SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- Was this a disappointing holiday season? Early data that looks at the whole of holiday shopping through Dec. 24 says yes. MasterCard SpendingPulse reported retail sales in the two months before Christmas rose only .7 percent this year from last year, well below analysts’ estimates of between 3 and 4 percent.
MasterCard SpendingPulse measures activity in discretionary retail sales (clothing, department-store items, appliances, furnishing, luxury items) from the MasterCard system and combines that data with survey data and other publicly available information to come up with a comprehensive estimate for retail activity across the entire payment system.
The story of disappointing holiday sales is one part regional, one part national, one part specific to holidays, and one part about the entire economy. Michael McNamara, vice president of Master Card SpendingPulse, says that the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic, which include nearly the entire area affected by Sandy, represented about 24 percent of consumer spending. Those regions “took an absolute beating in early November,” which put an early dent in holiday spending. While the rest of the country saw holiday spending increase 2 to 4 percent from 2011, the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic fell off by 1.4 and 3.9 percent, respectively. “You have to go back to 2008. These are some of the weaker numbers since the recovery began,” says McNamara.
E-commerce spending, which had been growing by 15 to 17 percent over the past 18 months according to SpendingPulse, also slowed in early November, because of widespread power outages from New Jersey to Connecticut following Sandy. This also shows up in the data collected by Chase Holiday Pulse, which tracks e-commerce activity from the 50 largest merchants using Chase’s payment systems and compares them from the same day’s activity year-over-year. Although it doesn’t provide an estimate or forecast of retail activity as a whole, Holiday Pulse can show trends from 2011 to 2012.
The Holiday Pulse data shows a 26.4 percent increase in sales on Oct. 29, the day Sandy lashed the East Coast and Mid-Atlantic, compared with the year before. But on Friday, Nov. 2, at which point a large chunk of the Mid-Atlantic had been experiencing blackouts since Monday, sales fell by 10.6 percent from the previous year. All told, McNamara says, without the slowdown caused by Sandy, holiday sales growth would be closer to 2.5 to 3 percent.
The second hit to holiday sales wasn’t specific to any one region or any one mode of shopping. Starting in early December, measures of consumer confidence started to decline precipitously. The University of Michigan/Thomson Reuters consumer sentiment index dropped 11.9 percent from November to December. after rising steadily since hitting a low in August 2011. According to the most recent release, the highest level ever of survey respondents “spontaneously mentioned hearing about prospects for higher taxes when asked to identify what economic news they had heard.” The possibility of taxes, especially taxes on wages, going up substantially absent a deal on the fiscal cliff took a real chunk out of consumer confidence.
McNamara was willing to attribute the subsequent soft sales to this decline in confidence. “At the same exact time, both of those events started to happen,” he said. “You could say it’s circumstantial evidence, but when it looks like a duck, it’s a duck.”
This overall softening in sales was anticipated in a projection by ShopperTrak, a Chicago-based research firm. Its final sales projection, released Dec. 19, predicted a 2.5 percent increase in holiday retail sales, down from its 3.5 percent projection in September. ShopperTrak also measured a 4.4 percent annual decline in retail foot traffic.
“These are some of the weaker numbers since the recovery began.”
While this year might be disappointing for all retail sales, the Chase Holiday Pulse data suggests a shift in holiday shopping—to holiday e-commerce, especially late in the year. One of the most intriguing trends in the Chase Holiday Pulse data was how the annual change in daily volume starts to take off in mid-December. On Dec. 16, the year-over-year change was only 6.1 percent; on Dec. 20, the increase was 61.8 percent. On Dec. 22, e-commerce sales were up 108.9 percent from the same day the year before. And on Dec. 23, the Sunday before Christmas Eve and the last full-blown day of the holiday shopping season, Chase measured a year-over-year increase of 124 percentthrough its payment network.
Although we don’t know the composition of these sales, the huge increase that gets bigger as Christmas approaches suggests that these weren’t Amazon deliveries that that were supposed to arrive on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Instead, these look like last-second, truly digital gifts like e-books, gift cards, or apps that can be delivered instantly. If that’s the case, then expect the e-commerce shift to only accelerate going forward.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –
Advent brings out Vienna’s romantic side: Garlands of bulbs glisten over thoroughfares and shops are decorated with pine branches and silk ribbons (November 26-December 31). Giant chandeliers lead to St. Stephen's Cathedral, and daily Advent concerts take place at Schönbrunn Palace.
Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen
The Japanese Pagoda, a popular restaurant on Tivoli Lake, is among the many structures dressed up with holiday lights at Denmark’s 1843 amusement park and “pleasure garden,” the dreamy vision of a Tiffany design director. In addition to touring the Asian area, located near the concert hall, visitors can zoom through the sparkling skies on the 1914 roller coaster, and warm up with glogg (mulled wine) and apple dumplings.
During Plaisirs d’Hiver, dramatically lit buildings and piped-in music lift spirits in the historic Grand Place. At the Christmas market, 240 chalets serve Belgian waffles and conical cuberdon candies.
Callaway Gardens, Georgia
Eight million lights sparkle in the wooded landscape of this resort complex, which this year stages its 20th annual Fantasy in Lights (November 18-December 30). Woodland displays depict such holiday scenes as the March of the Toy Soldiers or nature themes such as Snowflake Valley. Two beach scenes with moving lights tell the stories of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and the Nativity. The resort’s onsite Christmas Village features shopping, dining, and Santa.
This former drug town pulses with new vitality and, during the balmy holidays, fantastic lights. Tree canopies drip with oversize ornament shapes; giant 3-D figures twirl along Medellín River and above a carnival-like sidewalk packed with food stalls.
The aroma of toasted almonds and glogg heralds the arrival of Saint Lucia to this charming river town illuminated all season long. Five million lights glitter on the buildings and on the 700 Christmas trees at Liseberg Amusement Park’s Christmas Market . Choirs sing and sweethearts smooch along a three-kilometer Lane of Light leading to the harbor beginning December 9.
Hong Kong, China
It’s an over-the-top Christmas in Hong Kong, where lights twinkle along Main Street in Disneyland, the city’s malls try to outdo each other in awesomeness (Roppongi Hills Galleria created a ground-level Milky Way galaxy of lights one year), and the downtown skyline dances with colorful lights and piped-in music. The city center, crowned by a giant Swarovski crystal tree, bustles with carolers, and Victoria Harbour is fantastically illuminated. Stick around for Chinese New Year festivities—China’s traditional family holiday—for more fireworks and action.
The city’s Plaza Mayor features lovely lights without glaring glitz. Its holiday market dates to the mid-1800s and is a main source for figures for the Nativity scenes, or Belenes, that are displayed throughout the city. Events culminate with a gorgeous parade on January 5, the Eve of the Epiphany.
Following the Kobe earthquake of 1995, Italy loaned thousands of hand-painted bulbs to be built into intricate luminarie—light-strung, Gothic-style structures. The tradition continues: Four million revelers celebrate Japan’s enduring resilience near Higashi-Yuenchi Park.- www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- Downloading these holiday apps can help to put your kids into a festive mood. From stories to games to activities, these apps will add a little sparkle to your holiday glow.
BEST HOLIDAY BOOK APPS
Bill Doyle's tale about learning to wait to open presents is a hilarious addition to any family's holiday reading. In this book app, presents need time to percolate; so when 8-year-old Seymour sneaks a peek at his presents before Christmas, he finds wacky, unfinished versions of prized gifts. For example, the skates' wheels aren't done growing; so they appear as pizza cutters, slicing through the carpet and the Christmas tree. Kids help Seymour to wrangle the gifts back into their boxes by playing music. With pull-tabs on each page to create surprising and funny animations, this book is a silly and delightful holiday romp.
Based on the classic TV special, this story about Charlie Brown is presented as a pop-up book. The app entices children to explore each page by rewarding their touches with delightful interactivity, including turning white dots of snow into beautiful snowflakes. A gifted narrator tells this story about learning the true meaning of Christmas. The iconic voice of Charlie Brown, delivered by Peter Robbins, the actor who voiced him in the TV version, adds to this app's artistry. This is a wonderful story to share as a family.
