Archive for the ‘Real Estate’ Category

Microsoft launches BizTalk Server 2006 R2 with RFID integration in Taiwan

Thursday, September 13, 2007

On Tuesday, Microsoft launched BizTalk Server 2006 R2 with Radio-frequency Identification (RFID) technology in Taiwan. Microsoft Taiwan held a launch seminar with “Pulse the Operations with the Communication of Enterprises” topic and invited hardware and software companies to highlight the integration of RFID, SOA, and EDI with BizTalk Server 2006 R2.

At the press conference, Steven Martin (Director of Product Management for BizTalk® Server Product Group at Microsoft Corp.) mentioned the improvements to BizTalk Server 2006 R2 and the lower costs, which could increase the opportunities for enterprises. Martin also praised Taiwan for having an environment conducive to the development of RFID technology, and suggested that was the reason Microsoft Global Headquarters chose Taiwan as the first location for the product launch.

Aside from seminars and exhibitions, Microsoft Taiwan also welcomed Chang Jung Christian University, Telecommunication Laboratories of Chunghwa Telecom Co., Ltd., Tekho Inc., Formosa Petrochemical Co., Ltd., and Quanta Computer lnc. to introduce their solutions from their earlier integration and show the strength of RFID technologies in Taiwan.

After the launch series in Taiwan, Microsoft Global Headquarters announced that the next launch for BizTalk Server 2006 R2 would be Sydney, Australia on September 13, followed by Chicago, United States on October 2.

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Microsoft launches BizTalk Server 2006 R2 with RFID integration in Taiwan

U.S. Supreme Court overturns Arthur Andersen conviction

Wednesday, June 1, 2005

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned a witness tampering conviction against accounting firm Arthur Andersen LLP for destroying documents related to now-bankrupt energy giant Enron Corp. The verdict virtually put Andersen, once one of the largest accounting firms in the world and the fifth-largest in the United States, out of business.

In a unanimous opinion written by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, the court threw out the verdict due to serious flaws in the jury instructions. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals had upheld Andersen’s June 15, 2002 conviction in Houston.

In the court’s view, the instructions allowed the jury to convict Andersen without proving that the firm knew it broke the law or that there was a link to any official proceeding that prohibited the destruction of documents. “The jury instructions at issue simply failed to convey the requisite consciousness of wrongdoing,” Rehnquist wrote. “Indeed, it is striking how little culpability the instructions required.” Rehnquist’s opinion also expressed grave skepticism at the government’s definition of “corrupt persuasion”–persuasion with an improper purpose even without knowing an act is unlawful. “Only persons conscious of wrongdoing can be said to ‘knowingly corruptly persuade,’ ” he wrote.

The ruling came very quickly, as oral arguments in the case had taken place on April 27. Justice Department attorneys claimed Andersen employees were instructed “undertake an unprecedented campaign of document destruction” in order to impede a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into Enron’s conduct. Deputy Solicitor General David Dreeben likened Andersen’s behavior to “shredding its smoking guns.”

However, Maureen Mahoney, arguing for Andersen, countered that the employees involved merely followed the company’s policy on destroying unneeded documents, and that the shredding occurred before Andersen received a subpoena on November 8, 2001. She also claimed that under the government’s legal definition of “corrupt persuasion,” acquittal was virtually impossible.

The justices seemed to indicate which way they were leaning very early in oral arguments, as they peppered the government lawyers with hostile remarks.

Justice Antonin Scalia called the government’s theory of prosecution “weird.” Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was particularly troubled by the trouble the jury initially had sifting the evidence. “If this thing is so confusing,” she asked, “how is a businessperson supposed to know? How is a lawyer supposed to know?”

Andersen’s appeal was backed by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. In a friend-of-the-court brief, the association claimed that the government’s broad definition of “corrupt persuasion” put defense lawyers at risk for prosecution simply for advising clients of their rights to assert legal privileges or review document retention policies.

Despite the ruling, which returns the case to the Fifth Circuit, it is highly unlikely Andersen will ever return as a viable business. It lost nearly all of its clients after its indictment, and was forced to shut down its American accounting practice due to federal laws that forbid convicted felons from auditing public companies. The firm still faces more than 100 civil suits related to its audits of Enron and other companies. Once 28,000 employees strong, the Chicago-based Andersen is now down to around 200 employees who are largely occupied with handling the civil suits and other details of winding down the partnership.

