Boris Nemtsov was assassinated yesterday in Moscow. He had served as Deputy Prime Minister under Boris Yeltsin. His recent opposition against Russia's war in Ukraine was probably the motivating factor behind his murder. Another alternative, however unlikely, that his death is an attempt to destabilize Russia itself. In any event, I have been reading the last novel by Tom Clancy, Command Authority. If I wasn't so skeptical, I would say either Tom Clancy was prophetic or that people in Russia and Ukraine are using his novel as a "play book." Clancy outlines the takeover of Crimea, Ukrainian unrest, and political assassinations in his novel that was published two years before the actual events occurred. Wow! It is either one of those two theories or maybe Mr. Clancy is just good at reading "tea leaves." In any event, reality is at hand. The Russian and Ukrainian conflict certainly has the potential of dragging the West into another long war which will have no reasonable outcome. Everyone knows that Mr. Putin is in charge of one of the most successful "oligarchy's" in history. He certainly wants to preserve his power structure and extend it to the Ukrainian state. At this time, the West is too ill resolved to bring about a favorable outcome. This particular chess game over Ukraine is almost done. Russia won this round. Stay turned for the next match. That's how I see it, today, February 28th, 2014.
The specter of evil has re-surfaced. Again, it is an old foe. The face of an old enemy, antisemitism. Europe, while on page one, is not the only harbor for the rise of this monstrosity. It really represents the downfall, once again, of society as we know it. While its current presence is definitely due to the rise of Militant Islam, it is much more deeper than that. After literally decades of compromising with Islamic dictators, it is now apparent to all, that even if you make a deal with a snake, like all snakes, it will end of biting you. A perfect example of this are the so-called Iranian Nuclear Talks. Give me a break. If you think you can negotiate with evil, think again. Just go ask Neville Chamberlain. While negotiating with evil might make you feel better, in the end, as always, you will still have to deal with it. The current negotiations between the Iranians and the West over nuclear weapons development is a case in point. First of all, in my opinion, under NO circumstances should the Iranian Mullah/Ayatollah terrorist religious regime be allowed to have nuclear weapons, period. If you are not smart enough to figure this out, then you have no sense of history. Secondly, negotiating with a lying and deceitful party is a waste of time. North Korea proved that. Thirdly, to even assume that the powers in Iran would be responsible with nuclear weapons is like asking a baby to hold a grenade, utter lunacy. Benjamin Netanyahu last ditch effort to explain to the U.S. Congress why this is an exercise in futility may be a day late and a dollar short. I personally, pity the world when it wakes up to find a nuclear armed Middle East, worse yet, an out and out usage again of nuclear weapons. Letting Iran arm itself with weapons of mass destruction will result in just that. I can also add, in my opinion, in the end, it will be the end of Iran as we know it. It simply will no longer exist. That's because there are numerous governments which will bring that country to its knees. If this is the path to solving antisemitism, then so be it. That's the way I see it, today, February 25th, 2015.
The United States and the West certainly have a challenge ahead. Besides the marginal economic recovery, post 2008, the U.S. and Europe are not very well positioned to accept anymore roadblocks. The latest terrorist threats from the Islamic Terrorists to attack the shopping malls inside America is a good example. 9/11 was a good example of the "war" coming to us, and still most Americans are unaware of it. "Situation Normal" is long past. The "New Normal" is here. Until there is a change of tactics, you can plan on watching terrorist activities every morning on your television. It does not matter if you are in Canada, Australia, Pakistan, France, Belgium, Denmark, Britain, or wherever, the Muslim Islamic Terrorists are here to stay for a while. Why? It is very simple. Just like they used our own airplanes against us, they are now using the rest of our technology in the same way. The internet, cell phones, secret money transfers, in fact, they must of hired some MBA grads as well. Look at ISIS (ISIL,IS, Daesh) whatever you want to call them. They are currently branding themselves like McDonald's! Unfortunately, it is working. The skillful penetration of the internet and continual press coverage is resulting in thousands of foreign nationals migrating to Syria and Iraq to replenish their ranks. We can only hope that the "powers that be" wake up and take notice. Without a consolidated effort, President Obama's legacy will be the beginnings of World War III. My personal opinion is that the "world at large" will not make a concerted effort until something "really bad" happens. The "challenge" isn't big enough, yet. The day will come, however, when the public wakes up and says "enough is enough." Then, the challenge will be met and the "real war" will begin. That's how I see it, today, February 24th, 2015.
fight or struggle tenaciously to achieve or resist something
I have two friends struggling against cancer. They are both heroes. Unwillingly, I was recruited to fight this battle in 1980. I was barely in my twenties. I woke up in the cancer ward after my second surgery to find that I had tubes coming out of me everywhere! WTF? I was clueless. Nobody told me about this shit. In addition to having one of my balls removed, the previous surgery, now I was missing most of my lymph glands and was told, rather rudely, that I would never have children. I never did. Anyway, after about a week when I was able to learn how to walk and fart again, yes, farting is a sign of recovery, I finally got up the courage to look in the mirror. Bad idea! I saw this three foot scare with staples and blood starring back at me on my abdomen. Yikes! WTF? Needless to say, I wasn't a very good cancer patient. More like a cry baby! I do remember having half a six pack of beer about a month later. Not recommended. However, If you want to get really f_____ drunk, drink beer after cancer surgery and losing about 50 pounds. Ah, wish I could say I remember the hangover, but I don't! I do remember throwing beer cans at my girlfriends apartment window on the second floor. She had told me she could not see me anymore because I had cancer. Well, I showed her! Yes, later, I did get a new girlfriend. She was a heart surgery nurse who like tequila. I liked it too...
