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.

In the idealised vision of a globalised economy all nations are able to freely negotiate their best interests in equitable markets in a spirit of mutual cooperation and respect. The reality  is that the nature of a dominating force is expansionism, the method being to apply pressure, making demands which can not be met. The aim is acquiescence, capitulation and finally submission to the greater power. Today the US increasingly imposes sanctions, the equivalent of a medieval siege, on nations who refuse to comply with their directives. The strategy is played out in the guise of negotiation through trade wars with an ever present threat of military incursion.

The sovereign nations of Latin America, formerly European colonies particularly of Spain, gained independence  in the 19th century.  They include:  Uruguay 1811, Argentina 1816, Chile 1818, Columbia 1819, Venezuela 1821, El Salvadore 1821, Honduras 1821, Nicaragua 1821, Ecuador 1822,  Bolivia 1825, Mexico 1920 and Panama in 1903.  The United States the United States  unofficially regards parts of Latin America as within its sphere of influence and increasingly used military force  to secure the success of governments sympathetic to it. By 1934, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Cuba and Haiti had all been partially occupied by US forces at some point.  US domination of Latin American countries was eventually opposed by indigenous leaders intent on loosening Washington control and achieving a fairer redistribution of the continent’s natural wealth. The U.S. turned against the regimes it helped install when they began pursuing policies counter to U.S. diplomatic and business interests

Populist movements across Latin America instigated revolutionary reforms, gaining freedom from successive military dictatorships.

  •  In 1948 Dictator Marcos Perez Jiminez overthrew the democratically elected Venezuelan government in a  coup d’etat, ten years of military government followed. In 1950, when the global economy was struggling to recover from World War II, oil-rich Venezuela was the world’s fourth-wealthiest country.  The Venezuelan economy flourished as the American oil industry, supported by the government, exploited the vast oil resources.  Perez personally received a portion of the profits from oil companies, Mobil, Exon and others along with the  ‘Legion of Merit’ from President Nixon  in 1954 for services rendered.1958 a further coup de’tat with Oil and steel nationalized in 1973.
  • 1983/4 Falling global oil prices generated unrest and cuts in welfare spending. 1989  Carlos Andres Perez, elected President, launched an austerity programme  with an IMF loan. Riots, martial law and a general strike followed with hundreds killed in street fighting. Perez impeached on corruption charges 1993-1995.
  • 1998 Hugo Chávez was elected President of Venezuela by a landslide on a manifesto of land and wealth redistribution. The South American country began to reassert sovereignty over its oil reserves, challenging U.S. economic interests . The Chávez administration overturned the privatisation of the state-owned oil company, eventually doubling the country’s GDP. The oil revenues were used to fund social programs aimed at fostering human development in areas such as health, education, employment, housing, technology, culture and pensions and land redistribution. Chavez extended power and communal authority to the indigenous, mestizos and Afro-Venezuelans, living in shacks in the barrios.

Unprecedented Socialist achievements  brought social justice and pride to millions of people. However land reforms and redistribution of wealth posed a threat to the wealthy and challenged  US expansionist plans for Latin America.  In eight years, Chavez won eight elections and referendums: a world record, he was electorally the most popular politician in the world. Venezuela’s democratic record and human rights legislation,  food programmes, healthcare initiatives, poverty reduction and a national literacy programme went largely unreported in the West due to a campaign of media lies and distortion.

Venezuelan President-Elect Hugo Chavez, left, shakes hands with former President Jimmy Carter in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, Dec. 7, 1998. Six years after leading a bloody coup attempt, Chavez rode a wave of fierce public discontent to win Venezuela’s presidency by the largest margin in 40 years. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

Former President Jimmy Carter, whose Carter Centre is a respected monitor of elections around the world stated: “Of the 92 elections that we’ve monitored…I would say the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world.”  By way of contrast, said Carter, the US election system, with its emphasis on campaign money, “is one of the worst”.

 In 200l Chávez became highly critical of the Bush administration and U.S economic foreign policy with regard to Iraq, Haiti, Kosovo and the Free Trade Area of the Americas, and other areas.