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U.S. Supreme Court overturns Arthur Andersen conviction

Debian to shutdown public File Transfer Protocol services

Friday, April 28, 2017

Debian, a free and open source (FOSS) Linux-based operating system, on Tuesday announced they are to shut down Debian’s public File Transfer Protocol (FTP) in November, via their official website. The public FTPs are to be redirected to Hyper-Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP) from November 1.

On Debian’s announcement list, Cédric Boutillier, a Debian developer, called the file transfer protocol “inefficient”, saying “FTP servers have no support for caching or acceleration.” Boutillier also added that FTP servers are rarely used. For over a decade, Debian installers have not supported FTP access on mirrors. This decision, however, would not affect the developer services, which would still support FTP.

FTP came into existence about 46 years ago for transferring files between two machines, without encryption. According to Boutillier, FTP “requires adding awkward kludges to firewalls and load-balancing daemons.” HTTP, which came after FTP, was designed for data flow between servers and clients. Popular Linux distros like Kali Linux and Canonical’s Ubuntu are based on Debian. The following websites are to be redirected to HTTP — rather than secure HTTPS — after October without changing the domain names:

  1. http://ftp.debian.org
  2. http://security.debian.org

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Debian to shutdown public File Transfer Protocol services

UK nears US in cyber-crime, ahead of Nigeria, Romania

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The United Kingdom is listed second in a report on global cyber-crime statistics, behind the United States and ahead of cyber-crime “hotspots” Nigeria and Romania. The 2007 Internet Crime Report was released in April by the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), a joint operation between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National White Collar Crime Center.

Americans reported losses of US$240 million from global cyber-crime in 2007, a $40 million increase from 2006. The Internet Crime Complaint Center received 206,884 complaints of online fraud in 2007, a decrease from the previous year’s 207,492 complaints.

FBI special agent John Hambrick, in charge of the IC3 unit, told the Agence France-Presse “We’re seeing more schemes involving bigger ticket items, get-rich-quick and work-at-home schemes that involve higher dollar losses”. As the report only includes figures from crimes reported to law enforcement, it is likely that real crime numbers were higher.

We’re seeing more schemes involving bigger ticket items, get-rich-quick and work-at-home schemes that involve higher dollar losses.

FBI Cyber Division Assistant Director James E. Finch commented on the report: “The Internet presents a wealth of opportunity for would be criminals to prey on unsuspecting victims, and this report shows how extensive these types of crime have become … What this report does not show is how often this type of activity goes unreported. Filing a complaint through IC3 is the best way to alert law enforcement authorities of Internet crime.”

In response to the report’s release, the information technology consultancy Global Secure Systems (GSS) warned that the United Kingdom is becoming a hotbed of internet crime. According to the report, the UK accounts for 15.3 per cent of online crime from US crime reports. “This is significantly ahead of other cyber-crime hotspots such as Nigeria (5.7 per cent) and Romania (1.5 per cent),” said David Hobson, managing director of GSS, in an interview with vnunet.com.

The scammer tries to prey on victims who are kind of in tune with what’s going on in the world. The scam changes, but ultimately they’re preying on the good will of people.

The 2007 Internet Crime Report cites the top ten countries by amount of perpetrators of online crime. In descending order, the top ten list includes the United States, the United Kingdom, Nigeria, Canada, Romania, Italy, Spain, South Africa, Russia, and Ghana. Scammers living within the United States most often lived in California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Men lost more money to online fraud than women in 2007, and also accounted for 75 percent of cyber-crime perpetrators.

FBI spokeswoman Cathy Milhoan told CIO Today that online scammers attempt to take advantage of the good will of individuals, asking for money for purported charities during crises. “The scammer tries to prey on victims who are kind of in tune with what’s going on in the world. The scam changes, but ultimately they’re preying on the good will of people,” said Milhoan.

The most widely reported complaint was Internet auction fraud at 35.7 per cent of referred crime complaints. Other online criminal activities cited in the report include non-delivery of purchases and credit/debit card fraud, computer intrusions, spam/unsolicited e-mail, and child pornography. The report also seeks to raise awareness of other types of cyber-crimes, and describes steps individuals can take both to prevent internet crime, and to report it if they have been victimized.

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UK nears US in cyber-crime, ahead of Nigeria, Romania

Icelandic Internet bank suspends UK accounts

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Icelandic internet bank, Icesave, has suspended all 300,000 of its UK customer accounts, leaving account holders in the United Kingdom unable to withdraw or deposit any funds. A message on its website posted this morning states:

“We are not currently processing any deposits or any withdrawal requests through our Icesave internet accounts. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause our customers. We hope to provide you with more information shortly.”

