Friday 21st of June 2019

happy saturnalia and merry yule...


As families get ready to gather and enter the season of festivity, forgetting their problems, it is also time to reflect on how to improve the New Year

Christmas is nothing new. The first recorded Mass of Christ, the conventional date which was chosen to celebrate the birth of Yeshua (better known as Jesus, from the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew name, Iesous) was in Rome in 336. It is generally accepted that the real birth of Jesus was in April or May, the year being the subject of discussion, between the 28th year of Emperor Augustus Caesar (born Caius Octavius Thurinus) which would be 1AD and any time after 6 BC.

Sorry I'm late? Actually I'm 4 years early

So next time they ask you to apologize for being late, tell them you are in fact more or less 4 years early. The Christians based their traditions and rituals on previous practices from pre-Christian or Pagan times, so the choice of December 25 comes in line with the Roman Festival of the Winter Solstice. Pagan peoples believed that the Earth and the Underworld came together on the same level at certain times of year and this was a time of the passing of spirits, possibly being the origin of some central European traditions in which Krampus, a half-goat and half-Demon, comes to punish naughty children.

December 25 is also near to the Roman festivity of Saturnalia, held on December 17, with celebrations lasting for a week, to celebrate the God Saturn. On this day gifts were exchanged, the masters served their slaves at the table and it was a time for feasts and drinking.

Implanting Christmas on the Roman festivities, mixing the new cult with the old, would not have been difficult. And so it was with the areas outside the Roman Empire, in northern Germany and Scandinavia where the time of Yule (Geola, Joy) was celebrated in the darkest months of December and January. Yuletide, the time of joy or merry making, was divided into aerra geola (before the Celebration) and aeftera geola, the time after the Celebration, meaning January.

Whatever the origins, they are all basically the same in Europe - festivals of light, joy in times of darkness, festivities which serve to bring communities together in times of hardship (no agricultural activity, no produce, who has stored enough to last through the Winter, who needs help). Fast forward two thousand years, from Saturnalia and Yuletide, here we are once again on the eve of another festive season.

In Islam, charity is one of the fundamental rules (two point five per cent of your profits should be given to charitable causes); in Christianity, the precept is that people should help the neighbor. The idea is the same in many other religions, schools of thought which define collective human behavior.

And how are we doing in terms of collectiveness and collective sharing? Well, enough money is spent each and every year on weapons to kill people, drugs to destroy families and sexual exploitation to ruin entire lives, to heal our collective wounds many times over, to eradicate poverty forever and to construct a world in which we can all live together happily, instructed, having access to the same resources, medicines, treatment, chances, opportunities. A world in which every child, whatever her/his origin or race or color or creed, can grow as an equal with anyone else.

This is totally within our grasp, this is so easy to achieve, the only reason why it has not been translated into reality being that the lobbies which control the elected politicians who pretend to represent us do not allow it to happen, because they make money through lies and conflict. Until we out their lies and fabrications, such as the recent case in Ukraine, check out Hunter Biden (son of ex-US Vice-President Joe Biden) and Ukrainian energy lobbies. Then when we tell the truth, they call it fake news in the social media and try to pretend they are serious, while spreading lies by the day such as SKY NEWS' attempt this week, running along the lines of Ukraine and Russia being at war since Russia invaded 5 years ago.

Nothing about the Fascist Putsch in Kiev, ousting the democratically elected President, nothing about subsequent calls for Death to Russians and Jews, by the same Fascist forces, nothing about the massacre of Russian-speaking Ukrainians by Fascist thugs in South-East Ukraine and nothing about the people of this region (Donbas) to protect themselves and their children. Their lies are an insult to the Russian-speaking cleaning lady who was murdered with telephone wire, strangled just because she was doing her job in the wrong place at the wrong time. Where is this story in the western press? Where is this story among the Ukrainian elites? What has Poroshenko said about this story?

Maybe if we all used this period to reflect on how we can make things better, collectively, making a resolution to choose at least one cause in the New Year and support it, and fundamentally, to question everything they tell us, understanding that today the media is being used as a weapon to spread intolerence and hatred, the fuel for war, we can make a start.

