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Thursday, 29 November 2012

New Kids on the Block - Meeting the English Volunteer Force (EVF)

Recently there has been much debate concerning the trajectory and longevity of the ‘counter jihad’/far right movement in the United Kingdom. With political parties like the British National Party (BNP) and British Freedom Party (BFP) scraping by with only minimal support, and alleged rifts and schisms within the street movements, many commentators theorise that the threat of the Right is subsiding. However, others believe that the splintering of groups such as the English Defence League (into Infidels, Casuals, and Combined Ex-Forces amongst others), does not signify the end of the far right, but instead indicates a dangerous move towards more extreme beliefs as the breakaway groups are not confined by social constraints or the need for mainstream ‘acceptance’.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

1.5 - TWO MUMS: With Two Sons in Afghanistan

26/7/2010: from Kate

Hi Anna

Just to let you know that Mikey's dad called this morning to say that all being well a helicopter should be picking Dale, Alex and Mikey up this evening for transfer to Bastion. At the moment he is still hopeful they will be on a direct flight either Friday or Saturday. He was very knowledgeable about various things and I wish we had been in touch sooner. Tomorrow he is going to Dave Hart's funeral in York Minster. I have thought about the funerals of the young men lost recently, and wondered if other families would attend on their sons’ behalf.

1.4 - TWO MUMS: With Two Sons in Afghanistan

16/7/2010: to Kate

Hallo again Kate,

Back in Blighty, now, and back on line.

Thanks for news of what's been going on in the last week - but could you please fill in the details as to what you were told - particularly regarding the 'pressing forward' you mention, and Dale's and Alex's journeys home (dv).

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

1.3 - TWO MUMS: With Two Sons in Afghanistan

30/6/2010: from Kate

Hi Anna

I asked Dale about Alex yesterday and told him to keep me up-dated as Alex might not be able to get in touch with you. He sent another email this morning. This is exactly what Dale wrote.

Alex’s doing fine, I wish I was there with him. It’s a good routine they have down there and relatively easy. Up here even in the middle of a war zone we have a dress code. Have to be in my issue sandals, shorts with belt and t-shirt tucked in. At a PB you just crack what you want. He isn't getting much food though as rations are limited.

Monday, 29 October 2012

1.2 - TWO MUMS: With Two Sons in Afghanistan

9/6/2010: from Kate

Hi Anna

You didn't mention it.  How awful for him to be in that situation. It must have been very distressing for him.  Dale has not mentioned anything like that, but I think you are right, he would not want to upset us. I have some paperwork from Family Day and I will have a look through it and see if I have the same information.  Unfortunately I couldn't go so I was relying on Dale. 

I don't know where Dale is this week, but I am hoping he will call and give us an update.

Kind regards


Sunday, 21 October 2012

1.1 - TWO MUMS: With Two Sons in Afghanistan

5/5/2010: to Kate

Hi Kate,

Thank you SO MUCH for the photos [of Dale and Alex].  Can you believe the amount of kit they have to wear! It's a wonder they can walk, let alone go on patrol with all that stuff. I agree entirely with you about that 'I'm proud of my boy' thing. I'm furious with Alex too. And it's nice to be able to share that (generally unspoken) feeling. Having said that, I am impressed by the qualities Alex, and Dale too no doubt, has had to develop in order to make the grade as a Marine. I think that the training must have nurtured all sorts of qualities they probably didn't know they possessed: determination; will power; courage etc.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

1.0 - TWO MUMS: With Two Sons in Afghanistan

In the spring of 2010 I drove my son Alex to Paddington station and kissed him goodbye.  He was catching a train to Taunton to re-join his unit. In a few days he would be flying out to Afghanistan on a six-month tour with the Royal Marines. I wondered if I’d ever see him again. Once I’d waved him off, and was sure he was out of sight, I gave way and wept.

Friday, 5 October 2012

1.5 – CONCLUSION: Assessing the links between terrorism and organized crime, and the impact of the narcotics industry on conflict and post-conflict situations.

By Daniel Mossop

Throughout this paper the relationships between terrorism, organized crime, and to an extent insurgency, have been assessed to gauge a better understanding of the links between them. The initial stages set out the factors promoting the formation of such links, where it was found that the acquisition of funds and operational support were the main contributors to convergence between the groups. The demise of state-sponsorship and the rise of globalization essentially closed one door whilst opening another. The decrease in state and individual funding of terrorism since the end of the Cold-War and even more so since the attacks of 9/11, forced groups to search elsewhere for financial and operational support.

1.4 – Assessing the links between terrorism and organized crime, and the impact of the narcotics industry on conflict and post-conflict situations.

