PROMISES, PROMISES – Two sides to every story

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia has changed the face of Europe forever and altered the power balance in the world. As we watch the horror unfolding, world leaders and NATO are powerless to intervene in the final realisation that the nuclear weapons  they had believed to be a deterrent, have effectively imprisoned them.

Putin’s worldview has evolved during his 21 years of unbroken rule of Russia, hard though it is  to imagine, Vladimir Putin originally wanted Russia to join NATO. George Robinson a former UK Labour Defence Secretary who led NATO between 1999 and 2003, said Putin made it clear at their first meeting that he wanted Russia to be part of western Europe.  In a BBC interview with the late David Frost shortly before he was first inaugurated as Russian President in 2000, Putin stated that he would not rule out joining NATO, “if and when Russia’s views are taken into account as those of an equal partner” saying it was hard for him to visualise NATO as an enemy. “Russia is part of the European culture and I cannot imagine my own country in isolation from Europe and what we often call the civilised world.”

NOTHING CAN JUSTIFY PUTINS ACTIONS IN UKRAINE WHICH HAVE SHOCKED AND DESTABILISED THE WORLD – IS HE PARANOID, DELUSIONAL – ONE MORE MAD DICTATOR?

How is it that the country which fought with the Allies in WW2 and sustained by far the highest  losses of any country, is today inflicting unimaginable devastation in Europe and risking WW3? The number of citizens lost by the Soviet Union in WW2  are estimated at between  25 and 27 million. Of these 6.750 million were military deaths with a further 14 million wounded. In addition 7.420 million civilians died, with unknown numbers  wounded. Of the 15 nations within the Soviet Union, Russia suffered the highest number with Ukraine the second highest.

Perhaps the saddest commentary on the futility of war is that former allies can become enemies. In 1941, Kiev, which was part of the Soviet Union from 1921, was defended by Russian soldiers against Nazi forces in a battle now acknowledged as the largest encirclement of troops in the history of warfare. Hitler’s troops surrounded 700,544 Soviet forces, embarking on a ‘scorched earth policy’ resulting in  a resounding German victory and defeat for the Red Army which was almost annihilated with 616,304  killed, captured or missing during the battle.

In 1945 victorious post war Allies divided the German capital of Berlin into four occupation zones. By 1947, the United States, France and the United Kingdom, administered West Berlin and the Soviets administered East Berlin which became the German Democratic Republic under a Communist regime.

  • 1949: NATO (the post war North Atlantic Treaty Alliance) was formed  between Europe and North America. Its purpose was to protect democratic freedom and deter Soviet aggression. It obliged member states to protect each other in case of war under the maxim: “An attack on one is an attack on all and will be defended by all’.  NATO began with 12 founding members, Belgium, France, Denmark, Iceland, US, Canada, UK, Luxembourg, Portugal, Italy and Norway. Members pooled and shared military forces and built defence capabilities, pushing  back the rise of Communism.
  • The NATO Pact created a new balance of power in Europe and came to be seen by Moscow as a tool of American Imperialism and a threat to its interests. In response the Soviet Union created the Warsaw Pact.  This collective Defence treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance was co signed in Poland by Russia and seven other Soviet satellite states in Central and Eastern Europe:  Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland and Romania (Albania withdrew in 1968).
  • NATO and the Warsaw Pact were ideologically opposed and, over time, built up their own defences starting an arms race and the Cold War. NATO expanded in 1952 when Greece and Turkey joined, West Germany joined in 1955.

1961: The Berlin Wall.  In a period of only two weeks, the Soviet administered German Democratic Republic built a wall to separate East Berlin from the West to stop an exodus of Berliners. Out of a population of 17 million some 2.6 million had escaped the Communist part of a divided Germany between 1949 and 1961.

1962:  The Cuban Missile Crisis brought the world to the brink of nuclear war when President Kennedy issued his ultimatum to the Soviet Union to remove nuclear missiles they had placed  in Cuba. National Archive papers released after thirty years under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that the missiles were in fact placed in response  to America having previously installed intermediate-range “Jupiter” nuclear missiles in Italy and Turkey in 1961.  Locations were adjacent to the Soviet Union and could reach all of the western U.S.S.R including Moscow and Leningrad.  In addition the US had nuclear-armed  “Thor” missiles aimed at the Soviet Union from bases in Britain. The US Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, had previously warned in a closed session of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the American missiles were a “provocation”  to the Soviet Union who were already faced with a vastly more powerful U.S. nuclear arsenal. Soviet leader Khrushchev declared to a confidant that “the Americans have surrounded us with bases on all sides”.   

US Archive papers show that when crisis negotiations reached stalemate Kennedy had agreed to remove US missiles from Turkey in exchange for the removal of Soviet missiles from Cuba, on agreement that this would not be publicly disclosed. The American people and the world was led to believe that Khrushchev had  backed down when faced with the American ultimatum when in fact there was willingness to compromise on both sides.

By 1987 the new Soviet leader, reformer Mikhail Gorbachev was facing several challenges, a struggling economy and a war in Afghanistan. He announced that his nation was ready to sign ‘without delay’ a treaty designed to eliminate US and Soviet medium range missiles from Europe. This led to Reagan and Gorbachev signing the INF Treaty in December 1987 and the beginning of the end of the Cold War. . 

By 1990, after 45 years, a divided Germany was in the process of reunification, a decision was needed as to whether East Germany, formerly governed by the Soviet Union, should now align itself with western nations or join the  Warsaw Pact. The Soviet Union was at a disadvantage having begun to lose its control over the Eastern bloc. US Secretary of State, James Baker, made an offer – If Germany became a member of NATO, there would be no NATO expansion  ‘Not one inch eastwards’ is the often quoted comment. Moscow accepted the negotiations on this basis. Today America denies this promise was ever made but declassified documents show security assurances against NATO expansion were given to Soviet leaders from Baker, Bush, Genscher, Kohl, Gates, Mitterrand, Thatcher, Hurd, Major, and Woerner.  The West German chancellor  assured Gorbachev on February 10, 1990: “We believe that NATO should not expand the sphere of its activity.” (See Document 9)  The documents reinforce former CIA Director Robert Gates’s criticism of “pressing ahead with expansion of NATO eastward [in the 1990s], when Gorbachev and others were led to believe that wouldn’t happen.” Declassified documents confirm that such assurances were repeatedly given verbally however these were not incorporated into the negotiated treaty, allowing the West to deny they were ever made.

1990: Events unfolded quickly, Germany joined NATO following reunification, this was quickly followed by the  sudden fall of the Soviet Union and a wave of Revolutions spread through the Eastern bloc. The Warsaw Pact was dissolved in July 1991 and following a failed coup by the Communist hard liners, Gorbachev formally  announced the dissolution of the Soviet Union on December 25th and resigned as its final leader.

1999  NATO expanded admitting Poland, Hungary and the  Czech Republic as members.

2004   Seven more central Eastern nations gained NATO membership, some of them former Soviet republics, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia. The  peaceful Orange Revolution street protests in Ukraine in 2004 were sparked by alleged election corruption, leading to the eventual overthrow of the pro Russian government.  Putin became increasingly suspicious of the West which he blamed for funding pro-democracy movements.

In 2009   Albania and Croatia joined NATO followed by Montenegro in 2017, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic in 2019 and North Macedonia in 2020.

2021   Bosnia Herzegovina, Georgia and Ukraine expressed a wish to join NATO. Sweden, Serbia and Finland are currently in preliminary membership talks.

