WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY Let the Truth be told



The right to be informed must be balanced by an obligation to respond. Rights are never granted unless claimed. 

On the 59th Anniversary of the late President John F Kennedy’s Address to The American Society of Newspaper Publishers….On the dangers of secrecy, concealment and censorship and the role of a free press in informing and educating the public.

President Kennedy’s Address to the American Society of Newspaper Editors

‘And so it is to the printing press, the recorder of man’s deeds, the keeper of his conscience, the courier of his news, that we look for strength and assistance, confident that with your help, man will be what he was born to be: free and independent’



JOURNALISM ON TRIAL: The cost of publishing the truth can be high, the whistle blowers often pay the price.

Prisoner Assange: A risk to who?


Edward Snowden on Surveillance,

discussing the Corona virus, Crisis and Panic:

IT WILL BE MANDATORY -Something major is happening this year!

See also: Who to Bless and Who to Blame


EASTER  2020



Easter is a time of celebration for all of us, the focus is different for different people.  For some it means Easter Eggs and holidays, for others, a time of celebration, acknowledging natural cycles and seasonal rituals. For Christians it is the most sacred part of the calendar, a time of renewal of faith through remembrance of the traditional story of the Trial and Resurrection of Jesus.

For millions of others who do not profess the Christian faith but have revered Jesus and his teaching it is an opportunity to honour his life and example as a foundation for living.

Whatever our beliefs the season brings a sense of hope and renewal.

We wish you all peace and joy this Easter.

For those who honour the teaching and legacy of Jesus, Easter holds a special significance, both poignant and jubilant.  We invite you to join us as we trace the last days Jesus spent on Earth according to the traditional scriptural account





Palm Sunday marks the first day of Easter and commemorates the triumphal entry of Jesus into the city of Jerusalem where people gathered to celebrate the Jewish Feast of The Passover.

As Jesus travelled with his disciples they approached Jerusalem and came to the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me.  If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”  The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them and found the donkey and the colt. They spread their cloaks for Jesus to ride upon and they made their way into Jerusalem.

Symbolism of Palm Sunday

In the Eastern tradition the donkey is an animal of peace, unlike the horse which is the animal of war. Jesus rode on a donkey to symbolise that he came in peace, fulfilling an ancient Jewish prophecy which predicted the coming of a Saviour: ‘See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’

When the people heard that Jesus was coming they went ahead of him, spreading their cloaks on the ground before him, a tradition in the Near East, to cover the path of  someone considered worthy of the highest honour.  Others cut palm fronds, waving them and singing ‘Hosanna to the son of David’. Hosanna is an expression of deliverance from a Hebrew word meaning ‘save now’ or ‘save us’. In the ancient Near East and Mediterranean world, the palm branch is a sacred symbol associated with rejoicing, representing victory, triumph, peace, and eternal life. ‘The son of David’ refers to the lineage of Jesus who was descended from the Royal line of King David who united the tribes of Israel. 

This watershed event angered the High Priests,setting in motion the arrest of Jesus and the trial and crucifixion remembered at Easter.

See full Easter Story




Several hearings ago, Magistrate Baraitser had already stated, before any had been made, that she would not grant bail.  Doctors for Assange are gravely concerned for the publisher’s health, with increasing risk from the current pandemic. The government  is actively considering releasing some prisoners to reduce prison populations because of COVID-19. As a non-violent remand prisoner, today’s application argued that Assange’s health is seriously deteriorating putting him at extreme danger from COVID-19 and that prison conditions make it impossible to avoid infection. Assange’s legal team were informed  that some 100 Belmarsh Prison staff members were home “sick” from the novel coronavirus, however British Magistrate Court Judge Vanessa Baraitser contended that COVID-19 was not an issue in the facility.

Both the British Government and Vanessa Baraitser personally came in for extreme criticism from the highly authoritative International Bar Association over both the conditions in which he is being held and over the conduct of his extradition hearing to date:  The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) condemned the reported mistreatment of Julian Assange during his United States extradition trial in February 2020, and urges the government of the United Kingdom to take action to protect him. According to his lawyers, Mr Assange was handcuffed 11 times; stripped naked twice and searched; his case files confiscated after the first day of the hearing; and had his request to sit with his lawyers during the trial, rather than in a dock surrounded by bulletproof glass, denied.

Mr Assange, will be extradited to the US, where he is wanted on 18 charges of attempted hacking and breaches of the 1917 Espionage Act. He faces allegations of collaborating with former US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to leak classified documents exposing alleged war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. A previous hearing heard that on August 25th 2011, Assange had phoned the Whitehouse asking to speak to Hilary Clinton ‘as a matter of urgency’, when it was feared that documents were about to be dumped online by third parties who had gained access. He warned of a risk to lives after discovering that a book published some months before by The Guardian newspaper contained  a password which could be used to access unredacted documents. 

The International Bar Associates Institute of Human Rights protested that “The mistreatment of Julian Assange constitutes breaches of his right to a fair trial and protections enshrined in the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to which the UK is party. It is deeply shocking that as a mature democracy in which the rule of law and the rights of individuals are preserved, the UK Government has been silent and has taken no action to terminate such gross and disproportionate conduct by Crown officials. As well, we are surprised that the presiding judge has reportedly said and done nothing to rebuke the officials and their superiors for such conduct in the case of an accused whose offence is not one of personal violence. Many countries in the world look to Britain as an example in such matters. On this occasion, the example is shocking and excessive. It is reminiscent of the Abu Grahib Prison Scandal which can happen when prison officials are not trained in the basic human rights of detainees and the Nelson Mandela Rules.’

In accordance with the Human Rights Act 1998, which came into force in the UK in October 2000, every person tried in the UK is entitled to a fair trial (Article 6) and freedom from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment (Article 3). Similarly, Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights upholds an individual’s right to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal. …The IBAHRI concurs with the widespread concern over the ill-treatment of Mr Assange. He must be afforded equality in access to effective legal representation. With this extradition trial we are witnessing the serious undermining of due process and the rule of law. It is troubling that Mr Assange has complained that he is unable to hear properly what is being said at his trial, and that because he is locked in a glass cage is prevented from communicating freely with his lawyers during the proceedings commensurate with the prosecution.’


