Thursday, April 30, 2020

Germany forced to recognize the reality of Hezbollah behavior

Berlin (AFP) - Germany on Thursday completely banned Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah movement from carrying out activities on its soil, as police raided mosques and venues linked to the group.
Like the European Union, Germany had until now only outlawed Hezbollah's military wing while tolerating its political wing.
But in a shift immediately welcomed by the United States and Israel, the German interior ministry said it now considered the entire movement a "Shiite terrorist organisation".
"Hezbollah is a terrorist organisation deemed responsible for numerous attacks and kidnappings worldwide," Interior Minister Horst Seehofer told Germany's Bild daily.
The interior minister "has banned the operation of the group" in Germany with immediate effect, his spokesman tweeted.
"Even in times of crisis the rule of law is upheld," he wrote.
Raids were taking place in several places across the country, he added.
Dozens of police and special forces stormed mosques and associations linked to Hezbollah in Bremen, Berlin, Dortmund and Muenster in the early hours of the morning, German media reported.
The Al-Irshad mosque in Berlin was sealed off with at least 16 police vans parked outside, an AFP photographer saw. Masked police officers were seen walking in and out of the mosque.
Although Hezbollah has no official presence in Germany, security forces estimate it has roughly a thousand members in the country.
They are thought to use Germany as a safe haven to make plans, recruit sympathisers and raise funds, including through criminal activities.
The group's "criminal activities and plannings for attacks are also taking place on German soil," Seehofer told Bild.
He also recalled that Hezbollah has openly called for "the violent destruction" of the Israeli state.
"It's part of our historic responsibility that we use all means under the rule of law to act against this," he said, in a nod to Germany's responsibility for the Holocaust during World War II.
- 'Significant step' -
The United States and Israel have long designated Hezbollah as a terrorist group and urged allies to follow suit.
US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell welcomed Berlin's change in stance and called on "all European Union member states to take similar action".
In Jerusalem, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz praised what he called "a significant step in the global fight against terrorism." He too urged the European Union "to do the same."
Britain outlawed Hezbollah's political wing last year, making membership of the Shiite movement or inviting support for it a crime.
The decision followed outrage over the display of the Hezbollah flag, which features a Kalashnikov assault rifle, at pro-Palestinian demonstrations in London.
The mood began shifting in Germany too with parliament passing a resolution last December that urged the government to ban the group from operating in Germany altogether.
The interior ministry's prohibition order means the group's supporters are no longer allowed to display Hezbollah symbols or hold gatherings, and that funds can be frozen.
Hezbollah sympathisers had in recent years waved their flag at the anti-Israel al-Quds rally that is controversially held in Berlin each year.
Hezbollah, which backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the country's civil war, is seen by Israel as an Iranian proxy, seeking to extend the Islamic republic's military reach to the Jewish state's northern border.
Israeli warplanes have carried out hundreds of air strikes in Syria over the past few years against what Israel says are Iranian and Hezbollah targets.
Hezbollah was established in 1982 during Lebanon's civil war.
It is now a major political party in the country, where it holds a majority in parliament along with its allies.
Israel and Hezbollah also fought a 2006 war.

On which side will the Democrat Party fall...Bernie and "the squad"?

China Takes Harder Line on Hong Kong Amid Coronavirus Protest Lull

Tensions are expected to rise as pro-democracy demonstrators plan to return to the streets after a lengthy absence amid the pandemic

Joe Biden was there when the plot to destroy General Flynn was hatched.

Joe Biden Was at Meeting Where James Comey Was Told to Brief Trump on Steele Dossier

New revelations about the possible motives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in meeting with then-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn in January 2017 raise questions about then-Vice President Joe Biden’s role.
 unsealed Wednesday, including notes and emails, indicate that FBI agents were not focused on the investigation of Russian “collusion” when they met with Flynn at the White House early in President Donald Trump’s term.
Rather, they were determined to extract an admission, or a lie, that would see Flynn prosecuted or fired.
In one note, an FBI agent wrote: “What’s our goal? Truth/admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?” The agents also appear to admit not having warned Flynn beforehand that he was under investigation.
spoken to the Russian ambassador by telephone in late December 2016. The Department of Justice viewed those calls as a potential violation of the Logan Act — an obscure and barely enforced statute that bars private citizens from conducting diplomacy. Flynn was already incoming National Security Advisor at the time. He was later prosecuted for lying to the FBI about those conversations, though it is not clear that he actually did so.

ails, indicate that FBI agents were not focused on the investigation of Russian “collusion” when they met with Flynn at the White House early in President Donald Trump’s term.