Warnings by Western strategists had continued for decades pointing out that NATO’s decision in 1994 to take in new members would be viewed by Russia as a provocation that could lead to war. Their warnings were ignored.

  • 1997   Forty seven prominent foreign policy experts signed an open letter to President Bill Clinton outlining their opposition to NATO expansion as ‘a policy error of historic proportions”
  • 1998 George F Kennanthe father of America’s containment policy during the cold war referred to NATO expansion saying ‘I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else”
  • Strobe Talbott – Deputy Secretary of State  1994 – 2001 described the Russian perception – ‘Many Russians see NATO as a vestige of the Cold War. They point out that they have disbanded the Warsaw Pact and ask why the West should not do the same”
  • 2008  William J Burns, the US Ambassador to Moscow, wrote a letter to the US State Dept and warned ‘Ukrainian entry into NATO is the brightest of all red lines for the Russian elite… I have yet to find anyone who views Ukraine in NATO as anything other than a direct challenge to Russian interests”
  • 2014  Robert M Gates, Defence Secretary in the Bush and Obama administrations: Wrote in his memoir: ‘Trying to bring Georgia and Ukraine into NATO was truly over reaching. This move was a case of recklessly ignoring what the Russians considered their own vital national interests”.

The sudden disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991 left Russians traumatised, having lost one third of their territory, half of their population and most of their military might. Weakened in the face of western unity, they felt an unjust settlement had been imposed on them, taking advantage of a period of vulnerability. The Russian people remain opposed to NATO expansionism; the American Defence strategy of placing missiles in Poland and Rumania and the arming of Ukraine by the West have been strongly resisted. Many continue to question whether the eastward advancement of NATO has increased the security of small European states or made them more vulnerable. Inviting a state right on Russia’s border into a perceived anti Russian alliance might justifiably be considered provocative, the reason Ukraine will not be admitted to NATO membership now or perhaps ever. Whether we view the situation as Putin’s imperialism or NATO expansionism the outcome sadly is the same.

Word War 2 Losses :    A- I   &   I -Y

WHEN IS A PRINCE NOT A PRINCE?

The decision to strip Prince Andrew of his  honorary military titles and HRH status while welcomed by most has left the public baffled as to why he retains his titles of Prince Andrew and Duke of York.  Similarly  Prince Harry also lost his military titles and use of HRH when he stepped back from royal duties in 2020 but remains a prince and a duke.

The reason is British royal protocol and ancient statutes which dictate that the removal of a hereditary title requires an Act of Parliament and no request has been made. As the son and grandson of the reigning monarch, Andrew and Harry are princes by birth, the dukedoms were bestowed on each of them by the Queen on their wedding day. This made the former Sarah Ferguson and Meghan Markle duchesses, even though Andrew and Sarah divorced in May 1996 Sarah retained her title of duchess.

Andrew has lived at  Royal Lodge, a sprawling mansion located in Windsor Great Park an estate owned by the Queen who lives close by. Andrew acquired the property, once the home of the Queen Mother, after her death in 2003. While he cannot sell the property, Andrew was granted a 75 year lease agreement by the Crown Estate which allows him to live there at a rent equating to £250 per month. The lease also includes the Chapel Lodge, a gardeners cottage, six lodge cottages and 40 hectares of land. The estimated value of the property at 2022 is £30 million. Despite their divorce, Sarah moved into Royal Lodge   in 2006 and continues to reside there. Ironically royal experts note that should Prince Andrew lose his royal dukedom but retain his title of prince, his divorced wife Sarah could become a princess, known as ‘Sarah, Princess Andrew’.

Interestingly, Diana, princess of Wales, did lose her HRH status following her television broadcast with Martin Bashir in 1995, in which she made public the long standing affair between Charles and Camilla. Although they had been separated for three years, Diana had stated that she did not want a divorce but following the interview, received a letter from the Queen delivered in person by a royal messenger, which stated:  “I have consulted with the Archbishop of Canterbury and with the prime minister and of course with Charles, and we have decided that the best course for you is divorce.”  Eight years later, the divorce was finalised. Diana was reportedly awarded a £17million lump sum (a paltry amount in comparison to high profile entertainers of the same period) and £350,000 a year to run her private office and was allowed to keep her apartments at Kensington Palace with shared custody of their sons.

As the mother of the future king, the Queen was said to be happy for Diana to keep the title, however, Charles was reportedly adamant that she lose it. Over the years, many reasons have been put forward for his insistence, one possibility being complications which might arise as to precedence should he marry Camilla, which he later did. In the anachronism which is monarchy, losing the HRH meant that Diana would  have to curtsy to her husband, her two sons and a whole host of minor royals… had she lived this would have included Camilla on her marraige to Charles.

Today, the saga continues. Prince Harry who also lost his military titles after he stepped back from royal duties in 2020, is still the Duke of Sussex with the former Meghan Markle still the Duchess. Harry lost his taxpayer funded police protection when he and Meghan withdrew from royal duties but is now  taking legal action against the government following Home Office refusal to let him pay for Metropolitan Police security for him and his family on visits to the UK. A legal representative said the duke was “unable to return to his home” because it was too dangerous to visit after his car was chased by photographers during his visit to commemorate the unveiling of Diana’s memorial statue in July 2021.  The couple, who now live in the US, privately fund their security there. Harry claims his private security team does not have adequate jurisdiction abroad or access to UK intelligence information necessary to protect him and his family. We might hope not.

 It would seem that both princes are struggling to accept that privileges granted to members of the royal family can be withdrawn. The effect however is to  plunge the monarchy into disarray and confusion as to how best to disengage from outdated hereditary trappings. 

 

 

 

BLAIR PETITION DENIED

Following the New York court decision that Prince Andrew must answer to charges related to sexual abuse of a minor, the news that Andrew has been stripped of his honorary military titles and will no longer be referred to as ‘His Royal Highness’ was greeted with wide approval. He remains a ‘Knight Companion of the most noble Order of the Garter’ the highest Order of chivalry in the UK and retains numerous other titles.

THE NEWS THAT TONY BLAIR IS TO JOIN PRINCE ANDREW AS KNIGHT COMPANION OF THE ORDER  WAS MET WITH A PETITION SIGNED BY ONE AND A HALF MILLION PEOPLE REQUESTING THE KNIGHTHOOD BE RESCINDED. THE PETITION HAS BEEN DISMISSED BY PARLIAMENT WHICH IT SEEMS HAS NO AUTHORITY OVER HONOURS BEQUEATHED..

What conveniently short memories there are for some, millions despise Tony Blair for his lies and duplicity over Iraq.The distinguished investigative journalist John Pilger, recipient of multiple awards  and numerous honorary doctorates commented: “The contempt in which Britain’s elite holds the public has never been more eloquently expressed than in the decision to award Tony Blair the highest order of knighthood. One million Iraqis dead, three million dispossessed, a trail of blood to 7/7.  Rise Sir Tony!”

The first priority of monarchy is to serve the people rather than to elevate its members to preserve its own position. The Order of the Garter is awarded for life unless a knight or lady companion offends against certain “points of reproach”.  We might be forgiven for asking exactly what constitutes ‘points of reproach’ for those who ‘reign over us’. As Prince Andrew refuses to answer to accusations of sexual abuse and his involvement with not one but two convicted  sex traffickers, some may also question  the new appointment of Camilla Duchess of Cornwall as a Royal Lady of the Garter for ‘services rendered to the Crown’. Camilla almost did a better job than Wallis Simpson in once destabilising the monarchy. A potential constitutional crisis is anticipated by many when the true feelings of the public are tested regarding the future accession of Prince Charles to the throne.

