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Charlie Hebdo: Paris attack brothers’ campaign of terror can be traced back to Algeria in 1954.

Robert Fisk 9th January 2015.                                           Find Article Video + Photos Here:-

Algeria is the post-colonial wound that still bleeds in France.

Algeria. Long before the identity of the murder suspects was revealed by the French police – even before I heard the names of Cherif and Said Kouachi – I muttered the word “Algeria” to myself. As soon as I heard the names and saw the faces, I said the word “Algeria” again. And then the French police said the two men were of “Algerian origin”.

For Algeria remains the most painful wound within the body politic of the Republic – save, perhaps, for its continuing self-examination of Nazi occupation – and provides a fearful context for every act of Arab violence against France. The six-year Algerian war for independence, in which perhaps a million and a half Arab Muslims and many thousands of French men and women died, remains an unending and unresolved agony for both peoples. Just over half a century ago, it almost started a French civil war.

Maybe all newspaper and television reports should carry a “history corner”, a little reminder that nothing – absolutely zilch – happens without a past. Massacres, bloodletting, fury, sorrow, police hunts (“widening” or “narrowing” as sub-editors wish) take the headlines. Always it’s the “who” and the “how” – but rarely the “why”. Take the crime against humanity in Paris this week – the words “atrocity” and “barbarity” somehow diminish the savagery of this act – and its immediate aftermath.

We know the victims: journalists, cartoonists, cops. And how they were killed. Masked gunmen, Kalashnikov automatic rifles, ruthless, almost professional nonchalance. And the answer to “why” was helpfully supplied by the murderers. They wanted to avenge “the Prophet” for Charlie Hebdo’s irreverent and (for Muslims) highly offensive cartoons. And of course, we must all repeat the rubric: nothing – nothing ever – could justify these cruel acts of mass murder. And no, the killers cannot call on history to justify their crimes.

But there’s an important context that somehow got left out of the story this week, the “history corner” that many Frenchmen as well as Algerians prefer to ignore: the bloody 1954-62 struggle of an entire people for freedom against a brutal imperial regime, a prolonged war which remains the foundational quarrel of Arabs and French to this day.

The desperate and permanent crisis in Algerian-French relations, like the refusal of a divorced couple to accept an agreed narrative of their sorrow, poisons the cohabitation of these two peoples in France. However Cherif and Said Kouachi excused their actions, they were born at a time when Algeria had been invisibly mutilated by 132 years of occupation. Perhaps five million of France’s six and a half million Muslims are Algerian. Most are poor, many regard themselves as second-class citizens in the land of equality.

Like all tragedies, Algeria’s eludes the one-paragraph explanation of news agency dispatches, even the shorter histories written by both sides after the French abandoned Algeria in 1962.

For unlike other important French dependencies or colonies, Algeria was regarded as an integral part of metropolitan France, sending representatives to the French parliament in Paris, even providing Charles de Gaulle and the Allies with a French “capital” from which to invade Nazi-occupied north Africa and Sicily.

More than 100 years earlier, France had invaded Algeria itself, subjugating its native Muslim population, building small French towns and chateaux across the countryside, even – in an early 19th-century Catholic renaissance which was supposed to “re-Christianise” northern Africa – converting mosques into churches.

The Algerian response to what today appears to be a monstrous historical anachronism varied over the decades between lassitude, collaboration and insurrection. A demonstration for independence in the Muslim-majority and nationalist town of Sétif on VE Day – when the Allies had liberated the captive countries of Europe – resulted in the killing of 103 European civilians. French government revenge was ruthless; up to 700 Muslim civilians – perhaps far more – were killed by infuriated French “colons” and in bombardment of surrounding villages by French aircraft and a naval cruiser. The world paid little attention.

But when a full-scale insurrection broke out in 1954 – at first, of course, ambushes with few French lives lost and then attacks on the French army – the sombre war of Algerian liberation was almost preordained. Beaten in that classic post-war anti-colonial battle at Dien Bien Phu, the French army, after its debacle in 1940, seemed vulnerable to the more romantic Algerian nationalists who noted France’s further humiliation at Suez in 1956.

