Home' Greymouth Star : August 14th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
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t has long been known that the practice of
mummification of the dead in ancient Egypt
— fundamental to that civilisation’s belief
in eternal life — was old, but only now are
researchers unwrapping the mystery of just
how long ago it began.
Researchers this week said a form of mummification
was being carried out there more than six thousand
years ago, much earlier than previously thought. They
said embalming substances contained in funerary
textiles from the oldest-known Egyptian cemeteries
showed mummy-making from as early as about
The embalming agents were infused into the linen
used to wrap the corpse to provide an anti-bacterial
and protective barrier. It was not as elaborate as the
process used much later on the bodies of powerful
pharaohs and other elites as well as many ordinary
Egyptians, but came more than 1500 years earlier
than Egyptian mummification had been thought to
There is evidence of mummification involving
remains from around 2600 BC of Queen Hetepheres,
mother of Khufu, the pharaoh who commissioned the
Great Pyramid at Giza outside Cairo. There also is
evidence of linen that contained resin being used to
wrap bodies around 2800 BC.
The researchers were amazed to find that the plant,
animal and mineral components used in preparing the
mummies at the cemeteries in Mostagedda in central
Egypt were essentially the same embalming “recipe”
used thousands of years later at the pinnacle of the
ancient Egyptian civilisation.
“I was surprised that the prehistoric Egyptians,
who lived in a tribal society 1000 years before the
invention of writing, were already in possession of
the empirical science that would later become true
mummification,” said one of the researchers, Jana
Jones, an Egyptologist at Macquarie University in
Biochemical analysis identified the components
from funerary textiles retrieved from the cemeteries
during excavations in the 1920s and 1930s and held
in Britain’s Bolton Museum. The “recipe” consisted of
a plant oil or animal fat base, with smaller amounts
of a pine resin, an aromatic plant extract, a plant gum
“The ancient Egyptians believed the sur vival of the
body after death was necessary in order to ‘live again’
in the afterlife and become immortal. Without the
preser ved body, this was not possible,” said Stephen
Buckley, an archaeological chemist at Britain’s
University of York who led the scientific research.
Jones said mummification demanded rare and
costly ingredients, some from distant lands. Pine
resin in the Mostagedda textiles may have come from
southeastern Turkey, many hundreds of miles away.
The practice of mummification reached its peak
during the era known as the New Kingdom, between
about 1550 BC and 1000 BC, when powerful
pharaohs reigned including Ramses II and Thutmose
III, as well as the “ boy king” Tutankhamun, better
known as “King Tut.”
It largely stopped with Christianity’s influence
around AD 400. Some Christians continued it in
some form until it ended completely with the arrival
of Arabs spreading the new religion of Islam in AD
The study appears in the scientific journal Plos One.
Mummification older than thought
With time running out for thousands
of Iraqis trapped by jihadists, caretaker
international pressure to step aside to
for ward reconciliation and the fight
The United States has carried out air
strikes against members of the Islamic
State (IS) jihadist group in the area
of Mount Sinjar, where the United
Nations refugee agency says up to
20,000-30,000 people, many of them
members of the Yazidi minority, are
Thousands more poured across a
bridge into Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish
region overnight after trekking into
Syria to escape, most with nothing but
the clothes they wore.
Some women carried exhausted
children, weeping as they arrived to the
relative safety of Iraqi Kurdistan.
But there are still large numbers
on the mountain, said 45-year-old
“Many of them are elderly; they
cannot walk this distance,” Bakr told
“My father Khalaf is 70-years-old —
he cannot make this journey. But up
there, there is very little food and no
medicine,” he said.
United Nations minority rights expert
Rita Izsak has warned they face “a mass
atrocity and potential genocide within
days or hours”.
United States Secretary of State John
Kerry said Washington is looking at
options to bring the trapped civilians
“ We will make a very rapid and critical
assessment because we understand it is
urgent to try to move those people off
the mountains,” he said.
Washington has already said it would
ship weapons to the cash-strapped
Kurds and overnight France followed
in US footsteps.
“The president has decided, in
agreement with Baghdad, to deliver
arms in the coming hours,” President
Francois Hollande’s office said.
Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said
the United States has sent 130 more
military advisers to northern Iraq to
assess the scope of the humanitarian
A US defence official said the
temporary additional personnel would
also develop humanitarian assistance
options beyond the current airdrop
effort in support of the displaced
civilians trapped on Mount Sinjar.
Britain said it has agreed to transport
military supplies for the Kurdish forces
from “other contributing states”.
And Australian Prime Minister Tony
Abbott confirmed his country would
join humanitarian airdrops in Iraq,
and did not rule out the possibility of
greater military involvement.
Washington has meanwhile urged
Iraqi premier designate Haidar al-
Abadi to rapidly form a broad-based
government able to unite Iraqis in the
fight against jihadist-led insurgents
who have overrun swathes of the
Abadi came from behind in an
acrimonious process to select Iraq’s new
premier when President Fuad Masum
this week accepted his nomination
and tasked him with forming a
He has 30 days to build a team
which will face the daunting task of
defusing sectarian tensions and, in the
words of US President Barack Obama,
convincing the Sunni Arab minority
that IS “is not the only game in town”.
out for Iraqis
Brazilian presidential candidate
Eduardo Campos, a contender to
unseat President Dilma Rousseff in
elections in October, has been killed in
the crash of his private jet in the city of
Santos, media network Globo reports.
Campos, a socialist who has been
running third in the polls, was aboard
the jet that crashed into a gymnasium
in a residential area, breaking into
pieces and sparking a large fire, Globo
reported on its news tv channel and
Officials said there were multiple
fatalities in the crash.
“There are fatalities but we still do
not have a number confirmed,” a Sao
Paulo state police spokeswoman told
AFP, saying a fire had hampered access
Santos firefighters said there were at
least 10 people injured, according to
on-line news portal G1.
Police had initially said the aircraft
was a helicopter, but the Brazilian air
force said it was in fact a private plane,
a Cessna 560XL, which is a medium-
The plane took off from Rio de
Janeiro’s Santos D umont airport and
was headed to Guaruja airport on the
outskirts of Sao Paulo, said aviation
authority Pedro Luis Farcic.
“As it was preparing to land, the
plane fell due to bad weather. Air
traffic control then lost contact with
the aircraft,” he said.
Tv images showed the destroyed
plane amid piles of burning rubble,
with a large column of smoke rising
from several houses in the residential
Flames could be seen in the windows
of some houses.
Local restaurant owner Thiago
Fernandes said the impact had
shattered the front windows at his
“I was working in the restaurant
and there was a very loud boom, like
nothing I had ever heard. All the front
windows broke. Later they told us that
an aircraft had fallen on the pool of
a gymnasium a block away,” he told
Globo News Tv. — AFP
A landslide has derailed a
passenger train in the Swiss
mountains sending one carriage
plunging into a ravine but it
appears no one was killed.
Photos in Swiss media showed
another carriage hanging
precariously over the edge of the
ravine in the heavily forested
region of mountainous eastern
Terrified passengers described
crowding into the rear of one of the
carriages in a bid to prevent it from
tipping over the edge.
“The train made an emergency
stop in the middle of nowhere,”
passenger Stevens Bockor was
quoted as saying by news website
“ We all rushed to the back of the
carriage to put all of our weight
there, so that it didn’t tip into the
abyss,” he said.
The eight-carriage regional train
was travelling between the upscale
mountain resort of St Moritz and
the regional capital of Chur when it
derailed around 12.45pm local time.
Local police described the
accident as “serious” but there were
no reports of deaths.
“At least three carriages were
derailed. Several people were
injured. The rescue and evacuation
operation is in progress,” police said
in a statement.
“There were around 200 people on
the train. Paramedics are treating
passengers who are in shock,” it
Four helicopters were rushed
to the scene — a heavily forested
hillside with little road access — to
help evacuate the injured.
Swiss broadcaster RTS said scores
of uninjured passengers made their
way down the line to the local town
of Tiefencastel on foot.
Train carriage plunges into ravine in Swiss mountains
Carriages hang precariously over the ravine.
candidate killed in
Emergency crews sur vey the debris and damage of a plane crash that killed
Brazilian presidential candidate Eduardo Campos, in Santos, Brazil.