While it is easy to believe that ceremonial spectacle is no more than a  gesture it is in fact an impressive reminder of the centuries old hierarchical power structure still intact in the UK in 2022. Each year Royal Knights and Ladies of the Order of the Garter gather at St George’s Chapel in Windsor dressed in blue velvet mantles, red velvet hoods, black velvet hats with white ostrich plumes, for a colourful procession and ceremony. The Garter is worn on ceremonial occasions around the left calf by knights and around the left arm by ladies.   Founded in 1348 by Edward III, the garter is awarded by the sovereign for outstanding public service and achievement. It is said to have been inspired by events at a ball in northern France, attended by the king and Joan, Countess of Salisbury who it is believed dropped her garter, causing laughter and some embarrassment. The king, however, picked it up and wore it on his own leg, uttering the phrase “Honi soit qui mal y pense” – “Shame on him who thinks this evil” – now the order’s motto.

In 2003 the voices of millions who marched to protest about the pending invasion of Iraq were ignored as once again it is ignored in the petition request. Times however are changing. For the monarchy to survive it must reflect the attitudes and behaviour of the majority of the people.

 

MASS HYPNOSIS AND FAKE NEWS- By Who?

“YOU HAVE SEVERED YOUR CONNECTION TO SPIRIT

UNLESS YOU RECONNECT YOU WILL BRING THE WORLD DOWN IN FLAMES”

                                                                                                 Amazon Shaman

Humanity is suffering the effects of global amnesia, a forgetfulness, for we have forgotten to remember who we are. We are a speck in the Cosmos with the ultimate  potential of achieving the highest reality, the elevation of consciousness, yet we appear to be unable or unwilling to accept the responsibility to choose.  Instead, we hand over control to corporate entities, the military industrial complex, or the ‘nanny state’.  The scientific era dismissed spiritual beliefs and religous practices as outmoded superstition, elevating intellect above spiritual connection, measured by the achievements of science and technology. As a result we have increasingly become fragmented and disconnected from our true identity and from each other.

Western medical schools continue to teach their students that the brain is the seat of consciousness with function governed by chemical interaction. This dismisses thousands of years of accumulated wisdom regarding the true nature of consciousness which is known to be present within every cell of the body. 

Todays technology can map the electromagnetic fields of the organs of the body which collectively generate the field commonly referred to as ‘the aura’. The brain and the heart communicate energetically, the heart being the primary source of electromagnetic energy in the body:  “the electrical field of the heart is about 60 times greater in amplitude than the electrical activity generated by the brain, the magnetic field is more than 100 times greater in strength than the field generated by the brain and can be detected up to 3 feet away from the body in all directions using SQUID based magnetometers.” HeartMath Institute.

AS WE ENGAGE IN SUSTAINED MINDFULNESS OR MEDITATION, BODY CONSCIOUSNESS ALIGNS WITH THE HIGHER SPIRITUAL AWARENESS BEYOND THE BODY, RESTORING US TO OUR ORIGIN AND TRUE IDENTITY.

Dynamic communication between mind, body and higher consciousness occurs at a bio molecular level understood from ancient times. The extracellular matrix (ECM)  at the surface of the skin provides an energetic interface between the physical body and the electromagnetic field which surrounds the body. This is the reason the hairs on the arm or the back of the neck, stand on end when we encounter paranormal or intuitive experiences.

Delusion and Confusion

Authoritarian power systems impose ideologies of conflicting beliefs, creating fear and anxiety, inducing a kind of compliant hypnosis brought about through endless repetition of conflicting messages which sow division, undermining mental health and resilience.  We seek other like minded individuals and groups through the internet for reassurance and to bolster our beliefs, too often finding an ethernet which reflects back to us a collective consciousness of division and discord, a true mirror of global consciousness.

In a rapidly changing world where restraint is no longer considered a virtue and the new morality elevates rights over responsibilities, we should not be surprised when unfiltered views are expressed through the lens of confusion, anger and fear. In this pseudo world, the shield of anonymity allowed by social media encourages gossip, bullying and hostility. We use the term ‘Friends’ to describe people we have never met and ‘Followers’ to create the illusion of popularity. 

Unable or unwilling to separate fact from fiction within the fragmented picture repeatedly presented to us, we become overwhelmed by contradiction. The result is cognitive dissonance, the discomfort which arises from attempting to choose between conflicting information, attitudes and values.  In the 21st century, life has become untenable for many. Confusion leads to loss of personal identity, we feel helpless and powerless, resilience collapses, manifesting in the increased mental illness seen today.

WHO IN  RESEARCH  IN 2016 INDICATED THAT SOME 800,000 LIVES WERE LOST GLOBALLY THROUGH SUICIDE EVERY 40 SECONDS.

Social media has become the platform providing a voice to the masses but also to power elites, it was therefore inevitable that censorship would become the tool to maintain authoritarian control for power is never surrendered voluntarily.

Rejecting new information that conflicts with existing beliefs in an attempt to relieve feelings of unease, creates mental tension. We attempt to dismiss relevant information if acceptance requires us to change our opinions and behaviour. Unable to see the irony, we  protest against poverty and climate change even as we enjoy the fruits of slavery… cell phones, tablets and cheap clothing as the hypocrisy is mirrored back to us unrecognised.

Nowhere is this seen more clearly than in the current Covid-19 pandemic with 24 hour media reports delivering conflicting medical advice while  government directives instil fear of an existential threat. Unable to make sense of accelerating events we reluctantly accept impositions until public fatigue sets in and we rebel or withdraw our cooperation; at which point new directives are issued. The increasing global unrest is met by mandates and threats of lockdown, further feeding anger and confusion. We feel helpless and powerless and the victim cycle begins again until we acknowledge our true origin and accept personal responsibility.

Two thousand five hundred years ago Gautama Buddha taught: “With your thoughts you create the world”  Five hundred years later Jesus Christ warned “A house divided against itself can not stand” ….exactly what is occurring today.

WE HAVE ALL WE NEED –  IT IS TIME TO WAKE UP

HeartMath Institute

Divine Light and Duality

 

 

 

 

 

SIRHAN SIRHAN – What would Bobby say?

IN A WEEK WHICH SAW THE PAROLE BOARD DECISION TO RELEASE THE PERSON CONVICTED OF THE ASSASSINATION OF SENATOR ROBERT KENNEDY AND  PRESIDENT BIDEN’S UNDERSTANDABLE  REPRISAL THREATS IN AFGHANISTAN TO YET ANOTHER ENEMY  “WE WILL NOT FORGIVE, WE WILL NOT FORGET, WE WILL HUNT YOU DOWN AND MAKE YOU PAY”  WE ARE LEFT TO CONSIDER THE MEANING OF JUSTICE, MERCY, COMPASSION AND FORGIVENESS.

The assassination of President John F Kennedy on 22nd November 1963, sent shock waves around the world. As America reeled, another giant arose on the world stage. In the face of bigotry and hatred Martin Luther King preached a doctrine of non violence. On April 4th 1968, it fell to Senator Robert F Kennedy, brother of the slain President to announce to a mainly black crowd in an Indianapolis park that King too had been assassinated. His plea for peace is widely regarded to be one of the major speeches in American history.

 

INITIALLY, A RELUCTANT PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE,  BOBBY KENNEDY, WHO SERVED AS UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL FROM 1961 TO 1964, HAD FINALLY BEEN PERSUADED TO RUN, ANNOUNCING HIS CANDIDACY ON MARCH 16 1968.

