London: In a bizarre case, a thief has hypnotised shopkeeper Aftab (Aziz) Haider and robbed money from his pockets. The 56-year-old owner, who runs a wine shop in Highgate, said he was left "stunned" by the theft which took place on September 11. A video of the incident shows an Eastern European man enter the shop and brush past Haider as he placed a bottle on a shelf before gently tapping him on the arm. A few seconds later, the suspect raises his right fist and shakes it in front of Haider, apparently leaving him mesmerised. The thief then reaches inside the motionless shop owner's trouser pocket, and pulls out his wallet before squeezing his shoulder. He then reaches into Haider's other pocket and pulls out hundreds of pounds in cash before tapping him once more on the shoulder and quickly walking out. Haider regained his senses a few seconds later, but by the time the thief had left the shop.
ISIS rejected youth jailed for 4 years
London: Mashudur Choudhury, 31, who went to Syria along with six people from Portsmouth to join the jihadists was jailed for four by a judge after he returned to Britain. He was sent back to Britain after apparently being too frightened to join Islamic State. Judge Paul Dodgson said Choudhury had encouraged young men to follow him and caused huge pain for their families. “I have no doubt that when you embarked on this trip you and your companions hoped that your actions would encourage others to take the same journey,” the judge said. Choudhury ran the Muslim Youth Project and had worked as a racial awareness officer for the city council which included helping to run a programme to counter violent extremism. The judge said Choudhury saw himself as as a “leader and potential hero” but when he got to the jihadist camp, he was “either deemed unsuitable or that when your fantasies collided with the harsh realities of the fighting in Syria, you lost the will to remain there.”
MPs give family members a £1.3 mn pay rise
London: Members of parliament who appointed their relatives and loved ones in their offices gave them a pay rise of more than £ 3.7 mn last year, an increase of more than 50% since the last general election. This has prompted accusations that MPs were milking the system and calls for a tightening of the rules that let them put family members on the public payroll. Whitehall watchdogs had demanded an end to the practice as part of plans to clean up the House of Commons and rebuild trust in politics after the expenses scandal. However, there was a backlash by MPs against the proposal and the ban was not included in the tougher expenses regime, which came in after the 2010 election. The cabinet ministers Patrick McLoughlin, Michael Fallon and Chris Grayling are among the scores who still employ spouses, children and other “connected parties” along with senior Labour figures such as Hilary Benn.
Cameron flays Liberal Democrats
London: The growing chasm between Conservatives and Liberal Democrats came out in the open as Prime Minister David Cameron said Nick Clegg and his party were a threat to prosperity. In an email to Conservative MPs, the Prime Minister bracketed the Lib Dems with Labour and pitched his own party against the pair, stating that the choice for the public was “between competence and chaos.”
Mugabe given absolute power to run ruling party
Harare: Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu (PF) party delegates gave absolute power to 90-year-old president Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace to run the party and the country. Mugabe was elected by a show of hands to continue into his 35th year as leader of the party and country. He then announced that he had chosen his wife Grace as head of the women’s league of the party. Earlier, the congress had given him the sole right to appoint all the senior office bearers. The next item on the agenda was the announcement of new office bearers. Instead, Mugabe told everyone to go home. “Be patient,” he said. “By the middle of next week we will make an announcement.” The subservient crowd knew not to demur. The congress was the last part of a two-month purge by Mugabe of a faction led by the former vice-president, Joice Mujuru, whom he accused of plotting with the US embassy to assassinate him. More bizarre was his claim that Mrs Mujuru had used witch doctors against him.
Teetotal Muslims blamed for decline in number of pubs
London: Conservative peer Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts has partly blamed teetotal Muslims for the decline in the number of pubs in the country. Lord Hodgson, who was previously a director at one of Britain's biggest brewers, said that the "tides of history" have led to large numbers of Muslims in Britain's cities who do not drink. He said that "socio economic change" is more responsible for the decline of pubs than "rapacious" pub chains. Lord Hodgson's comments were criticised by the Muslim Council of Britain, which accused the peer of blaming Muslims for the failure of businesses.
Convictions under 'Fake Sheikh' evidence to be reviewed
London: The Crown Prosecution Service will review 25 convictions given under evidence of Mazher Mahmood, or the 'Fake Sheikh' as he was known. The prosecution say there are 25 of those which need to be urgently reviewed, following a decision earlier this year by a judge to throw out a drugs case against the singer Tulisa Contostavlos. The judge said that he felt that there was a very strong possibility that Mazher Mahmood had lied under oath, and this led to various calls, including one from a former Attorney General, that he should have his cases reviewed.
