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


How do we differentiate between cultural tradition and what is effectively torture?


FGM (female genital mutilation) falls within the definition of abuse under international law i.e. physical,  psychological, emotional, or sexual where the person could not have consented or were pressurised into consenting. It aims to ensure premarital virginity and marital fidelity by reducing the woman’s libido in an effort to resist extramarital sexual acts. Traditionally girls who are cut increase their marriage prospects. FGM is the ritual cutting or removal of some or all of the external female genitalia. Cutting is considered a  cultural ‘rite of passage’ to initiate girls into womanhood and is accompanied by communal celebration with gifts bestowed. The procedure is done without anaesthetic, often performed by traditional circumcisers or ‘cutters’ who do not have any medical training. In some countries it may be done by a medical professional in the belief that the procedure is then safer.

  • The procedure is cultural and not part of any religious tradition
  • There are no health benefits and serious complications often arise
  • It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women.

FGM  is found in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and within communities from countries in which FGM is common. Girls are at risk of being returned to their home countries for FGM especially during holiday periods to allow for healing to take place.  It is  is mostly carried out on young girls between infancy and age 15, commonly before puberty begins. It is estimated that between 50 and 60% remain unaware that they have been subjected to the procedure if carried out in infancy or early childhood due to trauma memory being suppressed.

Continue reading

“Suffer the little children to come unto Me” Jesus


Paedophile priests, teachers at the Anonio Provolo Institute for the deaf   in Italy and Argentina  designed  ‘special secret signs’ to initiate sexual abuse of boys, as young as 11 years old. The signs were designed to remain incomprehensible  to those who could understand sign language ensuring secrecy was maintained.The priests had no fear of being caught as  the children were deaf and mute and unable to call for help. Noone could hear the screams of those being abused. Guiseppe, abused for seven years from the age of 11 described how he could not at first understand the meaning of the signs  ‘Then one day it became very clear when one of the priests made the secret sign for fellatio when we were alone, which was followed by him pushing his erect penis into my mouth.’   Priests would make one of the signs to indicate that a boy was taken to appointed rooms under the guise of ‘time out’ or to rest. ‘Sometimes you would see priests coming into the dormitory at night, or you would see friends with tears rolling down their faces and you knew exactly what had just happened. You didn’t need to hear to know.’  Attempts by children to alert parents by writing letters failed because mail had to be given to the abusers making it possible to intercept the letters.




Many bishops see urgent reform as the only way to save the church in light of repeated scandals involving sexual abuse by priests. The agenda at the Bishops bi annual conference held in Baltimore on November 12th 2018, included proposals for a code of conduct for bishops and a lay panel to investigate claims of misconduct or negligence by bishops. These were the proposals.

  • A full investigation into how bishops allowed McCarrick to be promoted
  • Archbishop Carlo Viganò’s claims of a homosexual network acting within the hierarchy
  • Opening of confidential channels for reporting complaints against bishops

Under canon law, only the Pope can hold bishops accountable and this proposal was apparently perceived as a threat by Francis who intervened to delay the vote.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the USCCB, appeared bemused as he announced that the Holy See had insisted at the 11th hour that the bishops should not vote on their own proposals. Instead they must wait until after February when Pope Francis meets at the Vatican with the heads of bishops’ conferences from around the world. Skeptics view this as a further means of delaying long needed action. 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

Continue reading

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 Opression

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.    https://www.youtube.com/watch 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.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6JbUDBfY1E 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 in the Celtic language group, whereas English is in the West Germanic group. 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  2008 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