I wondered about where he wouled be in ten years… perspective.

Quite some time ago I began work on my certification for trauma counseling for frist respoonders and for veterans and military personnel. But, I got busy. There was no deadline so I pushed it aside. Then, after awhile it made its way to my side table and then my bookshelf. It’s back on my desk again and that is the result of perspective.

An Exceptional New Year

“…if you are still certain that America is no longer great or is no longer exceptional, the I encourage you to stay wherever you are and we’ll send you your things. We really don’t need you here.

The first blog of the New Year, 2017; it is an almost a duty driven effort to write something which offers a perspective on the year past and/or the new one yet ahead. Usually, the effort is verbose and so mundane that it drives the writer and the reader to the brink of the first hurl of the season. That is, unless of course, one counts that cheap champagne at the boss’ New Year’s Eve party.

This blog will not have much to do with 2016 or 2017 from the typical standpoint. Rather, it is the culmination of eight years of being subjected to a bombastic spewing of anti-American rhetoric usually driven from, but certainly not limited to, the Office of Bombastard[i] in Chief. From such mind-warping dogma comes a numbness to the point where many cannot recognize the use of certain descriptors of America that, though perhaps well-meant, are also very caustic.

The most recent spillage of the corrosive catch-phrase that, in this writer’s opinion, disparages the United States of America came to me in a letter just last week. It was an advertisement from a group considered very patriotic, The Heritage Foundation. Allow me to quote the offending lines of the letter I received from the office of The Heritage Foundation President, Jim DeMint.

“…And now… we have the best opportunity since Ronald Reagan’s presidency to make America great again!”[ii]

Certainly, you have heard that same line from some well-meaning source… we need to make America great again!

When, exactly, did America STOP being great? Absolutely, we have lots of problems including heroin addiction run rampant, abortion, veterans left homeless, and the list can go on and on.

Have you stood on a military parade ground to watch a field full of servicemen and women completing training, standing tall, supporting our country with their very lives? Have you traveled internationally to any other country in the world and, upon returning home, breathed a sigh of relief as you passed by the large American flag hanging in the Passport/Customs area and the uniformed officer hands you back your passport and says, “Welcome Home”?

The USA stands at 5th for Countries with the Highest Quality of Life in the World separated from Norway who is first by .029 percentage points.[iii]

“As the world’s largest economy by far, the economic vitality and high standards of living in the U.S. speak for themselves.

The United States boasts the 6th highest GPD per capita in the world at $47,440 and serves, in the words of Wikipedia, as ‘the epicenter of world trade.’ Total GDP stood at over $14 trillion for 2008, which is more than three times that of the world’s second largest economy (Japan).

American citizens also have the highest income per hour worked of any nation surveyed. By any objective measure, the United States and its relatively low tax rates offer the best of both worlds — reasonable social safety nets, and extraordinary economic capacity stemming from essentially free market policies.

The standard of living in the US is evidenced by consistently being the most immigrated-to nation on earth — 38,355,000 immigrants currently call the US home, more than double that of Russia, which is second on the list.”[iv]

For providing international aid, as a government, not including the private sector donations, the US tops the list in 2015 with $31.8 billion given in aide. Britain was second at $18.7 billion. Sweden is first when it comes to the percentage of their GNP.[v]

Private citizens, In America, and the charities they support rank Number 1 in the world for giving to those in need. In its second annual study of 153 countries, the Charity Aid Foundation concluded that the U.S. has demonstrated ‘strong’ behavior across all three criteria measured   — volunteering, helping strangers and donating money. The U.S. has increased its charity by 3 percentage points this year, up to $212 billion.[vi]

The Global Firepower List ranks countries’ military strength and readiness using a system based on over 50 factors that combine technology, training, capability and actual firepower to give countries their aggregate scores. The United States ranked first in the world when all factors were computed.[vii]

I could go on and on. You do not need to depend upon a chart, graph or news release to determine how you believe America to rank. However, if you are ready to follow the lead of one who bows before Saudi kings or who denigrates America before other nations, then I recommend highly that you travel to any country you choose and stay for a while and see how things work. Then, if you are still certain that America is no longer great or is no longer exceptional, the I encourage you to stay wherever you are and we’ll send you your things. We really don’t need you here.

