Thursday, February 16, 2017

They will hate it here. We will hate them here.

Nine people in custody in killing of girl, gang cases in Virginia

Ten suspects have been identified in connection with the gang-related slaying of a 15-year-old Gaithersburg girl who was held against her will, assaulted and then killed at a Virginia park in January, Fairfax County police said Wednesday.

The six juveniles and four adults, ages 15 to 21, are all believed to have been involved in the death of Damaris A. Reyes Rivas, police said. Nine are in custody and police said they are looking for the 10th, a 16-year-old girl.
The suspects in custody have been charged with abduction and gang participation, but police said they expect to file murder charges in the case as soon as Thursday.

Damaris voluntarily left home on Dec. 10, touching off a two-month investigation that now includes possible connections with at least three other cases — those of two teenage girls who went missing but have returned to their Fairfax County homes and the slaying of a 21-year-old man in Prince William County.

Police said they believe that Damaris probably was killed about Jan. 8 in Springfield’s Lake Accotink Park and that her body was dumped nearby, where it was discovered by police over the weekend. Police said video evidence led them to believe that Damaris was in trouble, but they did not disclose its nature.
Maria Reyes, Damaris’s mother, said Wednesday that she is relieved arrests have been made, but she still has more questions than answers.

“I’m still confused,” Reyes said. “I need to ask them why they killed my daughter. She didn’t owe them anything, so why did they kill her?”

At a Wednesday news conference, police declined to comment on a motive for Damaris’s slaying or the larger threads connecting the multiple cases.

The adults arrested were Cindy Blanco Hernandez, 18, of Reston; Wilmer A. Sanchez-Serrano, 21, of no fixed address; Aldair J. Miranda Carcamo, 18, of Springfield; and Jose Castillo Rivas, 18, of Springfield. The juveniles were not identified. It was unclear whether any of the adults had attorneys as of Wednesday evening. Family members could not immediately be reached.

Yes, it was "unclear" whether any of these

Police would not identify which gang is suspected in the slaying, but Reyes said that her daughter had fallen in with a local clique of MS-13. There has been a resurgence in violence by the gang in the D.C. suburbs in recent years, and its members have been linked to killings and other crimes.

After Damaris left home, she maintained contact with her mother via Facebook, and her case began as that of a missing person. On Jan. 4, Reyes said, she finally reached Damaris by phone and begged her daughter to come home, but Damaris said, “I can’t.” Police and Reyes believe Damaris was likely involved with gang members and was killed just days later.

Police said they are exploring the connections between Damaris’s slaying and the disappearance and return of two other teenage girls. Police said one of the girls, Venus Romero Lorena Iraheta, 17, of Alexandria, was possibly in danger before she returned home safely Tuesday night. She was later interviewed by detectives and was an acquaintance of Damaris, police said. Prince William County police also revealed for the first time Wednesday that Iraheta’s case was linked to the killing of a 21-year-old man in Prince William County. The body of Christian Alexander Sosa Rivas was found along the Potomac River in Dumfries on Jan. 12. Sgt. Jonathan Perok, a Prince William County police spokesman, declined to discuss the nature of the link between the cases, but said Iraheta and Rivas were acquaintances. In an interview with NBC 4 on Tuesday, Iraheta said that she left home because she was distraught over the death of a former boyfriend.

Iraheta left on Jan. 15. Fairfax County police are also looking at connections to another case. Lizzy Rivera Colindres, 16, of Springfield was also reported missing on Jan. 15 and left home voluntarily with her 5-month-old son, police said. She returned last weekend. Police said the case is not directly connected to Damaris’s killing, but the baby’s father is among those suspected in Damaris’s killing and Colindres may have left home in fear of him.

On Monday, Lynchburg police arrested the baby’s father, 18-year-old Jose Castillo Rivas, on an abduction charge stemming from an incident in which he allegedly attempted to get Colindres to drop a restraining order against him after a Jan. 10 court hearing.

