Oh mummy! Archaeologists unearth ancient tribe members sacrificed 1,300 years ago

Piercing blue eyes undimmed by the passing of 1,300 years, this is the Lady of the Mask – a mummy whose discovery could reveal the secrets of a lost culture.

She was found by archaeologists excavating a pyramid in Peru’s capital city Lima,
alongside two other adult mummies and the sacrificial remains of a child.

It is the first time a tomb from the region’s Wari culture has been discovered intact and gives historians the chance to pin down exactly how the pre-Incas buried their dead.

The mummy - assumed to be a noblewoman because of the ornate mask - was found in a crouching position surrounded by ceramics and textiles associated with female weavers.

“Her face startled me at first,” said 19-year-old Miguel Angel, one of the workers who carried her body out of the tomb.

“I wasn’t expecting to find anything like that.”

Earlier in the week, workers at the Huaca Pucllana site removed two adult mummies found lying near the lady of the mask.

Archaeologists have been excavating the area for three years and while they found plenty of artefacts, the 30 other tombs uncovered had been looted.

The Wari, who came from Peru’s southern highlands and ruled a vast area of the country from 500 to 1000 AD, conducted multiple burials and sent their loved ones into the afterlife with provisions and the tools of their trade.

“We’d discovered other tombs before,” Isabel Flores, the dig’s director, said. “But they always had holes or were damaged. Never had we found a whole tomb like this one – intact.

“The sacrifices were very common, particularly of children and young girls. They were part of their ritual offerings to the sea and the land.”

Two other masks were found near the bodies but the archaeologists believe the blue-eyed mummy was the only important woman among the dead.

“The mask had very firm eyes, they seemed very strong, and it shocked the workers as much as the archaeologists,” Ms Flores said.

Tests are being carried out on the other adult mummies to find out what sex they are but Ms Flores said identifying the noblewoman’s gender was relatively simple.

When in good condition, Wari tombs can be identified by the ceramic and textile offerings placed around the dead.

Small children were often sacrificed and it is common to find their bodies alongside adult ones.

Archaeologists said the child discovered with the adult mummies at Huaca Pucllana was most likely sacrificed.

The discovery confirms the Wari people buried their dead in what is now Lima and offers a more complete picture of how burials were carried out.

Madonna's Hitler storm

Madonna has come under fire for comparing US Presidential candidate John McCain to Adolf Hitler.

An image of McCain flashed on screen alongside images of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe at the first night of her 'Sticky and Sweet' world tour in Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, Wales, on Saturday (23.08.08).

The images were shown as Madonna performed her song 'Get Stupid'.

Tucker Bounds, an outraged spokesperson for McCain's campaign, used the opportunity to take a swipe at McCain's Presidential rival Barack Obama.

He said: "The comparisons are outrageous, unacceptable and crudely divisive all at the same time.

"It clearly shows that when it comes to supporting Barack Obama, his fellow worldwide celebrities refuse to consider any smear or attack off limits."

While McCain - the Republican party candidate for the November US election - was shown opposite despots, his rival, Democratic candidate Barack Obama was juxtaposed with pictures of peace activist Mahatma Ghandi and late Beatles singer John Lennon in the same song.

Meanwhile, Madonna has reportedly been forced out of her own gym by noisy construction workers.

The 50-year-old singer spent £12 million converting the Georgian house next door to her London home into a state-of- the-art workout room.

But after several months of noisy drilling, leering and suggestive whistling from nearby workers, she has switched to another gym.

A friend close to the star said: "Madonna felt as if she has been living in a siege situation. The noise of the drilling meant she was forced to listen to her iPod at full volume, potentially damaging her ears."

Madonna has since moved to her personal trainer's gym.

Her 'Sticky and Sweet' world tour continues in Nice, France, tonight (26.08.08) before moving on to Germany and Switzerland.