  • Reports of failed assassination attempts and a 2002 Washington-backed coup to overthrow President Hugo Chávez resulted in mass demonstration by hundreds of thousands from the barrios insisting the army remained loyal to Chavez who was returned to power. 
  • Following his re-election in 2006, Chavez nationalised oil, steel, cement and banking assets. Economic sanctions quickly followed leaving Venezuela struggling to secure enough investment and technical expertise to unlock valuable resources.
  • In 2011 Chavaz repatriated around 160 tonnes of Venezuelan assets in gold from banks in the United States and Europe.

When the Venezuelan government announced that the nation’s oil reserves had surpassed that of the previous world leader, Saudi Arabia, American sanctions were immediately increased. A former adviser to the U.S. Departments of State, Energy and Defense described the significant shift as ‘irrelevant’ explaining:   “ So long as there’s no capital flowing into the upstream in Venezuela, especially capital by the companies that have the technology to develop the heavy oil reserves it will remain irrelevant’

The void left by the death of Hugo Chavaz in 2013 could not be filled. His successor Nicolas Meduro has presided over Venezuela as the global slide in the price of oil caused hyper inflation in a society that imports almost all its food. Venezuela’s access to the US-dominated international financial system was blocked. The collapse of oil prices since 2014 and Washington’s “sanctions” against Venezuela, have caused the loss of at least $6 billion in Venezuela’s revenue since 2017, including  $2 billion worth of imported medicines.  In 2018, Maduro was re-elected President despite a tactical boycott by the opposition winning 67.84 per cent of the vote.  In January 2019 President Trump unexpectedly placed further economic oil sanctions on Venezuela aimed at toppling President Nicolás Maduro, exports plunged and banking froze. It was announced that $7 Billion in assets was immediately blocked with a further export loss of  $11 billion anticipated over the coming year. The further sanctions made it virtually impossible for the Venezuela government to take the measures necessary to eliminate hyperinflation or recover from a deep depression. Such measures would include debt restructuring, and creating a new exchange rate system  in which the currency would normally be pegged to the dollar.

Both Chavaz and Meduro have been criticised for their lack of foresight in prioritising social welfare programmes while  neglecting to diversify the economy which could not be sustained when oil prices fell. Crippling sanctions and the Moduro government ‘s failure to manage the economy along with accusations of corruption and human rights abuses have led to the disintegration of Venezuela. In 2018, the UN indicated that between 2015 and 2017, 3.7 million in the Venezuelan population were undernourished. In 2016, maternal mortality rose 65 percent and infant mortality rose 30 percent in just one year.  In the face of a massive exodus of 3.4 million Venezuelans the Maduro government fearful of strings attached to international Aid programmes has denied the humanitarian crisis and is largely to blame for the lack of a coordinated international response.

By recognizing the self appointed Juan Guaido, the National Assembly leader, as the legitimate president of Venezuela, the Trump administration acknowledged a parallel government. This support comes with strings, a broader trade agreement and specific benefits for American oil companies like Chevron and Halliburton, already located in Venezuela. 

President Meduros’ request to the Bank of England January 2019 to withdraw $1.2 billion of Venezuelas gold reserves  held by the bank was denied. This follows lobbying  by  U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton  to help cut off the regime from its overseas assets.  U.S. officials confirmed this is an attempt to steer Venezuela’s  overseas assets to Guaido to help bolster his chances of effectively taking control of the government. Cynthia Arnson, director of the Latin America program at the Wilson Center commented:  “The Trump administration is looking to absolutely cripple the Venezuelan economy in the hopes that the level of pain will lead to cracks in the armed forces or otherwise result in regime change,”   Should this occur this  will be “the 68th overthrow of a sovereign government by the United States, most of them democracies”.(John Pilger)





Metaphysics of the Arrest and Trial of Jesus Christ

The trial of Jesus is the most documented  ever made. According to our beliefs  it remains as an intriguing historical episode or the major event which shaped world history.  In metaphysical terms it is a perfect demonstration of the Law of Cycles and the way in which energy manifests in accordance with individual and collective behaviour and beliefs, influenced by celestial coordinates which include both astronomical and astrological factors.  

Jesus attracted large crowds wherever he went, the Sanhedrin, a political religious hierarchy of the day,  jealously guarded its power. Perceiving  him to be a threat to their own authority they conspired to kill him. Caiaphas the High Priest negotiated with Judas Iscariot, the disciple of Jesus who betrayed him.

  • The arrest of Jesus occurred around 12 midnight in the garden of Gethsemane. This corresponds astrologically to the line of Capricorn relating to right use of power, in the negative aspect it manifests as power abuse.

