Wednesday, May 24, 2017

New Manchester Mayor Worked With Terror-Linked Muslim Groups to Shut Down Police Surveillance Programs

Mayor Andy Burnham at the vigil service for the Manchester bombing victims

In a just world, the newly elected mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham, would be under arrest for collaboration, or perhaps as an accessory to murder.

The Muslim population of Manchester is close to, if not now over 20%. The Labour Party almost certainly received the large majority of that vote in the mayoral election, three weeks ago. 

From Conservative Review:
...Before becoming mayor of Greater Manchester, Burnham demanded an end to “toxic” counterterrorism programs on Islamic extremism. In fact, it was a centerpiece of his campaign as the Labour Party’s candidate for the mayoral slot. 
The programs to combat Islamic extremism in Britain created “a feeling in the Muslim community that it is being spied upon and unfairly targeted,” Burnham said in June 2016, demanding an end to the surveillance of radicals. “My fear is that [the] Prevent [program] is so toxic now that it will need to be scrapped." 
Later that year, Burnham continued to propose even more dangerous ideas. In September 2016, he argued that Muslims should be allowed to bypass police when reporting hate crimes. “In the midst of all these figures we’ve seen, we know that it is Islamophobia that is absolutely the most virulent strand of this hate that is coming forward,” Burnham said. 
He added: “There’s a lot of people in this country not necessarily at risk from ‘Islamic extremism’ but it’s far-right extremism." 
In his efforts to shut down counterterror programs, Burnham worked side by side with fringe Islamist groups to advance his agenda. 
Andy Burnham was elected Manchester’s mayor on May 5. Less than three weeks later, his city has suffered a massive Islamic terror attack that killed scores of innocent teenage girls. All indications appear to say that Burnham will continue to engage in willful blindness and coddle radical Islamists, much to the detriment and safety of his citizens. 
The Conservative review also reports that Burnham stridently denied that the suicide bomber was a Muslim. Read the rest here.

From Breitbart (April 10th, 2017):
A senior Labour MP vying to be the first elected mayor of Greater Manchester has shared a platform with a Muslim pressure group accused of being led by “extremists”, after implying Muslims should not work with police. 
Andy Burnham, a former cabinet minister, appeared at a mayoral hustings organised by the “anti-Islamophobia” group Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND) on Saturday, The Times reports. 
MEND regularly works with members of CAGE, which has supported terrorists and calledJihadi John a “beautiful” man. The group is led by Azad Ali, an Islamist who lost a libel battle with a newspaper that said he was “a hardline Islamic extremist who supports the killing of British and American soldiers in Iraq by fellow Muslims as justified”.
MEND director Mr. Ali has also written on his blog of his “love” for Anwar al-Awlaki, the al-Qaeda cleric closely linked to terrorist plots including the September 11 attacks, and described al-Qaeda as a “myth”.

Pope Francis Gives Trump a Copy of Amoris Laetitia (and Laudato Si and Evangelii Gaudium and a Signed Copy of His Message for the 2017 World Day of Peace)

Good times

Pope Francis gave Donald Trump copies of three of his most famous works that credit him as the author, along with an autographed copy of one of his speeches. He also gave Trump a medal that "symbolized peace," as well as giving medals and rosaries to the rest of his entourage.

Trump responded, "we can use peace."

For his part, Trump gave the Pope a special set of books containing works by Martin Luther King Jr., saying: "I think you'll enjoy them. I hope you do."

If it had been me, I would have given Francis Raggedy Dick; or Street Life in New York in New York with the Bootblacks by Horatio Alger.

Or perhaps Communism and the Conscience of the West by Fulton Sheen.

Or a short booklet, written last year by the American Catholic prelate and author Raymond Burke and three others. It's been a while so I don't remember its name.

But I think the Pope might already have it.