Couple offered sex with child for used car

A sordid San Antonio couple is accused of trying to trying to trade sex with the woman's 5-year-old daughter for an apartment, a used car and child care for her 10-month old daughter.
Jennifer Richards, 25, and her married boyfriend, Sean Michael Block, 40, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Stein Nowak on Friday. Richards is charged with using interstate facilities to transmit information about a minor. Block is charged with distributing child pornography.
Nowak ordered Block held. Richards' detention hearing was delayed until Tuesday, the San Antonio Express-News reported Sunday.
According to an affidavit unsealed last Tuesday, the investigation began when an informant told the FBI about a text message allegedly sent by Block reading: „Nice piece 5 yrs old belongs to my gf and she wants to sell it.“
Richards and Block crafted a deal that, in addition to the apartment and used car, included child care for Richards' 10-month-old daughter, whose sexual service the couple intended to sell later, Rex Miller, the FBI's lead agent on the case, testified.
The couple had also hoped to blackmail the informant, Miller said.
Richards „was of the belief that these sexual interactions would be a positive experience for (her daughter) and that Richards would receive sexual gratification“ from watching, according to the affidavit.
Authorities said both children are no longer in Richards' custody and that neither child was sold for sex.
After reviewing computers the couple used and listening to taped conversations, Miller determined Block and Richards were making further plans to abduct, rape and „carve up“ a teenage runaway.
Block allegedly sent an e-mail with a link to a Russian child pornography site, according to the affidavit.
Ronald Guyer, Block's lawyer, acknowledged the severity of the charges. But Guyer told the judge that there was no evidence that the behavior progressed beyond Block's fantasy.
„There has been no action on his part,“ Guyer told Nowak.
Richard's attorney did not immediately return a call or e-mail left Sunday by The Associated Press seeking comment.
The couple worked at the Cheesecake Factory at North Star Mall, where he was a bartender and she was a waitress.
Court records show that Block's now-estranged wife Sarah Block filed for a protective order earlier this week on behalf of the couple's 14-month-old child. Her lawyer said she filed for divorce Friday.

Up to 150 tourists dead as plane is ripped apart in runway fireball

Almost 150 people were feared dead last night after a tourist plane crashed 'in a scene from Hell' and burst into flames at Madrid airport.

The Spanair jet with 164 passengers and nine crew on board split in two as it smashed back on to the runway just seconds after lifting off.

There were reports of an explosion and a fire breaking out in an engine. The plane, an MD-82, had earlier been delayed from take-off for an hour for checks on a reported mechanical fault.

An unconfirmed report said the crash happened on the pilot's second attempt at a take-off.

There were several children on board, including two babies. It was not immediately known if the babies were among the dead.

Around 27 survivors were pulled alive from the wreckage and 23 of them were taken to hospital with serious injuries.

At least one is thought to have died on the way to hospital.

Spain's Interior Ministry confirmed late last night that at least 45 people had died, but Spanish media said the true figure was likely to be about 150.

Civil Guard officer Guillermo Altares said: 'There is nothing left resembling a plane. It is horrific. It is totally burned.'

Another rescue worker said: 'It's the closest thing to a scene from Hell that you'll ever see. There was almost nothing left of the plane.'

Herbigio Corral, who headed the rescue effort, told reporters: 'Only the tail was recognisable, there was wreckage scattered all over the place and dead bodies
across a wide area. A lot of them were children.'

The flight packed with holidaymakers was heading from the Spanish capital's main Barajas airport to Las Palmas in Gran Canaria.

The British Embassy in Madrid last night sent staff to Barajas airport - Europe's fourth busiest, carrying more than 50million passengers last year - to try to establish if any Britons were involved in the crash.

Some 17million British holidaymakers visit Spain every year and more than a million British expats are thought to live in the country.

Seven German holidaymakers were said to have been on board, while a Canary Islands official said passengers also included Swedes and Dutch.

Spanair's head of press Adolfo Lazaro said: 'The flight crashed on take-off at 14.45pm [13.45 UK time].

'We will not be providing passenger names or details until the families of all passengers on board have been contacted. We will not speculate on the cause of the crash.'

The plane took off more than an hour late from the airport's Terminal 2 after suffering technical difficulties, it was reported.

Witnesses said the left engine burst into flames at the moment the aircraft left the ground - known as 'the point of no return.'

The jet skidded off the runway near Terminal 4, crashed, split in two and burst into flames.

Fire spread to grassy areas around the runway and columns of thick black smoke poured from the wreckage.