The internet bank, owned by the Icelandic bank, Landsbanki (Landsbankinn), which was recently nationalised in an attempt to rescue it, has been hit by the global financial crisis. Reports from the United Kingdom suggest that the traders and city are preparing for the parent company to be declared insolvent, leaving customers to recover their monies through a financial compensation scheme being backed by the Icelandic Government. The plan will cover the first € 20,887 (Approx £16,300 / $28,720), the remainder of the customers funds being recovered through the UK’s own financial compensation system.

Following the decision to nationalise Landsbanki, the Icelandic Prime Minister, Geir Haarde, who introduced and signed the emergency legislation into law, stated:

“What we are doing here is saving a banking system – saving the domestic banking system – and making sure that it can function properly. And I think, also, through our declaration on domestic deposits in these banks and saving institutions, we have been able to avoid a run on the banks here, and therefore prevent it.”

In describing and explaining its actions in nationalising the bank, the Icelandic Financial Supervisory Authority issued this brief statement:

“Based on new legislation, the Icelandic Financial Supervisory Authority (IFSA) proceeds to take control of Landsbanki to ensure continued commercial bank operations in Iceland. Domestic deposits are fully guaranteed, as declared by the government. Landsbanki’s domestic branches, call centres, cash machines and internet operations will be open for business as usual.”

In response to the deepening world financial situation, the Dutch government has this afternoon increased its savers protection from €38,000 to €80,000 effective immediately, to help secure the financial status of its savers within Holland. Icesave also has a Dutch branch, icesave.nl – their website was unreachable at the time of this article.

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Icelandic Internet bank suspends UK accounts

News briefs:May 21, 2010

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Turtlestack, Mikemoral
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Turtlestack, Diego Grez
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News briefs:May 21, 2010

Satanism: An interview with Church of Satan High Priest Peter Gilmore

Monday, November 5, 2007

In the 1980’s and the 1990’s there were multiple allegations of sexual abuse of children or non-consenting adults in the context of Satanic rituals that has come to be known as The Satanic Panic. In the United States, the Kern County child abuse cases, McMartin preschool trial and the West Memphis 3 cases garnered worldwide media coverage. One case took place in Jordan, Minnesota, when children made allegations of manufacturing child pornography, ritualistic animal sacrifice, coprophagia, urophagia and infanticide, at which point the Federal Bureau of Investigation was alerted. Twenty-four adults were arrested and charged with acts of sexual abuse, child pornography and other crimes related to satanic ritual abuse; only three went to trial with two acquittals and one conviction. Supreme Court Justice Scalia noted in a discussion of the case, “[t]here is no doubt that some sexual abuse took place in Jordan; but there is no reason to believe it was as widespread as charged,” and cited the repeated, coercive techniques used by the investigators as damaging to the investigation.

One of the most visible Satanic organizations—though one that was never a suspect or charged in any of the Satanic Panic cases—is the Church of Satan, founded by Anton LaVey. Members of the Church, such as Peter H. Gilmore, Peggy Nadramia, Boyd Rice, Adam Parfrey, Diabolos Rex, and musician King Diamond, were active in media appearances to refute allegations of criminal activity and the FBI would later issue an official report debunking the criminal conspiracy theories of this time.

Gilmore feels Satanists are often misunderstood or misrepresented. LaVey’s teachings are based on individualism, self-indulgence, and “eye for an eye” morality, with influence from Friedrich Nietzsche and Ayn Rand; while its rituals and magic draw heavily from occultists such as Aleister Crowley. They do not worship—nor believe in—the Devil or a Christian notion of Satan. The word “Satan” comes from the Hebrew word for “adversary” and originated from the Abrahamic faiths, being traditionally applied to an angel. Church of Satan adherents see themselves as truth-seekers, adversaries and skeptics of the religious world around them.

On a windy October day in Central Park, Wikinews reporter David Shankbone sat down with the High Priest of the Church, Peter H. Gilmore, who has led LaVey’s congregation of Satanists since his passing in 1997 (he became the High Priest in 2001). They discussed the beliefs of the Church, current events, LaVey’s children and how Satanism applies to life and the world.