From CNA:
Vatican City, May 24, 2017 - After months of anticipation, Pope Francis and U.S. President Donald Trump finally met at the Vatican Wednesday in a friendly encounter which included an exchange of gifts and an emphasis on peace and unity. 
The Pope and Trump met at the Vatican May 24, at 8:30a.m., immediately before the weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square. 
Trump arrived to Italy May 23 after stopping in both Saudi Arabia and Israel as part of his first international trip. He is also set to attend a NATO meeting in Brussels on May 25 and a G7 summit in Sicily on May 26 before returning to the U.S. 
President Trump arrived to the Vatican via the side entrance by Casa Santa Marta around 8:15a.m. and was greeted by a group of Swiss Guards in the San Damaso courtyard. After stepping out of the car, Trump and First Lady Melania greeted Cardinal Georg Ganswein and other Vatican dignitaries before entering the Apostolic Palace. 
Pope Francis and Trump smiled as they sat down at the Pope’s desk in the papal library. Pope Francis said, “Welcome!” and Trump responded, “Thank you very much, this is such a great honor.” 
Smiling, Francis explained that he doesn't speak English well and needs a translator, but added that he was “very happy to meet” Trump. 
After the cameras left the two began the private portion of their conversation, which lasted about 30 minutes. In addition to Pope Francis and Trump, only the Pope's English translator, Msgr. Mark Miles, was present. 
After their formal conversation, gifts were exchanged between Francis, Trump and the president’s official delegation. There were 12 people in his entourage, including First Lady Melania Trump; daughter Ivanka, Tump's assistant and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, his assistant and senior advisor. 
Also present for the meeting with Pope Francis were U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs H.R. McMaster and Louis Bono, American Chargé d'Affaires ad interim to the Holy See until Calista Gingrich us officially approved as ambassador. 
Despite their differing opinions on climate change, Pope Francis gave Trump a copy of his environmental encyclical Laudato Si’, as well as copies of his 2015 Apostolic Exhortation on the family “Amoris Laetitia” and his 2013 exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium.” 
In addition to the customary gift of these three documents, Francis also gave President Trump a copy of his message for the 2017 World Day of Peace, saying: “I signed it personally for you.” Trump responded that he would be reading them. 
The Pope also gifted the U.S. President with a medallion he said symbolized peace and unity, which, after the translator explained in English, he added in Spanish: “Have it so that you become an instrument of peace.” In response, Trump said that “we can use peace.” 
On his part, President Trump gifted Pope Francis a set of books by Martin Luther King, Jr., saying: “I think you’ll enjoy them, I hope you do." 
Members of the delegation each received a medal and a rosary from the pontiff. When greeting Francis, First Lady Melania told him that she would afterward be visiting the hospital. Joking, the Pope asked her if they had given her potica, a traditional Slovenian dessert, to eat, to which she responded, “yes, potica,” as they both laughed. 
Departing with a handshake, Trump said to Francis: "Thank you, thank you, I won't forget what you said."

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Manchester Bomber was British Citizen, Son of Libyan Refugee Parents

Wounded concertgoers at the entrance to Manchester arena

The original report has now been confirmed by multiple sources.

The story below claims that the 22-year-old bomber was born in Britain to Libyan parents.

He was one of four children.

A younger daughter and son apparently recently returned to Libya with their parents, leaving the two eldest sons in Manchester. The bomber, Salman Abedi, died at the scene. His brother has reportedly been arrested.

If this report is accurate, the family was somewhat "westernized." The suicide bomber's sister, has two still live Facebook pages with various pictures of her in "model" of "fashion" poses. Her profile picture features a chic Muslima in a hijab sipping coffee next to a bottle of expensive perfume. There are also many references to Allah, as well as the information that she used to work at at a Manchester mosque.

