Home' InDaily : January 8th 2010 Contents www.independentweekly.com.au
9The Independent Weekly
January 8 - 14, 2010
Including The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Independent and AAP
Big freeze causes
LONDON: Britain s big freeze has
brought swathes of the country to a
standstill, with transport networks
in meltdown, schools closed and
businesses estimating losses of
more than $A3.51 billion.
Hospitals cancelled operations,
the army was called in to rescue
up to 1000 motorists who became
stranded on a motorway at
Hampshire, and emergency moves
to ease the gritting crisis were
demanded as a further 47cm of
snow fell in some parts of the
The Federation of Small
Businesses estimated about 10
per cent of the 30-million strong
workforce missed work mid-week,
costing the economy millions -- and
forecasters warn the misery will
continue into next week.
One of the busiest airports
in the country, Gatwick in West
Sussex, remained shut for much
of Wednesday, with more than 240
flights cancelled. Hundreds were
also stranded at Stansted airport
after snow forced airport officials
to shut the runway, and Eurostar
cancelled four trains between
London, Paris and Brussels as a
After striking Scotland and
the north of England, the heavy
snowfall moved south to the home
counties and London.
"In terms of the overall cold
snap, there is no sign of it coming
we can read into next week," said
Clare Allen, a forecaster with
Much of the rest of Europe is in
the grip of freezing temperatures
due to a weather front from Siberia.
Norway was among the coldest,
with temperatures in the central
town of Roeros falling to -41C. Snow
and ice caused traffic problems in
western and south-western France
amid warnings of more to come,
while torrential rain hit parts of
Italy and officials feared the swollen
Tiber River could threaten Rome.
Heavy snow has brought travel
chaos to north China this week,
stranding thousands of truckers
for two days on a Beijing highway
and 1400 rail passengers in Inner
Mongolia, state media said.
The national weather centre said
the mercury dipped on Tuesday to
-15.6C -- the coldest temperature in
more than two decades.
On the outskirts of Beijing,
truck drivers were forced to sleep
in their vehicles for two nights on a
highway when snow made the road
impassible, causing a 20km back-up,
the Beijing News reported.
The newspaper said some of the
drivers were afraid to sleep for fear
of dying of exposure, but others
were prepared for the traffic mess.
"We brought food as we expected
the jam," said one trucker, who had
two cases of instant noodle and one
thermos of water on board.
In inner Mongolia, a train hit
a wall of snow more than two
metres high on Sunday, leaving 1400
travellers in the dark and without
heating overnight before they could
be evacuated. Nearly 2000 people,
including police and local farmers,
were mobilised to dig out the train.
Snow globe: Freezing temperatures brought all forms of British transport to a standstill.
MADRID: A hacker hijacked Spain s
official website for its presidency
of the European Union, inserting a
large smiling picture of the comic
character Mr Bean.
The supposed resemblance of the
bumbling slapstick character played
by British actor Rowan Atkinson
to Spain s Socialist Prime Minister
Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has
been a running joke in Spain for
A recent edition of leading
Mr Bean above
critical of the
has more than
doubled to about
19 per cent.
An official at
Zapatero s office
had affected the
page (www.eu2010.es), which was
specially set up to mark Spain s
six-month presidency of the EU, but
added that no information at the site
had been affected.
Newspaper El Mundo published a
screenshot of Mr Bean s appearance
on the official webpage, adding that
the character had greeted visitors to
the Spanish Government site with a
cheerful "Hi there!"
ANTARCTICA: Rare things happen
once in a blue moon, and on New
Year s Day a blue moon, coupled
with an exceptionally low tide,
uncovered a long-sought treasure in
the frozen wastes of Antarctica: one
of the world s earliest aeroplanes,
entombed in ice for decades.
The plane -- the first off the
Vickers production line in Britain
-- was built in 1911, only eight years
after the Wright brothers executed
the first powered flight.