Here is what I can say about cancer. You win, you lose. You don't have any choices about playing the game. You do have a choice on how you play. Some of my friends won, some lost. I have great admiration for those who choose to fight! I never knew I was a fighter until I got cancer. "FIGHTS ON!" (a quote from my friend who is still fighting)
That's how I see it, today, February 21st, 2015.
In a show of defiance, ISIS beheaded twenty-one Egyptian Coptic Christians on the beaches of Libya. Then they posted it on the internet. Egypt responded with F-16 airstrikes last night, but it is apparent to all who are somewhat familiar with the Middle East, that the game has changed. ISIS has proven itself to be what Al-Qaeda never was and now has unprecedented momentum. Arab nations are disintegrating and the rule of law is evaporating in favor of Sharia. The mere definition of Islam is being re-written in Medieval terms. ISIS is spreading like the Black Plague that it is. Black uniforms, black flag, just like the Nazis, they bring death where ever they go. If ever there was a precedent for World War Three, this may be it. It is more than Sunni versus Shiite. It is reckless abandon toward some misguided theory of arrogance. An arrogance so misleading it uses God to justify its foundation of murder. It is, unfortunately, evil in its purest sense. Evil, that, if gone unchecked, will continue to flourish. There is hope, however. Governments are starting to wake up. Plans are being drawn. Old enemies are now becoming friends. A force is building, worldwide, to combat this threat. It will take time, but, in the end, the bad guys will loose ... they always do. Good, always, overpowers evil, always has. Patience is a difficult skill to acquire, but patience coupled with resolve to fight off this new menace is what will be required. When the governments of the world decide to collectively destroy ISIS it will mark the end of this sorry chapter of history. Let's pray that they do it in an expedient manner. That's the way I see it, today, February 16th, 2014.
I am really not sure how to approach this subject. As a student of history I had thought European Antisemitism died at the end of World War Two. Three years later, 1948, the world via the United Nations voted collectively to create the State of Israel. This was done for several reasons, but the main one was what to do with the millions of displaced people as a result of the war ... Jews. So the Aliyah began. Aliyah is the Hebrew word for returning to Israel. The Nazi quest to destroy all the Jews actually resulted in creating a world sympathetic to the Jewish cause and the creation of a new country.
How's that for an oxymoron! Hitler and his policies gave the Jews a home they had not had for two thousand years! Go figure. Unfortunately, today, Europe is up to its eyeballs in antisemitism. This time, it is not German doctrine. This time it is an imported doctrine from Islam. The post World War Two collective liberalization of European societies (read socialism) lead most western European nations to mistakenly believe that Islam is the same as Christianity and Judaism. These countries are now dealing with this in the form of Radical Islamic Muslims who are currently redefining the concept of "terrorism." The present threat of ISIS radicals on European soil is now a reality. Even today, in France, as I write this column, every Synagogue and Jewish school (over 700) are under 24/7 surveillance by the French military. In fact, just a few days ago, these soldiers were attacked and hospitalized in the French Rivera city of Nice. Belgium, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Britain, Norway, and Sweden are finding that they are having to pass anti-terrorism laws aimed at the Islamic populations. I remember a quote from long ago, "If you ignore a problem long enough, it will become reality." Today, I can honestly say I am proud of the French government for protecting its citizens. I am also very sad as thousand of them are lining up to leave the country and make Aliyah. That's how I see it, today, February 11, 2015.
It is difficult to write when you are pissed off. I have been to Prescott, Arizona, the home of Kayla Mueller. Her death was confirmed today at the hands of ISIS, the Islamic State of Idiots and Stupidity. This group of Muslim Islamic Extremists will literally stop at nothing in order to scare, intimidate, kill, maim, anybody that gets in their way. Lately, Jordan and the U.A.E. are leading a concerted effort with U.S. made F-16s with bombing raids. While this method, similar to a drone attack, can keep the enemy in check, we all know that it will not stop them. Sooner or later, boots on the ground will have to move in and retake the territory that ISIS has claimed for their own. I wonder how long it will take before the American public says enough is enough. How many American citizens need to be beheaded before someone takes action? The recent example set by Jordan, unrelenting F-16 attacks, was done after the world found out that a captured Jordanian pilot was burned alive. As bad as all of this seems, there is one good result that is becoming apparent. Slowly, but surely, we are seeing a formation of Arab countries trying to fight off this insanity. This is a good thing. In the end, it is they who will have to solve the problem that they created in the first place. Having said that, the Islamic world has been fighting against itself from its inception. If you take a cold hard look at Islam, it is the history of warfare, thirteen hundred years of it. That's how I see it, today, February 10th, 2014.
