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A weekly podcast focused on long-form interviews on history, pop culture and society affecting the MENA region and diaspora communities. It aims to inform and illuminate the region through a non-newsy lens, exploring the MENA region's past, present and future and its people. Each episode begins with a question and an introduction to an expert who will attempt to answer it.
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The Influence Continuum with Dr. Steven Hassan

MeidasTouch Network, Dr. Steven Hassan

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Steven Hassan, PhD, is one of the leading experts on cults and undue influence in the world. A former member of the right-wing Moonie cult, Hassan was deprogrammed 45 years ago and has dedicated his life to helping people out of cults and destructive situations. Dr. Hassan is a licensed mental health professional and has written four books, including The Cult of Trump and the seminal book Combating Cult Mind Control. On this podcast, Steve will explain HOW mind-control works, and how to prot ...
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نينا عبدالملك و حسان الشيخ - حسانينا - بودكاست منوع من حياتنا اليومية عن افكارنا ومشاريعنا وما نحب من الحياة في مجال التطوير الذاتي، المال والأسرة، علوم النفس، الحياة الإجتماعية وحياة المراهقة، أفلام وكتب، طبخ وفنون جميلة وكل مايستحق صوت في هذه الحياة.
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Tamer Hassan has lived an extremely colourful life, ringing every last drop of opportunity from whatever he’s been faced with. But one thing has remained constant and kept him on the straight and narrow(ish)…..…and that’s family. Family Business is a new podcast series hosted by Tamer Hassan. In each episode he’s joined by a guest from the world of sports, movies, TV and even his own flesh and blood as he tries to get to the bottom of what ‘family’ really means to all of us. Tamer looks at h ...
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Humans crave connection. This need for connection is a vital aspect of the psychology behind cults, coercion, and undue influence. Isolation makes people vulnerable and fearful and more likely to be influenced in harmful ways. Psychiatrist Ravi Chandra discusses the psychology of connection, how institutions can take action to encourage empathy and…
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Just days out from a historic general election expected to usher in a Labour government for the first time in 14 years - we speak to one of its most vocal and fiery MPs - Naz Shah. Shah has been the MP for Bradford West since 2015 - after beginning her career as a carer with the NHS and a community advocate - campaigning among other things for the …
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Did you know there are 8.6 million dedicated members of the Watchtower Society or Jehovah’s Witnesses, and supposedly, over 20 million people attend their annual big meeting (memorial attendance) worldwide? They are out on street corners, travel terminals in pairs. When I heard about a new book in Portuguese by a former elder, I wanted to learn mor…
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This fascinating interview is with Dr. Eva Selhub who worked at Harvard with Herb Benson developing and understanding about the mind body connection to health. Dr. Selhub is an internationally recognized resiliency expert who has worked as a physician, author, executive coach, keynote speaker, and spiritual advisor. She has written many books, incl…
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Can a lone 24 year old Palestinian take on the Labour Party? That’s what Leanne Mohamad is determined to do, campaigning as an independent candidate in the safe Labour seat of Ilford North at the upcoming general elections. It’s no small feat - she’s up against Wes Streeting, a senior party heavyweight and a man tapped by many as Keir Starmer’s suc…
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Jeremy Corbyn was the Labour MP for North Islington for 40 years - his entire political career. But not anymore. Now, he’s campaigning against his former party, trying to convince his lifelong voters to abandon the party that abandoned him. After he was suspended from the Labour Party by his former shadow minister Keir Starmer, Corbyn chose to stan…
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In 2004, Les Roberts smuggled himself into Iraq as his own government was in the midst of bombing and occupying the country. His mission was to find out how many civilians had been killed in the devastating US-led invasion, because Western media was refusing to cover it. When he published his findings in the Lancet Report, that between 100,000 and …
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I had the privilege of a second opportunity to talk with Michelle Dowd, a journalism professor and author of Forager: Field Notes on Surviving a Family Cult. I watched Michelle’s three-and-a-half-hour interview on Joe Rogan’s podcast. Joe was utterly fascinated by Dowd’s cult experience and asked many questions, including what a cult is. Michelle m…