Who are the workers Rep. Omar? Living in 1848!

Ilhan Omar: Many Who Want to ‘Prematurely Reopen the Economy Aren’t Workers’

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 03: Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) speaks at a campaign rally for Senator (I-VT) and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at the University of Minnesotas Williams Arena on November, 3, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Before introducing him, Rep. Omar praised Sanders for his support of unions, comprehensive immigration …
Scott Heins/Getty Images
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) on Wednesday suggested that “far too many” of the individuals who are desperately urging officials to reopen the economy so they can resume earning a living and recover from economic hardship are not actually “workers.”
“Far too many of the people who want to prematurely reopen the economy aren’t workers, but the powerful and wealthy — those who benefit most from exploiting workers’ labor,” Omar proclaimed.

The old boys club....

Stuff that falls from the sky...

Antarctic meteorites yield global bombardment rate

  • 9 hours ago
Media captionDr Geoff Evatt: "The vast, vast majority of objects to hit the Earth are really small"
A team of UK scientists has provided a new estimate for the amount of space rock falling to Earth each year.
It's in excess of 16,000kg. This is for meteorite material above 50g in mass.
It doesn't take account of the dust that's continuously settling on the planet, and of course just occasionally we'll be hit by a real whopper of an asteroid that will skew the numbers. 
But the estimate is said to give a good sense of the general quantity of rocky debris raining down from space.
"The vast, vast majority of objects to hit the Earth are really small," explained Dr Geoff Evatt.
"We're talking about objects for which, when they strike the ground, the fragments sum together to over 50g. So, typically, 50g-10kg in total. Objects bigger than this are very, very infrequent," the University of Manchester mathematician told BBC News. 
Image captionBlack on white: Manchester scientist Romain Tartèse views a meteorite in Antarctica
One of the other outcomes of the study - produced in conjunction with colleagues from Cambridge University, Imperial College London, and the British Antarctic Survey - is that it enables a risk assessment to be made for the entire planet.
This reveals that the number of falls at the poles is about 60% of what you would expect at the equator.
It explains why you would absolutely want to put any long-term contingency facilities at higher latitudes.
The Global Seed Vault, for example, which aims to retain copies of Earth's plants in case of crisis, is sited at 78 degrees North on the Svalbard archipelago.
The new estimate, published in the journal Geology, grew out of the project to undertake the first UK-dedicated meteorite hunt in the Antarctic.
Global Seed VaultImage copyrightTHE CROP TRUST
Image captionThe contents of the global seed vault might be needed in the aftermath of a serious impact
Researchers involved in that effort wanted to be sure they would visit the most productive areas to perform such a quest.
The White Continent is the place on Earth where most meteorites have been recovered - with good reason: the "black on white" contrast of fallen space rocks on snow and ice makes searching a lot easier.
And hunters will typically go to places where the movement of the ice sheet concentrates the meteoritic material - so called stranding zones. 
Dr Evatt and colleagues worked out how many objects ought to be in their chosen area - a place called the Outer Recovery Ice Fields, close to the Shackleton range of mountains in East Antarctica.
And they were virtually bang on with their expectation, finding close to 120 meteorites in two systematic searches over 2019 and 2020. 
But having worked out a reliable flux for the number of falls at their chosen terrain, the scientists realised they could then use this knowledge to anchor a global assessment.
This incorporated orbital mechanics - how Earth's gravity will pull in nearby passing material - to work out how rates might vary by latitude. The model outputs a grand total of about 17,000 falls a year. 
And this can be tested by looking at the data from fireball events. Satellites in orbit tracking the lightning in storms will also catch the blazing trail of a space rock plunging into the atmosphere. 
"Satellites monitor these explosions in the sky, working out the energy of the events and also the longitude and latitude of where they happen. And from this you can see how they vary across the globe with latitude, and very nicely the curve you get from these fireballs fits with what we independently modelled using purely an applied mathematical approach," said Dr Evatt.
Prof Sara Russell leads the planetary materials group at the Natural History Museum in London. She wasn't involved in the research, but commented: "I think this is an amazing study, and this estimate sounds like it is in the right sort of ballpark. 
"We think a total of about 40,000 tonnes (so 40,000,000 kg) of extra-terrestrial material falls to Earth each year, but the vast majority of this is in the form of tiny dust grains. 
"This is a very difficult measurement to make with any accuracy and only about half a dozen meteorites are actually seen to fall each year, but of course almost all meteorite falls are not observed because they fall in the sea, in unpopulated areas or just no-one is looking!" she told BBC News.
Presentational grey line