By June 5th he had won five out of six presidential primaries. With an ecstatic crowd chanting “We want Bobby” inside the Ambassador Hotel, he rallied them with what would be his final message ‘now let’s go on to Chicago and let’s win there”. As Kennedy moved through the hotel kitchens accompanied by his wife Ethel, pregnant with their 11th child, he was shot  and fatally wounded. Several others who accompanied him were also shot but recovered. He was heard to ask ‘Is everybody all right?” as he lay dying before being rushed to hospital but was pronounced dead at 1.44am.

Sirhan Sirhan, a 24 year old Palestinian was restrained by witnesses at the scene  with a .22-caliber revolver in his hand.  Karl Uecker, an Ambassador employee who was escorting Kennedy through the pantry, testified that he grabbed Sirhan’s wrist and pinned it down after two shots and that Sirhan continued to fire wildly while being held down, never getting close to Kennedy. A waiter and a Kennedy aide also said they tackled Sirhan after two or three shots. Sirhan’s family were migrant Palestinian Christians, forced from their Jerusalem home by the Arab-Israeli War in 1948, the motive was said to be anger at Robert Kennedy for supporting military firepower to Israel. The attack took place on the 1st anniversary of the start of the Six-Day War.

At trial, defence lawyer Grant Cooper, made the controversial and widely criticised decision not to contest the charge that Sirhan fired the fatal shot. Instead, he tried to avoid the death penalty by arguing  “diminished capacity”,  a standard tactic by attorneys in death-penalty cases. This required Sirhan to admit to firing the gun even though he has always maintained that he has no memory of the events. Midway through Sirhan’s trial, prosecutors provided his lawyers with an autopsy report that launched five decades of controversy:

The Los Angeles coroner found powder burns on the senator’s jacket and on his hair, indicating shots fired at close contact. Kennedy was shot at point-blank range from behind, including a fatal shot behind his ear but Sirhan was standing in front of him. Several other witnesses stated he was not close enough to place the gun against Kennedy’s back and provided more proof insisting that a second gunman was involved.

SIRHAN WAS CONVICTED  OF KENNEDY’S MURDER AND GIVEN THE DEATH PENALTY. WHEN CALIFORNIA ABOLISHED CAPITAL PUNISHMENT IN 1972, HIS SENTENCE WAS COMMUTED TO LIFE. SIRHAN’S PAROLE APPEALS HAVE BEEN REPEATEDLY REJECTED DESPITE NEW EVIDENCE EMERGING OVER THE YEARS, THAT AS MANY AS 13 SHOTS WERE FIRED  ALTHOUGH HIS GUN HELD ONLY 8 BULLETS.

After months of research  into the assassination and viewing police and autopsy reports,  Robert Kennedy Jnr visited Sirhan Sirhan in prison.  Kennedy had become convinced that there was a second gunman and that it was not Sirhan who killed his father. He explained “I went there because I was curious and disturbed by what I had seen in the evidence… I was disturbed that the wrong person might have been convicted of killing my father. My father was the chief law enforcement officer in this country. I think it would have disturbed him if somebody was put in jail for a crime they didn’t commit.”  Kennedy, himself a lawyer, called Sirhan’s trial  “really a penalty hearing. It wasn’t a real trial. At a full trial, they would have litigated his guilt or innocence. I think it’s unfortunate that the case never went to a full trial because that would have compelled the press and prosecutors to focus on the glaring discrepancies in the narrative that Sirhan fired the shots that killed my father.”

At the Parole hearing on 17th August 2020,  Robert Kennedy Jnr wrote in favour of parole. He said he had been moved by Sirhan, “who wept, clinching my hands, and asked for forgiveness” when they met in prison. “While nobody can speak definitively on behalf of my father, I firmly believe that based on his own consuming commitment to fairness and justice, that he would strongly encourage this board to release Mr Sirhan because of Sirhan’s impressive record of rehabilitation.” Paul Schrade, an aide to Robert Kennedy who was among five wounded in the 1968 shooting, also spoke in favour of release. He had previously spoken on Sirhan’s behalf at his  parole hearing in 2016, when he apologized for not coming forward sooner to advocate for Sirhan’s release and exoneration. Douglas Kennedy, a toddler when his father was killed in1968, said he was moved to tears by Sirhan’s remorse and said he should be released if he’s not a threat to others. “I’m overwhelmed just by being able to view Mr Sirhan face-to-face,” he said. “I think I’ve lived my life both in fear of him and his name in one way or another. And I am grateful today to see him as a human being worthy of compassion and love.”

Appearing by video from a San Diego county prison, Sirhan acknowledged he had been angry at Kennedy but still maintains he has no memory of the shooting. “Senator Kennedy was the hope of the world … and I harmed all of them and it pains me to experience that, the knowledge for such a horrible deed, if I did in fact do that.” Sirhan said he had learned to control his anger and was committed to living peacefully.  Because of laws passed in 2018, the board was required to take into account the fact that Sirhan suffered childhood trauma from the conflict in the Middle East, committed the offence at a young age, is now elderly and has served 53 years.  When asked how he feels about the Middle East conflict today he broke down crying and was temporarily unable to speak, saying he doesn’t follow what’s going on in the region but thinks about the suffering of refugees. “The misery that those people are experiencing. It’s painful”. If released, Sirhan could be deported to Jordan but said he was too old to be involved and would detach himself from it.

THE PAROLE BOARD FOUND THAT SIRHAN NO LONGER POSES A THREAT TO SOCIETY, HIS CASE IS CLOSED. THE GOVERNOR HAS 30 DAYS TO UPHOLD, REVERSE OR MODIFY THE DECISION. HIS LAWYERS ARE NOW LAUNCHING A BID FOR AN EVIDENTIARY HEARING BY THE INTER-AMERICAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS. SCHRADE IS HOPING THAT THE INNOCENCE PROJECT WILL TAKE UP THE CASE.

 The Parole Board’s decision has bitterly divided the Kennedy family. Two of Bobby Kennedy’s children have called for a reinvestigation, believing there was a second gunman. Robert Kennedy Jnr, 64, said he now supports the call for a reinvestigation of the assassination, led by Paul Schrade, the aid who was shot in the head as he walked behind Bobby Kennedy. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, former Maryland lieutenant governor and the daughter of Robert Kennedy Jnr,  is now expressing doubts, too saying – “Bobby makes a compelling case… “I think [the investigation] should be reopened.”  Since 1974, Schrade has led the crusade to try to persuade authorities  to reinvestigate the case asking: “Why didn’t they go after the second gunman? They knew about him right away. They didn’t want to know who it was.”

Questions about the case arose almost immediately following the trial, resulting in hearings and reinvestigations as early as 1971 by the district attorney, the police chief, the county board of supervisors and the county superior court. Many of them focused on the ballistics of the case, starting with the Coroners finding that Kennedy had been shot from behind, which Sirhan’s lawyer didn’t raise in his defense. There were discrepancies over ballistics. Lead crime scene investigator DeWayne Wolfer testified at trial that a bullet taken from Kennedy’s body and bullets from two of the wounded victims all matched Sirhan’s gun, while other experts said they had markings from different guns and had different manufacturers. An internal police document stated –  “Kennedy and Weisel bullets not fired from same gun”  and “Kennedy bullet not fired from Sirhan’s revolver.”

IN 1975 A LOS ANGELES JUDGE CONVENED A PANEL OF 7 EXPERTS WHO EXAMINED THE THREE BULLETS AND RE-FIRED SIRHAN’S GUN. THE PANEL CONCLUDED THAT NO MATCH COULD BE MADE.

