• Italy’s high court overturns conviction of homeless thief

    03/May/2016 // 560 Viewers


    Italy’s Supreme Court of Cassation has overturned the conviction of a homeless thief, saying what he did in 2011 was “not a crime.”

    The court on Monday overturned the conviction of Ukrainian national Roman Ostriakov who was found guilty of theft and sentenced to six months in jail plus a 100-euro fine in 2011.

    The Ukrainian had attempted to steal two pieces of cheese and a packet of sausages, all together costing less than USD five, from a Genoa supermarket in northern Italy.

    "The condition of the accused and the circumstances in which he obtained the merchandise show that he had taken the little amount of food he needed to overcome his immediate and essential requirement for nourishment," the high court stated in a written ruling.

    Due to the thief’s vital need for food, the theft “was not a crime,” the ruling read.

    The case went through three rounds in appellation courts before reaching the final ruling by the Supreme Court of Cassation.

    Corriere Della Sera daily newspaper said statistics suggest that each day hundreds of Italians sink into poverty and the judges should have noted that reality before annulling the verdict.

    Another Italian newspaper, La Stampa, criticized the Supreme Court judges, saying the "right to survival prevails over property" for these judges.

    Interestingly, the only reason that this particular case reached Italy’s Supreme Court was because the state prosecutor referred it to high court due to a legal technicality, arguing that Ostriakov should not have been found guilty of theft, but rather he was guilty of the lesser crime of attempted theft, because he had been caught before he had left the supermarket premises.
    Ostriakov’s case, which is just one of numerous instances of stealing food due to hunger, reminds one of Jean Valjean, the fictional character and the protagonist of Victor Hugo's 1862 novel Les Miserables.

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  • I'm a victim of witch-hunting because I'm Muslim - UK Labour Party Councillor cries out

    03/May/2016 // 432 Viewers


    PARIS, MAY 3, 2016: (DGW) - Burnley Councillor Shah Hussain, a UK Labour councilor has cried out that he is a victim of a witch-hunt because he is Muslim, he told the BBC's Daily Politics Program on Tuesday.

    Shah Hussain is facing suspension over a tweet comparing Israeli government to Adolf Hitler. His defence is that when confronted over the disparaging tweet was none other than what he described as Israeli high-handedness in Gaza which he likened to ill-treatment and consequent pogrom or extermination of the Jews in World War 11. 


    His defence, “What I was merely stating is that, what the state of Israel is doing within Gaza can be made comparable to what happened to the European Jews in World War Two''

    Also suspended were Salim Mulla from Blackburn, Ilyas Aziz from Nottingham and two other over anti-Semitism allegations.



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  • Turkish warplanes bomb Kurdish rebel bases

    03/Nov/2015 // 302 Viewers

     AFP/File | Turkey launched its air campaign against the PKK in July, shattering a fragile 2013 truce with the Kurdish rebels


    ANKARA (AFP) - 

    Turkish warplanes have bombed bases of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Turkey and northern Iraq, the army said on Tuesday.

    "Shelters, caves and arms depots identified as being used by terrorists from the separatist terrorist organisation were destroyed with air bombardments," the military said.

    Monday's air strikes targeted PKK bases in the Kurdish-dominated southeastern province of Hakkari near the Iraqi border, as well as several regions in northern Iraq including their main stronghold on Qandil mountain.

    The latest army operation comes just after the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) swept back to power in Sunday's election.

    The government has waged a new war against the PKK and Islamic State militants since July, shattering a fragile 2013 truce with the Kurdish rebels.

    The PKK conflict resumed after a bombing on pro-Kurdish activists in the border town of Suruc in July that killed 34 people and was blamed on the Islamic State group.

    Kurdish rebels launched an armed campaign for greater autonomy in southeastern Turkey in 1984 and the conflict has since claimed 45,000 lives.

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  • UK parliament report warns Cameron over Syria strikes

    03/Nov/2015 // 264 Viewers

    An influential British parliamentary committee on Tuesday dealt a blow to Prime Minister David Cameron’s plans to extend military action against the Islamic State (IS) group from Iraq into Syria.

