Home' Greymouth Star : February 25th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
8 - Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Archaeologists have discovered a
900-year-old murder victim during a dig
on Scotland's east coast.
ey found the skeleton of a young
man dating from the 12th or 13th
centuries while investigating the historic
Kirk Ness, which was the site of a
church and cemetery in North Ber wick,
Analysis revealed that he had been
fatally stabbed four times in the back,
twice in the left shoulder and twice in
e archaeologists said he was aged
over 20, of slightly better build than
average, and had wear to the shoulder,
which suggests he might have been an
e dig, organised by the Scottish
Seabird Centre and supported by
Historic Scotland, also revealed
structural remains including stone tools,
lead objects, ceramic material and bones
of butchered seals, sh and seabirds
which suggest a community lived at the
Tom Brock, chief executive of the
Scottish Seabird Centre, said: "Being
at the centre of a 900-year-old murder
mystery is very exciting for the Scottish
"As an independent visitor attraction,
conser vation and education charity, we
are dedicated to inspiring people to
enjoy, protect and learn about their local
environment, and this dig has allowed
us great insight into how life was lived
in the North Berwick area almost 1000
" e site of the centre is a historic site
of national importance and visitors can
nd out more about this rich history
from information displayed within and
around the Seabird Centre."
Archaeologists uncovered various
graves at the site during the dig, which
was prompted by the expansion of the
By assessing the size, shape and
relative positions of the injuries to
the bones of the murdered man, they
surmised that the dagger-like weapon
used to stab him had a symmetrical
lozenge-shaped section with sharp
edges and was probably at least 7cm
Archaeologists said that daggers with a
lozenge-sectioned blade are a specialist
military weapon and carried mainly by
military men and that this, combined
with the accuracy of the stab wounds,
implies a degree of professionalism
in the killing and arguably a degree of
e bones may be reinterred in the
e dig was carried out by Edinburgh-
based Addyman Archaeology, with
work undertaken between 2000 and
2006 followed by scienti c analysis.
e ndings of the Kirk Ness project
have been documented in a new book
e Medieval Kirk, Cemetery and
Hospice at Kirk Ness, North Berwick:
e Scottish Seabird Centre Excavations
1999-2006, which will be launched
by archaeologist Tom Addyman at the
Scottish Seabird Centre on March 27.
Archaeologists unearth 900-year-old murder
A 110-year-old woman believed
to be the oldest survivor of the
Holocaust and who endured the
ordeal partly through her passion for
music, has died in London, her family
Alice Herz-Sommer, who is said
to have counted writer Franz Kafka
among her family friends and is
the subject of an Oscar-nominated
documentary, was a Jewish pianist and
musician from Prague in what is today
the Czech Republic.
In 1943, the Nazis sent her and
her young son to eresienstadt
concentration camp, where tens of
thousands of people lost their lives.
Neither her husband Leopold nor
her mother So e survived World War
Two, but she and her son did.
Her grandson, Ariel Sommer,
con rmed her death in London, saying:
"Alice Sommer passed away peacefully
this morning with her family by her
bedside. Much has been written about
her, but to those of us who knew her
best, she was our dear Gigi."
He added: "She loved us, laughed
with us, and cherished music with us.
She was an inspiration and our world
will be signi cantly poorer without
her by our side."
Herz-Sommer was born in Prague
in 1903. She and her son Raphael
were freed from Nazi captivity in 1945
when the Soviet Red Army liberated
their camp, and emigrated to Israel
before settling in Britain.
Raphael, an accomplished cellist and
conductor, died in 2001.
A documentary lm, e Lady in
Number 6, covers Herz-Sommer's
life. It has been nominated for an
Academy Award for best short
documentary at the forthcoming
Malcolm Clark, the lm's director,
and Nick Reed, its producer, said in
a statement that telling her story had
been a life-changing experience for
the crew and they felt honoured to
have been able to capture her "lessons"
for future generations.
"Even as her energy slowly
diminished, her bright sprit never
faltered," they said. "Her life force was
so strong, we could never imagine her
not being around. We can all learn
so much from this most amazing
Herz-Sommer, who along with
other musicians gave concerts in the
concentration camp to keep up her
spirits and those of people around her,
said before she died that Beethoven
was her religion and that music had
saved her life and still saved her.
