Roald Dahl, Alfred Hitchcock leads UK honours snub

FILM director Alfred Hitchcock, author Roald Dahl and artist Lucian Freud are among the people who have snubbed honours from the British monarch, government records revealed for the first time.

Painters Francis Bacon and LS Lowry, the sculptor Henry Moore and Brave New World novelist Aldous Huxley are also on the list published by the Cabinet Office ministry.

The list names 277 people who refused honours between 1951 and 1999 and have since died.

It is the first official confirmation that hundreds of people have snubbed the offer of knighthoods and other prestigious accolades.

News of people refusing an honour is rare and normally only emerges if they volunteer the information themselves.

The Cabinet Office was ordered to release the details by the Information Commissioner’s Office public body following a 15-month battle.

Lowry, famous for his “matchstick men” style in portraying the urban landscapes of northern England, turned down a record five honours during the period.

He rejected an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) gong in 1955, the higher Commander (CBE) rank in 1961 and the even higher knighthood in 1968.

Bacon rejected a CBE in 1960, as did Freud in 1977.

Dahl turned down an OBE in 1986. Other writers who snubbed accolades included Chronicles of Narnia author CS Lewis, who rejected a CBE in 1952.

Cinema legend Hitchcock turned down a CBE in 1962 but accepted a knighthood in 1980, four months before his death.

Among others named on the list, writer JB Priestley snubbed the chance to become a lord in 1965, the only case of a life peerage being rejected.

Evelyn Waugh, who penned Brideshead Revisited, turned down a CBE in 1959.

Brief Encounter actor Trevor Howard refused a CBE offer in 1982.

Philip Larkin rejected an OBE in 1968, while fellow poet Robert Graves turned down the CBE in 1957.

“It is entirely an individual’s choice as to whether they accept an honour,” said a Cabinet Office spokesman.

“People refuse honours for a variety of reasons but the numbers are very small and represent around 2 per cent of nominations.”

Beatles legend John Lennon publicly returned his MBE medal in 1969 in protest over Britain’s hand in the Nigerian civil war.

Dad pleads not guilty in baby tape case

US man who bound his 22-month-old daughter with tape and posted the photo on Facebook has pleaded not guilty to aggravated domestic battery and unlawful restraint.

A spokesman for the Cook County state’s attorney’s office in Chicago says 21-year-old Andre Curry entered his plea during a brief hearing overnight.

Mr Curry remains in custody and is scheduled to return to court tomorrow for a hearing on his lawyer’s motion to reduce his $US100,000 ($95,750) bond.

Mr Curry’s lawyer has said his client was just trying to be funny with the photograph and that he didn’t harm his daughter.

The child’s mother tells WMAQ-TV that Mr Curry was just joking and adds that he’s a great father.

Muslims call for NYPD chief to resign over movie

NEW YORK—Muslim groups are calling for New York’s police commissioner to step down because of his appearance in a film they say paints their religion and its adherents in a bad light.

About 20 activists held a news conference on the steps of City Hall on Thursday and criticized Ray Kelly for giving an interview to the producers of the movie “The Third Jihad.”

The movie uses dramatic footage to warn against the dangers of radical Islam. Muslim groups say it encourages Americans to be suspicious of all Muslims.

“Terrorism is an evil that must be eliminated, but one cannot fight wrong with wrong,” said Talib Abdur-Rashid, a Muslim cleric.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Thursday he stood by Kelly and the commissioner’s spokesman, Paul Browne. Activists had also demanded Browne’s resignation.

However, the mayor said Kelly would have to redouble his outreach efforts to Muslims.

“Anything like this doesn’t help credibility, so Ray’s got to work at establishing, re-establishing or reinforcing the credibility that he does have,” Bloomberg said.

Kelly appears for about 30 seconds of the 72-minute movie. He originally said he was not involved but on Wednesday acknowledged he had given a 90-minute interview to the filmmakers in 2007.

The movie was later shown to police trainees. The police department said it was played in a continuous loop in the sign-in area of counterterrorism training sessions between October and December 2010. As many as 1,489 trainees may have seen the movie, according to documents released under New York’s public records law.

