HK journalists faced ‘unprecedented’ assaults in protests

HONG KONG — Hong Kong’s journalists faced an “unprecedented” number of assaults last year as political tensions surged during a massive pro-democracy movement in the city, a press freedom watchdog said on Sunday.

A ruling by Beijing restricting how Hong Kong choose its next leader sent discontent surging in the southern Chinese city last year, sparking mass street rallies for more than two months.

More than 30 journalists were harassed or physically assaulted by either protesters or police during the demonstrations, the Hong Kong Journalists Association said in its annual report on press freedom in the city.

“It was a range of assaults from getting hit by water bottles to being punched and kicked. Some have got their cameras pushed down and dragged onto the floor,” the independent watchdog’s vice chairwoman Shirley Yam told AFP.

“In terms of physical assaults it was definitely a record (year).”

China ruled last summer that the public could vote for Hong Kong’s chief executive for the first time in 2017, but the move has been derided as “fake democracy” by the opposition as candidates must first be vetted by a pro-Beijing committee.

The bill enshrining that measure was voted down by pro-democracy lawmakers in Hong Kong’s legislature last month.

Hong Kong was a UK colony until it was handed back to China in 1997 and is ruled under a “one country, two systems” deal that allows it far greater civil liberties than those enjoyed on the Chinese mainland, including freedom of speech and the right to protest.

But there are fears that these liberties are fading with greater influence from Beijing.

Amnesty International said in November that Hong Kong police had used “unjustifiable force against protesters, bystanders and journalists” when authorities cleared another campaign site in Mongkok, which was also the scene of some of the most violent clashes of last year’s rallies.

Yam said few perpetrators were held accountable.

“There were cases that occurred during chaotic situations, and it has been difficult to get the people responsible to face the music,” she said.

British feminists formed a women’s equality party

Have you heard about the UK’s new feminist Women’s Equality Party? Well, you’re a Breitbart reader, so I’ll presume no. Allow me to darken your day.

The party was founded last week by a peculiar coalition of lesbian celebrities, feminist journalists and perennial malcontents in the British media. Its most enthusiastic welcome was in the ephemeral world of social media, where, if there’s any justice, the party will remain.

I hate to be disobliging about such an ostentatiously noble goal – freeing women from the appalling shackles of well-paid columns in national newspapers and cushy presenting gigs at our national broadcaster – but I had to suppress a giggle when I saw how utterly hopelessly the party approached even such trivial decisions as what hashtag to use on Twitter.

The party initially promoted itself with the tag #WE, for women’s equality. Alas, the ladies of the WEP had failed to notice that “we” is quite a common word in the English language, and that by selecting it as their moniker, they risked being drowned out by general conversation.

Time for a reboot! Next up was #WepUK. Let’s just say that after all that confusion, the final hashtag didn’t exactly set the digital world alight. Imagine it! A feminist political party getting social media wrong. A mean-spirited observer might ask what they could possibly hope to get right, if that was an indication of their general competence.

This column, of course, is more indulgent.

Yet it’s tough to be kind about the risible Women’s Equality Party, and not just because the idea of it is a laughable anachronism.

For instance: why on earth was BBC megabore Sandi Toksvig chosen as a figurehead?

T0ksvig, for those of you who don’t know, is a BBC heavyweight. (At least, that’s what set designers tell me.) She’s the epitome of  dull bien pensant BBC liberalism, mystifyingly omnipresent on comedy panel shows.

She likes to present herself as the unthreatening face of lesbian middle-class Middle England, but truthfully the only thing middling about her is her talent. Next to Toksvig, Michael McIntyre looks like Bill Hicks.

Is it just me, or is there something totally bizarre about a lesbian pontificating to the country about gender relations? It’s not like she’s got any skin in the game, is it?

I’d actually prefer it if the party were led by some rainbow haired she-twink from Tumblr. Sure, they’re completely bonkers and would probably have me up against the wall given the opportunity, but I have to grudgingly acknowledge the purity of their rabid hatred.

I don’t mind ideologues; I can’t stand bores.

Sandi Toksvig’s feminism is stultifyingly dreary: pearl-clutching, mumsy, blue-rinse lesbianic feminism that has as much to offer the average woman as her frequent QI host Stephen Fry has to offer the average bloke. What can I say but… Zzzzzzzzzzz!

Toksvig’s idea of fun is an evening of Scrabble, knitting and feeding the cat, and this dull-as-ditchwater elite liberalism is what’s wrong with the Women’s Equality Party and is why it will fail to inspire ordinary women.