The war in Ukraine is accelerating. Thousands of people are now dead. The representatives of the EU were over in Moscow this week trying to negotiate an end game with Vladimir Putin. The optimistic version of this could be that the European Union gets Russia to back off in the Ukraine. The realistic version is, they won't. Russia now has too much at stake. Their economy is not just faltering, it is failing. The massive drop in oil prices has driven the Ruble down over fifty percent. The only way the government in Moscow can keep the populace in check is by diverting all of their attention to a stupid war in the south ... and is working. There is another reason for Russia to keep backing the "separatist" rebels in the south. It keeps Europe unbalanced and scared. This tactic has always been part of the "Russian strategy" and it has been very effective. The sad part about this theory is that it costs people their lives. At present, there still is no real accounting for the actual number of people killed in southeastern Ukraine. The "news media" is not allowed in. Kiev has lost control of the situation and this is not a fault of their own. The West, along with Russia de-fanged Ukraine after the fall of the Soviet Union. After all the nukes were removed from Ukrainian territory in the early 90's the negotiating power of the Ukrainian government was diminished. At that time, as of today, Ukraine still has no military to speak of. Certainly, no military power to take on the "Russian Bear." Europe would love to see and end to this conflict, however, with Russia holding all the purse strings to natural gas (fifty percent of Europe's energy) it is unlikely they will be able to persuade Moscow to do the right thing. Let's us all hope and pray, once again, that a mutual understanding can be achieved. That's how I see it today, February 8th, 2014.
This is an ATR-72 built by Avions de Transport Regional, a French-Italian consortium. It is a good aircraft with a good safety record. As a pilot who has flown for over three decades I can honestly say the following: "I am sick and tired of Asian/Pacific pilots crashing perfectly good aircraft and taking their passengers with them!" Too harsh, you say? Too bad. It is the truth. I will not get into the statistics, but you can look it up for yourself. Let us just take another look at the crash of a Boeing 777 at San Francisco International Airport last year. Without getting into too much detail, from all the facts that the NTSB has released so far, it appears that Forest Gump was indeed at the controls! "Stupid is as Stupid does!" Come on! These crashes that keep reoccurring are happening for only one, and only one reason only. The host countries be it India, Malaysia, Taiwan, Korea, etc all continue to force unqualified pilots into the cockpit. There is a reason why China continues to hire Expats to fly their jets. It is because they know that it will take decades to force a "cultural change" to bring their pilots (Chinese nationals) up to the bar. So, in China, you will find American, German, Russian, French, British, South Africans all flying as Captains on their aircraft. The result ... a good safety record. While Europeans and Americans continue to build great aircraft, Airbus and Boeing, they have not been able to export their "training cultures" to the Asia/Pacific region. That my dear reader will take decades, and hopefully, let's pray, no more lives! That's the way I see it, today, February 5th, 2014.
Addendum: The "black box" (which is red) has been recovered. It appears that the so called "crew" shut down the only good working engine on the aircraft! Remind me to never buy a ticket on AirAsia Airlines. February 9th, 2014.
Yesterday, I watched the new Clint Eastwood movie, American Sniper. I felt a little numb after watching it. It was also the same day that I found out that another Japanese citizen, Kenji Goto, was murdered by the Islamic State-ISIS. I doubt if either of these two individuals knew each other, but in my mind, they are both heroes. In their own way, they both sought to bring about a better world through their actions. Chris, a true warrior, fought for what he believed in. Kenji, did the same. One used the bullet, the other, the pen. Both were so effective, they proved, once again, that evil can not hide. Their personal sacrifices, their lives, stood for all that is good in the world. ISIS, just like the Nazis, is just a fleeting phenomenon. It will self destruct on its own. Mark my words. Whenever evil rears its ugly head, there will be people like Chris and Kenji who will smack it down. Today, in Japan, the nation is grieving for a lost journalist. Tomorrow, will be the second anniversary of Chris's death. The deaths of Chris and Kenji remind us all of how precious life is. Their lives were not given in vain. They both fought for freedom, liberty, and justice. They both tried to reign in evil. They both succeeded beyond their wildest imagination. While the world continues to react to this "new evil" that has beset it, keep in mind, the forces of good far outweigh the bad and eventually, truth and justice will prevail. Blessed be the memories of both Chris and Kenji. That't the way I see it, today, February 1st, 2014.
"The purpose of my writing is twofold. First, to get things out of my head. Second, to show it to you."
Daniel D Scroggin
A freelance writer, flight instructor, and world traveler. Sharing his ideas, opinions, and adventures for your consumption.