Posted in Islam & Interfaith Subjects, News & Relevant Topics, Personal & Opinion, Social Issues & Politics

If We Learn Nothing From History…

…we are doomed to repeat it.

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What have we learned? Nothing apparently.

My biological French maternal grandmother told me many stories about what life was like during World War 2, her second husband was a soldier who returned to tell about it, and human rights are something I am passionate about. I had no idea that over the last couple of days I would be reliving the exact stories she told me. Ironically it was just a few days ago that I wrote about a movie called Immigrant that touched me greatly. Yesterday I watched Twitter explode with protests and this morning I’m shaking my damn head.

What the #&%@ just happened here?! First it was racist rhetoric about Muslims having to be added to some national registry to keep track of them, then mass-deportations of illegal immigrants and yesterday he wanted to get rid of green card holders too! American citizens were being detained at airports, families were separated, hopes for the future were shattered. I watched in horror as it unfolded right before my eyes, and I was seemingly powerless to do anything about it but then I remembered something that Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel said:

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So I did like millions of others and took to Twitter to voice my anger, frustration, despair and shock at this insanity. Seeing the entire world (to the exception of mindless bigots and trolls but thankfully they were few and far between) come together like that gave me so much hope that we have more in common than what makes us different. The truth is, without diversity in this world we wouldn’t have all the amazing things we have today. You love that iPhone of yours don’t you? Steve Jobs’ father was a Syrian refugee. Your other high-tech toys? They were most likely made in China. That shirt you’re wearing? It’s probably made in Bangladesh. And oh, you’re not Native American? Then at some point you too came from a pair of immigrants. That’s the vast majority of us.

Not only is the Muslim ban in itself incredibly discriminatory, other events surrounding it only infuriate me more. We all saw that empty brain Mike Pence at the pro-life rally didn’t we? I could seriously punch that guy in the face right now (and I’m one of the most non-violent people I know) for going up on that stage and preaching that unborn babies have a right to life, and basically that women have no rights to their own bodies, yet has zero regard for the life of innocent refugees trying to escape circumstances more horrific than anything we here in the West could ever imagine. And yes, most Islamic scholars permit abortions before the 120 day mark (when the soul enters the body) and under certain other circumstances. There is no single Muslim-majority country that completely outlaws abortions, yet the most powerful nation wants to strip women of their basic rights to their own bodies before turning around and calling us terrorists? I’m just about to throw my laptop out the window right now.

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And I’m just getting started… Did you know that Trump passed that executive order on Holocaust Memorial Day? Adolf Hitler took power in 1933 and The Final Solution came about around 1941 or so, before the Nazis decided that they wanted to wipe out the Jews from Europe completely they planned mass deportations, much like Trump is currently planning. What Trump wants to do to Muslims, refugees, Mexicans and other vulnerable people seeking a safe-haven in the United States is exactly what Hitler first planned to do to the Jews. When that didn’t work killing factories like Auschwitz (among many others) came into operation. On days like this I thank God that America does not have a totalitarian government and that the Supreme Court has blocked this order, at least for the time being, but I think the damage has already been done.

The White House deliberately omitted mentioning the Jews in their Holocaust address, and they sure don’t want to hear the stories of Muslims who saved Jews either. You can view more stories on the Yad Vashem website, and for that matter, some Nazis even saved Jews! We all know about Oskar Schindler but there’s also Gerhard Kurzbach, an SS officer only known as Alois, and Major Karl Plagge, among many others. We also all know the story of Anne Frank, the young Jewish girl who has captured the hearts of the world with her journal entries during the Holocaust, but what many ignore is that she could still be alive and living in the United States has it not been for turning away refugees escaping the Nazis.

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Have we learned nothing? Have we really let the world come back to this? The American people were once people I had the utmost respect for, now I question how such a great nation could elect someone as vile as Donald Trump. I’m Canadian, I was born here, but my entire family, both the biological one and the adoptive one, were once immigrants to this nation. My maternal grandmother’s family came here after WWI destroyed France and my paternal grandfather’s family arrived after WWII destroyed German. The people of Russian heritage who adopted me came to escape the totalitarian and brutal Soviet regime. People have more rights and freedoms than ever so how did it come to this?

