A thousand-year-old Buddhist statue taken from Tibet in 1938 by an SS team seeking the roots of Hitler’s Aryan doctrine was carved from a meteorite, scientists reported on Wednesday.
In a paper published in an academic journal, German and Austrian researchers recount an extraordinary tale where archaeology, the Third Reich and cosmic treasure are intertwined like an Indiana Jones movie.
Called the “Iron Man” because of the high content of iron in its rock, the 24-centimetre (10-inch) -high statue was brought to Germany by an expedition led by Ernst Schaefer, a zoologist and ethnologist.
Backed by SS chief Heinrich Himmler and heading a team whose members are all believed to have been SS, Schaefer roamed Tibet in 1938-9 to search for the origins of Aryanism, the notion of racial superiority that underpinned Nazism.
Weighing 10.6 kilos (23.3 pounds), the statue features the Buddhist god Vaisravana seated, with the palm of his right hand outstretched and pointing downwards.
Via Question Copyright:
Our free culture anthem gets a fabulous arrangement by Nik Phelps. Vocals by Connie Champagne. Animation and song by Nina Paley.
A fascinating environmental crime. A man stole a five-ton portion of the fast-vanishing glacier, a national monument — the ice was to be used to create the most rarified of illegal cocktails — a drink which will be impossible post climate-change. Via the Guardian:
Police in Chile have arrested a man on suspicion of stealing five tonnes of ice from the Jorge Montt glacier in the Patagonia region to sell as designer ice cubes in bars and restaurants.
Local media reported that last Friday police intercepted a refrigerated truck with an estimated £3,900 worth of illicit ice allegedly bound for whiskies, rums and cocktails in the capital Santiago. Authorities have accused the driver of theft and are considering adding violation of national monuments to the charge sheet.
Santa has sticky fingers. Via the Atlantic Wire:
Hope you have a Merry Christmas, America, because you’ve been extremely naughty at the mall this year. After surveying retailers in the U.S., the Global Retail Theft Barometer says that shoppers pinched $1.8 billion worth of merchandise during the four weeks leading up to Christmas, reports the AP. $1.8 billion! For context, $1.8 billion is a 6 percent increase from 2010.
They shouldn’t beat themselves up over it — just yesterday it took me twenty minutes to find my keys. The Los Angeles Times reports:
In the year after the invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration flooded the conquered country with cash to pay for reconstruction — wrapped bricks of $100 bills. They sent an initial full planeload of cash, followed by 20 other flights to Iraq by May 2004 in a $12-billion haul that U.S. officials believe to be the biggest international cash airlift of all time.
This month, the Pentagon and the Iraqi government are finally closing the books on the program that handled all those Benjamins. But despite years of audits and investigations, U.S. Defense officials still cannot say what happened to $6.6 billion in cash. For the first time, federal auditors are suggesting that some or all of the cash may have been stolen, not just mislaid in an accounting error.
Damn you, Big Travel! Discovery News reports:
Plush terrycloth bathrobes, 800-thread-count sheets and fluffy, freshly laundered towels can tempt even the most law-abiding hotel guest to take up a life of suitcase-stuffing crime.
Irresistible as they may be, petty theft of these luxurious (and free!) linens are gouging the hotel industry to the rude wake-up call of approximately $100 million a year.
Sticky-fingers everywhere, consider this a warning! Some hotels are reinforcing their defences against pilfering patrons like yourself and they’re using radio frequency identification (RFID) to catch you in the act.
Three hotels in Honolulu, Miami and New York City have begun using towels, sheets and bathrobes equipped with washable RFID tags to keep guests from snagging the coveted items. Just to keep you guessing, the hotels have chosen to remain anonymous.