British Theresa May’s homophobic Irish allies


This satiric video says about itself:

3 May 2016

Here at PinkNews, we decided to make a more accurate version of the Democratic Unionist Party‘s 2016 [Northern Ireland] Assembly [election] broadcast.

By Donal O’Cofaigh in Northern Ireland:

The DUP‘s long history of bigotry towards lesbians and gay people

Friday 7th July 2017

Prejudice towards the LGBT community, corruption and hypocrisy may define the DUP to many but earlier this year they received their highest ever share of the vote as hundreds of thousands of Protestants voted for them amid heightened community divisions, writes Donal O’Cofaigh

The Democratic Unionists (DUP) are propping up Theresa May’s minority government — but how many British readers are fully aware of their history in regard to the issue of LGBT rights?

This is a party with a long pedigree of prejudice towards the LGBT community, which has repeatedly voted down equal marriage — using the petition of concern, a mechanism meant to guarantee community rights on either side, to veto change after majorities in the Stormont Assembly have voted for equality.

So who are the DUP?

The DUP grew up as an opposition to the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), who ruled Northern Ireland as a one-party state for 50 years after its foundation. The UUP oversaw systemic discrimination against Catholics but also against working-class Protestants.

Northern Ireland — an intrinsic part of the UK — did not have one-person-one-vote until 1974 and that only after years of civil rights protests, the eruption of violence on the streets and the proroguing of the Ulster unionism’s seat of government, Stormont with the imposition of direct rule from Westminster.

While standing against “big house unionism,” the DUP was not motivated by class-based politics, instead it was founded on fundamentalist Protestantism — anti-Rome rhetoric was mixed with populist demands and attacks on anything verging on power-sharing.

The DUP was shaped by the largerthan-life personality of the Reverend Ian Paisley, who received his doctorate in divinity from the Bob Jones University in South Carolina. The DUP were the political wing of his church, the fundamentalist, evangelical Free Presbyterians.

Whether in the pulpit or on the streets his message was one of intolerance to Catholicism, ecumenism and homosexuality. The goal was to save the Ulster people from the “evils” of social liberalism, militant Irish republicanism and, worse still, the threat of godless communism.

Despite its strong unionism, the religious zealotry of the DUP has repeatedly led it to oppose the extension of progressive British legislation to Northern Ireland.

In 1977 the party launched its “Save Ulster from sodomy” campaign in response to attempts to extend the decriminalisation of homosexual acts under the Sexual Offences Act of 1967. As a result of this opposition, decriminalisation only took place in Northern Ireland in 1982 as a result of a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights.

In the following years, the DUP’s opposition to LGBT rights has remained every bit as strident despite the fact that it has now totally obliterated its Ulster Unionist opposition and is led by an Anglican, Arlene Foster.

Ian Paisley’s son, a leading member of Parliament, recently referred to homosexuality as being “immoral, offensive and obnoxious” and that he was “repulsed” by LGBT people. Another MP, Jim Wells, claimed that children growing up in same-sex households were more likely to be subjected to abuse before being forced to apologise. He also claimed the LGBT lobby was “insatiable.”

Such comments abound in the party — filled as it is with creationists, climate change-deniers and anti-choice campaigners but their moral pronouncements are often deeply hypocritical. The DUP are quite possibly the most corrupt party in Stormont with a strong history of flirtation, if not outright and open support, for paramilitarism but they portray themselves as righteous defenders of “democracy” and “freedom.”

Perhaps the most emblematic case of this is hypocrisy was almost a decade ago when the partner of former DUP leader Peter Robinson, Iris, also a member of the Stormont Assembly, referred to homosexuality repeatedly as an “abomination” causing her to feel “nauseous” and claiming that when she encountered LGBT people she referred them to a psychiatrist (who was also a political adviser). The political fallout from this claimed her psychiatrist friend’s career but despite that she went on to claim that homosexuality was worse than child abuse.

