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#Waterloo battlefield archaeology helps veterans with physical and mental recovery

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A new report by the charity Waterloo Uncovered reveals how archaeological work on the battlefield of Waterloo is helping veterans and serving military personnel with recovery from some of the mental and physical impacts of their service.

Published to mark the 5th anniversary of the charity, and coinciding this week with the 205th anniversary of the battle (June 18, 1815), the report - Peace from War - highlights the results of a nine-month pilot Veterans and Military Personnel Support Programme run in conjunction with the excavation on the Belgian battlefield, where Napoleon’s domination of Europe was finally ended.

Fifty British and Dutch veterans and serving personnel took part in the dig last July, alongside a team of archaeologists led by Professor Tony Pollard, Director of the Centre for Battlefield Archaeology at the University of Glasgow. The excavations examined key areas of the battlefield:

-          Hougoumont Farm, scene of a famous episode where British Guardsmen foiled a French attack by forcing closed the gates. The dig found evidence of the destruction wrought on the buildings, as well as personal items such as uniform buttons from the Coldstream Guards and Scots Guards defenders.

-          Mont-Saint-Jean Farm, the location of Wellington’s Field Hospital during the battle, has given up grim evidence of the struggle to save lives, in the form of amputated limbs from the wounded bearing the marks of the surgeon’s saw.

-          The ruins of the lost Chateau of Frichermont have been rediscovered in woods on the Allied left wing. Large numbers of musket and cannon balls from the fierce fighting show how close the French came to winning the battle.

In all, more than 800 finds were made.

Professor Pollard said: “There’s an extra dimension to working with veterans. Some of our team in Waterloo Uncovered have had first-hand experience of close-quarter fighting. You can be kneeling next to them in a trench on the dig and they’ll notice something you haven’t. That’s a uniquely valuable perspective for an archaeologist to have.”

The archaeological work went hand-in-hand with a nine-month programme of recovery and rehabilitation for Veterans and Serving Military Personnel. Participants in the Programme came from a variety of service backgrounds, from Chelsea Pensioner to serving soldiers.

They were set personal goals to overcome challenges such as significant physical, or mental, injury and the struggle to adapt to civilian life.

These goals included: improving mobility and physical wellbeing; reducing social isolation; building confidence through achieving tasks; learning new skills; managing anxiety and improving mental wellbeing.

Findings from the evaluation process, intended to produce hard, measurable evidence of the impact of the programme, reveal that 81% of these goals were met “in full, or mostly” and 13% of goals were met “in part”.

In addition, a respected method for measuring mental wellbeing, developed by the Universities of Warwick and Edinburgh (The Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale), was applied.

This revealed that an average improvement of 28.8% in the assessed mental wellbeing of participants by the end of the dig and a sustained improvement of 20% at the end of the nine-month programme.

The study also assembled a body of qualitative evidence of impact. One participant described the effect of the programme on herself saying: “Waterloo Uncovered has given me a handrail to life – it has helped keep me focused whilst dealing with day-to-day stress.”

Support for the work of the charity has also come from Dame Clare Marx, Chair of the General Medical Council, who visited the dig in July and said: “Waterloo Uncovered is using a really practical, physical environment to help people with their lives, with their belonging, with their control of what they do.”

Mark Evans, former Captain in the Coldstream Guards and now CEO of Waterloo Uncovered said: “Archaeology isn’t a panacea for all ills, but it can be massively positive for individuals. Our wellbeing and support team is made up of professionals with vast experience. This report shows the evidence of the benefits people can achieve, both in the short term and over a longer period.”

UK Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Johnny Mercer, praised the value of the report in creating a body of robust evidence for the benefits that can be achieved through archaeology. He said: “The programme addresses areas close to my heart -of recovery, health and wellbeing, transition into civilian life, education and employment. It’s a good story to tell.”

Dennis Abbott, a former journalist and European Commission spokesman, is a Belgium-based volunteer for Waterloo Uncovered and took part in last summer's excavations on the battlefield. He said: "It was an amazing experience to work alongside renowned archaeologists and veterans from the UK, Dutch and US forces. Many put their lives on the line in dangerous places and were lucky to live and tell the tale - but the scars, both physical and mental, remain. Waterloo Uncovered does a fantastic job in aiding their recovery and care."

Waterloo Uncovered combines world-class archaeology with a programme of care and recovery for veterans and serving military personnel. Since 2015, the charity has been excavating on the site of one of the world’s most decisive battles. In that time, they have made important new discoveries about the bloody fighting there and about the men who took part in the battle.

More than 100 veterans and serving military personnel from a range of nationalities have been given the chance to benefit. Earlier this year the work of the charity was recognized by a Points of Light Award from the UK Prime Minister. The charity has been forced to postpone its 2020 excavation due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, it has created a three-month Virtual Programme of educational content, online activities and wellbeing support for participants.

For more information, click here.

Brussels

Portugal foreign minister calls on ‘all parties’ to de-escalate the situation in Jerusalem

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Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva: "Violence is the enemy of peace. We need all the moderates to try to take control of the situation and to avoid and combat any kind of violence."