She famously said she bore
no grudges and saw her life as a
In a text about her on the website
of Reed, the documentary's producer,
she was quoted before her death as
saying she remained upbeat about life
despite sensing she was coming to the
end of it.
"I think I am in my last days, but
it doesn't really matter because I
have had such a beautiful life," she
said. "I have lived through many
wars and have lost everything many
times --- including my husband, my
mother and my beloved son. Yet, life is
beautiful, and I have so much to learn
and enjoy. I have no space nor time for
pessimism and hate.
"Life is beautiful, love is beautiful,
nature and music are beautiful.
Everything we experience is a gift, a
present we should cherish and pass on
to those we love." --- Reuters
Holocaust survivor dies at 110
Alice Herz-Sommer, the world's oldest Holocaust sur vivor, has died at 110.
Moscow has questioned the
legitimacy of Kiev's new leadership,
accusing them of leading an "armed
mutiny" in Ukraine.
In the strongest reaction yet
from Moscow to the transfer of
power from Ukraine's disappeared
President Viktor Yanukovych to
the overwhelmingly pro-European
opposition, Prime Minister Dmitry
Medvedev said Moscow cannot
negotiate with rebels who "carry
"Strictly speaking, there is no
one for us to communicate with
there today," he told Russian news
To think the new leadership
has legitimacy is "some kind of
an aberration of perception when
people call legitimate what is
essentially the result of an armed
mutiny," he added.
e Russian foreign ministry issued
an even more hostile statement,
saying that the Ukrainian parliament
has "set a course to suppress those
who do not agree in various regions
of Ukraine using dictatorial and
sometimes even terrorist methods".
"Militants are not disarmed,
they refuse to leave the streets
that they de facto control, to go
out of administrative buildings,
they continue acts of violence," the
Moscow was especially irked by the
decision at the weekend to repeal a
law introduced under Yanukovich in
2012 that elevated the status of the
Russian language in regions where
the population uses it.
e Russian ministry statement
said that by voting the law out,
parliament was trying to "restrict the
humanitarian rights of Russians".
Analysts said the current situation
was a result of Russia's relying heavily
on Yanukovich, whose power base
was eroded even in the eastern part
of the country.
"Russia is at a loss and disappointed
in Yanukovich, who was the horse
it had bet on," analyst Mark Urnov
of the Higher School of Economics
"It's a chain of mistakes by Kremlin
analysts which led to a loss on all
fronts in Ukraine." --- AFP
Russia brands new Ukrainian leaders mutineers
A leopard has sparked panic in
a north Indian city after it strayed
into a hospital, cinema and
apartment block while evading
Authorities closed schools
and colleges in Meerut, 60km
north-east of the Indian capital,
after the leopard was discovered
prowling the city's streets on
Sunday, a senior city o cial said.
"Despite our best e orts, we
have been unable to track the
leopard down," additional district
magistrate S K Dubey said.
e cat was found inside an
empty ward of an army hospital
on Sunday before wildlife o cers
were called and managed to re
a tranquilliser dart into it, Dubey
"But despite that he managed
to break (out through) the iron
grilles and escaped. He then
sneaked into the premises of a
cinema hall before entering an
apartment block. After that we
lost track of the cat," he said.
Authorities have urged the
closure of markets in the city
of 3.5 million until the animal,
which has left six people injured,
is captured, according to the
Press Trust of India (PTI) news
Police, soldiers and wildlife
o cials were trying to hunt it
down but their e orts were being
hampered by large crowds keen
to catch a glimpse of the cat, PTI
Photos showed the beast
pushing its way through a lattice
wall at the hospital as a policeman
in riot helmet, stood ready to hit
it with a baton.
e leopard was also pictured
leaping o a building site as
people scrambled out of the way.
Last week another leopard killed
a ve-year-old boy in the central
state of Chhattisgarh, the latest
in a string of incidents raising
concerns about depleting habitats
for big cats which is forcing them
into populated areas.
A tiger on the prowl in the
northern State of Uttar Pradesh
since last December is believed to
have killed some ten people, and
wildlife o cials are still trying to
hunt it down. --- AFP
A leopard enjoys the shade of a tree.
