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Dr. Jack Wheeler

FLOWER HIGHWAYS, FLOWER TRAILS

azores-islands-flowers

For miles and miles, the roads in the Azores Islands are lined with flowers on both sides. Even the foot paths and trails are strewn with flowers.

maderia-azores-paradise

As you know, I’ve been to every country in the world. I know of no place on earth more beautiful, more flower strewn, more peaceful, serene, and safe than Portugal’s island paradises of Madeira and the Azores in the Atlantic.

So plan on joining me, Rebel, and your fellow TTPers on our exploration of Atlantic Paradises, June 24 to July 2. Make this beauty and serenity a part of your life. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #196 photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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TWO COOL MOUNTAIN TAJIK KIDS AT THE FIRST PEARL OF SHING

tajik-kidsThe high hidden Valley of Shing in western Tajikistan holds, as we learned in Glimpse #52, a series of seven stepping-stone lakes called the Seven Pearls of Shing. The valley is dotted with tiny villages of Mountain Tajiks, descendants of the ancient Sogdians who fought Alexander the Great.

Alexander fell in love with and married a Sogdian princess named Roxanna – and the girls of Shing are often named Roxanna to this day. The Mountain Tajiks of the Shing are a special people – strong, independent and free. They are also warm and welcoming. The kids – the girls just like the boys – grow up vibrant and confidant. These two young brothers exemplify that.

Each of the seven pearls have a unique breathless beauty, for they are of different colors and change according to the time of day. We are here at Mijnon (Eyelash), the first pearl, followed by Soya (Shade), Hushnor (Vigilance), Nophin (Navel), Khurdak (Little One), Marguzor (Blossoming), and Hazor Chasma (Thousand Springs). Towering above us are snow-laced mountains 18,000 feet high.

Perhaps you’d like to join your fellow TTPers to make the Seven Pearls, and so much else, a part of your life? Let me know! (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #53 photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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FLASHBACK FRIDAY – BRANDON AT LAMAYURU

brandon-at-lamayuru High in the Himalayas of India in the remote moonscape of Tibetan Ladakh is the gompa (Tibetan monastery) of Lamayuru. It is older than Tibetan Buddhism, for it was originally a gompa for the lama monks of Bön, the ancient animist religion of Tibet. I took my son Brandon here on an expedition through Tibetan India in 1993. Brandon had his 10th birthday here. Behind him is the enormous statue of blue-eyed Sakyamuni Buddha in the central prayer hall.

Brandon has never forgotten Lamayuru as anyone who has been here never does. We’ll be here again this August – and Brandon will be leading the expedition (Glimpses of our breathtaking world #151 photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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HALF-FULL REPORT 03/25/22

x
This uncannily prescient monologue was delivered a year ago – April 11, 2021 – by Russian journalist and former member of the Duma (Russia’s Parliament) Alexander Nevzorov for his 1.64 million subscribers to his YouTube channel.

Now that his astoundingly accurate predictions are coming true, Reuters reported ereyesterday (3/23) that the Kremlin wants him in jail: Top Russian Journalist Defiant in Face of Fake News Investigation.

But before a sitrep on how catastrophically bad the Russian military is doing in Ukraine, I need to tell you a story.  And no worries, this HFR will be about lots of other stuff, not just Ukraine.  Now let’s relax and settle in, it’s storytime.

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HOW CLOSE CAN YOU GET TO A BABY SPERM WHALE?

baby-sperm-whaleThis close – if you’re at the right place at the right time in the right boat.  That would be the Canal do Faial channel between the islands of Faial and Pico in the Azores, populated by more spawning sperm whales that just about anywhere else.  It’s also a haven for many other whale and dolphin species on their migratory route between the North and South Atlantic.

In June, this is one of the world’s best whale-watching sites – and we’ll be right there on our exploration of Atlantic Paradises June 24-July 2.

You won’t believe how truly paradisical Madeira and the Azores are.  Not just the weather and the beauty, but how safe, calm, and serene they are, how friendly everyone is – so friendly because everyone here is at peace with themselves.  You’ll discover your inner peace here too.  While never being bored as there’s always something exciting to see and do.  Like being this close to a baby sperm whale.

