Half of UK councils face financial collapse

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Half the UK’s local councils are at risk of collapse, the government’s official auditor has said, warning that one in six may be unable to provide basic services this year. The warning comes after severe cuts in national government funding.

In a report produced by the government’s official auditor, the National Audit Office (NAO) on Wednesday, 52 percent of councils were said to be at risk of not having enough resources to fund public services, including education and social care.

Additionally, around 16 percent of councils were said to be struggling to fund public services within the current financial year.

“Auditors report that 16 percent of single-tier and county councils (those authorities responsible for social care and education) are not well placed to deliver their 2014-15 budgets,” the report says.

“Auditors are also concerned about the longer-term financial sustainability of single-tier and county councils, reporting that 52 percent of these authorities are not well placed to deliver their medium-term financial strategies.”

However, the Public Accounts Committee, which oversees auditing inspections, said much of the blame was to be laid on the Department for Communities and Local Government, who they accused of not monitoring the financial activities of some councils in the UK.

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The Committee’s chair, Labour MP Margaret Hodge, also said austerity measures imposed by the national government had pushed local councils to the brink of their budgets, with “potentially disastrous” consequences.

“Worryingly, local authorities with the highest level of deprivation have seen the biggest cuts, potentially putting vulnerable people at risk. It is authorities with high cuts which have seen the biggest spending reductions for social care services,” Hodge said.

“Between 2010-11 and 2014-15, local authorities with a high cut in spending power had reduced their funding for adult and children’s social care by 12.7 percent and 4.3 percent. This is compared with authorities that had low cuts, which had reduced funding for adult social care by 1.2 percent, but had increased spending on children’s social care by 14.8 percent.”

The NAO also found that local government across the UK was to be cut by around 37 percent from 2010 to 2015-16, with many councils seeing more than a quarter of their overall funding completely slashed.

However, DCLG minister Kris Hopkins defended the government’s cuts, saying austerity was still needed to “tackle the deficit left by the last administration.”

“The reality is since 2010 budgets have been balanced, council tax has fallen by 11 percent in real-terms and public satisfaction with local government has been maintained,” he said.

“But there is still much councils can do to cut waste and make sensible savings, such as using their reserves, making better use of surplus public sector assets, clamping down on fraud, boosting council tax collection rates and sharing back offices.”

Islamic State Threatens Slaughter on Western Streets

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If and when American blood is running down American streets, like Colleen Hufford’s, rest assured that Obama will vigorously protect Islamic jihad doctrine.

That’s what he does. Every time there is an Islamic attack, Obama exploits the horror to proselytize for Islam. When savages attack, Obama dawahs.

There were British, French, etc. Muslims in today’s mass beheading video. Previously moderate Muslims ….. until they became devout.

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“Islamic State Threatens Slaughter on Western Streets,”
by Oliver Lane, 17 Nov 2014

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Islamic State murderer and propagandist ‘Jihadi John’ has issued a graphic warning of coming slaughter on the streets of the West in the new YouTube video that features the beheading of at least nineteen men, including former American soldier Peter Kassig.

In a short speech delivered as he stands among a group of up to eighteen other terrorists, knives in hand and victims at their feet, the British killer known in the West as ‘Jihadi John’ but known locally as Abu Abdullah al-Britani called President Obama the “dog of Rome” and David Cameron his “puppet”. The video, which even for the Islamic State was unusually gruesome then showed al-Britani giving the kill order to his fellow jihadists, who then used serrated knives to saw off the heads of their captives, said to the Syrian army and air force pilots.

Speaking to the camera, al-Britani said: “To Obama, the dog of Rome, today we are slaughtering the soldiers of Bashar, and tomorrow we will slaughter your soldiers, and with Allah’s permission, we will break this final and last crusade, and the Islamic state will soon, like your puppet David Cameron said, will begin to slaughter your people on your streets”.

