German turmoil over revelations of Neo-Nazi murderers, terrorists

Germany’s Interior Minister has warned of a “new form of far-right terrorism” as details emerged of a grotesque film left by members of a neo-Nazi cell in eastern Germany, in which they claimed the murder of nine immigrants between 2000 and 2006.

Prosecutors said police had arrested a suspected accomplice of the group, which referred to itself in the film as the “Nationalist Socialist Underground,” and which is also thought to be behind the murder of a policewoman in 2007 and a bomb attack on a Turkish area of Cologne in 2004.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the murders were shameful for Germany. “We must assume that this is right-wing extremism in the worst form, and it is shaming that such a thing can happen in our country,” she told German television.

The revelations, which have caused shock and outrage across Germany, began after police found the bodies of two men, Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Boehnhardt, both with far-right links, in a mobile home in Eisenach last week. Police believe they killed themselves after a botched bank robbery.

Shortly after the discovery investigators searched a burned-out house in Zwickau, used by the men and one woman, “Beate Z,” who later handed herself in to police. There they found guns used in the murder of the policewoman and of the nine vendors, eight of whom were of Turkish background and the other a Greek…

Protesters, many with Turkish roots, gathered at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin Sunday to protest against neo-Nazis. Opposition politicians expressed anger that the cell went undetected for so long.

“Beate Z” faces charges of murder, attempted murder, arson and belonging to a terrorist organization.

Throw away the key. That would be a start.

Armed forces minister apologizes for lies about depleted uranium

The armed forces minister has been forced to apologise over misleading statements he made regarding the legality and dangers of depleted uranium weapons…

Nick Harvey admitted that he had inadvertently misled MPs about a Ministry of Defence review that he said had concluded the weapons were permissible on humanitarian and environmental grounds under the Geneva conventions.

It subsequently emerged that the review had never happened, and Harvey has apologised for the error, which he said had been made “in good faith”. He has ordered that a review into the weapons’ legality be carried out by civil servants. The department is facing calls for the weapons to be suspended until it is completed.

The revelations come as a cross-party campaign is launched to pile pressure on the MoD to phase out the use of depleted uranium (DU). The tank shells that depend on it have to be renewed in 2013.

DU is a chemically toxic and radioactive heavy metal produced as waste by the nuclear power industry that is included in weapons because it is an extremely hard material capable of piercing armour. Once the frontline has moved on, however, it can contaminate the environment, and has been linked to health problems in civilian populations.

Uranium is a pyrophoric metal – which simply means if sufficient heat is generated to provide ignition, it will burn to completion leaving nothing behind but radioactive dust. Blowing in the wind.

In 1998 the UK government ratified additional protocol 1 of the Geneva conventions. Article 36 of that requires that all weapons are subject to a legal review to assess whether they are “capable of being used discriminately”, or cause “widespread and severe damage to the natural environment”…

Labour MP Katy Clark accused the MoD of misleading the public, and demanded a public apology. “Compliance with the Geneva conventions has been used to reassure people on the legality of DU weapons, however no review has taken place to ensure that the munitions used by UK armed forces meet the conventions’ criteria,” she said. “I am pleased that the government has stated that a review will now take place and believe it should use this opportunity to carry out a detailed study into the long term impact of DU use.”

Clark is one of the sponsors of an early day motion in the House of Commons calling on ministers to stop using DU weapons before Charm3 expires in 2013. The motion is backed by other Labour, Liberal and nationalist MPs, as well as the Conservative MPs Peter Bottomley and Zac Goldsmith.

The military predictably will try to justify every weapon that ever existed in the demented mind of any general. They are the stock in trade of Death and Destruction and care for the environment or [perish the thought] combatants or civilians doesn’t really enter the equation. Politically, yes. In reality – hardly.

Oh, the complexity and stress of being a modern crook!

A metal thief was caught after leaving a can of Polish lager covered with his DNA on the roof of a church he was raiding.

Saulius Ciuzas, 39, stripped £10,000 worth of lead from the 12th century church but left a near full can of Lech beer on the roof of the church.

He made off with 13 strips of lead from St Peter and St Paul Church in Algarkirk, Boston, Lincs., but church warden Peter Wilson found the can the morning after the theft on April 24 this year, Lincoln Crown Court heard on Friday.

Phil Howes, prosecuting, said: “Next to where the lead had been removed was a Lech beer can. It was upright and still had liquid in it. The can was linked to Ciuzas because his DNA was found on it.”

Lithuanian migrant Ciuzas lived 40 miles away in Lincoln but was tracked down and arrested…

He was jailed for 12 months after he was found guilty of the lead theft.

Tidying up after stealing includes a lot more than fingerprints on the chimney nowadays.

Obama delays Keystone pipeline decision to avoid 2012 elections – Canada isn’t waiting around for insecure Democrats


What real crop circles look like

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he will step up efforts to supply energy to Asia after Washington delayed a decision on whether to approve a new oil pipeline from Canada to the United States.

In a subtle warning to Washington, Harper told Chinese President Hu Jintao that providing energy to Asia was an important priority for Canada.

“This does underscore the necessity of Canada making sure that we are able to access Asia markets for our energy products,” Harper told reporters on Sunday at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders’ meeting in Hawaii. “That will be an important priority of our government going forward and I indicated that yesterday to the president of China.”

Citing health, safety and environmental concerns, President Barack Obama’s administration said it would now study a possible new route for TransCanada Corp’s Keystone XL pipeline. The delay could end up killing the $7 billion project altogether if supporters back out or the administration is unable to chart a new route.

