Geert Wilders finally cancel Prophet Muhammad cartoon competition

Prophet Muhammad’s cartoon contest that sparked protests in Pakistan has finally been canceled.

Prophet Muhammad’s cartoon contest that sparked protests in Pakistan has finally been canceled. The contest, which was planned for November was organized by Geert Wilders, an anti-Islam opposition leader in the Netherlands, was canceled after it sparked protests in Pakistan.

The far-right politician who is known for his incendiary speeches and protests against immigration and Islam said Thursday that he canceled the program because he did not want to endanger others by the contest.

“To avoid the risk of victims of Islamic violence, I have decided not to let the cartoon contest go ahead,” he said in a written statement, claiming to have received death threats.

The event sparked angry protests in Pakistan and a death threat this week from a 26-year-old man, reportedly a Pakistani, who was arrested on Tuesday in The Hague.

Earlier on Thursday, a Dutch judge extended by two weeks the detention of the man who allegedly threatened to attack Wilders.

Prosecutors in a statement said that an investigating judge ordered the suspect held while he is investigated on charges of making a threat, making preparations for a murder and incitement.

However, Stijn van Kessel, a political scientist at Queen Mary University of London, told Al Jazeera that the competition was a publicity stunt by Wilders to get media attention in the face of waning public support.

 

Farmers to begin receiving relief payment from 412 billion aid next month

The Agriculture Department said Monday that $4.7 billion will soon be paid to farmers.

The Agriculture Department said Monday that $4.7 billion will soon be paid to farmers whose harvests have been affected by “unjustified retaliation” from foreign governments most especially China, in trade war with the United States.

The compensation is the initial payment of the $12 billion in aid the Trump’s administration promised in July to farmers slammed by tariffs.

“Our farmers work hard and are the most productive in the world, and we aim to protect them,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue said.

From September 7, the USDA’s Farm Service Agency will oversee a program aimed to provide payment to corn, cotton, diary, hog, sorghum, soybean and wheat farmers. Soybean farmers will get the larger chunk of the money, $3.7 billion. Pork producers will get $290 million, while $277 million goes to cotton farmers.

If warranted, another announcement about further payments will be made to the general public in the coming months, the USDA said.

A separate program will be assigned to buy $1.2 billion in commodities unfairly targeted by unjustified retaliation, the USDA said. The commodities will be distributed through nutrition assistance programs such as The Emergency Food Assistance Program and child nutrition programs.

Pork producers will benefit $558 million from the scheme, while $93 million will go toward the purchases of apples. Another $85 million will be used to buy and redistribute both pistachios and diary products.

Protesters in Pakistan begins march against Muhammad cartoon contest in Netherlands: reports

Thousands of Islamists protesters stormed the street of Pakistan to demand Imran Khan’s new government.

Thousands of Islamists protesters stormed the street of Pakistan to demand Imran Khan’s new government to sever ties with the Netherlands over a “blasphemous” cartoon competition.

The march, which was organized by Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP), a political party established to punish blasphemers, presents the first major test of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) administration. Last year, a similar protest by the TLP shutdown the capital city Islamabad, for almost a month.

In June, Geert Wilders, the anti-Islam MP and the second largest party in Netherlands was found guilty of inciting hatred, after the party invited submission of cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad, which Islam forbids. The competition, which begins in November, will see the winner going home with $10,000 (£7,700). The competition has registered 200 entries so far.

“We can be martyred or arrested,” said one of the TLP’s leaders, Peer Afzal Qadri, “but we will not return until either the cartoon contest is stopped or the Dutch envoy is expelled.”

On Wednesday, thousands of activists came out from the eastern city of Lahore for Islamabad, where they plan to stage a sit-in.

Khadim Rizvi, the cleric who founded the TLP, said condemnation of the contest by the Pakistani government was not enough and “only jihad” was the solution.

In another instance before the country’s general elections, Rizvi said if he had the power, he would order a nuclear strike against the Netherlands if its government allowed the competition to go ahead.

Also, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, has termed the completion “disrespectful” but defended the right to hold it on the grounds of freedom of expression.

 

Cambodia court jails Australian filmmaker 6 years for espionage

An Australian filmmaker working in Cambodia has been sentenced to six years in prison after he was convicted of espionage.

An Australian filmmaker working in Cambodia has been sentenced to six years in prison after he was convicted of espionage.

After a six-day trial, a Cambodian judge Seng Leang on Friday found James Ricketson guilty on two charges of espionage.