By April 2009 both herself and her husband, the first minister of Northern Ireland, were involved in public furore as it was exposed that the pair were drawing more than £571,000 a year in expenses, not including a further £150,000 for family member advisers, earning them the nickname “The Swish Family Robinson.”

But worse was to come when at the end of 2009, details came out on how Ms Robinson was having an extended affair with a 19-year-old businessman for whom she had secured an undeclared £100,000 donation from two different property developers.

Castlereagh Borough Council, which the Robinsons were known to have run as a fiefdom, was forced to conduct an investigation into the award of a catering contract to the same young man, that she was said to have influenced.

Iris resigned from public life being admitted to acute psychiatric care at the same time as the police raided the offices of Castlereagh Borough Council. Notwithstanding this bad publicity, her husband continued on as first minister until the beginning of 2016.

Scandal, corruption and hypocrisy may define the DUP to many but earlier this year they received their highest ever vote share as hundreds of thousands of Protestants voted for them amid heightened community divisions.

Sinn Fein had almost caught the DUP in an Assembly election — the prospect of a border poll was raised against the context of Brexit. Protestants voted in huge numbers for a party that takes its own working-class base for granted — many against their better judgements.

In the absence of a cross-community progressive alternative in Northern Ireland, society here continues to polarise.

The DUP are now propping up the Tory government. They have secured a few crumbs from the table for an act of betrayal against the working class throughout these islands. This is an outcome that will only further divide communities; something that suits both sides of the power-divide.

Those of us who are trying to build a cross-community labour movement to overcome division find ourselves pushing a boulder up an even steeper gradient but perhaps, at least, the DUP’s feet of clay as well as their regressive social policies will be subject to much greater scrutiny than ever before.

Donal O’Cofaigh is a campaigns and communications officer for Unite in Northern Ireland. This article is written in a personal capacity.

Grenfell Tower disaster and London Muslims


This British TV video says about itself:

Grenfell Tower: lawyers question appointment of “tainted” experts to inquiry panel

Sky News 6 July 2017

By Amar Azam in London, England:

A community devastated

Friday 7th July 2017

AMAR AZAM talks to activists at the al-Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre in London’s Ladbroke Grove – which is one of the establishments in the borough that threw open its doors in the aftermath of the Grenfell tragedy

MOHAMMED ALHAJALI was the first of the residents laid to rest, in an east London cemetery, thousands of miles away from his war-torn Syria.

At his funeral last month, we learnt more of the gentle nature of the 23-year-old. He had fled the conflict in his homeland in hope of a better life in Britain.

Instead, it was cut short at a tenderly young age. Like those countless others that lost their lives in the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the details of his final moments are difficult to bear.

Alhajali was to perish in his 14th-floor flat in Grenfell Tower after attempting to reach his family on the telephone. His last message to friends was to tell his parents that he loved them.

Who knows, over time, the civil engineering student may have completed his studies and returned to help rebuild his nation.

Elsewhere in London on that same day, Mohammed Mahmoud, the imam at the Finsbury Park mosque which was the scene of an act of terrorism the previous night, was hailed by his community and honoured by Prince Charles for his actions in protecting the attacker in the immediate aftermath.

This has been a difficult few weeks for Britain’s three million Muslims. The backlash from the tragic incidents in London and Manchester has led to a rise in Islamophobic attacks as an entire community faces demonisation. These attacks continue to escalate. However, despite this Muslims remain stoic.

The al-Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre in London’s Ladbroke Grove is one of the establishments in the borough that threw open its doors in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. Its rooms still contain surplus donations of food, clothing and toiletries, boxes stacked floor to ceiling.

In one of the offices Samer Darwish, the imam of al-Manaar, ponders the events of recent weeks.

“What that imam showed was the genuine face of Islam,” he says. “His actions were absolutely correct. He understood that he needed to show restraint and he also understood the repercussions had the attacker been hurt.”