From the Telegraph
The suicide bomber who killed 22 people and injured dozens more at the Manchester Arena has been named as 22-year-old Salman Abedi, according to US officials. 
Born in Manchester in 1994, the second youngest of four children his parents were Libyan refugees who came to the UK to escape the Gaddafi regime. 
His mother, Samia Tabbal, 50, and father, Ramadan Abedi, a security officer, were both born in Libya but appear to have emigrated to London before moving to the Fallowfield area of south Manchester where they have lived for at least ten years. 
After giving birth to two sons, they had son Hashem Abedi, now 20, and daughter Jomana, 18. 
Jomana, who has two Facebook profiles, attended Whalley Range High School before apparently working at Didsbury Mosque in 2013. 
Although born in Manchester, she states online that she is from Tripoli and has many Libyan connections. Her profile also makes reference to wearing a hijab. 
Abedi grew up in the Whalley Range area, just yards from the local girl's high school, which hit the headlines in 2015 when twins and grade A pupils, Zahra and Salma Halane, who were both aspiring medical students, left their homes and moved to Isil controlled Syria. 
There were unconfirmed reports in Manchester that the whole family apart from the two elder sons recently returned to Libya.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Cardinal Designate Omella Hosted Symposium on Accompaniment - "Populism must be dismantled"

Archbishop Juan Jose Omella and Pope Francis

Archbishop of Barcelona, Juan Jose Omella, one of the five new cardinals-to-be, chosen yesterday by Pope Francis, recently hosted a symposium on "accompaniment." Omella defined it as "being open to new horizons, proposals and ways to explore."

Omella also declared: "Populism must be dismantled." 

From the Spanish journal, Alpha y Omega, March 28, 2017 (cleaned up Google translation):
Cañizares and Omella: "Populism must be dismantled"
A meeting in Barcelona organized by the Council of European Episcopal Conferences on the accompaniment of young people, encouraged "transparency, truth and solidarity."
The theme of the symposium that began in Barcelona on Tuesday is the accompaniment of young people. The meeting, organized by the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE), has as its context a Europe that seems to show weakness, threatened by a populism that wants to divide it and that can seduce so many young people. This theme had a special weight on the first day.
...The Cardinal Archbishop of Valencia and Vice-President of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, Antonio Cañizares, and the host, the Archbishop of Barcelona, ​​Juan Jose Omella, in a brief meeting with the press before starting the symposium, referred to the need to "dismantle the untruths of populism," in the words of Cañizares. Omella added that it is necessary to dismantle the atmosphere of lies and corruption in society, that is, to bet on "transparency, truth and solidarity and to dismantle populisms"...
...Omella said in his presentation that the Church is facing the challenge of accompaniment, which is nothing more than "being able to help extract the best from each of those we accompany, helping them to discover the mystery of which they are bearers, and initiate them in the art of discernment concerning the will of God." He made three proposals: to walk in a sincere dialogue, "which implies being open to new horizons, proposals and ways to explore, as well as the search for good practices"; that dialogue leads to concrete proposals; and that it takes place under the guidance of the Holy Spirit...
At the congress, a message from Pope Francis was delivered through the Vatican Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, in which he encouraged reflection on the challenges of evangelization and the accompaniment of young people, such that they can "be convinced carriers of the joy of the Gospel to all environments."

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Not a Parody: Trump, Tillerson and Ross do the Saudi Sword Dance

Donald Trump's first trip abroad yielded some astonishing pictures and videos today, among them, a video showing Trump and some of his cabinet members participating in (not just observing) a traditional "Ardha" (war) sword dance.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross are seen happily/grimly clutching swords while linking arms with the dancers. As far as one can tell, Trump doesn't link arms but spends a few seconds bouncing and jiving to the music with a goofy expression. You can't see it in the video but at one point he does hold a sword, pointing it downward.

Steve Bannon stands around, looking uncomfortable.

The outdoor pavilion appears to be filled almost exclusively with men, most of them robed. The regal Melania Trump and an unidentified (to me) American woman seem to be the only two females in the crowd. Both have their heads uncovered.

