Neo-nazi network behind German synagogue attack


This 10 October 2019 video says about itself:

Residents of the east German city of Halle lit candles and laid flowers at the market square as they held a vigil on Thursday to commemorate the victims of a shooting that took place near a synagogue and kebab shop the day before.

By Ulrich Rippert in Germany:

Right-wing extremist network behind fascist synagogue attack in Germany

12 October 2019

The day after the right-wing terrorist attack on a synagogue in Halle, Germany this week was dominated by hypocritical statements of shock and sympathy from government circles.

Chancellor Angela Merkel (Christian Democrats, CDU) told the IG Metall trade union congress in Nürnberg that she was “shocked” and “affected” by the attack. Merkel added that she is mourning with the families and friends of those murdered. In confronting hate and anti-Semitism, the state must make full use of all its resourcesm the Chancellor stated. “There is no tolerance for it.”

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier (Social Democrats, SPD), declared it a “day of shame and disgrace” as he laid a wreath at the site of the attack that killed two people. Anyone displaying even a slight degree of acceptance of right-wing extremism bears a share of the guilt with the perpetrator, he said.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, of all people,

because of his anti-refugee policies

even repeated the words of a party colleague, describing some Alternative for Germany (AfD) officials as “ideological inciters” of the terrorist attack.

Similar statements were mouthed in June after Kassel District President Walter Lübcke (CDU) was murdered in cold blood by a fascist gunman. At the time, decisive action against the far-right was also announced, but what followed was the exact opposite. While the wide-ranging network of right-wing extremist terrorists in the police, army and intelligence agencies was left untouched, it was those who oppose them who were targeted for persecution.

The reality is that the “ideological inciters” of the right-wing terrorist attack hold top positions within the state and security apparatus, the intelligence agencies, the military and the federal government. They have not only embraced the AfD’s slogan of “foreigners out!” on refugee policy; Seehofer himself dismissed the rampage of fascist thugs targeting foreigners and Jewish institutions in Chemnitz in the summer of 2018, declaring that if he were not a government minister, he would have joined the right-wing demonstrations.

According to initial investigations, the fascist gunman in the Halle attack had close ties to a right-wing extremist network with intimate connections to the state apparatus. The initial claim that the attack was the work of a single gunman has been contradicted by a growing number of facts.

It is now clear that Stephane Balliet, a 27-year-old German citizen from Saxony-Anhalt, opened fire on the synagogue Wednesday, where over 50 people had gathered to celebrate Yom Kippur, intending to carry out a bloodbath.

He repeatedly sought to use explosives to secure entry to the building, and apparently planned to murder as many participants as possible. After failing to break through the door, he shot a passer-by and another man in a nearby kebab shop. Shortly afterwards, he injured two further people as he fled from the police. He was then arrested and handed over to the federal prosecutor’s office on Thursday.

Balliet wore military fatigues and was in possession of several high-powered firearms. Four kilograms of explosives were found in his car. He communicated with his supporters through a camera on his helmet. He livestreamed footage of the attack on the synagogue and kebab shop, and his killing of the passer-by, on the video platform Twitch.

A die-hard anti-Semite and neo-Nazi, Balliet began his video with a denial of the Holocaust, and continued, “The origin of all problems is the Jews.” Balliet referred to himself as part of an online SS group, declaring, “Nobody expects the internet SS.”

During the attack, Balliet played the music of right-wing extremist Alec Minassian, who carried out an attack in Toronto, Canada in April 2018 by driving his vehicle into pedestrians. He killed 10 people and injured an additional 16. Prior to the attack, Minassian served for two months in the Canadian Armed Forces, and completed his recruitment training a few months prior to the attack. His ideological mentor, in turn, was the mass murderer Elliot Rodger, who shot and killed six people in California in 2014 and injured 14 more.

Balliet published a number of documents online prior to his attack. He described an 11-page document as his “manifesto.” In it, he describes his weapons, including how he constructed them from building materials, and where he obtained the explosives. He also formulated goals, which he described as “achievements”. Among his potential achievements were using multiple weapons to kill several Jews, burning down a synagogue and a mosque, killing a communist, and beheading people with a sword or killing them with a nail bomb.

Although the gunman was visibly expounding his fascist views on right-wing extremist forums, and these forums are populated by covert state intelligence agents, investigators have claimed that Balliet was not known to the authorities.