    A Foreign Affairs Select Committee report said any such move would be “incoherent” without a definite plan to end the country’s civil war.

    While the report is not binding, its warning will make it much harder for Cameron to press ahead with a vote in Parliament to approve air strikes in Syria.

    The committee warned that without "a coherent international strategy" to end Syria's civil war, "taking action to meet the desire to do something is still incoherent”.

    Committee chairman Crispin Blunt, who is a member of Cameron's Conservative Party, said he feared the government was "responding to the powerful sense that something must be done ... without any expectation that its action will be militarily decisive, and without a coherent and long-term plan for defeating (IS group) and ending the civil war".

    "By becoming a full combatant in the US-led campaign at this stage, the UK risks needlessly compromising its independent diplomatic ability to support an international political solution to the crisis," Blunt added.

    The committee said the government needed to answer fundamental questions about the proposed airstrikes – including their legality without United Nations approval and whether they would have support from regional powers including Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

    Until then, it said, "we recommend that it does not bring to the House a motion seeking the extension of British military action to Syria".

    Iraq and Syria a ‘single theatre of conflict’

    Cameron was defeated in a 2013 vote on possible UK military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government by 285 votes to 272.

    Cameron said at the time that he would respect Parliament’s decision and ruled out joining US-led strikes – although it later emerged that British pilots embedded with coalition forces had conducted air strikes against IS group over Syria.

    Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said ministers would continue to use "every tool available" to save lives in the region, arguing that it was illogical to conduct air strikes in Iraq and not neighbouring Syria, saying the two countries are "a single theatre of conflict".

    "Air strikes against ISIL [IS group] are not the sole solution but military action, in coordination with our coalition allies, is having a substantial impact in degrading ISIL in Iraq," he added.

    "It is right that we continue to use military force against ISIL while we use diplomatic power to work towards a political solution in the Syrian war."

    Diplomatic check

    Serious divisions remain over the right way to bring the Syrian crisis to an end.

    Talks in Vienna last week failed to achieve a breakthrough, particularly over the issue of the fate of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

    On one side, Russia and Iran are backing Assad's forces on the ground and say the Damascus regime, as the legitimate authority in Syria, must be helped to defeat "terrorism" before a political process can take shape.

    The dynamic in the Syrian conflict shifted after Russia launched its air campaign on September 30, claiming it was targeting IS group fighters, although it reportedly struck at other groups being supported by the US-led coalition.

    On the other side, the United States and its key regional allies Turkey and Saudi Arabia are supporting groups fighting Assad and insist he must go.

    Meanwhile, the Pentagon announced plans to step up attacks on IS group jihadists in Syria and Iraq, with Defence Secretary Ashton Carter saying he expected more air strikes and even possible "direct action on the ground".

    More than 250,000 people have been killed in Syria's war since it began in March 2011 following a bloody crackdown on protests against Assad's rule.

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  • 'Iron Lady' Thatcher's handbags to go on sale in London

    03/Nov/2015 // 387 Viewers

     AFP/File | A combination of file pictures shows former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher wearing two personal items -- a reversible tweed wrap (L) and and a dress (R) worn for her 70th birthday -- that will be sold at auction in London in December 2015


    LONDON (AFP) - 

    Personal items belonging to Britain's "Iron Lady" prime minister Margaret Thatcher, including some of her famous handbags, are to be sold in London next month, Christie's auction house said Tuesday.

    Around 350 lots including clothes and jewellery accrued during her 87 years -- 11 of which were spent in Downing Street -- are being sold after the Victoria & Albert Museum turned them down.

    An emerald and diamond Chaumet necklace, valued between £120,000 ($185,000, 168,000 euros) and £180,000, is expected to fetch the highest price, with proceeds to be split between Thatcher's children Mark and Carol, and her grandchildren.

    "In the year that 'The Iron Lady' would have celebrated her 90th birthday, approximately 350 historic and personal lots will be offered across two landmark sales," said Christie's.