Kelly apologized Wednesday for his appearance and for the playing of the movie.

The Muslim leaders said they are worried that the police department is teaching officers to treat all Muslims as suspects. They demanded the resignation of Kelly and Browne, and a U.S. Department of Justice inquiry into the showing of the film.

The activists also want retraining of all 1,489 officers “that are walking this city with poison in their brains,” said Cyrus McGoldrick, civil rights director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations-New York. CAIR is one of the organizations that “The Third Jihad” accuses of being soft on terrorist groups.

Kelly has said the department does surveillance only when it is following leads. But an investigation by The Associated Press has revealed a secret intelligence program, set up with the aid of the Central Intelligence Agency, aimed at infiltrating religious groups and monitoring neighborhoods even when there is no evidence of wrongdoing.

The CIA has since decided to pull its officer from the NYPD after an internal investigation criticized poor oversight of the collaboration.

 

Libya armed militia ‘torturing Muammar Gaddafi loyalists’

SEVERAL suspected diehard supporters of slain Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi have been subjected to torture and some have even died in detention centres run by armed militias, human rights groups said yesterday.

“Several detainees have died after being subjected to torture in Libya in recent weeks and months amid widespread torture and ill-treatment of suspected pro-Gaddafi fighters and loyalists,” Amnesty International said.

The London-based watchdog said its delegates had met detainees held in Tripoli, Misratah and smaller towns such as Ghariyan who showed visible signs of torture inflicted in recent days and weeks.

“The torture is being carried out by officially recognised military and security entities, as well by a multitude of armed militias operating outside any legal framework,” Amnesty said.

In a separate statement, Doctors Without Borders said it had suspended its work in Misratah, Libya’s third-largest city, which withstood a devastating siege by Gaddafi’s forces during last year’s uprising. “Detainees in the Libyan city of Misratah are being tortured and denied urgent medical care, leading the international medical humanitarian organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres to suspend its operations in detention centres in Misratah,” the group said.

Its doctors were increasingly confronted with patients who suffered injuries caused by torture during questioning.

“The interrogations were held outside the detention centres,” it said.

The concerns raised by the two groups came hours after top UN officials expressed similar fears about Libyan “revolutionary brigades”, accusing them of being behind a surge in violence and holding thousands of people in secret detention centres.

Police knew for 9 years Dowler phone hacked

Surrey Police knew for nine years that the News of the World had been hacking Milly Dowler’s voicemails and was even played a recording of one message by a journalist from the Sunday newspaper, but never took action about the law-breaking or told her anguished family.

The force, which was investigating the schoolgirl’s disappearance and murder in 2002, has stayed silent for a decade despite repeatedly being given evidence of the NOTW illegally accessing the 13-year-old’s mobile phone messages during the middle of its inquiries. Two other police forces also had knowledge of the hacking, it emerged yesterday in highly damaging evidence released by Parliament.

In a trail of logged exchanges between Surrey Police and journalists from the now-defunct Murdoch-owned tabloid, officers and public relations officials from the force are shown to have been fully aware of how NOTW journalists illegally hacked into her mobile phone during 2002, and yet did and said nothing until late 2011.

The report, which details exchanges during the crucial weeks of the police hunt, is a heavily redacted summary of the initial findings of Surrey’s deputy chief constable, Jerry Kirkby.

The report was published by the culture and media select committee of MPs which has been investigating the phone-hacking scandal.

Surrey Police, despite its stonewalling, had discussed phone hacking with the NOTW in 2002 and had failed to take action against the News International title – action which could have halted the tabloid’s criminal activities, which continued for almost a decade.

The logged exchanges in the Kirkby report reveals journalists from the NOTW interfering in the Surrey investigation, offering excuses about where they were getting information from, and attempting to bully police press officers into backing the paper’s theories on Milly’s disappearance.

There was also a formal meeting between representatives of the tabloid and Surrey Police. The report says this meeting took place in July 2002. However, no notes have been given of what was discussed.

