Sunday 25 August 2013







Nigeria’s militants slit throats of 44 people: Official
Boko Haram militants (file photo)
Boko Haram militants (file photo)
Sun Aug 25, 2013 1:43AM GMT

Slitting the victims’ throats seems to be a new strategy by the militants since gunfire attracts security forces.
Suspected members of the Boko Haram militant group have killed 44 villagers by slitting their throats in the northeast of Nigeria, an official says.

According to remarks by the official from Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency on Saturday, the assailants attacked Dumba village in Borno state early on Tuesday, The Associate Press reported.

Slitting the victims’ throats seems to be a new strategy by the militants since gunfire attracts security forces.

The official, who was speaking on condition of anonymity, said the attackers also gouged out the eyes of some victims who survived.

Army spokesman Brigadier General Chris Olukolade said on Friday that Boko Hram militants killed 35 people after opening fire on Muslims leaving a mosque in Dumba on Monday.

Meanwhile, the phone lines and the Internet service remain cut in the region making it difficult to get more information.

According to some reports, at least 79 people have been killed in the African country this week.

On May 15, the Nigerian army launched an offensive against Boko Haram, a day after President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in the three northeastern states of Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa.

Boko Haram -- whose name means “Western education is forbidden” -- says its goal is to overthrow the Nigerian government.

The group has claimed responsibility for a number of deadly gun and bomb attacks in various parts of Nigeria since 2009.

Over the past four years, violence in the north of Africa’s most populous country has claimed the lives of 3,600 people, including killings by the security forces.


Related Stories:

UN accuses Syrian rebels of chemical weapons useas song sheet coordinates to sell yet another war

Question: Would Assad be so stupid and suicidal to sanction the use of chemical weapons when anyone with a brain knows that this is exactly what his global opponents want to justify his regime's destruction

How the UN's Del Ponte has changed her tune since May ...UN accuses Syrian rebels of carrying out sarin gas attacks which had been blamed on Assad's troops

No pressure, though.

Western-Mid East military action prepared for Syria. Israel, Jordan, Turkey face up to Syrian counter-attack. Russia on war alert
DEBKAfile Special Report August 25, 2013, 7:12 AM (IDT)
US seaborne Tomahawk cruise missile
US seaborne Tomahawk cruise missile

They may consist of imposing a no-fly zone and the sealing off of sectors in northern and southern Syria against government forces.
Russian forces also went on war alert
President Barack Obama and UK Prime Minister David Cameron spent 40 minutes on the phone Saturday night amid the strongest indications to date from Washington that direct military intervention by the West was approaching, following a change in the US president’s posture. He has become convinced that the strike would have to be conducted outside the United Nations.
Military commanders from Western and Muslim countries are meeting Sunday in the Jordanian capital of Amman to coordinate action in Syria, with the participation of the US, Britain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, France, Italy and Canada. Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the US Chiefs of Staff chairs the meeting. Saturday night, four American destroyers were moving closer to Syria, armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles, which are capable of precision strikes.
While Western media are reporting at length on Western, Arab and Muslim military preparations, Israel’s armed forces are moving ahead in secrecy. Its officials spread soothing statements asserting Israel’s non-involvement in the Syrian turmoil, as Israel’s military and intelligence agencies get ready for Syria to counter an attack by loosing missiles against their country as well as Jordan and Turkey. All three also expect an explosion of terrorism.
Saturday night, Syrian information minister Omran al-Zoubi, while denying his government was responsible for Wednesday’s poison gas attack, stated over state television that if Syria came under attack, “a mass of flames will ignite the Middle East.”
DEBKAfile’s military sources report that Moscow has placed on war alert Russia’s Mediterranean and Black Sea fleets as well as rapid deployment forces in southern and central Russia.
Three Syrian hospitals told the humanitarian group Médecins Sans Frontières Saturday that they had received around 3,600 patients suffering from symptoms related to a poison gas attack. Of these, 355 had reportedly died.
According to DEBKAfile’s sources, Western demands for proof of the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons before taking action have been countered in the last few hours by the discovery that the forensic evidence will be all but impossible to obtain in view of the special mixture contained in the gas shells. Only tiny quantities of sarin were blended in with a large quantity of riot control agents, a formula developed by Iran to camouflage the use of chemical weapons.