His words will not ring hollow to many in the West, who have recently witnessed the murder by Islamist agents on the streets of Western cities of Soldiers such as Drummer Lee Rigby and Corporal Nathan Cirillo.

The make-up of the murder squad was of a distinctly international nature, deliberately chosen to gain maximum effect as a recruiting tool with the killers being picked from ISIS members from all over the world. At least two Britons have been identified in the squad, as have French and German passport holders.

The video itself played heavily upon the favoured ISIS narrative of epic conflict between the Christian West and Islamic East, referring constantly to “crusaders” and “cross worshippers”. A 3D-graphic map of the world shows the ‘white’ Islamic State spreading over the Middle East, North Africa, through India to China, and West through Italy and Spain, and finally the Americas.

As the Islamic State is shown spreading over the Middle East and North Africa, ISIS leader al-Baghdadi, who is believed to have been badly injured in a recent air strike tells listeners: “We give you good news, by announcing the expansion of the Islamic State to new lands”.

The final segment of the film shows al-Britani standing over the severed head of American soldier and aid worker Peter Kassig, in a shot designed to goad Western forces into action. Filmed in Dabiq, a town central to the core myths surrounding the Islamic State, al-Britani accuses America of continuing to occupy Iraq despite an official withdrawal with “hidden forces”.

ISIS believes a great battle will occur in the town of Dabiq, and it will be there they will triumph over the West. Alluding to this, while standing on a hill overlooking the town with the head of Kassig, al-Britaini says: “and here we are, burying the first American crusader in Dabiq, eagerly waiting for the remainder of your armies to arrive”.

- See more at: http://pamelageller.com/2014/11/islamic-state-threatens-slaughter-on-western-streets.html/#sthash.Tohd63Td.dpuf

Father of UK student believes son in jihadist video: report

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Father thinks his 20-year-old son was among jihadists on video, which showed severed head of Peter Kassig.

A father said on Monday he believed his son, a British medical student, was among a squad of Islamic State jihadists filmed beheading Syrian soldiers in a video posted online on Sunday.

Ahmed Muthana told the Daily Mail newspaper his 20-year-old son Nasser Muthana appeared to be among a group of 16 jihadists who were seen on the video, which also showed the severed head of American hostage Peter Kassig.

“I cannot be certain, but it looks like my son,” said Ahmed Muthana, who lives in the Welsh capital city of Cardiff.

“He must fear Allah now for killing people. How can he expect to face Allah if he is killing human beings?”

The announcement of aid worker Kassig’s death, the fifth such killing of a Western captive by Islamic State, formed part of the 15-minute video which showed the beheadings of at least 14 men IS said were pilots and officers loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

IS, which is fighting in Iraq and Syria, includes thousands of foreign combatants and has become a magnet for jihadi volunteers from Europe and North America, Western intelligence agencies have said.

IS has previously released videos of the beheading of two American and two British men which feature a masked, black-clad militant brandishing a knife and speaking with an English accent, who has been dubbed “Jihadi John” by British media.

Sunday’s video showed most of the killers unmasked and the Daily Mail said the man who appeared to be Nasser Muthana was standing alongside Jihadi John.

Nasser Muthana had already appeared in a online video released in June urging Muslims to join IS.

Why the Islamic State (or ISIS, or QSIS, or ISIL) has so many names
Joshua Keating, Slate
His younger brother Aseel had also traveled to Syria after both were radicalized in Cardiff, his father told the BBC in June. Nasser Muthana’s school friend Reyaad Khan also appeared in the online footage in June, various media reports said.

French jihadist

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said there was a strong likelihood that a 22-year-old French citizen also appeared in the beheading video.

Cazeneuve said analysis by its DGSI security service suggested that one of the men shown herding prisoners to the execution site was Maxime Hauchard, a Frenchman from the northern Eure region who left for Syria in August 2013.

“This analysis suggests with a very high probability that a French citizen could have directly participated in carrying out these abject acts,” Cazeneuve told journalists.

