Thursday, July 12, 2012

Science crime scenes 1

Time for a new series, beginning with the stories from Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Higgs boson and heat wave edition) on Daily Kos that already have police investigations or should have them. It should come as no surprise, because of the amount of looting and vandalism, that many of these stories involve archeology. Thus, they qualify as examples of sustainability in unexpected places.

I'll begin with one of those archeology stories.

Voice of America: Mali Islamists Destroy Ancient Timbuktu Sites
Posted Monday, July 2nd, 2012 at 5:45 pm
Islamist militants in Mali's historic city Timbuktu destroyed and damaged ancient sites for a third straight day, defying international threats of prosecution.

Witnesses say the al-Qaida-linked group Ansar Dine targeted the 15th-century Sidi Yahya mosque on Monday, tearing off the entrance door. The door is considered sacred and was to remain closed until the end of the world.
I wonder what the reaction of the Islamists would be if they were told that they were contributing to a pagan end of the world prophesy? They'd probably either laugh or kill the messenger--maybe even both.

This isn't the first time something like this has happened. The Taliban blew up statues of the Buddha in Afghanistan 11 years ago, just before September 11th. Looks like the Islamists aren't any more tolerant of variants of their own faith than they are of other faiths and they aren't kidding around about it, either.

More over the jump.

Speaking of archeological crimes from South Asia involving images of the Enlightened One...

Agence France Presse via Dawn (Pakistan): Karachi police seize illegally-dug Gandhara antiquities
KARACHI: Authorities in Karachi have seized dozens of precious antiquities dating from Pakistan's ancient Gandhara civilisation, illegally dug from the country's restive northwest, officials said Friday.

The haul included statues of Buddha, life-sized idols, bronze artefacts, utensils and decorative plaques, Qasim Ali Qasim, director of Sindh province archaeology department, told AFP.

Police intercepted a flatbed truck in Karachi and found the antiquities from the 2,000-year-old civilisation hidden under plastic and wooden items, officials said.
Of course, there's lots of looting here in the U.S., too.

The Billings Gazette via the Casper Tribune: BLM investigates looting of Wyoming archaeological site
By MARTIN KIDSTON The Billings Gazette
Posted: Friday, July 6, 2012 7:00
Anyone with information about the Shoshone Canyon looting is asked to contact Special Agent Mike Ramirez with the BLM at 406-896-5151 or BLM Cody Law Enforcement Ranger Ron Lewis at 307-578-5931. The “Report Violations Hotline” is 1-888-358-2310.

CODY — The looting of an archaeological site in the Shoshone Canyon west of here has law enforcement officials with the Bureau of Land Management offering a reward for the capture and conviction of those responsible.

Special Agent Mike Ramirez with the BLM in Billings, Mont., said that while the case remains under investigation, it is clear the looting was not the random act of casual collectors.

“This wasn’t something somebody stumbled upon,” Ramirez said. “It’s quite evident that the people who dug this site did it on purpose. They actively pursued it and obliterated it, along with any hopes of recovering things.”

Ramirez couldn’t speak of the site in detail given the ongoing investigation. The Shoshone Canyon is located between Cody and Yellowstone National Park.
Not all crimes involve archeology and antiquity. Some are quite recent and still unfolding.

First, a great crime...

Agence France Presse via Discovery News: Japan Says Fukushima Disaster Was Man-Made
A parliamentary probe into the nuclear disaster at Fukushima found humans at fault for the post-tsunami disaster.
Thu Jul 5, 2012 11:13 AM ET
Last year's Fukushima nuclear accident was a man-made disaster caused by Japan's culture of "reflexive obedience" and not just the tsunami that hit the plant, a damning parliamentary report said Thursday.

Ingrained collusion between plant operator Tokyo Electric Power, the government and regulators, combined with a lack of any effective oversight led directly to the worst nuclear accident in a generation, the report said.

"They effectively betrayed the nation's right to be safe from nuclear accidents. Therefore, we conclude that the accident was clearly 'man-made'," said the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission.
Now, a small one.

Discovery News: Gators Grabbed from Zoo in Reptile Robbery
Analysis by Tim Wall
Sat Jul 7, 2012 08:33 AM ET
The Audubon Zoo in New Orleans recently suffered a gator grab and go. Ten baby alligators were snatched from an exhibit at the zoo.

The sticky fingers of the thieves could well end up in the bellies of the tiny beasts, or at least receive nasty wounds and serious infections.
It would serve the theives right.

Finally, something fun.

Discovery News: Search for Amelia Earhart's Plane Begins
On the 75th anniversary of her disappearance, an expedition heads out to prove once and for all that Earhart landed and perished on a remote island.
By Rossella Lorenzi
Mon Jul 2, 2012 10:17 AM ET
Courtesy of TIGHAR
Components of Amelia Earhart's plane might have floated for weeks in the waters of an uninhabited island in the southwestern Pacific republic of Kiribati, according to new analysis of a photograph taken three months after the disappearance of the glamorous aviator on July 2, 1937, during a record attempt to fly around the world at the equator.

Shot by British Colonial Service officer Eric R. Bevington in October 1937, during an expedition to assess the suitability for future settlement and colonization of Nikumaroro, a deserted island between Hawaii and Australia, the grainy photo has prompted a new expedition to find pieces of Earhart's long-lost Lockheed Electra aircraft.

"We will depart Honolulu on July 3rd aboard the University of Hawaii oceanographic research ship R/V Ka Imikai-O-Kanaloa. In about eight days we should get to Nikumaroro, where we will carry out a deep-water search for the wreckage," Ric Gillespie, executive director of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), told Discovery News.
In search of Amelia Earhart? That reminds me...

Hey, I'm just kidding about that last one!

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