"Iraqi suspects ordered detonator, downloaded bomb-making instructions and tested explosive powder"
BERLIN, January 30 -- German authorities arrested three suspected Islamic extremists on allegations they were planning a bombing attack, and searched properties in three states in connection with their investigation.
Federal prosecutors said Iraqis Shahin F. and Hersh F., both 23, and Rauf S., 36, were taken into custody in an early morning raid by a police SWAT team in the area of Dithmarschen, near the border with Denmark. In addition, searches were carried out of other residences in northern and southwestern Germany of people linked to the three main suspects but not currently to the bomb plot. The two younger men are suspected of preparing a bomb attack and violating weapons laws, and Rauf S. is alleged to have aided them. Their last names were not given in line with German privacy laws.The men appear to have been in the early stages of planning, and had not yet built a functioning bomb nor decided upon a target for attack, prosecutors said in a statement.
Prosecutors allege Shahin F. and Hersch F. decided in late 2018 to “carry out an attack motivated by Islamic extremism in Germany.” There are indications that they sympathized with Islamic State, but a direct link to the extremist group or others is currently under investigation. In December, Shahin F. downloaded “various instructions” on how to build a bomb, and ordered a detonator from a contact person in Britain, prosecutors said. Its delivery, however, was stopped by British law enforcement agencies.
COPENHAGEN, January 2 -- Several people were killed in a train accident on a Danish bridge linking the central islands of Zealand and Funen, police said.
It has been reported six people were killed in the incident, which took place on Wednesday about 8am. Danish media reported a tarpaulin on a freight train hit a passenger train going in the opposite direction toward Copenhagen, prompting it to brake suddenly. The passenger train had departed from the city of Odense, on the central Danish island of Fyn. The Storebaelt bridge is part of a system of bridges and a tunnel linking the Danish islands.
Police is scheduled to give a news conference later Wednesday. In a statement, police urged passengers to contact next of kin to inform them of their safety. The accident took place on a road-and-rail bridge, part of a transport system consisting of a road suspension bridge and a railway tunnel.
The transport system was closed to cars Wednesday because of strong winds but trains could pass.
ROTTERDAM, December 28 -- In the latest troubling study regarding how the climate crisis is affecting the world's iciest regions, a new report by the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) found that the second-largest ice sheet in the world is currently melting even in winter.
The study follows a report released earlier this month showing that Greenland's ice melt rate is currently faster than it's been in about 7,000 years. The island's 650,000 cubic miles of ice is melting 50 percent faster than it did in pre-industrial times. "Greenland is a bit like a sleeping giant that is awakening," says Edward Hanna, a climate scientist at the University of Lincoln. "Who knows how it will respond to a couple of more degrees of warming? It could lose a lot of mass very quickly."
The ice sheet's persistent melting even in winter has come about because huge waves below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, created by unusually strong winter winds, are pushing warm water up to Greenland—creating an environment that's hostile for the country's icy ecosystem, explains SAMS.
These "coastally trapped internal waves" are "pushing warm water into the fjord and towards the glacier, causing melting hundreds of metres below the ocean surface," says Dr. Neil Fraser, an ocean physicist who led the study. Greenland's huge ice sheet also makes it a huge contributor to rising sea levels, SAMS noted, accounting for more than 20 percent of the annual increase in sea levels. Accelerating, year-round run-off that persists even in the coldest months of the year is "the greatest contributor to sea level rise," says Sarah Das, a researcher at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
COPENHAGEN, December 20 -- The Danish government will begin holding foreign criminals on a remote island, located approximately 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Copenhagen.
The controversial plan was included in the 2019 budget proposal, which the legislature approved on Thursday. Under the measure, some 100 migrant criminals would be sent to Lindholm Island. People with criminal records and those who were denied asylum, but cannot be deported due to risk of torture or execution in their home countries, would be included. Denmark has taken a tough stance on immigration in recent years. The center-right government, which governs with the anti-immigration People's Party, has made notable changes to reduce the flow of migrants. These include the reduction of benefits for asylum-seekers, shortening temporary residence permits, stepping up deportations of rejected asylum-seekers and granted power to authorities to seize valuables from migrants, to help finance the costs of their stay. Thursday's budget proposal also includes a cap on family reunification.
"Now we tell people from day one that they should not remain in Denmark for the rest of their lives. They only get temporary shelter until they can return home," said Peter Skaarup, parliamentary group leader of the Danish People's Party, when the measure was introduced to the budget law earlier this month.
Island decontamination required
Lindholm Island has been used as a laboratory and crematory by scientists researching swine flu, rabies and other contagious diseases. The government said it would decontaminate the uninhabited island by late 2019 and open the detention facilities in 2021.
"They are unwanted in Denmark and they must feel that," said Integration Minister Inger Stojberg in a Facebook post, shortly after the proposal was announced in early December.
The foreign criminals will be allowed to leave the island during the day, but will have to report their whereabouts to authorities and return at night.
Martin Henriksen of the anti-immigration Danish People's Party said that the decision was somewhat inspired by Australia, which currently holds asylum-seekers in detention centers on neighboring Pacific island nations. But the mayor of Vordingborg municipality, Mikael Smed, where the island is located, was not enthusiastic about the measure."People think this is not the solution to the real problems," Smed said prior to Thursday's parliamentary vote.
UN condemns the move
UN human rights Chief Michelle Bachelet had expressed concerned about the island measure. "I have serious concerns with this plan and we will monitor it and discuss it ... with the government," Bachelet told journalists in Geneva earlier this month. "We've seen the negative impact of such policies of isolation, and (they) should not replicate these policies. Because depriving them of their liberty, isolating them, and stigmatizing them will only increase their vulnerability," Bachelet added.
Human rights activists have likewise denounced the decision, calling it degrading and inhumane.