Saved from the scrap heap of history – for now, at least

I was interested to learn that one of the ancient crowns of Ethiopia’s emperors has been saved from looters. After 21 years tucked away inside a Rotterdam flat, a priceless 18th century crown is finally being repatriated to Ethiopia with the help of a Dutch art detective. For more than two decades, the crown has been guarded by Dutch-Ethiopian national Sirak Asfaw in a secret location in his Netherlands home. A former refugee, Sirak fled Ethiopia during the “Red Terror” purges in the 1970s. Over the ensuing years, he hosted Ethiopian pilots, diplomats and refugees as they passed through the city.

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Low-flying helicopters and power lines don’t mix well

A French rescue helicopter was involved in a training exercise when it had an unfortunate encounter with low-hanging power lines. Very fortunately, no-one was hurt this time. The helicopter was equipped with a wire-cutter, ringed in the photograph below (a screen-capture from the video above). That may have helped prevent a crash, by deflecting or cutting the wires before they could get tangled in the rotor.  However, I imagine all on board had a brown-trouser moment! Peter

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I warned about a pension bailout . . . now, guess what?

For years I’ve been pointing out how federal, state and local government pensions (not to mention many private pension funds, particularly those organized by trades unions) are woefully underfunded, sometimes so much so that they’re effectively bankrupt already.  I’ve also warned that we can expect calls for a federal bailout of such funds, forcing the burden for their deficits onto the US taxpayer instead of those who are rightfully responsible for them.  Most recently, in February, I wrote: I fully expect semi-bankrupt cities and states to demand a Federal bailout of their obligations.  I hope and trust that won’t happen .

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Tsunami “survival pods”? I doubt it!

City Journal recently published an excellent article about the danger of a megaquake in the Cascadia Subduction Zone off the west coast of North America.  I highly recommend reading it in full – it’s certainly enough to give anyone in their right minds pause for thought!  One aspect in particular, though, caught my eye. Tsunami pods … are now available, manufactured by Survival Capsule, a company based in suburban Seattle. Made with aircraft-grade aluminum, they’re watertight and supposedly strong enough to withstand just about anything that nature can hurl at them. They come with flares and personal-locator beacons that go out on marine-band

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Now that’s student assistance squared!

An extraordinary tale has emerged from Sweden of how a Yazidi student from Iraq was saved from ISIS terrorists by his professor and her university colleagues. A chemistry professor at Lund University [in Sweden] dispatched a team of mercenaries into an Islamic State (also known as IS, Isis or Daesh) war zone to free one of her doctoral students and his family. Charlotta Turner, professor in Analytical Chemistry, received a text message from her student Firas Jumaah in 2014 telling her to to assume he would not finish his thesis if he had not returned within a week. He and his family

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A challenging rescue

Reader Ed C. e-mailed me the link to this video clip after reading my previous post.  Thanks, Ed!  It depicts a hazardous helicopter rescue in Washington state in 2010. From an article about the rescue: At about 1830 HRS, after a quick 20-minute flight from Whidbey Island, the helo crew began looking for the rescue site. They had the scene coordinates, but this was a very rugged and forested area. They had been told that the patient was “near the bridge.” However, they were quite surprised to learn that she was actually under the bridge. Flying under any bridge can be a dodgy

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