Though Los Angeles authorities had promised transparency in the case, the police and prosecutors refused to release their files until 1988 which produced a flood of new evidence for researchers. Among the material was an audiotape. In 2005, audio engineer Philip Van Praag said the tape revealed that about 13 shots had been fired. Van Praag said recently that he was able to establish that two guns were fired, that they fired in different directions, and that some of the shots were so close together they couldn’t have been fired by the same gun. He could not confirm whether13 shots were fired but there were certainly more than the eight contained by Sirhan’s gun.

Charles Wright, a police technician, and officer Robert Rozzi inspects a bullet hole discoverd in a door frame in a kitchen corridor of the Ambassador hotel in Los Angeles near where Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was shot and critically wounded June 5, 1968. Bullet is still in the wood. (AP Photo/Dick Strobel)

A door frame at the Ambassador Hotel had bullet holes with a bullet still in the wood.This  along with the number of bullets retrieved from the bodies of Kennedy and the others who were wounded, takes the total number of bullets to more than 8, proving a second shooter. The evidence was dismissed and the door frame was destroyed by the lead investigator following the trial.

“There were too many bullets… You can’t fire 13 shots out of an eight-shot gun… The people that were closest to [Sirhan], the people that disarmed him, all said he never got near my father.”                         Robert Kennedy Junior

Kennedy was 14 when his father was shot. He was asleep in his dorm at Georgetown Preparatory School on June 5, 1968, when a priest woke him and told him there was a car waiting outside to take him home but didn’t say why.  Along with his older sister Kathleen and brother Joe, he flew to Los Angeles on Air Force Two; on arrival at Good Samaritan Hospital, a priest had already delivered last rites and his mother was there. “I took hold of his big wrestler’s hand,” he wrote in his book. “I prayed and said goodbye to him, listening to the pumps that kept him breathing. Each of us children took turns sitting with him and praying opposite my mom…My dad died at 1:44 a.m., a few minutes after doctors removed his life support. My brother Joe came into the ward where all the children were lying down and told us, ‘He’s gone.’ ”

A POCKET HISTORY OF AFGHANISTAN – Rendevous with Disaster

EMPIRE AFTER EMPIRE, NATION AFTER NATION HAS FAILED TO CONQUER AND PACIFY AFGHANISTAN – GIVING RISE TO ITS NICKNAME ‘GRAVEYARD OF EMPIRES’.

There has always been an absolute refusal by the Afghans to be ruled by foreigners or to accept any puppet government perceived as being imposed from abroad for they have had a great deal of practice.

As we  witness the horror unfolding in the botched evacuation, the degree of desperation and terror which drives a parent to hand their infant over to foreign forces knowing they may never see them again is unimaginable. The images mirroring the Fall of Saigon speak louder than words, begging the question

– How much has America learned about how to withdraw in defeat without planning, consultation or information afforded to her Allies. The question so often  posed by US Marines – ‘What are we doing in this God forsaken country anyway?’ could apply equally to Vietnam or to Afghanistan.

WHILE THE REASONS FOR INVADING AFGHANISTAN ARE COMPLEX AND INCLUDE HUMANITARIAN AID, THE GOALS OF EMPIRE REMAIN SELF INTEREST.

Geographical location and terrain determine access, a key consideration in expansion of territory and influence, with mineral wealth an inevitable lure. A glance at Pentagon emails of 2010 might give additional pause for thought:  A Pentagon memo referred to Afghanistan as ‘the Saudi Arabia of lithium’ its reserve is believed to be the largest in the world, this rare mineral, used in batteries for electric cars, smart phones and laptops, underpins technological advantage. A report by US military experts and geologists in 2010 estimated that Afghanistan was sitting on almost $1 trillion dollars of mineral wealth in gold, cobalt, copper, barite, chromite, iron ore, lead, petroleum, natural gas, coal, salt, sulphur, zinc among many other minerals and rare earth deposits.  Precious and semi precious stones include high-quality emerald, red garnet, ruby and lapis lazuli, (illustrated).

Afghanistan has over 1,400 mineral fields and a follow-up report by the Afghan government in 2017, estimated  Kabul’s new mineral wealth may be as high as $3 trillion including reserves of 1.8 billion barrels of oil between Balkh and Jawzjan Province and undiscovered natural gas located in the Amu Darya Basin.

Such potential wealth can not benefit Afghans without mining industry infrastructure and for that the country is reliant on international investors. Already facing a financial crisis after the US froze its access to $9.5 billion in cash reserves, with the international community suspending aid payments, the Taliban will be seeking urgent alternatives partners. China controls 90 per cent of the world’s rare earth processing capability and Beijing’s state-controlled corporations aren’t answerable to shareholders.

HISTORY REPEATS AS ONE MAJOR POWER STEPS INTO A VACUUM LEFT BY THE EXIT OF ANOTHER.

China, Russia, Pakistan and India have been pursuing contracts in energy development of Afghan oil reserves with China and India leading the way.  Tenders for the development of the Afghan-Tajik basin, the biggest oil project in the country, were awarded to Turkish, Kuwaiti, and United Arab Emirates companies. The China National Petroleum Corporation is expected to eventually supply Afghanistan with all its domestic energy needs so it can stop importing oil. Afghanistan offers China a potential overland link to the vital oil fields of Iran; mountainous terrain makes transport incredibly difficult, but piped oil could reduce Beijing’s fears of keeping its tankers traversing the Malacca Straits seaway.  Mining contracts include the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline and the Uzbekistan-Pakistan-Kabul-Peshawar railway link, while China is engaged in talks over the construction of a new road network connecting Xinjiang to Pakistan.

Afghanistan is located on the main land route between Iran, Central Asia, and India and dominated by some of the highest and more jagged mountains in the world. The country shares borders with Pakistan, China, Iran, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan including a small but strategically significant channel between the borders of Pakistan and China.

The country has a rich and diverse history and includes some 14 ethnic groups. Historically Afghanistan was settled by tribes drawn from India, Pakistan and Iran, warlike peoples defending their individual turfs in difficult terrain, mutually hostile to each other and to outsiders. The Pashtun are the dominant ethnic group today, making up an estimated 48% of the population. Many invaders assimilated into the tribal structure of the Pashtuns, adapting their language which originated in ancient Iran. Tribal empires eventually broke up into mini-states, repeated invasions from the time of Alexander the Great, exacerbated tribal tendencies, making conquest and rule extremely difficult.

Before the arrival of Islam in the 7th century a number of religions were practiced in the land, including Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Paganism and Buddhism. Following invasions by various Arab conquerors over the centuries Islam took root in the late 1800s and is today the official religion with some 99.7% adherents. Other small faith communities include Christians, Sikhs, Hindus and Baha’i.

INVASION BY EMPIRES

Although never conquered, Afghanistan has endured a long history of  invasion and domination. Darius 1 of Babylonia c500BC, Alexander the Great of Macedonia 329BC and a Persian empire which extended  from Iran to India in the 11th century. Ghenghis Khan invaded in the 13th century and many Arab conquerors followed.  In 1709 Afghanistan reasserted its independence uniting regions to become a single country. The British Army invaded Afghanistan three times during the 19th century, during a period when the British and Russian Empires were attempting to gain spheres of influence in Asia. In 1842 invading British forces were annihilated and withdrew ending the first Anglo-Afghan War. The Second Anglo-Afghan War ended in a Treaty with Afghanistan as a Protectorate, the British given control of Afghanistan’s foreign affairs in exchange for protection against the Russians and Persians. In the Third Anglo-Afghan War of 1919 the British gave up control and Afghanistan reclaimed full Independence.