You owe it to yourself to make these Atlantic Paradises a part of your life. (Glimpses of our breathtaking world #195).

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ONE PICTURE, FOUR COUNTRIES, AND A SURPRISE

wakhan-corridorThis is the Wakhan Corridor traversed by Marco Polo on his way to China in 1273. The river is the Amu Darya, known to Alexander the Great and the ancient Greeks as the Oxus. The Wakhan is the finger of northeast Afghanistan designed in the late 19th century to prevent the Russian Empire in Central Asia from touching the British Empire in India. It now separates Tajikistan from Pakistan with its fingertip the only border Afghanistan has with China.

Thus you’re looking at four countries. The river forms the Tajik-Afghan border – Tajikistan is on the left, Afghanistan on the right, in the center distance are the Hindu Kush mountains of Pakistan, while in the far distance are the Karakorum mountains of China. This is a fabulously exotic remote part of our world with people living here tracing their ancestry to the troops of Alexander. Oh – and the surprise? I’ll tell you soon. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #77 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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INDIAN TIBET

ladakhThere is a part of Tibet the British kept from China and is now a part of India. The region is called Ladakh and this is its capital of Leh. It’s the Upper Indus river valley after it flows out of Chinese Tibet and before it reaches the Line of Control with Pakistan.

Ladakh is geographically and culturally Tibetan, where Tibetan culture still flourishes. Here the great gompas (monasteries) of Thikse and Hemis are active, and where you are welcome in hidden mysterious gompas like Lamayuru over a thousand years old.

There is an ultra-remote part of Ladakh called Zanskar where the Zanskar River flows through the crest of the Himalayas to reach the Upper Indus. Running the Zanskar is one of the world’s greatest whitewater experiences. We’ll see and do all of this next August on our Indian Tibet Expedition. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #120 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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MONTEZUMA’S CASTLE

montezumas-castle When American explorers came upon this extraordinary cliff dwelling in 1860s Arizona, they dubbed it “Montezuma’s Castle” on a whim. The Aztec ruler had nothing to do with it, of course. The Anasazi people built a number of these marvelous structures in the Southwest, high up on cliffs above a river that seasonally flooded.

For hundreds of years the Anasazi flourished, skilled agriculturalists and brilliant at constructing vast irrigation systems. Yet it all came to naught with a devastating megadrought with no rain for many decades, culminating in the collapse of the Anasazi culture and abandonment of their cliff dwellings by the early 1500s.

Another lesson that it is nature that control’s the Earth’s climate, not us. You’ll find Montezuma’s Castle above Beaver Creek south of Sedona. It’s a marvel not to be missed. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #194 photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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FLASHBACK FRIDAY: AFGHAN MUJAHADDIN?

jw-the-mujahaddinWhen my son Brandon was a cadet at Virginia Military Academy, his professor teaching Modern Military History gave a lecture on the 1980s War in Afghanistan fought by Afghan Mujahaddin against the Soviet Red Army occupation of their country. One of the pictures he showed was the one above of “three typical Mujahaddin fighters.”

Brandon raised his hand. “Yes, Cadet Wheeler,” the professor called on him. “Actually, Professor,” Brandon said, “only the man in the center with the white beard is one. The man on the right is United States Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, while the man on the left is my father.”

The professor was stunned while the rest of the class stifled laughter. “Are you quite sure of that, Cadet Wheeler?” stammered the professor. “Oh, yes sir,” Brandon replied. “I recognize my own father. That photo is framed in my father’s study. It was taken in November 1988. The Afghan Commander’s name is Moli Shakur. I have known Congressman Rohrabacher all my life.”

The cadets all applauded in appreciation. To this day, this remains one of Brandon’s fondest college memories. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #145 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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HALF-FULL REPORT 03/18/22

russ-in-ukr-waters

A TTPer is in Ukraine now, who tells me the latest joke on Ukrainian lips is, “Everyone thought that Russia had the #2 army in the world. Turns out, that it has the #2 army in Ukraine."

The Russian Titanic has hit the Ukrainian Iceberg and is sinking.  Here are the latest (3/16-17) updates from British Military Intelligence:

intelupdate-on-ukr

Our TTPer on the ground confirms this.  I was asked on the TTP Forum this morning, “Jack, what’s your take on the end game in Ukraine?”  My reply: “China feeding on the carcass of Russia.”