French military police drive through Algiers during the insurrection (Keystone/Getty Images)

French military police drive through Algiers during the insurrection (Keystone/Getty Images)

What the historian Alistair Horne rightly described in his magnificent history of the Algerian struggle as “a savage war of peace” took the lives of hundreds of thousands. Bombs, booby traps, massacres by government forces and National Liberation Front guerrillas in the “bled” – the countryside south of the Mediterranean – led to the brutal suppression of Muslim sectors of Algiers, the assassination, torture and execution of guerrilla leaders by French paratroopers, soldiers, Foreign Legion operatives – including German ex-Nazis – and paramilitary police. Even white French sympathisers of the Algerians were “disappeared”. Albert Camus spoke out against torture and French civil servants were sickened by the brutality employed to keep Algeria French.

De Gaulle appeared to support the white population and said as much in Algiers – “Je vous ai compris,” he told them – and then proceeded to negotiate with FLN representatives in France. Algerians had long provided the majority of France’s Muslim population and in October 1961 up to 30,000 of them staged a banned independence rally in Paris – in fact, scarcely a mile from the scene of last week’s slaughter – which was attacked by French police units who murdered, it is now acknowledged, up to 600 of the protesters.

A crowd of Algerian demonstrators outside Government House, carrying Charles de Gaulle posters during the Algerian war of independence in 1985 (Getty Images)

A crowd of Algerian demonstrators outside Government House, carrying Charles de Gaulle posters during the Algerian war of independence in 1985 (Getty Images)

Algerians were beaten to death in police barracks or thrown into the Seine. The police chief who supervised security operations and who apparently directed the 1961 massacre was none other than Maurice Papon – who was, almost 40 years later, convicted for crimes against humanity under Petain’s Vichy regime during the Nazi occupation.

The Algerian conflict finished in a bloodbath. White “pied noir” French colonists refused to accept France’s withdrawal, supported the secret OAS in attacking Algerian Muslims and encouraged French military units to mutiny. At one point, De Gaulle feared that French paratroopers would try to take over Paris.

When the end came, despite FLN promises to protect French citizens who chose to stay in Algeria, there were mass killings in Oran. Up to a million and a half white French men, women and children – faced with a choice of “the coffin or the suitcase” – left for France, along with thousands of loyal Algerian “harki” fighters who fought with the army but were then largely abandoned to their terrible fate by De Gaulle. Some were forced to swallow their own French military medals and thrown into mass graves.

Algerian rebels training to use weapons in 1958 (Getty Images)

Algerian rebels training to use weapons in 1958 (Getty Images)
But the former French colonists, who still regarded Algeria as French – along with an exhausted FLN dictatorship which took over the independent country – instituted a cold peace in which Algeria’s residual anger, in France as well as in the homeland, settled into long-standing resentment. In Algeria, the new nationalist elite embarked on a hopeless Soviet-style industrialisation of their country. Former French citizens demanded massive reparations; indeed, for decades, the French kept all the drainage maps of major Algerian cities so that the new owners of Algeria had to dig up square miles of city streets every time a water main burst.

And when the Algerian civil war of the 1980s commenced – after the Algerian army cancelled a second round of elections which Islamists were sure to win – the corrupt FLN “pouvoir” and the Muslim rebels embarked on a conflict every bit as gruesome as the Franco-Algerian war of the 1950s and 1960s. Torture, disappearances, village massacres all resumed. France discreetly supported a dictatorship whose military leaders salted away millions of dollars in Swiss banks.

Algerian Muslims returning from the anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan joined the Islamists in the mountains, killing some of the few remaining French citizens in Algeria. And many subsequently left to fight in the Islamist wars, in Iraq and later Syria.

Enter here the Kouachi brothers, especially Chérif, who was imprisoned for taking Frenchmen to fight against the Americans in Iraq. And the United States, with French support, now backs the FLN regime in its continuing battle against Islamists in Algeria’s deserts and mountain forests, arming a military which tortured and murdered thousands of men in the 1990s.

As an American diplomat said just before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the United States “has much to learn” from the Algerian authorities. You can see why some Algerians went to fight for the Iraqi resistance. And found a new cause…

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Charlie Hebdo and Tsarnaev’s Trial: Qui bono?

By   9th January 2015.                 Find Article Here:-

There are two ways to look at the alleged terrorist attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo

One is that in the English speaking world, or much of it, the satire would have been regarded as “hate speech,” and the satirists arrested. But in France Muslims are excluded from the privileged category, took offense at the satire, and retaliated.