For children who have seen The Nutcracker Ballet, this is an enchanting rendition, presented as app. More movie than interactive book, this app allows children to watch the story told with original artwork done by Yoko Tanaka. Her hand-painted illustrations are breathtaking, presenting a beautifully detailed and somewhat ethereal art style. As the story of the ballet unfolds in animations, children listen to Tchaikovsky's musical score. While words appear on the pages to explain the story, there is no narration; and the app has limited interactivity. Even so, this is a magical experience for those who enjoy listening to the music while watching a unique version of the story being shown. Don't miss the Waltz of the Flowers, where gorgeous flowers slowly open to reveal the fairies.
Dr. Seuss' beloved holiday story about the Grinch transfers well into an app. With a fabulous narrator and some light animation, this classic story delivers a rambunctious holiday tale about the Grinch trying to keep Christmas from coming. With three ways to explore the story — Read to Me, Read it Myself and Auto Play (where it plays like a movie) — this is an app young kids can enjoy alone or with others. New to the iOS version is the ability to make your own recording and then share it with others.
GAMES AND HOLIDAY ACTIVITIES
A virtual sticker book, this app lets kids explore their creative side. Using drag-and-drop interactions, kids can create holiday scenes filled with Santa, his reindeer, Christmas trees (which you can decorate, one ornament at a time) and shimmering lights. The app cleverly allows for multi-touch, so that siblings can have fun together. And each scene can be saved to the iPad's photos for sharing and/or printing. What makes these stickers so much fun is that many animate and make sounds when touched. Plus, for young kids, a voice-over identifies each sticker; so the app can teach vocabulary.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - Christmas cards written by German soldiers occupying the British island of Jersey during WWII have been delivered to their destination seven decades later in what could prove to be a case of ‘better late than never’.
According to The Local, in 1941 they were stolen by a group of young islanders as an act of defiance against the Nazis. In total, 86 Christmas messages disappeared.
The historical holiday letters resurfaced several years ago, and after Jersey's archive catalogued their content, they have been finally sent on to their intended destinations in Germany.
"The archive asked us this year to deliver as many letters as possible to the addressees or their descendants," Jersey postal service officer Michael McNally explained.
Germany's mail service, Deutsche Post, said however that some of the recently delivered letters had been rejected by the recipients for fear they would expose the Nazi ardor of their relatives during the war, The Local reported.
"Merry Christmas and a healthy New Year wish from your Soldier Emil Adam. Greetings to Maier, Fischer and Melcher," one of the letters said, delivered to Engelbert Josef Bergmann in Mühlheim.
"You don't really know what to feel," Bergmann responded, reading the letter addressed to his grandfather.- www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- ntario’s elementary teachers are vowing to walk out en masse after the Christmas holidays, shuttering every school, even as the province’s Education Minister warned that any job action taken in the new year will be illegal.
As public-school teachers in eight school boards took to the streets Tuesday in the largest walkout the province has seen in more than 15 years, the head of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario threatened the worst was yet to come. A government-imposed contract that takes effect Jan. 1 would trigger a large-scale political protest by teachers.
“This is not going away,” ETFO president Sam Hammond said in an interview Tuesday.
But Ontario Education Minister Laurel Broten said teacher contract terms, legislated under Bill 115, would automatically take effect Jan. 1, which would make any job action illegal.
“With a collective agreement in place, you’re no longer in a legal strike position,” Ms. Broten said. “It is something that causes me great concern, to think that there’s an encouragement by union leadership to ask their members to undertake illegal activity and I would certainly encourage them not to do that.”
Ms. Broten said there were “mechanisms” in place to penalize teachers if they engaged in an illegal strike. Penalties under Ontario’s Labour Relations Act range from suing union leaders to taking disciplinary action against individual members.
Teachers are angry and frustrated with Bill 115, a controversial piece of legislation that dictates the terms of their contract and restricts their ability to strike.
More than half of the province’s elementary school teachers, including those in Toronto, Peel and Durham, staged one-day job actions Tuesday, the largest in a series of rotating strikes across the province. Such a large-scale walkout has not been seen since teachers rebelled against Conservative premier Mike Harris in the 1990s.
On Tuesday, teachers wearing placards and singing strike-themed versions of Christmas carols picketed outside schools and strategic sites, such as the offices of the Ministry of Education, the Toronto District School Board and the Peel District School Board.
“Any teacher you talk to here will tell you this is not about a wage freeze. Every single person agreed to a wage freeze,” Laura Roberts, a teacher at Kensington Public School, said outside the Education Ministry in Toronto. “This is about people’s rights getting taken away and things we’ve worked really hard for over the years that are going to be stripped without our consent.”