Contents

  • 1 Theistic Satanism (‘devil worship’)
  • 2 Church of Satan 101
  • 3 On current events and politics
  • 4 Religious and Satanic symbols
  • 5 The Iraq War: A Satanic perspective
  • 6 On New York City
  • 7 Marilyn Manson
  • 8 On the church after Anton LaVey
  • 9 Anton LaVey’s children and estate
  • 10 Sources

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Satanism: An interview with Church of Satan High Priest Peter Gilmore

Judge orders residents and city to come to agreement on partially collapsed building in Buffalo, New York

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Buffalo, New York — Judge Justice Christopher Burns of the New York State Supreme Court has ordered a halt to an emergency demolition on a 19th century stable and livery on 428-430 Jersey Street in Buffalo, New York that partially collapsed on Wednesday June 11, initially causing at least 15 homes to be evacuated. At least two homes remain evacuated.

Burns orders that both the city and the group Save The Livery (www.savethelivery.com) have to come to an agreement on what to do with the building, and try to work out ways of saving at least some portions if it including the facade, side walls and a lift tower. Save The Livery is comprised of concerned area residents who have grown to love the building’s historic and unique character. On June 14, they won a temporary restraining order to stop demolition. The court ruled that the city was only allowed to remove material in immediate danger to residents and pedestrians, but stated that the demolition could only be performed with “hand tools.” The court also ordered that any rubble which had fallen into neighboring yards when the building collapsed, to be removed.

“It is in the interest of the city to have a safe environment–but also important to maintain a sense of historical preservation,” stated Burns in his ruling. Burns has given the sides until tomorrow (Friday June 20) to come to an agreement and has ordered both parties to return to court at 9:30 a.m. (eastern time) “sharp.” Activists of Save The Livery urge supporters of the stable to “fill the courtroom” to show “continued and ongoing support.” The hearing is scheduled to take place at 25 Delaware Avenue in the Supreme Court building, 3rd Floor, trial part 19.

Currently the building is owned by Bob Freudenheim who has several building violations against him because of the buildings poor condition. He has received at least five violations in three months and residents who live near the building state that Freudenheim should be “100% responsible” for his actions. Many are afraid that if the building is demolished, Freudenheim’s charges of neglect will be abolished.

On June 17, developer and CEO of Savarino Companies, Sam Savarino was at the site of the stable, discussing the building with residents and preservationists. In 2006, Savarino proposed and planned The Elmwood Village Hotel, a ‘botique’ hotel on the Southeast corner of Elmwood and Forest Avenues. The project was later withdrawn after residents filed a lawsuit against Savarino and the city. Wikinews extensively covered the story, and contacted Savarino for his professional opinion on the building.

“[I would] love to see it preserved. I was there to see if there was anything we could do to help, to see if anything can be salvaged. I just want to see the right thing happen, and so does the city,” stated Savarino to Wikinews who added that he was allowed inside the building for a brief period.

“The side walls are beyond repair. The roof has rotted and it could come down at any time,” added Savarino who also said that the building “below the second floor appears to be stable.” He also states that the back wall of the building, which borders several homes, appears to be intact.

“Eliminating the back wall could be a problem for the neighbors. It is not unreasonable to leave at least 12 feet” of the back wall standing, added Savarino.

Savarino did not say if he was interested in buying the property, but did state, “I am sure there are a couple of people interested” in buying the property. On Thursday, Buffalo News reported that a “businessman” might be interested in purchasing the property, though Wikinews is not able to independently confirm the report. Savarino says that with the property still slated for emergency demolition, a potential buyer could face tax fees of nearly US$300,000.

Freudenheim gave the city permission to demolish the building on Thursday June 12 during an emergency Preservation Board meeting, because he would not be “rehabilitating the building anytime soon.” Freudenheim, along with his wife Nina, were part-owners of the Hotel Lenox at 140 North Street in Buffalo and were advocates to stop the Elmwood Village Hotel. They also financially supported a lawsuit in an attempt to stop the hotel from being built. Though it is not known exactly how long Freudenheim has owned the stable, Wikinews has learned that he was the owner while fighting to stop the hotel from being built. Residents say that he has been the owner for at least 22 years.

The building was first owned by a company called White Bros. and was used as a stable for a farm which once covered the land around the building for several blocks. The Buffalo Fire Department believes the building was built around 1814, while the city property database states it was built in 1870. Servants and workers of the farm were housed inside resident quarters situated at the rear of the building on what is now Summer Street, but are now cottages where area residents currently reside. Some date as far back as 1829.

At about 1950, the stable was converted into an automobile body shop and gasoline station.A property record search showed that in 1950 at least four fuel storage tanks were installed on the property. Two are listed as 550 square feet while the other two are 2,000 square feet. All of the tanks are designated as a TK4, which New York State says is used for “below ground horizontal bulk fuel storage.” The cost of installing a tank of that nature according to the state, at that time, included the tank itself, “excavation and backfill,” but did not include “the piping, ballast, or hold-down slab orring.” It is not known if the tanks are still on the property, but residents are concerned the city was not taking the precautions to find out.

