Heavy snow with Low Economy halts Europe @ Xmas time


 

JNN 21 Dec 2010 : As more severe weather is forecast across Europe, a bone-chilling blizzard continues to leave thousands of travelers stranded in airports, especially in Britain, while The leaders of several EU countries have urged the President of the European Commission to freeze the EU budget at least for 10 years.

 
The massive crisis triggered by heavy snowfall, which grounded flights and caused seemingly endless traffic jams in parts of Western Europe, has made travel of any type a gamble.

Heavy snow and thick ice all but closed London’s Heathrow, the world’s busiest international passenger airhub over the weekend.

Britain is among those hardest hit by the Arctic conditions, with major disruptions in rail and highway travel.

Authorities canceled about 300 flights at Germany’s main airport at Frankfurt on Monday as they expected more snow.

As the severe weather conditions in Germany continued through Sunday, the airlines were advising their passengers to take the train, while the railways were telling travelers to forget travel altogether for the time being and to stay at home.

German railroads were not the only ones to be affected. Throughout much of Europe, railways were similarly disrupted. Even in southern Sweden, which is used to heavy snow, 100 of 350 train journeys were canceled on Monday.

The Arctic conditions have disrupted travel and shopping plans on the last weekend before Christmas, normally one of the busiest times of the year.

Given Europe’s current struggling economy, the record-breaking blizzard seems to be a harsh blow to the continent’s travel industry at a time when large numbers of Europeans have planned to travel inside or outside the continent.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Finnish Prime Minister Mari Kiviniemi, and British Prime Minister David Cameron signed a letter to Jose Manuel Barroso urging him to keep EU spending under control.

The letter comes as Europe is struggling with an economic crisis and the aftermath of recession. Cutting the EU budget is considered as an effort to bring down the debts and narrow down budget deficits. The poorer eastern European countries, however, are likely to resist these cuts.
Without doubt the heavy snowfall has also hit Europe’s business system hard on the closing days of 2010 as Christmas shoppers find it difficult to commute in the blizzard.

Domestic violence 'on the rise' in Britain


JNN 21 Dec 2010 : Newly released official figures show an increase in the number of cases of domestic violence including homicide and abuse across Britain during the past financial year.

The figures showed the number of women killed by a violent partner jumped from 72 in 2007-8 to 102 in 2008-9 recording a 42 percent spike, British media reported.

According to figures released by police in November, as many as 42,000 women filed complaint across the UK last year about being abused by a man.

This is while that the number of men complaining of being a victim of domestic abuse by a woman had increased from 7,361 to 7,938 during the same period.

Campaigners have been voicing concern that the government’s austerity measures, mainly cuts to local authority budgets, may result in more deaths from domestic violence as already poorly funded specialist services face the axe.

Currently one in three local authorities provides no refuge or specialist support to victims.

Earlier this month, domestic violence charity Refuge delivered a petition to the Downing Street urging the government to protect specialist domestic violence services.

“Reducing specialist domestic violence services would have serious consequences, leaving women with fewer options and forcing them to stay with or return to their perpetrator, thereby increasing the risk of death,” a spokeswoman said

Domestic violence ‘on the rise’ in Britain


JNN 21 Dec 2010 : Newly released official figures show an increase in the number of cases of domestic violence including homicide and abuse across Britain during the past financial year.

The figures showed the number of women killed by a violent partner jumped from 72 in 2007-8 to 102 in 2008-9 recording a 42 percent spike, British media reported.

According to figures released by police in November, as many as 42,000 women filed complaint across the UK last year about being abused by a man.

This is while that the number of men complaining of being a victim of domestic abuse by a woman had increased from 7,361 to 7,938 during the same period.

Campaigners have been voicing concern that the government’s austerity measures, mainly cuts to local authority budgets, may result in more deaths from domestic violence as already poorly funded specialist services face the axe.

Currently one in three local authorities provides no refuge or specialist support to victims.

Earlier this month, domestic violence charity Refuge delivered a petition to the Downing Street urging the government to protect specialist domestic violence services.

“Reducing specialist domestic violence services would have serious consequences, leaving women with fewer options and forcing them to stay with or return to their perpetrator, thereby increasing the risk of death,” a spokeswoman said

US preparing for 'new Pakistan raids'


 

JNN 21 Dec 2010 : A new report discloses that US commanders in Afghanistan are preparing to go ahead with a plan to expand ground operations into tribal areas of Pakistan.

Citing unnamed Washington officials, The New York Times said that the proposal would escalate special operations in Pakistan, opening a new front in the Afghan war.

The proposal “would escalate military activities inside Pakistan, where the movement of American forces has been largely prohibited because of fears of provoking a backlash,” it said.

The report comes only days after Washington employed a new strategy for the Afghan war.

The paper added that the new proposal is waiting for approval from US President Barack Obama.

“The decision to expand American military activity in Pakistan … would amount to the opening of a new front in the nine-year-old war,” said the report.

The United States has expanded its drone strike zones in Pakistan over the past week.

The US has almost doubled CIA-operated attacks, with over 100 non-UN-sanctioned strikes reported in 2010. The escalation comes despite protests by Pakistani officials that the drone attacks mainly lead to civilian casualties.

“It would run the risk of angering a Pakistani government that has been an uneasy ally in the war in Afghanistan, particularly if it leads to civilian casualties or highly public confrontations,” The newspaper added.

On Sunday, US Vice President Joe Biden suggested that the US is seeking to increase its presence in Pakistan because militants are trying to “bring down” the Islamabad government.