Leopard on the prowl in Indian city
Gay people are eeing Uganda
because they fear for their lives after
the introduction of a law that sti ens
penalties for homosexuals.
"I am really scared. Right now, I am
getting threats left, right and centre from
unknown people through telephone
calls, text messages and Facebook," gay
activist Dennis Wamala said.
According to Julian Pepe Onziema,
a member of the human rights group
Sexual Minorities Uganda, about a
dozen gays have already moved to
neighbouring Kenya since the bill
was approved by parliament in late
"People are coming to us saying they
want to leave," Onziema said overnight,
the day the bill was signed into law by
President Yoweri Museveni.
e law, which has been strongly
criticised by Western governments and
human rights groups, punishes rst-time
o enders with up to 14 years in jail.
People convicted of having had same-
sex intercourse with a disabled person or
a minor, as well as HIV-positive people
caught engaging in homosexual acts,
face the risk of life imprisonment.
With over 80% of the population of
nearly 35 million describing themselves
as Christian, Ugandan society is widely
supportive of the new law.
In defending it, Museveni has said that
he wants to protect Ugandan children
after being persuaded by scientists that
homosexuality is a learned behaviour,
rather than hereditary.
" eir (scientists) unanimous
conclusion was that homosexuality,
contrary to my earlier thinking, was
behavioural and not genetic. It was
learned and could be unlearned,"
Activists, however, say the bill has only
ended up stoking homophobia.
"Police keep harassing me. ey are
turning the public against me. I get
threatening phone calls. I fear for my
life," Sam Ganafa, who is already facing
charges related to homosexual o ences,
e 42-year old said he had already
heard of "arrests and attempted mob
justice" against homosexuals.
He cites the recent case of a woman
who was allegedly gang-raped by people
wanting to "cure her of lesbianism".
With major donors such as the United
States, Denmark and Sweden having
already threatened retaliatory measures
against Uganda, local gay activists say
they will not give up without a ght.
"We are going to stay around and ght
on. We are going to challenge (the law)
in court," Wamala said.
It will be extremely di cult for
Uganda's gay community to overturn
With homosexuality traditionally
frowned upon in large parts of Africa,
even Uganda's opposition politicians
have not openly condemned the law out
of concern that it will cost them votes.
Pope Francis overnight
revolutionised the Vatican's
inviting outside experts
into a world often seen as
murky and secretive and
saying the Church must
use its wealth to help the
Pope Francis, elected
nearly a year ago with a
mandate for reform, used
a document known as a
Motu Proprio --- Latin
for "by his own initiative"
--- to implement immediate changes
including appointing an auditor-general.
e document says the Church must see
its possessions and nancial assets in the
"light of its mission to evangelise, with
particular concern for the most needy".
A new Secretariat for the Economy will
report directly to the Pope and will be
headed by Australian Cardinal George
Pell, 72, currently the Archbishop of
Sydney and a key proponent of nancial
transparency in a committee that advised
the pope. A Church source said Pell
would move to Rome.
e auditor-general will have wide
oversight powers "to conduct audits of
any agency of the Holy See and Vatican
City State at any time," a statement said.
e Secretariat, e ectively a new
ministry, will be headed by Pell and
guided in policy making by a new
15-member Council for the Economy
made up of eight prelates and seven
lay nancial experts "with strong
professional nancial experience" from
around the world, according to the
e Motu Proprio's title
is "Faithful and Prudent
Administrator". A Vatican
statement said the changes
"will enable more formal
involvement of senior and
experienced experts in
planning and reporting
and will ensure better use
of resources, improving
the support available
for various programmes,
particularly our works with
the poor and marginalised".
Pope Francis decreed that
the changes have "immediate, full and
stable e ect," abrogating any existing
rules not compatible with them.
An existing economic department
known as the Administration of the
Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA),
which manages nancial holdings and
real estate, will formally assume the role
of the Vatican's central bank and have
"all the obligations and responsibilities
of similar institutions around the world,"
the statement said.
e role and structure of the separate
Vatican bank, formally known as the
Institute for Works of Religion (IOR),
will not change for the time being, a
ere was no mention of the IOR in
the overnight statements. Pope Francis
has not ruled out closing the bank, which
primarily handles funds for religious
orders and Vatican employees.