Calls for Julian Assange’s “torture” and “medical neglect” to be brought to an end are now supported by 186 physicians from around the world. According to three experts in torture he exhibits the symptoms of being psychologically tortured. In a letter published in the medical journal The Lancet, 117 medical doctors, including several world prominent experts in the field, warned that Assange’s treatment amounts to torture and that he could die in jail.Dr Lissa Johnson, one of the key physicians  explained, “Holding Julian Assange gratuitously in a maximum security prison, with no UK charge or sentence in place, so that the United States can redefine journalism as espionage, has served as a vehicle by which to psychologically torture him, using isolation and denial of a host of human rights” 

The WikiLeaks founder faces up to 175 years in prison in the US if he is extradited and placed on trial there. All of the charges relate to his role in publishing classified US documents and the diplomatic cables which revealed war crimes and other criminality perpetrated by US-led forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and US-occupied Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.



1953 CIA SUPPORTED COUP IN IRAN:  The removal of Mossadegh  (the leftist Iranian Prime Minister in 1951) was, in my estimation, a tragic mistake on the part of the United States. We caused, in effect, the Khomeini revolution by doing that. But essentially, the seeds of that revolution were planted then, because we insulted the Iranians nationally, as a nation. So we interrupted the normal course of Iranian history… Iran would have gone its own way, and we would not have become the scapegoat, the great Satan, or whatever.      David Nalle, Director, Bi-National Center, Tehran, 1960-1963









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KURDISH ALLIES – A pocket History for Trump


Despite Pentagon and US Intelligence disapproval, the President of the United States ordered the withdrawal of US military troops stationed on the Syrian-Turkey border, effectively abandoning their former allies. President Trump warned Turkey  not to invade the region being held by the predominantly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces.  Turkey attacked the SDF within 24 hours of US military withdrawal from the region.

“I said to my Generals why should we be fighting for Syria and Assad,  to protect the land of our enemy?  Anyone who wants to assist Syria in protecting the Kurds is good with me, whether it is Russia, China or Napoleon Bonaparte…   ‘the Kurds will now have to figure the situation out”. Continue reading



As Americans currently grapple with the sense of being overwhelmed by a sea of immigrants,  the refrain “We are here because you were there” reminds us of the cause and inevitable consequence of colonisation and uninvited incursion into other lands. The safety of its citizens is the primary responsibility of every government and few would argue that this should not include the security of its borders. The question of how they are secured and why, is the factor now dividing America. 

It is no coincidence that many seeking refuge are coming from Central American countries, the Northern Triangle of  Guatamala, El Slavadore and Honduras, followed by Nicaragua, Panama, Costa Rica and Belize. These countries endured colonisation under the Spanish from the 1500s with the British and the Spanish later fighting for control until the British  turned their attention to colonisation of North America and Canada. In 1823 the United Provinces of Central America (Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador) gained independence from Mexico, each achieving independence  in the 1830s. Theodore Roosevelt in 1904 declared the U.S.’s right to exercise an “international police power” in Latin America, the US has influenced the region ever since.

Successful immigration is entirely dependent upon acceptance and assimilation and this takes time. Opposition to immigrants includes numbers, timing, employment prospects, ethnic differences, race and religion and political ideology.  Any of these can be used to instil fear, the threat that the host community will be overwhelmed and irrevocably changed, because social change is an inherent aspect of immigration. When viewed positively this is seen as enriching communities through diversity, with cultural traditions maintained and encouraged. In general people prefer to remain within their home countries if basic needs are met and opportunities are available. Mass migration is always triggered by a threat to survival. Continue reading


“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-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

THE WORDS HAVE A HOLLOW RING TODAY as the world views the horrific photograph of a little girl not yet 2, clutching her father, Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez, as both were swept to their deaths in the Rio Grande in an effort to seek asylum. Their mother Tania Vanessa Avalos, 21 watched as they drowned. The family  made their way to Mexico from El Salvadore, then spent the last two months in a migrant camp waiting for an appointment to apply for asylum to enter the US. A shelter director said that only 40 to 45 asylum interviews were being conducted there each week while there are 800 to 1,700 names on the waiting list. Ramirez became frustrated by the delay and decided to attempt to swim across the river. He deposited his daughter on the far bank and went back to assist his wife to cross but the child became confused and followed her father back into the water. Both drowned in the strong undercurrents as he tried to save her. Continue reading



The political manoeuvring by the most powerful nations on the world stage as they align with and against Venezuela should remind us of the self interest and the all too familiar strategy of divide and conquer previously witnessed in the Middle East and currently being  played out in Latin America.  Russia, China and others jostle for position to ensure their stake in that country’s natural mineral wealth and oil, as America attempts to grab the world’s greatest source of oil in its “backyard”, 

Comparison of current oil reserves

  • Venezuela –     300,878 million barrels
  • Saudi Arabia –  266,455 million barrels. …
  • Canada –         169,709 million barrels. …
  • Iran –               158,400 million barrels. …
  • Iraq –               142,503 million barrels. …
  • Kuwait –          101,500 million barrels. …
  • UA Emirates –   97,800 million barrels. …
  • Russia –            80,000 million barrels. …
  • Libya –              48,363 million barrels. …
  • United States – 39,230 million barrels.

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SYRIA AND THE GOLAN HEIGHTS – A Pocket History for Trump


In the 1940s, Britain secretly advocated the creation of a Greater Syrian state that would secure Britain preferential status in military, economic and cultural matters. France and the United States opposed British hegemony in the region, which eventually led to the creation of Israel on 14 May 1948. 

