The Wrong Planet

Ever feel like you were dropped onto the wrong planet? Perhaps this is why.....

Top: No fangs: A lion rides a horse in a display at a zoo in South East China. Bottom:On display: The animals paraded in Xiamen [Pictures:Barcroft Media]         Another Chinese animal freak show

THE huge male lion clings on to the terrified horse - but this big cat is not about to devour his prey. Keepers in China are training lions and tigers to ride on horseback for tourists. In one the nation's most notorious zoos' spectators are treated to a bizarre display as the lion leaps on to the horse's back. Then it rides around the ring while a trainer with a whip keeps it moving. A tiger then jumps up on to the same horse. The pictures are from a zoo in xiamen in Fujian, South-East China. They come after bears were shown riding bikes during an 'Animal Games' in another zoo. At the Xiogsen Bear and Tiger Mountain Village in Guilin, live animals are fed to tigers as a show for tourists. Bears have also been made to pull cars in races against humans in Jinan.

Feb7,2008

How can animal cruelty be entertainment?

  • Once again, I fail to be shocked by the antics of a Chinese zoo (Metro, Thu). As distressing as the picture and the story were, we do need to be made aware of these vile practices so we can try to bring about the end of this sideshow, which, sadly, is one of many in China. I wonder how many horses were maimed and whether the lions' claws and teeth have been removed? Imagine the cruelty that's inflicted to make these animals act against their natural instincts. The mind boggles at who would want to pay to see this, but what do we expect from a country that flouts human and animal rights and is a world leader in pollution?
    D Carter Binningham
  • I was disgusted and appalled by the picture that showed a lion clinging to the back of a horse. It is beyond belief that anyone could find such a sight entertaining. I can't even begin to imagine the torture and cruelty these animals have been subjected to in order to force them to perform such an unnatural act. Surely there is some way of protesting against this?
    L Williams, Birmingham

Feb11,2008

Speak up for animals Controversial subject:The fur trade

  • Samantha Cooper says we have no right to tell others how to live regarding recent shocking pictures of Chinese zoo animals (Metro, Wed). I can only assume she saw no wrong in creatures being tortured for 'entertainment'. The issue here is about more than just eating meat or wearing fur. She is saying that people should he allowed to do what they want, but obviously has no compassion or regard for animal welfare. She has no problem with fur, despite the fact the animals have been killed just so some posh tart can wear it. It might interest readers that yesterday was an annual day of action against the Chinese fur trade. I don't suppose Samantha was protesting.
    Wendy Keelan, London SW1

  • Can Samantha Cooper please explain why we have 'every right to eat meat and wear fur'? We have the power to do this, but there is appalling cruelty in factory farming and in the fur trade. What right do we have to inflict this suffering on animals? As the dominant species, surely we have responsibilities.
    Juliet Chaplin, Surrey
  • Samantha Cooper states that 'although the pictures of the Chinese zoo where shocking, we - shouldn't start judging'. Am I to take this to mean that we shouldn't determine right from wrong, or what is cruel from what is not cruel? If that's the case, no wonder the world's such a mess.
    V Sheppard, Leicester

Feb14,2008

Ban: A minke whale and calf are hauled aboard a ship THIS grisly image of a lifeless mother minke whale and her calf being dragged on to a Japanese whaler sparked outrage yesterday. The picture was one of a sequence showing the marnmals being chased and slaughtered in the Antarctic Ocean. Anti-whaling groups said the pictures proved that Japan was 'indiscriminately' killing the animals. They were taken by Australian customs officials who have tracked a Japanese fleet of whalers for a month. Australian environment minister Peter Garrett said the 'distressing' pictures would help the fight against whaling. He added: 'When I saw the photos, I just felt a bit of a sick feeling as well as a sense of sadness. 'It is explicitly clear from these images that this is the indiscriminate killing of whales, where you have a whale and its calf killed in this way. But Japanese officials denied a calf had been harpooned and said the 'propaganda' pictures could cause 'serious damage' between the two countries. The country's Fishing Agency said: 'The fleet is taking both large and small whales. This is definitely not a parent and calf.' Whaling was banned in 1986, but Japan is allowed to kill 1,000 whales a year for 'scientific purposes'.

Feb8,2008

Japanese 'cross whales with cows'

THE Japanese have carried out 'bizarre' tests to cross whales with cows, it was claimed yesterday. A catalogue of 'very strange' tests - including attempts to produce test- tube calves - were conducted in a bid to justify Japan's slaughter of hundreds of whales each year 'for research', campaigners said. They also accused the government scientists of injecting minke whale sperm into cow eggs and implanting minke cells into cow and pigcells. Australian environment minister Peter Garrett said: 'I challenge anyone to look at this research and say it's necessary.' The claims were made by Australian delegates in London for an International Whaling Commission meeting. They did not present their findings but said they unearthed the tests while reviewing papers by Japan's Institute for Cetacean Research. Mark Simmonds, of Britain's Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, said: 'Many of these papers are downright weird. We all know it is just thin veneer fo ra commercial hunt'. The IWC allows Japan to kill 1,000 whales a year for research but campaigners claim this is a loophole to get around the commercial whaling ban.

