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#London: David #Mellor caught on tape as he rages at London black-cab driver

QC and former Conservative MP calls the man a ‘sweaty, stupid little sh*t’ during an argument after Buckingham Palace visit.

David Mellor caught on tape as he rages at London black-cab driverPiers Morgan tweeted: ‘This tape is outrageous. David Mellor, you’re a loathsome snob.’ Photograph: Getty Images

Press Association, The Guardian.

A former cabinet minister has said he regrets losing his temper, after being recorded launching an expletive-ridden tirade at a London taxi driver following a visit to Buckingham Palace with his partner who had just been awarded a CBE.

David Mellor, a QC and former Conservative MP, called the black-cab driver a “sweaty, stupid little s**t” during an argument about the route he wanted to travel.

Mellor, who had accompanied his partner, VisitEngland chairwoman Lady Cobham, to an investiture ceremony with the Prince of Wales, was heard in a mobile phone recording given to The Sun.

He told the paper the driver, who is not named but is described as a 38-year-old from south-east London, had provoked him.

“This man seriously provoked me and ruined a wonderful day,” he said.

“Once I had lost my temper, which I regret, he then secretly recorded me. I will leave the public to judge his actions.”

The paper reported that Mellor accused the driver of not taking the quickest route to their destination in east London during rush hour.

During the audio Mellor, who told the driver to “f*** off”, said he would name him and discuss the incident on his LBC radio show, which he co-presents with former London mayor Ken Livingstone on Saturday mornings.

He also said: “You’ve been driving a cab for 10 years, I’ve been in the cabinet, I’m an award-winning broadcaster, I’m a Queen’s Counsel. You think that your experiences are anything compared to mine?”

In response to the recording journalist Piers Morgan tweeted: “This tape is outrageous. David Mellor, you’re a loathsome snob. I hope London’s black-cab drivers now boycott David Mellor. Looks like he could do with a few walks anyway.”

Mick Cash, general secretary of transport union the RMT, said: “Driving a taxi in London is hard enough without having some pumped-up, pompous former Tory minister telling you how to do your job”.

“If you want an example of the political elite’s sheer contempt for the working class then this incident has it in shed-loads.”

The Guardian.

Japan’s #smartphone #zombies wreak havoc on the streets

smartphone zombies #1A pedestrian using her smartphone on a street in Tokyo, November 3, 2014. Growing ranks of cellphone addicts are turning cities into increasingly hazardous hotspots. AFP / Yoshikazu Tsuno


When the lights change at the Shibuya crossing in Japan’s capital, one of the world’s busiest pedestrian thoroughfares, hundreds of people with their eyes glued to smartphones pick their way over the road.

Despite being engrossed in the latest instalment of Candy Crush or busy chatting with their friends on messaging app Line, most manage to weave around cyclists, skateboarders and fellow Tokyoites.

But the growing ranks of these cellphone addicts are turning cities like Tokyo, London, New York and Hong Kong into increasingly hazardous hotspots, where zombified shoppers appear to be part of vast games of human pinball.

“Hey, watch it!” barks a middle-aged salaryman as a hipster typing on his smartphone slams into him during one recent Friday evening crush hour.

“Incidents involving people walking or on bicycles account for 41 percent of phone-related accidents,” Tetsuya Yamamoto, a senior official at Tokyo Fire Department’s disaster prevention and safety section, told AFP.

smartphone zombies #2A pedestrian using his smartphone on a street in Tokyo, November 3, 2014. Growing ranks of cellphone addicts are turning cities into increasingly hazardous hotspots. AFP / Yoshikazu Tsuno

“If people continue walking around looking at their phones, I think we could see more accidents happening.”
It goes beyond being an innocuous inconvenience where both people apologise before continuing on their merry way.

Tokyo Fire Department, which runs the ambulance service in the megalopolis, says that in the four years to 2013, 122 people had to be rushed to hospital after accidents caused by pedestrians using cellphones.

As well as the vaguely comedic incidents of businessmen smacking into lamp-posts or tripping over dogs, this total also included a middle-aged man who died after straying onto a railway crossing while looking at his phone.

Tunnel vision

More than half of Japanese now own a smartphone and the proportion is rising fast, including children who customarily walk to and from school.

smartphone zombies #3Pedestrians use their smartphones on a street in Tokyo, November 3, 2014. Growing ranks of cellphone addicts are turning cities into increasingly hazardous hotspots. AFP / Yoshikazu Tsuno

Research by Japanese mobile giant NTT Docomo estimates a pedestrian’s average field of vision while staring down at a smartphone is just five percent of what our eyes take in normally.