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BEYOND THE PALE

reagan-in-ballyporeen

TTP celebrates St. Patrick’s Day with its “nutshell history” of Ireland, first written in 2006. Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all TTPers!

Ronald Reagan’s origins are even more humble than Abraham Lincoln’s log cabin.

His great-grandfather, Michael O’Regan, was born in a hut of mud and slats in farmland called Doolis near the village of Ballyporeen, County Tipperary, in 1829.

In June 1984, Ronald Reagan came to Ballyporeen as President of the United States. In his speech to the townspeople in the village square, he said, “I can’t think of a place on the planet I would rather claim as my roots more than Ballyporeen, County Tipperary.”

A friend of mine was there as a member of Reagan’s staff. After the speech, the President commented to him, “I really am proud to be from here.” With a wink, he explained: “You see, I’m from Beyond the Pale.”

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RONALD REAGAN’S FAVORITE IRISH JOKE

ronaldreaganIn honor of St. Patrick’s Day today, it’s only appropriate to relate Ronald Reagan’s favorite Irish joke, as he was fond of telling it with such exuberance.

An Irishman was walking along Inchydoney Beach in County Cork – Ireland’s most beautiful and not far from my ancestral village of Ballyporeen – when he came upon an old encrusted bottle washed up on the shore.

He picked it up, brushed off the sand, saw it was still stoppered and wondered what was inside. He carefully broke it open at the neck on a beach rock, and to his great surprise out popped a Leprechaun, an Irish genie.

leprechaun“Oh me man!” the Leprechaun exclaimed. “I was in that horrid bottle for a hundred years and you be settin’ me free! Well, I’ll be givin’ you two wishes before I’m on m’ way!”

“Two wishes?” the Irishman asked incredulously. “Anything I want?”

“Anything – you just name it and it’s yours,” came the answer.

The Irishman couldn’t believe his luck. He thought for a moment, then said, “Firstly, what I’ll be wantin’ is a glass of the best Irish ale – but a very special glass!” he added quickly – "that no matter how much I drink it will always be full.”

Poof! There was a glass in his hand overflowing with Irish Red Ale. He took a sip – it was the best beer he’d ever had in his life. He drank and he drank and he drank, and five minutes later he hadn’t made a dent, the glass was still overflowing with Irish Red.

But by now the Leprechaun was getting impatient. “Listen me man!” he chastised. “I appreciate you settin’ me free and all, but I was in that bottle for far too long, I’ve got things to do, so you’ll be makin’ your second wish now!”

The Irishman thought good and hard. Finally he made his decision. He held up his overflowing magic glass, looked at it admiringly, and told the Leprechaun, “Ya know – I think I’ll have another one of these!”

There’s no doubt about it – God loves the Irish.

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THE GREAT BLACK OF MAKALU

black-of-makaluThe 5th highest mountain on earth at 8,463 meters/27,765ft, Makalu is Sanskrit for “Great Black” – a name for Shiva, the Hindu god of creative destruction, as here is one of his homes.  You’re looking face on the Southeast Ridge (the right side in sun, the left side in shade), which is the primary climbing route.

You’re seeing the entire south side of Makalu in Nepal, while the north side is in Tibet with the border running along the horizon crestline.  Makalu Base Camp lies below the bottom right corner of the photo.  This was taken at over 20,000 feet on our approach from Everest and Lhotse – 12 miles away – during our Himalaya Helicopter Expedition, or “HHE.”

Everyone is understandably entranced with Everest – yet the other 8,000 meter Himalayan giants are breathtakingly magnificent in their own right, and you can see why with Makalu.  On our HHE, we go to them all! (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #37 photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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GGANTIJA

ggantijaThe small European island country of Malta in the Mediterranean south of Sicily and close to the north coast of Africa is where civilization emerged from the Stone Age.

The story begins over 7,000 years ago, when a handful of Stone Age tribes in Sicily rafted 55 miles south to land on the twin islands of Gozo and Malta. They lived in caves, then huts, fished, hunted, farmed with primitive tools for they had no metal – and over a period of more than a thousand years taught themselves how to construct massive buildings of stone.

