Posts Tagged ‘Captain Rick’

Captain Rick: As the sun sets on my Arizona Oasis, it lights up with amazement. Red and blue rope lights surround the pool along with white pathway lights. Spot lights illuminate the fountain and numerous shrubs. Some of them reflect in the pool. At front is a desert spoon with yellow lantana to its right. Beyond it are mirrors on the block wall that reflect a glimpse into my house, which is also lit with vibrancy. There is no place in the world that is more serene to me.

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Click the photo to view full screen in 4K via Captain Rick’s Flickr site. Enjoy!

President Trump launched 59 Tomahawk E Cruise Missiles on Syria causing severe damage to Shayrat air base in Syria, southeast of Homs. Russia also uses this base and has invested heavily in it. U.S. intelligence believes that a deadly gas attack on Syrian civilians was carried out by government aircraft from the Shayrat air base.

Cruise Missiles

Two U.S. destroyers, the USS Ross and USS Porter, launched the Tomahawk cruise missiles south of Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and hit their targets at at 3:45 a.m. local time in Syria. Each destroyer carries about 35 Tomahawks. U.S. officials said there were up to 100 Russian military personnel present at the base when the missiles hit. The Russians were warned about an hour before the missiles hit the base, defense officials said.

The Tomahawk “E” or Echo version is the latest model and has two-way satellite communication allowing the missile to be reprogrammed in flight if needed. The missiles can carry 1,000-pound warheads.

The U.S. launched the cruise missiles in response to a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of civilians, the first direct assault on Syria since the beginning of that country’s bloody civil war in 2011.

The U.S. began launching airstrikes in Syria in September 2014 under President Barack Obama as part of its coalition campaign against ISIS, but has only targeted the terrorist group and not Syrian government forces … until today under President Trump.

Russia’s Response: Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the US airstrikes on Syria, describing it as "an act of aggression against a sovereign state" that "dealt a serious blow to Russia-US relations," according to a Kremlin statement. Russia said it believed Syria had destroyed all of its chemical weapons and the US strikes were based on a "trumped-up pretext." The risk of a direct collision between the US and Russia in Syria had "significantly increased" since the US missile strike, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. Peskov added that it was "indisputable" that the US airstrike on Syria "was carried out for the benefit of ISIS and other terrorist organizations."

A Russian warship, likely loaded with the newest Russian Cruise Missiles, has entered the eastern Mediterranean. Its destination and target is unclear. 

Captain Rick: I wonder if this is the beginning of World War 3?  I think President Trump made a poor choice, buckling in to FAKE NEWS and the US Intelligence Machine, all of which I think are very corrupt. In the process President Trump is blowing a big chance to gain a friendship with a very intelligent person … President Vladimir Putin of Russia … a person I consider to be one of the most intelligent leaders of our world. As a huge supporter of President Trump, I am saddened by his actions, which cast him into the same war monger group that contains both U.S. Presidents Bush.  I hope that President Trump will recapture his own mind, like he presented during campaign season and stop bowing into FAKE NEWS and question the info he is receiving from the very corrupt U.S. Intelligence Machine.  

ANJ Breaking News … At least 70 people, including many children, died Tuesday after suffering symptoms of chemical poisoning, including foaming at the mouth and suffocation.

Russia’s defense ministry is blaming a Syrian airstrike on a "terrorist" ammunition depot for the deaths of dozens of people in what has been described as a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria’s Idlib province.
According to a statement posted Wednesday on the Russian ministry’s Facebook page, the strike hit "workshops, which produced chemical warfare munitions" in the eastern outskirts of the Khan Sheikhun town.

President Aashar al-Assad

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s military denied using chemical weapons and blamed rebels for the carnage.

President Donald Trump, speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, said the suspected chemical attack against Syrian civilians "crossed a lot of lines for me" and changed the way he views Syria and its leader Bashar al-Assad.
He blamed the attack in part on what he described as "a great opportunity missed" on the part of former President Obama.

Captain Rick: I urge all, including President Trump, to exercise caution on drawing judgment. FAKE NEWS is blaming Russia. That is a travesty. FAKE NEWS is also blaming Assad and seems to want Assad out of power.
I caution that thought might cause another ‘rush to judgment’ similar to Saddam Hussein being removed from power in Iraq, which proved to be a monumental mistake … one of the biggest of modern history. It left a quagmire from which ISIS grew from within. 