He praised the reaction of the local Muslim community.

Darwish adds: “This tragedy has affected so many people and I was so pleased with the way Muslims reacted. The work carried out here has been for the benefit of all in the wider community. We have demonstrated that we can show humanity and compassion.”

After late afternoon prayers, some of the volunteers who are staffing the main hall and have provided all manner of support services for the victims and their families are leaving for the day.

Counsellors have been available for those that need emotional support, as have legal experts and those that have helped fill in forms, provide refreshments or just lent a sympathetic ear.

“We’ve met so many types of people and, personally, it has been a really challenging experience,” said Asif Bhayat, of the National Zakat Foundation, one of the British-based charities that has supported residents through immediate financial assistance.

“The ones that really stick in the memory are the ones that you can see really wanted to talk because they had no-one else to talk to.

“It is those interactions that will stay with me. The tears of those that have lost everything are difficult to bear. Hearing stories of the children affected has been tough.”

Hassan Awad, one of the duty officers at al-Manaar, insisted on leading the congregational prayer for his wife Rania and two girls, Fethia, five, and Hania, three. The outpouring of grief from the congregation was immense. No person should ever have to do what he did.

As dusk approaches at al-Manaar, the smell of cooked food begins wafting in as donations from local people and companies begin to turn up. It’s been like this ever since the day of the tragedy.

Fresh bread and cakes from a local firm in the nearby industrial estate arrive.

“We wanted to make a donation as we’ve seen our neighbours here go through so much,” says Shaz, one of the workers from Sally Clarke bakery.

“This is our way of doing our bit as we know that the food will go to a good cause.”

A team of volunteers begin the immediate task of distributing the food among the families in the area spending another evening in makeshift accommodation. Others remain resting, clearly left a little fatigued by the events of the day and the challenge of doing so while maintaining a fast of 18 hours in what has been the hottest week of the year.

The more we find out about our victims, the more and more it become difficult to detach oneself from the tragedy.

“I have been here since the morning of the fire,” says Tabassum Awan, 31, from nearby Notting Hill.

“I live near the tower, and I called in on the morning thinking they could need some help and was asked to man the phones as the switchboard was becoming inundated.

“What I’ve seen in my time here will stay with me forever. In this tragedy, you’ve seen people from all walks of life come together.”

The borough of Kensington and Chelsea is not only one of the most ethnically diverse in our capital, it is also one where there is a sharp contrast between rich and poor.

Make the short walk beneath the A40 Westway overpass to nearby Notting Hill and you will find the Methodist Church sitting among the white stuccoed townhouses and picturesque tree-lined streets that characterise this trendy part of London. Here you will come across one of many great floral tributes to those lost.

Faces peer out from beyond the flowers, some of them smiling. One of those is of Jessica Urbano, the 12-year-old was one of the younger residents not to escape the inferno. A reminder of how the fire did not discriminate.

A few weeks later, we return al-Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre, and the Eid festival laid on for the families affected by the Grenfell Tower tragedy is a few hours old.

A packed main hall at the centre is awash with colour. Excitable young children burst from in between the food stalls clutching presents given to the mosque from generous donors.

Others sit there, proudly showing off their fresh henna patterns and newly painted faces as they enjoy the seemingly endless supply of cupcakes, popcorn and candy floss.

Present too are local residents, mingling freely. This is a day for the community here in this part of London.

The pain and anguish will remain as a scar on the collective consciousness of the community here in this corner of London for a generation and more to come, and long after the tower is razed to the ground and replaced with whatever memorial is deemed fit.

The pervading feeling is one of injustice; of lives lost due to greed, in the name of austerity or negligence. Let’s hope that their pain will ease over time, and the community can continue to come together to mend itself.

British government’s Saudi allies promote terrorism in Britain


This video says about itself:

4 July 2017

May accused of suppressing UK ‘extremism’ funding report

British Prime Minister Theresa May has come under pressure over a report into the funding of extremism in the UK.