Hundreds of Western volunteers have joined the ranks of Islamic State insurgents in Syria and Iraq. The French and British governments have said that any citizen participating in executions would face consequences for their acts.

French authorities have said that about 1,000 citizens have joined Islamist factions in Syria.

Judges last year opened a preliminary investigation against Hauchard on suspicion that he was participating in a conspiracy to commit terrorist acts, the charge commonly levied against citizens who have fought with Islamist militants.

Hauchard, whom French media have said was known in his home town as “friendly, easygoing” and without a criminal record, was interviewed by BFMTV in the summer saying that his goal in joining Islamic State was to become a martyr.

Sanctioning Against Media Criticizing Muslims Called For by HuffPo Columnist

So now a Huffington Post (UK) columnist is saying that Muslims are ‘misrepresented’ in the media, and if those same misrepresentations were made of other minority groups, there would be a real ‘backlash’ – such as advertisers “boycotting” the newspapers. Give me a break:

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From the article:

The columnist and political director of the Huffington Post UK said the press has proven “singularly unable or unwilling to change the discourse, the tone or the approach” towards Muslims, immigrants and asylum seekers.

Hasan, who was speaking in a personal capacity at a media industry event hosted by Mindshare UK, said: “We’re not going to get change unless there is some sanction, there is some penalty. This is not just about Muslims; it is about all minorities.”

“Therefore you have to ask questions about: does it need to be externally imposed, either by better regulation or via some form of commercial imperative? Though, that requires a separate campaign to get companies to give a damn about this stuff,” Hasan added.

He suggested advertisers would have boycotted newspapers over the publication of certain headlines about Muslims, had they been about other minorities.

In a session titled “The Muslims are coming!”, Hasan presented to a group of media industry figures a slideshow of British newspaper headlines and front pages, which he said ostracised the Muslim community, presenting Muslims as “the other”. Hasan also highlighted the factual inaccuracy of some of the stories and accused newspapers of peddling misinformation.

He said the practice was not just morally wrong, but also “dangerous and counter-productive […] because it increases alienation, […] and it also confirms the extremist narrative, the Islamist narrative that there is some kind of inevitable clash between the West and all of the Muslims living in the West, that there can never be any kind of reconciliation, that there is always going to be some kind of war between Muslims and non-Muslims.”

He added: “To pretend that all this negative, mad, crazy, over the top, dishonest, demonising press coverage is justified is wrong. To pretend that it has no impact on a minority community living in the UK or on our multicultural society, on relations between communities is naive, if not disingenuous.”

In addition to commercial pressure from advertisers and stricter press regulation, Hasan said a drive for greater diversity in the industry was essential to changing culture: “If you’re a Daily Express journalist writing some sort of anti-Muslim headline and the guy sitting opposite you is a Muslim it makes it much more difficult I would imagine.”

Finally, Hasan called for “similar sized apologies for similar sized nonsense headlines”. He told the Guardian he is a proponent of front page apologies for incorrect front page stories.

Hasan is a prominent critic of Islamophobia. In 2008, while working at Channel 4, he commissioned and produced an episode of Dispatches on the danger of Islamophobia titled, It Shouldn’t Happen to a Muslim. He has also written regularly about the issue of Muslims’ portrayal in the media.

Mehdi Hasan was speaking at Mindshare UK’s Huddle in London yesterday.

