Christians come under threat in Pakistan: ‘No one accused of blasphemy is ever safe’

People from a Pakistani Christian community near Lahore pray for the recovery of Sajid Massih, who suffered serious injuries after jumping off a federal building. (K.M. Chaudary/AP) DHAIR, Pakistan — It was a quiet February morning when the mob of men in green turbans came surging through the alleys of a run-down Christian neighborhood in this town outside Lahore. Some carried cans of fuel. They were hunting for a young man named Patras Massih, and they were in a state of frenzy. “They were shouting and breaking things. They said to hand him over, or we will burn the whole community down,” recounted Sana, 28, a neighbor whose front door was kicked in and whose TV and washing machine were smashed.  By then, most other residents had fled, warned by police to evacuate the area that day. They were coming to arrest the illiterate janitor, 20, on charges of blasphemy, accompanied by a group of Islamist activists. He was away at work, so the police detained several of his relatives as insurance and departed, along with the vigilantes. Today, Massih is awaiting trial in prison for having allegedly shared an image on Facebook Messenger of an unidentified man standing triumphantly atop the prophet Muhammad’s tomb. His family is in hiding, along with his cousin Sajid, 26, who jumped from a fourth-story window while being questioned at a police building and nearly died from his injuries. The case illustrates the growing reach and aggressiveness of Pakistan’s once-obscure anti-blasphemy movement, which has gained wide popular support since staging a three-week protest outside the capital, Islamabad, in November. The group filed the original complaint against Massih and was treated deferentially by the police. Now leaders of the area’s minority Christians are beginning to fear they are no longer safe.  “Our life is over,” said Massih’s father Inderias, sitting despondently in a legal rights office in Lahore on Continue Reading

SPOTY winners

Anthony Joshua remains the favourite to clinch this year's Sports Personality of the Year award on December 2017. But what became of those who have won the accolade down the years? Did the honour of being crowned the nation's best see them sustain their charge in their respective sport or did their careers take a nosedive in the year that followed? We look back at the last 20 winners of the recipients to find out what happened next.  2016: Andy Murray  The three-time winner of SPOTY started the year as world No 1 but ended it No 16 due to a lengthy absence with a problematic hip injury. Rest has been the order of the day for the 30-year-old who hobbled out of Wimbledon in the last eight. Murray won just one title in 2017, the Dubai Championships. It was his lowest return for a season since 2006. He ended the year by terminating his coaching partnership with Ivan Lendl for a second time. 2015: Andy Murray Everything turned to gold for Murray who completed a stand-out 2016 with an ATP-best nine Tour titles from 13 finals. He became the first player to defend an Olympic singles title in Rio, won Wimbledon for a second time and reached two other grand slam finals in Melbourne and Paris. The Scotsman closed the year by becoming only the 26th different man to attain the world No 1 ranking, displacing Novak Djokovic in a World Tour Finals showdown at the O2. 2014: Lewis Hamilton The Mercedes driver won three of the first four races of the 2015 season and wrapped up his third world title with three races to spare as a battle royale with team-mate Nico Rosberg failed to materialise.  Hamilton's ensuring partying took its toll as he struck a stationary car while driving his £1.6m super car in the middle of the night in Monaco in mid November with two races of the season to run.  Dear TeamLH, just wanted to let you know why things have been quiet on social media the past few days. I’ve not been well with a fever Continue Reading