Israel’s foreign ministry has issued a statement regarding the years-long land dispute in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem. “Regrettably, the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian terror groups are presenting a real-estate dispute between private parties as a nationalistic cause in order to incite violence in Jerusalem. The PA and Palestinian terror groups will bear full responsibility for the violence emanating from their actions,’’ the statement said, writes Yossi Lempkowicz.

Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva (pictured) has called on all parties in Jerusalem to de-escalate the situation. ”I make an appeal to all parties in Jerusalem to de-escalate, to avoid any kind of violence.Violence is the enemy of peace. We need all the moderates to try to take control of the situation and to avoid and combat any kind of violence,’’ he said upon arrival at a meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Brussels. Portugal is currently chairng the EU Council of Ministers.

The unrest continued in Jerusalem on Monday (10 May) with Arab riots on the Temple Mount and in the Old City. They hurled rocks and other objects at Israeli police who responded with stung grenades. In an effort to lower the flames in the city, Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai had ordered earlier on Monday that Jewish worshipers be barred from entering the Temple Mount compound for the day.

“The Israel Police will continue to enable freedom of worship, but won’t allow disturbances,” the police said in a statement. On the last Friday evening of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan (7 May), Palestinians threw rocks and bottles at Israeli police officers on the Temple Mount following Muslim prayers. 17 police officers were hurt and half were hospitalized, with one taking a rock to the head. Video from the scene showed pitched battles, with Palestinians throwing chairs, shoes, rocks and bottles, and shooting fireworks, while chanting “Allahu Akbar”, and police responding with stun grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets.

Israel’s foreign ministry has issued a statement regarding the years-long land dispute in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem. “Regrettably, the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian terror groups are presenting a real-estate dispute between private parties as a nationalistic cause in order to incite violence in Jerusalem. The PA and Palestinian terror groups will bear full responsibility for the violence emanating from their actions,’’ the statement said.

On Sunday (9 May), Israel’s Supreme Court decided – at the request of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, to postpone a hearing on the possible eviction of several Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem and will set a new date within 30 days in the decades-long legal case. What is the Sheikh Jarrah legal dispute ? Sheikh Jarrah is an Arab neighborhood that developed outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem in the 19th century. According to Israel’s Supreme Court, the land in question was purchased by the local Ashkenazi and Sephardi communities from its Arab owners in 1875, primarily because of the area’s religious significance in housing the tomb of “Simeon the Just”.

The property was registered in the Ottoman land registry as a trust under the name of rabbis Avraham Ashkenazi and Meir Auerbach. A small Jewish community lived there peacefully in co-existence with the local Arab community until 1948, when the War of Independence broke out. The Jewish owners had tried to register ownership of the property with the authorities of the British Mandate in 1946. When the War of Independence broke out in 1948, the Old City of Jerusalem and its surrounding area—including Sheikh Jarrah—was captured by Transjordan (now Jordan) and the Jewish families were forcibly evicted. Custodianship of the property was transferred to the Jordanian Custodian of Enemy Properties.

In 1956, the Jordanian government leased the property to 28 families of Palestinian “refugees,” while maintaining ownership of the property. After the Six-Day War in 1967, when Israel regained control of Jerusalem, it passed a law allowing Jews whose families were evicted by Jordanian or British authorities in the city prior to 1967 to reclaim their property, provided they could demonstrate proof of ownership and the existing residents were unable to provide such proof of purchase or legal transfer of title. In 1973, ownership of the property was registered by Sephardic Community Committee and the Knesset Israel Committee with Israeli authorities pursuant to the above law. Subsequently, in 2003, the owners sold the property to Nahalat Shimon an Israeli NGO that seeks to reclaim property for Jews evicted or forced to flee as a result of the 1948 War of Independence.

In 1982, the Jewish owners (Sephardic Community Committee and the Knesset Israel Committee) sued the Palestinian families residing in Sheikh Jarrah and demanded their eviction on the basis that they were squatters on the property. The Magistrate Court determined that the Palestinian families could not demonstrate their ownership of the property, but that they enjoyed Protected Tenant Status. As protected tenants, they would be able to continue living on the property as long as they paid rent and maintained the property. This arrangement was agreed upon mutually in agreement signed by the parties, in which the tenants recognized the trusts’ ownership in exchange for protected tenant status. Beginning in 1993, the trusts began proceedings against the residents based on their non-payment of rent and of illegal changes to the property.

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Belgium

Police break up Brussels anti-lockdown party

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Police fired water cannon and tear gas in a Brussels park on Saturday (1 May) to break up an anti-lockdown party of several hundred people designed to defy coronavirus social distancing rules. The crowd of mostly young people responded to a post on Facebook announcing the unauthorised party. It took place a month after police cleared 2,000 people who gathered in the same Bois de la Cambre park for la Boum (the party), an event that had begun as an April Fool's joke.

The follow-up Boum 2 event on 1 May, a traditional day for demonstrations, was held a week before the Belgian government allows cafe and bar terraces to open and lets groups of more than four people meet outside in a relaxation of COVID-19 rules.