“We have decided to convict [him] to six years in prison for espionage and collecting harmful information that could affect national defence,” he said.

The prosecution had accused Ricketson of working as a filmmaker in Cambodia for years, while in actuality he is a spy.

“Unbelievable. Which country am I spying for?” Ricketson asked out loud in court.

Ricketson has been held in jail since he was arrested in June last year after he flew a drone over a rally held by the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), which was disbanded months later.

Speaking to reporters after the verdict, Ricketson’s lawyer Kong Sam Onn told reporters that he plans to request a royal pardon from the Cambodian king.

The family of the 69-year-old filmmaker hopes he will be released soon.

“This is absolutely devastating for James and for us, and for his family, and his friends, and everyone. It’s been such a long hard process and to get this result is just devastating. I don’t know … we need some time to get our thoughts together and work out what to do next. Obviously we won’t be giving up,” said his son Jesse.

Death toll in Italy bridge collapse reaches 39: reports

The Italian port city of Genoa on Wednesday began a two official days of mourning.

The Italian port city of Genoa on Wednesday began a two official days of mourning amid an urgent search for survivors of a catastrophic bridge collapse that claimed at least 39 lives, including three children, authorities said.

“It continues to be a rescue operation until they have searched all the rubble,” Italian fire official Emanuelle Gissi told ABC News. “They finished one side of the river bank and moved to the other side.”

Some 400 rescue workers remain at the scene, working in a dangerous environment as they work to find more survivors, Gissi said. Buildings under the bridge were damaged in the collapse and there is a great concern that the rest of the bridge could fall, he added.

Investigators are trying to establish the cause of the collapse. Fifteen people were also injured, authorities said.

The incident, which happened Tuesday, saw dozens of cars and trucks fell about 150 feet to the ground on Gebona’s Morandi Bridge, just one day before Italy’s major summer holiday.

Meanwhile, Italian transport minister Danilo Toninelli on Wednesday called on the top management of Autostrade, the company operating the bridge to resign. The Italian government is also in the process of revoking Autostrade’s concession to manage the motorway that included the Morandi Bridge and is considering handing out fines to the company, Toninelli said in a Facebook post.

However, Autostrade in a statement said it had done regular checks on the bridge in accordance to the law.

Delay in response deepens Catholic sexual abuse crisis: reports

Pennsylvania’s state attorney general Josh Shapiro, has called a two-year grand jury investigation into Catholic sexual abuse scandal as “the largest, most comprehensive report into child sex abuse in the Catholic Church ever produced in the United States.”

Pennsylvania’s state attorney general Josh Shapiro, has called a two-year grand jury investigation into Catholic sexual abuse scandal as “the largest, most comprehensive report into child sex abuse in the Catholic Church ever produced in the United States.”

The report, which was released on Tuesday, was not the first of its kind. In 2002, the Boston Globe revealed that Catholic authorities in the Boston archdiocese had engaged in a massive cover-up of sex crimes committed by area priests, while investigations in other parts of the country have since uncovered similar patterns of sexual abuse by members of the Catholic clergy.

“Each new report of clerical abuse at any level creates doubt in the minds of many that we are effectively addressing this catastrophe in the Church,” Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston, warned last month.

The cardinal’s statement came in at a time the Washington Archdiocese called a “credible and substantiated” allegation leveled against the former archbishop of Washington, Theodore McCarrick. O’Malley warned that a failure to take action in such cases “will threaten and endanger the already weakened moral authority of the church.”

For a church deeply rooted in tradition and history, change can be difficult. The rigid law and doctrine of the Catholic Church contributed to the continuing failure of Catholic authorities to recognize and respond effectively to sexual abuse scandals.

 

Pope Francis warns parent not to condemn gay children: reports

Pope Francis has urged parents of gay children not to condemn them ignore their orientation.

Pope Francis has urged parents of gay children not to condemn them ignore their orientation or chase them out of the house. Rather he said they should pray, talk, and try to understand them.
After closing out a Catholic family rally in Ireland, Pope Francis told reporters that “there have always been gay people and people with homosexual tendencies.”
Reporters also asked him what he would tell a father of a child who just came out as gay. The pope suggested he would first suggest prayer.
“Don’t condemn. Dialogue. Understand, give the child space so he or she can express themselves.”
The Pope added that it might be necessary to seek psychiatric help should a child begins to exhibit “worrisome” traits, but it is another case entirely if an adult comes out as gay.
He also urged parents not to respond with silence. “Ignoring child with this tendency shows a lack of motherhood and fatherhood.”
He said: “This child has the right to a family. And the family not throwing him out.”
Presently, the Catholic Church is facing one of the biggest and serious sexual abuse scandals of the 21st century.
Last weekend, a former Vatican official, ex-papal nuncio Carlo Maria Vigano, published an incendiary open letter, where he called on Francis to resign for willfully turning a blind eye to ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s decades of sexual abuse and harassment against junior seminarians under his authority.

