Monday, May 25, 2009

N Korea nuclear test 'threat to world peace'

North Korea has once again defied the international community by testing a nuclear weapon, its second such test within 3 years. The weapon was detonated some 10 km underground shortly after 23:00 GMT and triggered seismic readings of about 4.3 on the Richter scale.

The testing of the device, said to be equivalent to the 20 Kiloton bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan in 1945, has provoked widespread criticism and condemnation. China, who reacted with anger to North Korea’s October 2006 test [Wikipedia / tvnewswatch], have said it was “resolutely opposed” to the weapon’s test. US President Barack Obama described the test as a “Threat to international peace”.

“North Korea will not find respect through threats and illegal weapons,” Obama said in a statement on Monday. His comments were echoed by other world leaders who condemned the North Korean leadership. Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the action would “undermine prospects for peace” on the Korean peninsula. Meanwhile the UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband called the test “Wrong, misguided and dangerous” and said it would leave N Korea even more isolated.

Closer to home, North Korea’s neighbours have been even more outspoken. Japan has called for “firm action” and asked that a UN Security Council meeting be convened as soon as practically possible. South Korea, which remains in a tense stand-off with its neighbour called the test an “intolerable provocation”. Meanwhile anger spilled onto the streets as news about the weapons test began to spread.

Stock markets were also rattled by the news, though sharp falls seen early in the morning in Seoul soon recovered.

It is not clear whether six party talks will resume given that North Korea continues to ignore world opinion. Despite warnings from the US and others the defiant regime launched a rocket in April. It was widely seen as a long-range missile test, despite Pyongyang’s insistence it was a launch of a satellite. Both China and Russia have called for a return to the negotiating table, but there will be increasing scepticism about North Korea’s intentions. Six party talks resumed shortly after the 2006 weapons test [tvnewswatch], but the situation has changed significantly since then with the country becoming ever more unstable and the health of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il raising further doubts
[BBC / CNN / Sky News / Wikipedia].

Thursday, May 21, 2009

War on Terror is far from over...

Four people have been arrested in connection to what US authorities believe was a serious plan to launch a terror campaign in and around New York. Three of the persons have been named as James Cromitie (also known as Abdul Rahman), David Williams (aka Daoud and DL), and Onta Williams (aka Hamza). They were brought to court on Thursday and were ordered to be detained until the 5th June for a preliminary hearing. The three and a fourth man, Laguerre Payen (aka Amin and Almondo), have been accused attempts to bomb a synagogue and planning to target military jets at an airfield [BBC / Sky News / CNN].

The threat is being taken extremely seriously by authorities despite the group being infiltrated early on in their planning the attacks and supplied with fake explosives. According to reports the group attempted to detonate the explosives outside two synagogues in New York.

The foiling of the alleged terror plot comes as the US senate rejected an appeal by Obama for money to close Guantanamo Bay and will serve to reinforce the argument that the terror threat remains strong enough to maintain the camp. On Thursday it was also announced that the first trial for a former Guantanamo Bay detainee will take place in New York in the coming weeks. Ahmed Ghailani, who is suspected of taking part in al-Qaeda plots to bomb US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, will be the first former detainee to face trial in the United States [CNN].

Meanwhile terror attacks have continued in Iraq today. Scores have been killed in Baghdad and Kirkuk in an upsurge of violence that has swept the country in recent weeks. April was the bloodiest month since September, and despite reassuring statements from both the Iraqi government and the US military that things were getting better, most ordinary citizens are increasingly concerned [BBC / CNN].

In Kirkuk at least five were killed and 3 US soldiers were amongst 12 killed in a blast that struck in central Baghdad. Today’s attacks which left at least 23 dead came a day after 40 were killed in north-west Baghdad. More than 250 died in a series of attacks in April leading many to believe that insurgents may be regrouping as US troops prepare to downsize their operations [BBC].

Sunday, May 17, 2009

UK's oldest mum-to-be hides from media

One angry local [right] argues with a reporter

“It’s like the land that time forgot,” said one of the reporters gathered outside the house of Britain’s oldest mum to be, Elizabeth Adeney, who has single handedly managed to distract the tabloid media away from MP’s expenses. “You can’t get a signal at all,” the frustrated reporter continued as he tried to make a phone call.

He was one of dozens who had descended on a leafy lane in the Suffolk countryside in an attempt to get a statement from Ms Adeney following revelations in the Daily Mail and Mirror on Saturday.

The papers revealed she had become pregnant through In-Vitro Fertilisation treatment obtained in the Ukraine. But she insists age doesn’t matter and says she is delighted to be expecting.

Media unwelcome in Suffolk village

The presence of reporters, photographers and TV crews was not well received by many locals. “Get of my drive or I’ll call the police,” one angry neighbour shouted at reporters as he drove off in his van. Others were a little bemused and unaware of the news. “What’s going on?” one man asked the assembled press as he drove his family down the narrow country lane. But for those who knew her, there were some mixed views. “Well, I knew it had to be IVF,” one man said, “I didn’t think the press were interested in witches!”