Mar13,2008

A hammer blow for at risk sharks

BY ANNE CAMPBELL

A scalloped hammerhead shark shows how it got its name. The picture was taken in the Pacific Ocean. [Picture AP]

ONE of the world's most recognisable sharks is to be added to the official list of endangered species amid fears that it could soon become extinct. The scalloped hammerhead, so-called because of its unusual snout, has been put at risk through industrial-scale fishing and the value of its fin, a delicacy in China. The World Conservation Union is to put it on its list of 'globally endangered' species - one step below the top ratintg of 'critically endangered'. Scientists have seen numbers of the shark, which grows up to 4m long, fall alarmingly. Numbers are 98 per cent down off parts of America's east coast. The species swims in schools which tend to gather in specific places like the Galapagos Islands. The fear is that a fishing vessel stumbling across a gathering could wipe out the entire school. Sharks are often caught by accident by long fishing lines laid out for tuna, swept up by bottom trawlers or deliberately caught for shark fin soup in China. US marine ecologist Dr Julia Baum said: 'The oceans are being emptied of sharks. If we carry on the way we are we will be looking at a very high risk of extinction in the next few decades.' Dr Baum added: 'Between 26 and 73 million sharks go through the Hong Kong food market each year. That's three to four titnes the number reported to the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation, which collects fishing statistics.'

Mar13,2008

Extinction threat to Mediterranean tuna

TUNA are being driven to extinction in the Mediterranean because too many boats are pursuing the dwindling stocks, a report claimed yesterday. The 'unsustainable' situation was made worse by a rise in tuna farming, whereby caught fish are fattened up before being sold at high prices in Japan, conservation group WWF said. It is calling for a swift reduction in the 600 - strong Mediterranean bluefin tuna fishing fleet, which has an annual catch potential of just under 55,000 tonnes.
That is almost twice the 28,500tonne quota set this year for the endangered species. The WWF said that Algeria, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Libya, Malta, Morocco, Spain and Turkey would have to cut the Mediterreanean fleet by 229 vessels for tuna fishing levels to be sustainable. The worst offender, Turkey, would have to cut its fleet by about 95 per cent to make its contribution sustainable, it warned.

Mar13,2008

El Inglés to pick up his cape again

Prize fighter:English matador Frank Evans is making a comeback [Pictures:Solarpix]

BY MICHAEL CONNELLAN

MOST men of retirement age play golf or take gentle country walks but Frank 'El Inglés' Evans prefers fighting bulls. A legendary bullfighter in Spain before his forced retirement three years ago, Mr Evans is now coming back, aged 65. The English matador was forced to hang up his boots and cape on doctors' orders after undergoing a quadruple heart bypass and knee replacement surgery. But the pensioner, who lives in Marbella, has now declared himself fit for the bullring again. 'I'm back in training and it's going well,' he said. 'I'll be fighting bulls again by August.' Pain clearly holds no fear for Mr Evans - he survived being gored in the bottom in 1984 and suffered internal bleeding and Steady: Evans in the ring [Metro Jul 8,2008]a damaged prostate. He said: 'People always bang on about the anus injury but I've been gored all over the place.' Mr Evans from Salford, Manchester, became fascinated by the deadly sport in his youth after reading about British bullfighter Vincent Charles Hitchcock, who fought in the 1950s. In 1966, a naive 18-year-old, he travelled to Spain and blagged his way into the bullring. As a foreigner, he had to work hard to overcome the sceptical Spanish fans but his combination of English gentlemanly reserve and sheer courage eventually made him a legend. 'It's high pressure,' he said. 'You do have to be brave. I don't do it to represent my country. I just do it to represent Frank Evans. But if people from England take pride in what I do then that's great.'

Dear Ed,

Your article on Frank Evans (Tue) says that he doesn't bullfight "for his country but for Frank Evans" and that "if people take pride in what he does - that is great". Salford is the home of the RSPCA centre which has helped me out on several occasions with distressed animals.There is no pride in what Frank Evans does,he is a slur on where he comes from. In this country ostensibly we have a better attitude toward creatures than does Spain.As far as I am concerned,Frank Evans can stay there,he is unwelcome in any country which I call my home. If he has been gored several times,then perhaps that shows how skilled he is at this "sport". Frank is talking a load of bull - as are all bullfighters - they are cowards.

Metro 7/10/08

Havoc:A wild deer causes chaos in a city centre as it flees storms. The 153kg [24st] animal hurt two people as it leapt over chairs and tables at cafes in Holzano, northern Italy.It was cornered by police and hunters and shot.[Picture:CEN] Metro Jul23,2008

Beast meets a sorry end after getting head stuck in jar

Bear with a sore head: The wild animal is in a tight spot on top of some bins in Minnesota [Picture:AP]

A grisly bear trap

BY JO STEELE

JUST like Winnie-the-Pooh, this bear got his head stuck in a jar because he just could not resist a treat. But unfortunately there was no happy story- book ending for this particular black bear. Wildlife officials were forced to shoot the animal when he ambled into town and became a threat to the public. They had been trying to capture the animal alive for more than a week after he was spotted with his head trapped inside the container. However, six attempts to try to relieve the discomfort of the bear - which could breathe but could not eat or drink - failed. Eventually, wardens were forced to take drastic action when he wandered into the Minnesota town of Frazee during a festival. 'When it got into town, our main concern was public safety,' said Rob Naplin, a wildlife supervisor. 'There was a lot of frustration with its predicament. It is a sad story.' He said the bear presumably got his head stuck in the plastic jar, which contained either sweets or popcorn, while foraging for food.