This is the Temple of Ggantija (zhee-gan-tee-zha). Built almost 6,000 years ago (around 3600 BC), it is the oldest free standing structure in the world. It is older than the pyramids in Egypt by a thousand years, older than Stonehenge by 15 centuries. The enormous stones weighing several tons were cut from the limestone bedrock with tools of stone and antler horn for they had no metal, and moved using small round-cut rocks as ball bearings for they had no wheels.

These folks figured out all by themselves how to build this and other massive stone temples to their gods and goddesses so many millennia ago. Nobody taught them. They were the first. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #166 photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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PRINCESS RING ISLET

princess-ring-isletThis is real, it actually exists as you see it.  Princess Ring Islet is a small collapsed volcanic cone with a circular sunken crater.  Talk about an awesome swimming hole.  It’s several hundred yards off São Miguel Island in the Azores – and is just one of the many totally cool places we see in our exploration of  Atlantic Paradises this June.

At that time of year, the ocean around Princess Islet is filled with migrating whales and dolphins.  The Azores are one of the world’s greatest whale-watching sites.  You’d be very hard-pressed to find a cleaner, safer, more peaceful, more benign, and more astonishingly beautiful part of our planet than the Azores. And with more perfect weather.

The rest of the world and its craziness doesn’t exist here.  Don’t you owe it to yourself and the one you love to escape here for at least a short time?  Of course you do.  Just click on Atlantic Paradises to see how you can.  Once you see all the pictures, I frankly don’t see how you can resist! (Glimpses of our breathtaking world #193)

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FLASHBACK FRIDAY – SHACKLETON

jw-at-shackleton You likely read the new story this week of the extraordinary discovery of Antarctic legendary explorer Ernest Shackleton’s ship The Endurance 10,000 feet deep at the bottom of the Weddell Sea: Ernest Shackleton’s Sunken Ship Endurance Found 107 Years Later (3/09).

Perhaps you read my account of his incredible exploits in Endurance (April 2013). I thought to commemorate the ship’s discovery with this photo of me at Shackleton’s gravesite at the abandoned whaling station of Grytviken on the Antarctic island of South Georgia.

Shackleton was the most heroic arctic explorer of them all. The famous eulogy at his funeral says it all:

For scientific discovery, give me Scott

For speed and efficiency of travel, give me Amundsen

But when disaster strikes and all hope is gone

Get down on your knees and pray for Shackleton

(Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #192 photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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HALF-FULL REPORT 03/11/22

This is Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov announcing on Russian television yesterday (3/10):

“The purpose of Pentagon-funded biological research in Ukraine was to establish a mechanism for the clandestine distribution of deadly pathogens. The United States is training migratory birds to migrate from Ukraine to Russia and distribute bacteriological weapons.”
This is not a Babylon Bee satire joke.  This is an actual news broadcast by the Russian government to the Russian people – vast numbers of whom are gullible enough to believe it.  What’s tragically amazing is that far too many American conservatives are gullible enough to believe it too.

A good friend of mine is a scientist who has worked in surveillance biolabs.  After laughing our heads off over this latest example of pathetic Russian propaganda, he explained:

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THE SHERMAN TANK THAT’S STILL THERE

tank-at-tarawaThe horrifically heroic Battle of Tarawa was fought November 20-23, 1943, with the US Marines determined to take the entrenched Japanese – which they did, both sides suffering ghastly losses. The Marine amphibious force assaulted the Japanese garrison on the small island of Betio in Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands – now the country of Kirimati.

The spearhead of the assault was led by the Marine’s Charlie Company, 1st Corps Tank Battalion and its M4-A2 Shermans on what was codenamed Red Beach. One particular Sherman sank a few yards offshore and lies there to this day. It’s easy to wade out and clamber upon it, as these friends of mine did when I brought them there in 2016.

We hear a lot about “climate change” causing “the oceans to rise.” But as you can see, the sea level at Tarawa has been the same for the past 77 years. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #124 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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MANICHEAN MOMENTS

manichean-moment Most often, there are valid perspectives on either side of a dispute, not a simple divide between good and evil with no gray areas in between. That was not the case in Afghanistan in the 1980s. The Mujahaddin you see here were fighting a morally just war against immoral atrocity. The war waged by the Afghan Mujahaddin to liberate their country from Soviet Russian conquest was a Manichean Moment.