By the way, President George Bush participated in a sword dance in Saudi Arabia. So did Prince Charles. As everyone knows, Middle-Eastern Arabs are notoriously racist. Perhaps this is why President Obama was never invited to participate. Or maybe they just didn't respect him. But that didn't stop Obama from bowing.

An earlier video features Mr. and Mrs. Trump emerging from the plane and greeting the King and his entourage - with Trump not bowing and his wife wearing pants with uncovered hair.

There are three ways to look at all of this. One is of free and civilized people holding their heads high while extending the hand of friendship to (sorry to say it) semi-barbarous exotics (I'm talking about the Trumps not Tillerson and Ross, obviously). 

It sounds silly, but that plane entrance reminded me of the scene in C.S. Lewis's The Horse and His Boy, where the free kings and queens of Narnia, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy stride confidently up the main thoroughfare of Tashbaan, the capital city of the cruel, quasi-Muslim Calormenes.

Okay, that more than sounds silly. But still.

The second way to look at it is naive and awkward westerners pretending to be best buddies with primitives in order to score political points at home, aid an alliance, negotiate a favorable oil deal or whatever.

In Saudi Arabia, they do not only use swords for dancing.

The third way to look at it is that it's necessary realpolitik. We're all grownups here, right? And the Iranians will get the message.

Here is a short video of the dance, featuring Trump at the beginning and Tillerson/Ross at the end, as well as a video of the Trumps emerging from that plane.

For good measure I've also included a clip from Lawrence of Arabia - "So long as the Arabs fight tribe against tribe, so long will they be a little people, a silly people, greedy, barbarous and cruel..." That's half-right, of course, though I'm not sure the tribe vs. tribe thing was the main problem.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Chris Cornell - You Know My Name

About all I know about Chris Cornell is his name. And the fact that he was in Soundgarden, a band that I never really got into.

And the fact that he composed and sang one of the best James Bond themes ever, "You Know My Name."

Here's the music video, as well as the neat opening of Casino Royale.

And I don't know how he died. But I do know that fifty-two is too young.

Requiescat in pace.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Trump to Give Speech on Islam in Saudi Arabia

The AFP Tweet reads, "Trump to Give Speech on Islam in Saudi Arabia: White House."

Here's a blurb from the Independent:
Donald Trump will give a speech on combatting radical Islam to a group of Muslim leaders in Saudi Arabia during his first trip abroad as US President. 
Mr Trump will speak to around 50 Muslim leaders and will take part in opening a centre there which is dedicated to promote moderate Islam, said national security adviser H R McMaster. 
The President will “will deliver an inspiring but direct speech on the need to confront radical ideology and the president’s hopes for a peaceful vision of Islam to dominate across the world,” Mr McMaster said. 
“The speech is intended to unite the broader Muslim world against common enemies of all civilization and to demonstrate America’s commitment to our Muslim partners,” Mr McMaster added. 
Saudi Arabia will be the first country Mr Trump will visit since his Inauguration.
This Trump voter (and, I assume, millions of others) just cringed.

Ah, yes, opening up a "center" devoted to "moderate Islam" in, all of all places, Saudi Arabia.

Isn't that the country where if you mispronounce "Muhammad," they kill your whole family?

I exaggerate, but not by much.

The wags on Twitter had a field day:
People always ask me about Islam, It's fantastic. Let me tell you about Islam. I do very well with Islam. No one loves Islam more than me 
BELIEVE ME. We're going to have so many Islam you are going to get sick of Islam. The Islam just got 10 feet higher. I have the best Islam 
I love Muslims, there great. Brillant I know some Islams, great people. Some of my best friends are Islams. Very smart great people. 
The Ottoman Empire, that was huge believe me. Bigger than you can imagine. I gotta tell you I'm very surprised it ended the way it did 
My kids loved Aladdin, a tremendous film. Arab girls are hot. And my hotels in the Middle East are doing well. I love Islam. Just love it.
And so on.

The crisis continues.