Episode 120 - Tornados Tear Apart Missouri, and are Iraqi Christians close to extinction?
Tornados Tear Apart Missouri, and are Iraqi Christians close to extinction? We'll get to it all on this episode of the Hot Zone.
[memorial Ronald Reagan]
Hi Folks, it's memorial day, and before we get to the stories I'm covering today, I just wanted to take a minute and honor the men and women who have sacrificed to make America what it is today. So few people in America today even know a person serving in the military - and the number who actually are serving at any given time is an infinitesimal percentage - six tenths of one percent of our population. Since the founding of our country, over a million American warriors have paid the ultimate price for our freedom. Today we honor that.
[memorial day package]
One of the greatest things about America is the willingness of our people to sacrifice for the benefit of others. If you do a little research you'll find that Americans are the most charitable people on the planet, by a long shot. That's likely due to our Judeo-Christian heritage, among other things, but it's one thing that makes America great - the fact that America is good.
It's easy to see this whenever tragedy strikes somewhere in the US. On Wednesday tornadoes hit Missouri and killed three people and made a mess out of the northern part of Joplin and Jefferson city. You might remember that Joplin was all but wiped off the map by a huge tornado eight years ago. I was there for the aftermath and found some perfect examples of how good Americans are at helping our fellow man. Watch.
I've seen the same things in so many disasters I've covered. And frankly it's one of the reasons I love doing this job. Because when the chips are down and people are losing everything and just trying to survive, we all come together and help each other. Politics don't matter, economic station is irrelevant. It's just people helping people. One of my heroes in this is my friend Kenny Vaughan. during the floods that hit Houston in the aftermath of hurricane harvey in 2017 he spent weeks of his time and thousands of dollars just helping people who needed it. Listen to him explain why:
If that doesn't make your heart swell and your eyes leak a little, you need to get your heart checked. That's all I need to say about that.
Okay, let's talk about Christians in Iraq. The Archbishop of Irbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, has accused Christian leaders in the west of failing to do enough in defence of the vanishing Christian community in Iraq.
Giving a speech in London, the Right Reverend Bashar Warda said Iraq's Christians now face extinction after 1,400 years of persecution.
Well is that true? It IS true that Iraqi Christians have had a really rough time over the past five years, and it wasn't easy even before that. There had been areas in that country where Christianity actually flourished at one time, but now the vast majority of Christians in that region have been driven out or killed during the plague that was ISIS.
But I believe there is reason to hope. When I visited Kurdistan in February, I attended a church led by American missionaries in Erbil. And it was thriving. There were many visitors at the service I attended who were current or former Muslims, who told me the brutality of ISIS caused them to re-think their own faith, and some said it led them to embrace Christ.
The church had a great service and powerful preaching. I got permission from the Pastor of the church to film the service and interview some of it's members. From that I made a great news feature for CBN news. But after they aired it the pastor's wife got very worried that the church would be targeted because of my report. She was so distraught thinking about it that we ended up pulling the package down off the website. Which was really unfortunate.
One of the great things about Kurdistan is it's tolerance. Lots of different ethnic, tribal and religious minorities live there in peace. In fact, I got to visit an aramaic church there one time - they are one of the only churches left in the world to hold services in the language Christ spoke. It was incredible.
So I'm hopeful. On this last trip I interviewed several groups who are pushing for a Christian enclave in Ninevah province, trying to make it a semi-autonomous region like Kurdistan, but specifically for Christians. There's a lot of hostility toward that idea by other groups, but who knows? With God, all things are possible.
So pray for the Christians left in Iraq. Pray for their safety, but more than that pray they'll have the courage to spread the gospel without getting too worried about their own safety. After all, Christians throughout history haven't really been known for being risk averse.
That's all for today folks. Thanks for watching. Have a great weekend and we'll be back with more next week. Right here on the Hot Zone.
Episode 119 - Thinking Outside the Box on Border Funding
The Trump Administration thinks outside the box on border funding, and Democrats come up with the stupidest objections ever. ON today's episode of the Hot Zone.
Hi folks, You know, you have to hand it to President Trump. He campaigned on building a big beautiful border wall, and every day since he took office he's had hordes of democrats doing everything they can to keep him from making good on that promise. They've refused to fund the project over and over, and so Trump has looked for more creative ways to get the job done. By declaring an emergency along the Mexican border, he is attempting to use funds slated for emergency construction by the military to pay for the wall.
Democrats are apoplectic. They know that if the wall gets built, it won't ever get un-built. Policies can change, but a physical barrier will stand the test of time and keep serving it's purpose, even under the next Democratic president. And that drives the left crazy.
The Administration is wasting no time putting up as many miles of border barrier as they can. DHS fast-tracked the project by waiving certain environmental impact studies and such, but On Tuesday, the Democrat-controlled house appropriations committee voted not only to NOT fund the wall, but they voted to prohibit the Trump administration from using military funding to do so. Today sometime a federal judge will probably issue an injunction against the border project to halt construction while two ridiculous lawsuits work their way through the court system. One brought by the ACLU and something like 19 different states, many of which aren't anywhere near the border, and the other by the Sierra club, which says the environmental impact of the wall is just too great.
