Reader links for May 19 – 2015

This post has all its contents in the comments. For the newest freshest videos and news stories of interest to the Counter-Jihad and the Geopolitics of Islam, please click comments and add to, or read what is posted there.

Some will be integrated into the day’s posts and others not. But this way we can keep a great news flow going without interfering with the conversations about the issues under the various essays and news items in the posts that will be presented throughout the day.

Thank you all for your informative and important contributions.

About Eeyore

Canadian artist and counter-jihad and freedom of speech activist as well as devout Schrödinger's catholic

60 Replies to “Reader links for May 19 – 2015”

  1. Saudi Arabia advertises for eight new executioners to carry out public beheadings after increase in number of death sentences (dailymail, May 19, 2015)

    “It’s one of the most gruesome jobs imaginable, with low pay and no special qualifications required.

    And Saudi Arabia is now advertising for eight new executioners, recruiting extra staff to carry out an increasing number of death sentences – usually done by public beheading.

    The main role is ‘executing a judgement of death’ – but workers must also perform amputations on those convicted of lesser offences, according to the advert posted on the civil service jobs portal.

    The Islamic kingdom is said to be in the top five countries in the world for putting people to death.

    It ranked number 3 in 2014, after China and Iran, and ahead of Iraq and the United States, according to Amnesty International figures.

    A man beheaded on Sunday was the 85th person this year whose execution was recorded by the official Saudi Press Agency – compared to 88 in the whole of 2014, Human Rights Watch said.

    Amnesty claimed there were at least 90 executions last year. Most were executed for murder, but 38 had committed drugs offences, Human Rights Watch added.

    About half were Saudi and the others were from Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Jordan, India, Indonesia, Burma, Chad, Eritrea the Philippines and Sudan.

    Saudi authorities have not said why the number of executions has increased so rapidly, but diplomats have speculated it may be because more judges have been appointed, allowing a backlog of appeal cases to be heard.

    Political analysts say it might also reflect a tough response by the judiciary to regional turbulence.

    A downloadable PDF application form for the executioner roles said they would be classified as ‘religious functionaries’ and that they would be at the lower end of the civil service pay scale.”

  2. Turkey TV talent show: Woman contestant shot in head (BBC, May 19, 2015)

    “A Turkish woman who has been taking part in a talent show on national TV has been shot in the head while rehearsing at home, Turkish media say.

    Mutlu Kaya, 19, was in a critical condition after being shot in Diyarbakir province early on Monday.

    Diyarbakir is a conservative region in south-east Turkey and Ms Kaya had reportedly received death threats for singing on the show, Sesi Cok Guzel.

    One person has reportedly been arrested in connection with the incident.

    The gunman was said to have been in the garden and fired through a window into the house….”

  3. Ramadi battle: IS militants ’round up enemies’ in Iraq (BBC, May 19, 2015)

    “Islamic State militants are cementing their hold on Ramadi – the Iraqi city they captured on Sunday, reports say.

    Militants were going door-to-door looking for government sympathisers and throwing bodies in the nearby Euphrates river, residents were quoted as saying.

    Thousands of Iranian-backed militiamen are gathering east of Ramadi ahead of a bid to retake the city. IS militants are reportedly heading towards them.

    The United Nations has warned of a humanitarian crisis as thousands flee….”

    • Iraqi soldiers airlifted as IS captures Ramadi (BBC, vid, May 19, 2015)

      “Islamic State militants are cementing their hold on Ramadi – the Iraqi city they captured on Sunday, according to reports. Meanwhile, thousands of Iranian-backed militiamen are gathering east of Ramadi ahead of a potential offensive against IS. Iraq’s Ministry of Defence has released aerial footage of dozens of soldiers being pulled out of the city after if fell to the militants.”

      • Ramadi has a population of around 500,000. It’s a big city.
        IS will be virtually impossible to be eliminated there.
        They are experts at using the civilians as shields.
        Yet again it’s the innocents that will be the victims being used as human shields.
        The Shi’ite will be ruthless in their attacks.
        The religion of peace will yet again cause thousands of deaths in Ramadi, as the world stands by in impotence.