Fireballs reported by US Government sensors (Apr 1988 to Mar 2020)

FireballsImage copyrightA.B.CHAMBERLIN(JPL-CALTECH)
Image captionTotal impact energy is indicated by a circle's relative size and by a colour. The redder the colour, the higher the energy; the bluer the colour, the lower the energy
Presentational grey line and follow me on Twitter: @BBCAmos

China Implements ‘Social Distancing’ Hats for Elementary Students

China Implements ‘Social Distancing’ Hats for Elementary Students

China Implements ‘Social Distancing’ Hats for Elementary Students
South China Morning Post/YouTube
Primary schools in eastern China are making students wear physical distancing hats in the classroom inspired by a style worn by ancient Chinese government officials, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported on Monday.
The hats are part of an effort to teach young children how to maintain a distance from one another amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Some schools in certain regions of China have recently reopened as the country claims to have successfully contained coronavirus in some areas. On Monday, in Wuhan — the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in China late last year — the Chinese government claimed there were zero people hospitalized with coronavirus. Local Wuhan residents have told foreign media that they believe the claim of zero coronavirus patients to be a “political show.”
In Hangzhou, students returned to a primary school on Monday, SCMP reports, citing Chinese state media. The pupils were encouraged to create and wear their own handmade physical distancing hats, which have long extensions on either side, like wings, to keep them at least three feet apart from each other, per physical distancing guidelines. Global health authorities have encouraged people to maintain a distance from others to curb transmission of the coronavirus, which reportedly can spread through the air via moisture droplets when coughing or sneezing.
According to Chinese state media, the students’ hats were inspired by an ancient design during the Song Dynasty, which ruled China between 960 and 1279 AD. Photos of the Hangzhou pupils show them wearing both the special hats and face masks, in line with a recent Ministry of Education requirement for students to wear protective face coverings in the classroom.
According to the SCMP, “the first Song Emperor ordered his ministers to wear hats with two long wings on the sides so that they could not gossip” in court assemblies without being overheard, according to one legend. Tsui added that “the Song emperors … were also depicted to have worn this kind of headwear with wing-like flaps.”
An ancient imperial city, Hangzhou was the capital of the Song Dynasty from 1127. Venetian merchant Marco Polo visited Hangzhou in the late 13th century as it was a center of commerce. The Italian explorer stopped there as he traveled through Asia along the ancient Silk Road, a network of trade routes linking East to West.
Italy and China maintain close economic and political ties to this day through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a project to promote Chinese-funded infrastructure in developing nations. BRI projects in Italy have helped develop the country’s major ports and have expanded Italian shipping trade throughout the Mediterranean — at the price of giving the Communist Party outsized influence in the European nation.
Italy was one of the countries hit hardest, and earliest, by the coronavirus outside of China. Experts believe Italy’s outbreak was worsened because the nation delayed its initial efforts to contain the virus out of a desire to protect strategic links with China.
According to health officials, two of the first three coronavirus cases in Italy originatedfrom Chinese tourists in January. This forced Italy to cut off lucrative transport links with China, which it hesitated to do because of the loss of revenue it would cause for both countries. At press time on Tuesday, Italy had 201,505 infections and 27,359 deaths from the Chinese coronavirus.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Who to believe at WHO

WHO lauds Sweden as a ‘model’ in coronavirus fight for resisting lockdown