Why would Muslims bother? By now Muslims must be accustomed to Western hypocrisy and double standards. Little doubt that Muslims are angry that they do not enjoy the protections other minorities receive, but why retaliate for satire but not for France’s participation in Washington’s wars against Muslims in which hundreds of thousands have died? Isn’t being killed more serious than being satirized?

Another way of seeing the attack is as an attack designed to shore up France’s vassal status to Washington. The suspects can be both guilty and patsies. Just remember all the terrorist plots created by the FBI that served to make the terrorism threat real to Americans.

France is suffering from the Washington-imposed sanctions against Russia. Shipyards are impacted from being unable to deliver Russian orders due to France’s vassalage status to Washington, and other aspects of the French economy are being adversely impacted by sanctions that Washington forced its NATO puppet states to apply to Russia.

This week the French president said that the sanctions against Russia should end (so did the German vice-chancellor).

This is too much foreign policy independence on France’s part for Washington. Has Washington resurrected “Operation Gladio,” which consisted of CIA bombing attacks against Europeans during the post-WW II era that Washington blamed on communists and used to destroy communist influence in European elections? Just as the world was led to believe that communists were behind Operation Gladio’s terrorist attacks, Muslims are blamed for the attacks on the French satirical magazine.

The Roman question is always: Who benefits? The answer is: Not France, not Muslims, but US world hegemony. US hegemony over the world is what the CIA supports. US world hegemony is the neoconservative-imposed foreign policy of the US.

According to National Public Radio, Charlie Hebdo is about free speech. The US has free speech, claim NPR’s pundits, but terrorists have taken it away from the French.

Just how does the US have free speech when NY Times reporter James Risen was psychologically put on the rack to force him to reveal his source, despite the fact that Risen and his source are protected by the US Constitution and whistleblower protections. Clearly, in the US “national security” has trumped everything else.

“National security” has nothing to do with national security. It has only to do with protecting the criminals in the US government from accountability for their crimes. Every time you hear Washington invoke “national security,” you know for a 100% fact that the government has committed yet another crime. National security is the cloak for Washington’s criminal operations. “National security” prevents the government’s crimes from coming to light and, thereby, protects government from accountability.

One wonders what role “national security” will play in the trial of alleged Boston Marathon Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Tsarnaev has been in custody since April 2013 and under indictment since April 22, 2013. Yet jury selection is only now beginning in January 2015. Why this long delay? The guarantee of a speedy trial no longer means anything, but with all sorts of charges in addition to the bombing for which the government claims eye witnesses and confessions and with the Tsarnaev brothers already convicted in the media, the long delay is a puzzle. Yet, we have not heard from Dzhokhar Tsarnaey himself. It is difficult to push away the thought that Dzhokhar’s trial has been delayed in order to compete his conditioning and acceptance of his guilt and in order for the many questions raised by alternative media to be forgotten.

The print and TV media have dished up the government’s explanation without investigation. However, the alternative media have taken great exception to every aspect of the case. As the US government has taught us since the Clinton regime, the safest assumption is that everything the government says is a lie.

The most suspicious aspect of the event was the speed with which an army of 10,000 heavily armed troops consisting of police from various jurisdictions and National Guard soldiers outfitted in military gear and provided with tanks or armored personnel carriers were on the streets of Boston. Never before has such a massive force equipped with military heavy equipment been employed in a manhunt, much less for one wounded, unarmed, 19-year old kid.

For such a force to be assembled and deployed so quickly suggests pre-planning. What was presented as a manhunt for one badly wounded suspect looks more like a test case and precedent for locking down one of America’s largest cities, while squads of troops evicted US citizens from their homes at gunpoint and conducted indiscriminate searches of houses that contributed nothing to apprehending the alleged suspect. The chances are zero that any household would have harbored a badly wounded unarmed fugitive dying from the lack of medical care.

Not only was Boston and its suburbs locked down, the Federal Aviation Administration restricted airspace over Boston and issued a “ground stop” for Logan airport. Why?

Several other cities in Massachusetts and even some other states put their police forces on alert. Why?

On the scene were the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, the CIA, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the National Counterterrorism Center. The US Attorney General committed the full resources of the US Department of Justice.Why?