        • The Americans have 11 fully operational aircraft carriers at at their disposal, most of them gigantic double-decker Nimitz-class beasts that can put 80 planes in the air at one time, and they couldn’t stop a bunch of religious fanatics in Toyotas from taking Ramadi? In a pig’s eye! Those thousands of deaths you allude to will be directly caused by the Muslims, but facilitated by one Barack Hussein Obama. For the life of me I don’t know what his game is or why the American People haven’t noticed that their President is doing everything in his power to absolutely and permanently disgrace the United States of America in the eyes of the World…

          • Add to that X band radar and every other kind of EMR analysis and you have it nailed. When was the US war on Serbia? They knew where every Picasso was and every Rembrandt and managed to use precision ornaments to attack whatever they wanted and avoid any artifact they cared about. And they can’t hit jihadis in jeeps in the desert? And they claim that the light being off is decent camo? They should invest in those clever little thermal imaging cams for iPhones or Samsungs. They let you have great infrared for under two hundred bucks. Gets you right around the headlight problem.

  4. Student diversity officer in racism row could lose her job after allegedly tweeting ‘kill all white men’

    Bahar Mustafa, 27, is the student union Welfare and Diversity Officer at Goldsmiths University in London

    She was criticised after planning diversity meeting that banned white men

    No confidence petition alleges she tweeted #killallwhitemen and called someone ‘white trash’ on official account

    • CNN – State wants to delay email release until 2016

      The State Department has asked to push back the release of Hillary Clinton’s emails, which could have serious implications for her presidential run.

      • U.S. judge orders State Department to speed up Clinton emails release

        A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the U.S. State Department to produce a schedule for the release of Hillary Clinton’s emails from her time as secretary of state, a legal move that could complicate her presidential campaign.

        A lawyer in the case, Jeffrey Light, told Reuters that U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras ordered the State Department to come up with a timetable by next week for the rolling release of the 55,000 pages of emails.

        The judge also told the State Department to present a schedule by next week for releasing 300 Clinton emails related to U.S. operations in Benghazi, Libya where four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador, were killed in a 2012 attack, Light said.

        Clinton, the front-runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, has come under criticism for storing and sending emails related to her official duties via a private server based in her house in New York state. She has turned over the emails to the State Department.

        Republican foes in Congress have accused Clinton of excessive secrecy by using a personal email server for messages she sent and received as America’s top diplomat.

        Republicans want the emails to be released soon to cast more light on Clinton’s term as secretary of state from 2009 to 2013, a time when the United States struggled to reset relations with Russia and develop a strategy for Syria’s civil war.

        While her foes are particularly interested in emails about Benghazi, several congressional probes have found no “smoking gun” linking her to any failure to protect the Americans who were killed.

        Releasing the State Department emails in batches over time, as requested by the judge, could give Clinton’s opponents on the campaign trail multiple chances to attack her.

        “I would call it a rolling headache because she’s going to have to respond to these each time they come out,” said Democratic strategist Bud Jackson.

        The State Department had said on Monday it might need until January to finish a review and release the emails.

        Clinton has said she used a private email account because it was more convenient for her. She has also said that while she should have used a separate government email account, she violated no rules.

        The former U.S. senator and first lady campaigned on Tuesday in the early campaign state of Iowa. At a bicycle shop in the town of Cedar Falls, she spoke about her support for small businesses and community banks.

        Judge orders ‘rolling’ release of Clinton’s State Department emails

        A federal judge has rejected the State Department’s plan to release most of Hillary Clinton’s emails as secretary of state in one large batch, insisting that the agency parcel out releases of the records over time.

        U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras announced Tuesday his plans to order a “rolling production” of the emails just hours after the State Department proposed that it not be required to make the records public until January 2016, a lawyer involved said.

        At a brief hearing on a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by Vice News, Contreras did not set a specific date by which State must begin releasing the emails.

        However, the judge gave the government one week to provide a schedule for the periodic release of records, Vice News lawyer Jeffrey Light said after the session.

        Contreras also gave State one week to say exactly when it plans to release a portion of the records relating to the deadly attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, as well as other Libya related issues. State officials have previously pledged to release those emails “soon,” but have never offered a specific date.