“Children wouldn’t be safe in that situation,” said Hiroshi Suzuki, manager of corporate social responsibility at the company. “It’s dangerous and it’s our job to make sure it doesn’t actually happen.”

The company ran a computer simulation of what could occur in Shibuya if everyone crossing the intersection was looking at their smartphones.

The results, based on a fairly average 1,500 people swarming over the road at any one time, were alarming: 446 collisions, 103 knockdowns and 21 dropped phones. Only around a third get to the other side without incident.

That 82 of the 103 who fell to the ground managed to cling onto their precious phones tells its own story.

Japanese media reported that around half of the 56 bodies recovered from the peak of a volcano after a recent eruption were found clutching mobile phones with photos of the deadly lava and ash on them.

smartphone zombies #4Pedestrians use their smartphones on a street in Tokyo, November 3, 2014. Growing ranks of cellphone addicts are turning cities into increasingly hazardous hotspots. AFP / Yoshikazu Tsuno

Apparently, they had thought it important to be able to show their social media friends what was happening than to try to save themselves.

Suzuki travels to schools across Japan teaching children how to be responsible with smartphones through the use of cartoons.

“We use the story of the tortoise and the hare,” he said. “The hare shoots off tapping away on his smartphone, and then falls down a hole. We want the children to know they could be the hare.”

Social harmony

Phone fidgeters dawdling along at snail’s pace, forcing cyclists and pram-pushing mums to swerve out of the way have become such an irritant in Tokyo that public notices have started to appear warning offenders to expect “icy stares”, appealing to the Japanese sense of social harmony — assuming people look up from their phones in the first place.

Smartphone apps activated by sensors that flash warning signs or display the pavement on the screen have also been developed in response to the problem.

Tokyo is just one of the places struggling to cope with this very 21st Century menace.

In China, an amusement park in the southwestern megacity of Chongqing has divided a pavement within its grounds into two lanes — one signposted “No mobile phones” and the other “Mobile phone use permitted but all consequences are your responsibility.”

Recorded announcements on Hong Kong’s subway network warn passengers in Cantonese, Mandarin and English that they are about to step onto an escalator.

While in one city in New York state, there was even a bid to legislate against the use of electronic devices while crossing the road.

NTT Docomo’s Suzuki in Tokyo says despite the city’s high density and huge population — 35 million in the greater urban area — there’s no need yet for people to wear crash helmets when they pop to the shops.

“I don’t think we will see the need for that in the near future,” he said. “But our message is that it could happen. We’re all potential victims.”


#UN: #ISIS has 15,000 fighters from 80 countries; $45m in funds

The UN report says the jihadists come from some 80 countries.The UN report says the jihadists come from some 80 countries. Photo: AP.

LONDON (AP) – The United Nations has warned that 15,000 foreign jihadists from 80 countries have travelled to fight in Iraq and Syria, raising the number of foreign militants to an “unprecedented scale.”

The UN Security Council report, obtained by The Guardian daily in London, also said that the Islamic State (ISIS) treasury has up to $45 million in funds from kidnappings for ransom, besides its revenues from oil smuggling, estimated at $1 million daily.

The newspaper quoted the report as saying that the jihadists have arrived from countries that had not previously contributed to global terrorism, and have joined the ranks of ISIS and other extremist groups.

Although it did not list all the 80 countries they come from, the report said “there are instances of foreign terrorist fighters from France, the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland operating together.”

The report, produced by a committee that monitors al-Qaeda jihadists, said the “numbers since 2010 are now many times the size of the cumulative numbers of foreign terrorist fighters between 1990 and 2010 – and are growing.”

It noted that more nations than ever will face the challenge of experienced fighters returning home from the conflict in Iraq and Syria.

Dozens of people have been arrested around the world on their way to ISIS jihads or for helping the group, which controls large swathes of Iraq and Syria. Many countries in Europe are passing anti-terrorist laws.

The new UN figure raises previous US intelligence estimates of foreign jihadists, placing the number at 7,000 in March and 12,000 in July.

The Guardian said the UN report concluded that ISIS has taken the place of al-Qaeda and this has yielded an explosion of jihadist enthusiasm for the Islamic State.