Elementary-school teachers voted in favour of a one-day political protest – essentially an illegal, or wildcat strike – when Ms. Broten invokes her powers under Bill 115. High-school teachers are voting on the same plan, and results are expected at the end of the week.
While the walkouts have been an inconvenience, parents and students are more concerned about the loss of extracurriculars. In September, teachers stopped coaching sports teams, overseeing clubs and offering students extra academic support after school.
Mr. Hammond warned that these voluntary services would continue to be withdrawn when school resumes in January.
“I don’t see that stopping in the new year,” Mr. Hammond said. Some leaders have even gone so far as to suggest that these activities could be withheld until the fall of 2014, the duration of the two-year government-imposed contract.
The Ontario Liberals have said that cutting teachers’ paid sick days from 20 to 10, and delaying a pay grid that sees their salaries climb from about $40,000 to $90,000 over 10 years, was necessary in order to tackle a $14-billion provincial deficit while preserving job-generating programs such as caps on primary-class sizes and full-day kindergarten.
In an interview on Tuesday, Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath defended the teachers’ ongoing protests, arguing that they have “very few things they have left at their disposal in terms of how to deal with the situation.”
While noting that even some teachers are struggling with the possibility of extending job action into January, Ms. Horwath appeared to suggest they wouldn’t be to blame for further walkouts or curtailing of extracurricular activities. “If we end up there, then it’ll be because the government’s being stubborn, and they’re not prepared to reopen the conversation,” she said.
Ms. Horwath said that a government under her watch would repeal Bill 115, but was non-committal on the extent to which contracts that take effect on Jan. 1 could subsequently be repealed.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- The principal and another staff member at an elementary school in Connecticut rushed a gunman who had forced his way inside, an act of courage that cost both of them their lives, a school superintendent said on Saturday. In all, the gunman killed 26 people, 20 of them children, in the nation’s second-deadliest school shooting.
The principal, Dawn Hochsprung, 47, of Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, was running at the gunman “in order to protect her students” when she was shot, Janet Robinson, the superintendent, said. The school psychologist also tried to stop the gunman and was killed, Ms. Robinson told reporters in brief remarks outside the school.
“Teachers were really, really focused on saving their students,” she added.
The chilling details about some of the moments during the carnage in the bucolic community emerged as investigators pressed for more information about the gunman, identified as Adam Lanza. A police spokesman, Lt. J. Paul Vance, said investigators had produced “some very good evidence,” but he provided no explanation for a massacre that unfolded with brutal efficiency as Mr. Lanza, 20, opened fire in one classroom and then another, turning a place where children were supposed to be safe — an elementary school with a sign out front that said, “Visitors Welcome” — into a national symbol of heartbreak and horror.
Lieutenant Vance said the victims’ bodies had been taken from the school, Sandy Hook Elementary. He said the one survivor of the massacre, a woman who was shot and wounded at the school, would be “instrumental” in piecing together what had happened. He declined to describe what evidence investigators — who combed through the one-story school on Saturday — had found.
Contradicting earlier reports, Ms. Robinson said Mr. Lanza’s mother, Nancy Lanza, had never been a teacher or a substitute teacher at the school, though she did not specifically say whether she had had any other connection to the place.
Officials said the killing spree began early on Friday at the house where Mr. Lanza had lived with his mother. There, he shot her in the face, making her his first victim, the authorities said. Then, leaving her dead after taking three guns that apparently belonged to her, he climbed into her car for the short drive to the school. Two of the guns were semiautomatic pistols; the other was a semiautomatic rifle.
Outfitted in combat gear, Mr. Lanza forced his way into the school, apparently defeating an intercom system that was supposed to keep people out during the day unless someone inside buzzed them in. This contradicted earlier reports that he had been recognized and allowed to enter.
“He was not voluntarily let into the school at all,” Lieutenant Vance said. “He forced his way in.”
The lieutenant said the authorities were “investigating the history of each and every weapon” that Mr. Lanza carried to the scene of the rampage and said that the guns were found in the school, “in proximity” to where Mr. Lanza shot himself to death.
A federal law enforcement official said the three guns recovered at the school — Glock and Sig Sauer pistols and an M4 .223-caliber Carbine — were bought legally by the gunman’s mother and registered in her name. Other weapons were recovered from her home, the official said.