There is another Manichean Moment taking place right now in Ukraine. Once again, Russia is attempting to subjugate an innocent country with bombs and immoral atrocity. This is good vs. evil once more. There is no gray area. Those on the side of Ukraine and Zelensky fighting for freedom are on the side of moral decency. Those on the side of Russia and Putin are not. They are on the side of irredeemable evil.

ukrainian-freedom-fighters

That’s why, when I see photos of Ukrainian freedom fighters atop Russian tanks they captured, it reminds me of those I took of Afghan freedom fighters atop Russian tanks they captured. The Mujahaddin defeated Russia a third of a century ago. The Ukrainians will defeat Russia now. Good will triumph over evil once more. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #191 Afghanistan photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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A SECOND CHANCE

This is an interview I gave on C-Span over 30 years ago in September 1991.

The Soviet Union was disintegrating, and I was worried about the nukes.  Every democracy leader I talked to in all the Soviet Republics declaring their independence didn’t want them.  The problem, of course, was Russia.  What was needed was an Anti-Nuclear Movement to guarantee that Russia would not keep its nukes, thus remaining a nuclear threat to America and the West.

I argued for the Reverse Golden Rule – Do Unto Others Before They Do It Unto You.  “What would the Russians demand if they had won the Cold War and not us?” I asked.  “That’s where our demands should start,” I argued, albeit agreeing that Russia would need a nuclear deterrent against China – but that should be in mutual operation with us.

Alas, that was tragically not to be.  Now, all these years later with Putin’s catastrophic miscalculation in Ukraine, we have a second chance.

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PORTRAIT OF A DEFEATED MAN

defeated-putin

He’s suddenly turning old before our eyes.  He’s made the most catastrophic mistake of his life – so catastrophic it has destroyed his country.  Worse, there is a part of him that realizes he has the soul of an inhuman monster. His soul is being eaten alive from the inside out.  You can see it in his eyes.

He knows he’s lost. He’s down to ordering his soldiers to murder children. What happens now?

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MADEIRA MAGIC

madeira-paradise

There may no island of more astonishing beauty and more ideal climate than Madeira, nor a place of more idyllic peace, where the rest of the world and its calamities are far, far away. Yet it’s not far at all from the US, a few hours’ flight across the Atlantic from the East Coast.

Here is where Winston Churchill came, to relax, paint, and escape from the woes of war.

churchill-painting

Here is where you can simply enjoy life in blissful beauty – if you join me in our exploration of Atlantic Paradises, June 24 to July 2. Look at the pictures, ponder the value of what you’ll see, do, and experience. I hope I’ll be hearing a, “Hey, Jack, I’m in!” from you soon.

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FLASHBACK FRIDAY – QARI BABA

jw-with-qari-babaAfghanistan, 1984. Yes, that’s me with the legendary Qari Baba, Commander of the Harakat Mujahaddin waging a war of liberation against the Red Army of the Soviet Union – and my dear friend. I told him he looked like a combination of Genghiz Khan and Buddha, and he couldn’t stop laughing. We had so many extraordinary experiences together – like blowing up the Soviet High Command of Bala Hissar in Ghazni.

After the war was won with the final Soviet retreat in February, 1989, Qari Baba became the Governor of Ghazi Province. Then Pakistani Intelligence (ISI) created the Taliban to seize control of the country. Qari Baba had to take up arms anew against them. In March of 2006, he was assassinated by a Taliban hit team on orders from the ISI. I will never ever forget him. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #111 photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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HALF-FULL REPORT 03/04/22

war-criminal Well, of course he is.  He’s the world’s pariah, the most despised human on Earth now – especially with his troops bombing then seizing Europe’s largest nuclear power plant last night (3/03).  Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted the hopes of countless millions all over the world:

take-him-out

This set a lot of folks’ hair on fire.  Yet it’s become common.  On Tuesday (3/01), Issues & Insights declared: Putin Must Go.

“Word has come tumbling out that Russian Vladimir Putin is descending into madness. Is it too much to ask true Russian patriots to rid the world of this tyrant before he does further damage?”
Indeed, he looks so bad these days the Daily Mail is calling him Flabby-mir Putin: Russia's President Vladimir looks bloated and ashen in meeting as pressure of his Ukrainian invasion takes its toll on his appearance.