The Sierra club argument is one of the dumbest I've ever heard. In my reporting along the wall I've seen the environmental destruction caused by the hundreds of thousands of migrants leaving their trash all over the place as they cross ranchers' land along the southern border. When I was in New Mexico a few weeks ago I talked to ranchers who told me about the high risk of infections their cattle have to face from diseases being brought in on migrants's shoes. this is a huge risk to the US food system, which makes it a national security issue. The problem of a few antelope or coyotes not being able to cross the border at will is far outweighed by the very real costs to the US economy and national security by NOT building the wall.
But it doesn't matter. These lawsuits don't have to make sense. They just have to run out the clock. If they can tie the Trump administration up in legal challenges for the next year and a half, they can keep the borders open, and in the meantime we'll see another one or two million people enter our country illegally at the rate we're going.
This is unconscionable. But it's the truth.
I am airing a piece about this later this week on CBN. Check it out.
I believe that when gauging whether a wall would be effective, we should listen to the people who are on the front lines every day. That's what my friend Heather Sells did a few weeks ago when she traveled to the border in San Diego and went out with the Border Patrol to see the effects of the new barrier for herself. Check this out.
Okay, one last point I want to make about this. Actually, two. First. The wall isn't all that expensive in the greater scheme of things. Let's say it'll cost 12 billion. Well, the government wastes nearly four billion a year on improper medicare payments. Taxpayers have to pay more than 3 billion a year on upkeep for more than 3000 empty buildings the government is no longer using. We could easily pay for the wall many times over just by cutting excess and outdated subsidies for agriculture. So don't let anyone convince you the wall is just too expensive.
Secondly, there has been a lot of speculation about who is paying for these caravans that keep coming up from Central America. Now I've done a lot of reporting on this, and have shown how left wing organizations, churches and even individuals are helping migrants travel several thousand kilometers north to our border. But in reality you need to understand something: in the end, YOU are paying for these caravans. How so? When migrants come into out country, many if not most of them qualify for various state and local programs and entitlements. And they know how to game the system to take advantage of as many of those programs as possible. We're talking about state and federal programs such as SNAP, TANF, CHIP, school lunches, housing assistance and much much more. And it's a well known fact that much of this money, provided by US taxpayers, is then sent south via western union to latin america to help provide funds for additional family members to make the journey. This is not fake news, it's not a hypothetical. It is happening every day and it accounts for literally billions of US dollars per year. So don't let anyone tell you the wall is too expensive. That barrier will pay for itself in no time. But from the looks of things, getting it built is going to take a miracle.
That's all I have for today folks. Thanks for watching, and I'll see you back again tomorrow, on the Hot Zone.
Episode 118 - What's Iran's Plan for Iraq and is ISIS Metastasizing?
What's Iran doing in Iraq, and is ISIS metastasizing around the globe? All that coming up on today's Hot Zone.
Well folks, it's another beautiful day on the farm, and here I am making you another podcast. I just want to take moment and let you know how much I appreciate all you who support the podcast on Patreon. Those of you who have stepped up and joined forces with the Podcast to try to do good around the globe as I bring you the news of the wars and disasters I cover are so encouraging. Frankly It's just so humbling. And I want you all to know I'm keeping track of your generosity and am using it to continue helping the people I've reported on. Here's an example: These two girls from Venezuela - Yessica and her sister Oris, were helped back in April to move from the border region in Cucuta where they were living on the street. We got them bus tickets to a city called Pereira on the other side of Colombia, where they had some relatives they could live with. That was step one. They we sent more money to help them get a place of their own and now they are seeking work permits that will let them actually get real jobs.
This mother - Catherine, was working as a porter and had to leave her kids unsupervised playing on the street while she worked, but with your help we got her set up with her own little business so now she can sell things and stay with her kids.
Bottom line you are making a difference with your contributions to the podcast. So thank you. In a few weeks I'm headed to Afghanistan and will be over there for a couple of weeks. There is more happening there than you likely know about, because the media hasn't been covering it all that much. But with 15,000 US troops on the ground, well, I think we ought to know, so I'm going to go spend some time with them and bring you the scoop from on the ground.
Okay, let's talk about what's happening in Iraq - the Iranians have been busy trying to strengthen their grip on that country, and you have to remember that Iran is Shia muslim, and everything south of about Kirkuk in Iraq is also Shia Muslim. So there's an affinity there. North of Kirkuk is Kurdistan, and Western Iraq is made up of Sunni, Yezidi, Turkmen, Assyrian Christians, Caldeans, Druze and others. That's a bit of a generalization but it helps to understand the shia/sunni divide especially.
"Credible threat" from Iran came out two weeks ago - we talked to Erick Stakelbeck about that in Ep 112.
Drone strikes on Saudi Arabian Oil,
moving of Aircraft carriers into the gulf
lots of harsh words between US and Iran
US Embassy Baghdad pulls people out
Coalition Maj. Gen. Chris Ghika says there is no increased threat from the PMUs.
But PMUS aren't the only threat.
Last week the State Department issued the security alert to the “non-essentials” in Baghdad and Erbil, recommending they “depart Iraq by commercial transportation as soon as possible, avoid U.S. facilities within Iraq, monitor local media for updates, review personal security plans, remain aware of surroundings.”