Captain Rick: I introduce Denis Egan as a guest journalist on Atridim News Journal who will present amazing testimony about Islamism based on his long history of experience in Afghanistan, Iran, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia as an instructor of English to Muslims.

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Denis Egan

Denis Egan, born and raised in the Chicago area, found his world perspective and values turned upside-down when a service in Peace Corps in Afghanistan in 1965 led to a career as an educator in Middle Eastern, Near Eastern and American institutions. Although he was generally well-treated and respected in Afghanistan, Iran, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, he found himself fleeing from his office in the American University in Beirut in a demonstration in 1974, prior to the start of the civil war in Lebanon.

His 17- year work history in the Middle East includes institutions in Herat and Kabul, Afghanistan, the University of Mashhad, Iran, the American University of Beirut Lebanon, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia and the Iran America Society of Isfahan, Iran.

In December of 1978, he fled his position as Director of the Iran America Society in Isfahan, Iran, shortly before the departure of the Shah and triumphant return of Khomeini as head of the Islamic Revolution. And after the attacks on America of 9/11/2001 in which 15 of the 19 attackers were Saudis, he resigned from the University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia and returned home to the U.S. He now writes and gives presentations about his experiences, the modern history of the area and its future.

Denis Egan

Denis Egan expounds with details of his career

The Middle East Then and Now

“Get to a T.V. They’re attacking New York and Washington.” On September 11, 2001, my wife was warning me by phone from our campus housing at the university in Dhahran Saudi Arabia that America was under attack and possibly by Saudi terrorists. “What are you talking about? Nobody attacks America”, I replied. I rushed down the hall to the office of our Saudi Dean of the English language center.

I saw horror on his face as he waved me inside. He was a tall man in the stylish “agal” head covering and long white “thobe” covering his slightly bulging body. He was a graduate of Georgetown University with a Ph.D. in linguistics. He was not cheering like some crowds in certain areas of the Middle East. His personal world based in the University of Petroleum and Minerals might soon be crashing down just like New York was before our very eyes. I would soon resign my position there but our exit wouldn’t be easy since I had just signed another 2-year contract with the institution.

Would this be the end of much of my life’s work based in the Middle East? It had all begun as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Afghanistan in 1965. Was it to end here in 2001?

Where Am I?

Waking up in a strange place can produce a frightening confusion for a short time while your memory pieces together where you are and how and why you’re there. So it was in May of 1965 when I awoke in a very strange hotel room with an uncomfortable bed, thick walls with a blue-gray, wash-type paint, a chair and small table, very old but not quite antique. It was 2:45 a.m. on the other side of the Earth from my home in the Chicago area from which I had rarely traveled far. It was certainly more than a minute, maybe more than two, when my growing panic subsided with the realization that the strange city outside my window was Tehran, Iran, the first stop on my itinerary to Afghanistan as a member of a Peace Corps group of teachers.

Kabul, Afghanistan, 1965

The same feeling came over me the next morning at 4:00 a.m. but quickly passed as a cacophony of cattle bells called me to my window in the Kabul Hotel to review a long camel caravan passing before me on the, otherwise deserted, pre-dawn street in the capital of Afghanistan.

At my teaching assignment in Herat, I was soon introduced to the gatherings called “conferences” which happened about 3 times annually. The first event would be speeches by visiting dignitaries from Kabul, followed by recitations of much-loved Persian poetry. And finally a local band would conclude with favorite songs. By the 2nd or 3rd conference, I was invited to be the lead singer with the band.

“Mr. Egan, we are politely requesting that you sing a song for us”. The band leader was requesting, in the elaborately polite Farsi dialect of the area, that I join them. I sang free of the self-conscious inhibitions that constrain people when they’re performing in their own culture, before family and friends. The audience called out for “Cheshma Seeaw Doreen” (You Have Dark Eyes). It was a very popular song which I knew well.