By Daniel Mossop

“War between ideologies stops at the edge of cannabis and poppy fields.”                                        

As mentioned in the previous chapter, the interaction between narcotics, crime, terrorism, insurgency, weak states and conflict offers a highly very area of study, especially in the current political climate today with regards to Afghanistan. This chapter aims to gauge a better understanding of the interaction between these entities. Focus will be directed towards giving insight into the links between terrorism, insurgency, crime and the narcotics industry and to assessing their relationship, if any, to conflict and post-conflict situations.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

1.3 – Assessing the links between terrorism and organized crime, and the impact of the narcotics industry on conflict and post-conflict situations.

By Daniel Mossop

There are a variety of reasons and circumstances why groups form links with others, and there is a range in the degree of such relationships. It is dependent on what exactly it is that each group wants from such a relationship. Further to this, Hutchinson and O’Malley (2007) suggest that the extent of a group’s organizational structure and need is vital in predicting the type of crime they are involved in. This section will explore some of the varying types of relationships and the purposes proposed for forging such links. This will give a better understanding of the issue as well as some thought on the future threat posed by such convergence.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

1.2 – Assessing the links between terrorism and organized crime, and the impact of the narcotics industry on conflict and post-conflict situations.

By Daniel Mossop

“It has become increasingly evident that the greatest threat to security emanates from the rapidly evolving phenomena of terrorism and transnational organized crime (TOC).” (Makarenko, 2005, p.169)

Since the attacks of September 11th, terrorist activity has been at the forefront of global security concerns as desperate attempts are made to ensure nothing like that happens again. In embracing the global ‘war on terror‘ however, we must not fail to acknowledge the existence of other threats which may put our safety and stability in jeopardy. One concern in particular is that of organized crime, which is emerging as one of the key issues posing a threat to international security today (MacFarlane, 2004). In light of this, this chapter is concerned with the links between terrorism and organized crime and will focus on a number of elements surrounding the issue. An understanding of the driving force behind the formation of such links will be given, as this is the basis of any form of collaboration, in an attempt to understand the need for such relationships.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

1.1 – Assessing the links between terrorism and organized crime, and the impact of the narcotics industry on conflict and post-conflict situations.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

English Defence League, Rochdale 2012 Demonstration – A Photo Essay

 The English Defence League were in Rochdale yesterday protesting against the recent child-grooming cases. I attended the demonstration in in a professional capacity and below are a few photos I took to document the day. 

Police waiting outside Rochdale town hall 
for the main body of EDL supporters to start congregating.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

1.9 – PICTURE ESSAY: A Comparison Between Hilegard of Bingen's Visionary Paintings and Contemporary Aura Art

Comparisons between Hildegard of Bingen's paintings and more contemporary examples of migraine aura art:

1.8 – Conclusion to the Investigation into the Mental Health of Female Medieval Mystics

It is difficult to establish whether or not Joan of Arc or Hildegard of Bingen (or any other mystic displaying similar behaviour), suffered from such neurological ‘malfunctions’ as the above described illnesses. Even modern medicine does not always find it easy to diagnose temporal lobe epilepsy. The diagnosis is usually made clinically on the basis of reported or observed symptoms (although doctors rarely witness actual seizures, which are not always identified by EEGs either), and as hagiographical records provide the only evidence of the mystic’s behaviour, a clear and unbiased conclusion cannot be reached. The signs of an epileptic attack are unmistakable.[1]

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

1.7 – Epileptic or Evangelist?

Anorexia nervosa and schizophrenia are not the only illnesses to have been attributed to medieval mystics. In fact, temporal lobe epilepsy, the ‘sacred disease’, has been profoundly intertwined with religious practices throughout the ages. Engel claims a number of men and women who attained religious prominence may have done so because of, or in spite of, their epileptic symptoms. One of the most prominent examples of this was Saint Paul’s experience on the road to Damascus. He saw a bright light flashing around him and fell to the ground where he was left temporarily blinded by his vision and unable to eat or drink. Some contemporary physicians believe that Paul had facial motor and sensitive disturbances coming after ecstatic seizures, diagnosing him with temporal lobe epilepsy.

Monday, 7 May 2012

1.6 – Conclusion to Schizophrenic or Saint?

'If you talk to God it's praying,
if God talks to you it's
schizophrenia' - Szasz
The literature shows that religious and psychotic experiences tend to follow essentially the same ordered structure. In Mysticism and Schizophrenia, Wapnick considers both experiences in terms of the five stages Underhill identified in Mysticism. He identifies a similar genesis for schizophrenia and mysticism, while noting that although their development is similar, the time previous to an experience differs. The path of the mystic commonly commences with an ‘awakening of self’.[1] There next comes a stage where the individual purges themselves of links to the material and social world, which brings about ‘a state of pure consciousness in which the individual experiences nothing’.[2]

1.5 – Margery Kempe: A Case Study

Fourteenth-century mystic Margery Kempe experienced visions that she understood to be sent from God. Her records of these revelations expose certain likenesses between her own experiences and contemporary documentation of visions, despite coming from vastly different cultures and separated in time by almost four centuries. In this chapter I hope to clarify the similarities and differences between the two states with close reference to Margery Kempe. I will discuss whether it is possible, or indeed right, to diagnose her (or any medieval saints) as schizophrenic in the modern sense of the word, or whether it be erroneous to deny the fact that she had the transcendent relationship with God that she claimed to.

