World War II bomb kills three in Germany

Ambulance crew rushing into the site after the explosion

Three members of a bomb-disposal team were killed and six people wounded in the central German city of Goettingen when a World War II bomb exploded prior to attempts to disarm the device, officials said.

The explosion occurred…as the bomb squad was taking final public safety measures ahead of the defusal procedure.

The bomb was the second device to have been found at the site in recent days, with the first having been made safe without incident.

Goettingen Police Chief Robert Kruse said that three “very experienced, highly professional” staff had been lost, and that it was a tragic day for the city. Lower Saxony Interior Minister Uwe Schuenemann said that the three men had between 20 and 30 years of experience in the bomb-disposal squad, and had worked on up to 700 devices together…

The exploded bomb had been uncovered at a depth of seven metres as foundation digging for a new sports stadium was being carried out.

Goettingen’s main train station, which lies some 700 metres from the explosion site, was the target of heavy Allied bombing raids during 1944.

Most Americans have no clue about dangers like this. We have been insulated by oceans and time from the dangers faced by civilian populations through either of the World Wars. Our soldiers brought home sad memories. But, the experience of being bombed – and duds being discovered decades later placing families in danger – doesn’t even exist on the edge of consciousness for most.

This was the 2nd of 2 bombs discovered during construction. The first was disarmed. There are about 2000 tons of unexploded WW2 ordnance found in Germany every year.

First archaeological dig in the history of modern art

Surely looks like a scene from a Fellini movie

French archaeologists are to open to the public a ground-breaking dig: not the long-lost vestiges of Gaul but a vast, half-finished picnic, buried complete with food, drink, tables and chairs almost three decades ago.

On April 23, 1983, around 100 people sat down to a French feast in the grounds of a chateau near Versailles. On the menu: pigs’ ears, tail and trotters, smoked udders, tripe and a host of dishes not for the faint-hearted.

Towards the end of the meal at the domaine du Montcel in Jouy-en-Josas, a whistle was blown and the merry throng downed knives and forks and buried the remains of the banquet in its entirety in a pre-dug 40-yard-long trench.

Behind the curious exercise was a Swiss artist named Daniel Spoerri, a key figure in a movement called Eat Art. His guests were a bunch of celebrity French new realist artists, as well as filmmakers and critics.

Dubbed Déjeuner sous l’herbe (Underground Lunch), the meal’s aim was to create a “banquet-performance” to explore the nature of time and the present.

Today, 27 years later, a group of French scientists have brought the artistic event back to life by exhuming the meal, this time with the serious aim of testing the latest archaeological techniques.

“This experience will enable us to test our systems of chemical analysis and to study very carefully the way in which materials like ceramics decompose,” said Jean-Paul Demoule, dig leader and former head of France’s national preventative archaeological research institute, Inrap.

“We know what they ate: mostly tripe. We’re now going to try and find traces of it,” he said.

And when they are through with appropriate sampling for analysis and measurement – the tableau will be re-buried for another reveal in the future.

Simple urine test may identify autistic children for early treatment

Children with autism have a different chemical fingerprint in their urine than non-autistic children, according to new research published in the Journal of Proteome Research. The researchers behind the study, from Imperial College London and the University of South Australia, suggest that their findings could ultimately lead to a simple urine test to determine whether or not a young child has autism.

Autism affects an estimated one in every 100 people in the UK. People with autism have a range of different symptoms, but they commonly experience problems with communication and social skills, such as understanding other people’s emotions and making conversation and eye contact.

People with autism are also known to suffer from gastrointestinal disorders and they have a different makeup of bacteria in their guts from non-autistic people.

Today’s research shows that it is possible to distinguish between autistic and non-autistic children by looking at the by-products of gut bacteria and the body’s metabolic processes in the children’s urine. The exact biological significance of gastrointestinal disorders in the development of autism is unknown…

At present, children are assessed for autism through a lengthy process involving a range of tests that explore the child’s social interaction, communication and imaginative skills. Early intervention can greatly improve the progress of children with autism but it is currently difficult to establish a firm diagnosis when children are under 18 months of age, although it is likely that changes may occur much earlier than this.

Bravo! A new beginning – from a new direction.

Another new affordable test that may lessen the economic burden of health care in many nations.

Sydney Opera House holds concert for canines

Hundreds of dogs and their owners have descended on the Sydney Opera House for a concert specifically for canines. Organisers say the event, the work of American musician and artist Laurie Anderson, is the first of its kind.

Ms Anderson called it “an inter-species social gathering on a scale never seen before in Australia”.

It featured the cries of whales and high-pitched electronic sounds inaudible to human ears, accompanied by a bass guitar and violin.

For an hour or so Australia’s most recognisable building became a giant kennel. The sounds sent some agitated pets into a frenzy, while others seemed rather bemused. “Most dogs are fine with it but we had to move away because he was getting a little bit freaked out by the whale noises,” said one dog owner.