The same arguments were employed following the terrorist attack on the Christmas market at Breitscheidplatz in Berlin. In December 2017, an attacker drove a lorry into the market, killing 12 people and injuring another 55. At the time, the authorities declared that Anis Amri had not been considered an “acute threat”. It later emerged that several intelligence agency offices were aware of his plans for an attack, and that Amri was even driven to Berlin by an informant.

A similar picture emerged with regard to the murder of Lübcke earlier this year. Initially, it was claimed that the right-wing terrorist Stephan Ernst acted independently and alone. It later became clear that he is part of a wide-ranging right-wing extremist terrorist network that also includes a number of intelligence agents.

Further troubling questions have also been raised by the synagogue attack in Halle, including why there was no on-site police protection at the time of the attack and why the police were so slow to act in response to the shooter. The chairman of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, declared this to be “grave negligence”. The head of the Jewish community in Halle, Max Privorozki, accused the police of responding too slowly. “They arrived too late”. he said in a video. The police took at least 10 minutes to arrive after they were called and informed that an armed attack on the synagogue was in progress.

The claim by the police that there was no need for special protection for the Yom Kippur celebration because there were no warnings of possible disturbances is not credible. Just a day prior to the attack, police raids were launched against right-wing extremists in Bavaria, Saxony, Baden-Württemberg, and even Saxony-Anhalt. They were targeted against the authors of 23 threatening letters warning of attacks on refugee centres, mosques, left-wing party offices, and media outlets.

The question must be posed, were the preparations for an attack on the synagogue in Halle known to the security agencies? Was the attack considered a price worth paying? The influence of far-right groups among police officers and intelligence agents is well known.

This has been on display on several occasions in Saxony-Anhalt, and in Halle in particular. There is much to suggest that the synagogue attack did not coincidentally take place in the city, and that it was aimed at encouraging the development of a fascist movement.

Halle was the location earlier this year of a trial against several members of the neo-Nazi group “Aryans”. This fascist gang of thugs launched an attack on the sidelines of the May Day demonstration in the city in 2017 with their cars, throwing stones at participants and attacking them violently. The attack also caused severe injuries among a group of hikers who were not part of the demonstration.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung reported at the time, “This trial shows how often and how extensively the judiciary trivialises and ignores right-wing violence, especially in the states in eastern Germany. The state prosecutor responsible for the case in Halle considers it to be ‘ordinary daily business’. She explained this in a statement: ‘The level of aggressiveness by the defendant does not go beyond what is unfortunately now common behaviour in connection with political events.’”

During the trial, investigators discovered a chat on the phone of one of the defendants in which she twice asked a police officer to obtain data from an internal police database. According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the police officer then sent information to the convicted right-wing extremist.

“Right-wing extremism in Halle has its own home,” reported Deutsche Welle, referring to a communal living project run by the Identitarian movement in the heart of the city. This is where right-wing ideologues, members of student leagues and neo-Nazis meet with young hipsters, wrote the magazine, adding, “Their goal: racism and Islamophobia should be brought into the heart of society.”

Heike Kleffner, Matthias Meisner (editors), Extreme Sicherheit: Rechtsextreme in Polizei, Verfassungsschutz, Bundeswehr und Justiz, (Extreme Security: Right-wing extremists in the police, secret service, Armed Forces and justice system), published by Herder, Freiburg, 2019: here.

Indian birds steal fruit from other birds


This 11 October 2019 video from India says about itself:

Barbets love the crateva fruit– but they’re incapable of piercing its tough shell. Their solution? They wait until the Indian mynas have done all the work, and then steal the fruit away from them.

15-year-old girl becomes Europan skateboarding champion


This 31 July 2019 video from the Netherlands is called Best skater girl! Keet Oldenbeuving.

Keet Oldenbeuving is only 15 years old.

Nevertheless, today, in Nizhny Novgorod in Russia, she became European champion in the street discipline in skateboarding.

Second place was for Belgian Lore Bruggemare; third for Dutch Roos Zwetsloot; fourth for Dutch Candy Jacobs.

They all want to go to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where there will be skateboarding for the first time ever.

Ms Oldenbeuving is not even world’s youngest top class skateboarder.

