One London terror suspect appeared in ‘Jihadis Next Door’ doc; another told Italian authorities he was ‘going to be a terrorist’

Two of the three London terrorists were known to authorities, with one boldly appearing in a documentary called “The Jihadis Next Door” and the other reportedly telling Italian airport officials he was “going to be a terrorist.” Suspect Khuram Shazad Butt, the Pakistani-born British citizen killed by police in Saturday’s London Bridge attack, had appeared in last year’s chilling Channel 4 doc about Islamist extremists across the pond. The 27-year-old appears about 15 minutes into the film as he traipses to London’s Regents Park — situated close to a large mosque — for a prayer group deemed “actively provocative” by the film’s director, Jamie Roberts. Before the prayer gets underway, Butt queries his companions: “Anyone got a smartphone?” He then helps the others unfurl a black flag similar to the one associated with ISIS, listening intently as the group leader preaches: “This is not the real life, my dear brothers. This is a passing time for us. So this is a type of jihad for you.” Police arrive at the park in search of “an ISIS-looking flag,” prompting a heated clash with the group. (“What are you touching him for?” Butt protests at one point.) The officers, unable to find the flag after an hourlong search, release the men without charges. The doc is a product of Roberts’ two years with “one of the most extreme groups in Britain,” as he puts it. The film first focuses on Abu Rumaysah — a father of four who ran a bouncy castle business and was later suspected of ISIS activity — and cycles through the extremist group’s public protests, recruitment efforts and attempts to explain its warped ideology. In one scene, preacher Abu Haleema praises the idea of adulterers being stoned to death in a public square. Butt’s apparently brazen extremism prompted at Continue Reading

Young Italian couple trapped in London apartment said emotional goodbyes to family before blaze claimed the building

A young Italian couple trapped in their flat on the 23rd floor of Grenfell Tower phoned their parents to say goodbye as flames and smoke consumed the London building. “I wanted to help you, thank you for all you did for me. I am about to go to heaven, I will help you from there,” Gloria Trevisan said in a final phoncall to family, according to La Repubblica. Trevisan, 26, and her 27-year-old boyfriend, Marco Gottardi moved to London in March after graduating with degrees in architecture. The couple is missing and feared dead by their loved ones, according to Italian media. Trevisan first phoned her family in the early evening on Wednesday, explaining to her parents a fire broke out on the third floor of their apartment building. They agreed firefighters would be able to combat the blaze before it reached them, but by 2 a.m., Trevisan was significantly more worried. Gottardi tried to calm both his girlfriend and her parents down, though after an hour their situation had only worsened. Trevisan made her last call to family around 4:07 a.m. Italian time to say goodbye. Maria Cristina Sandrin, the lawyer for Trevisan’s family, said she cried while listening to the audio recordings of their final conversations and described them as “terrible” and "agonizing.” Gottardi’s call home was similarly emotional, though his father, Giannino, said his son remained strong until the phone lines finally went out. “In the first call Marco told us not to worry, that everything was under control, that basically we must not worry,” he said of the conversation he shared with son around 3:45 a.m. “He was trying to minimize what was happening, probably not to unsettle us.” Marco’s final call came just after 4 a.m. “But in the second call — and I can’t get this out of my head — he said there was smoke, that so much smoke was Continue Reading