  • 1948 The  First Arab–Israeli War, was fought between the newly declared State of Israel and a military coalition of 5 Arab nations which rejected the establishment of the Jewish state in Palestine. Israelis call it “the war of independence”; Arabs call it the “nakba” or the catastrophe.
  • 1956 The second Arab-Israeli war broke out when Israel, Britain and France launched a joint attack against Egypt aimed at regime change and deposing Abdul Nasser the country’s leader.
  • 1967 Israel launched preemptive attacks on Egypt, Jordan and Syria, unleashing the June War, that resulted in the Israeli occupation of what remained of historic Palestine. Israel subsequently captured and occupied the West Bank and Gaza, capturing East Jerusalem from the Jordanians and the Golan Heights from Syria. The displacement of civilian populations resulting from the war had long-term consequences, as 300,000 Palestinians fled the West Bank and about 100,000 Syrians left the Golan Heights. Israel began to settle the occupied Golan Heights almost immediately, directly flouting international law.
  • 1973 Syria tried to retake the Golan Heights during the ‘Yom Kippur ‘war.  Egyptian and Syrian armies, with advanced Soviet weapons, launched a two-front offensive on Israel, from the north and the south. Despite inflicting heavy losses on Israeli forces, the surprise assault failed. Both countries signed an armistice in 1974 and a UN observer force has been in place on the ceasefire line since.

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Benjamin Netanyahu stated this week:   “Israel is not a state of all its citizens… According to the basic nationality law we passed, Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people – and them alone”.  By definition this excludes Palestinians. This controversial law passed last summer declared Israel the nation-state of the Jewish people, stipulating that “Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people and they have an exclusive right to national self-determination in it”. Continue reading

Parallel Realities and Fake News

Efforts to dismiss the recent incident at the Lincoln Memorial  as ‘Fake News’ by President Trump and others is a further example of the current extreme political polarisation in America. President Trump lost no time in tweeting in support of the students and inviting them to the White House, his views predictably retweeted.








In  comparison and in the tradition of ‘Walking the Talk’ Wayne William Snellgrove a survivor of the Canadian policy that stole indigenous babies and farmed them out to other parts of the world has extended an invitation to attend a sacred Healing Ceremony  “to the students, their school, their families, their dioceses. All clergy are welcome. ..Nathan will be invited also. Our Elders and Ancestors say that ceremony is the best place we can be .This is where we must go as Indigenous. Covington MAGA hat young incident was sad.  But we must raise above, we must practice our walk. Turning our prayers into action. We show the world, compassion, love and Light. Let us create a space for these youth and their families. This affects us all, and all must be invited. I personally invite these youths to sacred healing ceremony where we will sit and talk with our hearts. We are not asking for you to say sorry. I am are asking you to come sit with us in ceremony and talk from your heart. This is where we must go. This invitation has no expiration date. We will be waiting for you in ceremony.”
Wayne William Snellgrove,
Saulteaux Tribe, Fishing Lake First Nation. Continue reading



Nathan Phillips a Native American elder  is a well known activist for their  causes.  While singing a protest song and beating his drum at a Lincoln Memorial gathering he found himself on the fringe of an altercation  between white and black youths. As he tried to pass by he became surrounded by the white youths, many wearing the signature Donald Trump ‘Make America Great Again’ cap, who taunted and mocked him.  One young man blocked his way in a confrontational manner and tried to stare him down but he kept singing and drumming. Phillips has described focussing upon the reason for his protest and remembering his wife who died of cancer four years ago. A video recording of the event has gone viral, drawing outrage and forcing an apology from the Catholic Diocese of the school the youths attend. Ironically the students of Kentucky’s Covington Catholic High School were taking part in an anti abortion rally but showed little ‘respect for life’ towards Mr Phillips. Continue reading



The term ‘Pre Columbian’ civilizations refers to societies affected by the arrival of Columbus in 1492 and the subsequent colonisation by Europeans. Geographically Mesoamerica includes Central Mexico to Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Cost Rica. These ancient societies combined moral codes and spiritual beliefs with the sciences of astronomy, physics and medicine with advanced skills in ceramics and metallurgy.

Amerindians are the indigenous people of North, Central and South America, their history dates back 30,000 years. At the end of the Ice Age their ancestors journeyed from their original home in Siberia, across the Bering land bridge and into Alaska.  By 8,000 BC their descendants, the Native Americans had spread across the entire north American continent. From around 5,500 BC Amerindians became highly skilled farmers, tribes in Mexico cultivated vegetables, raised animals for food and hunted deer and bison, while fish became the staple food of coastal tribes.  After 2000 BC Amerindian tribes developed States, each governing thousands of people with extensive trade routes and established shipping lines across the continents. Their innovative planting and  irrigation schemes ensured their people were fed. The idea of private land ownership was alien to them, land was held communally and worked collectively.  Continue reading

“The words Presidents use can start wars or move markets”

Language is social – It is the tool that conveys traditions and values related to group identity, a means of expressing our thoughts, feelings and intentions to those we are talking to. Used respectfully it enriches and enables, used negatively it can demean and even demonize both individuals and social groups.‘Transliteration’ is a particular form used to emphasise something important that a writer or speaker would like to express. It can be framed to be inclusive, i.e. encompassing divergent views or groups, or be divisive, promoting disagreement or open hostility. It requires a certain skill. President Trump is no orator and is limited to hyperbole, devoid of diplomacy and nuance, using the basic principles of repetition, simplistic ideas and short phrases known to appeal  to voters’ emotions, rather than their intellects. This approach encourages the listener’s imagination, transporting them to a scenario in tune with their beliefs, when this is fear based, deep seated emotions are ignited. Energy is magnified by the numbers present, political rallies providing the perfect environment to whip up passions, creating a perfect storm. Continue reading

POWER OF WORDS – To Heal or Harm

A timely reminder of the power of words at a time when President Trumps rhetoric is causing great concern worldwide with many questioning the part this plays in inciting violence.


Words have power, the voice expresses the Will and can be used as a tool to inspire or as a weapon to wound. Religions and spiritual movements draw upon ancient traditions incorporating a formula of collective repetitive prayer, chanting and singing to strengthen and unify followers.  Examples being the catholic Rosary, Buddhist chants and Islamic prayers recited collectively 5 times daily.