  • Afghanistan was a monarchy for 225 years until the last king of Afghanistan was deposed in 1973, after which The Democratic Republic of Afghanistan was formed in 1979. The constitution was devoid of any references to socialism or communism and instead laid emphasis on independence, Islam and liberal democracy but was in fact a socialist leaning regime.
  • Soviet style reforms by the new government, including land reform and changes in marriage customs were not well received by a population deeply immersed in Islamic tradition and were opposed by resistance fighters, the Islamic Mujahideen (holy warriors).
  • The  US opposed to the spread of communistic states ran covert operations in Afghanistan supporting the Mujahideen.
  • The Afghan regime requested the support of the Soviet Union against the covert US operations and Russia invaded in 1979.  (Recently declassified documents show the CIA conducted covert operations 10 months before the USSR invaded Afghanistan)
  • The CIA launched Operation Cyclone, the widespread funding of Afghan Mujahideen militias, in an attempt to stem the Soviet invasion. By January 1980, the CIA was shipping at least 16 tons of guns, grenades and mines to Pakistan’s intelligence service, which delivered them to the Afghan rebels. The Saudis began buying millions of dollars of Soviet-bloc arms from Egypt and the CIA flew them into Afghanistan.
  • China saw the Soviet presence as a regional threat to itself and a threat to its ally Pakistan and responded to the Soviet war in Afghanistan by supporting the Afghan Mujahideen and ramping up their military presence in Xinjiang. … .
  • Afghans viewed the invading American Christian and then Soviet atheistic forces controlling Afghanistan as a defilement of Islam and traditional Afghan culture along with their attempts to contain the radical Islamic revolution emanating from Iran to gain a highly strategic foothold in Southwest Asia.

In 1988 ten years of fighting ended in Soviet failure and Afghan Mujahideen victory.  Soviet forces withdrew from Afghanistan but continued to provide military assistance to the Communist Afghan government.  At its height, the Soviet military contingent in Afghanistan numbered 100,000 personnel, some 15,000 Soviet soldiers were killed, and about 35,000 wounded. About two million Afghan civilians were killed. Resistance fighters  eventually toppled the Afghan communist government.The Democratic Republic of Afghanistan existed from 1978 to 1992 and was renamed the Republic of Afghanistan in 1987.

IRONICALLY THE SOVIET PRESENCE INITIATED US AND SAUDI FUNDING TO ARM THE MUJAHIDEEN FROM WHOM THE EXTREMIST TALIBAN WOULD LATER EMERGE.

TALIBAN are an extremist political and religious faction which emerged in Afghanistan in the mid-1990s following the withdrawal of Soviet troops, the collapse of Afghanistan’s communist regime, and the subsequent breakdown in civil order. The faction took its name from its membership,  mostly students trained in madrasahs (Islamic religious schools) established for Afghan refugees in the 1980s in northern Pakistan. In 1992 a coalition built mainly of the Mujahideen parties that had fought the communists, set up a fragile interim government. As rival militias vied for influence, inter-ethnic tensions flared, leaving the economy in ruins. Afghanistan became, in effect, a country ruled by militia leaders and warlords with a people in despair. In 1994 the Taliban emerged as a force for social order and quickly subdued the local warlords and corrupt governors. By late 1996, popular support for the Taliban as well as assistance from conservative Islamic elements abroad, enabled them to gain effective control of the country.

By 2001 the Taliban’s power extended over more than nine-tenths of the country. Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates gave formal recognition to the Taliban government but the movement was denied a seat at the UN due to  its extreme views. Under an extremist view of Sharia Law  women  were denied education, required to be veiled and not allowed outside alone with adultery punished by stoning. Human rights violations included public executions and amputations.

In 2000 in a bid to gain legitimacy the Taliban banned farmers from growing poppies. In a country dependent upon growing opium poppies the economy was brought to the brink of collapse. The CIA funded war lords who controlled the opium trade and when the economy collapsed many of the country’s farmers were forced to resort to growing poppies for the export trade. Today Afghanistan produces 90% of the global supply of illicit opium, and Afghans are victims of the global epidemic of narcotic addiction.

2001 Osama Bin Laden was accused of attacks on the World Trade Center by Al-Qaeda based in Afghanistan, the refusal by the Taliban to extradite Osama bin Laden led to UN sanctions against the regime.  In 2001 the United States and Britain launched an intensive bombing campaign against the Taliban and provided significant logistical support to anti Taliban forces in an attempt to force them to yield to its demands.

  • In July 2006 NATO troops replaced the U.S.-led coalition at the head of military operations, later assuming control of international military operations across the entire country.
  • 2009 newly elected President Barack Obama announced that some 17,000 additional U.S. troops would be sent to Afghanistan in the spring and early summer  The number of NATO troops in Afghanistan peaked in 2010 at nearly 150,000, accelerating a timetable for the training of Afghan security forces and the transfer of security responsibilities from NATO to the Afghan government.
  • In July 2012, President Obama designated Afghanistan a Major Non-NATO Ally.
  • By 2015, the Taliban had control over more than half Afghanistan’s rural areas. In the 1970s poppy production had been minimal, and largely for domestic consumption. By 2016  it was confirmed that Afghan government officials were battling with the Taliban for control of opium profits.

The final collapse of the 20-year western mission to Afghanistan took only a single day,  women and  girls now await  an uncertain   future. The so called ‘new Taliban’ have indicated that hard won female rights will continue yet with an ominous rider ‘within the framework of Sharia Law’.

Built and trained at a two-decade cost of $83 billion, Afghan security forces collapsed completely on August 16th 2021. The human costs of the war are immeasurable, fiscal costs will never be known, however, based on official data the US costs alone are a minimum of $978bn with a further $50bn spent by UK and German allies. It would seem that the ultimate beneficiary of the investment turned out to be the Taliban. We can only hope that they will live up to their current stated intentions and that the reconstruction of Afghanistan can finally begin, yet with so many vested global interests the future does not look bright.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

ALZHEIMERS – A teaching

DORIS IS A REMINDER  OF THE NEED TO PRIORITISE THE CARE OF A GENERATION  WHO HAVE DEMONSTRATED SERVICE TO THEIR FAMILY AND COMMUNITIES.

Like many of her generation Doris learned about resilience early in life, it imbued her with an indomitable spirit.  Born in 1923, in the north of England, her teenage years were marred by war but she met and married a Canadian soldier stationed in England. At the end of the war when the Allied forces had returned home she travelled to Canada with their nine month old daughter to begin a new life. Sadly like so many war brides of the  time her hopes were dashed when the marriage quickly ended. Doris made the long lonely journey home to England to begin, instead, life as a single mother but later remarried and a second daughter was born.  Like most people she knew Doris worked as an operative in the Lancashire cotton mills, from the age of 15 until her early forties when the cotton workers lung disease, byssinosis forced her to seek other employment.

Doris used to say the ‘When God closes a door he opens a window’ and this proved to be a crossroads of choice for her. Lacking qualifications, she applied for work at the local hospital as a cleaner,  progressing to Ward Orderly before training as an Anaesthetic nurse, a post she held for some years. Doris worked  with the prestigious pioneering team who became world famous when they announced the birth of the first ‘test tube baby,’ Louise Brown, the fore runner of today’s IVF.  At the age of 50 Doris began a three-year course in midwifery training, studied and passed her finals to become a fully qualified midwife. After several years as a staff nurse she became a ward sister on the premature Care ICU, a job she was totally dedicated to.