Dome Karukoski is set to direct his first movie in the United States

According to Karukoski, the two actors seem invested in the project, but contract talks are ongoing.

40-year-old Karukoski is the brains behind the recently released Tom of Finland film. He has also directed some modern domestic classics.

A US online website released the news.

Karukoski says he would have preferred the announcement to remain secret, but the film’s US production company, PalmStar, wanted to quash online speculation surrounding the choice of director.

A script by writer Matt Harris entitled The Starling will be used to produce the movie.  The director terms the film as a ‘comedy about sorrow.’

“It’s one of the best scripts I have read in years,” Karukoski says.

Superstar Keanu Reeves and Australian comedy actress Isla Fisher are pegged to headline the flick.

According to Karukoski, the two actors seem invested in the project, but contract talks are ongoing.

“Agents negotiate with agents in Hollywood,” said Karukoski, likening such talks to buying a house.

Karukoski has been invited to Hollywood before. International interest in him spiked after his 2013 film, Heart of a Lion. The movie was about a neo-Nazi who changes his ways for the sake of a biracial child.

The director has however declined all offers, until now.

Karukoski has been on record saying that he does want to be a wheel in a huge Hollywood machine, doing nothing more than yell ‘action’ and ‘cut.’ He wants to have complete control, and PalmStar came closest to agreeing to his terms, giving him a say in the casting.

Karukoski is currently marketing his newest film, Tom of Finland.

Trump opens the possibility of negotiating an agreement with Iran: reports

President Donald Trump on Tuesday has kept open the chances of negotiating an agreement to denuclearize Iran.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday has kept open the chances of negotiating an agreement to denuclearize Iran, just two days after he lashed out against the country on Twitter.

“We’ll see what happens, but we’re ready to make a real deal, not the deal that was done by the previous administration, which was a disaster,” he said during a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Iran on Monday dismissed Trump’s tweet warning that Tehran risked dire consequences “the like of which few throughout history have suffered before” if it made threats against the United States.

Defense secretary Jim Mattis, speaking at a news conference in California, declined to answer directly a question about whether he was concerned that Trump’s rhetoric might escalate tensions in the region. Mattis listed many concerns about Iranian actions in the Middle East, including Tehran’s support for President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s civil war and for Houthi militants fighting the internationally recognized government in Yemen.

“It’s time for Iran to shape up and show responsibility as a responsible nation. It cannot continue to show irresponsibility as a revolutionary organization that is intent on exporting terrorism, exporting disruption, across the region,” said Mattis, a retired Marine general.

“So I think the president was making very clear that they’re on the wrong track.”

Toronto City Council votes to ban sales of handguns: reports

Officials says it unclear how the shooter obtained his weapon.

The Toronto City Council has voted has voted in support of the Canada’s federal and provincial government to the ban and sale of handguns ammunition in the largest city in the country. The council voted 41-4 just two days after a man shot two people death and wounded 13 others in the city.

The council members discussed gun violence, its causes, its effects and potential solutions during a meeting that began Tuesday morning and lasted into the evening.

Canada’s public safety minister says Ottawa had already been considering tightening handgun laws even before Sunday’s shooting.

Officials says it unclear how the shooter obtained his weapon, and they have are yet to determine a motive for why 29-year-old Faisal Hussain fired a handgun into crowds in Toronto’s popular Greektown neighborhood, killing a 10-year-old girl and her 18-year-old sister.

Canadian investigators say there was no national security risk following the mass shooting. However, investigation for clues to what prompted the deadly rampage is still ongoing.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Tuesday: “At this stage, based on the state of the investigation, which is led by the Toronto police service, there is no connection between that individual and national security.”

The assailant died after an exchange of gunfire with police. His family has said he suffered from lifelong “severe mental health challenges” and never imagined him doing such a thing. It was not immediately clear whether he took his own life or was killed by police during the attack.