Officer Tawny Wright, a Fairfax County police spokeswoman, said detectives do not think the cases pose a general threat to the public. Police said they think they have identified all the suspects in Damaris’s disappearance and death and know of no other missing girls. “There is no public safety threat,” Wright said. “The kids that are involved in this are acquainted and affiliated. We don’t think they are going to outside groups who are not already affiliated with this group.”

Did you manage to slog through that tedious and exhausting narrative, readers?

Nothing changes when we bring immigrants from There to Here. The same clannishness, complicated personal lives, byzantine loyalties, violence, omerta and r-selection prevails.

They are not coming for here. They are coming to have There, here.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Trump bans a religion

Well, not quite but who cares when there's Lefty hay to be made. By the way, given that Trump is Literally Hitler, shouldn't refugees be screaming to go anywhere but the United States? Refugees should be pouring into Canada and Mexico right now, fleeing Trump's Waffen-SS.

American refugees flee Trump's Waffen-SS

There is the predictable amount of wailing and gnashing of teeth over Trump's latest Executive Order, which essentially bans travel to the U.S. under the visas of seven suspect countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

Iran has nuclear ambitions, a large espionage network, and a notoriously paranoid and reactionary government. Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen are all in active civil wars and should frankly be quarantined while they sort out whether they are going to be viable states.

Sorry but the “Iraqi translators” and “Iranian grandmothers” and Somalian neurosurgeons don’t move me on this. These are low-trust countries with lots of casual brutality. If you leave here, go there, and then try and come back here I want it to be a real hassle, if not an outright ban.

"What if you have dual citizenship?," pleads Tyler Cowen, the injustice being that a U.S. citizen who happens to be named Rafsanjani, who happens to be Iranian, who happens to go back for visits, and who travels under an Iranian visa, might end up unable to return.

Of course, Tyler's particular problem shows not a problem with current policy but with how U.S. citizenship is rationed or, more accurately, not rationed. Citizenship is messy because it's not rationed economically. So introduce market incentives: you have to buy citizenship on the open market, or have it gifted to you by your parents. Or the other shareholders get to vote on whether to give you a slice of the pie, like they do in Switzerland. Then it would become apparent that the government inflates the supply of citizenship, and the category of “immigrant” would disappear, replaced by "owners," "guests" and "trespassers." In other words, citizenship is property or it is nothing.

"Citizenship" is another one of those areas where all the free market-economists get squishy.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

In case you were wondering if the Age of Evangelism is over, it's over.

Fifth European Catholic-Orthodox Forum Statement

Paris, France, 9–12 January 2017 (EP) - “Take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16: 33)

1. At the invitation of His Eminence Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, Archbishop of Paris, the 5th European Catholic-Orthodox Forum was held from 9th to 12th January, 2017 at the headquarters of the Missions Etrangères of Paris, France. The Forum was co-chaired by Cardinal Peter Erdő, on behalf of the President of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE) and Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Following the positive experiences of the first four meetings of the European Catholic-Orthodox Forum (Trent, Italy, 11–14 December 2008, Rhodes, Greece, 18–22 October 2010, Lisbon, Portugal, 5–8 June 2012, Minsk, Belarus, 2–6 June 2014), twelve delegates of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE) with twelve representatives of the Orthodox Churches in Europe met in Paris to examine in depth the themes of the threat of fundamentalist terrorism, the value of the person, and religious freedom.

The theme of the meeting ‘‘Europe in fear of the threat from fundamentalist terrorism, and the value of human person and religious freedom’’ was considered in depth at the Forum, the aim of which is to demonstrate the convergence of Catholics and Orthodox on the major issues of social ethics, in order to contribute to the peace and stability of our societies. We always turn to the inexhaustible source of inspiration and renewal, the Gospel of Christ the Saviour of humanity.
3. We discussed the terrorist actions that have plagued many of our countries and have given rise to various reactions. We have tried to decipher the causes of terrorism. We are well aware that we have little influence on Islamist networks, but we need to understand the phenomenon in all its dimensions. There is no question of stigmatizing the religion of Islam. We observe, with Muslim leaders themselves, that some terrorists justify their action from the sacred texts of Islam. We are well aware that a great work of hermeneutics of the foundational texts is required, in order to acquire an enlightened understanding. The perpetrators of terrorist acts are most often socially disengaged young people, who find in these unspeakable actions an outlet for their own distress.