        The Libya-related records were turned over to a House committee in February.

        In a court filing Monday night, the State Department said it needed until next January to conduct a thorough review of the Clinton emails for sensitive information typically removed from records before they are released under FOIA. State official John Hackett said the agency wanted to post the bulk of the records online at once in order to make sure the FOIA rules and policies are consistently applied.

        “The Department intends to post the releasable portions of the collection at the conclusion of its review process, which will facilitate consistency in the application of FOIA exemptions and the public’s access to and understanding of the documents,” Hackett wrote.

        Clinton, who announced her candidacy for president last month, confirmed in March that she only used a private email account during her four years as secretary. She said she turned over 55,000 pages of emails from that account to the State Department in December in response to an October request from State officials.

          • U.S. House Benghazi panel subpoenas former Clinton White House aide

            Congressional investigators have issued a subpoena demanding that former Clinton White House adviser Sidney Blumenthal testify next month before the U.S. House of Representatives committee investigating the 2012 attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya.

            The subpoena, a copy of which was made available to Reuters, demands that Blumenthal appear before the House committee on June 3 to give a deposition. The subpoena is dated Monday but carries a notation indicating an unnamed deputy U.S. marshal served it on Blumenthal’s wife on Tuesday.

            The copy of the subpoena contains no further details about the subject matter of the deposition.

            More than two years ago, a set of emails sent by Blumenthal to Hillary Clinton while she served as secretary of state were posted on the Internet by a hacker who called himself Guccifer. Blumenthal did not work for Clinton when she was secretary of state and sent those emails as a private individual.

            The emails included detailed private intelligence reports on events in Libya sent to Blumenthal by Tyler Drumheller, a former senior CIA officer. Some of the emails were sent around the time of the Benghazi attacks on and discussed information Drumheller’s sources gave him about the attack.

            On Tuesday, The New York Times published a handful of emails showing that Clinton had passed on some of the private intelligence reports to aides and other State Department personnel.

            The messages show that at least one of the private intelligence reports made its way to a recipient who appears to have been Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya who was killed by militants during the Sept. 11, 2012, Benghazi attacks.

            The emails, part of a batch of around 300 messages related to Libya that the State Department turned over to Republican Representative Trey Gowdy’s Benghazi committee earlier this year, show Clinton herself tersely expressing interest in some of the private intelligence reports and skepticism about others.

            In one email to an aide, Clinton, referring to one of the reports supplied by Blumenthal, wrote: “This strains credulity. What do you think?”

            People familiar with the set of Clinton emails turned over by the State Department to Gowdy’s committee said that the emails leaked to The New York Times were not a complete set of messages related to what Blumenthal sent Clinton.

            Blumenthal is a former journalist who served in the Clinton White House as one of the most loyal defenders of both Hillary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

            During the congressional investigation into Bill Clinton’s relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, Blumenthal was accused by a longtime friend, the late British writer Christopher Hitchens, of spreading defamatory information about Lewinsky. Blumenthal denied the allegation.

            In response to an email requesting comment, Blumenthal sent Reuters an article from a liberal blog accusing Gowdy and The New York Times of producing a “damp squib.”

            A spokesman for Clinton did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

            Representative Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Benghazi panel, accused committee Republicans of grandstanding.

            “There was no need for the Select Committee to send two U.S. Marshals to the home of Sidney Blumenthal to serve his wife with a subpoena, especially since the Committee never bothered to contact him first to ask him whether he would voluntarily come in. These heavy-handed, aggressive, and unnecessary tactics waste the time of the U.S. Marshal service,” he said via email.


  5. George Galloway complaint passed on to police by expenses watchdog

    Complaint against former Respect MP over his use of parliamentary funds has been referred to Metropolitan police

    A complaint against the former Respect MP George Galloway over his use of parliamentary funds has been referred to the police, the parliamentary standards watchdog has revealed.

    Galloway’s former parliamentary assistant, Aisha Ali Khan, reported him to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority earlier this year, claiming that she spent more time running personal errands for him than on official work.