The only plausible answer is to raise the fear level in order to gain the public’s acceptance of the lockdown of Boston and police invasions of citizens’ homes. It makes no sense that danger from a badly wounded unarmed 19 year-old could possibly justify such expense and trampling of constitutional rights of citizens.

A non-gullible person must wonder if the bombing was an orchestrated event for the purpose of coordinating state, local, and federal governments in the lockdown of a major city. A poll of Bostonians last July found that 42 percent harbored doubts about the official version of events.

The gullible always say that if a conspiracy existed someone would have talked. But people do talk. It just doesn’t do any good. For example, during George W. Bush’s first term a NSA whistleblower leaked to the New York Times that the NSA was bypassing the FISA Court and spying on American citizens without warrants. Under US law, NSA was in a conspiracy with the Bush regime to commit serious felonies (possibly for the purpose of blackmail), but the New York Times spiked the story for one year until George W. Bush was re-elected and the regime had time to ex post facto legalize the felonies.

Operation Gladio was a conspiracy kept secret for decades until a President of Italy revealed it.

The Northwoods Project was kept secret until years afterward when the second Kennedy Commission revealed it.

More than one hundred first responder police and firemen report hearing and personally experiencing multiple explosions floor by floor and even in the sub-basements of the World Trade Center twin towers, and these testimonies had no effect whatsoever.

It only took one high school physics professor to shoot down NIST’s account of the collapse of WTC 7. The fact that it has been conclusively proven that this building was brought down by controlled demolition has had no effect on the official story.

The co-chairmen and legal counsel of the 9/11 Commission published books in which they say that information was withheld from the Commission, that the US Military lied to the Commission, and that the Commission “was set up to fail.” Neither Congress, the media, nor the US public had any interest in investigating why information was withheld, why the military lied, and why the Commission was set up to fail. These extraordinary statements by the leaders of the official investigation had no impact whatsoever.

Even today a majority of the US population believes Washington’s propaganda that Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed some provinces. Neither judgement nor intelligence are strongpoints of the American public and juries.

Government tells Americans whatever story the government puts together and sits and laughs at the gullibility of the public.

Today the US public is divided between those who rely on the “mainstream media” and those who rely on the alternative Internet media. Only the latter have any clue as to what is really happening.

The stories of Charlie Hebdo and the Tsarnaev brothers will be based not on facts but on the interests of government. As in the past, the government’s interest will prevail over the facts.

When will Palestinians learn? Turning to international law isn’t the answer — just ask America and Israel.

By Robert Fisk  4th January 2015.                                Find Article + Photos Here:-

If Palestine’s request is ‘entirely counterproductive’, what does that make Israel’s slaughtering of civilians last summer?

Throw an old dog a bone and sure enough, he’ll go chasing after it. So it is with “Palestine’s” request to join the International Criminal Court. An obvious attempt by Mahmoud Abbas to try Israel for war crimes in Gaza this year, we are told.

Or maybe a “two-edged sword” – yawns are permitted for such clichés – which could also put Hamas “in the dock”. Israel was outraged. The US was “strongly opposed” to such a dastardly request by the elderly potentate who thinks he rules a state which doesn’t even exist.

But hold on a moment. That isn’t the story, is it? Surely the real narrative is totally different. The BBC didn’t get this. Nor CNN. Nor even Al Jazeera. But surely the most significant event of all is that the descendants of the PLO – excoriated only a quarter of a century ago as the most dangerous “terrorist” organisation in the world, its mendacious leader Yasser Arafat branded “our Bin Laden” by Israel’s mendacious leader Ariel Sharon – actually wants TO ABIDE BY INTERNATIONAL LAW!

Heavens preserve us from such a thought, but these chappies – after all their past calls for Israel’s extinction, after all the suicide bombings and intifadas – are asking to join one of the most prestigious judicial bodies on earth. For years, the Palestinians have demanded justice. They went to the international court in The Hague to have Israel’s apartheid wall dismantled – they even won, and Israel didn’t give a hoot. Any sane Palestinian, you might think, would long ago have turned his or her back on such peaceful initiatives.

Yet still these wretched Palestinians persist, after this most humiliating of insults, in resorting to international law to resolve their conflict with Israel. Here they go again, dutifully seeking membership of the International Criminal Court. Will these Arabs never learn?