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Judge orders residents and city to come to agreement on partially collapsed building in Buffalo, New York

National Museum of Scotland reopens after three-year redevelopment

Friday, July 29, 2011

Today sees the reopening of the National Museum of Scotland following a three-year renovation costing £47.4 million (US$ 77.3 million). Edinburgh’s Chambers Street was closed to traffic for the morning, with the 10am reopening by eleven-year-old Bryony Hare, who took her first steps in the museum, and won a competition organised by the local Evening News paper to be a VIP guest at the event. Prior to the opening, Wikinews toured the renovated museum, viewing the new galleries, and some of the 8,000 objects inside.

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Dressed in Victorian attire, Scottish broadcaster Grant Stott acted as master of ceremonies over festivities starting shortly after 9am. The packed street cheered an animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex created by Millenium FX; onlookers were entertained with a twenty-minute performance by the Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers on the steps of the museum; then, following Bryony Hare knocking three times on the original doors to ask that the museum be opened, the ceremony was heralded with a specially composed fanfare – played on a replica of the museum’s 2,000-year-old carnyx Celtic war-horn. During the fanfare, two abseilers unfurled white pennons down either side of the original entrance.

The completion of the opening to the public was marked with Chinese firecrackers, and fireworks, being set off on the museum roof. As the public crowded into the museum, the Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers resumed their performance; a street theatre group mingled with the large crowd, and the animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex entertained the thinning crowd of onlookers in the centre of the street.

On Wednesday, the museum welcomed the world’s press for an in depth preview of the new visitor experience. Wikinews was represented by Brian McNeil, who is also Wikimedia UK’s interim liaison with Museum Galleries Scotland.

The new pavement-level Entrance Hall saw journalists mingle with curators. The director, Gordon Rintoul, introduced presentations by Gareth Hoskins and Ralph Applebaum, respective heads of the Architects and Building Design Team; and, the designers responsible for the rejuvenation of the museum.

Describing himself as a “local lad”, Hoskins reminisced about his grandfather regularly bringing him to the museum, and pushing all the buttons on the numerous interactive exhibits throughout the museum. Describing the nearly 150-year-old museum as having become “a little tired”, and a place “only visited on a rainy day”, he commented that many international visitors to Edinburgh did not realise that the building was a public space; explaining the focus was to improve access to the museum – hence the opening of street-level access – and, to “transform the complex”, focus on “opening up the building”, and “creating a number of new spaces […] that would improve facilities and really make this an experience for 21st century museum visitors”.

Hoskins explained that a “rabbit warren” of storage spaces were cleared out to provide street-level access to the museum; the floor in this “crypt-like” space being lowered by 1.5 metres to achieve this goal. Then Hoskins handed over to Applebaum, who expressed his delight to be present at the reopening.

Applebaum commented that one of his first encounters with the museum was seeing “struggling young mothers with two kids in strollers making their way up the steps”, expressing his pleasure at this being made a thing of the past. Applebaum explained that the Victorian age saw the opening of museums for public access, with the National Museum’s earlier incarnation being the “College Museum” – a “first window into this museum’s collection”.

Have you any photos of the museum, or its exhibits?

The museum itself is physically connected to the University of Edinburgh’s old college via a bridge which allowed students to move between the two buildings.

Applebaum explained that the museum will, now redeveloped, be used as a social space, with gatherings held in the Grand Gallery, “turning the museum into a social convening space mixed with knowledge”. Continuing, he praised the collections, saying they are “cultural assets [… Scotland is] turning those into real cultural capital”, and the museum is, and museums in general are, providing a sense of “social pride”.

McNeil joined the yellow group on a guided tour round the museum with one of the staff. Climbing the stairs at the rear of the Entrance Hall, the foot of the Window on the World exhibit, the group gained a first chance to see the restored Grand Gallery. This space is flooded with light from the glass ceiling three floors above, supported by 40 cast-iron columns. As may disappoint some visitors, the fish ponds have been removed; these were not an original feature, but originally installed in the 1960s – supposedly to humidify the museum; and failing in this regard. But, several curators joked that they attracted attention as “the only thing that moved” in the museum.

The museum’s original architect was Captain Francis Fowke, also responsible for the design of London’s Royal Albert Hall; his design for the then-Industrial Museum apparently inspired by Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace.