    She alleged that, during her six-month stint as his taxpayer-funded assistant in 2012, she was required to help plan his wedding, shop for underwear, sort out his laundry, make his breakfast and work for the Viva Palestina charity.

    Her lawyers say this amounts to a breach of the requirement to use funds for parliamentary purposes. Galloway denies the allegations.

    After an assessment of Ali Khan’s claims, Ipsa’s compliance officer, Peter Davis, passed on the case to the Metropolitan police.

  6. ISIS rings confiscated at Ben Gurion Airport

    Suspicious package from Turkey contained rings bearing messages in support of ISIS; jewelry was headed for Ramallah.
    “A package was intercepted two weeks ago by customs employees at Ben Gurion International Airport, containing some 120 rings that bore Arabic messages connected to the Islamic State organization that remains a military threat in both Iraq and Syria.

    The rings made of silver were produced in Turkey and ordered by an importer in Ramallah. Customs officials announced that they will be destroyed sometime in the next few days. “The thought that there are people who affiliate themselves with a murderous agenda like ISIS is simply shocking,” said a source in customs.

    The package that arrived from Turkey was already marked as suspicious upon arrival in Israel. A custom employee explained in a conversation with Ynet on Tuesday that when a package arrives destined for the West Bank, it’s checked according to strict procedures. “Everything that comes for the Palestinian Authority is put through a security check,” said customs. The package first passed through an x-ray machine and appeared to be fine.

    Then one of the custom employees who is well-versed in Arabic, saw what was written on the rings and voiced his shock. “We immediately passed it to the security department,” said an employee. “Although the importer declared the items as rings, it’s considered to be incitement. We’re talking about a Palestinian civilian and we have no right to open an investigation so we sent him a letter that the items would be destroyed and he has 30 days to appeal. Of course we also informed security forces and the Shin Bet immediately.”

    Although this package only contained rings, customs said Tuesday that they feel satisfied with their work. “A large number of rings mean that there are buyers. It’s scary and shocking to know that in the lands of the Palestinian Authority there are those who support that murderous organization. And who knows? Maybe with our help they’ll discover a cell or ideological organization of ISIS,” said a customs security employee.

    pics on the page :,7340,L-4659152,00.html

          • IBT – Isis in Ramadi: The terrifying truth behind Islamic State’s latest capture

            by Rita Katz

            Any celebrations after the US raid that killed high-ranking Islamic State (Isis) official Abu Sayyaf have likely ground to a halt after reports of the group’s take-over of Ramadi.

            IS’s takeover of the Iraqi city, despite government officials’ downplaying of the event as a “setback” is a major deal. Worryingly, IS’s seizing of Ramadi will likely serve as a hugely significant victory for the group — both practically and symbolically.

            The fact that IS was able to take Ramadi for any period of time is more than a fleeting victory for the group, but perhaps its most important one since its takeover of Mosul. Furthermore, IS achieved this even amid the international campaign declared against it, further bolstering the morale of both its fighters and leaders.

            on this page :


      • I’ve seen many articles like that, but I don’t know how relevant they are. My sense is that we have thousands of muslims leaving islam vs. millions being radicalized. I keep hoping that the last decades of islamic barbarism will lead to mass apostasy, but it’s either happening in the closet or not at all.

        • The best of the lot have been quietly losing Islam, I bet. There may even be thousands. The scale is as hidden as grooming gangs were for years. Forced marriage, pregnant by rape. Can you imagine?

          It’s only a very brave few who “come out” and they must suffer terribly. Blasted from all sides, no place to turn. The suicide rate among young adults must be extremely high. We’ll never know.

          The West has empowered the worst of the lot to crack the whip on entire Muslim enclaves. Universities parrot the party line. They all say it’s worse here than “back home” – wherever home happened to be.

  7. Mohammed cartoons coming to Denmark

    Next month’s political festival on the island of Bornholm has already attracted Islam critics and nationalists – now it will also include the Mohammed drawings that were the target of a shooting in the US earlier this month.

    The People’s Meeting (Folkemødet) on Bornholm grows more controversial by the day.

