Daily Archives: February 9, 2012

Finnish sci-fi Nazi movie is hot ticket at Berlin film festival


Iron Sky, which imagines Nazi invasion from secret moon base, sells more tickets than Werner Herzog and Angelina Jolie films

guardian.co.uk | Feb 8, 2012

by Helen Pidd in Berlin

Among the worthy films being premiered at the Berlin film festival over the next 10 days are an epic tracing China’s history; three documentaries about the Fukushima nuclear disaster; Werner Herzog’s look at death row; and Angelina Jolie’s take on the Bosnian war.

But one of the most popular films on the day that tickets went on sale was a Finnish sci-fi comedy about Nazis living on the dark side of the moon.

Iron Sky tells how Hitler’s top scientists moved to a lunar military base known as the Black Sun shortly after the end of the second world war. For more than 70 years boffins beavered away on a fleet of spaceships that one day would return to Earth and finish what the Nazis started. In 2018 the invasion begins.

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The Finnish-German-Australian production was the second most popular film when the box office opened, according to Berlin’s Tagesspiegel newspaper. It was beaten to the top spot by Don 2 – The King is Back, the latest from the Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan. Fans of the Indian heartthrob camped out in a shopping centre for three days and nights to get tickets for the film, which sold out in minutes.

Iron Sky Official Theatrical Trailer

Marines posed with flag resembling Nazi SS logo in Afghanistan


Scout snipers in the Marine Corps shown with a flag bearing an “SS” similar in design to one used in Germany by the SS, a paramlitary force that operated under the Nazi party.

NBC News | Feb 9, 2012

SAN DIEGO — The U.S. Marine Corps confirmed Thursday that a sniper team in Afghanistan posed for a photograph in front of a flag with a logo resembling that of the notorious Nazi SS.

Use of the SS symbol is not acceptable, and the Marine Corps has addressed the issue, Lt. Col. Stewart Upton said in a statement. He did not specify what action was taken.

Upton said the Marines in the photograph, posted on an Internet blog, are no longer with the unit. The picture was taken in September 2010 in Sangin province, Afghanistan.

The photo shows a flag with what appear to be the letters “SS” in the shape of jagged lightning bolts. The symbol resembles that used by SS units in World War II.

Another photograph, which showed a stylized “SS” on a rifle held by a Marine, also recently began circulating, the Marine Corps Times reported.

The SS, or Schutzstaffel, was the police and military force of the Nazi Party, which was distinct from the general army. Members pledged an oath of loyalty to Adolf Hitler. SS units were held responsible for many war crimes and played an integral role in the extermination of millions of Jews along with gypsies and other people classed as undesirables. The SS was declared to be a criminal organization at the Nuremberg war crime trials.

The Knights Armament Company blog published the photo in May 2011, and attributed it to Tayler Jerome, of the 1st recon BN Charlie Co.

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The Military Religious Freedom Foundation in Washington D.C., which found the picture online and alerted the Marine Corps Times, said it was outraged and wants a full investigation.

Foundation officer Mikey Weinstein said he has been flooded with calls from former Marines offended by the photo and from one member of his organization who is an Auschwitz survivor.

“This needs to be fully investigated. This is a complete and total outrage,” he said.

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Weinstein said his organization was sending a letter to the head of the Marine Corps and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

Master Gunnery Sgt. Mark Oliva, a spokesman at Camp Pendleton, Calif., said the photo was brought to the attention of the 1 Marine Expeditionary Force inspector general in November, and he found there was no intent on the part of the Marines to identify themselves with a racist organization.

Oliva said the investigation found that the SS symbol was meant to identify the Marines as scout snipers, not Nazis, but it was nonetheless not acceptable.

This is the second time this year the Marine Corps has had to do damage control for its troops’ actions.

The Marine Corps is also investigating a separate group of Marines recorded on video urinating on the dead bodies of Taliban fighters.

Here is Upton’s statement on the SS symbol, also called “runes.” It was emailed to msnbc.com by Capt. Gregory Wolf, Marine Corps spokesman:

In November, the I MEF Inspector General became aware of the “SS” flag photo.  They then received confirmation from the 1st Recon Battalion Commanding Officer in Afghanistan in November 2011 that several of the personnel in the photo were from 1st Recon Bn from the OEF 10.2 deployment (Afghanistan deployment in 2010).  These Marines are no longer with the command.  1st Recon Bn is deployed forward again, but none of the personnel in the photo are still in the unit.

Certainly, the use of the “SS runes” is not acceptable and Scout Snipers have been addressed concerning this issue (“SS runes” are prohibited from use as a symbol or any other use).

Kabul experiences coldest weather, biggest snowfall in 15 years

Associated Press | Feb 8, 2012

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Afghan capital has been experiencing its worst cold-snap and heaviest snows in at least 15 years, the National Weather Center said Wednesday.

The cold, combined with about 19.6 inches (50 centimeters) of snow, has caused power blackouts and iced over most of the capital’s roads. The bad weather has also caused a sharp increase in demand for wood, the main fuel used by the city’s five million or so residents to heat their homes.