For organizations who have the best intentions for America, I respectfully ask that you stop using the line about making America great AGAIN. We are far from perfect and we may be many things in the eyes of many folks; but, one thing I assure you: America is GREAT! She’s my country and I think I’ll keep her! And, for Congressman DeMint, I do appreciate your service and I appreciate what The Heritage Foundation seeks to do. As it happens, I have been a supporting member of The Heritage Foundation for some time prior to your recent letter. That letter included my 2017 membership card and my Acceptance Form went back in the mail shortly after it arrived.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[i] Bombastard, noun, a syncretic compound word; joining bombast (high-sounding language with little meaning, used to impress people) and the French word, tard, adj., meaning later or latest, ergo. the latest of persons misusing their position to speak nonsense that is meant to impress

[ii] Letter to Author from Jim DeMint, The Heritage Foundation, December 2016

[iii] http://www.mapsofworld.com/world-top-ten/world-top-ten-quality-of-life-map.html

[iv] http://www.businesspundit.com/12-countries-with-the-highest-lowest-tax-rates/9/

[v] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_development_aid_country_donors

[vi] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/19/world-giving-index-us-ran_n_1159562.html

[vii] http://www.globalfirepower.com/countries-listing.asp

On a Scale

We have all been asked that question in some form or another… On a scale from 1 to 10 how would you rate…? In 1978, I received my first collegiate ring. With a stone of deep blue, it was crested on its center with the scales of justice, reflective of my degree in criminal justice. The scale of justice is held high in the one hand of Lady Justice, who is blindfolded and carrying a sword in her other hand. Blind to preference, to position, status, race or creed, wealth or poverty; she remains in our history as a noble representative of what our system of justice should be. I know many noble minded persons who have dedicated their lives to being certain that the scales of justice are, in fact, balanced before the weight of true and tested evidence can be brought before determiners of guilt or innocence. Her shelforiginal name in the Latin is Justitia, the Roman goddess of justice and she is often accompanied by Prudentia the goddess whose name is contracted from providentia the ability to see the future as a sage might discern how best to proceed.  Representing the ideal of governing and disciplining oneself by reason, Prudentia’s accoutrements of a mirror and a snake allude to careful reflection and caution in moving forward. The Greek’s, whose gods and goddesses aligned with most of the Roman’s, called Prudentia ϕρονησιϛ (https://fellowshipoftheminds.com/tag/prudence-latin-prudentia) which is now usually translated as practical wisdom or rational choice. Together the pair would call for a careful weighing of all evidence upon the merits of each, alone and then choosing the best course for discipline.

What brought me to consider Lady Justice was a set of the scales of justice which I own. I was looking over a few items that adorn the library area of my study when it caught my eye. There sits, front and center the scales of justice and above it is the American and Christian flags, two symbols of my heritage, my faith, and my loyalty. Immediately to the left of the American flag is a copy of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Immediately to the right of the Christian flag is a Bible from my father, which was given to him by a military chaplain, as he was recovering from wounds received when his ship was sunk off the coast of Normandy, June 6, 1944. Also there, among a few of the memories of my police and military service, stand three American Eagles from a larger set. These three are titled, “Courage Honor Sacrifice”, “Never Surrender” and “Never Forget”. The trio set the tone for what this small display means to me.

Among the books visible in the photograph are ones from the Ohio Retired Police Chiefs’ Association, a book from my time at the FBI National Academy and a book from my basic training days with the United States Air Force. More than my article or the information about me inside these books, each reminds me of people that reflect the titles carried by the three eagle sculptures.

Two retired chiefs, one who was gone before the Ohio Retired Police Chiefs Association was born and another who has been the heartbeat of the organization and the motivation behind many of my writings on honor within our ranks. They represent well Courage, Honor, Sacrifice. One was Chief George Ziga of the Alliance, Ohio Police Department and the other Chief Marion Taylor of the North Olmsted, Ohio Police Department. Near death, Chief Ziga admonished me, a young chief then, to stay true to my God, my values, my family and my profession. Anyone who ever knew Chief Ziga would tell you he represented the model for each of those objectives. Knowing Chief Taylor, his professionalism is informed by his Christian faith.