The group moved from the Grand Gallery into the Discoveries Gallery to the south side of the museum. The old red staircase is gone, and the Millennium Clock stands to the right of a newly-installed escalator, giving easier access to the upper galleries than the original staircases at each end of the Grand Gallery. Two glass elevators have also been installed, flanking the opening into the Discoveries Gallery and, providing disabled access from top-to-bottom of the museum.

The National Museum of Scotland’s origins can be traced back to 1780 when the 11th Earl of Buchan, David Stuart Erskine, formed the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland; the Society being tasked with the collection and preservation of archaeological artefacts for Scotland. In 1858, control of this was passed to the government of the day and the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland came into being. Items in the collection at that time were housed at various locations around the city.

On Wednesday, October 28, 1861, during a royal visit to Edinburgh by Queen Victoria, Prince-Consort Albert laid the foundation-stone for what was then intended to be the Industrial Museum. Nearly five years later, it was the second son of Victoria and Albert, Prince Alfred, the then-Duke of Edinburgh, who opened the building which was then known as the Scottish Museum of Science and Art. A full-page feature, published in the following Monday’s issue of The Scotsman covered the history leading up to the opening of the museum, those who had championed its establishment, the building of the collection which it was to house, and Edinburgh University’s donation of their Natural History collection to augment the exhibits put on public display.

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Selection of views of the Grand GalleryImage: Brian McNeil.

Selection of views of the Grand GalleryImage: Brian McNeil.

Selection of views of the Grand GalleryImage: Brian McNeil.

Closed for a little over three years, today’s reopening of the museum is seen as the “centrepiece” of National Museums Scotland’s fifteen-year plan to dramatically improve accessibility and better present their collections. Sir Andrew Grossard, chair of the Board of Trustees, said: “The reopening of the National Museum of Scotland, on time and within budget is a tremendous achievement […] Our collections tell great stories about the world, how Scots saw that world, and the disproportionate impact they had upon it. The intellectual and collecting impact of the Scottish diaspora has been profound. It is an inspiring story which has captured the imagination of our many supporters who have helped us achieve our aspirations and to whom we are profoundly grateful.

The extensive work, carried out with a view to expand publicly accessible space and display more of the museums collections, carried a £47.4 million pricetag. This was jointly funded with £16 million from the Scottish Government, and £17.8 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Further funds towards the work came from private sources and totalled £13.6 million. Subsequent development, as part of the longer-term £70 million “Masterplan”, is expected to be completed by 2020 and see an additional eleven galleries opened.

The funding by the Scottish Government can be seen as a ‘canny‘ investment; a report commissioned by National Museums Scotland, and produced by consultancy firm Biggar Economics, suggest the work carried out could be worth £58.1 million per year, compared with an estimated value to the economy of £48.8 prior to the 2008 closure. Visitor figures are expected to rise by over 20%; use of function facilities are predicted to increase, alongside other increases in local hospitality-sector spending.

Proudly commenting on the Scottish Government’s involvement Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, described the reopening as, “one of the nation’s cultural highlights of 2011” and says the rejuvenated museum is, “[a] must-see attraction for local and international visitors alike“. Continuing to extol the museum’s virtues, Hyslop states that it “promotes the best of Scotland and our contributions to the world.

So-far, the work carried out is estimated to have increased the public space within the museum complex by 50%. Street-level storage rooms, never before seen by the public, have been transformed into new exhibit space, and pavement-level access to the buildings provided which include a new set of visitor facilities. Architectural firm Gareth Hoskins have retained the original Grand Gallery – now the first floor of the museum – described as a “birdcage” structure and originally inspired by The Crystal Palace built in Hyde Park, London for the 1851 Great Exhibition.

The centrepiece in the Grand Gallery is the “Window on the World” exhibit, which stands around 20 metres tall and is currently one of the largest installations in any UK museum. This showcases numerous items from the museum’s collections, rising through four storeys in the centre of the museum. Alexander Hayward, the museums Keeper of Science and Technology, challenged attending journalists to imagine installing “teapots at thirty feet”.

The redeveloped museum includes the opening of sixteen brand new galleries. Housed within, are over 8,000 objects, only 20% of which have been previously seen.

  • Ground floor
  • First floor
  • Second floor
  • Top floor

The Window on the World rises through the four floors of the museum and contains over 800 objects. This includes a gyrocopter from the 1930s, the world’s largest scrimshaw – made from the jaws of a sperm whale which the University of Edinburgh requested for their collection, a number of Buddha figures, spearheads, antique tools, an old gramophone and record, a selection of old local signage, and a girder from the doomed Tay Bridge.