Opposition MPs say May is reluctant to publish the document because she does not want to damage relations with Saudi Arabia.

Al Jazeera’s Neave Barker reports from London.

Al Jazeera is connected to the government of Qatar. Until recently, the Qatari government had a relatively good relationship with the oppressive monarchies of, eg, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. They sent soldiers (recently withdrawn) to help the Saudi monarchy’s bloody war on the people of Yemen. Which meant self-censorship for Al Jazeera (like for United States CNN) in reporting on Saudi or Bahraini governmental human rights violations.

However, recently a conflict broke out between Qatar and the Saudi, Bahraini etc. dictatorships. With bad consequences for, eg, Egyptian and other foreign workers in Qatar. But, it looks like good effects in less self-censorship in Al Jazeera reporting.

This 6 July 2017 video is more extensive. It is called Are The Saudi’s Funding Islamic Extremism in the UK? – Al Jazeera Investigates.

It turns out that the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist party, with whom the British Conservatives have just made a deal to prop up their wobbly minority government, are not Theresa May‘s only allies with links to terrorism.

From daily News Line in Britain, in its editorial:

Thursday, 6 July 2017

British imperialism’s major ally, Saudi Arabia, is up to its neck in promoting terrorism in the UK

A REPORT by the Henry Jackson Society, published yesterday, named Saudi Arabia as the main foreign promoter of Islamic extremism in Britain, stating that there is a ‘clear and growing link’ between funding from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states and the growth of jihadist terrorist groups in the country.

What makes this report even more damning is the fact that the Society, an independent think-tank based in London, is no ‘leftist’ bunch of apologists for Syria or Russia but is a right-wing organisation that advocates the ‘robust spreading of liberal democracy, the rule of law and the market economy’.

This News Line description of the Henry Jackson Society is rather too concise and too kind.

Like the late United States senator Henry Jackson after whom they are named, they stand for racism, warmongering, corruption and torture.

Even sacked former Henry Jackson Society official and right-wing warmonger Marko Attila Hoare now accuses them of racism.

Nevertheless, the Henry Jackson Society’s recent accusations against the Saudi regime are probably a case of a broken clock being correct twice a day.

Like Turkish dictator Erdogan, besides all his wrong words and wrong actions, was right in criticizing the European Union’s anti-refugee policies (before that same Erdogan made a dirty anti-refugee deal with that same European Union).

Like Theresa May‘s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, another ‘broken clock’, was right in criticizing the Saudi regime for its bloody war on Yemen (before Theresa May humiliatingly made him swallow that correct criticism).

The Henry Jackson Society are rather Johnny-come-latelies in their new criticism of the Saudi regime. Hillary Clinton was earlier than them; though not publicly. This Dear Kitty. Some blog was earlier than them; and was certainly not first.

Even they are shocked at the determination of the British government and the Tory party to ally themselves to the biggest funder of terrorism in the world, and its chief paymaster in the UK.

The report claims that ‘Saudi Arabia has, since the 1960s, sponsored a multimillion-dollar effort to export Wahhabi Islam across the Islamic world, including to Muslim communities in the West.’

This funding in Britain has taken the form of funding institutions that have played host to extremist preachers and the report notes that a ‘number of Britain’s most serious Islamist hate preachers sit within the Salafi-Wahhabi ideology’.

The author of the report, Tom Wilson, said: ‘While countries from across the Gulf and Iran have been guilty of advancing extremism, Saudi Arabia is undoubtedly at the top of the list,’ adding: ‘Research indicates that some Saudi individuals and foundations have been heavily involved in exporting an illiberal, bigoted Wahhabi ideology. So it is ironic, to say the least, that Saudi Arabia is singling out Qatar for links to extremism when it has patently failed to get its own house in order.’