From the NA came a man, an FBI Special Agent, that I got to know while he was an instructor at Quantico. Now, a plaque and an annual service award commemorate his service which ended while on special assignment in Bosnia-Herzegovina during the war in the mid-1990’s; less than ten years since I first met Livio A. Beccaccio. He is the epitome of Never Surrender. The award named for him is inscribed as follows: “The Livio A. Beccaccio Award is a living memorial presented to a FBI National Academy Associate member who has demonstrated exemplary character through an act of heroism, outstanding community service, innovation in law enforcement, or leadership reflective of that by which FBI Special Agent Livio A. Beccaccio lived.”

(http://www.fbinaa.org/FBINAA/About_Us/Awards___Scholarships/FBINAA/Members_Only/Awards_and_Scholarships.aspx?hkey=0346bbf8-a0ce-4a5b-87cc-65f5ffb87148)

Finally, from my days at Lackland AFB, San Antonio, Texas, at the tail-end of the Vietnam War, a SSgt who took on a rag-tag flight of trainees, who had been to hell and back with our first TI who suffered severely with PTSD in the days of Vietnam when such a diagnosis was unknown. He was likely tagged as ‘shell shocked sergeant’ who probably never received any help. Our second TI, SSgt Gillam was a man of character and morals who knew his own true north. He took us from not knowing which end of the rifle the bullets exited to men prepared to move on in training and ready to head into harm’s way, if so ordered. He had seen and understood the cost of Vietnam and he stands strong as a model airman to never forget our POWs & MIAs, all our veterans, but particularly those from Vietnam; nor would SSgt. Gillam ever expect us to forget 9-11. Four men who represent the strength of the U.S.A.’s justice.

The bedrock of our criminal justice system, here in America, rests upon the scales of Lady Justice. Our honor is passed as a torch from those chiefs who took their oath with their hand upon the Bible and their hearts indwelt by the God of that Bible. Our freedom comes from the sacrifices like Livio Beccaccio, thousands of other fallen officers and even more men and women who don the shield every day and stand that thin blue line. Our heritage is passed to our next generations when we remember those who fought valiantly on foreign shores and here at home to keep the flag of America flying high.

Just as the banner of red and white stripes and shining white stars on a field of blue continue to fly and represent the most blessed nation on the face of the Earth, so too must our faith in the One Lord God who made us One in Him, compel us to live by faith and not by sight. We will always know times of trouble in our land and often they come from our own actions or our failure to act. But we, as citizens of America and saints of the Kingdom of God can know that Christ has already won the final victory. He calls us to remain faithful to our calling and to take up our cross and follow Him!

I know that there isn’t some fantasy goddess who holds the scales of justice in her hands. God’s Word informs me that it is Christ who brings justice. Isaiah prophesied and Matthew recorded Jesus quoting the prophet, ““Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen, My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased! I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He will declare justice to the Gentiles.” (Matthew 12:18 NKJV) Speaking of the role of police officers, Jesus also said, “For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.” (Romans 13:4 NKJV)

It should be no wonder to us that, as I thought about those items on my shelf, those men came to mind in such a context. Each one of them were men of faith. They lived out remarkable witnesses because of that faith. Not one would claim any greatness on his own and certainly none would lay any claim to being anything apart from what they are within the Lord.

Law enforcement today is much maligned by the liberal media. Christians are too. Both are in good company since Christ, Himself, was counted among the criminals, scoffed at, beaten and abused. In America, the system may not be perfect, still though, the admonition of John Adams, a founding father and president concerning our legal system is upheld. “Better that ten guilty men go free than one innocent man convicted.” The scales of justice balance out pretty well. Compared to other places I have seen firsthand, I’m proud to live and have served in America’s criminal justice system where restoration is possible for those who choose wisely. Likewise, for those who choose unwisely, there are consequences. On a scale of 1 to 10… I’ll score a ten that I’d rather be tried for something I’ve been alleged to do here in the United States than anywhere else in the world. I praise God that my life and my family are under the protection of American police officers and I thank Him daily for every single one of them and pray for their safety.

 

One is Too Many

For over forty years I have been a member of the law enforcement profession. For almost as long, I have been proudly affiliated with the U.S. Armed Forces, specifically the U.S. Air Force Reserve. From the very beginning of my careers in the mid 1970’s, law enforcement was given the badge of dishonor of having one of the highest divorce rates and even worse, one of the highest suicide rates, particularly among retirees of similar professions. Already I can hear you thinking, this is going to be a downer of a message; I don’t think I care to keep reading, or listening. I don’t blame you, suicide is a sad, painful topic. But in the midst of that pain and sadness, I come to you with two kinds of good news, first about suicide rates and second about the ultimate option that can be used to prevent the rates from spiraling out of control again.

