Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Paris pistol pic: 'Wake-up call' for Pippa

pippa-middleton-royal-wedding-horizontal-gallery A storm of outrage provoked by photos of Pippa Middleton showing her in a car with a man wielding what appears to be a gun in France should act as a wake-up call, royal watchers have warned Prince William's sister-in-law.

"This story is very damaging for her," veteran London-based public relations expert Max Clifford told CNN.

"There has been nothing but a honeymoon for Pippa since last year's royal wedding so this is dreadful," Clifford said. "It comes particularly at a time when guns in Paris are such a sensitive issue. The reality is she could have been shot by police."

Middleton has been a target for tabloid newspapers and paparazzi since her sister married Prince William last April. Shortly after the wedding, personal pictures of the 28-year-old began to leak out to the press, including a photo showing her in a bikini while on vacation in 2006 with her sister and Prince William. A photo of Middleton sunbathing topless on that trip was also made public. Later, undated photos from a private party showing her dancing in her bra were also leaked.

The latest incident happened as paparazzi were taking pictures of Middleton who was being driven to a Paris train station in an Audi convertible. The car's driver wielded a gun, apparently pointing it in the air and then at a photographer, who was following them and captured the shot, according to The Sun. It is unclear if the gun was real or fake.

Lawyers told CNN that Middleton was unlikely to face charges unless it could be proved she encouraged the driver to point the gun on public streets, but the driver could face charges of threatening with a firearm if French authorities wanted to do so.

Middleton is the sister of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, who married Prince William last year. William is second in line to the British throne behind his father, Prince Charles.

Buckingham Palace said it would not comment on the photo because Middleton is not a member of the royal family.

The photo is causing a stir, after a spate of gun violence in France recently, including a series of attacks last month that killed seven people, including three children.

The incident took place while security was heightened ahead of France's presidential election.

"Pippa must understand she's in the middle of a media spotlight and she can't just turn the attention on and off," Clifford added. "I assume she has PR advice but either she's getting incredibly bad advice or she's not listening."

The story has been splashed across newspapers around the world, and on Tuesday royal experts warned that Middleton must avoid further incidents for risk of damaging the royal family.

"Pippa is surprised at how high-profile she now is," one royal newspaper correspondent, who has met Middleton on several occasions, told CNN. "Part of her enjoys the attention: she's always mixed with high-society characters and she loves partying but she's not off the rails by any means.

"This prank in a Paris street will come as a real wake-up call for Pippa," the correspondent, who declined to be named, told CNN. "She must now realize that it just takes one person waving a gun around to seriously dent her public image. She'll be gutted by how badly this has reflected on the royals."

But the correspondent said he believed Paris authorities would have no choice but to investigate the incident, while Middleton would be forced to issue a public apology.

The photographer who snapped the shot was "considering his options" about a formal police complaint, The Sun reported.

The Daily Express's royal correspondent Richard Palmer commented that ever since Middleton became last year's most celebrated bridesmaid at the wedding of her sister Kate to Prince William, she has been "riding the crest of a wave of popularity. Some think she has also been riding for a fall."

Palmer said Middleton was popular at high-society events, but she and her friends needed "to learn how to behave in front of the cameras in return."

The incident "will have embarrassed her sister Kate, her brother-in-law Prince William, and also the Queen in her Diamond Jubilee year."

"She need to explain herself and apologize."


Norway Gunman: 'I Would Do it Again'

reuters_norway_killer_eng_480_17apr12 Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian gunman who admits he killed 77 people last July, says he would do it again. Anders Behring Breivik called the massacre the most "spectacular" political attack in Europe since World War II.

In a court statement he read from a pre-written text, Breivik said the massacre had come from a place of goodness, not evil. His actions, he said, were aimed at deterring civil war.

"The most important thing today is that he gets to explain why he did what he did,” said Vibeke Hein Baera, a defense lawyer for Breivik.

On July 22 he set off a bomb in Norway’s capital, Oslo, killing eight people. He then went to a nearby island where members of the youth wing of the Labor Party were at summer camp. He shot dead 69 people; most of them were young campers.

Breivik has admitted the killings, but says the act is not criminal because his aim was to defend Norway.

His testimony will not be aired on television to avoid its use as propaganda for his extremist views. There has been concern in Norway the trial will give the killer publicity.

A survivor of the island shooting, Bjoern Magnus Jacobsen Ihler, was in the courtroom.

"It is difficult to sit there in the same room as the man who killed very many of my friends and who tried to kill me,"said Ihler. "But, at the same time, it is good to see him in this position because he is very reduced from where he was at the island. He can not harm me anymore and that is in many ways good to see.”

Many in Norway would prefer the trial not become a media circus.

Student Hildegunn Fallangbe also survived the shooting spree. She says she will not attend the court hearing because she does not want to take part in anything that will shine a spotlight on Breivik.

"He has expressed that parts of the reason he did it was to get attention, and attention to his manifesto," she said. And I do not really want to give him what he wants. To me we could just forget him.”

