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"Doomsday machine" scientist linked to al-Qaeda

 

Near Geneva, Switzerland sits a 27-kilometer particle accelerator, the largest the world has ever seen. When it is finally switched on and makes it past the warm-up stages, it will create conditions that haven't existed since the beginning of the universe. This, naturally, scares the bejesus out of people, some taking it to the courts to stop its activation. Foreign Policy reported one group's fears:

"There is a real possibility of creating destructive theoretical anomalies such as miniature black holes, strangelets and deSitter space transitions. These events have the potential to fundamentally alter matter and destroy our planet." -Walter Wagner, LHCDefense.org

The Large Haldron Collider (LHC) at the CERN Lab has yet to reach full operation, but it will later this year. That is, unless something crazy happens...like, for instance, a CERN researcher being arrested for suspected links to al-Qaeda!

This is pretty scary to begin with, but even scarier is the fact that the man's brother was also arrested; he works at the European Organization for Nuclear Research.

The suspect has been linked to the Algerian chapter of al-Qaeda, and suggested targets in France. After being under surveillance for 18 months, the French decided to bring him down, luckily before the Death Star LHC was turned on.

CERN says the suspect was never involved with any elements that could be used for terrorist purposes; he mainly worked on data analysis.

FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images

 

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So what did Obama do to get the Nobel Peace Prize?

U.S. President Barack Obama was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize just 12 days into office. FP took a quick look back at what Obama did to improve world peace -- or, really, anything with foreign-policy relevance -- in those two weeks. Here's what we found:

  • January 21: Obama met with the ambassador to Iraq, commander in Iraq, and regional commander to receive a complete briefing on the war.
  • January 22: Obama ordered the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention center.
  • January 22: Obama signed an executive order explicitly prohibiting the use of torture and ordering all U.S. forces to obey the Army Field Manual. He also ordered a review of the case of Ali Saleh al-Marri, a detainee held on a Naval brig in South Carolina.
  • January 22: Obama met with numerous retired generals.
  • January 23: Obama rescinded the Mexico City policy, which had prevented nongovernmental organizations from receiving government funding if they supplied family planning assistance or abortions abroad.
  • January 23: Obama calls Prime Minister Harper of Canada, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain, and Ban Ki-moon, secretary general of the United Nations.
  • January 26: Obama announced his appointing of Todd Stern to the new position of special envoy for climate change -- recognizing the environment as a pressing foreign-policy concern.
  • January 27: More phone calls. This time Obama speaks with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, South African President Kgalema Motlanthe, and Prime Minister Taro Aso of Japan.

For 12 days, not bad! The resciding of the Mexico City policy, rejection of torture, naming of the climate change envoy, and closing of Guantanamo all seem like banner moments. Hardly equal to, say, negotiating peace between the Israelis and Palestinians or being willing to give up your life to end apartheid. But, not bad. 

Of course, this just provides evidence of Obama's win as symbolic -- the importance of his calls for a nuclear free world pale in comparison to the importance of his tone and his preference for dialogue at the helm of the world's biggest superpower.