What prompted me to write this was an article I read recently in the publication of the Air Force Security Forces Association, of which I am proud to be a member. It also caused me to look up some information on police related suicides as well. Here is the first bit of good news. The suicide rates for the U.S. military for all branches declined from 2012 to 2013. In 2012 there were 522 suicide deaths among all services. Of those, fifty-seven were airmen. The data for 2013, though not complete, shows that service wide the number dropped to 474. Lt. General Michael Linnington, Military Deputy at the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness (can you imagine putting that on your business card?) says that “With an 18 percent drop in 2013, something is going right.” I agree with the General with one glowing exception. The 48 deaths less from 2012 to 2013 is just over 10 percent. To get an 18 percent change, the Lt. General was only counting the fifty-eight deaths less from the 319 to 261 Active Duty suicides between 2012 and 2013. Fifty-eight is 18 percent of 319 but if we are really counting all of our members, then we should really count all of them. Still, almost 11 percent improvement is a good thing and when the Lt. General says, “something is going right” I agree. I also agree with his remark that “one suicide is too many.” He said that the services needed to focus their efforts on where they believe they are most needed.

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That comment struck me just a bit as I recalled an internet message I received just recently from the U.S. Navy Reserve unit based in Cleveland and Akron here in NE Ohio. I had written to the unit’s program manager. She had informed me that the unit only had a part time chaplain. I am completing training for trauma counseling with a focus on military personnel and I have been certified for trauma counseling through the American Association of Christian Counselors. I volunteered my services to this Reserve unit and after checking with her commander, she informed me that they had no need for trauma counseling. I trust that the commander of the U.S. Navy Reserve contingent in NE Ohio is very thankful that he has a unit free of trauma. I pray that he never has to face the family of a Reservist who has committed suicide, I really do.

Then, of course, there is the law enforcement side of the picture. Again, there is a decline in the number of suicides among police. I do not believe these numbers reflect police retirees, only active duty law enforcement. “The Badge of Life (BOL) just released their initial report on law enforcement suicides over the past year. The good news is that the police suicide rate dropped in 2012 when compared to 2009 (the last time a study was completed). The bad news is it didn’t drop enough. One hundred twenty six law enforcement officers committed suicide in 2012. Additionally, in 2012, 129 officers “died in the line of duty”

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When we consider retirees or, for the military, if we look at veterans, the numbers are not as encouraging. For example, veterans are committing suicide at more than double the U.S. civilian population. “Records from 48 states show the annual suicide rate among veterans is about 30 for every 100,000 of the population, compared to a civilian rate of about 14 per 100,000. The suicide rate among veterans increased an average 2.6 percent a year from 2005 to 2011, or more than double that of the 1.1 percent civilian rate, according to News21’s analysis of states’ mortality data.” Police retiree suicide numbers are not as traceable because so many leave law enforcement and go on to other careers, often their suicides are not considered linked to the police work and there is no central reporting mechanism for such events. It is often impossible to track the suicides of those retired through their pension systems because cause of death is not a question that is recorded.

There are several factors that make finding a specific cause or causes for these alarming rates nearly impossible. For example, in both the police community and in the military the vast diversity of types of personalities, backgrounds, faiths, family dynamics, education, and personal health all create variables that make defining the problem even more complex. Suicide rates nationally vary by regions, this affects the police numbers as well. Pre-employment screening is done in some places, not in others. Would such screening have identified certain officers as more likely to commit suicide? Intervention programs, where they exist, also vary greatly across the country. Some departments have complete mental health resources available to their personnel. Others are more like the Navy commander and don’t see a need for such intervention.

So there is ‘good news’ and ugh… not so good news. As the General said, even one is too many but we, as a society, or as subcultures of society, such as the police or military, are limited to how far we can go. Recent studies show that suicide rates for veterans are skyrocketing. Yes, while men and women are in the service or on the job, they have resources; but those resources diminish to nearly nothing once a person retires or is discharged from active duty. There are too many cracks through which someone can fall. The answer comes by way of something that, though it is an answer, it is still a double edged sword.

Just as with the vast majority of our society’s ills, the key ingredient, the most efficacious remedy, the strongest, most resilient binding for wounds that can help bring people through their horrific dark times is family. The erosion of the family unit in America is the primary event that has led to the inability to care for our own. It is at once, that simple and that complicated.