Nanotech helps blind hamsters see

Nerve growth (shown in green) occurred after the injections

Nanotechnology has restored the sight of blind rodents, a new study shows. Scientists mimicked the effect of a traumatic brain injury by severing the optical nerve tract in hamsters, causing the animals to lose vision. After injecting the hamsters with a solution containing nanoparticles, the nerves re-grew and sight returned. Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team hopes this technique could be used in future reconstructive brain surgery.

Ultimate challenge
Repairing nerve damage in the central nervous system after injury is seen as the ultimate challenge for neuroscientists, but so far success in this field has been limited. Nerve regeneration is set back by a number of factors, including scar tissue and gaps in brain tissue caused by the damage. And this can make treatment by medical and surgical methods very difficult. We found that we had got functional return of vision and orientating behaviour

Dr Rutledge Ellis-Behnke
To find a novel way around these problems, the team based at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), US, and Hong Kong University looked towards nanotechnology - a branch of science involving the manipulation of atoms and molecules. The researchers injected the blind hamsters at the site of their injury with a solution containing synthetically made peptides - miniscule molecules measuring just five nanometres long. Once inside the hamster's brain, the peptides spontaneously arranged into a scaffold-like criss-cross of nanofibres, which bridged the gap between the severed nerves. The scientists discovered that brain tissue in the hamsters knitted together across the molecular scaffold, while also preventing scar tissue from forming. Importantly, the newly formed brain tissue enabled the brain nerves to re-grow, restoring vision in the injured hamsters. "We made a cut, put the material in, and then we looked at the brain over different time points," explained Dr Rutledge Ellis-Behnke, a neuroscientist at MIT and lead author on the paper. "The first thing we saw was that the brain had started to heal itself in the first 24 hours. We had never seen that before - so that was very surprising." Stroke repair The scientists looked at young hamsters with actively growing nerve cells, and also at adults hamsters whose nerves had stopped growing. Dr Ellis-Behnke said the team was surprised to find that the nerves in the adult hamsters had re-grown after the injection. "We found that we had got functional return of vision and orientating behaviour, which was very surprising to us because we thought we would have to promote cell growth, through the growth factors." The researchers found the peptides were later broken down by the body into a harmless substance and excreted in the animals' urine three to four week after first injected. The scientists believe that they have overcome some of the barriers to nerve regeneration, and hope to be able to apply their work to medical applications at a later stage. "We are looking at this as a step process. If this can be used while operating on humans to mitigate damage during neurosurgery, that would be the first step," Dr Ellis-Behnke told the BBC News website. "Eventually what we would look at is trying to reconnect disconnected parts of the brain during stroke and trauma." Dr Ellis-Behnke said that stroke and traumatic brain injury could have a major impact on an individual. "In order to try to restore quality of life to those individuals you can try to reconnect some disconnected parts to try to give some functionality in the brain for communication and other things like that. And that's where we think that this might be very useful," he added.

Metro Circa 6/1/09

Gang laugh as they slash dog's throat

Despicable: Pippa survived but is traumatised by the attack  [Picture. MMP]

A GANG of 'evil' yobs laughed as they cut a dog's throat, while her owner looked on in horror. Eight-year-old cross-breed Pippa, the pride and joy of owner Jenny Wilson, was playing in the garden of the family home when the attack happened. Four knife-wielding thugs, aged between 18 and 20, grabbed the pet after getting in through a hole in the fence. When she heard the dog yelp, Mrs Wilson rushed out and looked on in horror as the youths cut a gash in her dog's throat and laughed. The attack happened last Friday and left Pippa with 56 stitches. Mrs Wilson, who lives in Cambridge, said: 'This has been very difficult. Pippa is my pride and joy. She is a harmless and very lovely dog so there was no reason for what happened. It was evil. They got in through the fence and called the dog over. They had a knife and cut her throat.' She added: 'Pippa is making a good recovery but she's now too scared to go out in the garden on her own.' A police spokesman said: 'This was a despicable crime which caused a family unnecessary distress and upset - it's disgusting.'

