‘Blockbuster’ WWII bomb defused after massive evacuation in Frankfurt

The 1.

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8-tonne British bomb, which German media said was nicknamed “Wohnblockknacker” — or blockbuster — for its ability to wipe out whole streets and flatten buildings, was discovered during building works last Tuesday.

The operation in central Frankfurt to get residents to safety was the biggest evacuation of its kind in post-war Germany, the city’s security chief Markus Frank said.

After hours of delay as police struggled to get the area cleared, bomb disposal experts finally managed to disarm the explosive in the evening.

Police then began lifting the evacuation order progressively, giving priority for patients in two hospitals within the affected district to be brought back to their wards.

Close to the city centre, the bomb was discovered in the Westend district, home to many of Frankfurt’s top bankers, including European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi — who is known to spend his weekends away from the city.

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The massive operation began at dawn, as homes and buildings within a 1.5-kilometre radius of the site were ordered cleared by 0600 GMT.

But some people were still in the evacuation zone well past the deadline as police carried out door-to-door checks. 

At one building where officers were ringing doorbells and using loudspeakers to announce the evacuation, a man and a woman emerged, saying they were unaware they were in the affected district.

At midday, emergency services were still unable to give the all-clear for bomb disposal units to move in.

After a delay of at least two hours, experts were finally able to start disarming the bomb, an HC 4000, a high-capacity explosive used in air raids by Britain’s Royal Air Force during World War II.

Some elderly residents affected by the evacuation recalled poignant memories of the war.

“I was here in Frankfurt’s Westend during the war. I heard the bombs falling when I was in the basement, and I helped to extinguish the fires. So I knew how it feels and for me it’s not a new experience,” said Doris Scheidt, 91. 

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Another resident, Eva Jarchow, said the evacuation “reminds me of our flight from Berlin when the bombs were still falling during the war. Here, at least, it’s calm and sunny.”

Giesela Gulich, meanwhile, had a “queasy feeling about it (as) the bomb stayed in the soil for so long, but now, when it’s being moved, you don’t know what can happen.”

City officials had readied halls as temporary lodgings, while museums were offering free entry. 

Others had packed their bags and were ready to head out for a full day. 

David Hoffmann, 29, who works at a bank, was loading up luggage in his car. 

“I have the essentials with me — the most important documents,” he said, though he complained that he had not received any leaflets about the evacuation.

Unexploded WWII bombs 

More than 70 years after the end of the war, unexploded bombs are regularly found buried in Germany, legacies of the intense bombing campaigns by the Allied forces against Nazi Germany.

On Saturday, 21,000 people had to be evacuated from the western city of Koblenz as bomb disposal experts defused an unexploded American World War II shell.

In May, 50,000 residents were forced to leave their homes in the northern city of Hanover for an operation to defuse several WWII-era bombs.

And one of the biggest such evacuations took place on Christmas Day 2016, when another unexploded British bomb, containing 1.8-tonnes of explosives, prompted the evacuation of 54,000 people in the southern city of Augsburg.

Walter Becker, co-founder of Steely Dan, dies aged 67

His death was announced in a brief notice on his official website, with no further details released.

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Becker in July missed The Classic East and The Classic West — twin festivals in Los Angeles and New York featuring rock veterans including Steely Dan — with his bandmate Donald Fagen saying Becker was recovering from an unspecified ailment.

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A New York native, Becker met Fagen while studying north of the city at Bard College. The pair moved to California where they gained both mainstream and underground recognition for their artistic brand of rock.

Steely Dan — named for a phallic toy from Beat novelist William S. Burroughs’ classic novel “Naked Lunch” — shared elements of jazz by enlisting a revolving cast of musicians and jamming out in winding tunes that gave ample space for solos even while keeping pop melodies.

Mourning his co-songwriter, Fagen said in a statement that Becker had a “very rough childhood” which he overcame with wit and singular talent. 

“He was cynical about human nature, including his own, and hysterically funny,” Fagen said.

Oct. 29, 1977, file photo, Walter Becker, left, and Donald Fagen of Steely Dan, sit in Los Angeles. AP

“Like a lot of kids from fractured families, he had the knack of creative mimicry, reading people’s hidden psychology and transforming what he saw into bubbly, incisive art,” said Fagen, who promised to keep performing Steely Dan’s music.

With Fagen on vocals, Steely Dan created songs with literate and often cryptic lyricism. 

“Do It Again (at the Record Plant),” one of the band’s best-known songs, describes a character named Jack who attacks a man who stole his water but goes unpunished.

Rock by way of jazz and reggae  

Steely Dan was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001 but never reached number one on the US charts, reaching a height of number four with the 1974 song “Rikki Don’t Lose that Number.”

Becker, who eventually also took up guitar, said he grew up listening to jazz greats including Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins.

While resisting the “jazz fusion” label, Becker acknowledged that jazz informed Steely Dan’s way of recording — smooth and polished.

“It was our perception that if you were going to use jazz harmonies, it had to sound tight, professional; nothing sounds worse (and) sloppy than kids playing jazz,” he told Time Out New York in 2008.

As Steely Dan gained fame, Becker’s life turned turbulent as he wrestled with drug use. He faced legal action after his girlfriend died of a drug overdose in his apartment in New York, where soon afterward he was hit by a taxi and injured.

Becker moved to Hawaii where he set up a studio and started a second career as a producer, notably for China Crisis, a pop group from Britain where Steely Dan enjoyed a particularly sizable following.

A reformed Steely Dan won the prestigious Grammy for Album of the Year for its 2000 album “Two Against Nature.” 

Becker released his second album, “Circus Money,” in 2008, in which the bassist experimented with his love of reggae.