Music, songs and poetry seemed to be the acceptable outlet and remedy for religiously loyal Afghans who prayed 5 times daily and had strict separation of the sexes. The next request had a very common theme in highly-melancholic, Afghan songs, i.e. unrequited, one-sided love. It was the crowd’s favorite. I would be invited to sing it at many parties and weddings thereafter. When one considers their religious dedication to God (Khodaw in Farsi, Allah in Arabic) and the hard lives of the Afghan people, the whole history of that nation seems to have the same theme of love unrequited by Khodaw, the theme of Afghanistan.

These were beautiful days in the 60’s in Herat, years of peace and happiness in a basically poor but busy and hopeful community. Who could have dreamed in the “conference” on that beautiful October day that the modest mixing of young men and women, celebrating educational strides, literary tradition and the music and songs of Herat, that all of this would be forbidden and considered evil, against God’s will? But this was one typical day in Herat in the 60’s, a time when music was the anti-dote to the many daily problems of life.

In my final flight departing Herat, a sad feeling came over me. The words of the New England poet Robert Frost came to mind about his choice in life, the road less traveled by, wherein he wrote the following: ”And both that morning equally lay in leaves no step had trodden black. Oh I saved the first for another day yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted that I should ever be back.” Was that it for Herat? Would I never be back again? Would I never see these friends and places again? I assumed not. But I was mistaken.

Iran, 1969

The bus was filled with a wide assortment of travelers foreign and native. Among the foreigners, besides us, were a couple of hippies from America from who, in addition to other smells, emanated an odor of marijuana and hashish. Two local farmers in baggy pantaloons and long shirts boarded with 4 wives and some equally noisy chickens. Their turbans resembled those of Afghans, swirling ‘round and ‘round the head with one end hanging down below the waist. They were headed for an Iranian village along the way which was an important center for Turkoman tribal people.

The 200 mile trip from Mashhad Iran to Herat Afghanistan would take a full day, due mainly to the delay at the Afghan border where all our passports had to be stamped by a one-eyed official using a kerosene lantern in a dark, thick-walled, brick hut in the border outpost of Islam Qala. To speed up the process our driver would collect a cash “bakhshish” (donation) from each of us to present to the official in a less than obvious manner. Our driver would, of course, retain his 50% commission of the bakhshish. We arrived in Herat at dusk and registered into the relatively new Russian-built hotel

Lebanon, 1972-1974

“You ought to have an advanced degree in the subject you are so involved in, English as a second language education. We would be happy to have you teaching in our American University of Beirut (AUB) language program while you complete your MA degree”. It was early 1972 and I was in Kabul Afghanistan in the middle of training another group of Peace Corps English teachers. A British professor from AUB was making sense with his offer to start in his program in Beirut in the coming June. So in early summer I began life and work in the “Paris of the Middle East”, Beirut. This would be my first introduction to Arab cultures. It would be my first experience with civil strife turning into civil war.

Saudi Arabia, 1974-1976

With an MA degree in English Education in the summer of ’74, I was faced with an offer to join the University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dhahran Saudi Arabia at a significant increase in pay level but with a life in a very conservative Islamic nation. Leaving the multi-cultural, sophisticated civility of Beirut would have been difficult if it hadn’t been for the lack of civility of students with large rocks entering my office and stoning the well-armed, red-beret, Lebanese security officers down below, resulting in my jog to safety through exploding tear gas bombs.

Iran, 1976-the Islamic Revolution

“Kareem, where are you going? Watch out.” It was too late. My driver from the Iran America Society must have been day-dreaming as the highway divided with a garden-median and Kareem, for some reason, chose to enter the left lane. The highway wasn’t crowded but a startled, on-coming driver veered sharply to his right and began to lose control as he passed us. Kareem quickly got us back on to the right side of the median. As I looked back the other car was swerving and slowing then finally turning over on one side. The driver emerged and looked unhurt but very angry. “Should we go back?” Kareem asked. We were just a few minutes from the Isfahan airport and I answered “You’ve got to drop me at the airport first”. I had to be exiting Tehran and the Islamic Revolution early on the following day.

