Body found encased in ice on golf course pond – UPDATED

In warmer weather…

The face of a man’s body encased in ice startled groundskeepers working near the 16th hole of a north metro golf course Friday.

While checking conditions of the Majestic Oaks Golf Course in Ham Lake at about 1:15 p.m., they discovered what appeared to be a face sticking out of the ice covering a pond, said Lt. Paul Sommer of the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office.

Initial reports indicated that the head had been severed, but the body appears to be intact, Sommer said Friday night. Because the body was contorted, with its head partially above the ice and body below, along with the apparent toll animals had taken, authorities were initially misled. Most of the face and head appeared to have been eaten at, exposing the throat, Sommer said. It is too early to determine an age of the victim or cause of death, although authorities suspect foul play. Other than damage to the face, the cold appears to have preserved the remainder of the body, Sommer said.

Only a portion of the body was exposed when the workers found it. The remainder was trapped in 2 feet of ice. Authorities used a steamer from the Anoka County Highway Department to remove the body from the ice so as not to damage it.

There’s no straight protocol for removing a body encased in ice, so we used the steamer rather than chipping it out,” Sommer said.

I guess if you don’t find bodies encased in ice – very frequently – you don’t need to establish a standard protocol.

UPDATE: He’s been identified as Jeffrey Scott O’Donnell, homeless. No autopsy results yet for COD.

Ahead of schedule, Circuit City stores closing Sunday night

Daylife/Getty Images

Circuit City will disappear from the retail landscape by Sunday night. All of the retailer’s remaining 500-plus stores will close by then, ending an era for a chain that began in a small downtown Richmond storefront in 1949 and later became the nation’s largest consumer-electronics chain…

A consortium of four liquidating companies has been conducting going-out-of-business sales since mid-January at Circuit City’s 567 U.S. stores. They were selling off the Henrico County-based chain’s remaining $1billion-plus worth of inventory at reduced prices. The group initially thought the stores would close by late March, but sales have gone better than expected, Circuit City spokesman Bill Cimino said.

About 70 stores already have closed, he said…

The demise of Circuit City will flood the commercial real estate market with about 22 million square feet of retail space at more than 600 locations nationwide.

They weren’t very sharp. They rarely paid for competent help. They relied on discount pricing to turn the inventory. But, then, there probably is a spot in the marketplace for stores just like that.

When folks can afford to buy stuff.

Will an end to public access to information halt terrorism?


A lawmaker in California wants to force Google Earth and similar services to blur images of so-called “soft targets” like schools, hospitals, churches and government buildings to protect them from terrorists. Assemblyman Joel Anderson, a San Diego Republican, said he decided to introduce his bill after reading reports suggesting that terrorists used online map imagery to plan attacks in Mumbai and elsewhere.

The ban, if enacted, could face legal challenges, as the right to publish images taken in public places has generally been protected by American courts. And of course, as an Associated Press article points out, images of many of the places Mr. Anderson is seeking to protect are easily available elsewhere…

Concerns that detailed satellite imagery and photographs available on Web services like Google Maps, Google Earth and Microsoft’s Virtual Earth could help terrorists plan attacks are not new. There have been reports that terrorists have used such imagery to carry out attacks in Iraq and Israel. An Indian court is considering a ban on Google Earth following reports that its imagery played a part in the Mumbai terrorist attacks.

Such talk has drawn criticism from experts who note that while virtually all technologies can be used to cause harm, their benefits typically outweigh any downsides. The security expert, Bruce Schneier recently wondered what other things legislators might consider banning to prevent terrorism:

“Bank robbers have long used cars and motorcycles as getaway vehicles, and horses before then. I haven’t seen it talked about yet, but the Mumbai terrorists used boats as well. They also wore boots. They ate lunch at restaurants, drank bottled water and breathed the air. Society survives all of this because the good uses of infrastructure far outweigh the bad uses, even though the good uses are — by and large — small and pedestrian and the bad uses are rare and spectacular.”

I think Mr. Schneier has it right. Only fools and cowards put their faith in the protection of a Nanny State – and prefer an ignorant public. Personally, I think the latter part of the analysis predominates. Too many reactionaries prefer ignorance over information.

Horses domesticated a millennium earlier than presumed

An international team of archaeologists, led by the Universities of Exeter and Bristol, has uncovered the earliest known evidence of horses being domesticated by humans.

The discovery suggests that horses were both ridden and milked. The findings could point to the very beginnings of horse domestication and the origins of the horse breeds we know today.

The researchers have traced the origins of horse domestication back to the Botai Culture of Kazakhstan circa 5,500 years ago. This is about 1,000 years earlier than thought and about 2,000 years earlier than domestic horses are known to have been in Europe. Their findings strongly suggest that horses were originally domesticated, not just for riding, but also to provide food, including milk.

The team used a new technique to search for ‘bit damage’ caused by horses being harnessed or bridled. The results showed that horses had indeed been harnessed, suggesting they could have been ridden.

Using a novel method of lipid residue analysis, the researchers also analysed Botai pottery and found traces of fats from horse milk. Mare’s milk is still drunk in Kazakhstan, a country in which horse traditions run deep, and is usually fermented into a slightly alcoholic drink called ‘koumiss’. While it was known that koumiss had been produced for centuries, this study shows the practice dates back to the very earliest horse herders.