There were six parts to Jesus’ trial, three in a religious Jewish court charged with blasphemy and three under Roman Civil Law, accused of Treason. The trial continued throughout the night manifesting the negative aspect of the astrological coordinates.

  • The 1 o clock line of Aquarius signifies Freedom, the message Jesus brought to free the masses.  In its negative application it relates to enslavement and control.
  • The 2 o clock line of Pisces denotes polarity of consciousness, spirit and matter, the physical and the spiritual aspects of mankind, Jesus is viewed as the Master or Saviour of the Piscean Age. In negative expression the energy manifests as duality and deceit.
  • The 3 o clock line of Libra manifests positively as balance and harmony and in its highest expression as Christ consciousness. In the negative, it represents anti Christ. 

As Palestine was under Roman occupation the Jewish religious Council of the Sanhedrin had no authority to sentence a man to death and were required to bring the most serious charges to the Roman Governor. Blasphemy did not incur the death penalty under Roman law and so an accusation of Treason was brought by the chief Priest.

  • The 4 o clock line of Taurus relates to obedience of spiritual law in its higher form and in the lower, to antipathy, rebellion, recalcitrance. 
  • The 5 o clock line of Gemini corresponds to clarity and truthful communication in its higher expression and to obfuscation, miscommunication, lies and deceit in the negative.
  • The 6 o clock line of Cancer relates to family and to clarity of spiritual perception as its higher expression and to deception, psychic manipulation and self delusion in the negative.

The religious trials were illegal according to strict Jewish law which stated:

  • No trial was to be held during feast time: This trial was held during the annual Feast of the Passover.
  • No trial was to be held at night: This trial was held before dawn.
  • The accused was to be given counsel or representation: Jesus had none.
  • The accused was not to be asked self incriminating questions: Jesus was asked if He was the Christ.
  • Each member of the court was to vote individually to convict or acquit: This did not occur as agreement could not be reached.
  • The Sanhedrin had no authority to call for execution: They called for the death penalty through the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate.
  • If the death penalty was given, a night must pass before the sentence was carried out: Jesus was put to death within hours.

Jewish religious trials: Jesus is first taken to the house of Annas the ex High Priest for preliminary examination on trumped up charges of blasphemy. Jesus is then taken before Caiaphas the high priest, (son in law of Annas) and certain members of the Sanhedrin, for further questioning. He is accused of blasphemy… claiming to be the Messiah. Found Guilty by common consent of those present he is brought before the full Council of the Sanhedrin for a formal trial, found guilty and a sentence of death sought. The Sanhedrin could not authorise capital punishment and so sent him to the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate. By 5am, the religious trials were complete and he had been brought before the Roman legislature by the Sanhedrin, falsely accused of Sedition (Treason)  trying to overthrow the government of Rome and inciting riot, a serious charge .

Roman Civil Trials: Jesus is brought before Pontius Pilate at his official residence, accused of Treason which carries a sentence of death. The Roman Governor finds no fault in him and sends Jesus to Herod Antipas the Governor of Judaea, a puppet king of the Jews who is in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover festival. Herod is under the authority of Rome, he holds a mock trial in front of a mob; when Jesus refuses to speak to him he is returned to Pilate. In the early hours of the morning Jesus comes before Pilate for the second Roman civil trial. Pilate asks him ‘Who are you, are you a King?  Jesus answered:  “My kingdom is not of this world…I  have come into the world to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice.” To which Pilate made his famous response ‘What is Truth?”  Pilate finds no fault with Jesus but bows to political pressure when he is unable to placate the Sanhedrin. Pilate has Jesus flogged with 39 lashes, the soldiers mock and humiliate him, placing a cloak around his shoulders and a reed in his hand as a sceptre of authority with a crown of plaited thorns upon his head. He is then returned to Pontius Pilate for sentencing.

Pilate attempts to bargain with the crowd, offering to release a prisoner for the Feast of Passover; they call for Barrabas to be released and for Jesus to be crucified. Pilate condemns him to death under the Roman law, symbolically washing his hands, saying “I find no fault in this man.” Jesus spends the rest of the night in the Antonia Fortress, the Roman Garrison, awaiting his crucifixion.