We do not want war, we want to get along with one another; we do not want to hate each other, we wish to share cultures and to understand and celebrate our differences. This is my Christmas Message for 2018. I wish my readers, supporters and those who hate my guts and send me death threats just because I am honest enough to say what I think the very best for this season, and for their families and loved ones, and a Happy New Year full of good health, good luck, opportunities and all they wish for.

In Russia, Grandfather Frost (Ded Moroz) and his grand-daughter, Snegurochka, the Snow Girl, bring presents to good children, on New Year's Eve. This inclusive and gender-equality example, embedded in Russian tradition, can be translated into a message of global goodwill.

Suppose people take the reins of power into their hands, informing themselves and questioning the official lines of events, understanding that we are all and should all be equal, from birth, man or woman, black or white, Moslem, Buddhist or Christian or whatever, rich or poor, beggar or thief?

Let us embrace each other and celebrate our differences, let us learn each others' languuages (now I am teaching myself Mandarin Chinese), let us research our varieties in terms of religion, in terms of culture, music, literature, plastic arts, let us embrace our neighbor whether he or she is a he or a she or an it, a transsexual, a gay, a lesbian, a queer, a bisexual, black, white, green, blue, pink... these are labels which do not define the "who".

My project for the New Year is to bring gastronomy center stage and to use cooking and sharing food as a means to bring cultures and peoples together. I apologise if this makes certain people feel awkward, but I prefer to keep the festive season festive, think positively and leave the rest for afterwards.

I hope what when my day comes, I am not more or less four years early.

God Bless, Merry Christmas.

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey


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timothy wasn't the only one...


Back in October 2014


Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey, the Pravda writer who labelled Tony Abbott a “foul-mouthed, despicable, pith-headed and uncouth, loutish oaf”, is a former songwriter-turned-journalist who claims involvement in several Eurovision contests. 

“I [was] involved with the world of music and even became one of the leading English songwriters of the 1980s,” Bancroft-Hinchey, 54, said in a now-deleted biographical entry on Pravda’s website.

“I took part in three Eurovision contests, released three albums, two maxi-singles and five singles,” he said.

Despite his success, searches of American, British and Eurovision songwriting credit databases show no results for Bancroft-Hinchey.

The UK-born songwriter said he opted for a change after regular interviews for television and newspapers eventually raised his suspicions about the real motives of the media.

“I noticed that facts were reinterpreted on numerous occasions, almost always, in order to make an article correspond to the idea of a report,” he said.

“One fine day I realised that there was only one way to strive for the truth: to write a true story and to send it to mass media outlets. That’s what I did.”

Following this revelation, Bancroft-Hinchey, who has a degree in modern languages from Leeds university, attended journalism courses and “worked as freelance journalist at Portuguese, Spanish, Latin American, English and Romanian media outlets”, he said.

He discovered Pravda’s website in 2000, and within two years was appointed the editor-in-chief of its Portuguese edition, a position he still appears to hold.

“I think that the main trait that journalists must have is modesty, in order to learn something new every day,” he said.

Bancroft-Hinchey’s open letter to the Australian prime minister on Tuesday is not his first public missive to a western leader. 

“You three are the most disgusting examples of useless, spineless incompetent wannabe protagonists who have, in Libya, shown an extremely high degree of irresponsibility,” he wrote in a letter to Barack Obama, David Cameron and the former French president Nicolas Sarkozy in 2011.

A year earlier, he made headlines in Canada for claiming “Vancouver is not fit to hold the Winter Olympics”, describing the country as “the skinny and weakling bro to a beefy United States and a colonial outpost to the United Kingdom”.

Bancroft-Hinchey can be just as effusive when giving praise. He told 3AW radio on Tuesday that Australia’s version of Masterchef was “extra popular” outside the country, and counted himself as fan.

“I like it because people are nice to each other, they are pleasant and the judges are careful not to humiliate the guests, always finding something positive to say about their meals or else giving them constructive criticism,” he said.

However, a Russia specialist at the University of Sydney, Professor Graeme Gill, said it may be inaccurate to suggest Bancroft-Hinchey’s criticisms were simply a case of puppeting official Russian opinion. “Pravda is the paper of the Communist party,” he said. “It’s clearly not a mouthpiece of the government.”