Don’t be surprised at my interest in this one. Early archaeological studies indicated the Celtic peoples originated in the steppes of Central Asia – and migrated west. What meager studies I’ve had of my own DNA show exactly that course on the Scottish side of the family – back through Central Asia – eventually back to Africa along the same timeline.

Studies decades ago also noted evidence that the Celts first domesticated horses and developed the chariot. This presumption went back to 3,500 years BC. It’s perfectly logical that the bands which trained horses to chariots first domesticated them for meat and milk.

Blair urged to ‘reconsider’ job

Lord Levy has told the BBC he thinks Tony Blair should consider whether to continue his job as an envoy for the Middle East Quartet.

The former prime minister’s ally said he should examine if he had “the time and tools” to help the peace process. He said he should think about what his role was “precisely” going to be.

Asked if he thought Mr Blair should step down, Lord Levy said: “As a friend I would say to him, do you feel you have the time, do you feel you have the tools, to really make a difference in this arena?

“And if you do, then what are you going to do and how are you going to go about it?”

Lord Levy said if there were not enough “ticks in all those boxes” he would advise someone else should take over.

Lord Levy is being way too polite to an incompetent. I’m not certain I would hire Tony Blair as counter help at a chip shop.

What is he best suited for? I’d say “greeter” at a Wal-Mart.

Army captain charged with $700K theft

No, that ain’t his Hummer; but, who would notice, right?

A U.S. Army captain faces trial for allegedly stealing $700,000 from an emergency fund in Iraq and sending it home in boxes…

Dan Wardlaw, a spokesman for the Internal Revenue Service, said that Nguyen triggered an investigation by going on a spending spree that was clearly above his pay grade after he returned from Iraq, The Portland Oregonian reported.

Buying a brand-new BMW and a Hummer will attract attention,” Wardlaw said.

Do you really think so? Obviously Captain Nguyen didn’t.

Of course, the classic observation is never steal anything small. The schmucks who made off with billions ain’t been touched.

U.S. cybersecurity chief resigns – points at NSA

The U.S. government’s director for cybersecurity has resigned, criticizing the excessive role of the National Security Agency in countering threats to the country’s computer systems, The Wall Street Journal has reported.

Former Silicon Valley entrepreneur Rod Beckstrom said in his resignation letter that having the National Security Agency, which is part of the Department of Defense, play a central role in cybersecurity, was “a bad strategy.”

Beckstrom headed the National Cybersecurity Center, which was created last March to coordinate all government cybersecurity efforts and answers to the Department of Homeland Security.

In reality, “NSA currently dominates most national cyber efforts,” Mr. Beckstrom wrote to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Thursday in his resignation letter [.pdf], posted by the Journal on its website. “While acknowledging the critical importance of NSA to our intelligence efforts, I believe this is a bad strategy on multiple grounds,” he wrote.

National Security Agency officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

IMHO, the NSA plays a reactionary role in everything they touch. The standing joke about the United States among spooks and spies around the world is that the CIA are Liberals, the FBI are Conservatives and the NSA are Nazis.

Fossil water being tapped in Jordan turns out be radioactive


Ancient groundwater being tapped by Jordan, one of the 10 most water-deprived nations in the world, has been found to contain twenty times the radiation considered safe for drinking water in a new study by an international team of researchers.

“The combined activities of 228 radium and 226 radium – the two long-lived isotopes of radium – in the groundwater we tested are up to 2000 percent higher than international drinking standards,” said Avner Vengosh. Making the water safe for long-term human consumption is possible, he said, but it will require extra steps to reduce its radioactivity.

Jordan’s annual water use exceeds the natural replenishment of its major river, the Yarmouk, and its local aquifers are becoming salinized as a result of over-pumping. In 2007, the Jordanian government announced plans for a $600-million project to pump low-saline fossil groundwater from the Disi aquifer, located along the nation’s remote southern border with Saudi Arabia, and pipe it 250 kilometers north to the capital, Amman, a city of 3.1 million people, and other population centers.

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Never waste a good crisis’


She might have been forgiven for looking a bit worn-out after a week of meetings from Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt to Nato’s charmless headquarters in Brussels. But Hillary Clinton positively glowed this morning at a Q&A session with a bunch of earnest young Europeans eager to hear how Barack Obama will fix the world.

Between breakfast with the Belgian foreign minister and a pilgrimage to the European Council – and before heading off for dinner in Switzerland with the Russian foreign minister – Clinton found time for a “town hall meeting” with Europe’s “next generation”.

Clinton was received rapturously. She glad-handed her audience at the vast European parliament. People cheered. She waved. They clapped, they craned their necks for a better glimpse, and they gave her a standing ovation.

“Europe is a miracle,” Clinton told around 1,000 young high-fliers. “A complex compromise of different interests.” The event was also streamed live to 31 countries.

The US secretary of state handled everything with consummate aplomb and authority – although she did admit that she had trouble grasping the mosaic of parties, interests, and countries that make up the EU. “I’ve never understood multi-party democracy. It’s hard enough with two parties…”

The lad in the “I Love Hillary” T-shirt, a gay rights activist from Moldova, extracted a ringing endorsement of his campaign.

“Human rights are the inalienable right of every person no matter who that person loves,” Clinton said, adding that attacks on gays and lesbians were not only occurring on a worrying scale, but were being “condoned and protected”.

Hillary’s ratings back home are higher than they were when she was running for president. That’s not a surprise – to me. But, it is an excellent example of the acceptance of the whole Obama team now that they are pretty much in place.