2017 Sporting Calendar: key dates and event planner

AMERICAN FOOTBALL (NFL unless stated) JAN 1 Regular season ends. 7-8 Play-offs begin, wild card round. 9 US College Play-off National Ch’ship (Tampa, Florida). 14-15 Divisional play-offs. 22 AFC & NFC Ch’ship games. 29 Pro Bowl (Orlando, Florida). FEB 5 Super Bowl LI (Houston, Texas). APRIL 27-29 Draft (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania). JUNE 10/11 (tbc) Big6 EuroBowl XXXI (tbc); EFL Bowl IV (tbc). SEPT 7 2017-18 season starts.  24 or OCT 1 Jacksonville v Baltimore (Wembley), Miami v New Orleans (Wembley). OCT 22 or 29 Cleveland v Minnesota (Twickenham), Los Angeles v Arizona (Twickenham). AQUATICS  DIVING FEB 3-5 British National Cup (Plymouth). 24-26 Grand Prix (Rostock, Germany). MARCH 3-5 World Series (Beijing). 23-25 World Series (Dubai).  31-APRIL 2 World Series (Windsor, Canada). APRIL 6-9 Grand Prix (Gatineau, Canada). 9-12 British Elite Junior Ch’ships (Plymouth). 21-23 World Series (Kazan, Russia). MAY 4-7 Grand Prix (San Juan, Puerto Rico). 26-28 Grand Prix (Madrid). JUNE 2-4 British Ch’ships (Edinburgh).  12-18 European Ch’ships (Kiev). 27-JULY 2 European Junior Ch’ships (Bergen, Norway). JULY 5-7 Grand Prix (Bolzano, Italy). 5-9 ASA National Age Group Ch’ships (Sheffield). 14-22 World Ch’ships (Budapest). 28-30 World Ch’ships, high diving (Budapest). OCT 26-29 Grand Prix (Kuala Lumpur). NOV 2-5 Grand Prix (Singapore). 9-12 Grand Prix (Gold Coast, Australia). OPEN WATER FEB 4 10km marathon World Cup (Patagones-Viedma, Argentina). 5 Grand Prix (Santa Fe Coronda, Argentina). 12 Grand Prix (Villa Urquiza Parana, Argentina). MARCH 11 10km marathon World Cup (Dubai). JUNE 9-11 Gt North Swim (Lake Windermere). 17 Gt East Swim (Alton Water, Suffolk). 24 10km marathon World Cup (Setubal, Portugal).  JULY 15-21 World Ch’ships (Budapest). 27 10km marathon World Cup (Lac St Jean, Canada). 29 Grand Prix (Lac St Jean, Canada). 30-31 ASA National Ch’ships (Rother Continue Reading

New travel apps, gadgets and gear you need now

This collection of gadgets, gear and apps helps travelers cope. GSI Outdoors’ Gourmet Pourover Java Set NAME GSI Outdoors' Gourmet Pourover Java Set COST $39.95 from WHAT IT IS A coffee-making combo that includes a grinder and pourover cup for a terrific cup of joe. THE GOOD Grind the beans in the ceramic coffee grinder, then set the expanding silicone cone on top of a favorite mug, wide-mouth water bottle or small pot. Add any brand of No. 4 filter, and spoon in the freshly ground coffee. Pour water over and -- voilà! -- enjoy aromatic and eye-opening drip coffee just like home. The convenient cover doubles as a trivet for the cone after brewing and keeps everything clean during transport. The cone collapses to just an inch high, and the grinder handle nests and locks in place. It also comes with a spoon and snap-on cover. THE BAD You'll have to bring your own cream and sugar..-- PR Newswire AirHelp NAME AirHelp COST Free COMPATIBLE WITH iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, requires iOS 9.0 or later; Android 4.1 and up WHAT IT IS If you've ever been the victim of a canceled, delayed or overbooked flight, AirHelp can try to get you compensation for up to $700. THE GOOD Instructions are pretty straightforward. The first step is to scan your boarding pass so AirHelp can store flight information and track it for delays, cancellations, and overbooking. When it comes time to make a claim, under "Disruption Details," describe the problem you experienced with your flight. Then tap on "Delay at final destination" and choose the total delay time of your flight from three options (less than three hours, more than three hours or never arrived). Then select "Reason given by airline." Claims are usually handled within two to three months, according to the company. THE BAD If you are entitled to compensation, AirHelp gets 25 percent.-- Daniel Bubbeo, Newsday Travelrest Travel Pillow NAME Travelrest Travel Pillow COST $29.95 from Continue Reading