There is an exact formula used throughout time by those who wish to empower or manipulate their followers by reinforcing and heightening their beliefs. Vocal expression can empower and unify or inflame and divide, certain factors induce momentum and the effect is magnified by intention and numbers.  Powerful delivery charged with emotion can be expected to inspire action for that is its purpose.


  • The voice must be activated
  • Repetition of short, simple words or phrases
  • Collective expression magnifies effect
  • Acceleration builds energetic momentum
  • Shared focus projects intention

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YEMEN – ‘Collateral damage’

Thousands of people have gathered in Yemen for the funerals of dozens of children, most between the age of 10 and 13, killed in a Saudi-led coalition attack on a bus last week.  Houthi officials have labelled the raid a “crime by America and its allies against the children of Yemen”.  The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for an “independent and prompt investigation” into the air strike. The coalition initially said its actions were “legitimate” but later said it would probe “collateral damage”.  Western countries, led by the US and the UK, have supplied the Saudi-led coalition with huge amounts of advanced military equipment, facilitating a military campaign characterised by  accusation of war crimes.

According to the UN Human Rights Council, civilians have repeatedly been the victims of “unrelenting violations of international humanitarian law”. Another Saudi bombing of a funeral using US weapons killed 140 people in October.  Despite the  UN warning that blockades and restrictions could trigger “the largest famine the world has seen for many decades” today, 8 million people are at risk of starvation, a humanitarian disaster.  Severe acute malnutrition is threatening the lives of almost 400,000 children under the age of five.  More than 9,245 people have been killed and 52,800 injured since March 2015.  At least 5,558 of those killed, and 9,065 of those injured up to the end of 2017 were civilians. 

  • Some 22.2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, including 11.3 million people who urgently require immediate assistance to survive.
  • 16.4 million people are lacking basic healthcare and diphtheria, once considered eradicated, has returned.
  • Medics are struggling to cope with a cholera outbreak resulting in 2,248 associated deaths since April 2017 and more than 1 million suspected cases.  

The conflict follows the failure of a peaceful transition of power following the Arab Spring uprising, as the recognised government struggled to deal with a variety of problems including attacks by al-Qaeda, corruption, food insecurity and unemployment. Coalition ground troops landed in Aden in August 2015 and helped drive the Houthi rebels and their allies out of much of the south.  Saudi Arabia and eight other mostly Sunni Arab states began an air campaign opposing the rise of a group they believed to be backed militarily by Iran. The  aim being to halt the smuggling of weapons to the rebels by Iran – an accusation Tehran denied. The Saudi led coalition received logistical and intelligence support from the US, UK and France.

With both sides entrenched, three UN-organised efforts to negotiate a peace deal have failed. Yemen is yet another pawn in the increasing regional struggle for power between Saudi Arabia and Iran as America transfers its focus from the Middle East to Asia.  In the resource-rich Arabian Peninsula, Yemen is only a minor player in the global oil business, yet a major escalation of its conflict would have severe repercussions across global oil markets for geo-strategic reasons.  Yemen is located adjacent to the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s most important energy transit and to the Bab-el-Mandab Strait which controls access to the Suez Canal. Disruptions of these key seaborne supply routes to Asia and Europe would result in increased volatility in global oil prices and diminished global supply.  Diplomatic solutions are essential to avoid regional instability and the potential to lead to full-blown armed conflict between the region’s major powers.

HISTORY NOTE:The  history of colonial power is predicated on access to resources and the strategic position of the country concerned. Yemen is low on commodities but strategically placed. In 1839 The British East India Company captured the port of Aden to provide a coaling station for ships en route to India, Aden was then ruled as part of British India until 1937 when the city of Aden became a Crown colony.  Following the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, the Aden Settlement gained great strategic and political importance.  When Egypt’s President Nasser led the opposition to colonial rule in the Middle East, the British came under increasing pressure to leave.  In response Britain formed The Federation of Arab Emirates of the South in 1959, incorporating the various states under its protection.

On January 18th 1963 the Colony of Aden was incorporated against the wishes of many of the population and the Federation was renamed The Federation of South Arabia.  An insurgency erupted against the British Crown and South Arabia forces and a state of emergency was declared, North Yemen became a republic in 1962.  In 1964 the British government announced its intention to hand over power to the Federation of South Arabia but stated that the British military would remain.  The ensuing conflict hastened the end of British rule in the territory.  With the temporary closure of the Suez Canal  by Nasser in 1967 the British had no further need to keep hold of their colonies in Yemen and in the face of uncontrollable violence, began to withdraw.  In 1967 the independent Peoples Republic of South Yemen was declared. The two Yemeni states united to form the modern Republic of Yemen in 1990.


HEBREW V ARABIC – Language as a Tool of Oppression

New legislation now defines Israel as a ‘Jewish nation state under the Constitution.’ Only Jews have the right to self determination which the law states is ‘unique to Jewish people’.  Hebrew becomes Israel’s only official language, stripping Arabic of its former status as a designated official language along with Hebrew. v=ys_RLjBjUw4

It has been said that ‘Nothing so surely and perfectly stamps upon an individual a national characteristic as language’.  It is therefore the first victim of occupation and suppression. Excluding language from legislature effectively diminishes status and erodes effective participation.  A glance at history confirms the consequence of eliminating cultural self expression by suppressing indigenous language,the policy begins with removal from the legislative process, part of the extermination of ‘alien’ cultural values.

NATIVE AMERICAN:  As part of the Assimilation Programme over a hundred thousand Native American children were forcibly separated from their families to be educated in boarding schools with every effort made to strip them of their cultural identity.  Children were punished for using their native tongue and taught English with words that had no equivalent in their own language.  Some scholars estimate that the Western Hemisphere at the time of the first European contact was inhabited by 40 million people who spoke 1,800 different tongues.  Another widely accepted estimate suggests that at the time of Columbus more than 15 million speakers throughout the Western Hemisphere used more than 2,000 languages.  As a result of European conquest perhaps two thirds of the many indigenous American languages had already died out or were dying out by the mid twentieth century.  Linguistic authorities suggest that about one half of the Native American languages N.of Mexico have become extinct.  Only a few tongues, like Navajo and Cherokee, can claim more than 50,000 speakers; Navajo is spoken by about 150,000 people.  The outlook for the future of the indigenous American languages is not good; most will probably die out.  At present, the aboriginal languages are gradually being replaced by the Indo-European tongues of the European conquerors, English, Spanish, Portuguese, French and Dutch.