Before we go any further, take a moment for a quick read on why Ukraine Has Won and Putin Has Lost by British military expert Glen Grant on TTP earlier today.

Okay, with all that understood, let’s talk about the opportunities amidst the dangers of Putin’s war, and the damage this war is going to do to the Democrat Party.

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THE HANI RICE TERRACES

hani-rice-terracesThe Hani people in the mountains of Yunnan have been carving out rice terraces on dozens of steep mountainsides for over a dozen centuries. After the late fall harvest, in winter they flood the terraces in preparation for spring planting. At sunrise and sunset, the light reflecting off them creates a scene of phantasmagorical surrealism. Unknowingly, the Hani have created one of humanity’s most magnificent works of natural art the world has ever seen. What you see here is only one of hundreds of terraced areas. It is a sight beyond belief. Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #156 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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CHRISTIANITY IN KERALA

keralaIn 52 AD, St. Thomas the Apostle, one of Jesus’ 12 Disciples, sailed down the Red Sea and across the Arabian Sea to the Malabar Coast of Southwest India to preach the Gospel of Christ. He found a receptive audience among the peaceful fisherfolk in the villages along the coast – so receptive he established a series of churches that still exist today. Some remain small and humble, others like the one above rebuilt with soaring glass and stone.

There are many Christian denominations in the Indian state of Kerala, which has the entire Malabar Coast, from the original St. Thomas Syrian Christians to Catholic, Pentecostal, Charismatic and others. Of Kerala’s 34 million people, at least 20% are Christian. Kerala is a place of relaxing beauty and peaceful serenity. The best way to explore it is via a luxurious houseboat along the many canals or “backwaters” dotted with fishing villages and churches. You’ll be warmly welcomed. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #155, photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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THE SISTINE CHAPEL OF THE EAST

monastery-of-voronetThe Painted Monastery of Voronet was built by Romania’s national hero Stefan the Great in 1488. A UN World Heritage Site, Voronet lies in a remote Carpathian mountain valley in the northeast corner of Romania. The entire church is covered in brilliantly painted scenes of Christian reverence.

The frescoes, with the famous “Voronet blue” made of crushed lapis lazuli, have withstood over 500 winters of wind, snow, and rain. The extraordinary back panel of the Last Judgment is renowned as the East’s Sistine Chapel (as in Eastern or Orthodox Christianity). It’s one of Romania’s many wonders. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #98 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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BLACK SWAN, IRON JOKER, PAPER BEAR

st-javelin

St. Javelin of Ukraine

And how did Ukraine’s military first get American Javelins?  From President Trump, first in 2017, again in 2019, and lastly at the end of 2020.  Those 300 Javelins that Xiden said he sent last January were those first authorized by POTUS.

Which is why in his CPAC speech on Saturday (2/26) he stated: "I gave Ukraine the Javelins that everyone is now talking about and millions of dollars of other military equipment—the Obama administration gave them blankets."

POTUS made clear his view on what Putin has done and whose side he is on:

"Joe Biden has turned calm into chaos, competence into incompetence, stability into anarchy, and security into catastrophe. The Russian attack on Ukraine is appalling; it's an outrage and an atrocity that should never have been allowed to occur. We are praying for the proud people of Ukraine. God bless them all."

It is no wonder that this week’s issue of Time Magazine, appearing today (2/28), has this cover:

return-of-history

Yet the subtitle is wrong.  It should be, “How Putin Shattered Russia’s Dreams.”  Here is why that is the likely outcome of what is happening in Ukraine right now.

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FLASHBACK FRIDAY – WITH THE KHAMPAS IN TIBET

jw-w-khampas-in-tibetOctober 1987, on an overland expedition across the entire Chang Tang Tibetan Plateau. Here is where you find the warrior nomads of Tibet, the Khampas. Renowned and feared for fierceness, they couldn’t have been friendlier to me when I gave them each what they treasured most in the world – a photo of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, far more valuable to them than gold.