    After the uproar surrounding the invitation to Dutch politician and prominent Islam critic Geert Wilders, it was announced that a host of European nationalists will attend at the invitation of the far-right Danes’ Party (Danskernes Parti).

    On Tuesday, the anti-Islam groups Stop the Islamization of Denmark (Stop Islamiseringen af Danmark – SIAD) and Frit Danmark said that they would also be at Folkemødet next month and that they would be bringing drawings of the prophet Mohammed with them.

    “We are doing it for free speech, which is under attack by jihadists and because you cannot have degrees of free speech,” SIAD’s chairman, Anders Gravers Pedersen, said in a press release.

    The groups plan to display the drawings that were part of the Mohammed Art Exhibit and Contest event in Texas earlier this month. Two gunman opened fire at the event, which was organized by Islamic critic and blogger Pamela Geller and attended by Wilders, but were shot and killed by police. The terror group Isis has claimed credit for the attack.

    Frit Danmark said that should the drawings’ display at Folkemødet lead to any confrontations, they are ready to defend themselves with “by any means necessary ”.

    “If a situation should occur in which we don’t have sufficient security, we will need to take action with vigilantism,” the group’s chairman, Michael Ellegaard, told Jyllands-Posten.

  8. Philippines – Abu Sayyaf – The pledge of Allegiance of “Ma’rakat Al-ansar”
    to the Caliph of the Muslims Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi
    Rajab 1436H – May 2015M ( 2 min 02 )

  9. Barack Obama considering more training and weapons for Iraqi tribes fighting Isil

    US President weighing up boost in support for Iraqi fighters in the hope they will rapidly retake Ramadi from Isil

    The Obama administration is considering faster training and more arms supplies for Iraqi tribes fighting Islamic State following the loss of Ramadi to the Islamist group.

    “We are looking at how best to support local ground forces in Anbar” province, National Security Council spokesman Alistair Baskey said, “including accelerating the training and equipping of local tribes and supporting an Iraqi-led operation to retake Ramadi.”

    The audacious military victory was a major blow in the battle against Isil, calling into question Mr Obama’s strategy in Iraq and the authority of his ally, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

    The White House has described the loss of Ramadi as a “setback” but played down suggestions that the war is being lost.

    “Are we going to light our hair on fire every time that there is a setback in the campaign?” asked White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

    On Tuesday Mr Obama met with his secretaries of State, Defence as well as National Security Advisor Susan Rice and Central Intelligence Agency chief John Brennan to discuss the situation.

    “There is no formal strategy review,” said Mr Baskey, indicating that the pace rather than type of assistance to Sunni tribes was in question.

    A more detailed announcement could come within days.

    Mr Obama has repeatedly ruled out sending vast numbers of US troops back to the theater of a bloody and unpopular nine-year war that he vowed to end.

    Instead, he has vowed to support Iraq’s struggling army and hit Isil from the air.

    There has also been support for disparate Iraqi paramilitary groups that have proven a more potent fighting force than army or police regulars, though not without controversy.

    Both Washington and Baghdad had been uneasy about arms flowing directly to Kurdish peshmerga fighters in the north, fearing those arms could later be used in the battle for independence.

    Meanwhile, many of the Shia groups that helped retake Tikrit are armed and trained by Iran and their role in campaigns in overwhelmingly Sunni Anbar could risk reigniting a sectarian bloodbath.

    The White House wants to see those groups firmly under the command and control of the Iraqi military, but is also turning to Sunni tribes, which helped turn the tide of America’s own war in Iraq through the “Sunni Awakening.”

    But reeling from the worst setback since Isil grabbed swathes of territory in June last year, Mr Abadi called in the Shia-dominated Popular Mobilization units (Hashed al-Shaabi).

    Iraq’s army and allied paramilitary forces massed around Ramadi, meanwhile, looking for swift action to recapture the city from Isil before it builds up defences.

    “The Iraqi government needs to launch an immediate counteroffensive before (Isil) can consolidate its power, both for symbolic reasons and because of Ramadi’s proximity to Baghdad,” said Michael Knights of the Washington Institute.