One of the lay judges in the trial was dismissed Tuesday for saying Breivik deserved the death penalty, a punishment that does not exist in Norway.

A major focus of the 10-week trial will be to determine if Breivik is clinically insane. If he is found to be so, he will be sent to a psychiatric institution indefinitely.

If he is found to be guilty and sane, he will face a maximum 21-year sentence that could be extended indefinitely if he is considered a continuing threat. 

VOA News

Rumors fly as Bo plot thickens in China

120316015340-bo-xilai-opening-congress-story-top The latest rumors filling a void of official information over the mysterious death of a British businessman and the fall of one of China's rising political stars are worthy of a Hollywood thriller, amid rumors of poison and political skullduggery.

Forty-one-year-old Neil Heywood was found dead in a hotel room in Chongqing, China's biggest metropolis, last November. His death was initially attributed to alcohol poisoning.

On April 10, authorities made the surprise announcement that Gu Kailai - the wife of the region's former Communist Party chief, Bo Xilai, was being investigated on suspicion of murder, along with a family aide, Zhang Xiaojun.

The same day Bo was suspended from the Communist party's Central Committee. "Comrade Bo Xilai is suspected of being involved in serious disciplinary violations," said the Chinese news agency Xinhua.

The implication of a high-flying politician's wife in a murder would be shocking enough. But additional threads are emerging in what has become one of China's most spectacular political scandals.

On Monday, Reuters reported that Bo's wife Gu Kailai had hatched a plan to kill Heywood after he threatened to expose her attempts to move a large sum of money abroad. The story cited two unnamed sources "with close ties to Chinese police" as saying that Gu became angry after Heywood demanded a larger cut of the money than she had expected.

Reuters cited the sources as saying Heywood was poisoned by a drink. They did not know exactly where he had died in Chongqing.

The news agency said the Chinese authorities had not responded to its questions about the case.

Heywood's body was cremated days after his death, without an autopsy. British authorities have since pushed for a further investigation into his death.

But conspiracy theories are thriving as the investigation unfolds, with claims on one Chinese-language website that Heywood had even been poisoned by State Security agents in an effort to thwart Bo's political ambitions.

In the days after Bo's sacking as the Chongqing party chief in mid-March, a storm of rumors spread on social networks within China, speculating about the reasons behind the charismatic leader's demise.

Chinese censors worked quickly to silence the rumors by shutting down comment sections on the country's leading microblogging sites for two days in early April.

The latest theories about Heywood's death have been shared on sites within China, suggesting that the authorities are content to let these particular rumors fly.

"In China, if they want to discredit you they will let the rumors fly whether they're true or not. It may be a way of hosing down his support base," said Michael Keane, an associate professor at the Queensland University of Technology.

The scandal started unfolding publicly in early February when Wang Lijun, a decorated policeman who served as Chongqing's police chief from 2009 to 2011, was reported to be "on leave" for health reasons. It was soon revealed that he had fled to the U.S. consulate in Chengdu, six hours' drive away from Chongqing.

The lack of information about Wang's intentions and his whereabouts has also fanned online rumors.

Outside China, efforts to reveal more about the unfolding scandal have spread to the U.S. According to the Wall Street Journal Bo's son, 24-year-old Bo Guagua, has left his apartment in Cambridge, Massachusetts close to Harvard University, where he was studying.

The Wall Street Journal quoted the concierge as saying that staff at the building had been told not to answer questions, but declined to say who gave the instruction.

That report, and others, are being read in China, prompting complaints on microblogging sites about the lack of information coming from within the country.

So far China's official media have confined their coverage of the Bo scandal to terse news bulletins. In recent days, however, they have been running commentaries and articles which claim there has been widespread support within China for the authorities' handling of this issue.

A commentary published Saturday begins: "The recent decision of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee to investigate Bo Xilai's serious discipline violations, and the police reinvestigation of Neil Heywood's death, have garnered wide support from all walks of life in the country."

That article, along with others, claims that the investigations are an indication of Beijing's commitment to the rule of law.

In another article to be published Monday in the Communist Party magazine "Qiushi" or "Seeking Truth," Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao promised "more resolute measures" to combat corruption, Xinhua reported.

"Governments at all levels which are under-performing, allow important cases of corruption to occur, or fail to handle corruption cases in a timely manner will be held accountable,' Xinhua said, referring to the article.


Pippa Middleton Might be Going to Prison

Pippa-Middleton THE proverbial has hit the fan for Pippa Middleton!

The sister Kate Middleton is apparently set to be charged in what the British tabloids have dubbed “gungate” — after finding herself in the middle of a scandal following her weekend adventures in Paris.

Pippa was snapped in an Audi convertible on Sunday with three male companions. She reportedly was in Paris for a party. One of the male passengers was photographed waving what is being reported as a fake gun.

If the gun was real, brandishing it in a public place is punishable by up to seven years in jail “for all parties involved,” according to British newspaper the Sun. Even if the gun’s a fake, there could be a maximum jail term of two years.