Russia’s Communist party is now the country’s main opposition and won about 20% of the vote in elections in 2011.

Pravda reliably carried the state line during the Soviet era, Gill said, but it was now RIA Novosti, a news agency under the control of the Russian ministry of mass media, that was more likely to reflect the Kremlin’s worldview.


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What's the problem with The Guardian? Timothy is lying about his song writing? Is Timothy telling the truth about TONY ABBOTT? Is Gus Leonisky still alive? Who cares? YES! Tony Abbott was, is and will be a “foul-mouthed, despicable, pith-headed and uncouth, loutish oaf” and plenty more: idiotic, sneaky, ignorant, devious dude who nearly lies as much as he breathes (at some stage, he has to inhale).

Timothy might have had another name when he did his song-writing, or was it performed in his own mind? Inventing one's own history can be fun. Imagine we could be President.

Long live Pravda, RT and Sputnik.


and we thought xmas was about a baby in a manger...

A seven-year-old girl who talked to Donald Trump on Christmas Eve still left out milk and cookies for Santa despite the US President telling her it was "marginal" for a child of her age to still believe.

Then again, Collman Lloyd of Lexington, South Carolina, says she had never heard the word "marginal" before.

Collman had called the NORAD Tracks Santa program on Monday night (local time) to check on Santa's journey delivering toys.

In an interview with the Post and Courier of Charleston, she said the scientist who answered the NORAD phone asked her if she would like to speak to the President.

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Is this episode of POTUS, an attempt to show that Trump is marginally more knowledgeable about reality that a seven year old kid? Hum... I would say so... It smells of a set up, mind you.

infanticide in bethlehem...


In historical fact*, Herod, “did not hesitate to execute several of his own sons whom he suspected of plotting against him, as well as his favorite wife.” The Roman emperor Augustus even said of the man, “It is better to be Herod’s pig than his son.”

This was what the Holy Family was up against in the Christmas story: not just cold, scarcity, or bureaucratic irksomeness on par with a few exceedingly bad trips to the DMV; but also a murderous evil that was willing to do well-nigh anything in the furtherance of its own power.

Mary and Joseph weren’t naïve about such things. They fled to Egypt, a place where Herod couldn’t reach them and stayed there until he died of an undiagnosed putrefying disease that contemporaries referred to simply as “Herod’s Evil.”

But some of the other families in Bethlehem at the time were not so lucky. The Catholic Church, and a few other churches, remembers them every year not on the day celebrating Christ’s birth but still as part of Christmastide. The massacre is said to have fulfilled the words of the dourest prophet, Jeremiah:

A voice was heard in Ramah,

weeping and loud lamentation,

Rachel weeping for her children;

she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.

Jeremy Lott contributed to the book Blind Spot: When Journalists Don’t Get Religion (Oxford).


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Gus is a fierce atheist. God is a hypocritical menace for allowing such despair. But fear not, the fake legend of "god the good guy" continues while Santa's can be "marginal".


*However, the historical evidence for the event [infanticide in Bethlehem] is only Biblical and in fact only one verse in Matthew mentions it. The event is notably absent from the other gospels.

It seems difficult to imagine such a massacre was not mentioned by Josephus, a first-century historian who described other events in Herod's life. One could be a sceptical of Matthew's account of a massacre of infants.

In fact, demographic clues from first century Palestine reveal that Bethlehem was a small village, with a population between three hundred and a thousand. Experts estimate that, at any given time, the number of babies under the age of two would be only between seven and twenty. So numbers alone may be the reason why Josephus does not mention the murders.


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Later, Herod became convinced by his sister that Mariamme was scheming against him. He had her put on trial and executed. Despite being responsible for her death, Herod's torment was intolerable. He saw visions of Mariamme. Perhaps in a futile attempt to replace his love for Mariamme, Herod became polygamous. The story of Herod became more tragic still when, for fear of being usurped, he executed three of his sons. [Nothing to do with little Jesus].

meanwhile santa goes to syria...