An earlier security alert on May 12 advised all U.S. citizens of heightened tensions in Iraq and the requirement to remain vigilant. It recommended not traveling to Iraq, avoiding places known as U.S. citizen gathering points, keeping a low profile etc.
Then Sunday night a rocket was fired at the Green Zone.
What is green zone?
Was the general wrong? Not really.
Back on Episode 64 we interviewed Anne Speckhard, and she was in Baghdad when the missile came in.
Article in the Daily Beast claims a Senior IRaqi official told them the rocket was fired by iranian-backed hezbollah,
makes the case that Iran is testing america by a series of pin-prick attacks, trying to provoke us?
US intel agencies reportedly knew of the threat in IRaq, and even knew about Iranian backed forces moving missiles around bases where US forces are housed. Apparently Mike Pompeo on his unannounced visit to IRaq last week asked the IRaqi government to reign in the PMUs...so you could say the British general who said there was no problem was just doing what Generals are supposed to do - give a briefing to the press without actually giving away anything they are doing.
I guess it remains to be seen what is going to happen between the US and Iran, but one thing we do know is that IRaq is going to be a point of friction between the two countries in the process of finding out. Iran desperately wants to control what happens there and likely sees everything happenening in Iraq as part of a proxy war against the United States.
For his part, I think Trump mostly is taking the right approach - tough talk, and be willing to back it up with force if you have to. I think if Iran doubts his willingness to let the missiles fly, they might find that to be a costly miscalculation.
Now let's move on to talk about ISIS for a minute. I think it's pretty well established that the cancerous tumor that was the Islamic State caliphate in IRaq and Syria has been cut out and removed. But nobody really thinks the cancer has been defeated. Since the terror group is now essentially back to being an insurgency, they are doing their best to spread their evil ideology around the globe, and with some success. We've talked about many of these hot zones before - ISIS attacks in Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Libya, Europe and even the United States. They seem to be really good at turning disaffected and lonely muslim men into lone wolves, and in franchising their brand as it were across the globe.
Now word comes out of india and Pakistan that ISIS is declaring another new caliphate location - which they call the province of Hind.
This is a region that spans parts of India and Pakistan. Now there is some interesting history behind this. This region was once called Khorasan, and take a look at this iSIS recruiting video I found online that talks about the importance of this area.
So remember, ISIS is a Sunni organization and Iran is Shia - they are enemies. So these ISIS muftis think Iran will need to go away or at least get busy in a big war with the United States so that they'll be too otherwise occupied to stop the ISIS armies from marching from Afghanistan to Iraq, which they call "el quds".
Now Indian and pakistani security forces say there is no new caliphate beginning in their countries. So all of this is likely just propaganda, but ISIS has proven that it can carry out or at least motivate attacks on churches from the Philippines, to Egypt, to Sri Lanka and Europe. And there have been some pretty massive terror attacks in India as well, not all of them attributed to Muslim extremists, but records show at least 400 people have died every year in terrrorist incidents in India, and there have been at least four major terror attacks there this year.
One of the things we learned from the Mumbai terror attacks carried out by muslim extremists 11 years ago, in which almost 200 people were killed and hundreds more injured is that these kinds of attacks are the hardest to combat. They are called massive multicell terror attacks, and that's where a team of terrorists coordinates to hit multiple locations at once to create mass chaos and confusion, and to bring a city to a standstill, which makes it very difficult for emergency services to respond to. 9/11 was the ultimate massive multicell attack, and one of the things we learned from that was that the US needed a separate cell network specifically for first responders, since the common cell network gets easily overwhelmed in times of crisis.
Think about it, emergency personnel from dozens of different state, local and federal agencies all converging on an emergency, each of them with different tactics, techniques and procedures, different radio frequencies, levels of training, etc, and all trying to address the same event - it's a huge problem and we've seen how that inability to seamlessly work together has cost lives, from Mumbai to Miami to Parkland to San Bernadino.
Well a friend of mine who is a legend in the Special Forces community decided to try and do something about that. He started a training center called DARC. Check it out.
We need to never allow ourselves to take for granted the men and women who give their all to protect us, and they do so day in and day out, while you are working, while you are sleeping and they do it for too little pay. In reality we can't afford to pay them what they are worth, but respect costs nothing. And they should have all the respect we can offer.
That's it for today's podcast. Thanks for watching.
Episode 117 - Does Lady Liberty Demand Open Borders?
Immigration - will the tidal wave ever end? We'll look back at some context about the current crisis on this episode of the Hot Zone.
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at OUR sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
MOTHER OF EXILES. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
Hi folks, I'm Chuck Holton. That sonnet is the part you've likely never heard of the poem that adorns Lady Liberty in New York Harbor. Great literature, to be sure. But what do those lofty goals of "world-wide welcome" mean in today's contentious political environment? We'll explore that on this episode of the Hot Zone. So The Crisis at the US southern border is nothing short of catastrophic, not just for American sovereignty, but for the people who are risking everything, leaving their families behind to cross thousands of miles of dangerous territory and grab for a slice of the American dream. Many of them end up being separated from their loved ones for years, only to find out getting into America isn't as easy as they thought it would be.