IRELAND: The Gaelic language is universally acknowledged as a unique reflection of Irish identity yet the native Gaelic was almost lost through cultural erosion. Medieval incursions ended with the Crown colonisation policy c1609 when English and Scots migrated in the Plantation period, dispossessing the Irish of their land rights. The Irish language was prohibited until 1871 with only English taught by order of the British government.  Irish became a minority language during the 19th century, mostly a spoken tongue with little written literature appearing in the language until the Gaelic Revival of the late 19th century and the nationalist uprisings which sought and regained  Irish sovereignty.  Gaelic began to be taught in Irish schools and today out of a population of 4.803 million, an estimated 72,000 people use Irish as a daily language, a larger minority of the population are fluent with a further 1.66 million people in the republic having some knowledge of the language. An impressive partial recovery of a language so nearly lost. President of Ireland speaking in Gaelic (St. Patrick’s Day Message)

WALES: Cymric along with English is the official language of the National Assembly for Wales which advocated equal validity for Welsh in speech and in written documents.  Cymric is one of the worlds oldest languages originating from the Celtic tribes of Europe and the earliest inhabitants of the British Isles.  Wales has been described as “England’s first colony” annexed and incorporated into the English administrative and legal system in the 16th century when the Welsh legal system was abolished and the Welsh language banned from any official role and status.  In 1847 a  Royal Commission on Welsh education, noted that there were areas where the children spoke only Welsh.  It concluded that the Welsh as a race were “ignorant”, “lazy” and “immoral” and that one of the main causes of this was the continuing use of the “evil” Welsh language.” As a result, English-only schools were set up in much of Wales, children speaking Welsh were punished with the “Welsh Not“, a piece of wood, ruler or stick, often inscribed with the letters “WN”.  Pupils heard speaking Welsh were made to hold it or it was sometimes hung around the childs head. When another child was heard using Welsh, ‘The Not’ was taken from its current owner and given to the latest offender.  The child could pass the ‘Not’ to any of their Welsh speaking classmates if they informed the teacher that they had caught someone speaking Welsh. The pupil in possession at the end of the day was subjected to a flogging.  Today Welsh identity remains strong, with a growing  awareness and acknowledgement of Wales’ cultural and historical separateness from England, reflected politically. The Welsh language is linguistically Celtic, whereas English is linguistically of West Germanic origin. Comparatively few English people can understand or speak Welsh while virtually all Welsh speakers can speak English.

PALESTINE: Around 420,000 Palestinians live in east Jerusalem, which was annexed and occupied by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War, a move not recognised by international law. The United Nations General Assembly voted 128-9 to declare America’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel ‘null and void’. The marginalisation of Palestinians using methods of displacement, land grabs, Jewish settlements and denial of access to the judicial system has failed to quell the Arab resistance to injustice. The removal of the Arabic language from the legislative process may in the end prove to be the most effective tool in the creeping ‘reforms’ which Palestinians are continually subjected to. The historical trauma will remain.


May 15th  2018 will see the culmination of the weekly demonstrations by thousands of of Palestinians which began on March 30th in commemoration of the loss of their homeland following the establishment of the State of Israel on May 14th 1948. Human rights groups have condemned Israel for disproportionate use of deadly force. Demonstrators burned tyres to create a smoke screen to allow them to reach the fence, they  have been met with live ammunition resulting in the death of at least 45 Palestinians, there have been no Israeli deaths. Continue reading


Peace is only ever achieved by refusing to compromise integrity. While we may be far from an ability to ‘turn the other cheek’ against any assault, real or imagined, violence will only ever perpetuate violence.  War is the preferred option for those with a vested interest in warfare, however tenuous. Sometimes it takes a little time to discern who benefits,  by their action,  by looking the other way or predictably financially.

The 8 Storm Shadow missiles fired by the UK on a presumed chemical facility in Syria were manufactured by BAE Systems; each cost £790,000 or $1,106,628. Sickeningly BAE saw an immediate and dramatic rise in share profits on the stock market following the bombing of Syria.

BAE Systems plc is a British multinational defence, security, and aerospace company. It is among the world’s largest defence companies and one of the six largest suppliers to the USPhilip May, the husband of the UK Prime Minister, works for Capital Group, which is the largest share holder in BAE Systems. Capital Group is also the second largest shareholder in Lockheed Martin a US military arms firm supplying weapons systems, aircraft and logistical support. Unsurprisingly its shares have also rocketed following the strike. Continue reading

ASSANGE – Free Speech!

Back in the news again doing what he does best: Julian Assange might be expected to comment on what he perceives as human rights abuses including the current situation relating to the Catalonian Independence movement and Spain’s request to Germany to extradite their former leader Carles Puigdemont on charges of Rebellion. Assange has angered the new Ecuadorian President, Lenin Moreno, with his comments which embassy officials stated ”put at risk the good relations Ecuador maintains with European nations’.

Julian Assange has now had his internet access cut by embassy staff and is not allowed visitors or telephone calls, further increasing his isolation within the embassy. His  comments referenced a previous Spanish extradition warrant:  ‘In 1940 the elected president of Catalonia was captured by the Gestapo at the request of Spain, delivered to them and executed. Today German police have arrested the elected president of Catalonia,Carles Puigdemont at the request of Spain, to be extradited’ Ironically Germany has refused the extradition warrant stating that the charge of Rebellion would not be upheld in Germany. Extradition on a lesser charge of misappropriation of funds is possible, carrying an 8 years sentence as opposed to 30 years; if this is taken, it is believed Puigdemont could not then be tried in Spain for Rebellion.