Both the IOR and APSA have been at
the centre of scandals. Italian magistrates
are investigating the IOR on allegations
of money laundering. e Vatican
dismisses the charges. --- Reuters
A Spanish astronomer said he
witnessed a fridge-sized asteroid smash
into the moon, in the biggest lunar
impact by a space rock so far recorded.
e rare episode was seen by Jose Maria
Madiedo, a professor at the University
of Huelva, Britain's Royal Astronomical
Society (RAS) said.
On September 11 last year, Madiedo
was operating two lunar-obser ving
telescopes when he spotted a ash in
the Mare Nubium, an ancient, dark lava-
e are would have been visible to
the naked eye to anyone who happened
to be looking at the Moon at that
moment in good viewing conditions,
the RAS said.
ere followed a long afterglow, lasting
another eight seconds --- the longest and
brightest seen for a lunar impact.
"At that moment, I realised that I had
seen a very rare and extraordinary event,"
Madiedo told the society.
Madiedo and his colleagues calculate
that the rock had a mass of about 400kg,
with a diameter of between 60cm and
It hit Mare Nubium at around
e speed was so high that the rock
turned molten on impact and vaporised,
leaving a thermal glow visible from
Earth as a ash, and causing a 40m
crater in the Moon's pocked surface.
e impact energy was equivalent to
an explosion of about 15 tonnes of TNT,
more than triple the larges t previously
seen event, claimed by Nasa (the United
States National Aeronautics and Space
Administration) in March 2013.
Madiedo's team calculate that rocks of
this size may strike Earth about 10 times
more frequently than was generally
Earth, though, is protected by its
atmosphere and asteroids of this size
burned up as dramatic " reball" meteors.
asteroid hitting moon
Seven Sumatran elephants have been
found dead in western Indonesia and it
is thought they were poisoned, a wildlife
o cial say, just the latest deaths of the
Dozens of the elephants have died
after being poisoned in recent years on
Sumatra island, as the creatures come
into con ict with humans due to the
rapid expansion of palm oil plantations
which destroys their habitat.
e latest to die were a female adult,
ve male teenagers, and a male calf
believed to be from the same herd, local
wildlife agency spokesman Muhammad
e remains of the elephants were
found on February 16 just outside Tesso
Nilo National Park and it is thought
they died ve months earlier, he said.
" ere is an indication that they were
poisoned," he said.
"Some people may consider the
elephants a threat to their palm oil
plantations and poison them."
While Sumatran elephants are
regularly found dead, it is rare to discover
so many at the same time.
Swathes of jungle have been destroyed
in recent years to make way for
plantations and villagers increasingly
target Sumatran elephants, which they
regard as pests.
While most concessions for palm
oil companies are granted outside
Tesso Nilo, in Riau province in eastern
Sumatra, many villagers still illegally
set up plantations inside the park, said
WWF spokeswoman Syamsidar, who
goes by one name.
Poachers also sometimes target the
animals --- the smallest of the Asian
elephants --- for their ivory tusks, which
are in high demand for use in traditional
e WWF says there are only between
2400 and 2800 Sumatran elephants
remaining in the wild and warns they
face extinction in less than 30 years
unless the destruction of their habitat is
Rampant expansion of plantations
and the mining industry has destroyed
nearly 70% of the elephant's forest
habitat over 25 years, according to the
Protection group the International
Union for Conservation of Nature
classi es the elephants as "critically
endangered", one step below "extinct in
the wild". --- AFP
in elephant deaths
Australia could be the
rst country to develop a
bionic brain, according to
a new report calling for
national investment in
e report, Inspiring
smarter brain research in
Australia, estimates that
an e ective investment in
brain research would cost
about $250 million over
the coming decade.
It would involve the
creation of the Australian
Brain Initiative to better
co-ordinate e orts
in brain research ---
including building the
rst bionic brain.
One of the researchers
involved in the
report Professor Bob
Williamson said such an
investment could help
experts better understand
and treat conditions
like Alzheimer disease,
stress disorder, brain
trauma in soldiers and
Brain and mind
disorders already cost
Australia about $20
billion annually. --- AAP
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