“Al-Qaida core and ISISL pursue similar strategic goals, albeit with tactical differences regarding sequencing and substantive differences about personal leadership,” the UN report said, using a different acronym for ISIS.

It noted that while ISIS has a “cosmopolitan” embrace of social media platforms and internet culture, al-Qaeda has a “long and turgid messaging.”

A “lack of social media message discipline” in ISIS points to a leadership “that recognizes the terror and recruitment value of multichannel, multi-language social and other media messaging,” reflecting a younger and “more international” membership than al-Qaeda’s various affiliates, said the Guardian, quoting the report.

The ranks of ISIS are attracting many teenage boys and girls and even converts to Islam from Western countries. Three American girls between 15 and 17 from a Muslim background were caught in Germany recently as they were trying to join ISIS in Iraq and Syria.


Police in #UK arrest two over possible links to #jihad in #Syria

Met police commissioner says ‘drumbeat of terrorism’ now more intense with 500 Britons believed to have travelled to Syria.

Bernard Hogan-Howe said 500 Britons were believed to have travelled to Syria.Bernard Hogan-Howe said 500 Britons were believed to have travelled to Syria. Photograph: David Fisher/DFS/ Rex Features.

Vikram Dodd reporting,

Counter-terrorism officers trying to staunch the flow of recruits travelling to Syria have made two arrests they say may be linked to the war zone.

A woman aged 25 was arrested in Kempston, Bedfordshire by detectives from Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism command investigating whether she had travelled to Syria, and if so, whether that trip was linked to violent jihad.

Hours later officers made a second arrest in London, detaining a 32-year-old man “on suspicion of attending a place used for terrorist training”, which they believe was in Syria.

The two operations that led to the arrests are not believed to be linked.

On Tuesday, the Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, said five Britons a week were travelling to Syria to join up with Islamic State (Isis) extremists.

Counter-terror officials say there has been a large increase this year in operations related to Syria, amid fears that returning Britons may be so radicalised they attempt to carry out attacks here.

In the first arrest, police said the woman was arrested in Bedfordshire “on suspicion of preparation of terrorist acts”. After the 25-year-old was detained, police searched two addresses in Bedfordshire as part of their inquiries.

In the second arrest, the man aged 32 was detained at an address in south-west London. Police were searching an address in south-west London and another in west London as part of their investigation.

Police said both investigations were Syria related.

Both of those arrested were in police custody in central London where they are expected to be interviewed.

On Tuesday Hogan-Howe said the “drumbeat of terrorism in the UK” was now “faster and more intense”.

He said 500 Britons were believed to have travelled to Syria: “Those are the ones that we believe have gone. There may be many more who set out to travel to another country and meandered over to Syria and Iraq in a way that is not always possible to spot when you have failed states and leaky borders.”

Last week police said there had been 218 terror-related arrests so far this year, a significant increase, as a result of police “running exceptionally high numbers of counter-terrorism investigations”.

They added that this year, 16 people have been charged after returning from Syria.

The Guardian.

Woman arrested in #UK on #terrorism charges

A Twenty five-year-old woman arrested north of London for suspected offences relating to the civil war in Syria.

Detectives said security investigations were taking place at an 'exceptionally high' pace not seen in years.Detectives said security investigations were taking place at an ‘exceptionally high’ pace not seen in years. [Reuters]

Bedfordshire, England – British police have taken a 25-year-old woman into custody on suspicion of terrorism offences related to the ongoing civil war in Syria, officials have said.

London’s counter terrorism command said on Wednesday that officers had arrested the woman in Bedfordshire, north of the capital, on suspicion of preparing terrorism acts.

The police said she had been taken to a police station in London for questioning.

Two addresses in Bedfordshire were being searched, they added.

Last week, four men were charged with swearing allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), who have seized large swathes of Syria and Iraq, and preparing to launch an attack on policemen or soldiers in the capital.

On Tuesday, London police chief Bernard Hogan-Howe said at least five Britons were travelling to Iraq and Syria every week to fight for ISIL, while the authorities estimate that about 500 Britons have already travelled to the region to join the fighting.

Mark Rowley, Britain’s national policing spokesman for counter-terrorism, said last week that the police had made 218 arrests so far this year, and that detectives were carrying out security investigations at an “exceptionally high” pace not seen in years.

Al Jazeera English.


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