    Obama meets with advisers on Iraq, reaffirms support for PM

    Analysts say US did not anticipate fast IS success; criticize ‘unwarranted optimism’ over Ramadi

    President Barack Obama was briefed by his top national security advisers on Tuesday on the situation in Iraq and the strategy to counter Islamic State militants, the White House National Security Council said in a statement.

    Obama “reaffirmed the strong US support” for Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in his effort to lead operations to retake the city of Ramadi, which fell to Islamic State fighters on Sunday, the White House said after the meeting.

    The meeting involved 25 advisers including Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Ash Carter, and General Lloyd Austin of US Central Command.

    Obama’s security advisers meet regularly to review the fight against Islamic State, and determine “how best to refine and carry out the strategy,” said Alistair Baskey, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council.

    “There is no formal strategy review,” Baskey said.

    There has been concern in the United States about the risk of sectarian strife in Ramadi, the capital of Sunni-majority Anbar province, because of the need to use Shi’ite militias to try to take back the city from Islamic State fighters.

    The White House said Obama welcomed a decision on Tuesday by the Iraqi Council of Ministers to accelerate the training and equipping of local tribes in coordination with authorities in Anbar province and expand recruitment into the Iraqi army.

    “In coordination with Anbar authorities, Prime Minister Abadi and the government of Iraq, we are looking at how best to support local ground forces in Anbar” as Iraq moves to retake Ramadi, Baskey said.

    ‘Unwarranted optimism?’

    US assurances that Islamic State rebels were on the defensive, even as they drove Iraqi forces from Ramadi are typical of the often unwarranted optimism that has characterized US public comments on the conflict, analysts said on Tuesday.
    In the period before Iraqi troops retreated over the weekend, senior US military officials played down the strategic importance of the city, the capital of the vast western Anbar province, and said advances being trumpeted by Islamic State social media were just short-term gains.

    “We firmly believe Daesh (Islamic State) is on the defensive throughout Iraq and Syria, attempting to hold previous gains while conducting small-scale, localized harassing attacks, occasional complex or high-profile attacks, in order to feed their … propaganda apparatus,” Marine Corps General Thomas Weidley told reporters on Friday, two days before Ramadi’s fall.

    Retired Army Lieutenant General David Barno, now at American University, said part of the US portrayal of the conflict was due to the “fog of war, not knowing what’s actually going on on the battlefield, not being able to see what’s occurring.”

    But he and other analysts noted US military officials may have been pushing too hard to portray events in a positive light instead of preparing the public for a long, hard struggle.

    “I think there has probably been an unwarranted amount of optimism about progress against ISIL over the last six months or so,” Barno said, using one of the group’s acronyms.

    He said Ramadi was the group’s biggest success since it captured Mosul last year and declared itself an Islamic caliphate.

    “So it’s a very big deal and I think it was really unanticipated by the White House and … probably by the Iraqi government as well,” Barno said.

    Anthony Cordesman, a defense analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said US public comments about the battle against Islamic State had done little to clarify the deep internal divisions among Sunnis, Shi’ites and Kurds that underlie the conflict.

    “We haven’t learned much since the days of the Vietnam follies,” he said, referring to the much-criticized military press briefings during that war.

    “There is always this tendency on the part of the PR (public relations) people to spin things, always present the most favorable case, rather than prepare people for the fact that some things are very difficult and uncertain,” he added.

    Barno and Cordesman both said the fall of Ramadi pointed to weaknesses in the overall US strategy. Barno said the level of US air strikes were “pinpricks” compared to what was required.

    In the aftermath Iraqi retreat from the Ramadi, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Tuesday the administration was looking at ways to “tweak the strategy” in Iraq, but he also downplayed the loss as part of the ebb and flow of conflict.

    “We have to sort of decide what our approach to these issues is going to be,” he said. “Are we going to light our hair on fire every time that there is a setback in the campaign against IS?”

  10. REUTERS – Vatican says Pope meant no offense calling Abbas ‘angel of peace’

    Pope Francis meant no offense to Israel by referring to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as being “an angel of peace” and intended to encourage harmony between the two sides, the Vatican said on Tuesday.