  • Dogged by injustice Considering the farce that is the application of law in this country today, no doubt if Mrs Wilson had got hold of one of the evil little thugs who slit her dog's throat (Metro, Wed, pictured), she would have been arrested for assault, locked in a cell, photographed and fingerprinted then hauled before the magistrates court. What's more, the thug would probably sue her for compensation for his hurt feelings, too.
    Bridget Doman, Sheffield
  • If MrsWilson would like someone to dish out a taste of their own medicine to the scumbags who slashed her dog Pippa's throat, I would he glad to stand at the head of the queue.
    D Borrell, Lancashire
  •  Thugs are the animals The report about Pippa, the dog whose throat was cut by a gang of 'evil yobs' in Cambridge (Metro, Wed), is the most upsetting news I have read in a long time - it brought me close to tears on the train this morning. I'm staggered that anyone could he so cruel to a defenceless animal - and then laugh at their actions. As the owner of two small dogs, it has changed my mind about putting a dog door in for them to go outside while I'm at work. Horrific stories such as this, which are alarmingly common these days, really do diminish my faith in the world. I hope the police catch the sick yobs responsible and punish them accordingly before they are able to do anything so evil again.
    C Weller, London SE10
  • I was enraged when I read about Pippa's attack. When are we going to introduce punishments that are tough enough to break the back of the out-of-control 'yob culture' our nation is in the grip of? There is something seriously wrong when, in a supposedly civilised country, we can't even let our pets play in our own gardens without fearing for their safety. If we start treating the yobs with the same contempt they have for others, perhaps we might have a chance at reclaiming a safe, respectful society.
    Name and address supplied
  • My heart goes out to Pippa and her owner and I hope she makes a full recovery. Let's hope they jail the thugs responsible and throw away the key.
    Sue Mason, Leicester

The law has lost control

• In response to Jeremy Moorhead, who is astonished at readers' calls for death penalties, compulsory sterilisation etc (Metro, Thu), I wonder which rock he is living under if he cannot understand the rationale behind these calls. Although I may not agree with all that the sentiments, I at least can understand why people have them. What deterrents do we. currently have that would stop a young girl being stamped to death just because she looked different?

What deterrents do we have that would stop youths slicing a harmless dog's throat? Or stop perverts taking advantage of harmless children? Jeremy, your 'brave new world' will begin when our leaders combat the injustices that occur in this country on a like-for-like basis. How safe do you feel on the street?

We should have the right to live in a country where you don't fear going out, where your children and/or pets can play safely. To achieve this, we need our leaders to listen and to take action.
Peter Massey, Leeds

•Jeremy Moorhead asks: 'What has happened in this country has made people clamour for draconian rule?' Has he not heard about the rising tide of brutal murders carried out by feral thugs, who, if caught, are subsequently given pathetic sentences by a pathetic judicial system? What about the tendency of some people to have very large families that they expect to be supported by taxpayers? It must be nice living in your perfect world, Jeremy - the rest of us live in reality.
D Cove, London N1

Bishop: Sharia law is coming

BY AIDAN RADNEDGE

SHARIA law should be partly adopted in Britain and is already looking 'unavoidable', the Archbishop of Canterbury said yesterday. The Islamic legal code could have benefits, such as allowing Muslim women to avoid Western divorce proceedings, claimed Dr Rowan Williams, who is the leader of the Church of England. He suggested finding a 'constructive accommodation' for the system, even though it has been widely condemned for its harsh punishments of women and adulterers. Critics accused Dr Williams of encouraging segregation and trying to sweep aside British laws and values. Muslim Labour MP Khalid Mahmood warned: 'This will alienate people ftom other communities because they will think this is what Muslims want, and it is not.' The Archbishop warned against extreme interpretations of sharia law in his remarks on BBC Radio 4, ahead of a speech at the Royal Courts of Justice. But he added: 'It seems unavoidable, and certain conditions of sharia are already recognised in our society and under our law, so it is not as if we are bringing in an alien system. 'There are ways of looking at marital disputes, for example, which provide an alternative to the divorce courts. No.10 insisted British laws would remain dominant but conceded some Muslim-friendly rules had already been introduced, for example to enable sharia-compliant mortgages.

Williams told: 'We must use one law'

Sharia call: Dr Rowan WilliamsTHE  Archbishop of Canterbury was last night warned his calls to partly adopt Sharia law might only inflame tensions in British communities. The Christian leader should have thought more carefully before speaking out, insisted MP Khalid Malmood. 'Dr Williams can't have it both ways. He says he wants Sharia law but not have stoning. But you can't pick and choose,' he said. And there was no reason why Muslims should have to 'choose between cultural loyalty or state loyalty,' he added. Sir Andrew Green, chairrnan of Migrationwatch, said: 'The principle of one law for all citizens is essential to maintaining our social composition.' But the Muslim Council of Britain said day- to-day aspects of the law - which is partly based on teachings from the Koran - could easily be accepted. Islamic charity the Ramadhan Foundation said Muslims would take, 'huge comfort from the Government allowing civil matters to be resolved according to their faith.' Sharia means 'pathway to water'. Its code can influence anything from criminal punishments to who is allowed to marry, how their wealth is shared and how to win consent for divorce. It can also dictate dress and dietary codes for Muslims but interpretation of its rules can differ between hardline and moderate Muslims.

Feb8,2008

Archbishop fights back over Sharia

BY ANTHONY PHILLIPS

'Wrong': Rowan Williams THE Archbishop of Canterbury is preparing to fight back against the farious reaction to his comments on Sharia law. Dr Rowan Williams will confront the row during his address to the General Synod in London today. He has been embroiled in controversy since claiming the adoption of elements of Islamic legal codes in Britain 'seems unavoidable' At least two Synod members have called for Dr Williams to go and he has faced criticism from leading bishops, secular groups and Government figures. The Synod has powers to hold emergency debates over matters of concern, but sources have said these are rare and there was no indication the Archbishop's position would be discussed. Criticism of his comments contmued to mount over the weekend. His predecessor Lord Carey said: 'He has, in my opinion, overstated the case for accommodating Islamic legal codes. His conclusion that Britain will eventually have to concede some place in law for aspects of Sharia is a view I cannot share.' But Lord Carey also defended the Archbishop, saying: 'This is not a matter upon which Dr Williams should resign. He is a great leader in the Anglican tradition and he has an important role in the Church.' Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, the leader of Catholics in England and Wales, joined the criticism. He said: 'There are aspects of Sharia that are practised that we certainly wouldn't want in this country.'

