German nazi terrorism scandal continues


This video from Germany is called Hidden Danger – Rightwing Terrorism.

By Bernd Reinhardt in Germany:

Fifth German secret service resignation in NSU far-right terror scandal

3 December 2012

The resignation of Berlin secret service chief Claudia Schmid on November 14 was the fifth resignation by a secret service chief over the cover-up of information about the far-right National Socialist Underground (NSU) in Germany. Federal Secret Service (BND) President Heinz Fromm and the heads of state secret services in Thuringia, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt have already resigned on similar grounds.

Schmid’s resigned over the destruction of files containing information relevant to the on-going inquiry into a trio of far-right terrorists from the NSU, whose activities came to light last year. The secret services apparently maintained extensive networks of agents inside the NSU and its periphery. The destruction of files also led to suspicions that the secret services were attempting to block the parliamentary committee of inquiry into the NSU affair.

In the past few weeks, the far-right Pro NRW has conducted racist protests outside refugee camps in North Rhine-Westphalia as part of a campaign for a “people’s initiative against the abuse of asylum.” Their demands for a criminal offence of “asylum fraud” have received support from members of the Pirate Party: here.

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J Edgar Hoover and Hollywood


This video is called McCarthyism in America.

By Steve Richards in Britain:

J Edgar Hoover Goes To The Movies: The FBI And The Origins Of Hollywood’s Cold War
by John Sbardellati (Cornell University Press, £27.95)

Monday 03 December 2012

John Sbardellati’s book on the paranoid FBI director’s impact on the US film industry is an insightful account

It’s widely believed that the communist witch hunts of the 50s in the US were the result of hysteria cynically spread by the political careerist Joseph McCarthy.

But as John Sbardellati’s detailed retrospective on the period makes clear, the real driving force was actually the genuine – if totally unfounded – fear of FBI director J Edgar Hoover. Hoover’s concern? That communism was infecting the US way of life principally, it would seem, through ingeniously subtle propaganda inserted into Hollywood films.

There is much to dislike about Hoover and the book reveals him to be a paranoid, xenophobic, racist who moulded the FBI into a weapon to combat a cultural conspiracy which only existed in his mind.

J Edgar Hoover Goes To The Movies is not a work of character assasination though. It is a meticulous and objective look at how anti-communism took a firm hold of Hollywood.

As its author points out, Hoover’s fears reflected those of a country which never seems to stop labouring under the belief that its freedom is under threat. Hoover’s part was simply to heighten and spread the anti-communist fears already existing among conservatives in the post-war US.

Aided by organisations such as the Ayn Rand-supported Motion Picture Alliance and latterly the House Un-American Activities Committee, Hoover’s FBI mounted a mammoth secret investigation of the ideological content of Hollywood cinema.

Sbardellati reveals that Hoover’s delusional G-men began seeing the veiled spectre of communist ideology everywhere in films, from the positive depiction of a Russian soldier in the anti-fascist B-movie The Master Race (1944), to the demonisation of a capitalist banker in Frank Capra‘s now classic slice of Americana It’s A Wonderful Life (1946).

As it exposes the complex history of the time the book remains admirably succinct and focused. But Sbardellati’s new information also invites a new perspective. The human suffering of those blacklisted in the film industry, such as the Hollywood Ten, has been well documented but Sbardellati hints at a massive cultural loss as well.

As a climate of fear took hold and any film with even a vaguely liberal or politicised message became associated with the communist “threat,” Hollywood became afraid of producing films which examined or criticised US society.

Sbardellati’s book is fascinating and valuable because it gives us an insight into a point when US films began to ignore social problems.

Let’s not forget that a nation’s culture has a pronounced impact on its society. Hoover was right about that at least.

Woodpecker and snow on the balcony


Today, the first snow of winter.

Like usually, great tits and blue tits at the feeders.

Ans a wood-pigeon below them on the balcony.

Also, after we had not seen it for some time, a great spotted woodpecker.

This is a great spotted woodpecker video.