The arrangement of galleries around the Grand Gallery’s “birdcage” structure is organised into themes across multiple floors. The World Cultures Galleries allow visitors to explore the culture of the entire planet; Living Lands explains the ways in which our natural environment influences the way we live our lives, and the beliefs that grow out of the places we live – from the Arctic cold of North America to Australia’s deserts.

The adjacent Patterns of Life gallery shows objects ranging from the everyday, to the unusual from all over the world. The functions different objects serve at different periods in peoples’ lives are explored, and complement the contents of the Living Lands gallery.

Performance & Lives houses musical instruments from around the world, alongside masks and costumes; both rooted in long-established traditions and rituals, this displayed alongside contemporary items showing the interpretation of tradition by contemporary artists and instrument-creators.

The museum proudly bills the Facing the Sea gallery as the only one in the UK which is specifically based on the cultures of the South Pacific. It explores the rich diversity of the communities in the region, how the sea shapes the islanders’ lives – describing how their lives are shaped as much by the sea as the land.

Both the Facing the Sea and Performance & Lives galleries are on the second floor, next to the new exhibition shop and foyer which leads to one of the new exhibition galleries, expected to house the visiting Amazing Mummies exhibit in February, coming from Leiden in the Netherlands.

The Inspired by Nature, Artistic Legacies, and Traditions in Sculpture galleries take up most of the east side of the upper floor of the museum. The latter of these shows the sculptors from diverse cultures have, through history, explored the possibilities in expressing oneself using metal, wood, or stone. The Inspired by Nature gallery shows how many artists, including contemporary ones, draw their influence from the world around us – often commenting on our own human impact on that natural world.

Contrastingly, the Artistic Legacies gallery compares more traditional art and the work of modern artists. The displayed exhibits attempt to show how people, in creating specific art objects, attempt to illustrate the human spirit, the cultures they are familiar with, and the imaginative input of the objects’ creators.

The easternmost side of the museum, adjacent to Edinburgh University’s Old College, will bring back memories for many regular visitors to the museum; but, with an extensive array of new items. The museum’s dedicated taxidermy staff have produced a wide variety of fresh examples from the natural world.

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At ground level, the Animal World and Wildlife Panorama’s most imposing exhibit is probably the lifesize reproduction of a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton. This rubs shoulders with other examples from around the world, including one of a pair of elephants. The on-display elephant could not be removed whilst renovation work was underway, and lurked in a corner of the gallery as work went on around it.

Above, in the Animal Senses gallery, are examples of how we experience the world through our senses, and contrasting examples of wildly differing senses, or extremes of such, present in the natural world. This gallery also has giant screens, suspended in the free space, which show footage ranging from the most tranquil and peaceful life in the sea to the tooth-and-claw bloody savagery of nature.

The Survival gallery gives visitors a look into the ever-ongoing nature of evolution; the causes of some species dying out while others thrive, and the ability of any species to adapt as a method of avoiding extinction.

Earth in Space puts our place in the universe in perspective. Housing Europe’s oldest surviving Astrolabe, dating from the eleventh century, this gallery gives an opportunity to see the technology invented to allow us to look into the big questions about what lies beyond Earth, and probe the origins of the universe and life.

In contrast, the Restless Earth gallery shows examples of the rocks and minerals formed through geological processes here on earth. The continual processes of the planet are explored alongside their impact on human life. An impressive collection of geological specimens are complemented with educational multimedia presentations.

Beyond working on new galleries, and the main redevelopment, the transformation team have revamped galleries that will be familiar to regular past visitors to the museum.

Formerly known as the Ivy Wu Gallery of East Asian Art, the Looking East gallery showcases National Museums Scotland’s extensive collection of Korean, Chinese, and Japanese material. The gallery’s creation was originally sponsored by Sir Gordon Wu, and named after his wife Ivy. It contains items from the last dynasty, the Manchu, and examples of traditional ceramic work. Japan is represented through artefacts from ordinary people’s lives, expositions on the role of the Samurai, and early trade with the West. Korean objects also show the country’s ceramic work, clothing, and traditional accessories used, and worn, by the indigenous people.

The Ancient Egypt gallery has always been a favourite of visitors to the museum. A great many of the exhibits in this space were returned to Scotland from late 19th century excavations; and, are arranged to take visitors through the rituals, and objects associated with, life, death, and the afterlife, as viewed from an Egyptian perspective.

The Art and Industry and European Styles galleries, respectively, show how designs are arrived at and turned into manufactured objects, and the evolution of European style – financed and sponsored by a wide range of artists and patrons. A large number of the objects on display, often purchased or commissioned, by Scots, are now on display for the first time ever.