Feb11,2008

Sharia Storm: Should the Archbishop step down? Vote at www.metro.co.uk/polls

'Trouble with the law'

  • Can of worms': Dr Rowan Williams Mr Khalid Mahmood MP is not right to say the Archbishop of Canterbury cannot have it both ways. Society can have it any way it wants, as ultimately determined by those who vote. We live in a state that has Christianity as its official religion but our laws are not a carbon copy of the Christian Bible - that would be a fundamentalist position, as would accepting Sharia law word for word. I welcome a reasoned debate on what our laws should reflect. How can a modern society not look to the diverse faiths within its population to be reflected in its laws? Is it really beyond our capabilities?
    P Walton, Newcastle

  • I don't think the Archbishop of Canterbury realises how big a can of worms he is opening with his counnents suggesting that Sharia law is unavoidable. If Britain allows Sharia law then it must also allow laws from other religions, such as Scientology, Jedi and The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
    Richard Sweeney, London E14

  • Dr Rowan Williams is asking for things that the Muslim community has not asked for. This conversation is less about dealing with people's religious issues than continuing the malignant treatment of Muslims in this country. While Muslims are clearly happy to discuss the merits of Sharia, they haven't asked for it in Britain and have no mind to take part in contrived discussions.
    Ansaar Ashraf Berkshire

Feb11,2008

MPs warn on inbreeding

A CABINET minister has backed calls for a review of the high numbers of birth defects among children from marriages between cousins in Britain's Asian communities. Chief whip Geoff Hoon said there was a 'particular problem' that needed expert analysis after a fellow minister warned the issue was not being addressed. Phil Woolas, the MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, said cultural sensitivities made the issue difficult to raise. 'Part of the risk, I am told, is first-cousin marriages,' he said. Research for BBC2's Newsnight in 2005 showed Pakistanis accounted for 30 per cent of British children with recessive disorders.

Feb11,2008

** FEATURE

When Incest Is Best: Kissing Cousins Have More Kin

Study analyzing more than 200 years of data finds that couples consisting of third cousins have the highest reproductive success

Eating a sandwich? 4yrs jail...

BY JOHN HEGGINSON

Dubal's Buij-al-Amb Hotel

POSSESSION of poppy seeds; over- the-counter cold remedies or common painkillers could be enough to earn a four-year prison term in Dubai, tourists are being warned. Simply carrying the 'controlled substances' or bringing them into the popular holiday destination may lead to arrest - even if passengers are only passing through the airport. Earlier this week, a British man was jailed after he was found to have cannabis weighing less than a grain of sugar on his shoe. Visitors are now being advised to 'take extreme caution' and ensure they are completely free of any banned substances before they travel. The warning follows a steep increase in the number of foreigners arrested in the United Arab Emirates - which include Dubai - because they are carrying what are readily available medicines at home. Briton Tracy Wilkinson was held for eight weeks before she was able to prove the codeine-based painkillers she was carrying had been prescribed by her doctor for back pain. And last month, a German citizen was held for possessing jet lag pills. A Swiss man was reportedly detained when airport. officials found poppy seeds on his clothing from a sandwich he had bought at Heathrow. In the latest case, 43- year-old Keith Brown was jailed for four years after police found 0.003g of cannabis on his shoe - despite being stopped while in tran- sit to Ethiopia. The warning was made by charity Fair Trials Abroad. Chief executive Catherine Wolthuizen said: 'If authorities find any amount - no matter how minute - it will be enough to attract a mandatory four-year prison sentence.'

Feb8,2008

'Thought crime' Muslims freed after appeal win

BY JOEL TAYLOR

CARTOON IS BACK AGAIN
THE cartoon that sparked violence across the Islamic world has been reprinted in papers in Denmark after three men were arrested for plotting to murder the man who drew it. The papers said they wanted to show their firm commitment to freedom of speech. The cartoon, by Kurt Westergaard, depicts the prophet Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban. It first appeared in the Jyllands-Posten newspaper in September 2005. 'Two Tunisians and a Moroccan were arrested in Aarhus on Tuesday over the alleged murder plot.

