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

BOSNIA Intel Briefing Dec 2015

SECURITY CONSULTING INVESTIGATIONS, LLC INTEL BRIEFING FOUO
The following intelligence information is provided for clients of sci. it has been developed using open-source materials and may be disseminated.
***********DATELINE: BOSNIA SARAJEVO 23 Dec 2015*********

‘Eleven people were arrested. They are suspected of terrorism, financing and preparing a terrorist act as well as inciting candidates to go to the battlefields abroad,’ police say

Bosnian police on Tuesday launched an anti-terror raid in the capital Sarajevo and arrested 11 people suspected of having links to the ISIL group, officials said.
“Eleven people were arrested. They are suspected of terrorism, financing and preparing a terrorist act as well as inciting candidates to go to the battlefields abroad,” a police spokesman told AFP.
According to state-run FTV television, one of the leaders of Bosnia’s movement, Muric Kemal, was among those arrested.
“The objective of this major operation was to track down some 15 people who… are close to radical groups and structures of the ISIL, as well as people who are on the battlefields in Syria or Iraq,” national prosecutors in charge of terrorism said in a statement.
Searches were conducted at two places of prayer as well as at several homes used by the suspects, it said.
“Physical evidence of the links with the ISIL group structures were seized.”
The operation was conducted in several Sarajevo districts, including in Rajlovac, where two members of Bosnia’s armed forces were killed in November in a suspected terror attack by a man who then blew himself up.
Out of some 200 Bosnian nationals who joined extremist groups in Syria and Iraq in 2012 and 2013, at least 26 have died while about 50 have returned to the Balkan country, according to the authorities.
Last year Bosnia adopted a new law providing for jail sentences of up to 20 years for extremists and their recruiters, since when the number leaving for the Middle East appears to have dropped off.
A radical Bosnian Islamic leader was sentenced by a local court in November to seven years in prison for inciting terrorism. Husein Bosnic was found guilty of encouraging his followers to fight alongside extremists in Syria and Iraq.
Around 40 percent of Bosnia’s population of 3.8 million people are Muslim, who overwhelmingly follow a moderate form of Islam. The rest of the population are mainly Orthodox and Catholic Christians.
*********DATELINE BOSNIA KOZLUK 9 DEC 2015*****************

World Bulletin / News Desk
Bosnian forensic experts have started exhuming the human remains from a recently uncovered mass grave believed to contain victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, the war crime prosecutor’s office said Wednesday.
“So far remains of at least 15 victims have been recovered,” the prosecutor said in a statement.
The mass grave was uncovered at Kozluk, a village some 70 kilometres (40 miles) north of Srebrenica.
Some 8,000 Muslims were executed by Bosnian Serb forces as they captured this eastern Bosnian town in July 1995, at the end of the 1992-1995 inter-ethnic war in Bosnia which claimed 100,000 lives.
“Some 1,000 Muslim men and adolescents from the Srebrenica region were executed at this place. No one survived this execution,” the prosecutor said, adding that some 200 victims remained unaccounted for.
Twenty years after the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II, the remains of some 6,600 of the Srebrenica victims have been found, identified and buried, most of whom in a memorial centre located near the town.
But such exhumations have become rare events in recent years as the authorities claim to have no information on where the rest of the victims are buried.
The last large-scale exhumation around Srebrenica took place in 2010, when the remains of some 50 victims were found.
The site of the newly uncovered mass grave was unveiled by a Bosnian Serb, witness of the atrocities, Munira Subasic, president of an association of Srebrenica victims’ families, told AFP.
“This man came to talk to me in a small restaurant in Kozluk. He told me ‘I should tell you something. There is a mass grave nearby. I can’t sleep of guilty conscience’,” Subasic said.
Three other mass graves, holding the remains of with 340 victims were uncovered in the region of Kozluk in 1999 by investigators of The Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY), according to Lejla Cengic, a spokeswoman of Bosnia’s Institute for missing persons.
Hundreds of other victims of this massacre have been found in mass graves in other places.
The Srebrenica massacre has been acknowledged as genocide by two international courts.
**************DATELINE: BOSNIA Sarajevo 19 Nov 2015 ********