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I read David Lipsky’s article in Rolling Stone last year on how the Moonies have been the center for global climate denial for 50 years through their Washington Times organization. I immediately bought his book, The Parrot and the Igloo: Climate and the Science of Denial and wanted to interview him. Well, the paperback is now out and we had a great…
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We are living through a moment of social and political upheaval - one that has somehow aligned the Houthi rebels in Yemen, South Africa’s greatest legal minds and students across the wealthiest campuses in the world. They’re all fighting for Gaza, and against an increasingly isolated Israeli government and its Western backers. So are we witnessing …
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For those who know Combating Cult Mind Control and my work, you know I was in the Moon cult. However, if you are under 50 years old, most people have no idea what the Moonies are about. Allen Tate Wood was a four-year member of the Unification Church–aka The Moon organization. He was the Chief Political Officer of the Unification Church in the Unit…
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Fiona Lali wants to bring down the British government, as well as capitalism. The marxist organiser turned independent candidate in the upcoming UK general elections says there’s a link between the powerful protest movement for Palestine and the widespread anger felt by young people and workers alike. Lali went viral in May when she confronted form…
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One of the most publicized authoritarian cults is Scientology and the world’s leading authority is Jon Atack. Jon and I have been friends and colleagues He is the author of Let’s Sell These People A Piece of Blue Sky, considered the definitive book on Scientology, Dianetics, and L. Ron Hubbard. During our podcast, we discussed the new audiobook ver…
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Jonathon Sawyer is urgently speaking out against involvement of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) in education for a very clear reason. He stated, “More people need to know that those who are discriminated against [sometimes] become those who discriminate.” In psychology, we call this the victim, victimizer paradigm. It is the idea that without h…
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Will Benjamin Netanyahu face justice at the Hague? The International Criminal Court on Monday issued arrest warrants for both Israeli and Hamas leaders over their actions in Gaza and on 7 October, accusing them both of committing war crimes. It’s an unprecedented move, the first time a US-ally has been pursued by the ICC. Prosecutor Karim Khan says…
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Anke Richter co-founded FACT (Fight Against Conspiracy Theories) and is organizing the first cult awareness conference in Australia, DECULT. Anke’s bestseller “Cult Trip: Inside the World of Coercion & Control” is about her ten-year investigation into sex cults –from tantra yoga to the Human Potential Movement to fundamentalist Christianity. She is…
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Winston Churchill is one of the most biographed figures in modern history, and held up as an orator and wartime strategist that turned the tide against Hitler and Nazi Germany. But how accurate is this image? And is it hiding a darker reality? This week on The Big Picture, we sit down with British-Pakistani writer, political activist and public int…
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Mike tried to escape Scientology’s undue influence when he was 15. As punishment for trying to escape, he was isolated, sleep-deprived, and forced to do hard labor for over a year and a half. Mike reflects that he felt like a prisoner during this time. Mike finally escaped Scientology at age 27 and joined the military. He had little education and n…
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Rev. Dr. Todd F. Eklof has been the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Spokane, WA, since 2011. He’s appreciated for his mind-altering sermons, compassionate soul, and social activism. Unitarianism and Unitarian Universalism have traditionally been known as liberal religions, defined by their commitment to individual dignity and freed…
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A former British Police Detective and Undercover Operator, Julie Jones is the founder and CEO of Human-I Intelligence Services, an international consultancy specializing in cybercrime investigations and online open-source intelligence (OSINT). She is a recognized international expert in human trafficking. A bestselling author of the book How to Be …
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“I was definitely raised to be a Jewish leader of some kind.” With college campuses all over the US gripped by intense battles around free speech, antisemitism and Palestinian rights - the voices of young Jewish Americans have led the way. One of the boldest and most prominent voices is that of Simone Zimmerman. Zimmerman was raised in a conservati…
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My guest on this episode of The Influence Continuum is Pamela Ryckman, who wrote the book Candace Pert: Genius, Greed, and Madness in the World of Science. Science and health institutions can mimic cult-like behaviors and dysfunctional systems when the structures within them become overly competitive and focused on limited resources to obtain profe…