Suicide has touched almost everyone in some form or another. I know of two that are so very close to me that I can speak with some authority to this next point. Even when family is close, even when persons who care desperately attempt to intervene, sometimes it is not enough and – this next point is critical – it is NOT the fault of the family members left behind for something that they did or did not do. When an individual reaches a point of deciding to take their own life, I firmly believe that they are not capable of thinking rationally, nor clearly. Certainly, their actions may be well planned and seemingly thought through to the minutest detail, but the rational part of the mind that would allow them to see the pain that they will cause, the simple trading of one set of problems for others that may be eternally worse is not part of their thinking process. Their physical pain or mental torture has brought them to the brink of an abyss that no one can see but them and they seek, what they believe to be, a release from whatever demons are driving them. No family member, friend, or significant other should ever carry the guilt of another’s suicide but rather realize that the person who has fully acquiesced to self-inflicted death is beyond anyone’s ability to reason with them. Those who are brought back from the brink of that abyss were, I believe, not yet fully committed to the final act.

There is only one person who has the capability to fully understand that pain and have the ability to meet someone there in that pain and give that person the peace with life’s circumstances so as to help them back from the precipice. That person is Jesus Christ. That is the truly Good News that can make all of the difference in the world. I made the comment that when someone has reached that final point of despair they are beyond anyone’s ability to reason with them. When I say that I know that first, with God all things are possible but I also believe that Christ would not reason with them. His intervening in their lives would be of such an amazing of grace that it would be irresistible. However, God does permit man to choose his own path; but families and friends can pray and seek God’s intervention. God’s Word assures us that: “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

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So here we are, several paragraphs later and to what good point has this discussion arrived? Has it illumined for you, dear reader, dear listener the plight of our veterans, our military active duty and reservists; or our law enforcement and encouraged you to pray for them and for their families? Has it stirred you to seek a deeper walk with Christ so that you might know better how to pray, that you might encourage someone to accept the grace of Christ Jesus, His forgiveness and His peace? Perhaps the next time you see a homeless person on the street, you may envision a former soldier, sailor or airmen who fought valiantly but later lost everything. ImageMaybe you will offer a word of encouragement instead of looking away, maybe even just a friendly glance. I am reminded of a story of a young man who can relate better than anyone what just such a kind gesture might mean. His name is Kevin Hines. He knows the statistics that over 1,300 people have jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge to their death and only about a dozen have jumped and survived. Mr. Hines is one of them. I will let him tell you his story as retold by Dr. Robert Simon

“Mr. John Kevin Hines, who said he was one of only two persons to survive a jump from the bridge since 2000, was a presenter at the workshop. Mr. Hines’s description of his profound mental suffering and isolation that preceded his suicide attempt was gripping and emotionally moving. The audience asked many questions.

Mr. Hines described his struggle with a severe bipolar disorder that emerged during his adolescence and worsened over time. Mr. Hines was overwhelmed by paranoid delusions and command auditory hallucinations demanding that he kill himself. Unable to function, he withdrew from college and immediately took a bus to the Golden Gate Bridge. Like many people about to commit suicide, he was ambivalent about dying. He tarried at the bridge railing for about 40 minutes, trying to decide whether to go through with his plan to jump.

A number of people walked by him, oblivious to his anguish, unaware of his life-and-death struggle. Mr. Hines told us that “If someone had smiled and said, ‘Are you okay?’ I know I would have begged them to help me. I would have told them everything and asked for help. I would not have jumped. I just was unable to ask for help myself.” In fact, a foreign tourist did stop and talk with Mr. Hines. She asked him to take her picture, which he did. As she walked away, he felt more than ever that “Nobody really cares.” He jumped. On the way down, he changed his mind. He remembered thinking, “I want to live. Why am I doing this?” It was too late. Severely injured, Mr. Hines was kept afloat by a sea lion until rescuers arrived.

I asked Mr. Hines that if someone had smiled at him when he was on the bridge, given the severity of his mental illness, would it have prevented his suicide attempt. He answered, “Yes, a smile would have most definitely helped in my case. If the smile is genuine and caring, and it looks like the person is approachable, that person could have such an impact on a suicidal person at the moment of desperation. They could well save a life.”

