‘Blockbuster’ WWII bomb defused after massive evacuation in Frankfurt

The 1.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


* 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.


* 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.


*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.


* 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


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


@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.


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.

Camera can see through human body

Scientists have developed a new camera that can see through the human body.


The device is designed to help doctors track medical tools known as endoscopes, which are used to investigate a range of internal conditions.

Until now, it has not been possible to track where the kit is without using X-rays or other expensive methods.

The new camera can detect sources of light inside the body, such as the illuminated tip of the endoscope’s long flexible tube.

Professor Kev Dhaliwal, of the University of Edinburgh, said: “It has immense potential for diverse applications such as the one described in this work.

“The ability to see a device’s location is crucial for many applications in healthcare, as we move forwards with minimally invasive approaches to treating disease.”

Early tests have shown the prototype device can track a point light source through 20 centimetres of tissue under normal conditions.

Beams from the endoscope can pass through the body but usually scatter or bounce off tissues and organs rather than travelling straight through.

It means it is extremely difficult to get a clear picture of where the tool is.

The new camera can detect individual particles, called photons, and is so sensitive it can catch tiny traces of light passing through tissue.

It can also record the time taken for light to pass through the body, meaning the device is able to work out exactly where the endoscope is.

Researchers have developed the new camera so it can be used at the patient’s bedside.

The project – led by the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University – is part of the Proteus Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration, which is developing a range of new technologies for diagnosing and treating lung diseases.

Smart watch monitors your every move

Big Brother smart watches that remind you if you’ve forgotten routine tasks like brushing your teeth or doing the dishes could soon be a reality.


Scientists are working on an artificially intelligent (AI) system that takes the idea of activity tracking to a whole new level.

The new watches will know when a routine task has been left undone and provide a “helpful” reminder.

They could serve as memory joggers for the elderly, promote healthy lifestyles, assist in health care, or aid rehabilitation after injury.

But they could also be used to analyse consumer behaviour or track the performance of factory workers, one of the researchers behind the invention admitted.

Dr Hristijan Gjoreski, from the University of Sussex, said: “The assembly worker usually performs some set of activities in order to assemble the product.

“This kind of device can monitor automatically what the worker is doing and remind him if he forgets to do some sort of activity.”

He added that his group was talking to companies that might be interested in commercially developing the gadget, which could be available in three to five years.

“If you have a sequence of activities you’re supposed to do, it could remind you of the next step,” said Dr Gjoreski.

“Current activity-recognition systems usually fail because they are limited to recognising a pre-defined set of activities, whereas of course human activities are not limited and change with time.”

The research will be discussed at the British Science Festival taking place this week in Brighton, and will also be presented later this month at the International Symposium on Wearable Computers in Hawaii.

IS agent tried to recruit undercover BBC reporter to attack London Bridge

An Islamic State agent tried to persuade an undercover reporter to carry out an attack on London Bridge, a year before eight were killed and dozens injured at the landmark, it has been claimed.


A special report by BBC Inside Out London said one of its journalists was encouraged by the suspect to target London Bridge, suggesting he could do it alone or in a group.

The same agent also revealed explicit terrorist tutorials on the dark web, including step by step instructions on how to make a bomb, and a detailed description on how to create a fake suicide vest.

They also contained illustrations showing how to attack a victim with a knife to inflict maximum damage.

The BBC said the details bore striking similarities to the attack on London Bridge on June 3, in which all three attackers Khuram Butt, 27, Rachid Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22, were shot and killed by police at the scene.

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In a special report on Islamist-inspired extremism, researched over two years, the undercover journalist used Twitter to make contact with Birmingham-born jihadist and IS recruiter Junaid Hussain.

Speaking through an encrypted messaging site, 21-year-old Hussain said he could help train the undercover reporter on how to make bombs from home.

When Hussain, from Birmingham, was killed by a US army drone in the Syrian city of Raqqa in 2015, another recruiter made contact with Inside Out’s undercover reporter to continue the conversation. He detailed a plot to assassinate a police officer, including how to obtain firearms and bullets.

Inside Out London’s undercover reporter said: “In July 2016, we discovered that the terrorist organisation was touting on Twitter and Facebook for British Muslims to stage attacks at specific London locations.