    Francis met Abbas at the Vatican on Saturday and used the words as he presented the Palestinian president with a large bronze medallion representing the angel of peace, one of his customary gifts to visiting presidents.

    Receiving Abbas at the papal apartments, the Argentine pontiff, speaking in Italian, said the medallion was an appropriate gift because “you are a bit an angel of peace”, according to a reporter representing several news agencies at the meeting.

    Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said he had not heard the remarks himself and had nothing to add to the words attributed to the pope by the pool reporter.

    “It is clear that there was no intention to offend anyone,” Lombardi told Reuters.

    Early reports had conflicted as to whether the pope urged Abbas to be an “angel of peace” or if he had described him as such.

    The pope met Abbas a few days after the Vatican formalized its recognition of the Palestinian state, a move which riled Israel’s government.

    The Vatican said after Saturday’s meeting that the two had expressed hope that talks between the two sides could resume after breaking down a year ago.

    Francis and Abbas, who met last year with former Israeli president Shimon Peres in an unprecedented inter-religious event at the Vatican, had a “very colloquial” exchange as they exchanged gifts, Lombardi said in a statement.

    “In any case, the sense of encouraging a commitment to peace was very clear and I believe that the very gift of the symbol of an angel of peace was made by the pope with this intention as well as previous presentations of the same gift to presidents, not only to Abbas.”

    Lombardi said the pope explains the significance of the medal to heads of state who receive it, and that the word “angel” in this context means “messenger”.

    Abbas also attended a canonization ceremony on Sunday at which Francis made saints of two Palestinian nuns.

    NYT – Vatican Seeks to Quiet Uproar Over Pope’s ‘Angel of Peace’ Remark

    • Ridiculous.
      Some translator didn’t know subjunctive mood in verb forms, the world goes crazy. Personnel at the Vatican can’t find a decent translator? Or maybe it was some idiot reporter who never did his grammar homework.

  11. Three in four migrants from Eastern Europe filling low-skill jobs: Third are in roles such as fruit picking as evidence mounts cheap labour is forcing down British workers’ pay (dailymail, May 19, 2015)

    “Almost three-quarters of the 872,000 Eastern Europeans working in Britain are in low-skilled jobs, a report reveals. More than a third – 318,000 – are in the most basic occupations such as cleaning and fruit picking. They are far more likely to be in low-skilled jobs than people born in Britain or workers who have arrived from older EU member states such as France and Germany, says the think-tank Migration Watch UK.

    There is growing evidence that the influx of cheap foreign labour has forced down the pay of some British workers. Last week Bank of England governor Mark Carney said the increase in the size of the workforce, partly driven by migration, had ‘contained wage growth in the face of robust employment growth’. The Migration Watch analysis is based on the Office for National Statistics Labour Force Survey….”

  12. 4 dead, 24 wounded in suicide bombing at Afghan Justice Ministry (CNN, May 19, 2015)

    “Four Afghan civilians were killed and 24 more wounded in a suicide bombing Tuesday afternoon outside Afghanistan’s Justice Ministry, an Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman said.

    An explosives-laden vehicle was detonated in the Justice Ministry’s parking lot around 4 p.m. (7:30 a.m. ET) Tuesday, according to the government spokesman, Sediq Sediqqi.

    The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. A spokesman for the militant group, Zabiullah Mujahid, said it killed and wounded high- and low-ranking Justice Ministry officials….”

  13. Just for the record… Tunisian mustard alert…

    U.S. names ISIS commander killed in raid (CNN, May 19, 2015)

    “The U.S. government says it believes it knows the real name of Abu Sayyaf, the key ISIS commander it says was killed during a U.S. raid in Syria over the weekend. “While he had a number of aliases, we believe his real name to have been Fathi Ben Awn Ben Jildi Murad al-Tunisi,” a U.S. official said Tuesday on condition of anonymity.

    Al-Tunisi, until now known by the nom de guerre Abu Sayyaf, was killed in a heavy firefight after he resisted capture in a U.S. special operations forces raid in eastern Syria, the U.S. Defense Department has said. According to administration officials, al-Tunisi was in charge of oil and gas financing, and had taken an increased role in ISIS operations, planning and communications…”

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