Some 170 police, and 230 paramedics raced to the scene. Seventy firemen using 11 fire engines took two hours to put out the blaze.

They had difficulty entering the charred wreckage because of the temperature inside, and helicopters had to be called in to dump water on to the plane.

Last night Spain's prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero interrupted his holidays to go to the scene and the Spanish flag is to fly at half mast in the Olympic village in Beijing.

While the cause of the crash was last night unclear, aviation experts say that even where an engine fails during take-off, today's sophisticated aircraft are designed in such a way that they can still land safely.

When both engines failed on a British Airways Boeing 777 approaching Heathrow airport earlier this year, pilots were able to perform an emergency landing with only minor injuries.

In the case of Spanair flight JK5022, this points to an engine fire which could have caused shrapnel to erupt into the fuselage, fatally damaging aviation systems.

The accident comes as Majorca-based Spanair - a subsidiary of Scandinavian Airlines Systems - suffers one of the most difficult years in its 22-year history, with pilots threatening to strike over swingeing job cuts just hours before the crash.

* The MD-82 is a medium range, single-aisle plane that has mostly been phased out in Europe because its high fuel use makes it expensive
* The 15-year-old Boeing-manufactured plane in the crash yesterday was one of 15 owned by Spanair and has a capacity of 172 passengers and crew
* The crash was the first in Madrid since 1983, when two airliners collided on the runway in heavy fog
* The MD-80 series, which includes the MD-82, came into operation in 1979 and has been involved in at least ten fatal crashes, with an overall loss of 1,000 lives

Ultra-Slim USB Keyboard

Looking for a keyboard to match the Super-Slim USB Mouse and the World’s Smallest Bluetooth Dongle? Maybe this palm-sized USB 2.0 model will be right up your alley.


* USB 2.0
* 77 keys, well arranged
* Small in size, light in weight
* Support Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000/XP
* Size: 218*110*14mm
* Weight: 220g

The USB Slim Keyboard is available from the gadget4all.com website for $22.

Rotatable iPod Alarm Clock

This black stylish L-shaped alarm clock is “specifically designed to take advantage of the iPod Touch’s variable aspect screen.” This means that the clock display will adjust if you would decide to rotate the device to watch a video on the iPod.


* Wake and sleep to your iPod music or movies
* Change orientation to watch videos
* EXB Expanded Bass and Reson8 speaker technology for great sound
* Charges iPod
* Stylish space-saving design fits any decor
* Battery backup maintains time/alarm settings during power failures
* Aux/MP3 line-in jack for non-docking iPod models, MP3/CD players and other audio devices
* Snooze bar
* Remote Control Included

The iH41BR - Rotatable Alarm Clock for iPod Touch is available from the Home Audio website for $79.99. A remote control is also included in the price.

School robots divide experts over teaching of phonics

"Wow," says Charlie, five, when he first sees Red the Robot.

"He doesn't look like a robot," says his best friend, Roxy, also five. "Robots aren't usually that ugly."

The two children from London's East End are learning to read using phonics at school. They sound out the letters using perfect phonetic pronunciation and seem confident using Red's scanner on the pages of the book to identify the right letters and short words.
Four-year-olds love a cuddly toy - especially one that can speak, has flashing lights and is allowed in class. Red the Robot is all those things, but he won't play Power Rangers. Instead, he wants to sit down to some good, old-fashioned phonics.

An army of Red the Robots is being deployed in schools and nurseries to help pupils as young as three learn to read. The 40cm-high toy can read stories and quiz pupils on their ABCs. Its manufacturer says it captures the imagination of children put off by traditional classes at a time when the government is desperately worried about children's literacy skills.

But it has been labelled a gimmick by opponents of phonics, the well-established but sometimes controversial method of teaching reading whereby children learn each sound then go on to decipher whole words. Red - rapid educational development - costs £130, inclusive of reading material. About 200 have been bought by schools and three local authorities have signed up to distribute them through primaries.

Academics at the Institute of Education who undertook an evaluation in three schools concluded that the robot "makes learning fun" where used appropriately. Children seemed to love it but teachers were "less inclined" to allow the robot to take the whole class. Dylan Wiliam, acting head of the institute, says: "The research on the use of such technology shows that when it is well-designed it can actually be better than teaching even by the best teachers."