A GROUP of young Muslim men jailed for downloading extremist material had their Convictions quashed by the Court of Appeal yesterday. There was no proof the students intended to commit an act of terrorism, Lord Chief Justice Lord Phillips ruled as he ordered their release. He said the prosecution had used Section 57 of the Terrorism Act 2000 'for a purpose for which it was not intended'. One of the students, 22-year-old Usman Malik, said: 'I'm very happy; it's been two long years.' His father, Abdul, added: 'This nightmare is over. It's important to note that this sort of thing could Young: Irfan Rajahappen to anybody - it's like a thought crime.' Schoolboy Irfan Raja, 20, from Ilford, East London, and Bradford University students 20-year-old Awaab Iqbal, Aitzaz Zafar, Akbar Butt, both 21, and Mr Malik were jailed for between two and three years in 2007. They had all downloaded extremist material from popular jihadi websites and the prosecution argued the five were planning to go to Pakistan for terrorist training. The literature was widely available online. Saghir Hussein, Usman Malik's lawyer, said it was a landmark judgment. He added: 'It was very difficult in the current climate for any jury to decide on anything apart from conviction. 'However, a more detached and informed court has recognised the draconian nature of Sections 57/58. This will have implications for other cases. Last night, the Home Office said it would study the ruling very carefully, adding the CPS was considering appealing.


Feb14,2008

We have taught thugs to manipulate the law

In response to the story about the crime Committed by sadistic young thugs (Garry Newlove murder Metro, Tue) - in a way these boys are victims themselves. Despite their impressionable age, we have failed to protect them from a diet of nauseating violence in the cinema and on television, and they have been encouraged to think they can get away with anything. We have taught them to be proud of their youth and their strength and their numbers, and to know how to manipulate the law. I would like to see a media campaign warning them that if they spend their youth behind bars there'll be no more mates, no more dating, no more clubbing etc. They would get the message and violence would soon lose its appeal.
Peter Martens, London WCI

l totally agree with Gary Portugal (Metro, Wed), life should mean life for killers. Why do judges behave so leniently? Do they have as much contempt for human life as the feral murderers they sentence? People are sick and tired of hearing about killers being released. Will Garry Newlove's family ever be eligible for parole from their life sentence? Perhaps their lordships on the bench could answer that.
Dennis Cove, London NJ


Jailed cleric Hamza to face charges in the US

BY ANNE CAMPBELL

BOMB CLERIC TURNED AWAY
A MUSLIM cleric who publicly condoned suicide attacks has been refussed entry to Britain after pressure from the Conservatives. Egyptian Yusuf al-Qaradawi, regarded by Jewish and gay people as anti- Semitic and homophobic, wanted to come to Britain for medical treatmeat. Last week, Tory leader David Cameron called on the Government to refuse him a visa, branding him 'dangerous and divisive'. He had said in a BBC interview in 2004 that bombing Israeli civilians was 'martyrdom in the name of God'.

Extradited: HamzaMUSLIM fanatic Abu Hamza is to he extradited to the US to face terrorism charges, the Home Office said last night. The hook-handed preacher, who is serving a seven-year term in Britain for soliciting murder and inciting racial hatred, will have 14 days to appeal the decision. If he does not appeal, he will he handed over to US officials to face 11 charges including allegations that he 'organised a terrorist training camp' in Oregon and conspired to take 12 Westerners hostage in Yemen in 1998. The US charges carry a potential jail term of 100 years. Hamza's lawyers claim evidence has heen gained through torture. The firebrand preacher, 46, gained notoriety in Britain as imam of Finsbury Park Mosque in North London. In 2003, he was dismissed from his position after making speeches supporting al- Qaeda and speaking out against the invasion of Iraq.
Birmingham Perry Bar MP Khalid Mahmood welcomed the Home Office decision, calling it 'a victory for British Muslims'. 'This sends out a clear message to preachers of hate - you are not welcome,' he said, adding: 'Those who propagate evil, hate and division cannot he a part of British society.' But Anjem Choudary, once a leading figure in the banned radical group Muhajiroun, described the move as outrageous. 'We are living in an apartheid Britain when there is one law for Muslims and another law for non-Muslims,' he said.

Feb8,2008

Harmful? Abu Qatada

BY JOHN HIGGINSON

Chief Political Correspondent

The cleric once described as Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe was freed on bail yesterday - hours afier Gordon Brown vowed to protect citizens' security and liberty against terror. Abu Qatada (pictured), whose fanatical sermons are believed to have influenced the Septemer 11 attackers and shoe bomber Richard Reid,was released from prison last night after winning his fight against deportation from Britain. However, he must wear an electronic tag, remain in his home for 22 hours a day and cannot use a mobile phone. Also, he must not attend a mosque and is specifically barred from associating with bin Laden and fellow Muslim cleric Abu Hamza. The 47-year-old's curfew is expected to cost about £500,000 a year to enforce. His release came as the prime minister said 21st century solutions were needed to deal with global terror threats and organised crime. In April the Court of Appeal blocked Qatada's deportation to Jordan, saying he would not receive a fair trial there. The Special Immigration Appeals Comumission, which released him yesterday, previously labelled him a 'truly dangerous individual'. Home secretary Jacqui Smith said: I am extremely disappointed. I am appealing to the House of Lords to reverse the decision that it is not safe to deport Qatada.' Anjem Choudary, a former member of the now banned Muslim group Al-Muhajiroun, said 'There are so many curtails on his liberty it is not freedom at all.'