Ok, so hold the phone a sec. Is this guy REALLY trying to suggest that writers would be less likely to write a piece regarding ISIS terror groups, or a Muslim act of terrorism, or war in the middle east, because the guy across from me is Muslim? I hardly think it would hold me back. This is NOT about equal opportunity employment. This is NOT about minorities. This is about acts of terror and the RIGHT of anyone who wants to write about it, can. Yes, he is in the UK, but here in the United States, we have the First Amendment. That guarantees us the right of free speech and press. Let’s be honest – if there weren’t Muslims acting in outrageous ways, and taking civilians as prisoners, there would not be any issues with Muslim people in general. Don’t we have a right to be outraged? Again, enough of the PC crap. Sometimes, people are generalized. Sometimes rightly or wrongly so. This is not a case where this is ‘wrong’. Once again, a group is asking for special treatment. He claims in the article that advertisers would “boycott” if it was about another minority groups and “requires a separate campaign to get companies to give a damn about this stuff,” – dude, if the companies CARED, we would know. They stop purchasing ad space. They write emails. Etc. This is no one’s job to pay for or educate regarding Muslims. They have created the mess they have to live in, and in the modern world, news is so much faster. Deal with it.

Muslims Take Over London Tunnel — ISIS Communicating With Mexican Drug Cartels

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Without fear of the British authorities, Muslims recently took over the Blackwell Tunnel in London, openly displaying jihadist sentiments and waving Al Qaeda and Islamic State Flags.

The Islamist protesters blocked the route through the tunnel temporarily trapping other motorists.

An interesting comment from the original YouTube video by user CharmingLordSausage reads:

As an Englishman, I have some bad news. My nation is dying. We are slowly losing control of our cities. Soon, the great Islamic uprisings will take place. Riots, purges, the first emirates. Entire counties will be lost. There will be no united English response because no one believes in the nation state anymore. Besides, the Left control the discourse. By 2050, an Islamic regime will be in full control of Parliament. By then, Muslims will be 40pc of the population. No amount of flag waving and marching can put off the inevitable. Enjoy what remains of your freedom. Your memories of your time in the sun will serve to warm you as we enter the new dark age.

Meanwhile back in the States, former CIA covert operations officer Mike Baker recently stated in an interview that he believes ISIS is communicating with Mexican drug cartels, who will basically go into business with anyone.

The whole world knows our southern border is completely wide open and Obama is doing nothing about it but giving a free ticket those who come across to various parts of the country. Obviously he’s giving a helping hand to his Muslim brothers.

It’s getting closer to showtime folks.

‘No pork or alcohol’: Top London hotel being run under Sharia law?

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London’s Bermondsey Square Hotel has suddenly banned the sale of alcohol, and reportedly pork, “in accordance with Sharia law” under the orders of its new Middle-Eastern owner.

The Islamic rules were imposed on the hotel on Tuesday, the Daily Mail reported.

It is not just alcoholic drinks which have been banned, but also any food containing alcohol. Items such as beer-battered fish or rum ice cream cannot be served in the establishment since the new rules were implemented, the report says, citing staff members.

An IT consultant who regularly stays at the hotel – which costs £220 (US$345) per night – confirmed to the Daily Mail that the bar does not serve alcohol anymore.

“When I contacted the manager to ask why, he told me that the new owner wanted it to be a Sharia law hotel. Under Sharia law, you can’t make a profit from alcohol.”

Staff reportedly told the paper that waiters were forced to tell their guests that several menu items were no longer available. They do not, however, know the identity of the new owner, and the hotel’s food is not Halal.

However, the hotel’s menu and website have not yet been updated and it still boasts a bacon-laden breakfast with black pudding and the possibility of organizing champagne receptions.

It has also continued to post pictures of its cocktail bar.

However, a notice now reads: “We no longer sell alcoholic beverages at GB Grill & Bar – Please take a look at our comprehensive selection of soft drinks!”

“We don’t serve alcohol. The new investor doesn’t wish to make a profit with alcohol,” a staff member told the Independent.

ISIS 7X BIGGER THAN WEST BELIEVES

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ISIS rules a third of Iraq and a third of Syria

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War with Isis: Islamic militants have army of 200,000, claims senior Kurdish leader

PATRICK COCKBURN Sunday 16 November 2014

The Islamic State (Isis) has recruited an army hundreds of thousands strong, far larger than previous estimates by the CIA, according to a senior Kurdish leader. He said the ability of Isis to attack on many widely separated fronts in Iraq and Syria at the same time shows that the number of militant fighters is at least 200,000, seven or eight times bigger than foreign in intelligence estimates of up to 31,500 men.