Its manufacturer, Headstart, the educational wing of the toy company Impact International, says it could become an important aid to improving reading and writing. Representatives have had meetings with the Qualification and Curriculum Authority in an attempt to win the government's backing.

But some child experts expressed concern. Sue Palmer, author of Toxic Childhood, said: "Robots can't teach. The only effective teaching is by breathing, living teachers who can look a pupil in the eye and respond to them."

It comes amid a battle over the inclusion of phonics in new targets for nurseries and childminders. From September all early years providers will have to show that children are reaching 69 separate goals by the time they start school at the age of four or five.

One says they must be able to "use phonic knowledge to write simple words and make phonetically plausible attempts at more complex words". The children's authors Philip Pullman and Michael Morpurgo have joined dozens of academics to oppose the reforms.

Margaret Edgington, of the OpenEye campaign, set up to oppose the government's proposals, said: "Of course children might take to it but that does not necessarily mean it's good for them. Three-year-olds should not be doing phonics. They should do what's normal in nurseries: singing, rhyming and playing."

But Red is having a bad day. Sometimes he forgets which book he's reading. Sometimes his mind drifts and he goes quiet in the middle of one of the exercises, which are designed to be perfectly in tune with what Charlie and Roxy are learning at school.

Usually there would be a teacher or assistant to sort the problems out but we all look at the robot a bit disappointedly.

"I'm bored," declares Charlie.

What's good about Red? "He's red," says Roxy.

What's bad about Red? "He doesn't work," says Charlie.

Who's better, the robot or your teacher? "The robot," says Charlie.

Charlie and Roxy settle in to playing "teachers" with the robot and an assortment of cuddly toys. Ten minutes later Red the Robot is happily teaching penguins to cross a road safely.

R2-D2 Projection Alarm Clock

Wesco Limited, a toy manufacturer in Cheshire, England, will later this year release release a projection alarm clock in the shape of the popular Star Wars R2-D2 character.

Artoo will be able to tell you the current time in two ways; with large red digits projected on your wall, or from the small LCD display located on the front of the can-shaped astromech droid.
The R2-D2 Projection Alarm Clock from Wesco Limited will be released in October and can now be pre-ordered from Play.com (£17.99) or Amazon UK ( £19.99).

Nymph - Insect Inspired Lamp

Nymph, as in “the immature form of some insects”, is the name of this odd and cool looking lamp by Site Specific Design - an interior and furniture design company based in Brooklyn, New York.

Body made of a two-part fiberglass mold- white lacquer finish. Light covers made of Corian. Legs 5/8” hollow steel tubes each curve is unique to its location- white powder coat finish.
The Nymph lamp measures 19(H) x 15(W) x 31(L) inches and will set you back $2,600.

Lisco USB Snake - Wearable Computer Accessory

Lisco, created by the Finnish designer Laurent Hongisto, is a USB cable that you can wear in a fashionable manner, like a bracelet around your wrist.

You can use the USB snake to recharge your mobile through your laptop while travelling, transfer your pictures from your camera or just use it as a data cable for your portable hard drives.
Head over to Yanko Design for some more pictures of the Lisco USB Snake.

Philips LivingColors LED Lamp - Mini Edition

Remember the beautiful LivingColors LED Lamp from last year? Philips is now about to release a mini version, featuring 256 different color modes.

Although smaller in size the Mini LivingColors still emits an amazing amount of light like its predecessor. The unit itself now looks even better and would fit into a multitude of environments, whether that’s an office or bedroom or living room! You can change your room dramatically in an instant without the need for a single drop of paint.

The lamp has integrated with the colour wheel which means no more searching for the remote control! It can stay static on any one of 256 variables or can continuously loop for the ultimate party effect!

* Change the colour of you walls as often as you change your mind
* Choose from 256 different colours or loop continuously
* Long lasting high powered LEDs (red, green, and blue)
* Intuitive colour wheel to select colour
* Energy consumption 7.5 W
* 230-240 v
* Light Output: 70 Lumen
* White or black units fit with most decors.

The Philips Mini LivingColors is expected to arrive at the end of September 2008 and can be pre-ordered from Red5 for £85 (about $166 USD).