In 2007, Saudi Arabia was estimated to be spending at least £1.5 billion a year on promoting Wahhabism worldwide. By 2015 this figure had doubled to over £3 billion, exporting what the report calls the ‘illiberal, bigoted Wahhabi ideology’ responsible for the radicalisation of young people across the world.

The extreme Wahhabi ideology, with its sectarian hatred of all forms of Islam that do not conform to its rigid doctrine, has been the guiding ideology of ISIS, al-Qaeda and many of the individuals responsible for the terrorist attacks that have claimed the lives of innocent men, women and children in the recent attacks in Britain.

The report calls for the Tory government to set up a public inquiry into all Gulf funding sources but in fact an inquiry already exists on Saudi involvement in terrorist funding in the UK.

A government inquiry was commissioned back in 2015 by the then coalition government. It was commissioned at the behest of the Lib/Dem partners in return for their support for the illegal British airstrikes against Syria aimed at bolstering the terrorist groups like ISIS that the Tories claim to be at war with.

This report has been on Theresa May’s desk for months with the Tories refusing to publish it due to the ‘sensitive nature’ of its findings.

What is sensitive is that it exposes the role of Saudi Arabia at a time when the Saudi monarchy is the biggest customer for UK arms sales – worth £4.1 billion since 2015.

Also the Saudis have billions invested in the UK especially in the lucrative London property market.

All this dirty bloodstained money must be protected even if it means covering up Saudi involvement in terrorism.

While Russia, Syria and Iran, who are in the front line of the fight against ISIS and jihadist terrorism, are vilified by the UK and US governments, the real sponsors of terrorism internationally are protected and courted for their wealth and hailed as allies in the fight against Syria and Iran.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for an immediate suspension of UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

This does not go far enough. Immediately the working class must demand the breaking off of all relationships with the Saudis, the closure of their embassy and the expropriation of all Saudi assets in the country.

Right-wing German cardinal Meisner dies


This video says about itself:

Degenerate Art – 1993, The Nazis vs. Expressionism

9 October 2012

This is a documentary from 1993 by David Grubin (written, produced, and directed) about the art exhibit under the Nazi regime of what they considered to be the most corrupting and corrosive examples of what they called ‘Entartete Kunst‘ or ‘Degenerate Art.’ The exhibit, which opened in July of 1937, was meant to be laughed at and despised. I ran across it in a class on Modernism and Post-Modernism. The film is not generally available at the time of this writing (other than on VHS). Personally, I could think of no better backdrop for the ideas and pathos of expressionist art than Nazi Germany, shown by a great deal of actual footage (most provided by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art — they had an exhibit of their own based on the event that same year). The music is similarly striking, including Schoenberg, Hindemith, and Wagner. All of the art shown, by the way, is referenced by name in the end credits, which I include.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Controversial German Cardinal Meisner passed away

Today, 11:45

The former Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Joachim Meisner, 83, has died. Meisner was from 1989 to 2014 Archbishop of Cologne, Germany‘s largest diocese. He was the most important representative of the conservative wing in the German Catholic Church in those years.

Meisner regularly made the news with controversial statements. In 2005, he compared abortion with the Holocaust. Two years later, he called art without a religious purpose “entartet”, a term used by the Nazis for art that did not appeal to them.

Meisner was on track with Pope John Paul II and especially with his compatriot Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger), who asked him to remain after reaching retirement age.

With the present Pope Franciscus he had less affinity. Last year, he signed an open letter asking Francis for an explanation of the papal letter Amoris Laetitia. It states that the ecclesiastical view of marriage and family must be more connected to this time.

Pope Francis sacks Vatican sexual abuse office boss


This video says about itself:

1 July 2017

In what is considered to be a big shakeup, Pope Francis has replaced Catholicism’s top theologian, Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Mueller. Mueller, a conservative German cardinal, has reportedly been at odds for awhile with the pontiff’s vision of a more inclusive Church. In a statement from the Vatican Saturday, it was announced that Mueller’s five-year term as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith would not be renewed. The 69-year-old, who was appointed by former Pope Benedict in 2012, will reportedly be succeeded by the key department’s second in charge, Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer.