The US Customs and Border Protection is currently stretched beyond their limits, but the men and women who protect the border every day are still doing some really good work. ON Thursday U.S. Border Patrol agents working near the U.S./Mexico International Border arrested two convicted sex offenders who had entered the United States illegally. Both men had felony convictions for sex crimes with a minor. One was a Mexican and the other was an illegal from El Salvador. Friday, an undercover operation by the Border Patrol netted an estimated 220 pounds of methamphetamine, 110 pounds of cocaine, and thousands of pills. So when you hear the media say all these migrants are just poor immigrants looking for a better way of life, keep in mind some very bad people are taking advantage of the chaos to enter our country so they can sell their drugs or take advantage of your daughter.
And lest you believe the lying politicians who say the Border Patrol isn't compassionate, keep in mind these men and women put themselves at risk every day to safeguard the very people who are crossing our frontier illegally. U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to the Eagle Pass Station marine unit rescued two undocumented immigrants on Thursday morning after they nearly drowned attempting to cross the Rio Grande River.
This year we're looking at likely more than a million people flooding into America without waiting in line or getting a visa. That's a catastrophe, for sure, but it's not without precedent. In fact, about half of the years since 1980 have seen more than a million illegals enter our country. So the claim that there are only 11 or 12 million people living illegally in the United States is likely way off. In fact, According to a study by two Yale professors and an MIT instructor, there are approximately 22.1 million illegal aliens living in the United States, more than twice previous estimates. The ironic thing is, these professors set out to prove the number was much lower than the 11 million figure commonly being used. They were able to prove some faulty methodology in the study that came up with the generally accepted estimates but were shocked to discover that the true number is likely much, much higher.
Keep in mind how much this costs you and me. According to the Federation for American Immigration Reform:
In 2017, the total cost of illegal immigration for the United States – at the federal, state, and local levels – was approximately $116 billion. FAIR arrived at this number by subtracting the tax revenue paid by illegal aliens – about $19 billion – from the total economic impact of illegal migration, $134.9 billion.
Based on previous estimates, in under four years, the cost has risen nearly $3 billion.
Evidence shows that the tax payments made by illegal aliens fail to cover the costs of the many services they consume. For example., A large percentage of illegal aliens who work in the underground economy frequently avoid paying any income tax at all. But they do file taxes: Many illegal aliens actually receive a net cash profit through refundable tax credit programs.
The thing is, they know this. The news travels fast in Latin America that if you can just get to the United States...just get across the border however you can, you can work for cash under the table, qualify for a few social programs, and even get a tax refund when you didn't pay any tax! Then you can send some of that money home to the rest of your kin and pay for their trip to the land of milk and honey.
I've talked to Latinos who have never been to the US who can tell me all about how to game the system. And even if they get put in detention, they'll get three hots and a cot, daily hot showers, free calls home...all of which represents more than they are used to at home. I'm not saying this out of hatefulness - I don't think you can blame these people. I mean, it'd be like if Someone told us that all we had to do was take a bus to the border in Canada and that country would pay us a million bucks a year for doing nothing. Who wouldn't get in that line?
People like to excoriate our president for suggesting a moratorium on the importation of people from countries known for terrorism. But there's a lot of precedent for that sort of thing. for example, let's look back at some of our history relating to immigration:
Ellis Island opened in 1892 as a processing center for legal immigrants wanting to come to the United States. By 1907 the center passed a milestone - one million people entered through the center in that year.
But back then migrants were subjected to some pretty harsh requirements before they'd be granted access to the USA. Today we see the Statue of Liberty with her bronze plaque inscribed with some lines from a sonnet composed by Emma Lazarus. It says, "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Liberals like to point to those words as proof that America should accept every single person who comes from anywhere on earth that happens to be poorer than we are. But in those early days at Ellis Island, America had STANDARDS. and if you didn't meet the bar we set, you were on the next ship back home. Simple as that.
There were health standards. You could be denied for having missing limbs, being blind, or even just too weak. Obviously, if you were contagious your were gone immediately, but we didn't get that many of those because the shipping lines received a fine of $100 for every person they delivered to America who didn't qualify.
There were economic requirements - the US wanted to see that you had thirty dollars in your pocket, or if not, someone already in the states who would sponsor you.
And there were even political and ideological requirements. You could not be an anarchist or a polygamist. Anyone with a criminal background was not allowed. And you could even be disqualified if the reviewer just thought you were a little too slow or for any reason might become a ward of the state.
My how times have changed. Today, many, if not most of the hundred thousand or so migrants crossing our southern border every month are coming here specifically to become wards of the state. Let that sink in.
in 1924 the US determined there were too people deemed "undesirable" emigrating to our country. so the Immigration act was passed that severely restricted immigration by people from Poland, Italy, Greece and Eastern Europe, as well as Jews.
So it has been done. Part of the job of the United States Government is to control immigration. Point, Period, end of story. Because without that control we simply aren't a country. Now I'm all for people being able to travel wherever they want to go. And truthfully the US could handle another 100 million people as long as we didn't give them anything but opportunity and they spread out a bit. But unfettered immigration coupled with a broken and overly generous social welfare programs - which don't kid yourself, are intended to take money from a small group of voters in order to buy the loyalty of a much larger group of voters...well that's a recipe for the fall of our civilization.