President Moreno holds a differing opinion from his predecessor  Rafael Coorrea, the left wing leader  who granted asylum to Assange 5 years ago. Moreno has previously pledged to continue to offer asylum ‘as long as we assume his life may be in danger’.Since the new government is seeking to realign with the US, Assange may find himself a political pawn in the international power game. If a deal were struck to guarantee that no death penalty would be sought in any future US trial, Ecuador might be released from the current untenable situation  in harbouring Assange and find favour with the US. Julian Assange would lose his asylum status and would be arrested on leaving the embassy, his extradition to Sweden and likely the US would follow.

Julian Assange is either a dissident political prisoner or is guilty of treason depending upon your point of view. He founded Wikileaks in 2006,  publishing a series of leaks in 2010 provided by former soldier Chelsea Manning. They include the Collateral Murder video, the Afghanistan war logs, the Iraq war logs, and Cablegate. Chelsea Manning who passed thousands of documents to Wikileaks, was charged with espionage and sentenced to 35 years imprisonment (commuted after 7 years by President Barack Obama).  The further leaks by Edward Snowden, raised awareness of the US governmental data breaches involving spying on citizens and world leaders resulted in him fleeing the US, before being granted asylum in Russia, where he has resided for almost 5 years.The  federal government of the United States launched a criminal investigation into Wikileaks and asked allied nations for assistance. US Senators have called for the death penalty for Julian Assange  for ‘aiding the enemy’  if he is returned to the US, the risk is therefore real.

In an effort to avoid extradition Assange was granted asylum in the Ecuadorian Embasasy where he has resided for the past 5 years in what the UN has described as ‘illegal detention’. The UK Metropolitan Police continue to assert that he will be arrested if he leaves the embassy. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention  agreed that Assange has been arbitrarily held since his arrest in London in Dec. 7, 2010, over allegations of sex crimes. It called on the British and Swedish governments to end his “deprivation of liberty,” allow him to move freely and afford him the right to compensation for his suffering. He has always expressed a willingness to return to Sweden to address the charges which he denies, so long as assurances are given that any request for extradition by the US would be denied.

The UK threatened to revoke the Ecuadorian embassy’s status but they held firm. Under the previous Ecuadorian administration the following statement was released to explain why they had granted asylum to Julian Assange in 2012: “Publication of information about human rights abuses is a right in accordance with the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders of 1998, the exercise of which implies a right of protection to those who reveal such violations by honest journalism and the courageous whistleblowers who denounce human rights violations. We felt that the fate of Chelsea Manning, evidence of secret grand jury procedures and Snowden’s exile in Russia corroborate the fears Assange had for his security, freedom and life when he sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London more than two years ago.”

Whatever the outcome, we can hope that any future  decision by the Ecuadorian government will reflect human rights and not self interest. Assange’s lawyer, Melinda Taylor, said he is the “victim of a significant miscarriage of justice.”


NOVICHOK- Red flag warning

One month after the announcement that a man and his daughter found slumped on a park bench were victims of a nerve gas  attack, there are new questions. The news that Sergeiii Skripall was a former UK and Russian double agent did little to allay fears and the sight of investigators clad in bio chemical protective clothing  increased alarm.  Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson announced next day that Russia was responsible for the attack, quoting  the Porton Down government laboratory chief who confirmed the substance as Novichok, a ‘military grade nerve agent with no known antidote,’  requiring “extremely sophisticated methods to create, something only in the capabilities of a state actor” namely Russia.  Continue reading


As the Jewish people celebrated Passover, a celebration of the Exodus from Egypt after 400 years of captivity, the irony was not lost on those who are not of the Jewish faith. At Passover Jewish families come together in remembrance of the Exodus when the ancient Israelites were led by Moses from bondage in Egypt, commanded by their God to ‘Let my people go’. The Haggadah is recited, an instruction to ‘tell your son’ to ensure the memory of that captivity is never lost. We might assume that a people who have suffered persecution, loss of homeland and the horrors of concentration camps within living memory would not choose to inflict similar suffering on the Palestinians. Continue reading


So many people die annually from gunfire in the US that the death toll between 1968 and 2011 eclipses all wars ever fought by the country.

According to research by Politifact, there were about 1.4 million firearm deaths in that period, compared with 1.2 million US deaths in every conflict from the War of Independence to Iraq. The US spends more than a trillion dollars per year defending itself against terrorism, which kills a tiny fraction of the number of people killed by ordinary gun crime.

  • On average there is more than 1 mass shooting per day in America.
  •  America has 4.4% of the world population but owns almost half of the civilian owned guns around the world.
  • In 2012, 64% of all gun-related deaths in the U.S. were suicides.
  • Before the deadly shooting at  Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February there had already been 18 incidents at schools involving gun shots in 2018

The particular horror of the  Sandy Hook shooting shocked the world, it was assumed that the massacre of 20 children between the ages of 6 and 7 years old would initiate stronger gun control. It did not. The National Rifle Association boasted that  its membership surged to around five million in the aftermath. There have been more than 1,500 mass shootings since Sandy Hook, at least 239 were school shootings In which 438 people were shot, 138 being killed. Researchers and gun control advocates say that since 2013, they have logged school shootings at a rate of about one a week. Katherine W. Schweit, a former senior F.B.I. official and the co-author of a study of 160 active shooting incidents in the United States said, “We have absolutely become numb to these kinds of shootings, and I think that will continue.” Continue reading


The world reels from the gutter language used by the President of the United States as he manages to insult  a quarter of the countries of the world, concerning his views on immigration policy.  His response to accusations of racism,  a thinly veiled excuse – ‘it’s not racism it’s a financial problem‘  reveals the billionaire businessman beneath the presidential facade. By comparison the dignified response of the people of Haiti and Africa to his derogatory description of their countries provides an example that he would do well to emulate.

As we spare a thought for the 65 million people currently displaced  by conflict, war and persecution, the latest report shows that while the richest nations ponder on possible ways to curb immigration, many of the worlds poorest nations are hosting  56% of the global refugee population.  An Amnesty International report for 2016 states that many of the world’s wealthiest nations “host the fewest and do the least”.