Ms Adeney refused to see reporters all morning despite repeated knockings. For a person who received few visitors, according to neighbours, there was much activity however. Several maintenance men arrived at the house. A satellite installation team were the first to arrive, followed soon after by a pool maintenance engineer and a gardener. One of the workers was even sent out to retrieve the post and told reporters she did not wish to pose for pictures and had no plans to go out.

But after the satellite men and pool man left there followed a bizarre series of events. The gardener drove Elizabeth Adeney’s turquoise Renault from the house and up the road creating a panic amongst snappers. Shortly afterwards the gardener returned saying that she’d gone. But surely a heavily pregnant woman had not made her way across country to where the gardener had left the car. This, it seemed, could be the only explanation, but it created some speculation that the pregnancy might even be fake!

Despite best attempts at finding her, Ms Adeney managed to evade the press throughout the day and did not return to her house before nightfall.

Anger towards press builds

Patience amongst the locals was wearing thin concerning the large gathering of media. Late into the afternoon a returning local jumped from his people carrier and launched into a verbal tirade of abuse.

“How long’s this going to go on for?” he shouted. “Don’t know mate,” one photographer replied.

“What if a fire engine wanted to get through with all these vehicles here, it couldn’t,” the angry man continued. “I’m fed up with this, why don’t you all fuck off? Do you wanna scrap? I’m good at that,” he proclaimed. “Why don’t you all grow up? She’s only having a fucking baby.”

Soon after, another aggrieved resident pulled up in his car and none too politely told the press to go away before telling them the police had been called.

One lone Police Community Support Officer arrived but was particularly amicable and said that since no-one was causing an obstruction there was little she could do. “There are no parking restrictions,” she said, “I think people are just upset because little happens around here so you’re the focus of attention.”

It wasn’t too long before one of the angry locals drove back. “Haven’t you gone yet?” he asked before arguing with two journalists. As he did so the situation became a little dangerous as on letting off the brake his vehicle rolled back and nearly ran over a dog being walked by a local woman.

Surreal behaviour

The afternoon became surreal as another dog walker passed by and pulled a face while pushing out her jumper with her fist. “Da da,” she exclaimed as she pulled her hand from beneath her jumper in a gesture of holding a pillow or baby. “Why’s this a story?” she said later, “She didn’t conceive, she had an egg put inside her and it’s going to be a corrugated [sic] birth.”

Meanwhile ‘Mr Angry’ returned; this time armed with a camera, perhaps in an attempt to intimidate the few remaining reporters and photographers. After sharp words, and an inference that vehicles could be damaged by “persons unknown”, he retreated.

As the sun began to set over Suffolk there was one last visitation from the locals. “You won’t get her coming in here, the witch usually flies in on her broomstick,” he joked. “She's a bit odd, that one” he said.

From the bizarre behaviour displayed by locals, she is not the only resident who was strange, if not a little over protective about “their road”.

[BBC / Pregnancy over age 50-Wikipedia].

Friday, May 08, 2009

US 'shock jock' to sue Jacqui Smith

Savage attack: Michael Savage says he's been libeled by Home secretary

British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith may find herself in court in the coming months after placing an American radio presenter on a list of persons banned from Britain. Michael Savage, a so called ‘shock jock’, has joined a list which included convicted terrorists, murderers and Islamic fanatics. But his addition to the list has angered the 67 year old presenter who insists he has been defamed by the Home Secretary.

And in response he has threatened to sue Ms Smith personally, unless he is removed from the list and receives a written apology.

Britain’s ‘least wanted’

The list of Britain’s “least wanted” which was published this week seeks to exclude people the government considers dangerous. It is made up of 22 individuals, though only 16 are named. It names 7 radical Islamists, one Jewish radical, two Russian right wing extremists and several US citizens ranging from neo Nazis to radical preachers.

Amongst those mentioned are the Hamas MP Yunis Al Astal. He once claimed that ““Rome will be conquered [by Islam], just like Constantinople” and is considered by the Home Office to be an individual who engages in “unacceptable behaviour by seeking to foment, justify or glorify terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs and to provoke others to terrorist acts." Others Islamic extremists include Hezbollah terrorist Samir Al Quntar and preacher Amir Siddique. Samir Al Quntar once participated in the attempted kidnapping of an Israeli family in Nahariya that resulted in the deaths of four Israelis and two of his fellow kidnappers. He was released from prison last year after 29 years in prison. Other Islamic radicals included are Nasr Javed, Wadgy Abd El Hamied Mohamed_Ghoneim, Abdullah Qadri Al Ahdal and Safwat Hijazi.

It’s not just Islamic extremists on the list. Jewish extremist Mike Guzovsky is also included. Guzorsky is listed as a contact for the US banned terror organisation

Far right Russian skinheads Artur Ryno and Pavel Skachevsky said to be responsible for leading a violent gang that beat migrants and posted films of their attacks on the internet have been banned from Britain, though both are languishing in prison following their conviction in 2007 in connection with the murder of 37 people.