Then, it flew from a feeder to the tree. Then, it flew away.

Bahraini doctors tortured


This video is called Free the medics in Bahrain, Dr Nabeel Tammam.

By Elisa Massimino in the USA:

An intolerable status quo in Bahrain

Monday, December 3, 1:38 AM

The writer is president and chief executive officer of Human Rights First.

During my 25 years as a lawyer and human rights advocate, I’ve been in many courtrooms in many places. But I’ve never seen anything quite like what I recently witnessed in Bahrain. I sat in on one of the hearings for the 28 medics being prosecuted after treating injured protesters during the democratic uprising last year.

In the chaotic courtroom, the judge dismissed arguments by defense lawyers that their clients had been tortured. That’s when Nabeel Tammam, one of Bahrain’s leading ear, nose and throat specialists, raised his hand and asked for permission to speak. Seemingly mistaking him for one of the defense lawyers, the judge acknowledged Tammam, who spoke the words he had not been allowed to say publicly before any Bahraini judicial authority since his detention in 2011: “My name is Nabeel Tammam. I am one of the medics, and I was tortured.” Tammam described what he suffered at the hands of government officials; the judge quickly ended the hearing.

If this is what the rule of law looks like in Bahrain, I thought, no wonder the country is in crisis.It has been one year since the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), a body set up to investigate the events surrounding the uprising, issued its report. The BICI confirmed what Human Rights First and other international nongovernmental organizations had been saying for months: that the government had swept up thousands in illegal arrests, used excessive force against protesters and engaged in a pattern of abuse that resulted in at least four prisoners being tortured to death.

To his credit, King Hamad accepted the report’s recommendations and promised to implement them. Several Bahraini government ministers I met pointed proudly to a new police code of conduct and a special office to prosecute human rights abuses. But the people on the receiving end of the policing and justice systems in Bahrain told me that these “paper reforms” have meant next to nothing in the real world. If anything, they say, police conduct has worsened, and the judicial system remains hopelessly politicized.

No senior government figure has been held accountable for last year’s arrests or deaths in custody. Political prisoners remain in jail. All public gatherings have been banned, and last month three men were sent to prison for criticizing the king on Twitter.

Public protests are growing increasingly violent. In recent months, a pattern of clashes involving police and a small minority of protesters has emerged, leaving people dead on both sides. Since the BICI report, the government has imprisoned leading activists, including Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. His colleague Said Yousif told me, “They’re picking off figures in civil society, those who speak out against the government. The Bassiouni report has changed nothing. We’re not seeing any sign of real reform here.” The government recently took Yousif into custody.

Meanwhile, the United States has been conflicted about what to do in Bahrain. The tiny island country in the Persian Gulf hosts the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, and the conventional wisdom is that this prevents the U.S. from criticizing the regime too openly. But the U.S.’ “carrots-only” strategy of trying to bolster reformers in the royal family has not worked. The conventional wisdom has it backward; precisely because of the 5th Fleet’s presence, no other country has a greater stake in seeing a peaceful transition to democracy there. And that requires the United States to find its voice.

Tammam and the other 27 medics received their verdicts on Nov. 21. Five were acquitted while Tammam and 22 others were convicted and sentenced to three months in jail.

The United States, which has sent observers to the medics’ trials, should state publicly what it says in private: The trials fall far short of international standards. This should be part of a more muscular U.S. approach toward its ally.

In a region where threats to U.S. interests abound, it may be tempting for the Obama administration to conclude that, while not ideal, the status quo in Bahrain is tolerable for now. That would be a mistake. There is no status quo in Bahrain. The situation is deteriorating, and pro-democracy activists are growing more desperate. There will either be reform, or a descent into worsening violence. The United States may not be able to control the outcome, but — for its own strategic interests and the good of the Bahraini people — it must do everything it can to persuade the regime to choose the right path.

Grand Canyon, from the dinosaur age?


This video from the USA is called National Geographic – Amazing Flight Over The Grand Canyon.