It is stated that Jesus  spent 6 hours on the cross  Seeming contradictions are given in the gospels as to the timing of the crucifixion due to two different systems of timekeeping,Jewish and Roman. The biblical account of the crucifixion is that Jesus  was placed on the cross ‘at the third hour’ according to Jewish time, which equates to 9am Roman time.  The death of Jesus occurs ‘at the 9th hour’ Jewish time ie  3pm Roman time.

‘when darkness covered the whole land‘ (Matthew 27:45,Mark 15:33Luke 23:44–45) all record the three-hours of darkness during Christ’s crucifixion between the hours of 12 noon and 3pm when he took his last breath. Matthew was one of Jesus’ apostles and an eyewitness to the event. Mark was a close companion of Peter, and  also travelled with Paul, Luke, and many of the earliest Christians.  Luke was a Greek physician and historian who carefully investigated the events of Christ’s life. Luke is considered to be one of the most reliable historians of all time, his historical investigation is  based on direct and indirect eyewitness accounts



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.

The UN Security Council Resolution 242 passed in 1967 called on Israel to withdraw from the territories it occupied in 1967 including the Golan Heights.  UN Resolution 338 adopted on October 22, 1973 reaffirmed the 1967 Resolution. Despite international condemnation Israel continues to build settlements on all occupied land, a well recognised strategy of  ‘sovereignty by stealth’.


Damascus is considered to be the oldest permanently settled city in the world today.  The importance of Syria’s strategic location is illustrated by the repeated invasion and capture by foreign dominating powers. Syria has been fought over by foreign empires including Egyptians, Hittites, Assyrians, Persians, Macedonian Greeks, Romans, Mongols, Turks, British, and French. St Paul was converted on the road to Damascus, establishing the first Christian church at Antioch in the first century. From AD 324 many Christians migrated due to the divisions occurring within various Christian sects. Following the Muslim Arab conquest of AD 635 most Syrians became Muslim and Arabic replaced Aramaic. Throughout its centuries of rule, the Muslim Ottoman Empire was comprised of groups of Orthodox, Catholic, and other Christians; Alawis, Ismailis, and other Shia Muslims. Yazidis, Kurds, Jews, and Druze lived in neighbourhoods in the various cities and towns alongside Sunni Muslim Arabs.  Non-Muslim communities adhered to their own cultural traditions dress and customs and spoke their own languages, the allegiance was to the village or city and to ethnic heritage.


During the First World War, Great Britain and France were at war with the Turkish Ottoman Empire, which had sided with Germany and Austria. The  notorious Sykes-Picot Agreement made between Britain and France divided the Middle East between the two colonial powers. Britain subsequently made other conflicting deals,  leaders of the Arab revolt were promised an Independent Arab State in repayment for support in overthrowing the Ottomons but Britain reneged on the agreement. In May 1919 the French and British Prime Ministers met to decide their respective claims to territories or spheres of influence in the Middle East.They decided that in return for a British guarantee of French control in Syria, the British would be given a mandate over Mosul and Palestine. 

The long promised and short lived Arab Kingdom of Syria which emerged in 1920 died at birth. France was determined to retain control and invaded, imposing regime change on the Damascus government, making Syria a de facto colony of France, supposedly under the “mandate” of the League of Nations. The terms of the mandate required France to prepare Syria for independence, but the French showed little intention. The next three years were spent conquering the country and reformulating the territory. A policy was implemented of changing the social and cultural orientation by supplanting the common language Arabic, with French and making French customs and law primary. Catholicism was promoted as a means to undermine Islam, and to favor minorities as a means to control the Muslim majority, the aim being to establish a Christian-dominated viable state.

Constitutions were proclaimed periodically, only to be revoked, and independence was promised time after time. By 1921 Syria was divided into detached administrative units. The French created a “Greater” Lebanon from two fobanon and Beirut, to establish an anchor in an otherwise hostile area. When the division inevitably failed, the autonomies were transformed into the Mandatory Syrian Republic in 1930. In 1933 when France attempted to impose a treaty of independence heavily prejudiced in favor of France, riots and demonstrations brought the economy to a standstill.