“We began conversing with one of their recruiters, who then invited us to chat privately on a secret messaging site. The authorities were fully aware of our contact with the terrorist organisation.”

0:00 Barnaby Joyce lays wreath for London attack victims Share Barnaby Joyce lays wreath for London attack victims

Barnaby not budging on calls to stand down

Barnaby Joyce is running unfazed into another parliamentary week insisting he has the right to be deputy prime minister while the High Court decides his fate.


Labor is expected to disrupt business in the lower house until the Nationals leader steps down from cabinet or the court makes its ruling.

But after a morning run around Parliament House on Monday, Mr Joyce argued the tactics aren’t helping the opposition’s standing with voters.

“(They) want us to get on with the main game,” he told reporters.

“They’re talking about power prices, they’re talking about jobs.”

Mr Joyce again asserted he would have stood down from his ministerial position if the government hadn’t received strong advice from the solicitor-general.

“You hold office until such time as death or you resign or the High Court finds otherwise,” he said.

“Now everyone says that. Nick Xenophon says that. I heard Pauline Hanson say that.”

Asked whether he would be acting prime minister when Malcolm Turnbull heads to the Pacific Islands Forum in Samoa at the end of the week, Mr Joyce said: “That’s how the game works. The PM always has that right.”

Labor argues there’s no way the Nationals leader should be acting prime minister while his eligibility is in doubt.

The Greens also want Mr Joyce to stand down, tying the issue to the proposed Adani mine in Queensland.

“A minister who’s under a legal question mark should not be making decisions to give a billion dollars of taxpayers’ money to companies under a legal question to light a fuse on a climate time bomb,” MP Adam Bandt said.

But independent senator Nick Xenophon, who faces his own referral to the High Court, queried whether Mr Joyce was doing anything illegal.

“Until the High Court determines otherwise, he can still keep doing his job,” he told reporters.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott came to the defence of Mr Joyce, insisting his case was the same as Labor leader Bill Shorten’s, whose father was also born overseas.

“Show your (renunciation) letter or shut up about Barnaby Joyce,” Mr Abbott told reporters.

“Because if you haven’t got a letter, you are in exactly the same position that he is in and you should let him and you should let the Parliament get on with its job this week.”

Cabinet minister Fiona Nash and key crossbencher Nick Xenophon will be referred to the High Court over their dual citizenship when parliament resumes on Monday.

The pair joins five others, including Mr Joyce.

‘Valley of death’: Greens warn of coalition’s renewables policy

Renewable energy will face another “valley of death” under the policy the major parties are likely to adopt to encourage a cleaner power sector.


The Greens energy spokesman Adam Bandt warns adopting a clean energy target – as recommended by Chief Scientist Alan Finkel’s review of the electricity market – could leave proposed new renewable projects in limbo for up to five years.

The Turnbull government is yet to formally adopt a clean energy target as policy or decide what form it would take amid internal unrest from coalition MPs concerned about ensuring a continued role for coal.

Any clean energy target is not expected to start until 2020, when the existing renewable energy target is set to end.

Mr Bandt says switching from one to the other with no overlap could put the brakes on renewable energy projects.

He’s urging Labor not to sign onto a clean energy target that gives any incentives to coal power just for the sake of “artificial bipartisanship”.

Instead, he wants the opposition to hold out until the next federal election, which Labor could win, and then put in place a more robust policy.

“Labor should not be dragged into the morass of the Liberal party room and their coal obsession,” Mr Bandt will tell parliament on Monday.

Business and the energy sector has been crying out for politicians to put aside their squabbles and adopt a bipartisan policy – whether for the clean energy target or an emissions intensity scheme – so they have the certainty to start investing in new generators.

The 2016 federal election was the first since 2004 where Australia had the same energy policy before the poll as after.

Investment in renewables plummeted for several years amid political uncertainty around the RET, until the Abbott government cut it but set its level.

Mr Bandt now wants parliament to extend the RET for another decade.

“If Labor and Liberal agree on a clean energy target that includes coal but don’t include any mechanism to start closing coal-fired generators, it may well create a short-term ‘valley of death’ for renewables,” he will tell parliament on Monday.

“There will be at least three years during which a paltry target will be in place, new coal will be incentivised and new renewables placed at a further disadvantage.”