It has been suggested that radicalisation has become Islamised, rather than the opposite. We believe that some narratives of Islamic history and experience have reinforced the spirit of these young people with a vision of hatred and rejection of the other. Youth, however, is the time of hope and of building the future. We invite all young people to commit themselves to building a fraternal world that excludes no one. We call on Muslim religious authorities to ensure that there is no propagation of a systematically hostile image of the non-Muslim world.
14. Secular Europe is deeply rooted in our Christian traditions, which have provided it with its universalist vision, its notion of the dignity of the human person and its moral principles. If you are cut off from your roots, you will come adrift. The emptiness within especially exposes the youngest people to the worst temptations. We firmly repeat that the Christian faith reconciles all the personal and social dimensions that are found in the human person. This is expressed in the dual commandment to love God and our neighbour, which is the key to mutual acceptance. The love of neighbour comes without condition or What demands (cf. Matthew 22:39). The dialogue of truth between people of different religions or beliefs is the only way out of situations of fear and mutual exclusion. Dialogue teaches us to become more humble. In dialogue with others, we constantly discover unsuspected riches in our common humanity. Thus we are happy to make progress towards a better knowledge and greater love of Him who – to us – is the fulfilment of our humanity: Jesus Christ our Lord, “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6).✙
Christendom has become, as a practical matter, impossible. No polity in the West is going to prohibit the sale of alcohol on fast days or withhold licensing to doctors who perform abortions. Nobody is going to outlaw pornography or sodomy. Nobody is going to deny a building permit to a Muslim mosque, Hebrew synagogue, or Sikh temple.

If there is a Christian ontological defense of the secular State I would love to see it, but I anticipate it would boil down to pure practicality. The nuclear-armed secular State is the most powerful and influential institution in the world. It is going to enforce religious pluralism, and that is that. The Christian hierarchy will either go along or find themselves shut out of the public square if not criminally prosecuted. Thus, they align with the secular State, either out of venality or desperation.

Again, this may be completely ontologically defensible. But in either event, Christian resources devoted to hawking their wares in the local or global marketplace would be much more effectively deployed internally: our Faith can get young people married off, reproduce itself in its pews, support young mothers, provide jobs for young fathers, and provide welfare to its elderly and disabled adherents, thereby demonstrating an operational manifestation of its morality. People not suited for marriage can enter monastic orders. The simple are protected from error by a robust Church. We keep our people clean, healthy, and wholesome. As friend of the blog Patrick Sheridan puts it, then we would have meat on the bones of our evangelism, something for the masses to actually "come and see."

But this is hard stuff. Much easier just to pay your taxes and cede these matters to the State.

Friday, January 20, 2017

All hail the Emperor

1. Protestant Christianity given unabashed priority in the public square.

2. Melania Trump is a fine, fine figure of a woman.

3. Trump's inaugural address was comparatively brief, a little over one-half the word count of Obama's two inaugural speeches, and quite confrontational, essentially telling his predecessor he fiddled while Rome burned.
Today's ceremony, however, has a very special meaning because today we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another, but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C., and giving it back to you, the people.

For too long, a small group in our nation's capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have bore the cost. Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered but the jobs left and the factories closed.
The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs. And while they celebrated in our nation's capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.

That all changes starting right here and right now, because this moment is your moment. It belongs to you.

It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America. This is your day.This is your celebration. And this, the United States of America, is your country.

What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.
January 20th, 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.