Australian explorer Douglas
Mawson had hoped to stage the
first flight over the Antarctic ice
cap, but a hungover pilot crashed
the plane in Adelaide during a
test flight before he set sail. With
the wings damaged and no time to
repair them, Mawson adapted the
craft to haul his sledges, adding skis
to the undercarriage and a special
However, he abandoned the plane
in 1914 after its engine seized up
during attempts to use it as an "air
tractor", or motorised sledge.
For the past three years, a team
of Australian explorers has been
engaged in a fruitless search for
the aircraft, last seen in 1975. Then
a carpenter with the team, Mark
Farrell, struck gold: wandering
along the icy shore near the team s
camp, he noticed large fragments of
metal sitting among the rocks, just a
few inches beneath the water.
Tony Stewart, the field leader,
said: "The carpenter just ambled in
and said, 'I think I might have found
the air tractor , like he d just picked
up a newspaper at the local store.
You haven t seen us move so quickly
in a long time."
It was part of the fuselage of the
historic plane, exposed by a blue
moon (the second full moon in a
calendar month), the lowest tide
ever recorded at that site and an
unprecedented melting of ice.
"It was probably one chance in
a million that these conditions
just allowed us to spot it," said
David Jensen, the chairman of the
Mawson s Huts Foundation, the
organisation that led the search.
After the Vickers engine had
failed in sub-zero temperatures,
Mawson dumped it at Cape Denison,
at the head of Commonwealth Bay.
It was still sitting on the ice when
he returned in 1929 and 1931, and
in 1975 it was photographed after a
big ice melt. But without the "fluke"
conditions on New Year s Day, it
could have disappeared without
trace, said Mr Jensen.
"The tide would have come in and
we would never have seen it again,"
he said. "It s a remarkable find in
Mr Jensen said the plane,
rediscovered almost a century after
being abandoned, was "part of
Having used magnetic imaging
equipment to search for it,
conservationists were getting ready
to drill into the ice in conditions
including 50mph winds and
below-freezing temperatures. "Luck
was on our side, without a doubt,"
Dr Stewart said.
Considered one of the great polar
explorers, Mawson, from Yorkshire,
joined the Nimrod Expedition led
by Ernest Shackleton in 1907, and
was later a member of the first team
to reach the South Magnetic Pole.
He led an expedition to
Antarctica from 1911-14, during
which a member of his three-man
team fell into a massive crevasse,
along with six dogs and most of
the food and supplies. The other
two men were forced to eat some
of the surviving dogs. Mawson s
companion died after suffering
frostbite and seizures, and he
completed the final 100 miles back
to base alone.
The Australian Antarctic
Division is now deciding whether to
repatriate the Vickers for specialist
conservation work or leave it at
Mawson removed the aircraft s
wings before transporting it to
Antarctica and its engine was later
sent back to Vickers, but pieces of
the fuselage were left behind.
Lost plane found in Antarctic ice
Australian explorer Douglas Mawson.
STOCKHOLM: Sweden s first wolf
hunt in 45 years ended this week
after hunters met their quota of 27
kills in just four days, as ecologists
blasted the cull as rushed and cruel
and slammed the government s
decision to allow it.
The final two wolves of the quota
were killed in central Sweden on
Tuesday, ending the first wolf hunt
since 1964 as a number of hunters
reported receiving anonymous
Parliament decided in October to
limit the country s wolf population
to 210 animals for the next five
The cull was meant to run
between January 2 and February 15,
but hunters killed 20 wolves on the
first day, sparking the ire of animal
rights activists and local officials.
"I think the hunt was carried out
very quickly; there were too many
kills all at once," said Stig-Aake
Svenson, head of the local branch
of the environmental agency in
the central Dalarna region where
hunters killed 10 wolves instead of
the nine allotted to the region.
Some 12,000 hunters were granted
permits to take part in the hunt.
Environmentalists said this
number was out of proportion to
the total of 27 authorised kills in
five central regions.
They also criticised the lack of
co-ordination between the regions.
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