Even before the medical examiner had released the identities of the victims, some were being mourned on the Internet. One was Ana Greene, the 6-year-old daughter of the jazz saxophonist Jimmy Greene, who moved to Newtown in July. Several other jazz musicians express condolences on Facebook, and Mr. Greene posted a response in which he thanked them.
“As much as she’s needed here and missed by her mother, brother and me,” he wrote, “Ana beat us all to paradise.” He added, “I love you, sweetie girl.” (The Ottawa Citizen quoted a family member as saying that Mr. Greene’s son, who also attended the school, was “fine.”)
Dorothy Werden, 49, lives across the street from Christopher and Lynn McDonnell, who lost their daughter Grace, 6, on Friday. In an interview Saturday morning, she said that several other families who had lost children lived close by, and that the Lanza household was a block away.
Ms. Werden said she saw Grace getting on a bus Friday morning, as she did every day at 8:45. Shortly afterward, she received a call that there had been a lockdown at the school — something that happens periodically, she said, because there is a prison nearby. It was only when she saw police cars from out of town speed past her that she knew something was wrong.
“A lot of my friends in the neighborhood lost their children,” she said. The feeling in the once-quiet streets Saturday morning is “absolute, indescribable devastation,” she added.
“The fact that the killer killed his mom a block away while we were getting our kids ready for school, it’s too much for your brain to process. And the fact that I have to look across the street and see the McDonnells’ house,” she said, before trailing off.
The shooting affected a small community of close-knit families, Ms. Werden added. “The fact that it’s contained in the Sandy Hook area,” she said, “I don’t think we’ll recover from this for a very long time.”
Like the rest of the nation, she said, local residents were asking one question: Why?
“Why did he have to go to the elementary school and kill all of those defenseless children?” Ms. Werden said.
Terrifying new details emerged Saturday about how teachers and school staff members scrambled to move children to safety as the massacre began. Maryann Jacob, a library clerk, said she initially herded students behind a bookcase against a wall “where they can’t be seen.” She said that spot had been chosen in practice drills for school lockdowns, but on Friday, she had to move the pupils to a storage room “because we discovered one of our doors didn’t lock.”
Ms. Jacob said the storage room had crayons and paper that they tore up for the children to color while they waited. “They were asking what was going on,” she said. “We said: ‘We don’t know. Our job is just to be quiet.’” But she said that she did know, because she had called the school office and learned that the unthinkable had happened just steps away.
Law enforcement officials said Mr. Lanza had grown up in Newtown, and he was remembered by high school classmates as smart, introverted and nervous. They said he had gone out of his way not to attract attention when he was younger.
There was still no public explanation of what had motivated Mr. Lanza. Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation interviewed his brother, Ryan Lanza, in Hoboken, N.J. His father, Peter Lanza, who was divorced from his mother, Nancy Lanza, was also questioned, an official said.
President Obama, meanwhile, used his weekly radio and Internet address to mourn the victims, saying that “every parent in America has a heart heavy with hurt.” Republicans, who normally prepare a reply to the president’s address, did not do so this time.
The president’s address was similar to a statement he read in the White House press room on Friday, when he paused, more than once, and wiped his eyes.
“Our hearts are broken today,” Mr. Obama said in his address. He mentioned other places where there had been mass shootings this year, including a mall in Oregon, a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and a movie theater in Colorado, as well as “countless street corners in places like Chicago and Philadelphia.”
“Any of these neighborhoods could be our own,” Mr. Obama said. “So we have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”
Lieutenant Vance said 18 youngsters were pronounced dead at the school, and two others were taken to hospitals, where they were declared dead. All the adults killed at the school were pronounced dead there.
Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were tracing all of the guns registered to Mr. Lanza’s mother and had completed the work on several, the official said, but would not provide additional details.
The agents were also visiting all the licensed federal firearms dealers in the area to determine if they might have records on any other weapons linked to the gunman or to his family, and they were canvassing sporting ranges in an effort to learn whether the gunman might have visited them for recreational use.
On Friday night, thousands of people flocked to local churches, attending candlelight vigils and seeking comfort in community.
“These 20 children were just beautiful, beautiful children,” Msgr. Robert Weiss of St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church told reporters. “These 20 children lit up this community better than all these Christmas lights we have.”