And of course, the Americans are threatening to punish such effrontery. Stop those millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinians. Stand by Israel’s refusal to accept any such approach to the International Criminal Court by “Palestine”. The EU – especially Britain and France – have gone along with this tosh. Israel has already decided to stop more than £80m in tax owed to the Palestinian authority.

The US State Department’s spokesman told us that his government is “deeply troubled” by the Palestinian application. It is “entirely counterproductive”, he informed the world. It does “nothing to further the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a sovereign state” – though one might have thought that membership of so august a judicial body would have done a lot to persuade the world that Palestinians were ready to shoulder all the burdens of statehood.

After all, the Palestinians would indeed have to abide by international law and – if the law applied retrospectively – they would have to carry the burden of opprobrium themselves for both Hamas crimes and past PLO murders. The United States, of course – and this fact oddly did not feature in the flurry of news reports on “Palestine’s” request to join – has itself refused to join the International Criminal Court. And with good reason; because, like the Israelis – although this is not quite how the whole fandango was explained to us – Washington is also worried that its soldiers and government officials will be arraigned for war crimes. Think waterboarding, Abu Ghraib, the report on CIA torture…

No wonder Jeffrey Rathke, the windbag who speaks for the State Department, says that the Palestinian request “badly damages the atmosphere” with Israel, “undermines trust” and “creates doubts about their (Palestinian) commitment to a negotiated peace”. And remember, Abbas only made his request after America had voted against – it has previously used its veto more than 40 times on Israel’s behalf to reject Palestine’s self-determination since 1975 – a UN Security Council resolution to end Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land by 2017.

But of course, what this whole kerfuffle is really about is quite simple. The world is tired of witnessing the suffering of Palestinians. Those with an ounce of human sympathy are sickened at being slandered as anti-Semitic or anti-Zionist (whatever that is) every time they express their outrage at Israel’s cruelty towards the Palestinians.

Killing more than 2,000 Palestinians last summer, hundreds of them children, was a mass slaughter. We’ve watched this grotesquerie so many times now – in Gaza, for the most part – that even our statistics have become spattered with blood.

Who now recalls the fatalities of the 2008-9 Gaza war? One thousand four hundred and seventeen Palestinians dead, 313 of them children, more than 5,500 wounded. That was the conflict upon which President-elect Obama had no comment to make.

And who knows what other gory Pandora’s box ICC membership would open? That bomber pilot who in 2002 killed 15 civilians, 11 of them children, in a Gaza apartment block to assassinate a Hamas official, for example? Wouldn’t that constitute a war crime? Don’t these outrages “damage the atmosphere” and “undermine trust”. Were these bloodbaths not “entirely counterproductive”? And the Jewish colonisation of the occupied West Bank?

Sure, bang up those behind Hamas and Islamic Jihad suicide attacks for war crimes. Get the Palestinian Authority thugs who torture and murder their own prisoners. But that’s not what Israel and the US are worried about. They are concerned that, after months of arguing and rowing and delving through thousands of documents, jurists may decide that Israel – horror of horror – may have to answer for itself before international justice, something which no routine US veto could prevent.

Now just imagine if Israel and America wanted the Palestinians to sign the Rome document. Conjure the thought – for a split-second only – that Israel and America insisted that the Palestinians must abide by an international treaty and become members of the International Criminal Court to qualify for statehood. Abbas’s refusal to do so would be further proof of his “terrorist” intentions. Yet when Abbas does sign the Rome document, when the Palestinians want to abide by an international treaty, they must be punished – surely a “first” in modern history.

I can only think of two phrases that fit the bill for this scandal of the West’s politicians. Confound their politics. Frustrate their knavish tricks.

The impasse in the Middle East in a nutshell

Apropos of which… Avi Shlaim, among the finest of Israeli historians, has just brought out a new edition of his great work The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World. “The prospect of a real change in American foreign policy looks slim to non-existent,” he writes. “Nor is there at present any evidence to suggest that Israel’s leaders are remotely interested in a genuine two-state solution… They seem oblivious to the damage that the occupation is doing to their society and to the reputation of their country abroad.” That’s it in a nutshell, isn’t it?

Charlie Hebdo: Not Exactly A Model Of Freedom Of Speech.