The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer. Everyone is listening to you now. You came by the tens of millions to become part of a historic movement, the likes of which the world has never seen before.

At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction that a nation exists to serve its citizens. Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families and good jobs for themselves.

These are just and reasonable demands of righteous people and a righteous public.
. . . .
From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it's going to be only America first -- America first.

Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.

Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every breath in my body. And I will never, ever let you down.

America will start winning again, winning like never before.

We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth, and we will bring back our dreams. We will build new roads and highways and bridges and airports and tunnels and railways all across our wonderful nation. We will get our people off of welfare and back to work rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor. We will follow two simple rules -- buy American and hire American.

We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world. But we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first. We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone but rather to let it shine as an example. We will shine for everyone to follow.
Terse, declarative rhetoric. George Will hated it but of course he's a silly little bitch throwing a hissy fit. Read his column at the link if you don't believe me.

4. F. Scott Fitzgerald said, "There are no second acts in American lives." By my reckoning, Donald Trump is on his third. I've never seen anything like it.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Age of Evangelism Is Over, cont.

Koran Reading at Scottish Anglican Cathedral
The congregation at St Mary's cathedral heard the Muslim version of the Virgin Mary's conception of Jesus, from the Koran's Sura 19, sung by Madinah Javed. The passage explains how Mary gave birth after an angel told her God would give her a child.

Muslims believe Jesus was a prophet, and that He was a precursor to Mohammed rather than the Son of God ...

A post on the cathedral's Facebook page describes the service as a "wonderful event".

It says: "The congregation was also reminded during the service that it is not only Christians who give honour to Jesus. We were joined by friends from two local Muslim communities." The post also shares a video of the recitation.

Here's Surah 19.

Here's Surah 19 being read.

If Christianity is Truth then this is intolerable, and underscores the justification for a Christendom: people need a geographic redoubt in which to be good Christians and protect their children and the simple from error. Certainly Muslims do not hesitate to carve out their own exclusive cultural space. Of course, secular democracy cannot tolerate such a thing past a certain point as it must ultimately lead to collapse of the central state. The Canadian central state with its many-nations policy is going to be in serious trouble eventually, as more of its constituent nations decide to stop paying taxes to fund the other nations.

For now though, we continue our slumber in the happy dream of secularism, and religious sects compete in a highly transparent market (where, for example, a complete English translation of the Koran is a few keystrokes away) for adherents.

The Age of Evangelism is over. I'm not sure what Age comes next (actually I do: Identity) but Christian hierarchs should give this serious and prayerful thought.

Monday, January 9, 2017

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction

La Grande Streep inveighed against the evil Donald Trump at the Golden Globe's tonight. Of course, until he ran for President, nobody ever accused Donald Trump of being racist or misogynist at all.

If you can't make it through the video of Streep's diatribe, the transcript is lovingly reproduced in the New York Times.

Vince Vaughn, Mel Gibson, and Mel Gibson's date are not amused:

Apologies for my lack of technical expertise. If anybody can tell me how to upload the video into blogspot let me know. Otherwise, the video is here.

Vince doesn't blink for the entire four seconds, which is at least the time required to pull the bolt back, chamber the round, and click off the safety. Mel is typically affectatious for an old boozehound, channeling his anger into physical gestures. His date rolls and blinks her eyes, which is to say, Meryl Streep you are full of shit.

The video is, in a word, sublime.

It's actually naive to think that highly paid professionals competing tooth-and-nail for roles in a very capitalist industry are all these liberal tulips who unanimously agree that Donald Trump is Hitler.

Donald Trump creates space for cultural leaders like Vince Vaughn and Mel Gibson, not to mention schleps like me. This demonstrates why "conservatives" who are horrified by Trump are actually nothing of the sort. "He is only a very shallow critic who cannot see an eternal rebel in the heart of the Conservative." --G.K. Chesterton.