It’s a bitter-sweet paradox, but often it’s the case that people who have suffered the most are the ones who truly know the joy of peace when it eventually comes.

Take the people of Syria. After nearly eight years of horrific war, the nation is this year rejoicing the arrival of Christmas and the opportunity to show goodwill to their compatriots. Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on January 7, but the festivities are underway. It's wonderful to see how Syrians of all religions, or none, share in this holiday season. Their smiles are their gifts.

As in this classic John Lennon Christmas song from 1971, the people of Syria can surely show heartfelt thanks that "war is over" — or at least largely over, enough to allow them to congregate on the streets of their major cities and towns to celebrate in peace. How fantastic is that!

READ MORE: 'No Benefit': Turkey Warns France Against Remaining in Syria Amid US Pullout

This year, videos from the Syrian capital Damascus show more people than ever sharing the joy of Christmas. Children dressed in red Santa Claus outfits, marching bands of drummers and trumpeters, people of all ages, of all religious faiths, Christians, Muslims, or simply just believers in humanity — all singing and expressing friendship. The radiant street decorations and lights speak of a common divine quality of humanity.

Equally joyous scenes are present in Syria's second city, Aleppo. It was two years ago, on this date, that the city was completely liberated by the Syrian army and allied Russian forces, from assorted jihadist gangs which had held parts of the city under a reign of terror for over four years.

Yet none of these current joyous occasions in Syria are reported by Western news media. US media seem obsessed to report on President Donald Trump's awkward phone call with a seven-year-old American girl in which he wondered if she still believes in Santa. Meanwhile, Britain's BBC aired supposedly feel-good reports about two brown bears relocated from Japan to a zoo in England, and the birth of a giraffe.

But what about a truly uplifting story about human solidarity and courage in overcoming horrors of war? A story which is manifest by thousands of Syrian people sharing the joy and peace of Christmas.

On this beautiful vindication of human goodness, the Western media have nothing to report.

One "slip-up" came from France 24 which did broadcast scenes of the celebrations from Damascus — but with the misleading spin that "Syrians are fearful of ISIS [Daesh* in Arabic] terrorists returning because of Trump withdrawing US forces from Syria."

Of course, the absence of Christmas joy and peace from Syria in Western news media is because these media are caught out on their own obscene lies about that country and the war.


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the moral pain of extinction...

More of the same, or a fresh start? To what extent is Humankind capable of change, or does the species run around in circles, repeating the same mistakes?

I dedicate this plea for 2019 not to any human, basically because we do not deserve it, but to nature, Planet Earth and our brothers and sisters, the animals that we are supposed to share it with.

I begin with one question: What do the Javan Rhinoceros, Cheetahs, Tigers, the Red Tuna, Asian Elephants, the Vaquita Porpoise, the Mountain Gorilla, the Irrawaddy River Dolphin, the Sumatra Orangutan, the Baulan Turtle, the Polar Bear, the Magellanic Pengiun, the Giraffe, the Jaguar and the Mexican Gray Wolf have in common with the Northern White Rhinoceros?

Nothing, because the Northern White Rhinoceros became functionally extinct on March 19, 2018, when the last remaining male died, while the animals above are competing for the "next to be extinct" title, along with the Pangolin.

The answer would be the extinction of Humankind

For these animals, and many others, the answer to their problems would be the extinction of Humankind, the parasitic species which appears to be the only one that does not belong in this beautiful biosphere which was provided for us to be our home. Like a spoilt, demented, evil, three-year-old screaming brat, Humankind has trashed the Oceans from the bottom to the top, polluted the land, large swathes of which are uninhabitable, murdering animals along the way without any regard for their well-being, without an iota of respect for their environments, polluted the air so that it is unbreathable in many places, and the cherry on the cake, has started polluting space.

In Indonesia, forests are burnt down to provide space to plant palm trees to provide palm oil, the orangutangs living in the tree-tops falling, scorched, to their deaths. Rhinos are shot, their horns hacked off, because an apology for a male in Asia is not man enough to get it up and do the job without taking what he idiotically perceives as an aphodisiac, because he thinks his penis will become like a horn. It would be as effective to cut his hair and consume it and give the ten thousand dollars to charity.