Pope shakes up Vatican by replacing conservative doctrinal chief: here.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Pope sacks head of sex abuse probes

Monday 3rd July 2017

POPE Francis sacked the head of the Vatican office that handles sex abuse cases at the weekend.

The dismissal of German Cardinal Gerhard Mueller underscores Irish clergy sex abuse survivor Marie Collins’s accusation in March that his department, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had impeded the pontiff’s efforts to end internal cover-ups.

This department is responsible for processing and evaluating all claims that priests have raped or molested minors.

Pope Francis named Cardinal Mueller’s deputy Monsignor Luis Ladaria Ferrer, a Spanish Jesuit, as the new head of the powerful office.

During Cardinal Mueller’s five-year term, it amassed a 2,000-case backlog and came under blistering criticism from abuse survivors.

The German conservative cardinal also questioned Pope Francis’s attempts to be more open to “imperfect” Catholics, such as divorcees.

The Pope released Australian Cardinal George Pell last week from his position as papal treasurer to face charges of sex offences in his homeland.

Google helps Islamophobia


This video from the USA says about itself:

$40 Million Spent To Spread Islamophobia

29 August 2011

The Center For American Progress investigated how much money has been spent on spreading fear of Islam and Muslims in the United States. Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian of The Young Turks discuss.

Source: here.

From Huffington Post in the USA today:

Google asks its employees to “Do the right thing.” At least, that’s what its revised 2015 motto states in an upgrade from the original company maxim, “Don’t be evil.” But when a user searches Google for information on Islam, the results often link to propaganda, anti-Muslim hate and outright lies. So begins Rowaida Abdelaziz’s story on how the world’s largest search engine spreads misinformation about Islam like a disease. Abdelaziz answered questions for Must Reads about how she came to write this important story.

What was the seed of this story?

The story really came about when I was Googling information on Islam and quickly realized how appalling the results were. The autofill suggestions in addition to the actual results were links filled with hate.

Then, it hit me. I was just one person who knew better, but what about the millions of other users, who when they see something about Muslims in the news and then try to search for more information themselves?

The amount of propaganda and misinformation lines up with the amount of “small” acts of hate that occur on a daily basis in the U.S. and has become so terrifyingly normal. When you think of the people who shout “go back to your country” or harass Muslim women in hijab, this is where they are getting their information from. It’s terrifying.

Over the course of your reporting what did you learn that most surprised you?

Just how easy and little it takes to feed a user so much wrong information. When I learned that 80 percent of users don’t make it past the first page on Google, let alone the first three links, it proved to me the dire need for factual information. We live in confusing times of fake news and this just makes it worst. Who knew the truth was so hard to make accessible?

What was the most challenging part of reporting, writing, or editing this piece?

The most challenging part is getting people to feel the same outrage as I do. This isn’t an issue with just Muslims, but it represents an overall problem with factual information on minorities as a whole.  It’s also challenging to work with large corporations like Google to take these issues seriously and work towards substantial change.

Did you learn anything that could help other writers or reporters?

Don’t diminish your emotions. As journalists, we’re usually taught to set aside our emotions. But this time, it was my frustration with the the lack of proper resources on Google search that led me to this report.

Is there anything else you want to add — anything you worry readers might have missed?

Often times we diminish the consequences of misinformation, not thinking about how dangerous it truly is. Despite what we hear, becoming radicalized over the internet is not just limited to ISIS sympathizers. It means people of all races, including white people, can consume propaganda and conspiracy theories that will push them to violence and even murder, like we have seen in Portland. If not that, then we are teaching children to hate other children who don’t look like them, and it all started over an online homework assignment. We are breeding a culture of normalized hate and violence.

Want to find out more about how Google spreads misinformation?

READ THE STORY

Love,

Nick and Sam