Erdogan denounces US for criticizing claim that Israel was behind Morsi’s ousting

08/24/2013 16:49

Turkish PM blamed Israel for Morsi's downfall, unrest in Egypt; says US condemnation shows the world's "double standard."

Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament from his ruling AK Party
Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament from his ruling AK Party Photo: REUTERS
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan chastised Washington for having denounced his claim, made last Tuesday, that Israel was behind the coup that deposed Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood- affiliated president, Mohamed Morsi.
“What is it to the White House that it should respond?” Erdogan said on Saturday. “It should not have mentioned it, it should not have reacted like this. As two members of NATO, that one ally shows this kind of approach to the other is not appropriate.”
The White House criticized Erdogan’s claim about Israel’s alleged involvement in the recent events in Egypt the same day he made it.
“We strongly condemn the statements that were made by Prime Minister Erdogan today,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters. “Suggesting that Israel is somehow responsible for recent events in Egypt is offensive, unsubstantiated and wrong.”
The White House’s reaction, the Turkish prime minister said, showed the “double standard of the world.”
“The White House should not have spoken about this,” he said.
“If there’s somebody to speak on this, it should have been Israel.”
Erdogan’s original statement, forcefully presented as a conspiracy theory involving French-Jewish philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy, also triggered criticism of his political fitness to govern Turkey.
“Let’s be blunt: If Erdogan is a model, then he is a model for bigotry,” Michael Rubin, a resident scholar and expert on Turkey at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote on the website of Commentary.
“Turkey has an anti-Semitism problem, and it is personified by its leader.”
Jeffrey Goldberg, a commentator who writes extensively on the Middle East, declared: “It’s time to call Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan what he is: a semi-unhinged bigot.”
To continue with the notion of Erdogan’s questionable mental health, his behavior has apparently spilled over into harming his country’s foreign policy.
“Turkey’s decision to flirt with Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood, support Islamist rebels in Syria, throw the strategic relation with Israel to the dogs, and increase tensions over Cyprus are all backfiring,” according to Emanuele Ottolenghi, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
On Saturday, after Erdogan responded to the US criticism, Twitter was abuzz.
Robert Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, tweeted: “Erdogan is increasingly unhinged. Is this really what Turks – a serious, sober people – want in their leader?” Roger L. Simon, a cofounder of the news and opinion website PJ Media, asked why the Turkish people had voted for this “bozo,” adding: “Besides being a bigot, #Erdogan seems to be a real nitwit.”