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Did Iran fall into Israel’s trap when it attacked on Saturday, or did it outmanoeuvre Netanyahu? Are we on the brink of regional war, or can the US contain the spill? When Israel bombed an Iranian embassy compound in Damascus on 1 April, killing top Iranian commanders, many saw it as bait laid out by Benjamin Netanyahu to force a direct confrontati…
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Empowering patients or clients to have authority and control over their medical experiences is vital to beneficial therapeutic care. Likewise, well-crafted use of professional communication skills in setting expectations about clinical procedures and outcomes can mean the difference between a traumatic medical visit versus one being remembered with…
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Is Europe ‘nostalgic for a racist past’ when it didn’t have to apologise for its colonialism? In this week’s episode of The Big Picture, we sit down with renowned Australian anthropologist Ghassan Hage. Hage is currently fighting against the prestigious Max Planck Society in Germany over accusations of ‘antisemitism’ over his critiques of Israel. T…
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Russell Johnson is a former member of the Korean martial arts cult Chung Moo Quan. After much negative publicity, its name was changed to Oom Yung Doe. Now a professional security consultant, activist, and podcaster, Russell got involved with the cult as a teen and was involved for eight years. We first met in the early 90s when he contacted me aft…
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In this episode of The Big Picture, we sit down with Sadiq Khan for a wide ranging conversation about Labour’s election hopes, his political regrets and his vision for the future of London. Sadiq Khan wants to make history by winning a third term as London’s mayor - but his confidence is shaky. A winter of mass protests, a smear campaign in the med…
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“America right now needs some exit ramps,” Jason Van Tatenhove said as we discussed his former role as national media director for the Oath Keepers, a group known for its far-right anti-government militia. While Jason would ultimately decide to leave the group in 2016 due to increasing racism and Holocaust denial within their membership, the Oath K…
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How do you humanise people facing unimaginable odds? That was the task Plestia Alaqad gave herself when she first put on her press vest on October 7. Freshly graduated from journalism school and dreaming of a bright future, she suddenly found herself in the middle of a war zone, with the eyes of the world watching. Armed with her phone and internet…
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As a Protestant, Matthew D. Taylor, Ph.D., is a Senior Scholar at the Institute for Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Studies (ICJS), where he specializes in Muslim-Christian dialogue, Evangelical and Pentecostal movements, religious politics in the U.S., and American Islam. ICJS produced a 30-minute documentary, Spiritual Warriors: Decoding Christian…
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It's cocktail hour here at Key of Life! Grab your beverages, sit back and enjoy tracks and remixes by Mark Knight, Yves Murasca, Miguel Migs, Hot Toddy, Greg Fenton + more mixed by Sydney DJ Leila Hassan Check out the socials for updates on gigs, new music, and live performancesΑπό τον Leila Hassan
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In this episode of The Big Picture Podcast, we sit down with investigative journalist Antony Loewenstein to talk about how for decades, Israel used its occupation of Palestinians as a testing ground for new weaponry, which it then packages and sells to governments around the world. In fact, Loewenstein argues that since its inception, Israel built …
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Hypnosis is everywhere on the Internet- either covertly like ASMR or overtly, where people are enticed to learn hypnosis or NLP, a version of Ericksonian hypnosis. My guest is the lead editor of a comprehensive textbook on clinical hypnosis. Still, it also includes two chapters I co-authored with law professor emeritus Alan Scheflin on the dark sid…
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What does coverage of Gaza tell us about how the West sees the rest of the world? A recent report into mainstream news coverage found Islamophobic and anti-Arab language was widely used in coverage of the events after 7 October, with Israeli victims described using emotive language 11 times more than Palestinian victims. It also documented how pro-…
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In this enlightening episode, I speak to Ryan McBeth, an experienced military veteran and a recognized figure in cybersecurity, military analysis, and artificial intelligence, to explore a range of thought-provoking topics. Ryan brings a wealth of knowledge from his 20 years of service as an anti-armor and heavy weapons infantryman and his prolific…