In an interview for “Circus Money” with the blog No More Big Wheels, Becker described his fascination both with the rhythms of reggae and with Jamaican culture and said reggae had always been part of the mix for Steely Dan. 

“I used to describe what we did as disco-jazz-space-funk-muzak with a little bit of reggae. It is a sort of a polyglot thing.”

Labor’s priorities wrong in parliament: PM

Malcolm Turnbull believes Australians will be sickened by Labor’s games in parliament while the nation grapples with the possibility of war on the Korean peninsula.

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But the opposition says the prime minister is just being melodramatic.

The dual citizenship debacle is expected to spark another fiery fortnight of parliament as Labor pressures the government over double standards applying to ministers whose eligibility is in doubt.

Seven MPs, including Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce will be scrutinised by the High Court over their dual citizenship and eligibility to sit in parliament.

Mr Joyce and Nationals deputy leader Fiona Nash have stayed in their senior positions while fellow minister Matt Canavan stepped down when he discovered his possible ineligibility.

The opposition is threatening to delay all votes in the lower house until Mr Joyce steps aside or the High Court makes its ruling.

Mr Turnbull suggested Labor’s priorities were skewed.

“You have (deputy Labor leader) Tanya Plibersek out there yesterday – is she talking about North Korea? Is she talking about how the opposition stands in support of the government in demanding stronger sanctions against North Korea?” he said on ABC radio on Monday.

“No, she is talking about playing games on the floor of the parliament.

“Australians will be sickened by the sight of the Labor Party’s failure to recognise the priorities of the Australian parliament.”

During a press conference on Sunday Ms Plibersek responded to North Korea’s latest nuclear bomb test.

The opposition’s chief tactician Tony Burke accused the prime minister of “a bit of melodrama”.

“He’s wanting to say somehow we shouldn’t be upset that we might have a deputy prime minister who’s not constitutionally allowed to be in parliament because of the threat from North Korea?” he told ABC radio.

“In terms of trying to draw a long bow … it’s only Monday but I think he’s already won for the week.”

Mr Turnbull heads to the Pacific Islands Forum in Samoa at the end of the week, leaving Mr Joyce leading the country.

Labor says there’s no way he should be acting prime minister while his eligibility is in doubt.

The High Court will hear the dual citizenship cases over three days from October 10.

The day in federal parliament

TODAY IN FEDERAL PARLIAMENT

* Parliament returns on Monday for a four-day sitting week after a fortnight’s break.

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* The sitting coincides with a High Court challenge to the government’s postal survey on same-sex marriage.

* The Senate will refer the eligibility of deputy Nationals leader Fiona Nash and independent Nick Xenophon – both dual citizens by descent – to the High Court.

* Question time in both chambers at 2pm.

WHAT’S MAKING NEWS

* Australia has condemned North Korea’s latest nuclear test and called on the United Nations to take further action against the “dangerous pariah regime”.

* Labor is preparing to cause chaos in parliament, especially if Barnaby Joyce is made acting prime minister later this week.

* Senate President Stephen Parry is expected to formally push for a stricter dress code after One Nation Leader Pauline Hanson wore a burka in the upper house chamber.

* Malcolm Turnbull has gained the biggest personal lead over Bill Shorten since last year’s election, leading 46-29 per cent as preferred prime minister in the latest Newspoll.

* West Australian Liberal Party members have passed a WAxit motion for a committee to examine if the state could become financially independent.

WHAT’S ON THE AGENDA

*The House of Reps: MPs resume debate on government bills including for liquid fuel emergencies; electoral law changes; abolition of Limited Merits Review for electricity companies; welfare reform.

* Senate: Senators resume debate on government bills for protecting vulnerable workers; repeal of four-yearly reviews; migration law changes; broadcast media ownership changes.

ARGY-BARGY

* Government spin: Our determination is that no Australian family should be paying more for their electricity than they need to pay.

* Opposition attack: It is absolutely untenable that Barnaby Joyce should be the acting prime minister while a cloud continues over his eligibility to sit in the parliament

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

“North Korea’s reckless conduct poses a grave danger to global peace and security.” – the PM.

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@sarahinthesen8: WAxit? Really? Just sounds WAcky.

Ardent staves off board spill

Embattled theme parks operator Ardent Leisure has staved off a planned shareholder vote later on Monday by inviting two rebel shareholders onto its board.

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Ardent said both sides had agreed that the extraordinary general meeting scheduled for Monday would not proceed after the company invited Gary Weiss and Brad Richmond to join the board effective immediately.

Two current directors will now step down no later than the 2017 annual general meeting in November, the company said.

Mr Weiss, executive director of Ardent’s largest shareholder Ariadne Australia and fellow director Brad Richmond, have sought seats on the Ardent board as part of a plan to turn around what they see as strategic errors at the company.

Mr Weiss has led a campaign Since June to install “new and highly experienced” directors on the Ardent board.

In July, he and fellow investor Kevin Seymour, a Queensland property developer, wrote to Ardent shareholders saying the company had “lost its way” and urging support for new directors to guide the company’s increasingly US-focused business.

Ariadne holds a 10.9 per cent stake in Ardent.

Ardent Leisure posted a $62.6 million loss for the 2017 financial year after steep falls in visitor numbers following a fatal accident on the Thunder River Rapids ride at its Dreamworld park in Queensland in October, 2016, and the park’s subsequent 45-day shutdown.

Ardent Chairman George Venardos, who has previously resisted the push from the rebel shareholders for board representation, on Monday said the two new directors will bring assistance and additional insight to the board.

“We are pleased that Ardent can now focus on executing its stated strategy to drive performance,” he said in a statement.