UPDATE: Chateau Heartiste applies the proper rhetorical treatment here.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

In which I leave the house and go see a movie

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

The heroine, played by Felicity Jones, is in the center of the frame. She's actually 63" tall. The most engaging and interesting character is a re-tooled Imperial droid, K2-SO.

A long time ago, in an Atlanta, Georgia you would barely recognize, I saw the original Star Wars (1977) at the Tara Theater on Cheshire Bridge Road. We went to an early showing. The next screening, the line for tickets tracked twice around the building. I enthusiastically went to see the Empire Strikes Back (1980) which introduced a new character, Lando Calrissian, the only black man in the galaxy.

They finally got poor Lando some company in Return Of The Jedi (1983).

I was even there for Episode I (1999), starring the great Liam Neeson and a much less memorable Ewan McGregor. The villain was Darth Maul. Subtle.

By this time of course, the franchise was beginning to wane under its creator's fundamentally juvenile worldview. It's hard to believe this is the same man who made THX 1138 (1971).

My previous last attempt at a Star Wars film was to watch Christopher Lee in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005). What follows is stitched around some comments I left at iSteve.

Rogue One (2016) is not bad, and not entirely emblematic of our cultural malaise. I fully expected it to be formulaic and illogical, and my expectations were met–nay, exceeded–so I was able to relax and enjoy the ride a bit.

There's a huge space-air-land battle at the end on the Imperial Resort/Archives Planet that is pretty cool, even suggestive of some professional, technical military input. Steve Sailer notes that most of the time Lucas is just recreating the old World War II movies he grew up with.

Other than that, the movie is the usual assortment of Star Wars action figures and playsets. Having the series walk backwards on itself for the sake of recycling characters who grew old and died ages ago/forward in time is getting to be absurd. CGI of people such as the hours-ago deceased Carrie Fisher, and of Peter Cushing who's been in the ground twenty-two years, is just jarring. C-3PO and R2-D2 even get cameos for no reason whatsoever. Darth Vader gets rolled out of his nutritive bath, noticeably lacking the graceful, measured movements of the physically imposing David Prowse.

The movie seemed to be aiming really, really young with sloppy plotting and dialogue, cartoonish villains, and busy, fast-paced visuals. And sure enough there were lots of children under age 10 in the audience. Several of them clapped and cheered when Darth Vader came out.

The other thing that struck me is how unremittingly business-like this gloriously diverse galaxy of a long time ago and far, far away has become, with a total lack of sexual or romantic tension in the film. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it is (or was) a huge part of adult life and to have nothing like that anywhere in the movie tells me the target audience is adolescents. This isn't low-brow; it's after-school special.

I could make a very long list of all the illogical contrivances:

Why put the directional controls for the transmitting dish out on the very end of an open-air platform a thousand feet up?

Why wouldn’t Head Science Guy like, e-mail the plans to the Death Star, send a thumb drive, take a picture with his cellphone? And wasn’t the whole point to transmit the plans? At one point everybody’s scrambling around, playing hot potato to get a stylized computer diskette on to a cargo ship with Lord Vader one step behind.

Heroine couldn’t take some notes while Dad was talking–this is important?

Why are freaking Sturmtruppen walking around in white plastic that doesn’t protect them from anything--a hit with a mop handle, a blaster, falling twigs?

All that tech to send massive ships at light-speed and Desert Planet is … a desert? And you can put a force field around a whole planet but don’t have enough surveillance to find the single rifle squad fumbling around the landing pads with no ID or credentials?

Pulp-comics level illogic. I’m probably insulting pulp comics.

I mentioned the lack of romance but there is a soulful embrace by the male and female protagonists at the end, right before everybody dies in the nuclear conflagration. There’s a pedestrian explanation for killing everybody off: it’s a prequel and these characters never showed up retrospectively. So again, the series cynically backpedaling on itself to recycle increasingly shopworn characters is becoming absurd and incoherent.

In sum, I wasted twenty-eight dollars on this crap.