Knicks’ Langston Galloway, NBA D-League call up, plays well in home debut

Langston Galloway announced his presence to the Garden crowd with a put-back dunk late in the first quarter in his home debut. The former Westchester Knick didn’t disappoint in other moments, tallying 19 points, just two days after signing a 10-day contract. “I had a lot of fun,” he said afterward. “I was just going out there, trying to help my team anyway possible. The biggest thing is just trying to get us back into the game and that’s what I was trying to do.” The defensive specialist spent time guarding All-Star James Harden in just his second ever NBA game. “I was just trying to stay in front of him and make sure that I contested all of his shots,” he said. “And that’s what I did.” In 19 games with the Westchester Knicks, Galloway, an undrafted rookie and the first call-up from the team’s D-League franchise, led the team in scoring, averaging 16.5 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 2.4 assists. He also led the NBA D-League in steals with 2.7 per game. MELO WARMS UP Perhaps the biggest evidence that Anthony was dealing with an injury was the sight of Knicks chief medical officer Dr. Lisa Callahan talking to Anthony’s agent Leon Rose near the court as the Knicks start went through his workout. Anthony has said he likely won’t play until the Knicks face the Bucks in London on Thursday. Anthony missed his fifth straight game Thursday night. Amar’e Stoudemire is also resting a sore right knee and missed his eighth straight game. Andrea Bargnani also missed his fourth straight with a calf strain. K-MART RE-OPENING? Martin was able to sign a pair of 10-day contracts with the Knicks toward the end of the 2012-13 season and parlayed them into a pact for the 2013-14 season. The Bucks worked him out last week with the idea of adding front-court depth to the roster to deal with the continuing absence Continue Reading

Al Sharpton exclusive book excerpt: From boy preacher to Tawana Brawley to the White House Super Bowl party

These days, you can find the Rev. Al Sharpton hosting a cable TV talk show, you see him at presidential fund-raisers and inaugurals. But it wasn’t always that way. In these excerpts from his new book, “The Rejected Stone,” Sharpton touches on various stops of his life journey, from child preacher to time on the road with James Brown, through the Tawana Brawley scandal, from his own brush with death during a march for slain teenager Yusuf Hawkins to the White House Super Bowl party. My preaching career started at the age of four, when Bishop Washington allowed me to stand on a box at the pulpit and sermonize to a congregation of 900 people on the anniversary of the junior usher board. When I started to become known in the community as the boy preacher, it was not looked on kindly by my classmates. Their reaction ranged from outrage to amusement, with a bit of everything in between. I never got beaten up, but they clearly thought I was a strange kid. They were either laughing at me or trying to avoid me. It wasn’t helped by my insistence in writing Rev. Alfred Sharpton at the top of my papers in school, which upset my teachers so much for some reason that my mother had to come to school to intervene. It was my first real confrontation with authority, but it was also affirming for me, my insistence that I was something , someone of worth, despite the rejection by my father, despite the craziness that my life had become. My growing identity as a boy preacher undoubtedly helped my self-esteem at the time, but it also increased the sense of isolation I was feeling. It put me further out of step with my contemporaries, made me an oddity. After all, I was their mothers’ preacher on Sunday. How were they supposed to act toward me on Monday? Bishop Washington took me under his wing, with the intent of nurturing and guiding me so that one day I could succeed him as pastor of the church and maybe even become a bishop in the Church of God in Continue Reading

In wake of Boston Marathon terror attack the London Marathon will go on as scheduled with tight security, organizers say

Determined to put on a show of "solidarity" for Boston, London Marathon organizers will stage their race on Sunday despite the threat of terrorism. The British capital has long been a top target for terrorists, and concerns have only intensified ahead of Sunday's race after Monday's harrowing scenes at the Boston Marathon, where bombs killed three people and injured many more. However, British sports minister Hugh Robertson said the London Marathon, watched by an estimated 500,000 spectators and run through some of the city's most recognizable landmarks, should be staged as planned to show "we won't be cowered by this sort of behavior." "The best way for us to react is to push ahead with the marathon on Sunday, to get people on the streets and to celebrate it as we always do in London," Robertson told the BBC on Tuesday. "These are balance of judgments but we are absolutely confident here that we can keep the event safe and secure. I think this is one of those incidents where the best way to show solidarity with Boston is to continue and send a very clear message to those responsible." Security is being scrutinized after the events in Boston, where two bombs exploded near the finish of the marathon. Prince Harry — the patron of the London Marathon Charitable Trust — will attend Sunday's race and make the presentations to the winners. "The London Marathon fully expects at this stage ... (to) go ahead as planned on Sunday although we are continuing to review security with the Metropolitan Police in the coming days," Nick Bitel, chief executive of the London Marathon, said Tuesday in an interview on the race website. "The London Marathon will be in touch with the runners through their email and they will hear from us on a daily basis in that way. We will try to keep updating our runners throughout this period." Mo Farah, who won the long-distance double at Continue Reading