“Our overarching goal and our rationale for being there is to dismantle, ultimately defeat al-Qaeda… to make sure that terrorists do not, in fact, bring down the Pakistani government, which is a nuclear power,” Biden said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.

The remarks come days after Obama blamed Pakistan for not doing enough to fight terrorism in its troubled northwestern tribal belt along the Afghan border.

More than 250 people have been killed in a total of 49 drone attacks the US has launched since September 3. The victims of the attacks have been mostly civilians.

Pakistani officials maintain that the missile strikes have proven “counterproductive” as large numbers of outraged residents of the border areas are beginning to support the militants.

“We believe that they are counter-productive and also a violation of our sovereignty,” Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit said in early October.

In late November, Islamabad rejected a request from Washington to expand its drone missile campaign outside the lawless tribal belt along the Afghan border.

Basit said Pakistan would not allow the United States to carry out drone strikes in new areas.

 

US preparing for ‘new Pakistan raids’


 

JNN 21 Dec 2010 : A new report discloses that US commanders in Afghanistan are preparing to go ahead with a plan to expand ground operations into tribal areas of Pakistan.

Citing unnamed Washington officials, The New York Times said that the proposal would escalate special operations in Pakistan, opening a new front in the Afghan war.

The proposal “would escalate military activities inside Pakistan, where the movement of American forces has been largely prohibited because of fears of provoking a backlash,” it said.

The report comes only days after Washington employed a new strategy for the Afghan war.

The paper added that the new proposal is waiting for approval from US President Barack Obama.

“The decision to expand American military activity in Pakistan … would amount to the opening of a new front in the nine-year-old war,” said the report.

The United States has expanded its drone strike zones in Pakistan over the past week.

The US has almost doubled CIA-operated attacks, with over 100 non-UN-sanctioned strikes reported in 2010. The escalation comes despite protests by Pakistani officials that the drone attacks mainly lead to civilian casualties.

“It would run the risk of angering a Pakistani government that has been an uneasy ally in the war in Afghanistan, particularly if it leads to civilian casualties or highly public confrontations,” The newspaper added.

On Sunday, US Vice President Joe Biden suggested that the US is seeking to increase its presence in Pakistan because militants are trying to “bring down” the Islamabad government.

“Our overarching goal and our rationale for being there is to dismantle, ultimately defeat al-Qaeda… to make sure that terrorists do not, in fact, bring down the Pakistani government, which is a nuclear power,” Biden said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.

The remarks come days after Obama blamed Pakistan for not doing enough to fight terrorism in its troubled northwestern tribal belt along the Afghan border.

More than 250 people have been killed in a total of 49 drone attacks the US has launched since September 3. The victims of the attacks have been mostly civilians.

Pakistani officials maintain that the missile strikes have proven “counterproductive” as large numbers of outraged residents of the border areas are beginning to support the militants.

“We believe that they are counter-productive and also a violation of our sovereignty,” Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit said in early October.

In late November, Islamabad rejected a request from Washington to expand its drone missile campaign outside the lawless tribal belt along the Afghan border.

Basit said Pakistan would not allow the United States to carry out drone strikes in new areas.

 

More than 100 Canadians named on Al Qaeda-affiliated website


JNN 21 Dec 2010 : More than 100 Canadian-Arab Christians are listed on an Al Qaeda-affiliated website, apparently targeted because of their alleged role in attempting to convert Wahhabi Muslims. Some of those named say concerned Canadian intelligence officials have contacted them.

The Shumukh-al-Islam website, often considered to be Al Qaeda’s mouth piece, listed pictures, addresses and cellphone numbers of Coptic Christians, predominantly Egyptian-Canadians, who have been vocal about their opposition to Wahhabi Islam.

In a forum on the website, one member named Son of a Sharp Sword, says “We are going to Wahhabi Islam and all of the Mujahedeen (holy warriors) will cut off their heads.”

Three pages of the fundamentalist, Arabic-language website titled “Complete information on Coptics” sets to “identify and name all of the Coptics throughout the world who hope to defame Wahhabi Islam,” The website calls the Coptic Christians living abroad “dogs in diaspora,” a derogatory reference in Arabic.

Among those named on the Shumukh-al-Islam website is Samuel Tawadrus, a Coptic Egyptian living in Quebec.

“This is a direct threat against our lives,” Tawadrus said in an interview.

 

More than 100 Canadians named on Al Qaeda-affiliated website


JNN 21 Dec 2010 : More than 100 Canadian-Arab Christians are listed on an Al Qaeda-affiliated website, apparently targeted because of their alleged role in attempting to convert Wahhabi Muslims. Some of those named say concerned Canadian intelligence officials have contacted them.

The Shumukh-al-Islam website, often considered to be Al Qaeda’s mouth piece, listed pictures, addresses and cellphone numbers of Coptic Christians, predominantly Egyptian-Canadians, who have been vocal about their opposition to Wahhabi Islam.

In a forum on the website, one member named Son of a Sharp Sword, says “We are going to Wahhabi Islam and all of the Mujahedeen (holy warriors) will cut off their heads.”

Three pages of the fundamentalist, Arabic-language website titled “Complete information on Coptics” sets to “identify and name all of the Coptics throughout the world who hope to defame Wahhabi Islam,” The website calls the Coptic Christians living abroad “dogs in diaspora,” a derogatory reference in Arabic.

Among those named on the Shumukh-al-Islam website is Samuel Tawadrus, a Coptic Egyptian living in Quebec.

“This is a direct threat against our lives,” Tawadrus said in an interview.