Fuad Hussein, the chief of staff of the Kurdish President Massoud Barzani said in an exclusive interview with The Independent on Sunday that “I am talking about hundreds of thousands of fighters because they are able to mobilise Arab young men in the territory they have taken.”

He estimates that Isis rules a third of Iraq and a third of Syria with a population of between 10 and 12 million living in an area of 250,000 square kilometres, the same size as Great Britain. This gives the jihadis a large pool of potential recruits.

Proof that Isis has created a large field army at great speed is that it has been launching attacks against the Kurds in northern Iraq and the Iraqi army close to Baghdad at the same time as it is fighting in Syria. “They are fighting in Kobani,” said Mr Hussein. “In Kurdistan last month they were attacking in seven different places as well as in Ramadi [capital of Anbar province west of Baghdad] and Jalawla [an Arab-Kurdish town close to Iranian border]. It is impossible to talk of 20,000 men or so.”

The high figure for Isis’s combat strength is important because it underlines how difficult it will be eliminate Isis even with US air strikes. In September, the CIA produced an estimate of Isis numbers which calculated that the movement had between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters. The underestimate of the size of the force that Isis can deploy may explain why the US and other foreign governments have been repeatedly caught by surprise over the past five months as IS inflicted successive defeats on the Iraqi army, Syrian army, Syrian rebels and Kurdish peshmerga.

The US and its allies are beginning to take on board the obstacles to fulfilling President Obama’s pledge to degrade and destroy Isis. General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrived in Baghdad on Friday in a surprise visit. He said he wanted “to get a sense from our side about how our contribution is going”. Earlier in the week, he told Congress that to defeat Isis an efficient army of 80,000 men would be necessary. Few in Iraq believe that the regular army is up to the task, despite winning a success last week by retaking the refinery town of Baiji and lifting the siege of the refinery, the largest in Iraq.

In a wide-ranging interview, Mr Hussein spelled out the new balance of power in Iraq in the wake of the Islamic militants’ summer offensive and the military re-engagement of the US. The Kurdistan Regional Government now faces Isis units along a 650-mile front line cutting across northern Iraq between Iran and Syria. Mr Hussein said that the US air intervention had enabled the Kurds to hold out when the unexpected Isis assault in August defeated the peshmerga and came close to capturing the Kurdish capital Irbil: “They were fighting with a strategy of fear that affected the morale of everybody, including the peshmerga.”

As well as terrifying its opponents by publicising its own atrocities, Isis had developed an effective cocktail of tactics that includes suicide bombers, mines, snipers and use of US equipment captured from the Iraqi army such as Humvees, artillery and tanks. To combat them, Mr Hussein says the Kurds need Apache helicopters and heavy weapons such as tanks and artillery.

The Kurdish leaders are now much more relaxed about Isis because they have a US guarantee of their security. The grim experience of the US in seeing the collapse of the government and army in Baghdad, which the Americans had fostered at vast expense, also works in favour of the Kurds.

Holding on: Kurdish chief of staff Fuad Hussein with John Kerry in June Holding on: Kurdish chief of staff Fuad Hussein with John Kerry in June AFP/Getty
Mr Hussein does not like to talk about it today, but the Kurdistan Regional Government got a nasty surprise in August when it asked the Turkish government for help in stopping Isis only to be told Ankara planned no immediate assistance. It was only then that the Kurds turned to Iran and the US, both of which immediately acted to prevent a complete victory by the Islamic militants. Iran sent some officers, military units and artillery while the US started air strikes on 8 August.