19 candidates in race for Lankan presidency
Colombo: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his former health minister are among 19 people in the fray to fight the presidential election next month. The papers from the 19 were handed over to Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya. Rajapaksa has called an election to seek an unprecedented third term, two years before his second term ends. His former health minister and party No. 2, Maithripala Sirisena, has become his main challenger and he is now being backed by the main opposition United National Party. The election is scheduled for Jan 8.
Blasphemy case against `Disco Mullah' in Pak
Islamabad: Pakistan police said they were investigating blasphemy allegations against a man dubbed the “disco mullah“ who quit a career in pop music to become a preacher. The case against Junaid Jamshed, a member of the deeply conservative Tableeghi Jamaat organization, was brought by Mobeen Qadri, a member of the religious political party Sunni Tehreek. Blasphemy is punishable by death in Muslim-majority Pakistan. But the law does not define what is blasphemous -anyone can file a case alleging their religious feelings were hurt for any reason. Qadri filed the case against Jamshed after he used the example of one of Prophet Muhammad's wives to illustrate an argument about the failings of women in a video.“Now the case is with the investigators,” said Mehmood Ahmed, a police officer in Karachi. “We will have to arrest Junaid Jamshed and it is up to him if he moves bail and goes to court against this.”
Chinese news agency calls PoK region 'Pakistan'
New Delhi: China's official news agency, Xinhua, has made a reference to what India calls Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) as Pakistan. The state-run agency said, "the Khunjerab Pass on the China-Pakistan border has closed for the winter season... the pass is a strategic point on the Karakoram Highway, which links China's Xinjiang with Pakistan's Gilgit-Baltistan region." India considers Gilgit-Baltistan a part of PoK. Some years ago, a similar statement by the Chinese government lead to an official protest by India, forcing Beijing to withdraw it. The Pass is a critical link between Xinjiang in China and PoK. China's official position had been that it would not take sides, but increasingly, there has been a growing Chinese military presence in the region, as well as major infrastructure projects there.
Myanmar workers charged with murder of British tourists in Thailand
Bangkok: Two Myanmar men were charged with the murder of two British tourists in Thailand, public prosecutors said. The bodies of Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24 were discovered on the southern holiday island of Koh Tao on Sept 15. A post-mortem examination revealed that the pair died from blows to the head and that Witheridge had been raped. The killings crippled tourism, which accounts for nearly 10 per cent of Thai gross domestic product, and the investigation has raised serious questions over police tactics. Myanmar workers Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo, both 21, were named as suspects in October. Police said the pair had confessed to the murders and that DNA samples found on Witheridge matched the suspects - despite the fact that the two had at the time yet to appear in court to face any charge and speak for themselves. Both later retracted their confessions, saying they had been beaten and threatened with electrocution - accusations police deny.
Indian-American scientist appointed as US science envoy
Washington: A top Indian-American scientist from Stanford University has been appointed as one of the science envoys of the US. Arun Majumdar, a professor at the prestigious university, along with three others, Peter Hotez, Jane Lubchenco and Geri Richmond, would serve as US envoys beginning January next year, the state department said. Like their nine predecessors, these distinguished scientists will engage internationally at the citizen and government levels to develop partnerships, improve collaboration, and forge mutually beneficial relationships between other nations and the US to stimulate increased scientific cooperation and foster economic prosperity, state department added. An IIT-Bombay alumnus, Majumdar is a material scientist, engineer, who was President Barack Obama's nominee for the Under Secretary of Energy between November 30, 2011 and May 15, 2012.
No one can be named Kim Jong-un in N Korea now
Seoul: In North Korea, there can be only one Kim Jong-un. A South Korean official said Pyongyang forbids its people from using the same name as of the young absolute leader. The measure appears meant to bolster a personality cult surrounding Kim, who took over after his dictator father Kim Jong-il died in late 2011. Seoul officials said Pyongyang also banned using the names of Kim Jong -il and the country's founder, Kim Ilsung. The official said Kim Jong -il in early 2011 ordered citizens with the same name as his son to get new names and asked authorities to reject birth registrations with the name. North Korea enforces state-organized public reverence of the Kim family.