    "These sales are taking place 25 years after Margaret Thatcher left office, at the end of her 11-year high-profile tenure as prime minister.

    "These auctions present unique opportunities, across price levels, for collectors around the world to acquire property from the longest-serving prime minister of the United Kingdom in the 20th century and the only woman to have held office to date," it added.

    The items were initially offered to The Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the world's largest museum of decorative arts and design, but they decided against showing the objects.

    "The V&A politely declined the offer of Baroness Thatcher's clothes, feeling that these records of Britain's political history were best suited to another collection which would focus on their intrinsic social historical value," said the museum.

    "The museum is responsible for chronicling fashionable dress and its collecting policy tends to focus on acquiring examples of outstanding aesthetic or technical quality."

    Thatcher's programme of privatisations and deregulation helped turn around Britain's ailing economy following her election in 1979, and she is also credited with playing a leading role in ending the Cold War.

    But she remains a divisive figure, particularly in Britain's working-class heartlands, which suffered devastating industrial decline as a result of the economic rebalancing.

    She died on April 8, 2013, and received a ceremonial funeral, including full military honours, attended by Queen Elizabeth II.

    The auction will take place on December 15, and an online-only sale comprising 200 lots will run for two weeks from December 3. It is expected to raise around £500,000.

    Thatcher's most famous handbag, which struck fear into the hearts of British ministers during the former premier's rule, sold at a charity auction for £25,000 in 2011.

    AFP, DGW

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  • Sarkozy outraged over link to ‘Air Cocaine’ investigation

    03/Nov/2015 // 307 Viewers

    Former president Nicolas Sarkozy accused French magistrates on Tuesday of violating legal principles by tracking his phone usage in connection with their investigation of a transatlantic drug smuggling operation.

    The comments from Sarkozy, tipped to run again for president in 2017, added a bizarre political dimension to a probe that has dominated headlines since two French airline pilots convicted of cocaine smuggling in the Dominican Republic escaped to France in mysterious circumstances last week.

    In an interview with the newspaper Le Parisien, Sarkozy said his lawyers were demanding to know why the judiciary had examined his phone records when the only link was that he had flown with the airline at the centre of the probe.

    “What I want to know is what could justify an investigating magistrate taking such measures solely because I used the same airline,” said Sarkozy.

    “What do they think I did - fly to Punta Cana with 700 kg of cocaine? All this would be just laughable if it wasn’t about a violation of legal principles that all French people support.”

    Government involvement?

    He said such phone tracking could not have been authorised without the knowledge of President Francois Hollande’s Socialist government.

    Prime Minister Manuel Valls later denied the allegation, saying magistrates had not informed the government that they had examined Sarkozy’s phone records.

    The two pilots, who escaped to France after what French media described as a commando-style escape by boat, had been arrested at Punta Cana airport in the Dominican Republic in March 2013.

    A trial found they had been involved in smuggling cocaine on small private jets between the Dominican Republic and the upmarket French Riviera resort of Saint Tropez, and they were sentenced in August to 20 years’ jail. Authorities said they were preparing to leave on a mid-size Dassault Falcon 50 jet with 26 suitcases containing 680 kilograms (1,500 pounds) of cocaine when they were arrested. Both strongly denied the offences and were free to circulate in the Dominican Republic pending appeals.

    France has denied any state involvement in the pilots’ escape, who were arrested before dawn on Monday and taken in for questioning.

    Dominican authorities have said they intend to have an international arrest warrant issued for the men


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  • Serbian church leader threatens 'force' if Kosovo joins UN agency

    03/Nov/2015 // 412 Viewers

     AFP/File | Serbian Patriarch Irinej leads a Christmas Eve ceremony at the Saint Sava church in Belgrade, on January 6, 2012



    The head of Serbia's Orthodox Church Tuesday warned of using "force" if Kosovo were accepted as a member of the UN cultural agency UNESCO and holy sites there were recognised as belonging to the breakaway territory.

    Kosovo and Serbia fought a war in 1998 and 1999.

