Russian police say Moscow airport bomber identified

Police in Russia say they have identified the man behind the bombing of Moscow’s Domodedovo International Airport on Monday, although they will not yet name him. Police said the man who killed 35 was a twenty-year-old suicide bomber from the North Caucasus region.

An Investigative Committee statement delivered by spokesman Vladimir Markin said “We have established the identity of the terrorist suicide bomber who set off the explosive. He turned out to be a 20-year-old native from one of the North Caucasus republics,” and “Despite the investigation having established the name of the terrorist, we will not name him today,” because it may hamper ongoing efforts to detain people suspected of collaborating.

A woman pays her respects to the victims, with flowers laid out in the airport

Markin added “I would especially like to note that it was by no means an accident that the act of terror was committed in the international arrivals hall… According to investigators, the act of terror was first and foremost aimed against foreign citizens.” Eight of those killed were foreigners and several flights had just landed from European origins.

President Dmitry Medvedev sacked several transportations officials in the wake of the bombing. The nation’s transport infrastructure will deal with extra visitors when the country hosts the 2014 Winter Olympics and 2018 World Cup. Medvedev has targeted both security officials and airport management in the wake of the bombing.

Few official details have been released by the investigation and unofficial reports in the press have been contradictory; one report suggested a suicide bomber wearing a plastic explosive-based shrapnel bomb belt. Another said it could have been detonated remotely, while a third suggested a timer. Russian newspapers initially suggested a bag had exploded on the floor, while local TV has shown CCTV footage of the explosion. Unconfirmed reports also claim the Federal Security Service was searching for three people ahead of the attack and that the bomber was Vitaly Razdobudko of Stavropol.

Although nobody has claimed responsibility or been arrested for the airport attack, Markin told reporters several people have been brought in on suspicion of planning an attack on December 31, while others are being sought. He linked them to an explosion on the 31st in a Moscow hotel, in which a bomber died after the device he was building went off prematurely.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that the attack is not thought to be linked to Chechnyan insurgency. The attack is Moscow’s second within a year, with two women from Dagestan, North Caucuses blowing themselves up on the Metro and killing 39 in 2010.

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Sweden aims to extradite Assanage to US: lawyer

Julian Assange’s lawyer in Britain has accused Swedish authorities of secretly planning to extradite the WikiLeaks founder to the United States, in an interview with a German newspaper to appear tomorrow.

 

Julian Paul Assange

Attorney Mark Stephens told the weekly Die Zeit that he believed Swedish officials were cooperating with US authorities with an eye to extraditing Assange as soon as the Americans have built a criminal case against him.

“We are hearing that the Swedish are prepared to drop the rape charges against Julian as soon as the Americans demand his extradition,” he said, citing sources in Washington and Stockholm.

Stephens called the Swedish charges against his client a “holding case” to buy time until the United States can prosecute him themselves over WikiLeaks’ mass release of classified US documents.

Moon water possibly originated from comets, data shows

Data from recent detailed analyses of samples collected on NASA Apollo moon missions, released Sunday, show that Lunar water may originate from comets that collided with the moon early in its geologic history.

A team of astrophysicists led by James Greenwood of Wesleyan University in Connecticut analyzed samples collected on the Apollo 11, 12, 14, and 17 missions and found that the chemical properties of traces of lunar water in these samples differ from water typical of Earth.

Water on the moon may have originated from comets, a new study shows. Image: Luc Viatour.

“The values of deuterium/hydrogen (D/H) that we measure in apatite in the Apollo rock samples”, Greenwood told Space.com, “is clearly distinguishable from water from the Earth, mitigating against this being some sort of contamination on Earth.” Greenwood and his team of researchers studied in particular the variations of hydrogen in the mineral apatite.

The newfound data show that the chemical properties of water in the apatite samples resemble data from the comets Hale-Bopp, Halley, and Hyakutake, suggesting that the water present on the moon could have originated from these comets or others.

According to Greenwood, the results of this study could also provide evidence as to the origin of water on Earth.

US dollar no longer accepted at Taj Mahal and other Indian historical sites

Due to the declining value of the United States dollar, tourism officials in India have decided to no longer accept the American currency at the site of the Taj Mahal and 120 other Indian historical sites.

The Taj Mahal has not accepted American dollars since November 2007. Image: Dhirad.

The monument has refused to take dollars since November, as such, any American tourist wishing to visit the white domed marble mausoleum of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal will pay over 500 Indian rupees (US$ 12.80 at the current exchange rate) to be allowed in and additionally receive a free bottle of water.

The decision came as a result as part of the continuing decline of the American dollar, falling 11 percent in 2007 and now valued around 39 rupees.

Tourism Minister Ambika Soni told CNN-IBN that it seemed more practical and will save tourists money because “the dollar was weaker against the rupee,” Soni added “Before the dollar lost its value, there was a demand to have (admission tickets) just in rupees.”

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