Following her retirement Doris remained active, enjoying holidays abroad with her husband before his passing. The family expected her to find widowhood difficult, however, she gained a new lease of life. As a gifted writer, she wrote her autobiography which was published. As the family matriarch she helped raise her grandchildren and great grandchildren and finally a great great grandchild, keeping a daily journal and recording her daily life as a doting grandma, in prose.

                                                        On the Corner

I stand on the corner each day, wet or fine, and watch for that lovely great grandson of mine. He comes down the road with a smile on his face, on his dad’s shoulders, they set quite a pace but daddy must set off again, what a race. So off we go now, my great grandson and me to my house for breakfast and Children’s TV.  Ms Mallet, short stories and Sesame Street. Then shopping around, there’s always a treat, the best is the Roundabout, his favourite ride, he goes round and round, all the cars he has tried. Now it’s home time… he gives me a kiss. Back home to mummy, he’s waited for this. So I’m off on the bus with this tired boy of mine but I’ll be on the corner each day, wet or fine.

At the age of 82, it became evident that Doris was experiencing memory problems, she was diagnosed with Alzheimers at the age of 86 and made the transition from independent living to residential care. Doris was supported by a team of dedicated holistic therapists pioneering alternative approaches to health care by the Living Memory Research Trust and was delighted to take part in a video project to increase medical and community awareness. Doris unexpectedly became the teacher providing a unique client perspective. Project workers described how she had enriched their knowledge: “She helped me to know what it felt like to lose your memory, your ability to communicate and your independence because of Alzheimer’s.”

An articulate woman, when asked  to describe what  it feels like when you can’t remember, she replied. “It’s like you remember a little bit and then it stops and then it’s like another bit of film interrupts it, then you don’t know where you are. I finish up not understanding what I am seeing. It feels like shutting off. It’s like a blankness that you can’t see through. Like a door that won’t open for you.”   She described her feelings when this happens:  “ I feel a bit helpless. I can go on struggling and struggling with it but if you let go of it, sit down, have a cup of tea and let 15 minutes pass, then it’s gone and I’m back to normal again.”   Her advice was: “Leave me to struggle at the beginning with it and that will help me pull my brain together. Don’t you say anything until I ask you. The condition gets bigger and bigger if someone interrupts you. “ Asked what she found most difficult she said: “The only thing that agitates me with people is that they don’t take any notice of what you’re saying or they look like they don’t believe what you’re saying, as though you are romancing or something. Then it makes me shut up because it’s embarrassing. “

Doris eagerly participated in a series of videos as part of a therapist training programme, ignoring the camera and expressing herself animatedly as she took part in a sensory programme using aromatic oils, sound, colour and music.  She appreciated the opportunity to become a teacher and somewhat  assertively encouraged interviewers to  “go home and make yourself some notes about the questions you want to ask next time”. Even after experiencing a stroke, Doris was happy to continue with the video project despite her increasing disability and memory loss.

She derived great pleasure in observing the rowan tree outside her window, observing the seasonal changes and watching the birds. Inevitably her illness progressed, yet more slowly than expected . After seven years Doris remained almost fully independent and mobile, causing the consultant neurologist to question whether the initial diagnosis had been correct. (confirmed by later brain scans in the  final stages of her illness). The self help Living Memory Alzheimers project (named Doris’s Day in her honour) has since  been used effectively by families and and carers and has been incorporated into residential therapy  programmes.

Doris passed away at the age of 93 and we planted a Rowan tree in remembrance. The Living Memory therapist team gave this fitting tribute:  “Our time with Doris became much more than a therapy session, she was our teacher, surrogate mother, grandmother and friend and gave much more healing than she received, all our lives were enriched through our connection to her. We loved her dearly and continue the work we began with her to ensure that her legacy lives on to give hope and practical advice to carers doing their best for those with this debilitating disease.  Thank you Doris

 

On Martin Luther King Day

” ON SOME POSITIONS COWARDICE ASKS THE QUESTION  “IS IT POLITIC?”  EXPEDIENCY ASKS “IS IT SAFE?”  VANITY ASKS “IS IT POPULAR?”  BUT CONSCIENCE ASKS  “IS IT RIGHT?”  AND THERE COMES A TIME WHEN A MAN MUST TAKE THE POSITION THAT IS NEITHER SAFE NOR POLITIC NOR POPULAR, BUT HE MUST TAKE IT BECAUSE IT IS RIGHT,  AND THAT IS WHERE I STAND TODAY”

“WHY AMERICA MAY GO TO HELL”   was the last sermon written by Dr King, his congregation were never to hear it, he was shot dead on April 4th 1968 4 days before he was due to speak. The words he wrote but never spoke resonate as powerfully today as then:

“And I come to say that America too is going to hell if she doesn’t use her wealth!. [If] America does not use her resources of wealth to end poverty and make it possible for all of God’s children to have the basic necessities of life, she too will go to hell.

” I don’t care who you are, I don’t care where you live, there is a civil war going on in your life.. And every time you set out to be good, there’s something pulling on you, telling you to be evil. It’s going on in your life. Every time you set out to love, something keeps pulling on you, trying to get you to hate! Every time you set out to be kind and say nice things about people, something is pulling on you to be jealous and envious and to spread evil gossip about them. There’s a civil war going on. Every time you say that “I’m not going to let this evil habit destroy me,” something keeps pulling on you, saying “Keep on doing it.”

” These are evil times. In our own nation, we see the evilness of the times with a sickness all around. We see the riots in the streets. We see people being killed. We see communities being burned down. And we see the conditions that make people act in this misguided, desperate fashion.”

 

 

T

A time to reap, a time to sow..and a time to heal

Gallery

This gallery contains 7 photos.

When the Japanese researcher the late Dr Masaru Emoto published his findings on the molecular construction of frozen water crystals there was widespread incredulity. He was able to demonstrate the blueprint of inherent consciousness and the manner in which water … Continue reading

SOUL OF AMERICA

First published September 2020

The self appointed belief in American exceptionalism stands revealed as self delusion in the intellectual and cultural impoverishment of a government elite whose members are concerned only with self advancement. When the vacuum created by amoral conduct has the potential to be filled with right wing Christian ideology and messianic delusions, the very soul of America is threatened.

America’s creeping corporate coup d’etat  resulted in a mafia economy managed by billionaire investors. Financial systems are restructured to feed the gluttony of amoral Corporations, the true Shadow government. The Covid Pandemic has effectively averted our attention from the twin threats of nuclear war and climate change, neither of which are diminished. As hurricanes create devastation and fires rage out of control across America  the world watched nervously as U.S. President Donald Trump stated that he personally would have “no problem” selling the advanced F-35 fighter jet to the United Arab Emirates, a move which would inevitably alter the balance of power in the Middle East.

While Trump remains the focal point  to vent feelings of anger and disgust, the conditions to manufacture a demagogue were created decades ago.  In 2016 A front man was required who pretended to be or believed himself to be, the voice of the disenfranchised, betrayed by the corporate interests of both parties. Many predictably turned to Trump in desperation in 2016 in the hope that he understood their very real grievances and suffering, only to be lied to again. As the façade was revealed justified anger surfaced.