In 1936, the Franco-Syrian Treaty of Independence was signed, due to the French fear of being outflanked by Nazi Germany, if France relinquished its colonies in the Middle East.  However lingering colonialist inclinations  led France to reconsider its promises and it refused to ratify the treaty. With the fall of France in 1940 during World War II, Syria came under the control of the Vichy government until the British and Free French invaded and occupied the country in July 1941. Syria proclaimed its independence again in 1941 but it wasn’t until 1st January 1944, that it was recognized as an independent republic. On 29th May 1945, France  bombed Damascus and tried to arrest its democratically elected leaders. When the UN officially came into existence on 24th October 1945 the Syrian Prime Minister  was at the founding conference of the United Nations in San Francisco, presenting Syria’s claim for independence from the French Mandate. The French mandate for both Syria and Lebanon was legally terminated on that date and full independence attained.

The al-Assad family  has ruled Syria since Hafez al-Assad became President of Syria in 1971 and established an authoritarian government. After his death in 2000, his son Bashar Assad succeeded him… and the rest as they say is history.

See also: Jerusalem – A pocket history for Trump



Decades of experience as a trauma therapist working with survivors of sexual abuse confirmed the  many misconceptions which exist.  In order to better protect children against sexual predators it is essential to accept that  abusers are frequently known to parents or the child. They may be a neighbour or friend or someone in a position of trust, a teacher, a doctor, or a priest.  Where accusations involve those in privileged positions of power such as politicians or celebrities, this must never cloud perception or judgement.


Parents often believe they would know if their child was being sexually abused as their  children would tell them. This is rarely the case. Very few children disclose sexual abuse at the time that it is occurring and for many reasons. Sexual abuse takes many forms and does not always involve acts of physical violence; when it does it is more easily  recognised by the child and  is more likely to be disclosed at the time of the offence. Abuse is often the result of patient grooming over time which may not be perceived as such by the child. Threats of consequences if the relationship is discovered i.e. prison sentences or the child being removed from the family, are frequently used to deter disclosure.


The commonest reason for failure to disclose is that the person will not be believed. Retraction of the allegation is common and may be due to shame or feelings of guilt, reluctance to face court proceedings or fear of consequences for family relationships. An accusation can often result in the child being removed to a place of safety and the breakup of the family.


Sexual abuse is linked to power and control. The grooming process, deliberately confuses acceptable social boundaries encouraging a relationship of trust. There are various types of offender, they often have an ability to engage readily with children and to connect with them socially and emotionally. Conflicted feelings of guilt for having reported the abuse are common. This effect has been associated with a phenomenon known as “child sexual abuse accommodation syndrome” where the child attempts to reconcile his or her own feelings.

Vulnerable children who are shy, withdrawn, lonely or rejected by peers are particularly targeted.

  • Most sexual abuse occurs as a result of grooming over time, gaining the trust of the child to encourage ‘sexual play’. This begins as sharing time, gifts and treats. Touching is initially restricted to play fighting and non sexual touching, hugging, arm around the shoulder etc. until a relationship has been established. Touching progresses to a hand on the leg and inappropriate touching over clothes accelerating to genital touch, oral sex and masturbation. Vaginal or anal penetration may or may not occur, the damage may still be irrevocable.
  • Grooming by sexual predators aims to make the child feel special, the child may welcome time spent with the perpetrator, or even feel hurt by the perceived rejection if the abuse ends or they are replaced by another.
  • Grooming aims to create dependency: This involves isolating the child from others, the child becoming emotionally dependent on the perpetrator who gains increasing control.
  • The child’s parents are often sought out and groomed before the child is groomed. The abusers involvement in the family becomes natural and normal, lowering parental guard. In this way suspicions that might arise are dismissed or explained away,


  • Post traumatic stress is frequently associated with child sexual abuse but is often undiagnosed. Deeply buried memories never disclosed may surface decades after the occurrence. This can result in drug and alcohol dependency, emotional trauma, and mental breakdown unless therapy is sought. In favourable circumstances this leads to eventual disclosure but the account may not be believed.
  • Adults who were abused as children often report that they had no awareness that what was happening was wrong. Many only come to realise that their experience constituted abuse as they enter adulthood, and can see the relationship from a new perspective.This realisation causes them to reprocess their experiences and can result in delayed trauma, adversely affecting the ability to create lasting relationships.
  • Adult survivors of child sexual abuse may report still feeling a conflicted love for the perpetrator where a deep  bond had been established, eliciting feelings of self loathing and adding to confusion for supporters who failt to understand the complex issues.
  • Certain triggers can cause abusive memories to resurface, one being the birth of a child, memories are often ignited as the child approaches the age where the original abuse occurred.