St. James’s Palace said it would not comment on the actions of Pippa Middleton. As of Monday afternoon, there was no comment from the Middleton family.

Meanwhile, Pippa reportedly is in a serious romance with wealthy earl George Percy, who is heir to one Britain’s richest and grandest dukedoms.

Percy — whose trust fund guarantees him an income of $500,000 each year — is completely besotted with Pippa and completely in love with her.

“It looks likely the Middleton sisters will be completing the double before too long,” a source said.

“It was like a shark circling its bait. Some people think she has always set out to do this.

“If Pippa ends up marrying Earl Percy, then it isn’t a bad return on Carole Middleton’s investment when she sent her two daughters to posh public schools.”

Showbiz Spy

Admitted Norway killer claims 'spectacular political attack'

magnay-norway-massacre-trial-00005723-story-top Anders Behring Breivik, the man on trial for killing 77 people in Norway last summer, boasted Tuesday that he had carried out "the most sophisticated and spectacular political attack in Europe since World War II."

And he would do it again if he had the chance, "because offenses against my people and my fellow partisans are as many ways as bad," he said.

He planned his killings as a suicide attack, he said.

"I didn't expect to survive that day," he said.

Breivik testified in closed court a day after declaring that he had carried out the massacre but was not guilty because the killings had been necessary.

"I acknowledge the acts but do not plead guilty," he told the court Monday.

A court translator initially said Breivik was claiming self-defense as the justification, but court officials corrected that Tuesday, saying the correct legal term was "necessity."

His lawyer, Geir Lippestad, said Monday that he would try to show that his client was sane when he set off a bomb that killed eight people in central Oslo and then systematically gunned down 69 people at a youth camp on nearby Utoya Island.

Breivik's trial on charges of voluntary homicide and committing acts of terror is expected to last up to 10 weeks.

On Tuesday, he rejected what he said would be prosecution efforts to portray him as a "pathetic and mean loser" and an "antisocial psychopath."

He said he represented a "European resistance movement" and "Europeans who don't want our ethnic rights to be taken away."

Under examination by prosecutors, he claimed to be linked to two other individuals in Norway who are associated with the so-called Knights Templar ultranationalist movement.

He said "militant nationalists" had drawn tactical inspiration from Osama bin Laden's terror network.

"We've taken a bit from al Qaeda and militant islamists, including the glorification of martyrdom" and organization into one-man cells, he said.

He denied that what he called the "militant nationalist" movement was evil.

"We don't act to be evil. We're trying to save our nations, our ethnic group and our culture," he said.

One of the judges was disqualified Tuesday before the hearing began for saying online that the death penalty was the right punishment for Breivik.

Defense and prosecutor attorneys both asked that Thomas Indrebo be disqualified for leaving a comment on a news website that "only the death penalty" would be the right thing in the case. Norway does not have the death penalty.

Breivik smirked as presiding Judge Wenche Elizabeth Arntzen laid out the objection.

Arntzen ruled that his testimony would not be broadcast, rejecting his claim that airing it was a human right.

Most of the relatives of the victims did not want Breivik's remarks broadcast.

"It's going to be 10 weeks of hell ... to hear this man, to hear his explanation of why he did it and how he did it," said Trond Henry Blattmann, whose son was killed on Utoya Island.

Breivik says his rampage was meant to save Norway from being taken over by multicultural forces and to prevent ethnic cleansing of Norwegians, Lippestad said.

In a 1,500-page manifesto attributed to him, Breivik railed against Muslim immigration and European liberalism, including the Labour Party, which he said was allowing the "Islamification of Europe."

Prosecutors on Monday played a recording of a terrified girl phoning for help during the shooting rampage, a recording punctuated by constant firing in the background. They also showed security camera video of the central Oslo bomb blast that killed eight people, images that participants in the trial watched with ashen faces.

Breivik sat in court without restraints, behind a bulletproof glass barrier set up to protect him during the proceedings.

Experts have given different opinions about Breivik's sanity, which will be a factor in determining what punishment he receives if convicted. Sentencing options could include imprisonment or confining him to a mental facility.

Prosecutors on Monday outlined Breivik's life before the killings, showing a photo of the messy room where he lived at his mother's house, listing his six failed businesses and referring to his many hours playing the online game "World of Warcraft." Prosecutors said he had "no job, no salary, no money from the government" and was "living off his savings."

The defendant smiled briefly when his "Warcraft" character was shown, one of the few times he showed emotion Monday.

He also appeared to be overcome with emotion, fighting back tears, when part of his video manifesto "Knights Templar 2083" was played in court.

On Tuesday, he said he wept as he watched the film because he was thinking about his country and ethnic group dying.

Lawyers for the victims had said Monday that "No one thought he was crying for the victims."

In November, prosecutors said psychiatrists had determined that Breivik was paranoid and schizophrenic at the time of the attacks and during 13 interviews experts conducted with him afterward. However, the court sought a second opinion because of the importance of the question of sanity to Breivik's trial.

In a report released this month, two court-appointed psychiatric experts said Breivik was sane at the time of the killings.


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