NOW THERE IS NOT EVEN THE PRETENCE OF A  FACADE. THE LIES ARE PATHOLOGICAL, DELIVERED BY A LINGUISTICALLY CHALLENGED OUTGOING PRESIDENT, SUPPORTED BY THE REMNANTS OF A CORRUPT AND INEPT GOVERNING ELITE, CLINGING TO THE VAIN HOPE OF RE ELECTION.

Trump has demonstrated cognitive dissonance daily, the product of an unwell mind. Cognitive dissonance seeks to reject, explain away, or avoid new information, as repeatedly seen in his delivery.  An unfortunate effect is that cognitive dissonance is infectious, affecting the listener and exacerbating feelings of powerlessness, a motivating influence which urges action in an attempt to reduce feelings of discomfort.

THIS IS THE RAGE WHICH NOW THREATENS TO ENGULF AMERICA.

The complexities of mental health are a minefield even to experts in the field. It is surely incumbent upon Congress to monitor the mental health of the most powerful man on the world stage when this is being increasingly questioned. Cognitive health is multi faceted with brain function measured by memory and attention span, the ability to think and speak clearly, to learn and remember and interpret emotions. Higher order executive function includes decision making, goal setting, planning and judgement, surely essential requirements for the role of President.

Observation of Trump’s behaviour has only increased the concerns of psychiatrists and psychologists.The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President.  Published by Macmillan Audio

There is increasing agreement that he embodies the traits associated with Narcissism (NPD), a mental health classification of Personality Disorder where an individual who has an excessive need for admiration or affirmation  overestimates his or her abilities. An idealised self image is marked by superiority, arrogance, grandiosity, vanity and a sense of entitlement with a tendency for exploitation. Talking down to or criticizing others, narcissists live by their own morals and values, changing as it suits them. Donald Trump’s disrespect for any opinion but his own is expressed in cynical vulgarity. The eloquence, formerly a mark of high office has been reduced not just to street level but to the gutter. There are no clear treatment strategies for Narcissism neither medication or psychotherapy are effective perhaps because to heal, the individual must first acknowledge a disorder.

The hope that America will be saved by a change of government may be a vain one. The foundation on which to build has long since been eroded by a  Capitalist system which elevates profit over equitable sharing, diminishing democracy in a system designed to place assets in the hands of an elite minority whether Republican or Democrat. Donald Trump is not the disease which afflicts America, he is a symptom but has revealed the inherent vulnerability of placing almost total power in the hands of one man. A man capable of magnetising self serving sycophants who have no incentive to remove him.  Finer men than Trump abandoned the sinking Washington ship, acknowledging defeat in the face of a dysfunctional cabinet unwilling or unable to exert their considerable authority in curbing the ravings and threats of their Captain.

While America is not alone in its failure to serve its citizens, like all empires which have gone before, it remains oblivious to its decline and so will endeavour to maintain the very power that has corrupted it by any means possible. Oblivious to the impending existential threat of Pandemic, Climate change and Nuclear war, those formerly entrusted with governance  continue to fiddle as Rome burns.

 

PEACE… When we come to it

“We, this people, on a small and lonely planet travelling through casual space, past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns, to a destination where all signs tell us... It is possible and imperative that we learn a brave and startling truth.

And when we come to it… to the day of peacemaking, when
we release our fingers from fists of hostility and allow the pure air to cool our palms.

When we come to it…when the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate and faces sooted with scorn are scrubbed clean. When battlefields and coliseum no longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters up with the bruised and bloody grass, to lie in identical plots in foreign soil. When the rapacious storming of the churches, the screaming racket in the temples have ceased..

.When the pennants are waving gaily, when the banners of the world tremble stoutly in the good, clean breeze…

When we come to it…   When we let the rifles fall from our shoulders and children dress their dolls in flags of truce, when land mines of death have been removed  and the aged can walk into evenings of  peace… When religious ritual is not perfumed by the incense of burning flesh and childhood dreams are not kicked awake by nightmares of abuse.

When we come to it...Then we will confess that not the Pyramids with their stones set in mysterious perfection…Nor the Gardens of Babylon, hanging as eternal beauty in our collective memory. Not the Grand Canyon…kindled into delicious colour by Western sunsets, nor the Danube, flowing its blue soul into Europe. Not the sacred peak of Mount Fuji stretching to the Rising Sun;  neither Father Amazon nor Mother Mississippi who, without favor nurture all creatures in the depths and on the shores…These are not the only wonders of the world Continue reading

WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY Let the Truth be told

ON WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY

CAN YOU HANDLE THE TRUTH?

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’ Continue reading

ASSANGE – DEMISE OF BRITISH JUSTICE

BAIL APPLICATION FOR JULIAN ASSANGE REFUSED

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. Continue reading

A POCKET HISTORY OF IRAN

IS HISTORY REPEATING ITSELF?

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading

KURDISH ALLIES – A pocket History for Trump

IN THE FIGHT AGAINST ISIS THE KURDS, ALLIES OF THE  UNITED STATES, LOST 11,000 OF THEIR SOLDIERS IN SYRIA.  THERE WERE  6  AMERICAN FATALITIES.

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

A POCKET HISTORY OF CENTRAL AMERICA

‘WE ARE HERE BECAUSE YOU WERE THERE’

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

“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

A POCKET HISTORY OF VENEZUELA


OVERT AND COVERT US INTERVENTION HAS TOPPLED A SERIES OF LEGITIMATE GOVERNMENTS IN THE LATIN AMERICAN REGION SINCE THE 1950s. GUATEMALA, PANAMA, NICARAGUA, HONDURAS AND EL SALVADOR HAVE ALL BEEN INVADED BY THE UNITED STATES  WHICH IRONICALLY IS NOW ‘INVADED’ BY HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DISPLACED PEOPLE FLEEING THEIR RAVAGED COUNTRIES.

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.

Continue reading

A POCKET HISTORY – ISRAEL, SYRIA and GOLAN HEIGHTS

March 25th 2019

IN FORMALLY RECOGNISING ISRAELI CONTROL OVER THE  GOLAN HEIGHTS  DONALD TRUMP HAS ACHIEVED THE IMPOSSIBLE – UNITING VIRTUALLY EVERY NATION IN THEIR OPPOSITION AND CONCERN FOR THE OUTCOME.

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.

The Golan Heights is now to be renamed ‘TRUMP HEIGHTS’ providing a timely reminder of the strategy behind the unseemly Trump –  Netanyahu alliance and their open contempt for a just settlement of Palestinian rights.  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.

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.

Continue reading

ISRAELI APARTHEID

DEMOCRACY: A SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT WHERE THE CITIZENS EXCERCISE POWER BY VOTING

APARTHEID: A POLICY OR SYSTEM OF SEGREGATION OR DISCRIMINATION ON GROUNDS OF RACE. 

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

‘MY DREAM HAS TURNED INTO A NIGHTMARE’ Martin Luther King Jnr

AS THE WORLD CELEBRATES MARTIN LUTHER KING JNR DAY WE REMEMBER HIS ACHIEVEMENTS AND THE PRICE HE AND SO MANY OTHERS PAID TO REMIND US THAT WE ARE ALL CREATED EQUAL.

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

FIRST AMERICANS -A POCKET HISTORY

A HISTORICAL REMINDER  OF THOSE WHO CAME BEFORE

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

ELOQUENCE AND DIGNITY OF EXPRESSION PERSUADES AND CONVINCES, ELEVATING BOTH THE SPEAKER AND THOSE WHO HEAR THE WORDS.

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.

Formula:

  • 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 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.    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 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.

PALESTINIAN CROSSROADS

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

HUMANITARIAN MISSILES!

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.”