I've been reporting on this for a long, long time. And I want to remind you of one thing: there are tens of thousands of people languishing in the system who are trying to come here legally... and they are having to wait for sometimes years because they're being run over by the hundreds of thousands who just choose to cross the river illegally.
So look, A wall will slow the tide, but only removing the monetary incentives will fix the problem for good.
Is that humane? Well, it certainly is for those who are paying the bill.
That's all for today's podcast. Thanks for watching. I'll see you back here again tomorrow!
Episode 116 - A Battalion of US Troops in a Country that Doesn't Exist
Did you know there are US troops serving in 170 countries across the globe? You might be surprised to know the Pentagon reports that in March, we had troops in places like Bolivia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, and it even reports we have two soldiers in Venezuela. I wonder what they heck they are doing there?
Anyway, most surprising to me is that most of the countries where we have US troops there are less than a hundred. But of the places where we have more than that, one place very few Americans know about is Kosovo.
Kosovo isn't actually even fully recognized as a country, but the almost 2 million people who live there want it to be. the problem is political, geographical and religious divisions that have made this little slice of the former Yugoslavia a pretty violent place for much of its history. One of the most violent periods was in 1998 and 1999 when the Kosavo liberation Army fought for their independence from Yugoslavia. This sparked a massive refugee crisis with over a million people displaced. The worst of it was twenty years ago this week.
Unfortunately that history is still being repeated in all too many places around the globe. From Venezuela, Syria, North Africa and many other places. I am still getting messages every day from the people you helped when I was in Venezuela...and they are telling me things are still very, very tough. they struggle to work, to eat, and to find hope in what looks like an increasingly hopeless situation.
Well I visited our troops in Kosovo a few years ago, and unfortunately not much has changed since then. We still have over 600 troops stationed there as peacekeepers, about a battallion of national guard troops, currently a unit from Alaska. They train on peacekeeping operations and do presence patrols around the country because there is still a lot of deep-seated animosity between the Kosavars and their neighbors to the north, in Serbia. Check this out.
[excerpt from dvidshub]
[excerpt from frontlines Kosovo]
Well that's all I have for today folks. I hope you are enjoying the podcast, and stay tuned - I have some super episodes coming up very soon. Please like and share the podcast and if you want to watch it, check out Opslens.com and watch the video version.
I'm Chuck Holton, and we'll see you back here tomorrow.
See the full episode of the NRA Frontlines Kosovo at:
Episode 115 - The Opioid Epidemic Ground Zero - Southern West Virginia
In this episode we will hear from some recovering addicts and the WV State Attorney General on what is being done to combat the incredible scourge of opioid addiction in the United States and here in Southern West Virginia.
Episode 114 - US Troops Threatened in Iraq - and Iraqi Christians Look Forward
A rising threat to US troops in Iraq, and how Iraqi Christians are coping now that ISIS has been defeated.
Well ISIS is mostly dead in Syria, but as I've been saying for a long time, that's only the beginning of the troubles in that region. Iran has big designs on every inch of land between Tehran and Beirut Lebanon. And right now about the only things standing in the way of their aspirations are Israel and the United States of America.
Rising tensions between the United States and Iran are playing out in the middle east, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo making a surprise visit to Baghdad last week. This happened after U.S. intelligence showed an increased threat from Iran on US forces in the middle east, and in Iraq that takes the form of the Hash'd al-Shaabi, which are Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias pointing rockets at bases housing U.S. forces. Pompeo showed up with a firm message for Iraq’s top brass... they need to keep the militias, which are expanding their power in Iraq and now form part of its security apparatus, in check. If not, the U.S. won't hesitate to put some real hurt on those militias, which will certainly set everyone's hair on fire in Baghdad. As tensions between Washington and Tehran increase, Iraq is kinda caught between the two, not wanting to give up all the funding it still receives from the US and it's allies, but also not wanting to anger it's neighbor Iran, who has it's fingers in the highest levels of the Iraqi government.
Now the Hash'd Al-Shaabi fought alongside US and Iraqi forces in the fight against ISIS. But they've always been controlled by Tehran. The head of their Quds force, Major General Quasem Solemani was in Iraq when I was there one time and was visiting Hash'd Al-Shaabi units near Mosul. But just like we fought against ISIS and so did the forces of Syrian President Bashaar Al Assad, that doesn't mean we have much else in common with them. In fact, the Hashd are right now engaged in an operation along the Iraqi border with Syria where they are working with Assads forces to root out any remaining elements of ISIS.
When Mike Pompeo left Baghdad, he had this to say on the plane after taking off:
[Pompeo SOT 2 min]
The Hashd Al-Shaabi aren't just a threat to US troops in IRaq. Because of their connection to Iran, they really destabilize and threaten the whole region. When I visited Northern Iraq in February I went and spoke with some of the Christian groups and Kurdish political parties who are being threatened by Iran's advances.
[Stand up outside Christian Militia party]
[Interview with party leader]
I also spent one day driving out near the Iranian border to visit a Kurdish political party that has actually been attacked by Iran in the past.