At least two Bosnian soldiers were killed and three civilians injured in an attack by a gunman in Sarajevo.
World Bulletin / News Desk
Two Bosnian soldiers were killed late Wednesday when a gunman opened fire near a barracks in Sarajevo, police said.
The man, who was armed with an automatic rifle, later killed himself as police surrounded his home on the city’s outskirts.
Enes Omeragic opened fire on a betting shop near the base in the Rajlovac neighborhood before firing on a bus, wounding the driver and two passengers, a Sarajevo police spokesman said.
The motive for the attack is unknown but Bosnia announced the security level at military bases would be raised throughout the country.
ANALYSIS:
The boiling pot that has been shaking, sometimes violently, rattling on the stove-top that is the security situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina, a nation of 3.829 million people divided along ethnic, religious and geographical lines. Even though the average life expectancy is well over 70, the health of the citizens is ravaged through chronic pollution, smoking that continues unabated, poverty and the inability to obtain adequate health-care. The unsafe streets, the saturation of the government and business by organized crime exacerbates the helplessness that many of the nations most impoverished feel. An unemployment rate in some cities tops 90 percent. The unemployment rate nationwide (according to 2013 figures) stands at 44.3%. That number is optimistic, gathering into the calculations subsidized government jobs that are temporary at best, corrupt at the worst; and the entrance into the military by some of those unable to find work. Bosnia holds the world’s highest unemployment rate for young persons at 57.5%.

Since the war in the 1990’s Since the war ended in 1995 about 150,000 young people have left Bosnia with an estimated 10,000 more leaving every year.

It is no wonder when on top of the unemployment, if it is possible to find work; the salaries that one will earn on average are reported to be 1327 BAM a month or in US dollars, $741.25. According to the experts, the cost of living in Bosnia is 52.53% lower than the U.S. The poverty level in the U.S. for a family of four is drawn at $23,850 a year. Taking 52.53% of that, the poverty line in Bosnia for a family of four would be $12,528.41. The average income for an employed person in Bosnia comes to $8,895.00 per year. That is a disparity of $3,633. If only 50 percent of the entire population can get work, how likely is any family of four to have TWO people with jobs?

Is there any wonder why ISIS, al Qaeda, organized crime syndicates and hosts of other nefarious types would find fallow ground for new recruits among the young people of Bosnia? It is a matter of survival.

The headlines of the last six-weeks will not dissipate but rather will grow more frequent, more frantic and more fatal. Watch for the continuing schism between the Serbs and the Muslims. Expect that the current government setup will begin to crumble even more rapidly than it already is and that the void created by looming anarchy will be filled by someone, from somewhere and most likely they will not have the best interests of the U.S. or the western world at heart.
The following sources were used in the preparation of this report:

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/141008/bosnia-youth-unemployment-rate
CIA World Factbook demographic statistics
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Bosnia_and_Herzegovina
http://www.worldbulletin.net/haber/166497/gunman-kills-two-bosnian-soldiers-in-sarajevo
http://www.worldbulletin.net/haber/167205/new-srebrenica-mass-grave-uncovered
http://www.worldbulletin.net/news/167675/bosnia-arrests-11-in-anti-terror-raid
http://www.salaryexplorer.com/salary-survey.php?&loctype=1&loc=27
http://themoneyconverter.com/USD/BAM.aspx
http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/country_result.jsp?country=Bosnia+And+Herzegovina
*All figures are computed using data, if not specifically dated, from 2010 to 2015.

When Prayer Seems Pointless

“The Ministry Minute: For when there is only a minute for ministry”                                                         Dr. Ross Riggs – True North Ministries           https://docriggs.wordpress.com/

Prayers in crevices of Western Wall

It appears that, as 2012 begins, there are circumstances surrounding this world that are so large the solutions are evasive at the least and totally inapprehensible at the worst. Events and forecasts paint such a dismal picture that, to even the most stalwart of Christians, prayer almost seems pointless. An anathema to make such a statement or more likely the lie that Satan would ask us to believe? Can Christians find themselves at a point where they wonder if their prayers are futile? Sadly, many Christians do get to that point in their journey of faith; and even sadder is that there are few brothers or sisters in Christ that truly offer some legitimate reason these suffering saints should carry on in prayer even when it seems that all hope is lost. With worn out clichés about praying harder or admonishment that their faith just isn’t strong enough, the struggling saints seek refuge in the solace of a plethora of ‘Christian self-help’ books that find answers everywhere except in the Bible. In this Minute, it is important to examine the issue.

The economy:  The US has its highest unemployment in decades, “…nearly half of all persons under 30, did not go to work today… If the American Church was healthy and strong – faithfully walking with Jesus Christ, obeying the Scriptures, preaching the gospel, and making disciples –wouldn’t the American society be stronger and healthier?”[i] The prayers of the faithful seem to lack results and the actions of those faithful seem to do even less.