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) --Canadians planning on making large charitable donations should consider all of their options this holiday season if they are looking to maximize the bang for their buck, experts say.
Prashant Patel, a vice-president at RBC Wealth Management who works with wealthy clients, says the larger the donation, the more options available to donors.
And he said, whether it is a payout from the sale of a business, big gains on stock options set to expire or an unexpected bonus, a charitable donation can reduce the size of your tax bill in April.
“It is definitely part of our checklist when we’re talking to clients about year-end tax planning,” Mr. Patel said.
Cash, securities or insurance can all be donated to charities.
Martin Sampson, senior director of strategic giving at the United Way in Ottawa, said it is important for donors to work with a financial planner to ensure they are getting the most out of their donation dollars.
“You can give a lot more for the same net amount of giving if you do it through a gift of securities,” he said.
Mr. Sampson, who tries to work with those considering large donations to find something they’re passionate about, said as the baby boomers get older, planned giving, or donating after you die is also a growing area.
“It is a tough conversation obviously because to be talking about a planned gift, a bequest left in somebody’s will, the subject of death is on the table,” he said.
Mr. Patel said donating the payout from an insurance policy could also may be a way to “supercharge” your donations.
He said there are two ways to donate the proceeds of a life insurance policy — the charity can be both the owner of the beneficiary of the policy or the donor can remain the owner, while the charity is the beneficiary.
The first allows the donor to receive a credit for the premiums paid on the policy as a donation on their income tax return, while the latter allows the donor to claim the amount that is paid by the policy when they die to offset their final tax return.
“Typically, insurance premiums are not tax deductible. This is a way where you can actually convert your premium to be a tax deduction during your lifetime,” he said of the method where the charity owns the policy.
Mr. Patel said another way to avoid a large tax bill after you die could be to name a charity as the beneficiary of your RRSP or RRIF.
“At death, you’re deemed to have deregistered your RRSP or RRIF and that’s fully taxable as income, so at death that could be a very large tax bill,” he said.
“By naming the charity as the beneficiary, not only do you avoid the probate process, but you basically get pretty well a dollar for dollar offset in donation tax credits against the income inclusion.”
Mr. Patel noted there are limits to how much you can claim as a donation on your income tax return in any one year. The rules limit charitable donation claims to 75 per cent of your net income for the year.
“But if you exceed that in any one year then you can carry forward the excess for five years, so that’s always one thing to think about,” he said.
“You want to be able to make sure that you can claim the donation for tax purposes.”
And Mr. Patel reminds potential donors that making big charitable donations doesn’t mean more money for you.
“You will be out of pocket, even though you’re saving tax. You will be out of pocket compared with someone that didn’t make any donations and paid all the tax, but nonetheless there is that mind set of ‘I’d rather have some of my money go to a charity than to CRA.’ ”
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Ready for a holiday season full of airport stress? We didn't think so. But, fear not!
We have pulled together a smattering of airports around the globe with interesting diversions for the heavily-delayed, canceled or just plain bored.
While we already know what not to buy at the airport, what about things you can invest yourself in: a relaxing spa, a fitness center or even a museum? At airports around the world, you can get in the holiday spirit (literally, at Munich airport), by shopping, browsing art or getting massaged to your heart's content.
Herewith, 14 airports that make the usual doldrums of flying a delight.
source: huffington posr
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — A suicide bomber in attacked a mosque in Afghanistan on Friday, just as worshipers were meeting to mark the start of the Eid al-Adha holiday. Authorities say that a local police chief visiting the mosque in the town of Maymana, in the remote Faryab province, may have been the target of the attacker, as nearly half of those killed were fellow police officers. (The chief survived.) More than 50 other people were wounded and the death toll could rise higher. The BBC reports that the bomber himself was wearing a police uniform, which allowed him to get close the building without being searched.
The Taliban did not admit blame for the bombing, but did take credit for the latest "green on blue" attacksthat killed three Western soldiers on Thursday. An Italian solider was killed by an Afghan solider in Farah province, while two U.S. soldiers were shot by a local policeman in Uruzgan province. The policeman later joined up with the Taliban. That brings the death toll of NATO soldiers killed by "insider" attacks in 2012 to 54. www.shafaqna.com/English