As surely as Jonah was saved by a ‘big fish’ sent by God, it was God that sent that sea lion. What all of those people who passed by could have done, they did not; God had to use a sea lion instead. I do not profess to know much but as I consider the places that I travel to every single day here in Northeast Ohio, I know that there are no sea lions here, except in the zoo. So, I have decided that since God cannot depend on using a sea lion to help someone in desperate need; I will have to make certain that I am as ready as I can be so He can use me.

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Egypt Update August 2013

An al Qaeda flag was flown over the St. Theresa Church in the Upper Egypt city of Assiut before the church was burned.

Egypt camels

Egypt: Where Ancient Meets Future

 A Concise Review of Current Issues

17 August 2013

CAIRO: Sit-Rep – Security Conditions Deteriorating; Army taking larger role in daily government; Economy crashing; Tourism non-existent; Secular/civilian authorities neglecting needy; Christian groups facing severe harassment; General instability across the region giving al Qaeda means for growth and action across the region.

Narrative: Coptic Christians being blamed for Muslim Brotherhood/Morsi failure

According to the Investigative Project on Terrorism News affiliates, forces loyal to the Muslim Brotherhood have burned churches as a “favorite target for Muslim Brotherhood supporters and other radical Islamists across the country.” This comes on the heels of the military’s move on August 14th to push Morsi supporters who had encamped in Cairo, out of the city. According to IPT’s John Rossomando, “Approximately 1,000 Muslim Brotherhood supporters set fire to the Churches of Abraham and the Virgin Mary in Menya. Angry mobs also targeted churches, monasteries and other church properties in Alexandria, Suez and a number of other cities in Upper Egypt, according to Egypt’s Al-Ahram.

The main Coptic Church in Egypt’s city of Sohag, Mar Geergiss, was firebombed and burned to the ground.

(Photo: IPT News) Coptic Church

An al Qaeda flag was flown over the St. Theresa Church in the Upper Egypt city of Assiut before the church was burned. IPT News quoted a report by Vatican Radio: “It is a climate of violence, and the people are scared.”

According to IPT, “…if you ask some Muslim Brotherhood leaders about the Christian –Muslim relations, things have never been better.” This comes in the wake of Coptic priests and lay clergy having been murdered. In Washington D.C., Muslim Brotherhood political face Abdul Mawgoud Darderyl responded to questions denied that the Muslim Brotherhood was anti-Christian.  According to the IPT’s report, Darderyl claimed that relations were the best they have been n 1,400 years. Sadly, even with current events; that may be true. But it does not make the Muslim Brotherhood pro-Christian or the current fate of Christians in Egypt any safer.  Rossomando writes: “It’s a tragedy for all involved. But the Islamists’ reaction – to attack a Christian minority that might comprise 10 percent of the country’s population – is an outrage that exposes the depravity of their thinking. Scapegoating, conspiracy theories and attacks on innocent bystanders. They all show the hollowness of Dardery’s platitudes and what the Brotherhood really believes about Egypt’s Coptic Christians.”

The term ‘Coptic Christians’ or ‘Copts’ is a designation of any Egyptian who follows the Christian rather than the Muslims. The majority of Copts follow what is called in the vernacular, the Alexandrian Orthodox teachings. There are also Protestant Copts and Catholic Copts. As such, all are targets of the Islamists.

al Qaeda Heavily Invested in Success of Islamic State of Egypt

Ayman Zawahiri the current leader of al Qaeda world-wide was born and raised in Egypt. When the Muslim brotherhood ‘won’ the election; he was one of the first to congratulate the new ruler. Zawahiri had always maintained a vision for a fully Islamic Egypt but had put those plans on hold to serve under Osama Bin Laden. Once Zawahiri was the head of the snake, he could re-direct a focus to helping usurp Egypt’s democracy in hopes of bringing in a new Sharia State. He strongly backed Morsi and now that the Muslim Brotherhood has failed to meet Zawahiri’s expectations, it is no doubt a very personal issue for him. It should be expected that Zawahiri to go out of his way to punish those he sees as bringing about the current disaster in Egypt.