Nonstop flight to London an economic boon for Nashville

Convenient access to the United Kingdom is advantageous to Nissan North America’s business, a global automotive manufacturer with extensive operations in Europe. A nonstop flight to London from Nashville International Airport on British Airways — which is expected to be formally announced as soon as next week — is a game changer for the automaker and many other major Middle Tennessee employers as relations between Nashville and the U.K. strengthen.“London is an important destination for us; it’s also the gateway to the rest of Europe, so it opens opportunity from a business standpoint to have more direct flights into the U.K. and London,” said Scott Becker, senior vice president of Franklin-based Nissan North America.The relationship between Nashville and the U.K. has taken center stage in recent months, with Nashville in aggressive pursuit of a Major League Soccer club and as tourism leaders look to international markets to bolster the already unprecedented tourism boom in Music City. More: Nashville airport to land nonstop flight to London British Consul-General Jeremy Pilmore-Bedford touted the prospects of a Nashville-to-London flight during a reception last week ahead of the International Champions Cup game between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City at Nissan Stadium. The game itself drew a crowd in excess of 56,000, the most heavily attended soccer match ever held in Tennessee.Several business leaders whose industries have a significant stake in the new flight declined to comment before a formal announcement. But for years, leaders in industries ranging from health care to country music have coveted a nonstop flight to London, which was eliminated in the mid-1990s when American Airlines ended an arrangement with Nashville International Airport.“Nashville has been very active in recruiting more domestic and international flights for the last few years,” Butch Spyridon, CEO of the Continue Reading

Another London terror attack: Britain’s stoic capital presses on

LONDON — A shell-shocked London pressed on Sunday, trying to recover from the third brutal terror attack in Britain in less than three months and just days before Thursday's general election.A picture went viral of a man holding a pint of beer as he was fleeing Saturday night's attack that left seven people dead on or near London Bridge, as if embodying the famous British mantra to "keep calm and carry on."“Yesterday it was very joyful. Today it’s very somber,” said Sinead Halnon, 34, a credit controller visiting London from Wexford, in southeastern Ireland. She said Sunday that she was “shocked and scared” and did not expect another terrorist attack so soon.In March, a lone attacker killed five people by mowing down pedestrians and fatally stabbing a police officer in Westminster, near Parliament in central London. On May 22, a suicide bomber killed 22 people outside an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England.Campaigning was suspended Sunday by the major political parties because of the attack. But Paul Nuttall, leader of the U.K. Independence Party, said he refused to stop campaigning “because this is precisely what the extremists would want us to do."The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack. British Prime Minister Theresa May on Sunday called for tougher measures to contain Islamic extremism."It is not yet clear how this atrocity will impact on the general election, said Matthew Goodwin, a professor in politics at the University of Kent. "It may be that Theresa May's tough statement and call for new counterterrorism measures underlines her already strong leadership ratings and halts her party's dwindling lead in the polls."London Bridge, a major thoroughfare, was still closed off Sunday, with a half-dozen of the famed red double-decker buses still lined up on the roadway as if frozen in time."It was horrific," recalled Daniel Ansah, 50, a security guard Continue Reading

Shatner for gov? Canadian Facebook group calls for William Shatner to run for office