The scary thing is that people loved Hitler too. So where is our Oskar Schindler in all of this? His name is Justin Trudeau. He’s my prime minister. He’s my hero. He’s my hope for the future. Even now I am still baffled and will probably be for a very long time. I am just a bit older now than my grandma was during WWII and like her, I will be able to tell future generations that I witnessed a tyrant rise to power, his regime falling, and heroes coming from all walks of life. What will be different in my story is that we will not have let the oppressors carry out their plans.

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I still don’t know what the future will hold, and my grandma told me yesterday that WWIII could still start tomorrow, but yesterday’s despair has been replaced with hope. I suppose this won’t be the last time I write about this subject, but for now my tears are clouding up my view of the screen too much to continue.

In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart. ~Anne Frank

Posted in Everything Else, News & Relevant Topics

The Disappearance of Mike Williams

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Crime Watch Daily just ended for the day and today’s big story was the disappearance of Jerry Michael Williams. Today he’s been missing for 15 years, 9 months and 14 days. He was 31 when he went missing and would be turning 47 on October 16th. I first heard about his case on the TV show Disappeared on Investigation Discovery that I’ve recently been binge watching and his case has always left me with chills because despite all the inconsistencies, there was next to no physical evidence left behind. You can find the full Disappeared episode that aired November 18th, 2011 about him here titled Mystery on Lake Seminole. If you don’t have the opportunity to watch the entire episode, here’s a little rundown of what we know happened to him:

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On the morning of December 16th, 2000 Mike set out to go duck hunting on Lake Seminole in Florida, something he loved doing and was good at. It was also his wedding anniversary that day and he promised to be back by noon so he and his wife of six years, Denise, could go to a bed and breakfast and have a relaxing time. The hours tick by and Mike doesn’t come home. Later that day, Denise calls her father and Mike’s best friend Brian Winchester and go look for Mike themselves but they soon call in the authorities.

An extensive search was done over a period of 44 days but very few clues were discovered. Mike’s boat was in the water and his truck was nearby but there were no signs of him. No body, no clothes, no equipment, nothing. It was suggested that Mike had fallen out of his boat and drowned, not being able to get out when water filled his waders and that alligators had subsequently eaten him so no criminal investigation was opened at the time but there are several things wrong with this theory.

The first was that at the time of his disappearance it was quite cold, below freezing actually, and during such temperatures alligators don’t move around very much and rarely ever feed. Furthermore, an alligator could not have swallowed whole a man on his size without leaving some evidence behind. Some six months after Mike went missing, his waders, vest, hunting license and flashlight that still worked were discovered in pristine condition on the lake. It is believed that these items were planted after the fact because they had not been recovered in the original extensive searches and there was no slime or anything whatsoever on the items. If they had surfaced after six months, they would not have been in such good and clean condition.

If he had been eaten by alligators, there would also have been teeth marks on his clothes but there was nothing. Drownings on Lake Seminole are nothing new, but missing people who were presumed to have drowned on the lake have basically always been recovered. This leads some investigators to believe that Mike was never at the lake to begin with. In addition, there were other suspicious findings at the scene:

  • The boat launch where his truck was found, which he would presumably have used to put his boat in the lake, was an undeveloped patch of mud. Yet very nearby were concrete, finished launches that he was known to have used in the past.
  • The storm the night after he was reported missing had easterly winds that should have blown the abandoned, unmoored boat across the lake to the other side.
  • When the boat was recovered, its engine was off, yet the gas tank was full. According to the manufacturer, if it had been on when Williams allegedly fell out of the boat, as investigators had theorized, it should have stayed on, with the boat running in circles until its fuel was exhausted.
  • On Crime Watch Daily today, it was also added that the shotgun found aboard the boat was not the type he usually used to go duck hunting.