The report edits out the names of the NOTW journalists and the senior police officers who exchanged information. Kirkby said this was done at the request of the Metropolitan Police which is pursuing a criminal investigation into key individuals at the centre of the hacking scandal.

Surrey officers admit they knew the NOTW held a recording of Milly’s voicemails messages; that the force was played the message; that they were told the NOTW had got Milly’s phone and pin number from “school friends”.

The NOTW journalists redacted in the report are shown to be engaged in harassment, blagging, bullying, deception and a refusal to accept the views of the police investigation.

Israeli police: Extremist Jews attack woman

JERUSALEM—Israeli police say a group of ultra-Orthodox extremists have attacked a woman who was putting up posters in a troubled town near Jerusalem.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld says about a dozen ultra-Orthodox men in the town of Beit Shemesh surrounded the woman on Tuesday, pelted her with stones and slashed her car’s tires. He says the woman suffered minor injuries.

Rosenfeld says it’s not clear why she was targeted. The woman was putting up posters for Israel’s national lottery at the time.

Beit Shemesh has experienced sharp tensions between ultra-Orthodox extremists and its remaining secular and modern Orthodox Jewish residents. The recent case of an 8-year-old girl who was afraid to walk to school because extremists spat on her and cursed her attracted international attention.

UK high court clears way for Basque extradition

LONDON—Britain’s High Court has cleared the way for the extradition of a suspected Basque separatist wanted in connection with a plot to assassinate Spain’s king.

The court ruled Monday that Eneko Gogeaskoetxea Arronategui, 44, can be sent to Spain. He has several days to appeal the decision.

Gogeaskoetxea Arronategui is suspected of being one of several ETA members allegedly behind a foiled bomb plot at the 1997 opening of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, in northern Spain. King Juan Carlos was believed to have been the target.

The suspect was arrested in July at his home in Cambridge.

ETA is a Basque separatist group that has killed 829 people since 1968 in a campaign of bombings, shootings, kidnappings and extortion.

Lawmakers ponder major repairs to UK’s Parliament

LONDON—British lawmakers are considering whether they will need to abandon the House of Commons for the first time since World War II.

Legislators were meeting Monday to discuss if future maintenance work to the Palace of Westminster—home to the Commons and the House of Lords—would need the two chambers to briefly move out.

Between 1940 and 1941, both Houses of Parliament met in London’s Church House, after bombs destroyed the Commons chamber and damaged the Lords.

Consideration of possible repairs follows the disclosure in October that Parliament’s clock tower—known as Big Ben—is nearly 18 inches (nearly half a meter) out of line.

The palace, which was rebuilt in the mid-19th Century, is expected to need major repairs in the coming years.

6.2 quake hits area of Chile devastated in 2010

A magnitude-6.2 earthquake has struck just off the shore of south-central Chile, the area devastated by a massive temblor two years ago.

There are no immediate reports of damage and authorities say it will not cause a tsunami.

Monday’s quake was centered 50 kilometres northwest of Concepcion, and was relatively shallow at 20 kilometres under sea level.

But Chile’s navy announced that it wasn’t the kind of quake to generate a deadly tsunami of the kind that ravaged nearby coastal cities when an magnitude-8.8 quake devastated Chile in 2010.

The U.S. Geological Service says the quake struck at 1:04 p.m. local time (0504 NZT).

Chile’s national emergency office says there are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Palestinian police free woman held 9 years

PALESTINIAN police say they have freed a young woman whose father kept her locked in the bathroom of their West Bank house for around a decade.

Spokesman Adnan Damiri says the 20-year-old woman was in a “deplorable” condition when she was found on Saturday. Damiri said today it remains unclear why she was locked up.

The 49-year-old father, an Arab citizen of Israel, was detained and handed over to Israeli police.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld says the father is suspected of physically abusing the young woman. He is being held in an Israeli jail pending a court hearing on Wednesday.

Rosenfeld says the woman’s mother, who did not live with the family, has also been detained for questioning.