Benjamin Weinthal reports on Europe for The Jerusalem Post and is a fellow at The Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Today's ConservativeHome top features
On ToryDiary, it's asked: will the National Union of Ministers form a bond over Syria?"The Syrian crisis has a significance way beyond the vagaries of British politics – but, as today’s stories suggest, British politics will not be left unaffected by it. The longer it goes on, the more potential it has to divide Tory from Tory. And, as I’ve suggested before, it could even affect the make-up of any future Coalition."
Today's ConservativeHome newslinks
Cameron and Obama threaten a "serious response" against Assad... 
"David Cameron has ordered a 'serious response' to the use of chemical weapons by President Assad’s regime. ... The PM thrashed out a masterplan in a 40-minute crisis call with US President Barack Obama last night. ... British and US generals will meet within days to draw up a strategy to neuter the regime. ... The most likely option is air strikes to wipe out Assad’s command and controls system." - The Sun on Sunday (£)
  • "A Syrian rebel leader plans to visit London to beg Foreign Secretary William Hague to support British and American military action against President Assad." - Mail on Sunday prepartions are made for a UN Security Council resolution...
UN"Meanwhile, discreet preparations are being made for a UN Security Council resolution that, if passed, would transform the parameters of the conflict. I am told that the wording to be recommended by the UK is much tougher than any previous warning to Assad." - Matthew d'Ancona, Sunday Telegraph
...and the Prime Minister's colleagues try to convince him to act, or not
"The leaders on the hawkish side are Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, Chancellor George Osborne and Foreign Secretary William Hague ... The dove faction is led by Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, who backs the military in thinking UK forces are overstretched and exhausted. ... Now Home Secretary Theresa May has made it clear that she considers intervention unwise." - Anne McElvoy, Mail on Sunday 
  • " is the easiest thing to say that, in the case of Syria in particular, there are only bad options. That may be true. But increasingly it may be that there is a worse option: doing nothing." - Observer editorial
  • "It is impossible to see how the West can end this civil war without potentially inflaming the conflict across the region; only Russia can do that." - Camilla Cavendish, The Sunday Times (£)
Defence cuts latest: one-in-five senior officers to lose their jobs
DEfence cuts"One in five senior officers in the Armed Forces will lose their jobs as part of the latest round of defence cuts. ... Almost 100 top brass will be made redundant or see their posts disappear in the next two years, with the cull beginning at the rank of brigadier in the Army, commodore in the Royal Navy and air commodore in the Royal Air Force." - Mail on Sunday
  • "Argentina has pocketed over £1.8million of British cash despite its threat to the Falklands. ... Details of the funding emerged days after PM David Cameron was called “dumb” by Argentina’s ambassador in London for his firm stance over the Falklands."- The Sun on Sunday (£)
"Britain's senior political television journalists are at war with Downing Street over what they see as attempts to bypass them and use less critical media outlets to broadcast policies to the public" - Independent on Sunday
Gove on the attack: he accuses Ed Miliband of wanting to impose a £40 million Militax on the country...
Gove"Education Secretary Michael Gove has accused Ed Miliband of threatening to impose a £40 million ‘Militax’ on voters by forcing them to pick up the bill for running Britain’s political parties. ... In an outspoken attack, Mr Gove says Mr Miliband’s recent call for a ban on political donations of more than £5,000 from individuals would inevitably lead to state funding for the Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems." - Mail on Sunday
  • "Parliament's expenses watchdog is to name scores of MPs who are channelling thousands of pounds of public money into their own party coffers, amid complaints that the practice amounts to 'back-door party funding'." - Independent on Sunday the Independent on Sunday praises Gove for the variety of new schools
"Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, deserves unstinting praise for his 118 varieties of new state schools, on which we report today. The new schools include an English-German bilingual primary school; a secondary school dedicated to autistic children; a technical school linked to the motor racing industry at Silverstone; and a school specialising in the creative arts associated with Elstree film studios." - Indepenent on Sunday editorial