Jun18,2008

A far greater threat

• The harm that can be done to our values and way of life by Abu Qatada (Metro, Wed) is minuscule compared with the harm done to our values and way of life if our criminal justice system allows irnprisonment without trial and co-operates with regimes that use torture. Torture goes in and out of fashion over the centuries depending on whether the authorities want confessions or the truth. If there is a genuine terror threat, the truth is infinitely more valuable for protecting us, so Abu Qatada's successful appeal is a step towards improving our safety by rejecting all use of torture and insisting on proper evidence.
Michael Coulston, London SE8

• I think it's disgusting that British citizens are paying £500,000 per year to enforce severe personal restrictions upon a man like Abu Qatada who has heen classed as 'truly dangerous' - something apparently confirmed by the restrictions imposed on his release. If the man doesn't want to be tried in his dangerous home nation, he should have thought about that before preaching hate here. It's one thing to have the right to speak freely about issues and express your opinion but that doesn't give anyone the right to speak the sort of hatred that sparked the events of 9/11.
Name and address supplied
Jun19,2008

Back to full strength?:In West London yesterday [Daily Mail Sep 6,2008]

So,Mr Qatada,what happened to your bad back?

By Christian Gysin

HE claims almost £8,000 a year in benefits because a serious back problem means he is supposedly unable to work. But as these pictures show that doesn't stop Abu Qatada hoisting a backpack on to his shoulders - leading to calls for his disability to be investigated. on three occasions. In the past week he was pictured near his West London home with a bulging rucksack strapped to his shoulders. Last night one benefits investigator claimed the convicted terrorist and firebrand cleric - said to be Osama Bin Laden's 'ambassador In Europe' - now risks further assessment by the authorities. 'I would not be surprised if the powers that be ask him a few pertinent questions about his bad back,' he said. 'At the very least they should be asking him if he has enjoyed a miraculous recovery from his stated condition. 'He's currently in receipt of £150 a week because of his back problems. But they might say to him if he can carry that rucksack maybe he should get a job. Perhaps he could be a postman?' Last night Steve Pound, Labour MP for Ealing North, in West London, added: 'Everybody who fiddles the benefits system is taking the money from genuine people in need of help.' Qatada, 41, was convicted in his absence in Jordan of involvement In terror attacks in 1998 and plotting to plant bombs during the Millennium celebrations.

Stroll: With convicted terrorist Yasser al-Sirri

£600,000 This lawyer was suspended after joking she was Bin Laden's friend.
Now she's won a race claim fortune

AN ASIAN lawyer who was suspended after telling a court security guard she was a 'friend of Bin Laden' has won a £600,000 record payout for race discriinination. Halima Aziz, 47, made the off-the-cuff remark as she arrived at Bradford magistrates' court only a fortnight after the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington in 200. The Crown Prosecution Service lawyer was immediately suspended after it was claimed, wrongly, that her remark had incited a riot between white and Asian youths at the court. She was cleared of the allegations in 2002 but she never received an apology from her employers for her suspension. Now an employment tribunal has awarded her £600,000 compensation after concluding there was no evidence to support her treatment by the CPS. In comparison, the average payout to victims of the July 7 2005 London terror attacks is around £7,500, with bereaved relatives receiving £5,500. In addition to the compensation award, the case has cost the CPS £500,000 in legal fees, landing the taxpayers with a bill of more than £l million. Speaking to Channel 4 News last night, Miss Aziz, from Halifax, West Yorkshire, said the CPS 'still haven't given me an apology for what they have done. 'If they had apologised to me right at the beginning words would have been enough'. She added: 'I am 100 per cent certain this would not have happened unless I had been a Muslim and Asian'. The triibunal found that senior CPS officials were guilty of racial discrimination for the way they handled her case and had lied at her tribunal. 'The chief executive of the CPS, Peter Lewis, who led an inquiry into the case, also came in for harsh criticism when the tribunal concluded that his investigations had been 'deeply flawed' and a 'whitewash'. It added he 'structured his report to exonerate the discriminators then seems to close the book'. The judgment said the CPS was 'in a state of denial' that the discrimination ever took place. It has now been ordered to issue a full and unequivocal apology and to reinstate Miss Aziz following her seven-year legal battle. Commenting on the CPS's reaction to Miss Azis's comments, the judgment states: 'This would be completely unacceptable response on the part of any employer but for a pubilc body like the Crown Prosecution Service it can only be regarded as astonishing.' Miss Aziz's lawyer, Mark Emery of Bindmans solicitors, last night called for an independent inquiry saying the CPS's ability to prosecute race cases is now under doubt He said: 'According to this judgment serious questions have got to be asked at chief executive level and it is possible that questions have got to be asked higher up the chain. We don't know.We need to find out 'It does ask questions about public confidence in the CPS's ability to handle very sensitive race-related prosecutions if at the heart of the CPS, at the senior echelons of the CPS, there is such wilful failure to comply with race relations legislation.' In response to the findings, the CPS said its chief executive denied any allegations that his reports were a sham and said he would not be stepping down from his post. A spokesman said: 'The CPS accepts the recommendations, and will be implementing them as a matter of priority. 'We offer a full apology to Halima Aziz. The judgment relates solely to the very particular circumstances of this one case. It does not question the overall approach and policies the CPS has pursued.' Miss Aziz, of Pakistani origin, said - the action was never about the money but 'about getting my job back and saying what (they did) was wrong. She plans to use her compensation to build ann orphanage in Pakistan. By Nick McDermott