[Stand up ]
[Walk around Erbil]
Well that's all I have for today folks. Thanks for watching. Imagine having to make a 20-minute TV show every day of the week. Well that's how hard I'm working to bring you this content, and judging by our numbers, people are liking it. Well I'm doing all that for you, and the least you can do in return is like and share this podcast with your friends. I've got some great trips planned over the next couple of months. So stick around! We'll see you back here tomorrow, on the Hot Zone.
Episode 113 - GRAPHIC CONTENT: Clashes in Khartoum, Code Pink Gets Booted and Terrorism Surges In Africa
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT: HIn this episode we have another great interview with Ryan Boyette, who lives in Sudan and is married to a Sudanese woman. He breaks down the most recent violence in Sudan and we also talk about my late friend Shaheen Nazdar, who died two years ago Tuesday.
Episode 112 - Iran and Israel...What Does The Future Hold?
This episode features an interview with Erick Stakelbeck, host of "The Watchman" on TBN. Erick is a leading commentator on the Middle East, especially Israel. He has some incredible insight into the current state of affairs with Iran. Don't miss it!
Episode 111 - You thought Syria was over? Nope. Why Walls Work, and Why WE Need One.
You thought Syria was over? Nope. Why Walls Work, and Why WE Need One. That's coming up on Today's Hot Zone.
Hi folks! When I left Syria back at the end of February, the last stand of ISIS was almost at an end. Just a few weeks later, their last stronghold of Baghouz fell to Syrian Democratic Forces - that's the Kurds, and the last exhausted fighters and their families gave themselves up. Good news.
Well I've been saying for a long time that even once ISIS was defeated in Syria, the show wouldn't be over. In fact, it doesn't even mean the end of ISIS. First off, there's the problem of what to do with the more than 70,000 ISIS wives and their children who are now languishing in camps without enough food, clean water or medical care. The SDF fighters guarding the camps say they can't sustain that amount of people without a lot of help from the US government, and inside the camp they are enforcing sharia law and self-radicalizing even more, and most of those women believe they will soon reconstitute ISIS and continue terrorizing the world.
Many of the men - the fighters who belonged to ISIS were not captured or killed, but made their way north to Turkish territory and will certainly have to be dealt with at some point. Make no mistake - Recip Tayep Erdogan is not our ally in this fight. He is straight up muslim brotherhood and supports ISIS ideologically. It is mind boggling to me that as recently as 2016 we had up to 50 nukes at incirlik air base in Turkey. Word is that they were moved to Romania, but Incirlik is still home to over 5,000 US troops.
Anyway, Now that ISIS has been routed from Southern Syria, Bashar Al Assad can now turn his attention to rooting out other insurgent elements in the north. In recent days there has been heavy fighting in the Idlib region of Syria as Assads forces backed by Russian and Iranian muscle have battled rebel elements that are aligned with Al Qaeda. The Syrians are dropping barrel bombs and Russian fighter jets are pounding the area, with the predictable result that hundreds of civilians have been killed and more than 150,000 have fled the area. So unfortunately for the people of Syria, it looks like the end of their misery is nowhere in sight. This violence will continue as Russia, Turkey, Iran, the Kurds and oh yeah, Syria all jockey for control of the region.
Please pray for my friend Dave Eubanks and his crew as they continue to work in that area. It's still incredibly dangerous and the free burma rangers are continuing to treat those who are hurting. But they need support to do so, so if you're inclined to help, please go to freeburmarangers.org.
Okay, on to the US Southern border. The numbers just came out for the month of April, and things are dramatically worse than even the month before. In fact, every month this year has seen about a thirty percent increase in enforcement actions along the border from the month before. Did you hear that? The number of people arriving at our southern border is going up thirty percent PER MONTH. Over 109,000 people were apprehended in April. About ten percent were unaccompanied minors.
As it gets hotter down there, more and more of these crossers need medical attention when they arrive at our border. The other day, for example, the border patrol had to rescue this mexican man off the top of a mountain in the desert because he was too exhausted to walk anymore. Do you have any idea what this costs us? That black hawk helicopter costs over $25,000 an hour to fly. Just think about that for a minute. This ONE illegal who is flaunting our laws to get into the United States cost American taxpayers over 25 grand. And do you know how many rescues like this the Border Patrol has conducted this year? Try TWO THOUSAND.
One of the reason migrants come here is that they know they will be treated for free at the hospital if they cannot pay. This year the Border Patrol estimates it will apprehend over 31,000 people who are in immediate need of medical care - who they will then have to transport to hospitals in the US, wait with them while they are treated, and then transport them to a detainment facility. So far this year that's cost the border patrol more than 57,000 man hours - which cost the American taxpayer over 2.2 MILLION dollars in salaries alone, in addition to the cost of medical care.
Listen to Border Patrol Chief Brian Hastings describe the problem further:
These huge groups of migrants are coming because they know that they can get in. And they know their window may be closing, despite the best efforts of democrats to stop the construction of a border wall. The truth is, the wall is under construction and wherever it goes up, illegal crossings go down. Take a look at this package put out by the border patrol about the new wall being built near Calexico california.
