Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Pluto's mountains

It is utterly amazing that we can view the surface of Pluto!

Former Auschwitz guard, 94, convicted as accessory to murder

LUENEBURG, Germany (AP) — A 94-year-old former SS sergeant who served at the Auschwitz death camp was convicted Wednesday on 300,000 counts of accessory to murder and given a four-year sentence. 
Oskar Groening testified during his trial at the state court in Lueneburg, in northern Germany, that he guarded prisoners' baggage after they arrived at Auschwitz and collected money stolen from them. Prosecutors said that amounted to helping the death camp function. 
The charges against Groening related to a period between May and July 1944 when hundreds of thousands of Jews from Hungary were brought to the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex in Nazi-occupied Poland. Most were immediately gassed to death. 
Unusually for trials of former Nazi camp guards, Groening has been open about his past throughout the proceedings. 
Groening said when his trial opened in April that he bears a share of the moral guilt for atrocities at the camp but that it was up to judges to determine whether he is guilty under criminal law. 
In their verdict, judges went beyond the 3 ½-year sentence prosecutors had sought. Groening's defense team had called for him to be acquitted, arguing that as far as the law is concerned he did not facilitate mass murder.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

What's the "correct narrative" now for the 7/7/05 terrorist attacks in London?

Excellent essay by Howard Jacobson, in the Independent, 
“We need a counter-narrative.” How often have we heard that since 7/7? We need to tell a better story to those young British Muslims for whom bombs and beheadings hold a greater allure than anything we have to offer. Someone’s seducing them away with a narrative of lies, so we must seduce them back again with a narrative of truth.... 
The Government’s proposed hymn to British values is equally naiive. Man wakes up, kisses wife (but not in a homophobic sort of way), reads chapter of Magna Carta aloud to family, goes bareheaded to work, eats humanely killed pork sandwich, practises sundry acts of tolerance, returns home to gin and tonic, prays unfanatically to secular god, and goes to sleep thinking of the Royal Family. Indubitably, there are worse ways of getting through the tedium of existence, but as a narrative this one’s unlikely to prevail against millenarian fantasy and a plentiful supply of virgins. In a battle of facile narratives, the one with more action wins. 
But why must it be a choice, anyway, between blowing people up on buses and a docile embrace of British values to which very few Britons of any faith or temper subscribe? Extreme views can kill, but disagreement is the breath of life. Non-conformity has always been one of the great British virtues, and that includes non-conformity to things British. The terrorist isn’t a problem because he doesn’t conform; he’s a problem because he does. It’s what he conforms to that makes him dangerous.

In memory of the victims of the Al Qaeda terrorist attacks in London on 7/7/2005

From the BBC, July 7, 2015:
Services have been held to remember the "ocean of pain" caused by the London bombings, in which 52 people died and more than 700 were hurt a decade ago. 
A minute's silence was observed as survivors and relatives of the victims gathered at St Paul's Cathedral. Petals fell from the dome as the Bishop of London said the Tube and bus attacks had united a city in "agonised outcry". 
In Hyde Park, one survivor, Emma Craig, told crowds: "It may not have broken London, but it did break some of us." 
The bombing of three Tube trains and a bus - carried out by four bombers linked to al-Qaeda carrying rucksacks of explosives - was the worst single terrorist atrocity on British soil. 
At just after 08:50 on 7 July 2005, three explosions took place on the Underground - 26 people died at Russell Square, six at Edgware Road and seven at Aldgate. Almost an hour later, a fourth device was set off on a double-decker bus in Tavistock Square, killing 13 people.