  • "Universities are offering places on highly academic degree courses such as law and engineering to students who achieved as little as two E grades in their A-levels." - The Sunday Times (£)
  • University leavers are increasingly going abroad for postgraduate studies - Sunday Telegraph
May announces anti-slavery laws
May"Slave masters who bring immigrants to Britain and force them to work will face long prison sentences and be banned from running companies under an anti-slavery law announced today by Theresa May, the home secretary. ... The Modern Slavery Bill will also introduce court orders to ban those who traffic illegal immigrants into the UK from returning to areas in which they operated." - The Sunday Times (£)
  • "No man, woman or child should be left to suffer through modern slavery." - Theresa May, The Sunday Times (£)
  • "This is where the slavery battle begins" - Sunday Timeseditorial (£)
"The visit by national security agents to smash up computers at the Guardian newspaper is shocking, like something out of East Germany in the 1970s" - Janet Daley, Sunday Telegraph
ConservativeHome's Andrew Gimson gives his take on May vs Boris
AG"His biographer Andrew Gimson said: 'Boris has the edge in my book because he is a much bigger political personality. ... If they want a calm, authoritative person who has run a department — and who is a woman — then they will go for Theresa.' ... Gimson’s post-Cameron prediction is a dream ticket of Boris Johnson and Education Secretary Michael Gove — providing a mix of levity and gravitas." - The Sun on Sunday (£)
  • "Now we have the story of David Miranda — Edward Snowden’s document mule — and Theresa May’s refusal to jump on the anti-police bandwagon is paying dividends." - Louise Mensch, Sun on Sunday (£)
Local authorites point accusingly at the Mayor of London
"Furious local government leaders are accusing ministers of a crude political fix to help London mayor Boris Johnson, after establishing that almost every council in the country faces cuts in 2015-16 well above the previously announced 10% – but the Greater London Authority will suffer none." - The Observer
The number of houses planned for England’s green belt has doubled in a year, reports Sunday Telegraph
"Plans now exist for more than 150,000 homes to be built on protected land, an analysis of council documents has found. ... In addition, more than 1,000 acres will be lost to office blocks, warehouses and the HS2 rail link, according to the research carried out by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE)." - Sunday Telegraph
Tory MPs rail against Lottery-funded Bullingdon film
Camera"The British Film Institute is using the Lottery money to help fund a film adaptation of the West End hit Posh. ... Last night Tory MP Lee Scott said: ‘I have to question the timing and motive in awarding Lottery money for what looks like a politically biased film to be released on the eve of the next General Election.’" - Mail on Sunday
The Lib Dems set themselves against a shale gas revolution
"Nick Clegg's Liberal Democrats have poured scorn on George Osborne's push for a shale gas revolution in the UK, saying the process of fracking has caused extensive environmental damage and water pollution in the US." - The Observer
  • "A militant trade union boss has launched a campaign to sabotage fracking, a Sun investigation can reveal today. ... RMT transport leader Bob Crow’s right-hand man Steve Hedley wants lorry drivers to refuse to work for firms involved in shale gas drilling." - The Sun on Sunday (£)
  • The wind farms that generate enough power to make a few cups of tea -Sunday Telegraph
Nick Cohen: The Lib Dems used to keep us honest – not any more
Libdemdead"They are so shameless that Nick Clegg's aides boasted to the Financial Times that the deputy prime minister had personally approved plans to force our sister paper, the Guardian, to destroy a hard disk containing Ed Snowden's leaked secrets on state surveillance." - Nick Cohen, The Observer
  • "Cameron's quick temper comes with a quick mind. He is decisive, but makes misjudgements. My worry is that Clegg is too light a counterweight to make them better." - John Rentoul, Independent on Sunday
Labour has imposed a £50 billion cap on HS2, reports the Sunday Times
HS2"Labour has imposed a £50bn cap on the High Speed 2 rail line and threatened to withdraw its support for the troubled project if costs rise further. ... Maria Eagle, the shadow transport secretary, also called for HS2’s management to be sacked and replaced by more experienced rail experts." - The Sunday Times (£)
"The Government has been accused of 'resorting to the underhand misuse of taxpayer money' to pay for lobbyists to promote HS2, as pressure mounts on the coalition to scrap the £42.6bn rail project." -Independent on Sunday
  • "The government needs to come clean about HS2’s true cost. Even so, it is too early for a red light." - Sunday Times editorial (£)