    The predominantly ethnic Albanian territory unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008 -- a move Serbia refused to recognise despite more than 100 countries, including the United States and a majority of EU member states recognising Kosovo as an independent state.

    "If force is deployed" to deprive Serbia of its cultural and historical heritage, "we will do all we can to defend them by peaceful means or by force," Patriarch Irinej said on state television.

    "I hope we won't be forced to employ these means," he said, referring to the use of force.

    Late last month, the executive board of Paris-based UNESCO voted to recommend Kosovo be accepted as a member.

    The agency's 195-member assembly, which meets in November, will have the final say on whether Kosovo joins or not.

    Serbia's patriarch said unspecified world powers "want to take these holy sites from us and declare them Kosovan".

    "These places belong to us; they are part of our (Serbian) history, of our culture and the cradle of all that is grand and lasting in our culture," he said.

    The people of Kosovo "had throughout their history only destroyed" holy Serbian sites, referring to the 2004 inter-ethnic riots in which dozen of Serbian churches and monasteries were torched or damaged.

    Two of Kosovo's Orthodox monasteries are on UNESCO's world heritage list.

    Belgrade sees Kosovo as the cradle of the medieval Serbian state and has until now been in charge of suggesting Kosovan additions to UNESCO's world heritage list.

    If Kosovo is admitted to UNESCO, Pristina will be in charge of doing so in the future, managing heritage in the country, including Orthodox heritage.

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  • BREAKING: WWII bomb discovered at German airport, 7 flights cancelled

    03/Nov/2015 // 421 Viewers

     AFP/File | Flights at Dusseldorf's international airport, Germany's third busiest in terms of passengers, were interrupted for an hour in the morning while the 125-kilogram (275-pound) bomb was neutralised


    BERLIN (AFP) - 

    A World War II bomb was destroyed in a controlled explosion Monday at the main international airport in the western German city of Duesseldorf, briefly halting air traffic.

    Flights at the hub, Germany's third busiest in terms of passengers, were interrupted for an hour in the morning while the 125-kilogramme (275-pound) bomb was neutralised, the airport said in a statement.

    Two departing flights and five arrivals were axed from the schedule and 34 other flights had to be brought forward or delayed on safety grounds, an airport spokesman said.

    The bomb had been discovered overnight near the main runway during construction work. Before it was exploded, the bomb was placed in an eight-metre (26-foot) deep hole to limit any collateral damage.

    "The bang of the detonation could be clearly heard near the airport," the city said in a statement.

    Authorities fear other bombs might still be hidden beneath the earth at Duesseldorf airport and further digs are planned this month to comb the grounds for WWII-era explosives.

    In 2009, a 500-kilo bomb was unearthed near the site and destroyed.

    Seventy years after the end of fighting, parts of Germany remain riddled with unexploded bombs from the Allied campaigns, and construction workers regularly uncover them, often leading to mass evacuations.

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  • 'Cursed' Medieval Well Found in England

    03/Nov/2016 // 459 Viewers


    A Medieval well that was once believed to wash away sins, while healing eye and skin diseases has been recovered in England. Legend has it that the well was also cursed and records indicate a strange death occurred there.

    St. Anne's Well was found on the lands of a private farm on the border between the townships of Rainhill and Sutton St Helens, near Liverpool, UK.

    According to Historic England Heritage, which commissioned the excavation, "the well had become completely filled with earth due to ploughing."

    "When we first got to the well we found that there was very little indication of it on the surface, but after excavation it was found to be in reasonable condition," Jamie Quartermaine, an archaeologist who supervised the dig, told Discovery News.

    The well was built of local sandstone blocks and consisted of a shallow square basin with two steps leading down into the bottom.

    "The fabric of the well is consistent with a Medieval date," Quartermaine said.

    The archaeologist noted that St. Anne is quite commonly associated with holy wells.

    "This well was probably a late Medieval foundation as the cult of St. Anne did not become widespread in England until after the end of the 14th century," Quartermaine said.