The United States has historically led the world in terms of resettlement, admitting 84,995 refugees in the fiscal year ending in September 2016. In 2017 President Trump cut the refugee quota by 50%, a policy currently being challenged in the Federal Court. In 2017 only 42,000 refugees were resettled in America; Canada in contrast  resettled 30,000 refugees in 2016.  Continue reading

Weapons for Peace?

The text message received by residents of The State of Hawaii  warning of a ballistic missile threat, confirmed as ‘This is not a test’,  sent thousands  rushing for cover and sending final messages to family and friends. Thirty eight interminable minutes later they were informed that ‘someone clicked the wrong button on a shift change’ Most experts agree that human error is the most likely trigger for a nuclear engagement, an event to which the opposing side should be expected to respond. The awesome military power which now rests in the hands of leaders who have repeatedly demonstrated their instability coupled with the spectre of fallible technology raises risk factors exponentially.

The farewell speech of President Eisenhower, a former general,  as he prepared to hand over power to President Kennedy on January 17th 1961 was “a solemn moment in a decidedly unsolemn time’, He warned a nation “giddy with prosperity, infatuated with youth and glamour, and aiming increasingly for the easy life.’ to be vigilant of the potential rise of the military industrial complex and potential abuse of power. Continue reading



 A poignant reminder of the best of America in the hope that the dream might still come true.







Martin Luther King – I Have A Dream Speech – August 28, 1963


‘Climate change and global warming  are two different phenomena, but are interlinked, and each affects the other. Climate change is change in the climate of a region. Global warming is the rise in average temperature of the Earth. Human interference is the common factor, which is accelerating both’

For the nomadic herders of Siberia, climate change is not an illusion a joke or a scam. Scientific data confirms that Russia is already warming at one and a half times the rate of other parts of the world, leaving  reindeer, Russia’s cattle of the Arctic regions, under threat from climate change. Nomadic reindeer herders living near the north-west coast of Siberia where the sea freezes nine months of the year state that  the snow is melting sooner, and faster than before.

 During the autumn period between 2006 and 2013 sea ice began to melt instead of thickening. Traditionally the Nenet nomads cross the frozen Ob River in November with their reindeer herds to set up camp in the southern forests. Higher temperatures are delaying the annual winter trek  until late December  when the ice is finally thick enough to cross the frozen river. Continue reading

AID and ‘undue influence’

The dictionary definition of undue influence: “influence by which a person is induced to act otherwise than by their own free will or without adequate attention to the consequences.”

President Trumps threat to withdraw Aid from the  countries  who chose to vote against the US and the US Ambassador’s statement that ‘we will not forget and are taking names’  sent a collective global shudder though the halls of power. Through these actions the long standing but previously obscured  abuse of power becomes transparent. The spectacle of the ‘leader of the free world’  supported by  a mere handful of vulnerable nations, each of which have an inherent dependency on access to US Aid has caused many to question the degree of pressure they faced.

Guatemala with a weaker and more corrupt state and a more impoverished society than that of Mexico has a growing public debt. President Perez Molina is looking to Washington for military aid to support the Guatemalan army to root out corruption. Honduras has the world’s highest murder rate  and high levels of sexual violence despite a population of a little over 9 million. An estimated 1 million Hondurans reside in the United States, 600,000 of whom are believed to be undocumented; consequently, immigration issues are an important item on the bilateral agenda.

Micronesia: (A Federation of small island states, formerly a United Nations Trust Territory under U.S. administration until gaining independence in 1986.) The US will provide $100 million annually over the next 20 years. Guam – 210 sq. mi.; population 186,000 Guam is the largest single island in Micronesia. A territory of the United States and one of its primary military bases in the Pacific. Nauru : 8 sq. mi.; population 9,000. An independent nation; single island. The United States is a major financial contributor to international and regional organizations that assist Nauru, Palau – 177 sq. mi.; population 21,000  an archipelago  of over 300 islands, only 8 of which are inhabited.Palau is the largest recipient of aid per capita from the US, receiving more than $852 million over the last 15 yerars.

Marshall Islands70 sq. mi.; population 68,000. The United States conquered the islands in 1944. The Marshall Islands served as a test theatre for American nuclear weapons from 1946 to 1958 with 67 weapon tests  conducted, These including the 15-megaton  hydrogen bomb test  on Bikini Atoll which was 1,000 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Bikini Atoll became uninhabitable. Prior to nuclear testing, the residents had initially accepted resettlement voluntarily to Rongerik Atoll, believing that they would be able to return home within a short time. Rongerik Atoll could not produce enough food and the islanders starved and were again relocated. In 1970  islanders returned to the Bikini Island, advised it was now safe, until further testing revealed dangerous levels of strontium-90.    Today the Marshall Islands, relies on nominal access to U.S. based health agencies and is, like so many of the islands states of Micronesia, dependent upon US Aid  which represents a large percentage of the islands’ gross domestic product.

TOGO West Africa: Amid a diplomatic drive by Israel to extend its influence in West Africa, Togolese President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe  met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu twice in 2017. This  included a conference hosted by the Togo President where Netanyahu stated “Israel is coming back to Africa, and Africa is coming back to Israel,” The President has visited Israel three times since 2012 and Lome the capital, consistently sides with Jerusalem in international organisations,”

While congratulating the moral victory of the 129 nations who chose to ignore the threat, at the UN Council we might also consider the 35 who chose to abstain and why, among them Canada for example, walking a political tightrope with one eye on current NAFTA negotiations.

AID: Which country gives the most?

Aid to countries in need comes in many forms, economic, military, developmental etc. it almost always has strings attached and can intentionally or unintentionally create permanent indebtedness. Aid should never be used as a weapon. Figures can be misleading and confusing, with the  richest nations appearing to give more generously as might be expected. We are frequently reminded that the US is by far the greatest donor of global Aid but when measured against Gross National Product, ie the country’s total wealth, Greece, a country struggling to survive gives proportionately more.  The Chart below shows Overseas Development Assistance in millions for 2015 as measured by the World Economic Forum. The US heads the list of donors.