To summarise, child sexual abuse is the most abhorrent crime because it steals the innocence of childhood, creating a tangled web of conflicted thoughts and emotions which often become the bedrock of tortured personality. It inflicts damage which is often permanent, leading those afflicted to resort to self medication through drug and alcohol abuse; many end the torment of their life through suicide. Institutionalised abuse  is  ever more apparent. The priesthood of the Catholic church, increasingly mired in controversy, illustrates the link between power and abuse. Elijah Wood is one of many celebrities who have warned of pedophile networks in Hollywood. Whatever the source, we must at all times put the person who has suffered abuse before consideration of the abuser. This begins with a non judgemental approach and a willingness to listen.

See: Celebrity Pedophilia




Celebrity Pedophilia

Following release of the harrowing documentary Leaving Neverland, renewed disclosures of sexual abuse by two young men who had previously defended Jackson, force us to separate the man from the music in order to further consider the links between celebrity and pedophilia.  Child molestation is the most abhorrent crime and the most difficult to prove or to accept even when the evidence is clear.  For family, friends and admirers who are deeply invested emotionally, it can prove impossible because public perception is that those who commit sexual abuse are monsters incapable of love or tenderness. Research increasingly shows that children often have no perception at the time that they are being subjected to abuse due to the grooming process. 

Acceptance of such a horrific crime is irreconcilable with the public image of a celebrity who for many, felt like a personal friend for many years. For decades Michael Jackson was not only the most famous recording star on the planet, he was a humanitarian, not just adored but worshipped by a legion of fans for who he expressed a vision of hope.  His generosity was legendary. In 2006 it was confirmed that he donated $300 million to charity, this now exceeds $500 million, he holds the Guinness world record for donating the maximum amount of money as an entertainer. The eternal Peter Pan, he named his home Neverland after the fictional island where children cease to age. As an artist he excelled, inspiring millions and providing the soundtrack to our lives through the decades. Jackson’s childhood was marred by the excessive demands of a bullying father and his own insatiable need to express his creative genius. His attempts to recreate his lost childhood by creating a fantasy world which he shared with young boys, the childhood friends he never had, were indulged by adoring fans and admirers. A unique ability to touch people and to give them a voice, jarred with behaviour which was at best strange and at worst alarming but dismissed as endearingly innocent and understandable as we collectively forgave his ‘eccentricities’.

Child sexual abuse is notoriously difficult to prove, those who testify are frequently not believed, this is compounded when the accused person is a wealthy celebrity in a privileged position with access to the best lawyers. Accusations of child abuse against Michael Jackson were repeatedly dismissed over the years as an attempt to discredit him or for financial gain. In 1993 Evan Chandler, a dentist, accused Jackson of sexually abusing his son, in January 1994 a criminal investigation was closed with a reported agreed out of court settlement of $23,000,000.  In  2004, Jackson was charged with 7 counts related to sexual abuse of a minor, the prosecution bringing 140 witness testimonies. Santa Brabara Senior Assistant District Attorney, Ron Zonen, said of pornographic material found at the ranch “A lot of this stuff was used to desensitise the children”.  A former chef at the Neverland Ranch testified that they had witnessed Jackson act inappropriately towards Macaulay Culkin, alleging that he had seen the singer with his hand down the actor’s pants. Jackson’s former personal maid also attested to witnessing inappropriate behaviour between the Home Alone actor – along with three other boys – and her employer.  Macaulay Culkin initially expressed reluctance to testify but was eventually called as a defence witness, effectively demolishing the highly-publicised trial. Jackson was found not guilty on all counts. 