Ms Anderson said it was one of the best moments of her career…”We didn’t want to do something that humans couldn’t hear too, so we chose a different bunch of things. A lot of dogs seem to enjoy classical music, frankly.”

This would be a hit in Santa Fe, as well.

Egyptian politicians battle to regain lead in stupidity

Egypt’s supreme court has upheld a decision to strip citizenship from Egyptian men who wed Israeli women if the marriage poses a threat to national security.

With ties between the two countries strained, particularly over the situation in the Gaza Strip, the verdict is being seen as a reflection of Egyptian sentiment towards Israel.

Mohammed al-Husseini, a judge with the supreme administrative court, said Egypt’s interior ministry must ask the country’s cabinet to take the necessary steps to strip Egyptian men married to Israeli women, and their children, of citizenship.

“The court asks the ministry of interior to present all the marriages to the cabinet to examine … Each case should be investigated separately and with consideration to personal freedoms and the nation’s security,” he said.

Nabil al-Wahsh, a lawyer in the case, said he wanted to prevent the creation of a generation who are “disloyal to Egypt and the Arab world”.

The children of such marriages “should not be allowed to perform their military service“, he said…

Well, there’s one bright spot, then.

People who marry unapproved people will be forbidden to go and kill more unapproved people in the name of religious justice, peace and enlightenment.

It’s difficult to conceive of any society premised more on injustice than theocracy.

BP oil disaster: How will it affect Florida’s tourism industry?

More clumps of oil washed up on Florida’s Pensacola Beach overnight, and local officials said hotels and restaurants aren’t getting reservation phone calls as the BP Plc spill hits the state’s tourism industry.

About 400 people are working to clean up tar balls that have come ashore, triple the number from yesterday, and an additional 100 are being trained, BP spokeswoman Lucia Bustamante said today at a press briefing in Escambia County in northwest Florida. A large sheen of oil with thick patches of “tar mats” was about 1 mile to 7 miles off the shore from Pensacola Beach, county officials said.

Florida officials and tourism industry executives are juggling two missions, working to protect the shore from oil spreading from the April 20 spill in the Gulf of Mexico while assuring tourists that the state’s 825 miles (1,327 kilometers) of beaches remained safe so far. Hotels relaxed cancellation policies for wary guests while updating photos on websites to show beaches that remained pristine.

“I’ve talked to hoteliers and it’s not so much that there are cancellations — it’s the reservations line,” Grover Robinson, chairman of the Escambia County Commission, said today at a press briefing. “The phone just isn’t ringing.”…

“For the most part, people are still booking,” [Kathy Torian, spokeswoman for Florida’s tourism office] said. “Honestly, we don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Since a good portion of my life was wrapped up in the tourism industry in Florida, I take a personal interest in what is happening there. But while I spent some time in the Panhandle, most of my time– a few years– was further down the coast around Tampa/St.Pete and Sarasota/Bradenton.

If this were happening back then, in Sarasota, I’m not sure we would be freaking out, YET. People came to Florida for many reasons, and the tourists didn’t always come for the beaches. In fact, for the most part, the tourists weren’t even there this time of the year. Plus, the visitors with the deepest pockets were also our annual WINTER regulars. They wouldn’t be cancelling any plans over this.

BUT that was then, and that was from my personal vantage point. If you are in the industry on the affected coast, please share your thoughts.

Shutting the butterfly botnet

The last 12 months have seen significant success in combating one of the main forms of cybercrime – botnets.

These networks of hijacked home computers have become the basic tool for many cyber thieves. Maintaining them, finding new victims and using them has become a significant part of the net’s criminal economy.

The vast majority of spam is sent out via the computers on botnets; they are used to stage attacks on websites and the machines forming them are harvested for saleable information such as credit card numbers and game logins.

Shutting down the Mariposa, or butterfly, botnet was one of the bigger successes. It got its name because it was built using the butterfly bot kit…

Luis Corrons, a senior researcher at Panda Security, played a big part investigating Mariposa…

Finding out was only possible when one of Mariposa’s controllers accidentally revealed the net address of his home computer.

In this case we were really lucky,” said Mr Corrons. “When I found the IP address imagine my face when I realised it was in Spain.”

Not only that but one of the men behind the botnet lived a few kilometers from the Bilbao lab where Mr Corrons worked.

He assumed that the arrest and closure of Mariposa would mark the end of his involvement of the investigation.

RTFA and grab a chuckle over the brass balls of the script kiddies who ran this packaged botnet.

How many greedy and grotty, spotty little nerds are required to be a royal pain in the butt to a world full of ordinary folks who would just like to go about their business – using what has become an essential avenue of communications?

How many? Apparently – two or three. Not any brighter than anyone else – absent honesty and ethics.