Shaping our World encourages visitors to take a fresh look at technological objects developed over the last 200 years, many of which are so integrated into our lives that they are taken for granted. Radio, transportation, and modern medicines are covered, with a retrospective on the people who developed many of the items we rely on daily.

What was known as the Museum of Scotland, a modern addition to the classical Victorian-era museum, is now known as the Scottish Galleries following the renovation of the main building.

This dedicated newer wing to the now-integrated National Museum of Scotland covers the history of Scotland from a time before there were people living in the country. The geological timescale is covered in the Beginnings gallery, showing continents arranging themselves into what people today see as familiar outlines on modern-day maps.

Just next door, the history of the earliest occupants of Scotland are on display; hunters and gatherers from around 4,000 B.C give way to farmers in the Early People exhibits.

The Kingdom of the Scots follows Scotland becoming a recognisable nation, and a kingdom ruled over by the Stewart dynasty. Moving closer to modern-times, the Scotland Transformed gallery looks at the country’s history post-union in 1707.

Industry and Empire showcases Scotland’s significant place in the world as a source of heavy engineering work in the form of rail engineering and shipbuilding – key components in the building of the British Empire. Naturally, whisky was another globally-recognised export introduced to the world during empire-building.

Lastly, Scotland: A Changing Nation collects less-tangible items, including personal accounts, from the country’s journey through the 20th century; the social history of Scots, and progress towards being a multicultural nation, is explored through heavy use of multimedia exhibits.

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National Museum of Scotland reopens after three-year redevelopment

Hurricane-force winds kill 15 people as storm hits Europe

Sunday, January 25, 2009

As a storm swept across parts of France and Spain on Saturday and Sunday, it left 15 people dead. Its winds were recorded up to 190km/h (118 mph), which are hurricane-force winds.

The storm made landfall near to Bordeaux, France at 5:00 am Central European Time on Saturday the 24th January. It traveled south-eastwards towards the south-east coast of France throughout Saturday morning, finally reaching there at 1:00 pm. It is expected to head north-eastwards over Italy and the Adriatic Sea, but without causing damage. Low pressure systems are fairly common in Europe at this time of year. Some reports have called it the storm of the decade; BBC meteorologist Alex Deakin said “Saturday’s storm is being described as the most damaging since that of December 1999 which killed 88 people.”

Four children aged between 9 and 12 died at a sports hall in Sant Boi de Llobregat, near Barcelona. The children intended on playing baseball, but sought shelter inside a covered area made of concrete with a corrugated iron roof. The structure collapsed, as a result of the wind. Local people and fire-fighters were at the scene in aiding children to escape the rubble. Three children died at the scene, a fourth died in hospital and 16 have been treated for injuries.

Other fatalities include a woman, who died after a wall collapsed and a man struck by a falling tree in the Barcelona area. In Landes, south-west France, a falling tree struck a driver; a 78-year-old man was hit by debris and another man, aged 75, was crushed by a tree. A wall crushed a man in Aigues de Busot in the south-east of Spain. A policeman was struck by a falling tree as he directed traffic in Burela and a sailor from a cargo ship died when the vessel got into trouble off the coast of Galicia. In Burgos, Spain, a woman was crushed by a door.

Approximately 1.7 million homes in France and tens of thousands of homes in Spain experienced power cuts. A woman, aged 73, died in France after a power-outage stopped her breathing machine. Road and rail links were blocked and airports closed. Airports in Bordeaux, Biarritz, Pau and Toulouse were shut, as well as train services, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded overnight.

Michèle Alliot-Marie, the French interior minister, stated that in addition to the 300 civil security agents located in the Landes region of France, another 715 agents would be deployed. She also expressed her intent to fly there today, after the high winds have decreased. French President Nicolas Sarkozy told reporters he would travel to the affected area tomorrow. In Bordeaux’s Gironde region, 19 residents of a retirement home were evacuated by rescuers following its rooftop being blown away. Authorities have also evacuated campers from the pine forests in Landes.

Thousands were evacuated from nearby housing estates in La Nucía, north of Benidorm in Alicante, as the Spanish Army helped to fight a forest fire, which was started by a felled electricity pylon. There were also forest fires in the region of Catalonia, while Spain put emergency services on high alert. Waves over 20 metres high were registered off the northern coast of Spain and dolphins were stranded on beaches in the region as a result of high winds.

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Hurricane-force winds kill 15 people as storm hits Europe