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo urged Belgians on Friday to stay united and not "fall into this trap". Facebook also took down the Boum 2 post on Thursday (29 April) after a request from Belgian prosecutors, who warned partygoers they risked being detained or fined.

A man is doused by a water cannon during clashes as people gather at the Bois de la Cambre/Ter Kamerenbos park for a party called "La Boum 2" in defiance of Belgium's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) social distancing measures and restrictions, in Brussels, Belgium May 1, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman
A man is doused by a water cannon during clashes as people gather at the Bois de la Cambre/Ter Kamerenbos park for a party called "La Boum 2" in defiance of Belgium's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) social distancing measures and restrictions, in Brussels, Belgium May 1, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman
A police officer detains a man during clashes as people gather at the Bois de la Cambre/Ter Kamerenbos park for a party called "La Boum 2" in defiance of Belgium's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) social distancing measures and restrictions, in Brussels, Belgium May 1, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Police said several hundred people still attended.

Emile Breuillot, a 23-year-old dental student, said he had come to see people enjoy themselves and to defend their rights to gather.

After a calm start with groups chanting "freedom", the police announced on social media that attendees were not observing public safety measures and that they would intervene. Many people were not wearing masks, a requirement anywhere in public in the Belgian capital.

Hundreds of people also marched in central Brussels and through the eastern city of Liege demanding a relaxation of coronavirus measures.

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Belgium

Beware of false refugees, the cult nature of the Eastern Lightning (The Church of Almighty God).

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I recently visited the Center for Information and Advice on Harmful Sectarian Organizations (CIAOSN) of the Ministry of Justice of the Belgian Federal Government and was received by a spokesperson for the Center who immediately specified that the Center was an independent Center set up under the Federal Public Service for Justice - writes Roland Delcourt

This spokesperson told me the CIAOSN was very interested in an 18-pages report they recently received on the Eastern Lightning (The Church of Almighty God) and explained the philosophy and goals of the Center .

The responsibility of the Center is to study the phenomenon of Belgian cult organizations and their connections on an international scale. Moreover, these studies will provide an information basis and reference suggestions for the work of the Belgian government, police, justice and immigration, as well as any public authority.

The spokesperson for the Center gave examples of the Center's intervention in related incidents. The CIAOSN pointed out that the information transmitted by some religions or religious organizations may cause certain believers to fail to comply with safety instructions and threaten public health safety. At present, the New Coronavirus Research Center has received received reports of several such incidents.

I was told that the report would serve to enlighten the Center about an unknown movement in Belgium. In the event that they receive a request for an opinion from any Belgian authority concerning one or more members of the Eastern Lightning (The Church of Almighty God), these files could serve as a basis for opening a study on the realities of the facts and sources so that the Center could give the competent authorities its opinion and recommendations.

The Center's decision will follow the practical definition of relevant laws. The 13 harmful standards listed in the report of the Congressional Investigation Committee (April 28, 1997) are:

1. Misleading or abusive recruiting methods.

2. Use mind manipulation.

3. Physical or mental (psychological) abuse of believers or members of their families.

4. Deprive believers or their families of medical care.

5. Acts of violence against believers, their families, others and even children, especially sexual violence.

6. Divide believers with their families, spouses, children, family members, and friends.

7. Abduct children or keep them away from their parents.

8. Deprive them of their freedom to separate from religion.

9. Disproportionate financial demands, fraud, embezzlement of funds and property harm the interests of believers.

10. Unjustly interfere with the work of believers.

11. Stigmatize a democratic society and completely break with it.

12. The desire to destroy society for the benefit of the organization.

13. Use illegal means to gain power.

If one or more of these points meet the required criteria, the Center will issue a negative opinion. According to the information from the report, the worship of the Eastern Lightning (The Church of Almighty God) seem to correspond to the very definition of a harmful cult.
If, after studying various elements, the Center should consider that this organization falls within the framework of harmful sects, the Center could be led to give an unfavourable opinion to the Immigration Office in the event that individuals presenting themselves as a member of the sect would request political or other asylum.

Cults are a familiar concept in our modern society, however, to clarifying the nature of cults and identifying them still poses a difficult problem. Different countries have different opinions on the definition of what a cult is and it is proving difficult to agreeing on a common consensus. Very often legislations only explain the meaning of cults within their respective scopes and the lack of standards make it even harder to apply legal restrictions on cults, especially contemporary ones.


Cults are a major public hazard to mankind, and also are a very serious social problem faced by governments around the world. Although cults are numerous and bizarre, their anti-science, anti-human, anti-society, and anti-government natures follow very similar patterns.

In Europe, an ever growing number of cult organizations are fabricating and spreading fallacies and heresies through various illegal means. The Church of Almighty God cult that came out of China is one of them. This cult has been making waves in China and European countries for more than 20 years!

Creating ideological chaos, extorting believers' money, seeking huge profits, infiltrating influential posts and governmental bodies, cults seriously threaten our social order and national security.

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