Lebanese Army Vows “Decisive Measures” to Prevent Further Crisis
The Lebanese army has issued a statement on Monday saying that the country was facing a critical period after the assassination of a top security official, General Wissam al-Hassan, who died in a car bomb explosion in central Beirut on Friday afternoon. “We call on all political leaders to be cautious when expressing their stances and opinions”, said the army’s statement, adding that it would take “decisive measures” to prevent further violence. Najib Mikati, the Lebanese Prime Minister, had offered to resign on Saturday, but President Michel Suleiman had urged him to stay on. Protesters tried to storm the Prime Minister’s office on Sunday, hours after al-Hassan’s funeral. “This is an emotional reaction and God willing tomorrow everything will be over”, said Interior Minister Marwan Charbel, but tensions in the country continued high on Monday. Five people were wounded by gunfire on the edge of Tariq al-Jadida, a Sunni Muslim district that borders Shiite suburbs in the Lebanese capital.
Birmingham Men Planned “Another 9/11″ in London
Three self-styled Islamic jihadists from Birmingham had planned to detonate eight bombs around London, describing their plan as “another 9/11″, a court heard today. Irfan Naseer, Irfan Khalid and Ashik Ali denied making such preparations and were among 11 people arrested by anti-terrorist officers in the West Midlands. Naseer, known as “Chubbs” or “Big Irfan”, has a chemistry degree and helped the alleged plotters to produce an explosive mix “with a view to constructing a homemade explosive device” in the days before their arrest, according to prosecutor Brian Altman. Nasser and Khalid were also alleged to have received training in how to use weapons and make bombs and poisons while in Pakistan, as well as having taped suicide videos there. In addition, the group was accused of making false charity collections in Birmingham. The charities named by the defendants only received a fraction of the amount collected, with the rest intended to pay for the planned attack.
BBC Editor Steps Aside After Scrapping Jimmy Savile Report
The BBC announced on Monday that the editor of one of its main investigative news programmes would be “stepping aside” after providing “inaccurate or incomplete” reasons for scrapping a report on alleged sexual abuses committed by Sir Jimmy Savile, one of the broadcasters’ high-profile stars between the 60s and 80s. Peter Rippon, the editor of the Newsnight programme, will be relieved of his duties for the duration of an inquiry into the programme’s handling of the allegations about Savile’s behaviour. It will be led by Nick Pollard, former head of Sky News. A second inquiry, to be headed by former High Court judge Dame Janet Smith, will look into the workplace culture of the BBC during the Savile years. Police have launched a criminal enquiry on the matter and have described the former presenter, who died in October 2011 at age 84, as “a predatory sex offender”.
Fidel Castro Criticises Media for “Stupidities” on His Health
Cuba’s former leader Fidel Castro has emerged from a long absence with a strongly-worded article where he attacks the international media for “publishing stupidities” about his supposedly frail conditions. He wrote he was in good health and could not “even remember what a headache is”. A series of pictures were printed alongside the article, purportedly taken by his son Alex. An aide to Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, Elias Jaua, had earlier reported that he met Castro over the weekend and he was “the same old Fidel with his beard and pink cheeks”. Castro’s absence from public view since March had fuelled rumors about his health and speculation that the announcement of his death was a matter of days. The former Cuban leader handed power to his brother Raul Castro in February 2008 after 49 years in power.
Turkey “Waging The World’s Biggest Crackdown” on Press Freedoms
An international media advocacy group has accused the Turkish government of “waging the world’s biggest crackdown” on press freedoms. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) identified 76 journalists imprisoned as of August 1, with at least 61 “being held in direct relation to their published work or newsgathering activities”. This number surpasses the number of journalists detained in Iran, Eitrea and China, which the CPJ identified as “the next most-repressive nations”. Approximately 70 percent of the those jailed in Turkey were Kurdish journalists charged with aiding terrorism because they covered activities in the southeast of the country, home to a Kurdish majority, where the central government faces a separatist movement. The European Commission had issued a similar report in early October, prompting Turkey’s EU Minister, Egemen Bagis, to respond that Turkey had “attained the most transparent and liberal atmosphere in its history”.