Apple’s suppliers have started
according to people with knowledge
of the matter, as the company
works to reinvigorate sales of the
tablet computers after two straight
quarters of declines.
Mass production of a full-sized
iPad with a 9.7in screen is already
under way, with an unveiling
projected for the end of this quarter
or early next, said two of the people,
who asked not to be identified
because the details are not public.
A new version of the 7.9-inch iPad
mini is also entering production
and will probably be available by
the end of the year, they said.
The timing is crucial as Apple
ramps up a new product push for
the lucrative end-of-year holiday
shopping season. The line-up is
anticipated to include new iPhones
with bigger screens, as well as a
health-oriented watch-like device,
people with knowledge of the
matter have said. The Cupertino,
holding an event on September 9
to debut the new iPhones, people
familiar with the situation have
said. Chief Executive Officer Tim
Cook last month said Apple has an
“ incredible pipeline” that “we can’t
wait to show you.”
Trudy Muller, a spokeswoman
for Apple, declined to comment.
Apple suppliers including Hon
Hai Precision Industry Co and
Pegatron Corp rose, while Taiwan’s
benchmark Taiex index declined.
Apple especially needs to boost its
iPad business, which is its second-
biggest product category after
Output of the larger iPad may
be restricted by manufacturing
complications related to the use of a
new anti-reflection coating, which
Apple plans to add to the device to
make the display easier to read, said
one of the people.
Apple’s largest-ever iPhones
went into mass production in July,
Bloomberg News reported in June.
The iPhones will come in two new
models: one with a 4.7in screen and
another with a 5.5in screen, people
with knowledge of the plans have
Consumers have been gravitating
toward larger-screen devices —
in China, 40% of mobile gadgets
based on Google’s Android
operating system that were sold
in 2014 had display sizes of
more than 5in, according to an
estimate from Forrester Research.
— New Zealand Herald
New Apple iPad in production
Jailed South African apartheid
death-squad leader Eugene de Kock,
dubbed ‘Prime Evil’ for murdering
black activists in the 1980s, has
launched a court bid to force the
government to consider him for
parole, his lawyer said.
De Kock, who is believed to have
been responsible for more atrocities
than any other man in the efforts
to preserve white minority rule in
South Africa, became eligible for
release last month after 20 years
However, Justice Minister Michael
Masutha delayed by a year the
sensitive decision on whether or not
to set him free, saying the families
of his victims had not been properly
De Kock’s lawyer Julian Knight
said Masutha’s argument was being
challenged as legally flawed since
the need to consult families about
parole decisions was only introduced
in 2004 — a decade after de Kock
was arrested and jailed.
“It ’s a political game,” Knight
told Reuters. “ The minister should
be treating de Kock as any other
If de Kock is successful in getting
the court to overturn Masutha’s
decision, it will put the ruling
African National Congress (ANC),
which came to power at the end of
apartheid in 1994, in a tight spot.
Many among South Africa’s black
majority believe de Kock’s crimes
are so extreme that he should die
behind bars. — Reuters
Apartheid death-squad leader seeking parole
Robin Williams was found dead
after telling friends he had “serious
money troubles”. He had sought
treatment for depression in the
weeks before his death, it emerged
The 63-year-old actor, who was
once reputed to be worth $150
million, had complained of losing
a large chunk of his fortune in
alimony payments to his two ex-
wives, and had been trying to sell
his 240ha ranch in California.
According to a family friend
quoted by the United States website
Radar On-line: “All he could talk
about were serious money troubles
.. . Robin was known for being so
generous to his friends and family
during the height of his success,
and would help anyone out that
For two years he had been trying
to sell his ranch in the Napa Valley
near San Francisco, saying: “I just
can’t afford it any more.” Despite
dropping the asking price from
$42m to $35.6m, there had been
no takers. He had even resorted to
selling some of his collection of 50
bicycles to raise cash.
One neighbour who saw him in
the days before his death said he
had become “a shell of himself ” and
looked “drawn and thin”.
— New Zealand Herald
Robin Williams: depressed and broke
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