Folks, this has to happen. Trump campaigned on it, and if he doesn't get it done in his first term it won't be for lack of trying. What does it say about our system when a federal judge in Hawaii can block the US president from taking steps to safeguard the American people? What does it say when left-wing organizations including some funded by the UN and george Soros can create an infrastructure across latin america to make it easier and quicker for migrants to make their way 4000 kilometers north to the US border? What does it say about our culture when mainstream media outlets put out infomercials in latin america explaining the process of illegal migration and how to take advantage of sanctuary cities? This is more than a humanitarian crisis. IT's more than a crisis of national security. This is an existential crisis for the United States of America.
Okay, lastly today, let's talk about what happened last week when the US suddenly scrambled military forces to the middle east at the request of CENTCOM commander General Frank McKenzie. This was based on Iranian threats to U.S. military uncovered by recent US intel reports which showed Iran activating some of its proxies and repositioning forces, apparently in preparation for attacks on US interests, both at land and at sea. Well that's not good. We don't want war with Iran, but in reality, I believe that's going to have to happen at some point. Every president has sort of kicked that can down the road, but unless the sanctions can be enforced with enough vigor to choke out that rogue nation, sooner or later we're going to have to confront them militarily, and when we do let's hope the President has the courage to go hard against them and hurt them so badly it will take them decades to recover.
In reality that almost happened back in 2016 when the IRGC captured two small navy boats with ten US sailors on board, after their boats developed engine trouble and drifted into Iranian waters. Apparently there was a very forceful exchange between the Obama administration and the Iranians, Where John Kerry called his Iranian counterpart and basically told him "you are going to release them unharmed immediately or this is about to get real." After fifteen hours, the Iranians finally complied, but not before releasing this humiliating video of our sailors kneeling on the deck of their boats with their hands behind their heads like they were about to be executed. This was a definite PR loss for the United States, but that was common during the Obama Administration.
Anyway, let's hope Iran backs down this time - I think the show of force by the Trump Administration sent the right message to the mullahs in tehran. Mess with the bull, you are going to get the horns.
That's all we have for today folks. I appreciate you watching. Please like and share this podcast - help me get the word out and it'll help me keep bringing you factual and timely reporting from hot zones around the globe.
I'm Chuck Holton. see you tomorrow.
Episode 110 - The US Military is Headed to Venezuela - but not how you think! And A Major Attack In Afghanistan
The US Military is Headed to Venezuela - but not how you think! And A Major Attack In Afghanistan
On Wednesday morning five Taliban terrorists stormed the gates of an American aid organization in Afghanistan. With suicide bombs and machine guns, they killed the men guarding the gate of counterpart international, an American aid agency who is in Afghanistan trying to help improve the lives of the people. Afghan special forces arrived within minutes and were able to rescue over 200 people out of the compound safely, before clearing it and killing the remaining terrorists. In all five people were killed not including the attackers.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the group attacked the organization because it was involved in “harmful Western activities” inside Afghanistan. And what are these "harmful activities?" Well, according to their website, counterpart international engages in the following:
Maternal, newborn, and child health
Nutrition and food security
Behavior change communication
HIV/AIDS community treatment, care, and support
Malaria prevention and treatment
People living with disabilities
Water, sanitation, and hygiene
Now, looking at that list of horrible western activities, it's easy to see why the Taliban has a problem with them. I mean who wants healthy babies? Or clean water and nutritious food? I guess this attack makes it easier to understand why Afghanistan has a six thousand year old culture but still hasn't figured out things like toilets, paved roads, light switches, or beds. I mean who wants those corrupting western influences?
Well apparently a lot of Afghans DO want those corrupting western influences, judging by the fact that almost ten percent of the country has left for somewhere else since 2001. In the past three years alone almost a quarter million afghans have fled to europe, looking for a better life. So I guess there's something to be said for electricity and seated toilets. But the lack of those things doesn't necessarily qualify a person for asylum. IN fact, less than ten percent of Afghans who apply for asylum in europe are granted their request and allowed to stay. Which of course does not make them happy campers. Listen to these Afghan refugees who are sort of stuck in serbia after being kicked out of Hungary.
So this is obviously not a long term solution. I mean if the Taliban succeed at driving out a large percentage of their country, essentially making their poorest people someone else's problem, they win! Not only that, but the emigration from Afghanistan has caused a major brain drain as the wealthiest and most educated have fled as well.
Now for my opinion. I think this latest attack is just one more reason why the US should not engage in nation building. In 2001 it was determined after 9/11 that Afghanistan was a threat to our country, so we removed the Taliban from power in a matter of weeks. At that point, we should have pulled our troops out and sent Afghanistan a message: You can rebuild your country any way you want. But if we determine you are once again a threat to our country, we will come back and wipe the slate clean once again. We'll be happy to offer advice and even some limited aid if you ask for it, but other than that we won't meddle in your country. And leave it at that.
Now some would say that would be a recipe for mass chaos and misery in Afghanistan that would cause out-migration. But what has a billion dollars a week and 2400 American lives achieved in Afghanistan? mass out-migration. So why don't we just save all that blood and treasure? Others say it would give our enemies like Iran and China an opportunity to come in and set up a puppet government. They are probably right. So be it. Our message to Iran and China should be the same. If you threaten us, we will destroy you. Otherwise, let's do business! We can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Your choice.
Now do I think this idea of mine would ever happen? Not a chance. One thing I've learned about governments and militaries - they all subscribe to the ideology of self-justification. Nobody wants to work themselves out of next year's budget.