His mother Cheryl is the one who pushed for a criminal investigation into his death and eventually the authorities came to believe that foul play was indeed suspected but with little evidence and no body, there is not much to go on. Mike’s wife Denise even threatened Cheryl that if she opened a criminal investigation into Mike’s disappearance and presumed death, she would not be allowed to see her grandchild, Mike’s only daughter. To this day Cheryl has not seen her grand-baby. To make things even more suspicious, his young widow was highly uncooperative, quickly had him legally declared dead and then cashed out him 1.5  million dollar life insurance policy and shacked up with his best friend Brian, the man who had sold that very insurance policy. While that doesn’t make them killers, it’s definitely suspicious. If they both loved Mike so much, why were they so quick to put his disappearance behind them instead of being cooperative and forthcoming to help the authorities find him?

Now, this is where things get really interesting. In 2012 Denise and Brian separated and she filed for divorce the following year in 2013. Just under two months ago, on August 5th of this year, the house the couple shared was to be appraised and then the appraisal was to be filed with the court, Denise climbed into her car and Brian was in there and threatened her with a gun. He is still in jail, awaiting further proceedings on his pending charges, at the time that I’m writing this. Mike’s mother Cheryl hopes that this will lead to a break in the case with either Denise or Brian deciding to finally talk. Although Mike’s mother still have hope that he might be alive since there’s no actual irrefutable proof that he’s dead (be it that all circumstantial evidence points in that direction), she’s beginning to suspect his wife and/of Brian although neither of them have officially been named suspects of persons of interest in the case by law enforcement officials.

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You can find periodic updates about Mike’s case and several other missing persons cases on the Help Find Jerry Michael Williams and Alligator Alibi Facebook pages. While I may not be in any position to throw accusations out against anybody, I’m definitely suspicious about Denise and Brian considering the timing of events and their lack of cooperation. All I can hope for now is that something comes out of Brian’s recent arrest and that all the recent publicity surrounding this case can put pressure on Denise to talk. We all know that dirty secrets have a way of coming out in an explosive fashion and that sometimes cases are solved decades later. Watch Unusual Suspects also on Investigation Discovery if you need a few examples of that.

My own two cents is that I unfortunately don’t believe that Mike is still alive. I doubt that he was ever at Lake Seminole to begin with. If Denise and Brian didn’t do it (nobody would like to believe that they did) I have no doubt in my mind that they know a lot more than what they are saying. The investigation into Mike’s disappearance is very much still active so if you know something, say something! Please help the media buzz going by sharing posts and links about Mike’s case. We never know what could lead to a new piece of the puzzle. In the meantime I will continue to keep an eye on this case and will post new updates as they come out. I have high hopes that with Brian’s recent arrest we will see progress in this case.

As much as I hate thinking that Mike is no longer with us, at least everybody’s minds will be at rest. There will no more wondering. If he was murdered, justice will at least have the chance to be served.

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Posted in News & Relevant Topics, Personal & Opinion

Here & Now

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It was just a few days ago on Sunday that I turned on the TV to watch WBZ News at 10 on WSBK and saw 15 straight minutes of the hell that was unleashed in the beautiful city of Orlando. Like the rest of America and the world, I was downright outraged at such a senseless act of terrorism, and I would become more and more outraged in the days that followed, after learning more of the disturbing facts and the missed warning signs.

It after lengthy and careful consideration that I decided to create this blog to let out my feelings about my life, the world, and my new faith. I’ve been writing in journals and notebooks since 2004 (2016 marks 12 years now) but so far nobody has ever read those books, and nobody probably ever will. My writings locked away cannot contribute to a meaningful conversation, but this blog can. I’m not here to try to change the world, I’m just here to try and make it a better place in my own space and time, in my own environment, with my own little contributions.

There is so much hatred, so much war, and so much discrimination on the web these days and my true goal here is to make a little more peace and love go around while still contributing to meaningful discussion about relevant social issues and what’s going on around the globe. Throughout this new little undertaking of mine you’ll also discover a lot about my life and my thoughts, and I’ll probably come to find myself somewhere along the way too. It’s my hope that no matter where this new little adventure of mine takes me, you’ll be along for the ride to the finish line and you’ll learn something along the way.