Saudi Arabia, 1982-‘86

Getting on the bus from Dhahran to Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia at the women’s entrance at the rear was humiliating enough for my wife. To then be confronted with metal prison bars separating her from the men’s front area required a response. “Gurrrr, Woof, Woof, Gurrr,” she snarled with her faced pressed up against the bars. The Saudi men in red and white “gutras” over their heads and full-length white “thobes” turned in amazement and disgust. “Sigrid, cut it out. They’ll throw me in jail,” I warned her. Having led a life of extreme independence in her home in Germany, in France, Switzerland and finally in the U.S., my wife was not handling the local, ingrained discrimination-against-women very well. In a country where women weren’t allowed to vote or even drive a car, Sigrid was a fish out of water.

Saudi Arabia, 1999-9/11/2001

As mentioned above, the attacks on America of 9/11/2001 made me wonder “would this be the end of much of my life’s work based in the Middle East since 1965?” My Dean of the English Program at the University of Petroleum and Minerals was standing before the TV in shock when I entered his office.

I saw horror on his face as he waved me inside. He was a tall man in the stylish “agal” head covering and long white “thobe” covering his slightly bulging body. He was a graduate of Georgetown University with a Ph.D. in linguistics. He was not cheering like some crowds in certain areas of the Middle East. His personal world might soon be crashing down just like New York was before our very eyes. I would soon resign my position there but our exit wouldn’t be easy.

The View from Home, 2002-2011

How could I forget the Middle East, the life, and the friends before the music died? Certainly the Iranian and Afghan friends in America, whether new or old acquaintances, have adapted to their new country as quickly as any previous immigrant group. They have been mixing into American society in every profession. The same can be said for the Arab immigrant groups I’ve come to know. However, I began to become aware of some Islamist-based intrusions into governmental power and societal influence which I had noted in recent decades in the Middle East as a destructive force.

Denis Egan

Stay tuned to Atridim News Journal for amazing reports from Denis Egan coming soon.
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Captain Rick: It was shortly after Donald Trump announced his run for president that I knew in my heart he was going to go all the way. I sensed the strong movement among Americans who longed to ‘Make America Great Again’ way back when FAKE NEWS and the GOP were fast asleep, content with the political cancer in DC.

Unlike todays FAKE NEWS journalists who mostly communicate via social media … Captain Rick, a REAL NEWS journalist actually walked the streets and trails to talk face-to-face with real people to find out how they were thinking and feeling. That is why Captain Rick knew that a revolution was brewing in America. That revolution thrust Trump into the White House and shocked FAKE NEWS and the GOP. It is time for the GOP to learn from its mistakes and promote the election of candidates who support the Trump movement towards Making America Great Again.

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This Atridim News Journal blog on WordPress is accompanied by its companion Atridim News Journal blog on Facebook. It was there in early 2016 that Captain Rick began publishing weekly projections of how the large field of presidential candidates ranked. Looking back, Captain Rick called all of the rankings with perfection, while FAKE NEWS got it all so wrong, week after week. Its all on record for the world to review on ANJ on Facebook. A window is provided in the left column that shows ANJ blog posts on Facebook. Helpful info links are presented below.

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Captain Rick : I am fortunate to announce 76% completion of my 1999 New Years resolution to walk/bicycle the equivalent of once around the world (25,000 miles) to combat high blood pressure. I hope to reach my goal in 2020.

In 1999, at age 52, I was diagnosed with HBP (High Blood Pressure), placing me at an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. My doctor urged me to develop a healthier diet (less fat, cholesterol, salt, sugar, alcohol) and a daily exercise routine.

On New Years Eve in 1999, I made a resolution to begin eating healthy and walk a mile or more every day for exercise. It is a resolution that I have faithfully fulfilled over the many years since.

The death of my father from a heart attack a couple of years later fortified my resolution. I sharpened my diet and increased my exercise routine.

In 2005 I bought a bicycle and added a daily ride to my to my daily walking routine.

On New Years Eve, preceding 2006, I expanded my resolution to walk/bicycle the equivalent of once around the world … 25,000 miles. With only a few thousand miles logged, I knew this was a very tall resolution … but, it was a goal that I was bound and determined to achieve.

Over the past 18 years I have worn out over 20 sets of shoes walking 9000 miles, with the best pair achieving 767 miles, an inexpensive pair of Dr. Scholl’s. Several expensive pair ‘bit the dust’ after a couple hundred miles, proving that cost does not equal endurance. As an experienced walker and engineer, I hope to blog about the design of today’s shoes in a future blog post. Shoe companies could learn an abundance of knowledge. 