Health, safety and environment are the concerns voiced. Most are wholly illegitimate. I’d gladly discuss any real issues here – but, decades of experience as environment activist requires cutting through the political crap.

Canada is already the largest foreign supplier of oil, natural gas, electricity and uranium to the United States. The proposed pipeline has the capacity to move 700,000 barrels of crude produced from the Alberta tar sands to refineries in Texas…

Harper’s conservative government has repeatedly voiced disappointment at the delay and some big businesses say the move by the Obama administration was purely political to push the decision out past the November 2012 election.

Certainly, the issues are being discussed. I started to watch a presentation on CNN, yesterday; but, the sophistry, lies and hypocrisy were at the level of a Republican “debate” on commerce with China. As soon as the so-called environmentalist said the oil was being transported to the Gulf of Mexico to be transshipped to our “arch enemy, China” – I changed the channel back to an FA Cup match.

As this article makes clear, the pipeline runs to the Gulf of Mexico because that’s where the refineries are. Cripes. If Canada had wanted to make China their primary customer they would have premised production from Alberta on getting to West Coast refineries from the beginning – as they will, now that Obama has put off yet another decision until after the 2012 elections.

As it stands, Canadians still must commit one way or the other on the much more critical ecological decision ranging from nuclear power generation to landscape regeneration before any expansion of oil sands production.

Ground for Arab-American leader’s arrest? His name was sufficient

Authorities mistakenly arrested an Arab-American leader, but released him Saturday after realizing he was not the man they were looking for, his attorney and the FBI said.

Ali Hammoud, president of the Bint Jebail Cultural Center in Dearborn, was arrested at his Dearborn home Friday night by police, said attorney Majed Moughni. Police told Hammoud that they were acting on a warrant requested by the FBI involving alleged cigarette smuggling and Hizballah support with a man who has a similar name.

But Saturday morning, after he was questioned by FBI agents, Hammoud was released, Moughni said…So, he got to spend the night in custody. Terrific.

The arrest sparked concern among some in the region’s Arab-American community, already sensitive to being unfairly targeted by law enforcement, particularly since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Detroit FBI spokeswoman Special Agent Sandra Berchtold said Saturday via e-mail: “The individual fit the description/identifiers of an active warrant. It was later determined it was not the correct individual, and he was released.”

Berchtold said that “the individual was stopped by Dearborn (police) on a traffic violation.”

Moughni said that there was no traffic violation and that police came to Hammoud’s home Friday night to arrest him…

Face it. The coppers, the Feds, were trolling with a profile. Now, they lie about how the arrest happened.

After Hammoud was arrested, community leaders and others contacted Dearborn police and the FBI to find out what happened…Hammoud is well-known in Dearborn, and his arrest came as a surprise, said Hamad and Moughni…

Osama Siblani, publisher of the Arab-American News, spoke Saturday with Dearborn police and the FBI about the case. “We will not rest until we find out what happened, and we want to make sure it will never happen again,” Siblani said. “This is a respected community leader. I never doubted his innocence.”

At least this never got to a trial – and lucky he wasn’t in the hands of someone dedicated to current Republican ideology.

Think it’s an isolated incident? That profiling doesn’t continually embarrass the United States? Check out the latest incident leading to an apology to the former President of India APJ Abdul Kalam – for the 2nd time in two years.

Scientists identify uncontaminated pockets of the startup universe

By peering into the distance with the biggest and best telescopes in the world, astronomers have managed to glimpse exploding stars, galaxies and other glowing cosmic beacons as they appeared just hundreds of millions of years after the big bang. They are so far away that their light is only now reaching Earth, even though it was emitted more than 13 billion years ago.

Astronomers have been able to identify those objects in the early universe because their bright glow has remained visible even after a long, universe-spanning journey. But spotting the raw materials from which the first cosmic structures formed—the gas produced as the infant universe expanded and cooled in the first few minutes after the big bang—has not been possible. That material is not itself luminous, and everywhere astronomers have looked they have found not the primordial light-element gases hydrogen, helium and lithium from the big bang but rather material polluted by heavier elements, which form only in stellar interiors and in cataclysms such as supernovae.

Now a group of researchers reports identifying the first known pockets of pristine gas, two relics of those first minutes of the universe’s existence. The team found a pair of gas clouds that contain no detectable heavy elements whatsoever by looking at distant quasars and the intervening material they illuminate. Quasars are bright objects powered by a ravenous black hole, and the spectral quality of their light reveals what it passed through on its way to Earth, in much the same way that the lamp of a projector casts the colors of film onto a screen…

But the new study shows that some nooks of the universe remained pristine long after stars had begun to spew heavy elements. “They have looked for these special corners of the universe, where things just haven’t been polluted yet,” says Massachusetts Institute of Technology astronomer Rob Simcoe, who did not contribute to the new study. “Everyplace else that we’ve looked in these environments, we do find these heavy elements.”

The pristine quality of the gas clouds begs the question: Why did heavy elements, which should already have been relatively abundant two billion years after the big bang, fail to reach the gas clouds? There are two possibilities, Simcoe says. “Is it the case that there are no heavy elements there or that there are some, but they haven’t mixed into the clouds that they see?” he asks. In some sense, he adds, it is a surprise that gas from the dawn of the universe, unsullied by heavy elements, has escaped detection for so long. “It takes a while for these elements to be fused, and it takes even longer to leak into their surroundings,” Simcoe says. “There must be other regions of the universe that are like this.”

The search continues. Of course.

If you have questions and scientific curiosity – you must.