If we measure per capita ie the amount of Aid divided by the income of the number of people in the donor country, the picture changes.  Europe and Scandinavia consistently giving most.The US, France, Japan and Canada fall off the list. Sweden moves from the mid range to first place and The United Arab Republic moves from the bottom to 2nd place, followed by Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands. Additional countries, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Turkey and Finland appear. Continue reading

JERUSALEM: A Pocket History for Trump


The announcement by Benjamin Netanyahu that an illegal settlement in the  Golan Heights is to be renamed ‘TRUMP HEIGHTS’ provides a timely reminder of the strategy behind the unseemly Trump –  Netanyahu alliance and their open contempt for a just settlement of Palestinian rights. Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria in the closing stages of the 1967 Six-Day War.  Israel continues to flout the UN directive which forbids the building of settlements in what is internationally regarded as occupied territory.  Syria wants a full Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 border, this would give Damascus control of the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee which provides Israel’s main source of fresh water through the now occupied territory.

This  latest move follows the audacious decision in March by President Trump to relocate the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,  changing the disputed status of Jerusalem without consultation and in the face of complete opposition from world leaders. Such a move suggests either a degree of ineptness or a callous disregard for the deepest feelings of those concerned. King Abdullah of Jordan, currently Custodian of the Holy Sites in Jerusalem, warned of the potential dangerous repercussions. 


 Whatever our faith we tend to view Jerusalem from our own  perspective. While  sacred to Jews, Muslims and Christians, the site is however much older than any of these religious traditions, artefacts show  it was first settled between 4,500–3,500 BCE. The original inhabitants of Jerusalem were Phoenician Canaanites, their culture is believed to have pioneered the Mediterranean system of agriculture, intensive horticulture, grain growing and commercial olive cultivation. Old Testament scripture states that the land is named after Canaan, a son of Ham, son of Noah, the ancestor of the Canaanite people. The Canaanites of the southern Levante worshipped a panoply of gods; the first known mention of the city of Jerusalem was in c. 2,000 BCE.

PHILISTIA  (present day Gaza on the Mediterranean coast of Israel) was the name of a region between Egypt and Canaan believed to be founded  c 2,100BC.  The Old Testament states that the inhabitants were Philistines. In Hebrew, Philistine literally means ‘of  Palestine’  (Phillistia). The name Jerusalem is of Canaanite origin, meaning “Founded by Shalem”: Originally ‘Urushalim’ or ‘Urushalem’ the prefix uru means ‘founded by’, and the suffix salem or Shalem refers to the Canaanite ‘god of dusk, of the setting sun and of health and perfection’. The Sumero-Akkadian name for Jerusalem (1330 BCE) uru-salim, means “foundation of [or by] the god ‘Shalim‘ from Hebrew/Semitic meaning ‘to found, to lay a cornerstone’.

Though not a part of Canaan and never conquered by the Israelites, Phillistia was in the area said to have been promised to the Israelites by their God. The two nations were initially on peaceful terms but eventually warred for centuries. Goliath the giant was the Philistine from Gath, who was killed by David  the shepherd boy (later King of Israel) with a slingshot stone. Under the later Roman occupation of Judea, Phillistia was renamed Palaestina,  the name Palestine and the Arab word Filistin originate from the Romanised Palaestina

According to the Old Testament  Abraham, the patriarch of Judaism, was born  in 1,813 BCE, he was a native of Ur of the Chaldeans, in Mesopotamia, now south eastern Iraq. He was led by God to settle in Haran. The Torah traces his  lineage through his grandson Jacob and through his twelve sons who became the ancestors of the twelve tribes of Israel. The name Israel comes from the renaming of Jacob following a heroic struggle when he wrestled with an angel. The Hebrew bible states the name is derived from ‘yisra’ meaning ‘to prevail over’ and ‘el ‘referring to ‘God, the divine’.

Following a famine Jacob’s descendants, the Hebrews, migrated to Egypt and under the patronage of Joseph, Jacob’s son, established a thriving community, which in time became viewed as a threat to the indigenous population. After Joseph’s death they were enslaved in Egypt for 400 years until Moses led them to freedom. The Hebrews were directed through the Sinai Peninsula to Canaan, the ‘land flowing with milk and honey’  promised  to them by their God. Canaan had an indigenous population of both settled and nomadic groups; the  Israelites were commanded  by their god to conquer Canaan. The  conquest occurred under Joshua in c.1,406BC. The  Book of Joshua states that Canaanites are included in a list of nations to exterminate and later described as a group which the Israelites had annihilated. Today this has been equated with genocide.

According to the Bible, the Israelite history of the city of Jerusalem began c.1,000 BCE, when the city of David was sacked by King David who later united the 12 tribes of Israel. Solomon, his son, built the Temple of Jerusalem, however following his death, the kingdom was split into two parts, 10 tribes of Israel and 2 of Judah.  The Jewish people were  exiled in the Assyrian conquest (740 BCE)  and in the Babylonian conquest (587/6 BCE) . After the Fall of Babylon  to the Persians, King Cyrus the Great allowed the descendants of the  tribes of the Kingdom of Judah  to return to Israel. The 10 tribes who never returned are referred to as ‘the Ten lost tribes of Israel’ who were  scattered globally in the diaspora.

Recent History:


In 1917 in response to  the  Zionist political movement, Great Britain recognized the rights of the Jewish people to establish a “national homeland for the people of Palestine”.  In 1947 the UN voted for the Partition of Palestine, in 1948 Britain withdrew when their  Mandate for Palestine as a Protectorate ended. The  Zionist movement immediately declared a State of Israel in Palestine, triggering the Arab invasion and later the Arab/Israeli war and the eventual  Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. Since that time, Palestinians have been dispossessed of their rights and remain stateless. The restoration of East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital has been an inherent part of endless Peace negotiations for a two State solution until the recent declaration by President Trump.

Post script: Palestinians are now seeking a non partisan peace broker to replace the US in negotiations.

(First published December 13 2017)

(Note:Previous blog: Errata/Tribes of Israel corrected)