Mr Hussein speculates that the CIA and US intelligence agencies may only have been speaking about “core” fighters in claiming that the jihadis had at most 31,500 men under arms. But the fighting over the past five months has shown that Isis has become a formidable military force. “We are talking about a state that has a military and ideological basis,” said Mr Hussein, “so that means they want everyone to learn how to use a rifle, but they also want everybody to have training in their ideology, in other words brainwashing.”

A sign of the military professionalism of Isis is the speed with which they learned to use captured US tanks, artillery and other heavy equipment captured after the fall of Mosul on 10 June. The same thing happened in Syria where Isis captured Russian-made arms which it rapidly started using. The most likely explanation for this is that IS’s ranks contain many former Iraqi and Syrian soldiers whose skills Isis has identified. Mr Hussein says that the peshmerga has been impressed during the fighting by Isis’s training and discipline.

“They will fight until death, and are dangerous because they are so well-trained,” said Mr Hussein. “For instance, they have the best snipers, but to be a good sniper you need not only training on how to shoot, but discipline in staying put for up to five hours so you can hit your target.”

There is supporting evidence for Mr Hussein’s high estimate for Isis numbers. A study by the National Security Adviser’s office in Baghdad before the Isis offensive showed that, when 100 jihadis entered a district, they would soon recruit between five and 10 times their original number. There are reports of many young men volunteering to fight for Isis when they were in the full flood of success in the summer. This enthusiasm may have ebbed since the US started air strikes and the Isis run of victories ended with their failure to capture Kobani in northern Syria despite a long siege.

In an impoverished region with few jobs, Isis pay of $400 (£250) a month is also attractive. Moreover, Mr Hussein says that in the places they have conquered Isis is remodelling society in its own image, aiming to educate people into accepting Isis ideology.

A fighter jet takes off from a US war ship A fighter jet takes off from a US war ship Reuters
The Kurds have recovered their military self-confidence in the knowledge that they are backed by the US and Iran. The peshmerga have taken back some towns lost in August, notably Zumar close to the Syrian border, but not Tal Afar and Sinjar where 8,500 Yazidis are still besieged on their mountain top. But there are limits to how far the Kurds are willing to advance even if they succeed in doing so. Mr Hussein says that the Kurds can help an Iraqi army, supposing a non-sectarian one is created, but “the Kurds cannot liberate the Sunni Arab areas”.

This is the great problem facing a counter offensive against Isis by Baghdad or the Kurds: it will be seen by the five or six million Sunni Arabs in Iraq as directed against their whole community. Hitherto, the US has been hoping to repeat its success between 2006 and 2008 in turning many Sunni against al-Qaeda in Iraq. Mr Hussein ticks off the reasons why repeating this will be very difficult: the Americans then had 150,000 soldiers in Iraq to back up anti-al-Qaeda tribal leaders. Isis will savagely punish anybody who opposes it. “We have seen what happened in Anbar to the Albu Nimr tribe [that rose up against Isis]. They stood bravely against the terrorist but 500 were killed. It was a disaster.”

Overall, Mr Hussein says he does not see any convincing sign of resistance from the Sunni Arabs. Many of them may be unhappy, particularly in Mosul, but this is not translating into effective opposition. Nor is it clear what outside force could organise resistance. The Iraqi army might be acceptable in Sunni areas but only if it is reconstituted so that is not dominated by the Shia.

At the moment, the Kurds see little sign of its presence. They have been asking for regular troops to defend the Mosul Dam on the Euphrates so they can use up to 3,000 peshmerga stationed there, but no Iraqi troops have turned up. “Those who are now defending Baghdad are the army of the [Shia] parties. To re-establish a professional army needs time.”

Mr Hussein did not say so, but it may be too late to establish a competent cross-confessional regular army in Iraq. The counter-offensive by Baghdad is led by the three main Shia militias which have almost the same ideological fervour and sectarian hatred as Isis. Any advance on the battlefield leads to the population deemed loyal to the losing side taking flight so the whole of northern Iraq has become a land of refugees.