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al Qaeda Expands Across the Middle East; Involved Heavily in Syria

 

The Investigative Project reports that “Islamic militants connected with Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaida’s Syrian affiliate, have marked Assyrian Christians for death unless they embrace the group’s hard-line interpretation of Islam.” In an SCI/ICTOA report ‘A New Spin on the World’ just this month reported that such declarations are in line with the Prophet Muhammad’s teaching, “I have been ordered to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah. If they say it, then they save their lives and property from me unless otherwise legally required.”[i] As concluded in the SCI/ICTOA report, “The al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant rebel group in Syria…(assassinated) a rebel commander for the more moderate Western-supported Free Syrian Army earlier this month. The group also staged a massive coordinated attack on two prisons in neighboring Iraq on July 21 that resulted in the escape of more than 500 inmates, including senior leadership of al-Qaeda as well as other terrorists linked to the group.”[ii]


[ii] Riggs, Ross Dr. “A New Spin on the World” ICTOA Radio Archives http://www.blogtalkradio.com/ictoaradio

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VETERANS NOT CAPABLE

all military vets, merely because they are vets, are mentally ill.

9 MARCH 2013

Mrconservative.com reports:

“Sen Dianne Feinstein (D. Cal.) has long been a fanatic gun control advocate.  Yesterday, she upped the ante by declaring that all military vets, merely because they are vets, are mentally ill. On that ground alone she insists that vets should be denied any exemption to her extremist gun control bill.”

I am not certain what must overtake the electorate of California for them to come to terms with the total lunacy of their Senator Feinstein? What could possibly be the reason that Sen. Feinstein could make such a statement regarding veterans? Is it possible for her to truly believe what she has said? What will it take for her to be relegated to the annals of Washington history?

Veteran’s organizations across California must rally to keep her from doing any further damage. Her term in office does not end until January 3, 2019. She is currently 79 years of age and will be 85 years of age by the time her term ends. If there is anyone ‘not capable’ it must be Senator Feinstein. Read her rambling yet incontrovertible statement that PTSD is a new phenomenon that began with the Iraq war and because of that veterans are mentally ill and should not own guns.

California Senator Feinstein
California Senator Feinstein

 

A Clash of Cultures

A small metal sign… drove home to me the hundreds of years of sacrifice, grief, pain and pride, (yes, pride) that the sign represents.

Riggs Ministry Minute: When there’s only a minute for ministry   

www.docriggs.com  

 

Most of us might be surprised at the vast number of sub-cultures within our own culture. Some would consider the point so off-handedly that, even if these subcultures exist, all that is necessary is to be aware of them, nothing more. We certainly do not need another genre for which we must be politically correct. Already the current lists have made it to the far edges of ad-nauseum. Why belabor yet another category that seeks to be recognized, romanticized, eulogized, and deified?

This, however, is a culture that has been with us since the beginning of our great country, indeed throughout the history of civilization. Yet, the American version of this culture is one that does not seek recognition. Most of the time, this culture prefers to be unnoticed. A simple tip of the hat in recognition of their sacrifice is enough because there is little our supra-culture can do. Perhaps the only way to benefit this culture is to keep the virtue of our American culture at its very best.

Regrettably, I have been as little mindful of this sub-culture as most others, at least until recently. Recent events have driven home to me their existence. It was not in some grandiose presentation that I was pricked at my conscience, nor was it at some hall of heritage that I was alerted to their presence. It was, of all things, a small sign in the parking lot of a grocery store. I had never seen such a sign before and unless any American has a chance to go shopping at a PX or BX (post or base exchange) on a military installation, you will probably never see one yourself. A small metal sign that drove home to me the hundreds of years of sacrifice, grief, pain and pride, (yes, pride) that the sign represents.

The sign simply read: “Reserved Parking Gold Star Families” and reading it I was struck with such a sense of astonishment. I was astounded that I had never given so much as a passing thought to the thousands of families that carry on in day to day life, after the ceremonies, after the condolences, after the cards and visits have stopped. The ‘Gold Star’ families, those who have lost someone in combat, keep on with life, with shopping at the PX, with bills and car repairs and every day with a hole in their heart where a loved one, a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine lives now as a memory.

Praise God for Gold Star Families and may we be reminded of them every day. When we are, may we ask God to bless them as they carry on, living a life Reserved for Gold Star Families.

(For more information about the history behind the Gold Star, follow the link to Gold Star Mothers)

Our family proudly displays a ‘Blue Star’ emblem in our front window and a similar decal on my wife’s car. Praise God that it is now a Blue Star and if God should ordain that it ever be Gold, may we honor the work of these proud families with our own.