During the George W Bush administration, there was pressure on scientists to be silent on the fact that the Grand Canyon is much older than the few thousand years of the Great Flood mentioned in the Bible. That flood made the canyon, according to creationists.

All geologists agree that the Grand Canyon is older than five million years. They don’t agree on how much older it is.

Just a few years?

Is it twenty million years old?

Or still older? Today, from Associated Press:

December 3, 2012 at 1:00 am

Controversial study contends Grand Canyon old as dinosaur era

By Alicia Chang

Los Angeles — The awe-inspiring Grand Canyon was probably carved about 70 million years ago, much earlier than thought, a provocative new study suggests.

Using a new dating tool, a team of scientists came up with a different age for the gorge’s western section, challenging conventional wisdom that much of the canyon was scoured by the mighty Colorado River in the last 5 million to 6 million years.

Not everyone is convinced with the latest viewpoint published online last week in the journal Science. Critics contend the study ignores a mountain of evidence pointing to a geologically young landscape and they have doubts about the technique used to date it.

The notion that the Grand Canyon existed during the dinosaur era is “ludicrous,” said geologist Karl Karlstrom of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

How the Grand Canyon became grand — with its vertical cliffs and flat plateaus — has been debated since John Wesley Powell navigated the whitewater rapids and scouted the sheer walls during his 1869 expedition.

Some 5 million tourists flock to Arizona each year to marvel at the 277-mile-long chasm, which plunges a mile deep in some places. It’s a geologic layer cake with the most recent rock formations near the rim stacked on top of older rocks that date back 2 billion years.

Doubting the process

Though the exposed rocks are ancient, most scientists believe the Grand Canyon itself was forged in the recent geologic past, created when tectonic forces uplifted the land that the Colorado River later carved through.

The new work by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder and California Institute of Technology argued that canyon-cutting occurred long before that. They focused on the western end of the Grand Canyon occupied today by the Hualapai Reservation, which owns the Skywalk attraction, a horseshoe-shaped glass bridge that extends from the canyon’s edge.

To come up with the age, the team crushed rocks collected from the bottom of the canyon to analyze a rare type of mineral called apatite. The mineral contains traces of radioactive elements that release helium during decay, allowing researchers to calculate the passage of time since the canyon eroded.

Their interpretation: The western Grand Canyon is 70 million years old and was likely shaped by an ancient river that coursed in the opposite direction of the west-flowing Colorado.

Lead researcher Rebecca Flowers of the University of Colorado Boulder realizes not everyone will accept this alternative view, which minimizes the role of the Colorado River.

“Arguments will continue over the age of Grand Canyon, and I hope our study will stimulate more work to decipher the mysteries,” Flowers said in an email.

More number disputes

It’s not the first time that Flowers has dug up evidence for an older Grand Canyon. In 2008, she wrote a study that suggested part of the eastern Grand Canyon, where most tourists go, formed 55 million years ago. Another study published that same year by a different group of researchers put the age of the western section at 17 million years old.

If the Grand Canyon truly existed before dinosaurs became extinct, it would have looked vastly different because the climate back then was more tropical. Dinosaurs that patrolled the American West then included smaller tyrannosaurs, horned and dome-headed dinosaurs and duckbills.

If they peered over the rim, it would not look like “the starkly beautiful desert of today, but an environment with more lush vegetation,” said University of Maryland paleontologist Thomas Holtz.

Many scientists find it hard to imagine an ancient Grand Canyon since the oldest gravel and sediment that washed downstream date to about 6 million years ago and there are no signs of older deposits.

And while they welcome advanced dating methods to decipher the canyon’s age, Karlstrom of the University of New Mexico does not think the latest effort is very accurate.

See also here.

Grand Canyon is not so ancient. Parts of famous chasm are tens of millions of years old, but integration happened more recently: here.

A scar on the Grand Canyon: Plans for mega hotel, retail complex, cable car, walkway and housing development threatens one of the natural wonders of the world: here.

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