I have worn out 2 bicycles and many sets of tires, biking 10,000 miles. I am riding my third bicycle, a 29” Mongoose, already on its second set of tires. As an experienced biker and engineer, I hope to blog about the design of today’s bicycles in a future blog post. Bicycle companies could learn an abundance of knowledge. 

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I logged my miles every day since the beginning of my trek in 2000. In 2009 I began publishing my progress. I did so to recognize my difficult achievement, but more importantly to remind me that I had a long way to go and to help give me strength to carry on … and to give courage to the many people who have HBP and ‘walk in my shoes’.

Captain Rick’s ‘Round-the-World’ Walking/Bicycling Trek Progress Report:

Goal status as of January 1, 2017

Completed Distance: 18,976 miles (30,539 km), 76.2% of Earth’s 24,901 mile circumference

Remaining Distance: 5,925 miles (9,535 km), 23.8% of Earth’s 24,901 mile circumference

Estimated year of World Trek completion at current rate of 4.26 miles per day: 2020

Annual Progress History:

2016:

Walking: 630 miles (Trek total: 9,029 miles)

Bicycling: 925 miles (Trek total 9,947 miles)

Walking + Bicycling: 1,555 miles (Trek total: 18,976 miles, 76.2% completed)

Average: 4.26 miles per day (Estimated year of World Trek completion: 2020)

Age: 69

Captain Ricks Log of World Trek Progress History

Captain Rick: The Senate and House passed a short-term spending bill that prevented a government shutdown at the end of the week. It has White House backing.

This legislation allows Congress to ‘kick the can down the road’ until after America elects a new President and new members of Congress. With a bunch of ‘lame ducks’ residing in congress at that time, you can bet they will again ‘kick the can down the road’ with another short-term spending bill to fund the government until after a new President and Congress take office in January. That’s when the excitement begins …

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Fights over raising the debt limit broke out between the Obama White House and ruling Republicans in Congress in 2011 and 2013, unsettling Wall Street and foreign investors. The two sides struck a deal in 2015 to suspend the debt limit until Obama left office. The federal debt limit has been suspended since late 2015, but the law is set to be reinstated on March 16, 2017. The current debt limit of $20.1 trillion will be breached and another funding emergency will be at hand to prevent another U.S. government shutdown.

Government shutdowns in the past have become a ‘joke’ in that certain federal employees are told to stay home without pay, until Congress passed legislation to fund the government, which often included increasing the national debt and awarded compensation for all lost pay … meaning their time off was really an extra paid vacation; an insult to hard working employees of ‘Main Street’ America. The ‘Shutdown Game’ can not continue much longer because America is coming ever so close to falling off of the real and pending ‘Fiscal Cliff’. Many federal programs like Obamacare, Medicaid, Medicare and even Social Security are projected to implode in coming years without serious spending/taxation reform.

The U.S. National Debt has more than doubled since President Obama took office; from $9 trillion to $19.5 today. It is exploding at rate of $1.35 trillion each year. More than $10 trillion of ‘red ink debt dollars’ have been spent to keep the federal government functioning during the Obama Administration.

About 15% of money spent by the federal government has no revenue to support the expenditure and thus adds to the national debt. Much of this debt spending goes to states and cities in the form of federal grants. Our states and cities ‘drink up’ the grants like it is ‘free money coming from heaven’. Their philosophy is ‘if we don’t get the grant, some other city or state will’. What an awesomely greedy and fiscally reckless way to think. Shame on every city and state in America for slurping up these slush grants which add to the mushrooming U.S. National Debt. Our cities and states are a main contributors to the growing problem of America’s National Debt … debt which will be placed upon future generations to pay back … including our children and grand children. It’s a serious matter to think about.

I hope the next President and Congress will begin to balance the budget and curtail deficit spending. Saving America from falling off of the real and pending ‘Fiscal Cliff’, will not be easy. It will require ‘belt tightening’ by people, cities and states across America and most importantly by the U.S. Federal Government and our elected representatives in the U.S. Congress.