  • "What we really need in Britain are more motorways and road pricing not a very expensive railway line from London to Birmingham" - John McTernan,Sunday Telegraph
Tessa Jowell urges her party colleagues to stop sniping at Miliband
Tessa Jowell"Writing in the Observer, she calls for an end to weeks of sniping against the Labour leader by high-ranking figures including former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott, saying that disloyalty could break the party and that 'publicly offered constructive criticism is only ever destructive'." - The Observer
  • "At the heart of Labour's August of angst is this: many in the party doubt their capacity to win a parliamentary majority at the next election." - Andrew Rawnsley, The Observer
  • ""Miliband’s ‘unelectable’ — just like Thatcher" - Adam Boulton, The Sunday Times (£)
But one backbencher reckons Miliband needs an Alastair Campbell-type figure
"Meg Hillier said the absence of experienced advisers such as Campbell, the former director of communications at No 10, and John McTernan, previously a leading aide to Tony Blair and also to Julia Gillard, the former Australian prime minister, was hampering Miliband’s efforts to appeal to the electorate." - The Sunday Times (£)
  • Just one-in-five voters think Miliband is doing a "good job" - Sunday Telegraph
Labour proposes blue plaques for fallen war heroes
"World War Two Battle of Britain ace Sir Douglas Bader’s London home was marked in 2009. ... Now Labour is urging local councils and English Heritage — which manages the scheme in the capital — to offer the honour to soldiers, sailors and airmen killed in the line of duty." - The Sun on Sunday (£)
"Chris Bryant claims the Russian government is seeking to have him ousted as chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on that country because he is gay" -The Sunday Times (£)
New report highlights NHS failings
NHS"Figures from the Care Quality Commission disclose that 20 warning notices were issued to 11 NHS hospitals trusts during 2012/13, threatening them with closure if standards did not improve. ... The warnings mean that failings were so extreme that the NHS trusts were breaking the law, and could be prosecuted." - Sunday Telegraph
  • "The NHS has spent nearly £1.4billion on staff redundancy packages since the Coalition came to power, official figures show." - Sunday Telegraph
The Mail on Sunday reveals 15 of the major firms apparently linked to rogue private detectives
"The world’s biggest accountancy firm Deloitte, powerful banks Credit Suisse and Chase Manhattan, and giant law firm Richards Butler, now part of Reed Smith, are all on a secret list belonging to a corrupt private detective. ... A Mail on Sunday investigation has also established the rogue investigators jailed last year for illegally accessing information by ‘blagging’ appeared to be linked to international solicitors’ firms Herbert Smith and Clyde & Co." - Mail on Sunday
  • "When it comes to state investigations into invasions of privacy, it seems that there is a huge imbalance between treatment of the press and treatment of blue-chip companies." - Mail on Sunday editorial
News in brief
  • Liam Fox admits that he and his wife holidayed with Adam Werritty, and others, in Spain earlier this year - Mail on Sunday
  • Women over the age of 50 should be entitled to "granny leave" to help them care for elderly parents and grandchildren, suggests IPPR - Mail on Sunday
  • Muslim Brotherhood leader Gomaa Amin is in hiding in London - Sunday Telegraph
  • Number of over-65s still in work triples in 15 years - The Observer
  • Labour warns about fewer inspections of food establishments - Independent on Sunday
And finally 1)... Tories to release a range of Thatcher memorabilia in Manchester
"The Tory party will launch a range of Margaret Thatcher memorabilia at its party conference, featuring an ironing board cover, bibs and T-shirts. ... The party said the Maggie Collection has been produced in memory of the 'creator of Thatcherism, nicknamed "the Iron Lady" and fondly known as "Maggie" by her many admirers'." -The Sunday Times (£)
And finally 2)... Lembit Opik bit where it hurts
"When he volunteered as judge at a charity dog show he probably didn't count on the contestants taking his comments personally. ... But animal loving former MP Lembit Opik found himself needing medical attention after an irate sausage dog launched itself at him and bit his privates." - Mail on Sunday
And finally 3)... Would God vote Lib Dem?
"As they languish in the opinion polls, the Liberal Democrats could be forgiven for seeking divine intervention. ... Have their prayers been answered? They have if you believe Steve Webb, the minister of state for pensions, who has boldly asserted that God is a Lib Dem." - The Sunday Times (£)