That, and the fact that women everywhere are abandoning feminism in their millions: in just two years,  the number of American women who identify as feminist has collapsed from 28 per cent to 18 per cent in response to the outlandish irrelevances of the modern feminist movement.

But there’s something even more offensive about this new party. It’s 2015! Who in their right mind thinks a Women’s Equality Party is needed in Britain today? Anyone at all, outside the M25? If anything, it’s men and boys who need some political support.

It reminds you of the trades unions of the 1970s, says my colleague Allum Bokhari. Having won their most important fights decades before, the movement had nothing to do but push for greater and greater privileges, all the while advancing a rhetoric of victimhood that was entirely out of step with reality.

Eventually, the public’s patience ran out, and we had the 1980s.

I did say I was going to darken your day, but remember: it’s always darkest just before dawn.

The Women’s Equality Party. What larks!

Suspect charged in Canada for plotting ‘IS-inspired attacks’

A man was arrested and charged in British Columbia Friday after allegedly posting material supporting the Islamic State group and calling for killings in the name of “jihad,” officials said.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said 33-year-old Othman Ayed Hamdan of Fort St. John, about 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) north of Vancouver, was charged on three counts.

He is accused of counseling to commit murder, counseling to assault causing bodily harm and counseling to commit aggravated assault — all “for the benefit of a terrorist group,” according to an RCMP statement.

“Hamdan was involved in posting pro-Islamic State (IS) propaganda online which included inducement and instructions to commit murder in the name of jihad,” the statement said.

Hamdan, who has been under investigation since October 2014, is in custody and is expected to appear in court shortly.

The RCMP said “a number of items” were seized from his residence.

“We were able to arrest this individual and disrupt his efforts to harm citizens across the country,” said RCMP Superintendent Dan Bond, an assistant criminal operations officer for national security.

Canadian lawmakers passed new anti-terror measures this year, in response to attacks on Canadian soil last October, when a gunman shot dead a ceremonial guard and then stormed parliament, and a soldier was run over and killed in rural Quebec.

The toughened stance has drawn criticism from those who say it violates civil rights and say the law is too broad and lacks oversight.

Officials defended the measure Friday after Hamdan’s arrest, and said that the government would remain vigilant.

“It is clear that the terrorism threat is real. The international jihadist movement has declared war on Canada,” said Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney.

“That is why our government passed the anti-terrorism act… which enhances the ability of our police officers to detain suspected terrorists before they can harm Canadians.”

The law criminalizes the promotion of terrorism, makes it easier for police to arrest and detain individuals without charge and expands the Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s mandate from intelligence-collection to actively thwarting terror plots and spying outside Canada.

Kosovo cuts water to tens of thousands of people in Pristina over Islamic State plot to poison reservoir

The jihad threat to the water supply is real. And as far back as 2002, the feds arrested two jihadis who were carrying plans about how to poison water supplies. In 2003, al-Qaeda threatened to poison water supplies in Western countries. In 2011, a jihadi in Spain likewise planned to poison water supplies.

And in May 2013, seven Muslim “chemical engineers” were caught trespassing at the Quabbin Reservoir, a key supply of water for Boston, after midnight. Only months later and indirectly did we hear that it was a “criminal matter.” That same month, jihadists were caught in Canada who hadconsidered poisoning air and water to murder up to 100,000 people.

“Kosovo cuts Pristina water supply over alleged Isis plot to poison reservoir,” Guardian, July 11, 2015 (thanks to Anne Crockett):

Kosovo authorities say they have cut off the water supply to tens of thousands of people in the capital after police arrested five suspects linked to Islamic State who were allegedly planning to poison a reservoir.

Pristina’s water authority said the water supply was shut off early on Saturday “because of security issues” and that samples were being tested for suspicious substances.

Police say officers patrolling the Badovac reservoir saw three of the men, whose identities have not been revealed, behaving suspiciously. The reservoir supplies almost half of Pristina, a city of more than 200,000 people. Another two suspects were arrested elsewhere in Kosovo….

A police source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that two of the suspects had been arrested last year on suspicion of traveling to Syria.

Police have been on alert in recent weeks after Kosovo-born volunteers appeared on Isis propaganda videos warning of imminent attacks against targets including water supplies.

Security officials say more than 200 people from Kosovo have gone to fight in Syria and Iraq, and more than 30 are believed to have been killed. There are concerns over the potential threat posed by those who return.