Before, they were suspicious and angry at a stranger intruding upon them. Instantly with gifting the photos, they were joyous and smiling. They had no idea who I was, all they knew was that I was their friend, insisting I sit down and have a cup of yak-butter tea with them. It was the most memorable cup of tea in my life. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #55 photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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HALF-FULL REPORT 02/25/22

Russian tank deserving what it got in Ukraine

Russian tank deserving what it got in Ukraine

Perhaps the Question of the Week should be:  Who else among world leaders besides Zhou Xiden could be suffering from onset senile dementia or Alzheimers?  Hint: one symptom is unhinged anger and aggression.

Vladimir Putin turns 70 this October – he’s at an age where this is clearly possible.  It may be an explanation of why he’s lost his capacity for rational thinking, and has his Commie amygdala in charge of his brain instead.  He’s gone Full Hitler, recognized by a multitude of world news headlines, summed up by:

Vladimir Putin Is The Hitler Of Our Times As He Inflicts A Monstrous Tyranny On An Innocent Population

“A mad, murderous dictator threatens to unleash a nuclear world war. No longer is this a mere movie plot. Today it is terrifyingly real. It is paramount, as in 1939, that the free peoples of the West defeat this hideous new evil, this Hitler for our times.”
This meme has gone worldwide viral:

madman-putn

Okay, the madman must be defeated… but how, without triggering WWIII?  Here are some ideas.

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THE SANDS OF IWO JIMA

sands-of-iwo-jimaThis is the black sand beach the US Marines stormed on February 19, 1945, beginning the legendary Battle of Iwo Jima. Overlooking the beach is Mount Suribachi, where four days later Joe Rosenthal took his iconic photo of six Marines planting the US flag on its summit.

You can come here once a year at a commemoration jointly held by the US and Japanese militaries. Guests of honor are the few Marine veterans of the battle still alive. To be here on these sands and on the summit of Suribachi, where the memorial lauds them – “On Iwo Jima, uncommon valor was a common virtue” – with these heroic men is an indescribable privilege. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #23, photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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A SHORT HISTORY OF RUSSIA

russ-sovi-expansion-map A SHORT HISTORY OF RUSSIA Jack Wheeler January 1985

[Note the date. Written in 1985 during the Cold War, when Russia formed the basis of the Soviet Union. First posted in TTP March 2004, it is reposted now to provide a historical context for the current Russian invasion of Ukraine.]

At various times in her history, America has been at war with and has had as deadly enemies: the French, the English, the Spanish, the Germans, the Italians, the Mexicans, and the Japanese. All are today our friends and allies. There is nothing in the nature of things that makes it impossible for this to someday be the case with the Russians as well.

Yet it is important to understand how the Russians are not like us — how their history enabled them to transform themselves into Soviets running an Evil Empire called the Soviet Union.

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THE FOURTH PEARL OF SHING

4th-pearl-of-shing There is a series of stepping-stone lakes in a hidden valley in Tajikistan known as The Seven Pearls of Shing. This is the fourth, taken at dawn’s early light with the lake a mirror reflecting the sky and surrounding mountains. Each Pearl are of different colors, each of uniquely mesmerizing allure. It is one of the many wonders – natural, cultural, historical – we’ll experience this again soon in our exploration of all Five Stans of Hidden Central Asia. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #52 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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THE POLYNESIA PARADISE YOU NEVER HEARD OF

polynesia-paradiseHave you ever seen the ocean turn day-glo pink? It does here naturally during a sunset (this is not photoshopped). Between Samoa and Tonga in the South Pacific is a raised coral atoll, 100 square miles of old limestone between 60 and 200 feet high: the island of Niue (new-way), and it’s is uniquely fabulous.

With no silty river runoff, the water is incredibly clear – visibility can reach over 200 feet. There are a multitude of chasms through which you clamber to these out-of-a-movie tidal pools perfect for snorkeling surrounded by colorful reef fish. The limestone cliffs encircling the coast are riddled with caves with multi-colored stalactites and stalagmites.

You can snorkel or dive with spinner dolphins and humpback whales. The big game fishing is world class – within a few hundred yards off shore. The Niueans are unfailingly friendly and welcoming, the beautiful Matavai Resort is the best bargain in the Pacific, the food and beer is inexpensive, the weather is balmy. It’s a Polynesian paradise you never heard of. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #48 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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HEAVEN IN THE CARIBBEAN

st-lucia-island Quick – name the only country in the world named after a woman. It’s the island nation in the Caribbean of St. Lucia, named after the patron saint of virgins, 4th century Saint Lucia.