Diana Johnstone wrote the following yesterday concluding her extended report from Paris:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/01/07/what-to-say-when-you-have-nothing-to-say/

Charlie Hebdo was not in reality a model of freedom of speech.  It has ended up, like so much of the “human rights left”, defending U.S.-led wars against “dictators”.

In 2002, Philippe Val, who was editor in chief at the time, denounced Noam Chomsky for anti-Americanism and excessive criticism of Israel and of mainstream media.  In 2008, another of Charlie Hebdo’s famous cartoonists, Siné, wrote a short note citing a news item that President Sarkozy’s son Jean was going to convert to Judaism to marry the heiress of a prosperous appliance chain. Siné added the comment, “He’ll go far, this lad.” For that, Siné was fired by Philippe Val on grounds of “anti-Semitism”.  Siné promptly founded a rival paper which stole a number of Charlie Hebdo readers, revolted by CH’s double standards.

In short, Charlie Hebdo was an extreme example of what is wrong with the “politically correct” line of the current French left.  The irony is that the murderous attack by the apparently Islamist killers has suddenly sanctified this fading expression of extended adolescent revolt, which was losing its popular appeal, into the eternal banner of a Free Press and Liberty of Expression.  Whatever the murderers intended, this is what they have achieved.  Along with taking innocent lives, they have surely deepened the sense of brutal chaos in this world, aggravated distrust between ethnic groups in France and in Europe, and no doubt accomplished other evil results as well.  In this age of suspicion, conspiracy theories are certain to proliferate.

We think the Paris terrorists were offended by Charlie Hebdo’s satire. What if we’re wrong?

By   8th January.                Find Article + Videos Here:-

We’ve bought the idea that Islamic terrorists are genuinely outraged by satirical cartoons. But maybe we’re playing into their hands.

Here’s a theory. Terrorists aren’t offended by cartoons. Not even cartoons that satirise the Prophet Muhammad. They don’t care about satire. For all I know they may not even care about the Prophet Muhammad.

Instead, they merely pretend to be offended by cartoons, in order to give themselves a pretext to commit murder. Murder so horrifying, on a pretext so unWestern, that non-Muslims – blinded by grief and rage – turn on Muslims. Blame them. Persecute them. Burn their book, attack their mosques, threaten them in the street, demand their expulsion from Western societies. Actions that, in turn, scare Western Muslims, isolate them, alienate them. And thus drive some of them to support – and even become – terrorists.

Result: terrorists swell their ranks for a civil war they long to provoke non-Muslims into starting.

In our angry innocence, however, we persist in thinking this is somehow about cartoons. In thinking that the terrorists “win” if we don’t reproduce those cartoons, and “lose” if we do. As if, at this very moment, terrorist leaders across the West are privately wailing in anguished disbelief because satirical cartoons have been reproduced this morning in several European newspapers.(“Disaster! Our plan has backfired in a way we couldn’t possibly have foreseen! Ink really does beat Kalashnikovs! Satire defeats us once again!”)

On the whole, I’m not sure that’s very likely. I don’t think the terrorists “win” if we fail to reproduce cartoons. I think the terrorists “win” if we leap up, gulp down their bait – and hate Muslims.

This is not about satire. This is beyond satire.

Gadhimai Hindu festival: Global condemnation of slaughter of more than 5,000 buffaloes.

By Lizzie Dearden   29th November 2014.           Find Article & Photos Here:-

 The ritual in Nepal has been condemned as ‘unparalleled religious madness’.

The slaughter of more than 5,000 buffaloes at the Gadhimai Hindu festival in Nepal has drawn global condemnation from animal charities.

Many more buffaloes and farm animals including chickens, goats and pigs are due to be killed as part of what is thought to be the world’s largest animal sacrifice ritual.

Devotees believe the event brings good luck and will encourage Gadhimai, the Hindu goddess of power, to answer their wishes.

Several charities had worked to stop the slaughter – the first of its kind since an estimated 200,000 animals and birds were sacrificed in 2009 – but only succeeded in pressuring the Indian Government into stopping animals being transported across the border.

Joanna Lumley is among the celebrities opposing the festival and led a protest in London last month with the charity Compassion in World Farming.