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Anthony Davis is a British broadcaster, journalist, and voiceover artist. He was born in London and has been based in Los Angeles since 2017, where he works remotely from his home studio with networks worldwide. Since November 2021, his collaborations with the MeidasTouch media network, including the Five-Minute News, The Weekend Show, and America …
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Analyzing online content and how people interact with that content is essential to understanding the process of online radicalization. Twitter/ X has been a major source of information for tracking QAnon and many bad actors from Russia as well as Christian Dominionists, Neo Nazis, and others. Bad actors worldwide use social media to post content to…
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The Trump University grift followed the same playbook as many predatory organizations, like Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) organizations. Victims are hooked through legitimate sounding offers, like a weekend sales course for $1,500. However, once the victims attend the weekend sales course, they are pressured into buying more courses for more money to…
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In this era of political polarization, the landscape in the United States is marked by the rise of Donald Trump as the frontrunner for the Republican nomination in the 2024 presidential election. This despite Trump facing numerous legal challenges–including over his involvement in the January 6th attack on the United States Capitol. However, Trump …
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Neşe Devenot is a Postdoctoral Associate at the Institute for Research in Sensing (IRiS) at the University of Cincinnati and the Medicine, Society & Culture Research Fellow at Psymposia. I decided to use the title of her profoundly important journal article for this podcast. Psychedelics are all the rage. When I gave a talk at the American Psychiat…
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Natural medicine might seem distant from the far-right fringes of society until you dig a little deeper and find the wealth of ‘wellness products’ being sold alongside political conspiracies. There is a constant quest for increasing well-being and less ‘toxic’ lifestyles. Meanwhile, conspiracy theories drain resources and instill fears, including p…
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Why are Western societies so fearful of Islam and Muslims? One can answer this question by examining history, particularly that of European colonial powers, and the ways in which they justified their actions in the Global South by painting its peoples and religions as alien and in need of reformation. Another answer can be found in the murky ties b…
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Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the founder of iCivics, said, "The practice of democracy is not passed down through the gene pool. It must be taught and learned by each new generation." It is the continuing mission of the iCivics organization and its current Chief Executive Officer, Louise Dubé, to ensure that future generations of Ameri…
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How deep does racism run within the Labour Party? Since the start of the Gaza war, there's been a growing anger within British Muslim communities at Labour's perceived lack of leadership on the Palestinian issue, and on the calls for a ceasefire. Under Sir Keir Starmer, the opposition party has towed the government line, publicly supporting Israel'…
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Laura E. Anderson, PhD, was raised in a Christian family and experienced first hand what religious trauma is all about. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist with a Ph.D. in Mind Body Medicine from Saybrook University. She specializes in complex trauma, with a particular focus on domestic violence, sexualized violence, and religious traum…
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This week on the Big Picture, we speak with British political activist, author and deputy chair of the Stop The War Coalition, Chris Nineham. Nineham was instrumental in organising the historic anti-war demonstrations in 2003 against the invasion of Iraq - which saw millions flood the streets in major cities across the globe - and is considered the…
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Legally released from an unenforceable NDA, the former 2016 campaign staffer discusses the cult-building tactics, Russian interference, and the who’s who of bad actors behind the scenes of the Trump campaign. Joining the campaign when then-candidate Trump was polling last in the GOP field, Alva is one of the very few former campaign staffers who wo…
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It is impossible not to feel overwhelmed by the ongoing war in Gaza - the death toll, the horrific footage, the world’s inability to bring it to an end. That is compounded for Palestinians, many with family members directly impacted, who feel they’ve always been seen through a racist and islamophobic lens, and that speaking out is a political act w…
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