    The dating is important. Alexandra Walsham, professor of modern history at Cambridge's Trinity College, told Seeker that "a Medieval past for many healing wells was assumed or even invented by later antiquaries, especially in the 19th century."

    After descending the steps, pilgrims submerged themselves in the pool, which was about 4 feet deep. Water seeped in from below the floor, while a stone conduit, now lost, took water from the overflow of the well, which measures 6.5 feet by 6.5 feet.

    According to Historic England Heritage, local legend suggests St. Anne's Well was associated with a nearby priory of about 12 monks, which was lost during Henry VIII's draconian dissolution of the monasteries.

    The legend said the priory held an extensive estate from which the monks had an income. The story goes that St. Anne had bathed in the well, which was reputed to have healing powers for eye and skin afflictions.

    "The well attracted numbers of pilgrims, necessitating the building of a small three-roomed structure around the well and the custodianship of two of the monks," Quartermaine said.

    According to local folklore, a dispute rose in the 16th century about boundaries and access to the well between the prior, Father Delwaney, and Hugh Darcy, the estate manager of the neighboring landowner.

    One day, when the two stood nearby the well, Darcy predicted the prior would not be in position for much longer. Two days later the king's commissioners arrived and took possession of the priory and the well.

    Father Delwaney promptly understood Darcy's role in the action as he was clearly known to the commissioners.

    "With teeth tightly clenched, and his face white with suppressed passion," the prior hissed out his curse, according to a 1877 report on local legends in the St. Helens Leader.

    Darcy would be dead within a year and a day, Delwaney predicted. He then collapsed and died himself.

    A series of disgraces fell on Darcy: three months after the curse, his only son died of a mysterious illness. He suffered financial losses and "plunged recklessly into dissipation," according to the St. Helens Leader.

    One night, after heavy drinking at a tavern, he disappeared.

    "The search began. Nothing was seen until they came to the well, in which Darcy was found lying dead, his head crushed in," the St. Helens Leader reported.

    Despite the grim legend, the well continued to be revered even after the dissolution, and people immersed themselves in the waters until the 19th century.

    To protect the structure from damage by farm machinery, new wooden edging will be installed.

    "We have worked with the farmers to ensure this important holy well survives long in to the future," Tamsin Cooke, a Historic England Heritage at Risk representative, said.

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  • Senior Vatican priest comes out on eve of synod on gays: reports

    03/Oct/2015 // 379 Viewers

     AFP/File | Italian gay movement members demonstrate in front of the Vatican on December 16, 2012, to protest against the church's attitude to gay marriage


    ROME (AFP) - 

    A high-ranking Polish priest from the Vatican revealed he was gay on Saturday, saying he wanted to challenge the Church's "paranoia" on the eve of a key synod on the family.

    In two separate interviews to Italy's Corriere Sera and to the Polish version of Newsweek, Father Krysztof Olaf Charamsa, who works for a Vatican office for protecting Catholic dogma said he was a practising homosexual with a partner.

    The explosive revelations by the 43-year-old priest who works for the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith were published a day before a bishop's synod at which the Church's approach to homosexuality, among other topics, will come under review.

    "I know that I will have to give up my ministry which is my whole life," he told the Italian daily.

    "I know that the Church will see me as someone who did not know how to fulfil his duty (to remain chaste), who is lost and who is not even with a woman but with a man!"

    Charamsa said his decision to come out was motivated by concern for the Church's attitude to homosexuals, which he described as "backwards".

    "It is time that the Church opened its eyes to gay believers and understood that the solution it is proposing -- total abstinence and a life without love -- is not humane," he said.

    The Church's attitude to homosexuality are "backwards when compared to the level of awareness that humankind has reached," he told the paper.

    "The clergy is largely homosexual and unfortunately, it is also homophobic to the point of paranoia but paralysed by the lack of acceptance for its own sexual orientation," he told the Polish version of Newsweek.

    "Wake up, Church, stop persecuting the innocents," he said, insisting his aim was to help the Catholic church.

    DailyGlobeWatch with AFP

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