Apart from Michael Savage, there are 5 other Americans on the list. Ex-Ku Klux Klan grand wizard Stephen Donald Black, neo-Nazi Erich Gliebe, Muslim activist Abdul Alim Musa, radical pastor Fred Waldron Phelps and Shirley Phelps-Roper.

Many of those named on the list have not expressed any specific desire to travel to the UK, and at least three are currently in prison.

Defamation claims

Following the publication of the list, Michael Savage, whose real name is Michael Weiner, said he was shocked.

“I looked at the headline on the Drudge Report and I couldn’t believe it,” Savage told listeners on his radio show, “I thought it was a joke.”

But his shock turned to anger after the DJ found out who he’d been associated with.
"For this lunatic Jacqui Smith, to link me up with skinheads killing people in Russia and mass murderers who kill Jews on buses is defamation,” Savage proclaimed. “She has put a target on my back,” the controversial radio presenter added, and said he would sue the British politician.

Jacqui Smith has justified the inclusion of Mr Savage on the list saying he was “someone who has fallen into the category of fomenting hatred, of such extreme views and expressing them in such a way that it is actually likely to cause intercommunity tension or even violence if that person were allowed into the country.”

Britain’s Prime Minister, Gordon Brown also defended the government position. “There will have been specific decisions made by the Home Office based on the evidence that they have,” he said. “Our general position is that we do want to make a distinction between reasonable and moderate debate and actions that deliberately set out to create tensions.”

Following the release of the list, several news organisations clamoured for interviews from Savage, who is not well known in Britain. The BBC, Sky News and CNN all covered the story giving Michael Savage more publicity than he could have imagined.

The irony is that the decision to include the ‘shock jock’ on the ‘least wanted’ list has served to bring his views to a far wider audience. Few in Britain would have heard of Savage or his programme the “Savage Nation” before this week. In years past his show could only be heard on short wave radio, but with the advent of the Internet many can easily tune in to his chat show.

Ranting and raving

For those who listened in to the several affiliate stations which carry the Savage Nation, they were met with the ranting of an angry man. Savage, who has published several books and holds a PhD, claims he has up to 10 million listeners across America. From this large base he says he will launch boycott of British goods and travel to the country.

“Britain will suffer financially from this mistake,” Michael Savage told his listeners on Thursday. In his show which warns listeners of “adult language and psychological nudity”, Savage claims he represents the majority of what America believes.

“I talk about family values,” he said, running a campaign of “Borders, language and culture”.

His views are nonetheless very strong. He has spoken out very strongly against homosexuality and Islamic terrorists. He has also been criticised for statements made about autism, though he says he has made mistakes at times. But he insists he has never incited violence.

He holds nothing back in his criticism of those he dislikes. On Thursday night’s show he called the British government “extremist” and described Home Secretary Jacqui Smith as a “Witch”, a “hateful person” and a “creature”.

“I am going to use attorneys of England to sue Jacqui Smith,” he said, “Send me a letter of apology or you will find yourself in the courts.”

Callers to the show were unsurprisingly supportive of the right-wing DJ. One caller who claimed to be a former London police office calling from within the US said the British government had chosen a “White American radical Jew to appease the Islamists”.

“They are petrified of radical Muslims” the caller said, and in order to placate those that might feel the Muslim population had been unfairly singled out, Savage had been added to the list. “I’ve heard that,” Savage said, but avoided direct agreement.

Britain an "extremist nation"

His show was punctuated with bursts of Rule Britannia, the Russian ex-Soviet Nationale and the Sex Pistol’s God Save the Queen. At one point he played what he regarded as one of the most important speeches of all time, that given by Winston Churchill on June 18th 1940.

“What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us.

Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.

Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, 'This was their finest hour.' ”

It was all a part of his attempt to show how Britain had lost sight of its once well founded principles of democracy and free speech laid out in the Magna Carta.

“If they don’t get some backbone they won’t have a nation” Savage declared.

“People are saying to me that this is the last gasp of a troubled Labour party that is out of touch with the voters of England,” Savage told reporters earlier. “That's all well and good but will the Conservatives undo the damage that this lunatic has done?”

Oxygen of publicity

Whether or not his views are dangerous, as the government maintains, their efforts to exclude him from Britain, has only increased his public profile. But it is not the first time such plans have backfired. In February this year Dutch right wing politician Geert Wilders was turned back at Heathrow by authorities because of his views. As a result he was unable to attend a meeting in London’s parliament, but the publicity served only to increase his public profile. His controversial film Fitna subsequently received record hits on video websites and there were pages of debate in the national press and on television about a previously unheard of politician.

In fact the banning of people, books and records has often served to make them more popular than they otherwise would have been. By banning Savage, the Labour party, which are already suffering in the polls, has courted yet more bad publicity for itself. From a failing economy, criticism over MP’s expenses to accusations of directing the country towards a police state, the government is on the defensive. A libel case against the Home Secretary is the last thing it needs.