As for the migrant problem - there's this concept called the death of distance - coined in the 1990s. It predicted that the rise of the internet and smart phones would make every part of the globe accessible to every other part of the globe in a way that would radically change the world as we know it. And these global mass-migrations from poor countries to rich ones is one of those changes. Before the internet, a goat herder in zabul province was content to follow a bunch of goats around for his entire life because he didn't know there was any other option. But when that goat herder in zabul province can watch friends on his smart phone - he's going to end up being less content and wishing he had a more modern life - and really, what does he have to lose if he leaves and walks north? Add in the generous social welfare programs offered by European states...and it's a no brainer.
It's no different on our side of the pond. A study released this week shows that fully 25% of Guatemalans - over 4 million people - plan to move to the United States. Now Guatemala is poor, but not Africa poor. There are bad neighborhoods, but it's not a war zone. Honduras is worse. And Mexico, despite the violence you hear about in the news, is actually fairly safe and stable as long as you aren't part of the drug trade or live in Juarez, Tijuana or Acapulco. And yet at least forty million Mexicans say they would like to move to the US.
So between Mexico and the rest of central America, you're looking at over fifty million people who are planning to or thinking about emigrating to the US. If you think that won't bankrupt our already struggling social security, medicaid, medicare and all our other entitlement systems, you're sorely mistaken.
Already, pregnant women are flocking to enter the United States illegally in order to have their babies at taxpayer expense. This is no small problem. Last year, there were more babies born to illegal immigrant mothers in Los Angeles alone than there were TOTAL births in fourteen states and the district of Columbia, combined. And nearly seventy percent of illegal immigrant mothers who give birth in the US do so at taxpayer expense - costing us a whopping 5.3 billion dollars per year. Which would be enough to completely fund the border wall in the United States in a little over two years.
Folks, this cannot continue. We are taking in more migrants than almost every other country on the planet put together. And the cost to the treasury...when we are already looking at over 22 trillion in debt - is not sustainable. That's not racism. It's not xenophobia. It's simple arithmetic.
Okay, One quick note about Venezuela - Vice President Mike Pence made a speech this week encouraging more top brass to defect from the Venezuelan military, and announcing that we are sending US military forces to the Colombian coast - but not offensive forces. We're sending the USNS Comfort.
[Mike pence speech]
This is good news for the venezuelans, but it's kind of a symbolic gesture more than anything because the US Navy hospital ship can treat at best a couple thousand people. And there are millions in Venezuela who need help. I'll have some more reporting next week from my recent trip to the Colombian border. So stick around.
That's it for today's show however. If you're enjoying this podcast, please consider supporting us by going to Patreon.com/hotzone, and like and share the podcast wherever you listen to it. If you want to watch the podcast, you can do so for free at Opslens.com.
So have a good weekend. I know I will. I'm Chuck Holton and this has been the Hot Zone.
Episode 109 - What's Worse Than A Crisis? Plus Haiti and San Francisco Republicans!
Whatever you have when you are beyond a crisis is what we now have at the Southern Border. Reports show more than 4 million plan to emigrate to the US in the coming years - and that's JUST FROM GUATEMALA. If we don't build a wall, we won't have a country. It's as simple as that.
Plus - a sneak preview of an upcoming news feature about Dr. Doug Burbella and his miraculous escape from what should have been a fatal ambush in Haiti.
And...what it's like to be a republican in San Francisco - talk about a hot zone!
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Episode 108 - Code Pink Invades Venezuela! An Exclusive!
Anti-War left-wing extremists have invaded Venezuelan soil - by taking over the embassy in Washington DC. This episode features an exclusive interview with one of the Code Pink protesters, as well as another with a young man currently living in Venezuela. Which do you think knows what they are talking about?
In this episode we talk to Julie Stahl, an experienced reporter who has lived in Israel for more than 30 years. She and her cameraman were forced to take cover in the incoming barrage of missiles from Gaza. She visited the site where a Jewish man was killed as he tried to get his family to safety. Original reporting the likes of which you've come to expect from the Hot Zone!
See her reporting on CBNNews.com
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Episode 106 - Ministering to Migrants and Risking It All in the Jungle
3000 migrants are stuck in the Darien Jungle of Panama, and more are arriving every day. For the indigenous tribes who live in the area, the tidal wave of humanity is changing their way of life. This episode features a full conversation with Alan Foster, a missionary in Yaviza, Darien. He tells us how the locals are coping with a flood of migrants who are eating their food, using their water and heading for the United States.
Episode 105 - Tortured for Christ with Majed Al Shafie
Today's Hot Zone features an interview with Majed al Shafie, a former Muslim who converted to Christianity - and paid a steep price for doing so. Don't miss his amazing story!
check out https://ofwi.org/
Episode 104 - 3000 migrants too many and a Baby named Darien!
On today's podcast, we'll visit a remote refugee camp in the Darien region of Panama - where thousands of migrants are languishing after a grueling trek through the jungle. And we'll meet a baby who was born there in third-world conditions!
Operation Libertad - the biggest push yet to unseat Nicolas Maduro is underway in Venezuela - and I JUST LEFT the border region once again! In this special episode we'll check back in on some of the people we've helped in previous episodes, and find more needy people! Don't miss it!