Israel – Iran: “We better keep praying for peace, while preparing ourselves for war.”[ii] Within 9 to 12 months, according to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak; Iran’s nuclear program will enter what he termed, the immunity zone. Barak defined the immunity zone as a point in the development of Iran’s nuclear capability after which they will be immune, or almost immune, to attack. Any attack after that point would not have the debilitating impact on the nuclear program that is necessary for Israel’s and the region’s protection.  “And the Israelis are trying to warn that if a decision is not taken during this time, from now until the mid or end of 2012, then it would be too late to (make) a decision.”[iii] Even with all of the rhetoric, international investigations, sanctions and covert military action; the Iranian nuclear program continues its juggernaut toward the goal of attacking Israel with a nuclear weapon.

Dr. Ronan Bergman author of ‘Israel Will Attack Iran in 2012’ published in the New York Times, Sunday January 30th, said: “…even that most of the leadership of Israel, including Mossad’s current assessment, military intelligence and others, all of them agreed that the timeline is very different, that Iran would be able to produce the first device within a year, and that sanctions… or the combination between sanctions and covert actions are not significantly effective.”[iv] Praying for the peace of Jerusalem has brought only millennia of war. Even now, in a dark hour, prayers of the thousands who have carried their petitions to the Western Wall; Protestants, Catholics, Baptists and, of course, Jews seem to hit that hard wall and go no farther than the pieces of paper with prayers scrawled on them stuck in the crevices by worshippers. Recently, a Jewish guide quipped to his gaggle of tourists that Jerusalem was the only place in the world where you could call on God or send Him a fax, referring to the prayers on paper that fill the small spots in the wall daily and are later taken by rabbis and ceremonially burnt as a prayer offering to God. It seems the fax machine’s line is down.

Cancer – human disease and suffering: A dear wife struggles to care for her husband of so many years as he battles daily to breath and to take even the most basic nourishment. The doctors say his cancer is in remission but the cancer has taken away his ability to eat and the pain he struggles with is debilitating. This wife, a life-long companion, mourns for a relationship that is a tattered veneer of what it once was. Their own priest looked at her when she asked for his help and he proclaimed that he ‘didn’t have a magic bag of tricks in his car.’ Her prayers seemed to go no farther than the ceiling and her faith was barely enough to get her out of bed in the mornings.

It does not matter that prayers do not ‘go beyond the ceiling.’ A Christian counselor can share this truth while being careful not to sound callus like the priest who had seemed flippant to her. It is not to heaven that her prayers must ascend, but rather to the nearby ear of a close friend who loves her more than a brother. God’s ear is described in Scriptures as inclined toward His children awaiting their next word of prayer. A prayer must travel only as far as one’s own heart where the Holy Spirit resides, for those who love God, with those who are called according to His purpose. The Bible assures believers that the Holy Spirit communes with their spirit, giving words to their feelings that they cannot find. As intimately as one’s own spirit communes with them; the Holy Spirit communes with God the Father and God the Son as One. Heartfelt prayers need travel only as far as one’s own heart and there find the ear of God waiting to acknowledge the deepest emotion and calm the worst fear. The Holy Spirit stands at the ready to make intercession for believers. Paul, in his letter to the Romans wrote, “In the same way, (referring to understanding that hope in the unseen is faith), the Spirit helps us in weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.[v]

If the struggles in this life such as the global economy in a death spiral, the desperate position of Israel surrounded by her enemies seeking nuclear warheads, and the pain of a life-mate battling cancer every minute of every day were not so overwhelmingly large, then man would not need a big God. It is true… if mankind can solve something alone, most likely he will do just that and take all the credit too; even when both the mind and skills are also gifts from God. God is big enough to speak the universe into existence and close enough to hear the soft crying of wounded hearts. God always answers prayer, and true, sometimes the answer is ‘no.’ God always hears, He always cares and He always knows what is best for His children. The world will continue along the path He has set for it whether it is the economy or in war. Israel will always be the chosen people and God will fulfill for them all that He has intended. Each individual believer has a path, carefully designed by God and in that path may He show and teach, direct and guide until finally His creation is with Him forever more. As John Stockton was traveling by ocean liner to England in the early 1870’s with D.L. Moody, he gave thought to changing a rendition of an old well known hymn from the church. The title of that hymn is perhaps the best response: “Only Trust Him.[vi]


[i] Rosenberg, Joel C. Blog: State of the Union: Is America at Risk of Implosion? 25 Jan 2012

[ii] Rosenberg, Joel C. Blog: White House Makes 2 New Mistakes on Iran 16 Jan 2012

[iii] Bergman, Dr. Ronan: Interview Transcript NPR Radio http://www.npr.org/2012/01/30/146093304/op-ed-israel-will-attack-iran-in-2012 accessed 1 Feb 2012

[iv] Ibid.