Six In The Morning Tuesday January 5

Barack Obama to close background checks loophole on gun show sales

President to set out plan on Tuesday that will prevent firearms from being sold at gun shows and on the internet without having to go through necessary checks

Thousands of unlicensed gun shows and online dealers will be forced to conduct customer background checks for the first time in a fresh effort by Barack Obama to tackle America’s epidemic of deadly shootings.

In measures aimed at circumventing political deadlock in Congress that will inevitably set off a fierce battle in the courts, the president is due to close a loophole in the current system as well as call for greater spending on enforcement and new technology that could prevent unauthorised gun use.

“The gun lobby may be holding Congress hostage, but they can’t hold America hostage,” Obama said in a tweet that accompanied an official preview of the announcement due on Tuesday. “We can’t accept this carnage in our communities.”

Isis video: ‘New Jihadi John’ suspect Siddhartha Dhar is a ‘former bouncy castle salesman from east London’

Siddhartha Dhar, a British-Indian Muslim convert, skipped bail and slipped out of Britain to travel to Syria 15 months ago

Shortly after skipping bail and slipping out of Britain to travel to Syria 15 months ago, Siddhartha Dhar published an e-book comparing the Caliphate declared by Isis to a “plush holiday resort”. Across 46 pages, the British jihadist eulogised about attractions from the quality of its coffee to the diversity of its inhabitants.

The online brochure, published last May, was dismissed as a risible, rose-tinted attempt at propaganda to attract new recruits to the terror group. But what went less noticed was the final paragraph written by the father-of-four from east London who had become a familiar figure in fringe Islamic circles prior to fleeing Britain in 2014.

The 32-year-old wrote: “When we descend on the streets of London, Paris and Washington the taste will be far bitterer, because not only will we spill your blood, but we will also demolish your statues, erase your history and, most painfully, convert your children who will then go on to champion our name and curse their forefathers.”

Senior TV managers resign in Poland in anticipation of new media law

Four senior managers at Poland’s public broadcaster TVP have announced their resignations. Poland’s imminent adoption of new media legislation would likely have resulted in their dismissals.

The Polish newspaper “Gazeta Wyborcza” reported that four senior managers at Poland’s public broadcaster TVP had announced their resignations. The news website added that the resignations came from the heads of the channels TVP1, TVP2, TVP Kultura and the human resource department of the TVP group. The director-general at TVP reportedly accepted the notices.

The daily “Gazeta Wyborcza” explained that the managers in question may likely have intended to pre-empt their anticipated dismissals from the public broadcaster after a controversial new law passed through both chambers of the Polish parliament, which would allow the ruling party to choose their own heads for the public broadcaster.

77 hours on, counter-terror ops continue


Security forces continued search and combing operation inside the Pathankot airbase on Tuesday — the fourth day after the attack on the frontline Air Force Station (AFS) by terrorists.

The operation was stepped up on Tuesday, an Air Force official told IANS. Firing could be heard from inside during Monday night and early Tuesday.

A military official said a fifth terrorist was killed on the third day of the siege and at least one attacker remained in the complex, as troops worked to secure the sprawling compound.

January 1 (Friday)

Early morning (around 3 am): SP Salwinder Singh and his cook Madan Gopal alert local police about terrorists who abducted them

Their claims were not given credence for hours; crucial time was lost.

Afternoon: Centre issues alert about terrorists; by now more or less certain their location was Pathankot.

NSA convenes meeting with senior officials; NSG dispatched to Pathankot

Why no detailed combing of the region done, despite several military, BSF and Punjab police units available close by?

Tensions surge as China lands plane on island in S. China Sea

Analysts say China’s increasing military presence in the disputed sea could lead to a Beijing-controlled air zone, ratcheting up tensions in one of the world’s most volatile areas.

China’s first landing of a plane on one of its new island runways in the South China Sea shows Beijing’s facilities in the disputed region are being completed on schedule and military flights will inevitably follow, foreign officials and analysts said.

China’s increasing military presence in the disputed sea could effectively lead to a Beijing-controlled air defense zone, they said, ratcheting up tensions with other claimants and with the United States in one of the world’s most volatile areas.

Chinese foreign ministry officials confirmed on Saturday that a test flight by a civilian plane landed on an artificial island built in the Spratlys, the first time Beijing has used a runway in the area.

The little car you can drive in France without a licence

  • 4 January 2016
  • If you are planning on driving in France, beware – one could be heading straight for you at the next roundabout. Carolyn Brown, who lives part of the year in Brittany, has a cautionary tale about a very small car.

Losing one’s driving licence in the UK is a serious matter – expensive and, to say the least, very inconvenient.

But in France, no licence? No problem. You can simply go shopping for a VSP a voiture sans permis – a small two-seater car that anyone aged 14 or over can take out on the road with as little as four hours’ experience behind the wheel, sometimes not even that.

It’s impossible to say how many there are as no official figures exist. It is what the French call a chiffre noir – an unknown quantity.

You’ll probably hear them coming first, a high-pitched whine like a sewing machine being run at full throttle. If you get stuck behind one on a windy rural lane, tant pis. Top speed is 45km per hour (28mph). It’s probably a good idea to stop in the next lay-by and admire the view for a while rather than sit fuming in its wake.