What Iceman Ötzi’s fashion choices say about his life

19 Aug

Ötzi the Iceman, a natural mummy discovered frozen in the Ötztal Alps in Italy, has offered scientists a broad variety of clues into the lives of Copper Age Europeans since its discovery a quarter century ago. And now researchers know what leathers and furs the mysterious man wore.
But the investigation wasn’t just to see if the famous mummy was fashion-forward. Knowing which animal skins Ötzi wore is another way to fill in the blanks in pre-historians’ picture of Copper Age Europe.

The animal skins the European wore when he died are helping scientists piece together Ötzi’s life.

Scientists have poked and prodded Ötzi since he was discovered by two hikers in 1991. They know what his last meal was, how he was murdered, and who his living relatives are.

But previous analysis of his clothing was limited because the tanning process, preservation, and subsequent scientific analyses had made the source animals for the leathers and furs difficult to identify.

So Mr. O’Sullivan and his colleagues turned to DNA to identify the species covering Ötzi’s body.

Ötzi wore a full outfit when he died, likely to keep him warm in the chilly mountains. A furry hat sat atop his head, straw-stuffed shoes were on his feet, and he wore leggings, a loincloth, and a coat.

The team found that the Iceman’s shoes were laced up with strings made of cattle leather, while his loincloth and much of his coat were made of sheep leather.

But his overcoat was a bit of a patchwork. The genetic analysis revealed that this article of clothing was made of both goat and sheep leather. The combination suggests that the Iceman pieced together whatever hides he had available, which would have been necessary as the ancient leather likely deteriorated quickly, the researchers write in the new paper.

Ötzi’s leggings, however, seem to be a more deliberate choice. Made of the more supple goat leather, they would have been relatively flexible for walking. Or perhaps goat leather was chosen for its “insulating potential,” the researchers write.

A set of 4,500-year-old leggings found in the Swiss Alps were also made of goatskin, so perhaps this was a common use for that material.

The Iceman’s hat was made from the skin of a brown bear, which Dr. Lenstra suggests could have had symbolic meaning as well as keeping Ötzi’s head warm.

“It is imaginable that with a hat of a skin of an intimidating animal you become more intimidating yourself,” he suggests.

And perhaps the quiver Ötzi carried his arrows in also had important symbolic meaning, Lenstra says.

The quiver was made from the hide of roe deer, an animal known to be swift.

“If survival depended on hunting with arrows and individual status on your success as marksman, the belief may have been crept in that a quiver made of a fast-running species increases your chance of hitting well the next time,” Lenstra says.

Source: Christian Science Monitor

The superbug that doctors have been dreading just reached the U.S.

27 May

For the first time, researchers have found a person in the United States carrying bacteria resistant to antibiotic of last resort, an alarming development that the top U.S. public health official says could signal “the end of the road” for antibiotics.

The antibiotic-resistant strain was found last month in the urine of a 49-year-old Pennsylvania woman. Defense Department researchers determined that she carried a strain of E. coli resistant to the antibiotic colistin, according to a study published Thursday in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, a publication of the American Society for Microbiology. The authors wrote that the discovery “heralds the emergence of a truly pan-drug resistant bacteria.”

Source: Washington Post

Toddlers have shot at least 23 people this year

2 May

Last year, a Washington Post analysis found that toddlers were finding guns and shooting people at a rate of about one a week. This year, that pace has accelerated. There have been at least 23 toddler-involved shootings since Jan. 1, compared with 18 over the same period last year. In the vast majority of cases, the children accidentally shoot themselves. That’s happened 18 times this year, and in nine of those cases the children died of their wounds. Toddlers have shot other people five times this year. Two of those cases were fatal: this week’s incident in Milwaukee, and that of a 3-year-old Alabama boy who fatally shot his 9-year-old brother in February. [Guns are now killing as many people as cars in the U.S.] These numbers represent only a small fraction of gun violence involving children. For instance, the pro-gun-control group Everytown for Gun Safety has found at least 77 instances this year in which a child younger than 18 has accidentally shot someone. And there is a whole different universe of gun violence in which toddlers are shot, intentionally or not, by adults.

Source: Toddlers have shot at least 23 people this year – The Washington Post

FBI admits flaws in hair analysis over decades

28 Apr

The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000. Of 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit, 26 overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project, which are assisting the government with the country’s largest post-conviction review of questioned forensic evidence. The cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death. Of those, 14 have been executed or died in prison, the groups said under an agreement with the government to release results after the review of the first 200 convictions.

Source: FBI admits flaws in hair analysis over decades – The Washington Post

At Hearing, Arizona Secretary Of State Confirms Election Fraud

26 Apr

During the hearing , angry Maricopa County residents told stories of being forced to wait more than six hours to cast a ballot in the Presidential Preference Election. Some talked about how the incredibly long lines and lack of accommodations for people with disabilities made it impossible for them to cast a ballot at all. A poll worker testified that the system in her district attempted to force her to give Republican ballots to Democratic voters throughout the day. To her credit, she gave those voters paper ballots and recorded every person that was impacted by the supposed system failure. Secretary of State Michele Reagan testified about what she claims were multiple unintended failures which occurred on the Secretary of State’s website. Those ‘mishaps’ ranged from the system’s failure to identify registered voters when the information was entered in lower-case letters, to the system ‘accidentally’ showing 100 percent reporting, along with patently false election results, at least six hours before the last vote was cast. One of the most important things to come out of the hearing, however, was Secretary of State Reagan’s acknowledgement that voter registration information was tampered with. When asked if there was any truth to the widespread allegations that the party affiliation of voters was changed ahead of the election, Reagan immediately responded by saying “Yes.”

Source: Arizona Secretary Of State Confirms Election Fraud Did Happen

Court Denies Kansas Christians’ Ploy To Teach Creationism Because Evolution Is ‘Religious’

26 Apr

After the state of Kansas adopted Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in 2013, Citizens for Objective Public Education (COPE) argued that teaching science without a religious explanation for the creation of the universe would indoctrinate children into atheism. COPE said that teaching evolution took children “into the religious sphere by leading them to ask ultimate religious questions like what is the cause and nature of life and the universe – ‘where do we come from?’”

“The purpose of the indoctrination is to establish the religious Worldview, not to deliver to an age appropriate audience an objective and religiously neutral origins science education that seeks to inform,” the group insisted.

But the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver last week upheld a lower court’s ruling which said that COPE lacked standing to bring the suit because it could not show that it had been harmed. “COPE does not offer any facts to support the conclusion that the Standards condemn any religion or send a message of endorsement,” the court decision stated. “And any fear of biased instruction is premised on COPE’s predictions of school districts’ responses to the Standards—an attempt by COPE to recast a future injury as a present one.”

Source: Court Denies Kansas Christians’ Ploy To Teach Creationism Because Evolution Is ‘Religious’ | Crooks and Liars

$10 router blamed in Bangladesh bank hack

22 Apr

Hackers managed to steal $80m (£56m) from Bangladesh’s central bank because it skimped on network hardware and security software, reports Reuters. The bank had no firewall and used second-hand routers that cost $10 to connect to global financial networks. Better security and hardware would have hampered the attackers, Reuters said, quoting an official investigator. The hackers aimed to steal $1bn but made mistakes that led to the theft being spotted and stopped.

Source: $10 router blamed in Bangladesh bank hack – BBC News

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