Brazilian Rayssa Leal is only 11 years old. She was second in the September 2019 world championship in her own country.

This June 2019 video is about Rayssa Leal.

Bathing meadow pipits, goslings of Terschelling island


This 29 January 2013 video is about a bittern at the then frozen Meisterplak lake on Terschelling island.

After 19 September 2019 on Terschelling came 20 September.

That day began for us with Gymnopus confluens fungi along the path to Doodemanskisten lake.

A collared dove on a West-Terschelling village street.

We arrived at Meisterplak lake. It looked very different from the winter 2013 video. Not only no bittern and no ice. The water level was very low. That is because there is work going on against the unwanted invasive water plant species New Zealand pigmyweed.

A white wagtail on the bank.

An Egyptian goose with two goslings. Late in the year.

Three teal.

Wild pansy flowering.

Meadow pipits, Terscheling, 20 September 2019

Two meadow pipits bathing together.

A grey heron.

Buzzard, 20 September 2019

A buzzard flies over the sand dunes behind the lake.

Stay tuned, as more blog posts on wildlife on Terschelling will follow!

Trump sends 3,000 soldiers to defend Saudi dictatorship


This 15 October 2018 United States MSNBC TV video says about itself:

President Trump says the king of Saudi Arabia denies any involvement in the disappearance of journalist Jamal Kashoggi. But the president’s acceptance of the king’s denial is wrapped up in a long financial history with the country. Ali Velshi takes a closer look at the president’s connections with Saudi Arabia.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

US sends 3,000 more troops to defend Saudi monarchy

12 October 2019

The Pentagon confirmed Friday that 3,000 more US troops are being deployed to Saudi Arabia to defend the blood-soaked monarchy led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and prepare for war against Iran.

The deployment includes two fighter squadrons, one Air Expeditionary Wing (AEW), two more Patriot missile batteries, and one Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD).

According to a Pentagon statement Friday, the US Secretary of Defense phoned Crown Prince bin Salman (who also holds the post of Saudi minister of defense) to inform him of the coming reinforcements, which he said were meant “to assure and enhance the defense of Saudi Arabia”.

The Pentagon also acknowledged that the latest escalation brings the number of additional troops sent into the Persian Gulf region since May to 14,000. They have been accompanied by an armada of US warships and a B-52-led bomber task force. The Pentagon has also announced that an aircraft carrier-led battle group will remain in the Persian Gulf.

While initiated as a supposed response to unspecified threats from Iran, the US buildup in the Persian Gulf region has constituted from its outset a military provocation and preparation for a war of aggression. This military buildup has accompanied Washington’s so-called “maximum pressure” campaign of sweeping economic sanctions that are tantamount to a state of war. The aim, as the Trump administration has stated publicly, is to drive Iranian oil exports down to zero. By depriving Iran of its principal source of export income, Washington hopes to starve the Iranian people into submission and pave the way to regime change, bringing to power a US puppet regime in Tehran.

The latest military buildup was announced in the immediate aftermath of an attack on an Iranian tanker in the Red Sea, about 60 miles from the Saudi port of Jeddah.

The National Iranian Tanker Co. reported that its oil tanker, the Sabiti, was struck twice by explosives early Friday morning, leaving two holes in the vessel and causing a brief oil spill into the Red Sea.

While Iranian state news media blamed the damage on missile attacks, a spokesman for the company told the Wall Street Journal that the company was not sure of the cause.

Some security analysts have suggested that the fairly minor damage to the vessel could have been caused by limpet mines. Such mines were apparently used last June when two tankers—one Japanese and one Norwegian-owned—were hit by explosions in the Sea of Oman. At the time, Washington blamed the attacks on Iran, without providing any evidence. Tehran denied the charge, saying that it sent teams to rescue crew members of the damaged tankers.

The Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) quoted an unnamed Iranian government official as stating that the Iranian tanker had been the victim of a “terrorist attack.”

The incident raised the specter of an escalating tanker war that could disrupt shipping through the strategic Strait of Hormuz, through which 20 percent of the world’s oil supply flows. News of the attack sent crude oil prices spiking by 2 percent.

In addition to the June attacks on the tankers in the Gulf of Oman, in July British commandos, acting on a request from Washington, stormed an Iranian super tanker, the Grace 1, in waters off the British overseas territory of Gibraltar. In apparent retaliation, Iranian Revolutionary Guards seized the British-flagged Stena Impero for what Tehran charged were violations of international maritime regulations as it passed through the Strait of Hormuz. Both tankers were subsequently released.