Joanna Lumley at a Compassion in World Farming against Gadhimai in London

Joanna Lumley at a Compassion in World Farming against Gadhimai in London At a rally outside the Nepalese embassy, she said: “I love Nepal – both the land and its people. The Gadhimai animal sacrifice festival entails horrendous animal suffering and is a complete anomaly in this wonderful country.”

The ritual begins before dawn in the fields outside Gadhimai temple in Bariyarpur, where a priest trickles his own blood combined with that of a rat, chicken, pigeon, goat, and pig.

Thousands of vehicles packed with families carrying goats and birds intended for sacrifice travelled along the road leading to the temple on Friday.

To end the first day of the event, thousands of buffaloes were decapitated by a group of specially chosen men using curved kukri knives.

A butcher walks with a bloodied blade as he looks for an animal to kill during a mass slaughter of buffaloes for the Gadhimai festival inside a walled enclosure in the village of Bariyapur. Millions of Hindu devotees from Nepal and India migrate to the village to honour their goddess of power. The celebrations includes the slaughtering of hundreds of thousands of animals, mostly buffalo and goats. Worshippers have spent days sleeping out in the open and offering prayers to the goddess at a temple decked with flowers in preparation.

A butcher walks with a bloodied blade as he looks for an animal to kill during a mass slaughter of buffaloes for the Gadhimai festival.

“The sights and sounds are unimaginable,” wrote Jayasimha Nuggehalli director of the Indian branch of the Humane Society International. “Pools of blood, animals bellowing in pain and panic, wide-eyed children looking on, devotees covered in animal blood, and some people even drinking blood from the headless but still warm carcasses.”

Shristi Singh Shrestha, an animal rights activist with Animal Welfare Network Nepal, told the Guardian she felt “defeated” because the group was unable to stop the slaughter but the number of killed livestock was falling.

“However, the positive thing is that the number of animals killed has come down…we hope there will be no killing of any animal at the next festival,” she said.

An Italian charity, Partito EcoAnimalista, called Gadhimai “unparalleled religious madness”, saying the buffaloes are not given food or water for several days before the slaughter to make them docile and weak.

Peta also launched a petition calling for the “horrifying display of violence” to be stopped.

Its letter read: “The frenzied slaughter of hundreds of thousands of goats, chickens, buffalo and other animals only tarnishes Nepal’s international reputation. Numerous animals, already weakened by their long journeys, die from exhaustion, starvation or dehydration before the massacre begins.”

Several Hindu leaders have also argued that the ritual goes against core religious beliefs.

Surya Upadhya, chairman of the Nepalese Hindu Forum in the UK, said:  “The Nepalese Hindu Forum in the UK completely opposes animal sacrifice as Hinduism does not sanction the killing of living beings.

“There should not be any place for this inhumane, barbaric sacrifice of innocent animals in the name of any religion”.

The interim law banning the transport of animals from India had led to almost 2,500 being confiscated and 114 arrests in Bihar, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Sashastra Seema Bal, said N.G. Jayasimha, the managing director of Humane Society International India.

Pictures of the slaughter showed carcasses of countless beheaded and mutilated animals surrounded by pools of blood as young boys watched the bloodshed.

The gruesome images provoked outrage on Twitter, with global calls for Gadhimai to be stopped before the next ritual is due in 2019, although some defended the tradition.

Categories: Religion

Vatican cocaine-filled condoms parcel seized by German customs officers.

By Agence France-Presse  23rd March 2014.          Find Article Here:-

Package sent to the Vatican from a South American country contained 14 condoms filled with £33,000 worth of liquid cocaine.

Vatican

The box addressed to the Vatican contained cocaine valued at £33,000. Photograph: Sylvain Sonnet/Getty Images

German customs officials have intercepted a package addressed to the Vatican containing 14 condoms filled with cocaine.

A government spokesman said a box packed with 340 grammes of the drug, valued at €40,000 (£33,470), was seized in January at the international airport in the eastern city of Leipzig.

The cocaine, posted from an unnamed South American country, was in liquid form. It had been poured into the condoms and placed in the package addressed to the main postal centre at the Vatican.

Authorities handed the parcel to a Vatican police officer with the aim of laying a trap.

But the box was not claimed. German investigators believe the intended recipient, who remains unknown, was tipped off about the interception.

The Vatican office of Interpol is working on the investigation with the Leipzig prosecutor’s office, which could not be reached for comment.