Best of the restShatner for gov? Well, kind of. Canadian Trekkies have created a Facebook group dedicated to getting William Shatner, a native of Montreal, appointed to the five-year ceremonial position of the country's governor general. "It's time for Canada to boldly go where no country has gone before," proclaims the group's page, which so far has 35,000 followers supporting Shatnereonline.comSo much for that 'Farewell' tour. Cher has announced that when her contract ends at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, she'll be leaving Las Vegas and hitting the road yet again - despite a 2002-05 tour that she said would be her last. The 63-year-old will no doubt be promoting her upcoming album; she'll launch its first single, "Already Been There," at the World Music Awards next month.lasvegassun.comHugh Hefner has saved Hollywood. The ultimate Playboy just donated the last $900,000 the Trust for Public Land needed to prevent the iconic "Hollywood" sign in L.A. from being demolished. "The images created in Hollywood had a major influence on my life and Playboy," says Hef. "The sign is Hollywood's Eiffel Tower, and I am pleased to help preserve such an important cultural landmark."cnn.comSpare us the encore. Whitney Houston disappointed yet another group of fans on Sunday night: her showing at a London gig is being called everything from "raspy" to "off key." The songstress knew it, too. "I wanna do it, but [my voice] just doesn't want to," Houston said during one song, referring to her inability to hit a high note. "I have long talks with her. Well, tonight she's getting a little temperamental." We'll Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Why the U.K. is healthier than us: An American in London describes virtues of national health care

LONDON - For years after I moved to England, my American instincts tugged at me every time I left a doctor's office. As I headed for the exit without stopping at the front desk to pay, I felt a little like a shoplifter about to be spotted. After more than eight years in a nation that provides free health care to all its residents, that reflex has reversed. Now, when I see a doctor on visits home to New York or New Jersey, pulling out my checkbook feels unnatural, a reminder of how badly off track America's health care system has gone. As Washington gears up for an overhaul, neither congressional Democrats nor President Obama are proposing anything like Britain's government-run, government-funded National Health Service. But a group called Conservatives for Patients' Rights, working with the PR firm that orchestrated the Swift Boat attacks on John Kerry, has launched a TV campaign aimed at scaring Americans into believing that a system like the British one would lead to poor care, a controlling bureaucracy and interminable waits. That doesn't jibe with my family's experience. The U.K.'s health service is what U.S. conservatives deride as "socialized medicine." But those who use it are far better off than the 45 million uninsured in the United States, and the millions more whose expensive and restrictive policies give them little say in their care. No one who lives here legally goes without treatment because they can't afford it. No one goes bankrupt because of illness. Businesses and workers are not burdened with expensive insurance premiums, and those who lose their jobs still get care. Of course none of this is free, but it's a lot cheaper than the American way of doing things: U.S. health care spending is about 16% of GDP, compared to less than 10% in Britain. Numerous studies show Britain with better health outcomes than the United States, but one statistic stands out: American life expectancy is 78 years, compared with 79.2 in Britain. The Continue Reading

Facebook yanks 30K inmates’ pages after many taunted their victims from prison

The criminals are behind bars but their victims are still feeling their reach - through the Internet. The British government said Thursday that Facebook had removed the profiles of 30 U.K. inmates at its request after several incidents in which prisoners reportedly used the social networking site to organize crime or taunt others. The announcement made some Internet users worry about government interference online, but many crime victims said even more should be done. "When someone is convicted of a crime he loses his civil liberty though sentencing," said Gary Trowdell of Families United, a group founded by relatives of young murder victims. "We say he should use his cyber-liberty as well." Families United met earlier this week with Justice Secretary Jack Straw, who said the government would act "to tackle those cases where offenders seek to taunt or harass victims and their families" through Web sites. British prisoners are banned from using social networking sites like Facebook. Britain - unlike many European countries - bars almost all inmates from access to the Internet, except for educational purposes under supervision. But authorities acknowledge that some have used smuggled mobile phones to update their pages, or have gotten friends on the outside to do it for them. The Sunday Times newspaper reported last month that Colin Gunn - a gangland boss convicted of conspiring to murder a couple in 2004 - warned on Facebook that "I will be home one day and I can't wait to look into certain people's eyes and see the fear of me being there." Jade Braithwaite, one of three men jailed for the stabbing death of London teenager Ben Kinsella, also had a page - now gone - with postings on his life in prison, including one saying he was "down but not out." A photo also was posted to the site showing him wearing a "Free Jade Braithwaite" T-shirt. Ben's father, George Kinsella, said his wife and children had had to read "very distressing" comments on the Net. Continue Reading