Hallma Aziz:This only happened because I'm a Muslim,she said [Daily Mail 6Sep,2008]

Dear Mr McDermott,

With respect to your report in the Daily Mail [6Sep,2008]. I would like to thank you for reporting on this,as it only highlights yet another way in which this country is being held to ransom by foreigners. I am not sure if it was the intention of the report to show this,or to highlight what was happening in the CPS or just to report in an unbiased way. However,the fact that Ms Aziz chooses to take her "winnings" outside the country,shows where her allegiances lie. I do not believe the CPS is guilty of racial discrimination,they are feeling what a lot of Britons are feeling that Britain is too soft and is being taken for a ride by foreigners using our own PC legislation against us. The fact is - no one in their right mind should be saying "I am a friend of Bin Laden's" at such a sensitive time. Whatever the colour of someone's skin,this is an offensive remark to all those who lost their lives in 9/11,and given that friends of Bin Laden's may have been given to taking more lives it is unsuprising if Ms Aziz was suspended. No one working in law,should be articulating such remarks without arousing suspicion. Muslim's are using our race discrimination laws against us and foolishly we are letting them.

Page 14 of your own paper asks "Who killed Britain?" - it is those that give time of day to foolish complaints like those of Ms Aziz and award her £600,000 whilst those who suffered loss in 9/11 do not get anywhere near the same compensation. This country is doomed - The CPS were doing what anyone in Britain would do angered by someone abusing their position. I feel sorry that they were brought to book for what most of think should be done - oust anyone from this country who mouths allegiance to murderers and suggests any criticism is because they are Muslim. Abu Quatada in the same paper is doing the same thing - making a mockery of our justice system.At least some people in the CPS are not PC idiots. I would suggest that Mark Emery is one of those helping to kill Britain.

DL Borrell
Ashton-U-Lyne

What's in a name.......?

Metro 29/9/08

Metro 13/10/08

Is it just me? Should this happen? How can anyone claim God is in control? This is just out and out unfair by anyone's standards?

Hamas TV's 'Jew-eating' cuddly bunny

Homeland: The character makes a vow to take up arms on the programme

BY JOHN HIGGINSON

A TOY rabbit is being used on TV by Hamas to encourage Palestinian children to take up arms against Israelis. The Islamist movement has broadcast a show with a character called Assud The Bunny who vows to 'eat Jews' for 'the sake of our homeland.' A child presenter also features on the prograrnme, shown on Palestinian TV station al-Aqsa, who tells the rabbit that soldiers are ready to liberate the network 'from the filth of those Zionists'. The show has been condemned by the Israeli embassy and by the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre. Ron Prosor, Israel's ambassador to Britain, said, 'It is tragic to see Palestinian children brainwashed into a pointless, destructive mindset.' He accused Hamas of 'starving its children of hope' and 'force feeding them a diet of hatred'. Loma Fitzsimons, head of the BICRC, added: 'I am sickened by this blatant glorification of violence and ultimately the brutalisation of Palestinian children. 'This reveals Hamas' truest colours - a terrorist organisation that is unwilling to negotiate and committed to the destruction of Israel.' Hamas took control of Gaza last summer and is the biggest party in Palestine's unity government. The Palestinian embassy was unavailable for comment.

Feb14,2008

Rights over rules? Sarika displays the kara she can now wear to school

The same rule for all

  • The Ramadhan Foundation welcomes the High Court judgment that allows Sikh schoolgirl Sarika Watkins-Singh to wear the kara - a bangle with religious significance for the Sikh faith - to school (Metro, Wed). In a free society cititens of all faiths should be able to dress according to their religious beliefs without discrimination. However, we must question the consistency of the courts. In the past, courts have rejected the right of Muslim girls to wear Islamic dress to school yet, as is the case with Sarika, they support the right of the individual. These conflicting decisions need to be addressed urgently as they cause resentment and fear between communities.
    Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive Ramadhan Foundation
  • I presume from this ruling the school wiil now have to allow other students to wear 'religious jewellery' such as the cross or pentagram? It just goes to show that rules are only for those who don't want to complain.
    Trevor Sheffield, via website
  • Why must religious people demand special treatment and insist on wearing things to express their religion? Personally, I don't care. Imagine if I turned up for work in a Jedi outfit and got suspended. Could I take it to court because my human rights were abused?
    Bob, Glasgow, via website
  • Sorry, Sarika but 'no jewellery' rules in schools are there to prevent injury and theft. It has nothing to do with discrimination.
    K Clark, Worcestershire

Key Players Metro9/9/08

Silverhill

I have just had the misfortune of witnessing your company on Countryfile. I see that your birds are intensively reared and are supposed to be so due to the possibility of bird infection (which I presume is due to dictates of central government) and yet are supposed to be tasty and with good skin - as tested in a lab.

I put it to you that ducks will fair better out in the open living a natural life -your birds looked ill. Further - the idea that they are used at all - and as a form of manure for plants which is "pet safe" underlines the absurdity of using natural wildife as a resource - the sooner meat processing plants are closed down the better. I would like your comment as to why you do not see any inherent contradictions in your activities.


ICEHOUSE - YOUR GOD (NOT MINE)


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