Earlier in the week, snowfall closed Kabul airport for two days as well as the Salang Pass, a major route through the Hindu Kush mountains that connects the Afghan capital to the north of the country.

National Weather Center meteorologist Abdul Qadir Qadir said temperatures in Kabul dipped as low as 3 Fahrenheit (minus 16 Celsius), with the lowest previous on record at 1F (-17C) about 15 years ago. The coldest temperature on record for Kabul is 15 F (minus 26 C) and was recorded 40 years ago, he said.

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Kabul, located in a narrow valley at a height of 5,900 feet (1,800 meters), has seen little snow in recent years. Afghanistan has been suffering under drought conditions for more than a decade.

“The weather is so cold that it has made life very difficult for people. This winter was not expected, it is very cold,” Qadir said.

The cold also caused a spike in the price of gas and wood, forcing residents to resort to electric heaters, which helped overload the city’s power grid. Heavy snows also damaged high tension wires coming into the capital, causing blackouts in large swaths parts of Kabul, said Mirwais Alemi, an official with the Kabul electricity department.

“This winter we have had some problems because of the cold weather and the high prices of wood and gas, so people try to use electricity for electric heaters to warm their homes. This causes lots of problems,” he said.

About 75 percent of the city has electricity, he said.

Global Warming advocates stunned: Himalayas have lost NO ice in past 10 years


Hopar glacier in Pakistan. Melting ice outside the two largest caps – Greenland and Antarctica – is much less then previously estimated, the study has found. Photograph: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

Meltwater from Asia’s peaks is much less then previously estimated

guardian.co.uk | Feb 8, 2012

by Damian Carrington

The world’s greatest snow-capped peaks, which run in a chain from the Himalayas to Tian Shan on the border of China and Kyrgyzstan, have lost no ice over the last decade, new research shows.

The discovery has stunned scientists, who had believed that around 50bn tonnes of meltwater were being shed each year and not being replaced by new snowfall.

The study is the first to survey all the world’s icecaps and glaciers and was made possible by the use of satellite data. Overall, the contribution of melting ice outside the two largest caps – Greenland and Antarctica – is much less then previously estimated, with the lack of ice loss in the Himalayas and the other high peaks of Asia responsible for most of the discrepancy.

Bristol University glaciologist Prof Jonathan Bamber, who was not part of the research team, said: “The very unexpected result was the negligible mass loss from high mountain Asia, which is not significantly different from zero.”

The melting of Himalayan glaciers caused controversy in 2009 when a report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change mistakenly stated that they would disappear by 2035, instead of 2350. However, the scientist who led the new work is clear that while greater uncertainty has been discovered in Asia’s highest mountains, the melting of ice caps and glaciers around the world remains a serious concern.

“Our results and those of everyone else show we are losing a huge amount of water into the oceans every year,” said Prof John Wahr of the University of Colorado. “People should be just as worried about the melting of the world’s ice as they were before.”

His team’s study, published in the journal Nature, concludes that between 443-629bn tonnes of meltwater overall are added to the world’s oceans each year. This is raising sea level by about 1.5mm a year, the team reports, in addition to the 2mm a year caused by expansion of the warming ocean.

The scientists are careful to point out that lower-altitude glaciers in the Asian mountain ranges – sometimes dubbed the “third pole” – are definitely melting. Satellite images and reports confirm this. But over the study period from 2003-10 enough ice was added to the peaks to compensate.

The impact on predictions for future sea level rise is yet to be fully studied but Bamber said: “The projections for sea level rise by 2100 will not change by much, say 5cm or so, so we are talking about a very small modification.” Existing estimates range from 30cm to 1m.

Wahr warned that while crucial to a better understanding of ice melting, the eight years of data is a relatively short time period and that variable monsoons mean year-to-year changes in ice mass of hundreds of billions of tonnes. “It is awfully dangerous to take an eight-year record and predict even the next eight years, let alone the next century,” he said.

The reason for the radical reappraisal of ice melting in Asia is the different ways in which the current and previous studies were conducted. Until now, estimates of meltwater loss for all the world’s 200,000 glaciers were based on extrapolations of data from a few hundred monitored on the ground. Those glaciers at lower altitudes are much easier for scientists to get to and so were more frequently included, but they were also more prone to melting.

The bias was particularly strong in Asia, said Wahr: “There extrapolation is really tough as only a handful of lower-altitude glaciers are monitored and there are thousands there very high up.”

The new study used a pair of satellites, called Grace, which measure tiny changes in the Earth’s gravitational pull. When ice is lost, the gravitational pull weakens and is detected by the orbiting spacecraft. “They fly at 500km, so they see everything,” said Wahr, including the hard-to-reach, high-altitude glaciers.

“I believe this data is the most reliable estimate of global glacier mass balance that has been produced to date,” said Bamber. He noted that 1.4 billion people depend on the rivers that flow from the Himalayas and Tibetan plateau: “That is a compelling reason to try to understand what is happening there better.”