The globalization of brutality and idiocy

And here we have it - how does someone in the year 2018 believe that consuming rhinoceros horn (which is hair) will transform his penis into a megalyth? The answer to this question is the same one which explains how the British population (or half of it) could be duped into going for Brexit, when it is and has always been patently obvious that going it alone, renegotiating trading contracts in a world constituted by large trading blocks, will bring massive unemployment and abject poverty to millions; the answer is the same as the question of how something like Bolsonaro was elected as President of Brazil, the same as the practice of hacking people to death in Southern Africa just because someone suddenly points and shouts "She's a witch!", the same answer to the question of why Indians douse women in gasoline and set fire to them, or why women are stoned to death if they are raped. Or have their clitoris cut off or burnt off to make sure they do not "misbehave" when they are adolescents.

The same old story

Western European colonial powers, which today claim the high moral ground after practising slavery for centuries, leaving countries with a literacy rate of under ten per cent after hundreds of years of "civilization", are the same ones which today turn a blind eye to the practices of their "friends" (the ones that provide them with energy or resources) while at the same time they perpetuate shocking acts of imperialism (such as the war in Yemen, used as a pawn in the wider Saudi-Iranian conflict) and label others (such as Russia) as "enemies" or "hostile states", accusing them of acts they did not commit then whitewashing their accusations with media campaigns. These can only be successful if they have populations which vote for Brexit, which are functionally illiterate, which believe their penis will grow into a horn if they swallow rhino hair, which will suddenly hack a person to death just because, or accuse the Kremlin of poisoning the Skripals. Evidence?

The lie works if you repeat it enough times and if you have a population which swallows what you tell them hook, line and sinker. Then it is easy to pull the wool over people's eyes as countless species of animals are massacred and murdered in the name of putting crap in the food we eat to make us obese, dependent on sugars and salts and fats to then become a faithful, life-long client of those selling statins, or drugs for diabetes and high blood pressure.

Humankind, the toxic element

Humankind has become a callous, useless, unwanted, selfish, destructive couch potato, wallowing in the quagmire of its own making, moving inexorably towards its own extinction, after it has killed practically every living being around it, leaving this planet toxic.

It has become patently obvious that Humankind does not learn by example, not even its own. While animals need and have just one lesson to get it right, and will repeat the behavior they have been taught or learn by experience, Humankind keeps pressing the same button that will give it an electric shock, time after time.

We have the answer

This explains the reason why, with all the resources readily available to solve our problems, we see a powerful group of (ex-colonial) nations which became fat on selling slaves to man their plantations as they slaughtered "natives" and civilized them with the Bible and the Bullet, insisting on continuing to divide and conquer and refusing to create a multilateral world in which we can share our cultures and help each other out.

Animals can teach us how to do this, if only we could listen to them and learn how to learn from them. They respect one another, they respect the Biosphere which is greater than any one of them, they create, live in, perpetuate equilibrium; they have a massive shared intelligence which they can tap into.

They learned how to fly millions of years before Humankind sent a pile of junk into the air, based on the bird, complete with "wings", "tail" and a "nose". They learned how to use the magnetic fields to navigate millions of years before Humankind congratulated itself on the GPS or GLONAS. They do not forget, we do. They still use this natural science, while we have forgotten how ancient civilizations performed countless feats of architectural magic. In short, Humankind is like a chimpanzee which has just uncovered a compass as it is digging for roots.

Dedicating the year to the Northern White Rhinoceros

So let us dedicate this year to the memory of the Northern White Rhinoceros, and celebrate the immense wealth of knowledge that this animal could have imparted to us, namely millions of years of wisdom, if only we had listened. To listen, we need to read, and network.

It is not difficult to choose a cause - any cause, be it political, or economic, or ecological, or any interest, and pursue it until we wish to try something else. Those on this quest tend not to murder, pollute and destroy, but rather build, create friendships and acquaintances and share knowledge, culture, habits, gastronomy, creeds, songs, stories. This is multilateralism. And yes, we can build a multilateral world which relegates the unipolar approach to extinction. Multilateralism, as the animals practice, is balance.




Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey


Twitter: @TimothyBHinchey

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