The charm, beauty, and serenity of St. Lucia are unequaled in the Caribbean. Here you can have your own private retreat overlooking the twin peaks of The Pitons. The St. Lucian people take great pride in the immaculate spotlessness of their island and in their matchless reputation for personal warmth and hospitality.

While an English-speaking country and member of the British Commonwealth, there is a French tradition here as well, reflected in the fine cuisine and wines in restaurants. Yet I became fond of the local Piton beer as well. St. Lucia is the easiest island in the Caribbean to fall in love with – so it is no wonder that couples come from all over the world to get married or honeymoon here.

If you want to spend a few days of bliss away from all the cares of the world, you can’t do better than this place of heaven in the Caribbean. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #190 photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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FLASHBACK FRIDAY – CANNIBAL TREEHOUSE

cannibal-treehouseAugust 1977. High in the mountains above the source of the April River, a tributary of the Sepik in Papua New Guinea, I had a First Contact with an undiscovered tribe calling themselves the Wali-ali-fo. They ate “man long pig,” cooked human meat and lived in thatch dwelling built up in trees. Here I am in one with my Sepik guide Peter who got me here.

Peter translated a description of their practice: “When a man dies, we take a pig to his wife and exchange it for the body of the man. We take the body out into the forest and…cook ‘im eat ‘im. We do this so the man will continue to live in the bodies of his friends.”

Not something we’ll do but something we can understand, yes? These are people we could laugh and joke with, tell stories with, enjoy being with. A very different culture, but human all the same. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #148 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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HALF-FULL REPORT 02/18/22

demchickens2022No wonder more and more rats keep deserting their own ship.  On Tuesday (2/15): NY Rep. Kathleen Rice Is The 30th House Democrat To Bow Out Of 2022 Race.  She sure won’t be the last.

It’s not just that they fear not getting reelected.  Their real fear is far more substantial.  They know: 1) Pubs are going to win big majorities in the House & Senate; 2) Dems are going to cheat any way they can in desperation; 3) Pub victories will be too big for the cheating to overcome.

Result: Pubs will be running all the committees, embarking on no-holds-barred investigations of Dem cheating to expose any and all malefactors.  Since the targets for prosecution will be those who ran in ‘22, retirees who didn’t avoid ending up at the Graybar Hotel.  Simple calculation.

Here’s a startling example of how bad it’s getting.

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WODAABE MEN MUST LOOK BEAUTIFUL TO ATTRACT THE LADIES

wodaabe-men-in-makeupThe Wodaabe are cattle-herding nomads in Niger, West Africa. Their Gerewol festival features Yaake dances by the men to impress marriageable ladies with how ideally handsome they are. Those ideals include being tall and athletic, having white eyes and white teeth, decorating themselves colorfully, and having a winning smile.

The Wodaabe are a fun-loving, friendly, and hospitable people. You’ll meet them on our Trans-Sahara Expedition when we’re next able to operate one. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #57 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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THE TOMB OF TAMERLANE

tomb-of-tamerlaneThis is the interior of “Gur Emir,” the tomb of Tamerlane (1336-1405) in Samarkand, the great Silk Road city now in Uzbekistan. Tamerlane was the last of the nomadic conquerors of Eurasia, a Turkic-Mongol whose conquests extended from New Delhi to eastern Turkey.

Gur Emir is only one of a multitude of extraordinary sights in legendary Samarkand that make being here a life-memorable experience. We’ll be here during our exploration of Central Asia this May. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #59 photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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THE TIBETAN KINGDOM OF LO

This is one of the magical places we experience on our Himalaya Helicopter Expeditions. An independent kingdom for 650 years in the remote Mustang region of Nepal, it is one of the last places of traditional Tibetan culture on earth, unchanged for centuries. There are sky-caves here – apartment complexes carved out of vertical cliffs 2,000 years ago – Drok-pa nomads in the high pastures, spectacular sacred ceremonies, all in a mysteriously beautiful setting where the Himalayas meet the Tibetan Plateau. We’ll be here again next April. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #86 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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