Earlier this week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement charging that the Iranian super tanker, renamed the Adrian Darya 1, had offloaded its oil in Syria in violation of European Union sanctions and a pledge made by Tehran to the UK at the time of the vessel’s release. He demanded provocatively that “EU members should condemn this action, uphold the rule of law, and hold Iran accountable.”

The Trump administration, which in May of last year unilaterally and illegally abrogated the 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and the major powers has been pressuring the European signatories to the deal—Germany, France and the UK—to follow suit.

While the respective governments of the three countries have insisted that they still support the nuclear agreement, they have repeatedly bowed to Washington’s war drive, while failing to take any significant actions to counter the effects of the US “maximum pressure” campaign and deliver to Tehran the sanctions relief and economic normalization that it was promised in exchange for curtailing its nuclear program.

Most recently, the three European governments backed Washington in blaming Iran for a September 14 attack on Saudi oil facilities that temporarily shut down half of the kingdom’s oil production and sent crude prices spiraling by 20 percent—again without providing a shred of proof.

Washington is seeking to topple the Iranian regime or bully it into accepting complete subordination to US imperialist predatory interests in the energy-rich and geostrategically vital Middle East.

The US sanctions regime and military buildup have placed the entire region on a hair trigger for the outbreak of a catastrophic war that could engulf not only the Middle East, but the entire planet.

All of the regimes involved in the escalating conflict are gripped by crises that make the drive to war all the more explosive.

The impact of the sanctions on Iran’s economy has been devastating. It is estimated that oil exports last month fell to just 400,000 barrels per day (b/d), compared to 1.95 million b/d in September 2018. Left with little means of combating spiraling inflation and growing unemployment, Iran’s bourgeois-clerical regime is caught between intense pressure from imperialism on the one hand, and the growth of social opposition among Iranian workers and poor on the other.

The Saudi monarchy is confronting the debacle of its four-year-old and near genocidal war against the people of Yemen, made possible by the weapons and logistical aid provided by Washington, even as Prince bin Salman remains a global pariah for his ordering of the grisly assassination of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year in Istanbul.

Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, incapable of forming a new government after two elections and confronting criminal indictments, has grown increasingly concerned over the apparent lack of appetite by the Persian Gulf Sunni monarchies for military confrontation with Iran and Washington’s failure to carry out military strikes after the downing of its drone in June and the attacks on the Saudi oil facilities last month. Clearly, Tel Aviv, which has cast Iran as its strategic enemy, would have a motive for attacking Iranian tankers in the hopes of provoking a response that could lead to US military action.

And then there is Trump. He has proclaimed his determination to halt the “endless wars” in the Middle East and provoked a political firestorm by pulling back a relative handful of US troops in Syria, allowing Turkey to launch a long-planned attack on the Pentagon’s erstwhile proxy force, the Kurdish-dominated YPG militia.

Faced with an escalating political crisis and growing social tensions within the US, along with an impeachment investigation by the Democrats in Congress that is focused entirely on the national security concerns of the CIA and the Pentagon, he has ample motive for launching a new war.

While the Democrats’ exclusive focus on Trump’s failure to pursue a sufficiently bellicose policy against Russia and prosecute the war for regime change in Syria has allowed the US president to absurdly posture as an opponent of war, the reality is that he has overseen a staggering increase in military spending designed to prepare for “great power” confrontations, particularly with China.

Meanwhile, whatever his political pretense, Trump has done nothing to end any of the wars in the Middle East. While he has ordered US troops to pull back, allowing the Turkish invasion, none of them have been withdrawn from Syria.

With the latest buildup of US forces in Saudi Arabia, Washington is preparing, behind the backs of the working class, to launch a catastrophic military conflict with Iran. The most urgent task posed by these developments is the building of a global antiwar movement led by the working class. This movement must be armed with a socialist and internationalist program to unify working people in the United States, Europe and the Middle East in a common struggle against imperialist war and its source, the capitalist system.

THE US has launched its naval coalition of anti-Iranian forces seeking to police the Persian Gulf. The anti-Iran coalition includes Australia, Bahrain, the UK, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Israel: here.