1.4 - Schizophrenic or Saint?

Anorexia is a disorder associated in the popular mind with a specific symptom. Schizophrenia, on the other hand, has a far more widely-ranging effect on human behaviour, and is generally much more closely associated with ‘madness’. Like anorexia, its definition and name are of relatively recent origin, although it has been known for centuries, and its association with mysticism has been investigated by scholars from many disciplines. The areas of overlap between mystical and schizophrenic behaviour has been the subject of intensive recent research by psychologists interested in the light which the latter can shed on the examples of mystical experience with psychotic episodes to discover the extent to which it would be legitimate to describe medieval mystics as ‘schizophrenic’ in the modern sense of the word.

1.3 – Conclusion to Anorexic or Ascetic?

Although much of the behaviour described above is characteristic of anorexia nervosa, the question arises, is holy anorexia the same illness? Jantzen asserts that, ‘there is no doubt that by modern standards Catherine of Siena would be classified as suffering from anorexia nervosa’[1]. It is certainly clear that sacred and profane anorexia do share many fundamental similarities. Both are marked by abstinence from food, though the motive is sanctity in the former case, and fashionable thinness in the latter. To summarize, anorexics in the fourteenth century and those in the twenty-first century do not want to eat because they loathe the consequences, while they both take pleasure in the effects of starvation.

1.2 – Catherine of Siena: A Case Study

Catherine of Siena’s personality sprang from her familial background, and it was her personality that was almost wholly responsible for her religious self-discipline. Her ‘holy anorexia’ was the medium through which her asceticism was expressed, but it was only one factor in its development. As is commonly found with modern day anorexics, Catherine’s struggles for identity led to family conflict, which in turn often found expression in her ‘anorexia’.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

1.1 – Anorexic or Ascetic?

It has been reported that a ‘historically significant group of women exhibited a behavior pattern, similar in important ways to clinical description of modern-day sufferers of anorexia nervosa’.[1] With reference to the aforementioned gender gap, the vast majority of miracles of surviving on the Eucharist alone are exclusively experienced by women, (primarily adolescent girls), as are miracles in which unusual taste sensations accompany the Eucharist, and visions connected to food. According to the contemporary criteria for diagnosing anorexia nervosa, it is similarly revealed that the condition is characteristically far more prevalent among females than males, by a ratio of ten or even twenty to one.

1.0 – An Introduction to the Investigation into the Mental Health of Female Medieval Mystics

The concept of mental illness and psychological disorders is a relatively modern construct. While the advancement of medical and scientific investigation may afford the contemporary theologian a greater understanding of human behaviour and its interpretation, ‘the theologians of the early Christian era, not aware of mental illness as such, ascribed bizarre reactions to divine intervention’.[1] The Middle Ages were a time where ‘anything purely human was depreciated’, and everything was theologised. It was an era of divine explanation, ‘an era in which injury of limb, sickness of body and derangement of mind were correlated positively with demons’.[2] Therefore, when individuals ‘manifested religious delusions, the puzzling question that arose was, were they inspired by God or possessed by Satan?’[3]

Sunday, 22 April 2012

The Religious Contradictions Surrounding the EDL

The past month has seen the media spotlight focus on the English Defence League as a result of its most recent bid to establish a pan-European anti-Jihad alliance in Aarhus, and last week’s arrests of five members of the North West Infidels, a splinter group of the EDL.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

War-Related Psychiatric Injury was Treated in Many Ways During WW1. How Effective Were These Methods?

The British Army was overwhelmed by the epidemic proportions of psychiatric breakdown during World War One (WW1). Soldiers were evacuated from fighting positions in their thousands, which caused a manpower crisis. ‘As early as 1917, it was recognised that war neuroses accounted for one-seventh of all personnel discharged for disabilities from the British Army…[and] emotional disorders were responsible for one-third of all discharges.’[1] Stemming the flow of ‘permanent ineffectives’ became of primary importance, and there was a concentrated drive to find effective treatments for war neuroses. Effective referred to the quickest possible return of soldiers to combat duties. However, ‘with the neurotic war casualty, to a much greater extent than with the private patient of peace-time, treatment [had] to be limited by practical possibilities,’[2] and treatment focused primarily on the removal of symptoms, rather than curing the root issues.