Childhood perception of sexual abuse at an early age is often skewed due to the manipulation of the abuser, leading to psychological trauma which can take years of counselling to overcome.  Jason Francia, the son of Jackson’s former maid had told police in 1993 that Jackson had touched him inappropriately and testified during Jackson’s 2005 trial, that the abuse took place when he was ten years old. “I was wearing shorts… He reached on my leg and he reached up and into my privates. When the prosecution asked Francia, who was 24 by this time, whether Jackson had ever done anything to make him feel uncomfortable, he responded: “I may not have felt uncomfortable at seven years old but when I think of it now I think that’s wrong, that shouldn’t have been done. It’s taken a lot of counselling just to tell you”.  In 2005 ABC’s Martin Bashir asked Cory Feldman, an abuse survivor himself,  whether or not he had been shown inappropriate imagery by Jackson as a young teen. Feldman  responded: “If you consider it inappropriate for a man to look at a book of naked pictures with a child that’s 13 or 14 years old, then your answer would be ‘yes’.” Today, as a survivor of sexual abuse and an advocate,  he states that while he was never sexually abused by Jackson  “he  can no longer in good conscience  defend anyone who’s being accused of such horrendous things.”

Without an understanding of the complexities of pedophilia it is difficult to accept the many reasons for non disclosure and even more difficult to understand why survivors come forward often decades later, after denying abuse ever took place or even having defended their abuser. The documentary ‘Leaving Neverland’, demonstrates the complex effects of prolonged sexual abuse, the conflicted feelings which allow a survivor to develop a deep emotional bond, even a loving connection with the abuser, particularly if the abuse begins at an early age.  Now young men, accusers Wade Robson and James Safechuck, attempt to explain the grooming process which convinced each of them to believe that they were special and that the behaviour was normal, natural and loving.

Wade was 7 and Safechuck 9 when the abuse is alleged to have begun. They describe how Jackson, used his celebrity to groom each of them, taking them on tour, sharing the stage with them and starring in commercials with them, offering toys, jewellery and money while allegedly abused them sexually over a number of years. Robson says Jackson gave him the famous red jacket worn in the music video; James Safechuck’s hands tremble as he holds a 
jewellery box containing the tokens he says Jackson bought him including the ring given to him during a mock wedding ceremony.  Both state that as they grew older they were replaced by other younger boys  leaving them confused and dismayed. 

Grooming is a predetermined act and is not limited to victims.  In order to gain access to the child, perpetrators often groom parents or guardians  over a period of months before any abuse takes place, positioning themselves in the family to gain their trust. This breaks down parental natural defences, the abuser is often accepted as a part of the family network. Jackson built relationships with the families of his accusers, inviting them to share his celebrity lifestyle, becoming a trusted friend of the family. Incredibly,  like so many of the parents they allowed their sons to sleep in his bed. Wade Robson states “The most extraordinary thing in all this is that no-one denies that Jackson took little boys to his bed, night after night, for many, many years. What did his family and business associates think he was doing with these little boys behind a locked door? Did they believe he was actually a child in the body of a man and therefore somehow needed to sleep with little boys? ”

The singer always insisted that sharing his bed was an innocent act. “It’s not sexual, we’re going to sleep. I tuck them in… It’s very charming, it’s very sweet,” he said in Living With Michael Jackson, before adding: “Kids want to be loved, they want to be touched, they want to be held.” He described the act of sharing a bed as “the most loving thing to do”, and admitted to having “slept in a bed with many children”. In a newly unearthed video Jackson discusses accusations of abuse, he refers to the bible and Jesus, saying: Jesus said to love children and be like children; be youthful, be innocent,be pure and honourable…he surrounded himself with children and that’s how I was raised, to be like that and imitate that”







Whatever the truth of his life, the current debate should alert us never to allow celebrity to mask concerns regarding predatory behaviour. Somewhere between the child many would claim was himself a survivor of abuse and the man he became, signs of increasing psychological disturbance mirrored in his appearance and behaviour were dismissed, overshadowed by his prodigious talent. Since the documentary aired, Michael Jackson continues to be a polarising figure; a renewed surge in demands for his music is matched by media platforms distancing themselves from his catalogue.




“Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people – and them alone” Benjamin Netanyahu



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”.

Millions of Palestinians expelled from their homes in the 1948 Nakba are prevented from returning.  Palestinians living in the annexed portions of the West Bank do not have Israeli citizenship or voting rights in Israel and are subject to movement restrictions by the Israeli government.  For 52 years, millions of Palestinians have been  subjected to a military regime which has facilitated the establishment of illegal settlements colonised by Israeli citizens able to vote creating resulting in the dispossession and  inequality of Palestinians, perpetrated through land control, immigration and resource distribution.  Israeli settlements create separate roads for Israeli and Palestinian citizens and Palestinians are subject to military checkpoints. Basic human rights are eroded on a daily basis, Hebrew is now the only official language with the Arabic language downgraded from an official language to a language with “special status”, 

Nadim Rouhana,  a ‘conflict studies’ scholar wrote: “there are few honest observers in Israel who dispute that a Jewish state, by definition, privileges one group of citizens over another”. As Prime Minister Netanyahu, leader of the most right wing government in Israeli history, seeks a fifth term of office it was announced that he will be indicted on charges of bribery and breach of trust charges arising from three separate corruption charges.He denies all charges.


The institutionalised racial, political and economic discrimination which formerly oppressed the non white  population of South Africa, is now upheld in Israel and condoned by the United Nations whose members fail to protect the indigenous Palestinian people.


The United Nations General Assembly (17 December 1981) 

Policies of apartheid of the Government of South Africa

The UN acknowledged “apartheid is a crime against humanity and a threat to international peace and security   “…..apartheid                               cannot be reformed but must be totally eliminated” 

  • (The Directive) Reaffirms the commitment of the United Nations to the total eradication of apartheid and the establishment of a democratic society in which all the people of South Africa as a whole, irrespective of race, colour, sex or creed, will enjoy equal and full human rights and fundamental freedoms and participate freely in the determination of their destiny.
  • Convinced that it is incumbent on the international community to provide all necessary assistance to the oppressed people of South Africa and their national liberation movement in their legitimate struggle for the establishment of a democratic society in accordance with their inalienable rights, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
  • Reaffirms the legitimacy of the struggle of the oppressed people of South Africa and their national liberation movement, by all available means including armed struggle, for the seizure of power by the people, the elimination of the apartheid regime and the exercise of the right of self-determination by the people of South Africa as a whole,
  • Denouncing the policy of “bantustanization” designed to deprive the African majority of citizenship and to further dispossess it of its inalienable rights, as well as the continuing forced removals of millions of black people, as an international crime,
  • Reaffirming that freedom fighters of South Africa are entitled to prisoner-of-war status under Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions of 1949,
  • Concerned that some Western countries and Israel continue to provide military supplies to South Africa, directly and indirectly, in gross violation of the provisions of Security Council resolution 418 (1977) of 4 November 1977, forbidding the supply of arms and all related materiel to the apartheid regime.

As the world waits for a Nelson Mandela the Palestinians continue to be dispossessed and dehumanised.

See also: Hebrew v Arabic: Language as a Tool of Oppression



Parallel Realities

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.

Those who choose to dismiss the warning signs of racial hostility rather than heed them, are as much at fault as those who whip up the media frenzy at every opportunity.  As the media attempts to unravel the facts to determine who or what initiated the incident, the fuller picture is emerging and in fact corroborates Mr Phillip’s account.  Context being everything, it is important to remember that on the day in question several protests were taking place by different groups including a Native American rally to protest against the Dakota Access Pipe Line which Nathan Phillips was attending, while the students of Covington Catholic High School were attending a March for Life anti abortion rally.  Longer versions of the earlier video confirm Nathan Phillips description of what occurred. Four black youths, identifying themselves as ‘The Hebrew Israelites’ who believe black Americans are God’s chosen people, were preaching their beliefs in a provocative manner and shouting racial and homophobic slurs towards a large group of white youths, many wearing ‘Make America Great Again’ hats.  Mr Phillips has described how his protest group were located in their designated area and were coming to the end of their rally, aware of the growing confrontation between the white and black youths which had been going on for some 2 hours, with the group of white youths now numbering some 200.

Nathan  Phillips believed this might escalate into violence and stepped forward between the two groups. The ceremonial drum which he was beating is a symbol of peace, an act of prayer,  ‘the way we communicate with God’. As so often happens when  a third party intervenes in someone else’s argument, Mr Phillips became the target with Nick Sandeman confronting him in an intimidating manner. The students  surrounded them and can be seen and heard ridiculing Mr Phillips with war whoops and ‘tomahawk chop’ gestures. While some have tried to dismiss this behaviour as youthful exuberance, other shouts heard on the video including ‘it’s not rape if you enjoy it’ testify to the hostile environment. Chase Iron Law, an attorney and a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has described how ‘tomahawk chop’ gestures and pseudo ‘war whoops’  incorporated into American culture are an example of ignorance which breeds intolerance. Whether intended or not they are  offensive and constitute a racial slur against native Americans.




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