July 30, 2014

The navigator and last surviving crew member of the Enola Gay, Theodore "Dutch" Van Kirk, died Monday in Stone Mountain, Georgia. He was 93.

Born in Northumberland, Pennsylvania, Van Kirk became an Army Air Forces cadet in 1941. He flew 58 missions in Europe and North Africa, The New York Times reports, and went to Utah in 1944 for training. At the time, he didn't know he was preparing to drop an atomic bomb. In 2005, Van Kirk told Time that his colonel said to him, "'We're going to do something that I can't tell you about right now, but if it works, it will end or significantly shorten the war.' And I thought, 'Oh, yeah, buddy, I've heard that before.'"

During an interview with The New York Times, Van Kirk recalled flying over Hiroshima and the moment of impact. He said he felt "a sense of relief," and upon returning to the base was greeted by "more generals and admirals than I had ever seen in one place in my life."

He retired in 1946 as a major, and received the Silver Star and Distinguished Flying Cross. Van Kirk went back to school and earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Bucknell University, eventually becoming a marketing executive with DuPont. He never shied away from the role he played in ending World War II, saying, "We were fighting an enemy that had a reputation for never surrendering, never accepting defeat. Where was the morality in the bombing of Coventry, or the bombing of Dresden, or the Bataan Death March, or the Rape of Nanking, or the bombing of Pearl Harbor? I believe that when you're in a war, a nation must have the courage to do what it must to win the war with a minimum loss of lives."

6:38 a.m. ET
Andrew Taylor/G20 Australia via Getty Images

Last November, before Australia hosted a group of world leaders at a koala-hugging G20 summit, a staffer in the country's Department of Immigration and Border Protection accidentally emailed the passport numbers and other personal information about President Obama and 30 other world leaders to the local organizers of the Asian Cup soccer tournament, The Guardian reports.

"The cause of the breach was human error," the director of the Visa Services Support and Major Events department wrote in an email asking for guidance from Australia's privacy commissioner. The unidentified bureaucrat "failed to check that the autofill function in Microsoft Outlook had entered the correct person's details into the email 'To' field. This led to the email being sent to the wrong person." The compromised information included the "name, date of birth, title, position nationality, passport number, visa grant number, and visa subclass held relating to 31 international leaders," the official noted, adding that the Asian Cup people deleted all copies of the email.

The Guardian obtained the email through Australia's freedom of information law, noting that the visa manager's decision to not inform the world leaders about the breach — "Given that the risks of the breach are considered very low and the actions that have been taken to limit the further distribution of the email, I do not consider it necessary to notify the clients of the breach" — may violate some of the countries' privacy laws. For more details, read the entire email, or The Guardian's report.

Iran and the bomb
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On Sunday, with a hard deadline for a framework agreement on its nuclear program two days away, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi told the Iranian media that Iran will not ship its enriched uranium to Russia or anywhere else for conversion to rods incapable of fueling atomic weapons. "The export of stocks of enriched uranium is not in our program," he said. "There is no question of sending the stocks abroad."

Western diplomats noted that there are other ways of rendering Iran's nuclear fuel unusable in weapons, such as diluting it or turning it into pellets inside Iran. Outside experts disagree on how much of a setback this is for the talks, or even whether shipping the uranium abroad was ever really on the table. The issue of Iran's stockpile hasn't been part of this final round of negotiations, an unidentified senior State Department official said in a statement. "There have been viable options that have been under discussion for months, including shipping out the stockpile. But resolution is still being discussed."

Talks are expected to continue up until the deadline at the end of March 31.

Science says
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Liver cancer is the second-deadliest type of cancer worldwide, and the London-based World Cancer Research Fund has a new report out examining what factors appear to contribute to liver cancer, and what helps people survive it. On the contributing-factor side, the WCRF study found that three or more alcoholic drinks a day increases the risk of liver cancer — the same conclusion as in the body's last look at liver cancer in 2007.

In new findings, though, the WCRF discovered "strong evidence that drinking coffee is linked to a decreased risk of liver cancer," for reasons that aren't yet clear. "Both coffee and coffee extracts have also been shown to reduce the expression of genes involved in inflammation, and the effects appear to be most pronounced in the liver," the researchers suggest. This evidence comes largely from animal studies, "although some human studies contribute to the evidence," the study adds.

Other risk factors for liver cancer are obesity and being overweight — a new finding — and consuming aflatoxins, produced by a type of mold found on food stored improperly in warmer parts of the world. The researchers based their conclusions on 34 studies from around the world involving 8.2 million adults, 24,500 of whom had liver cancer. You can read the report at the WCRF's site.

Foreign affairs
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Sebastian Scheiner-Pool/Gett Images

On Monday, the Jerusalem District Court found Ehud Olmert guilty of accepting bribes before becoming Israeli prime minister in 2006. Olmert had been acquitted of the charges, which include accepting envelopes stuffed with cash from U.S. businessman Morris Talansky, in 2012. But after former top aide Shula Zaken turned state witness and produced recordings of him and Olmert talking about the cash payments, Olmert was retried. His lawyers say they will probably appeal the verdict. Before Olmert was forced to resign over the bribery allegations in 2009, he maintained that he was on the verge of an historic peace deal with the Palestinians.

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This year's Passover is the last for the Streit's matzo factory on Manhattan's Lower East Side, and Streit's is the last company making the traditional Jewish Passover bread in the rapidly gentrifying, formerly Jewish neighborhood. Streit's has been in the Lower East Side since World War I, and at its current location — occupying four former tenement buildings — since 1925.

Strait's is America's last large family-owned matzo manufacturer — its main competitor is Manischewitz — and it isn't closing shop, but rather moving to a more modern facility somewhere else in the New York City area. Already selling some five million pounds of matzo a year, for $20 million in sales, the company is actually finding it hard to keep up with growing demand.

Still, this is a loss for the neighborhood, says historian Annie Polland at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. "For decades, immigrant Jews and their descendants have made 'pilgrimages' back to the Lower East Side — the Jewish Plymouth Rock — to reconnect with their history, and of course, delight in the shopping and eating that gives the neighborhood its flavor," she tells The Associated Press. "With the Streit's closure, you have a significant chapter of Jewish Lower East Side history closing." Watch AP's video report on Streit's below. —Peter Weber

March Madness
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Elsa/Getty Images

On Sunday night, No. 1 seed Duke beat No. 2 Gonzaga, 66-52, sending the Blue Devils on to the men's Final Four semifinals in Indianapolis. In their 16th Final Four appearance — the 12th with Coach Mike Krzyzewski — Duke will face Michigan State, which beat Louisville in an exciting overtime upset. The seventh-seeded Spartans topped the fourth-seeded Louisville Cardinals, 76-70. The Gonzaga Zags haven't made it to the Final Four in 17 straight NCAA tournament appearances. With 12 Final Four contests, Duke's Coach K will tie UCLA's John Wooden for most appearances by a head coach.

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On Sunday, New York City fire fighters pulled two bodies from the wreckage of the three buildings in Manhattan's East Village that collapsed after an explosion on Thursday. The two bodies have been identified as Nicholas Figueroa, 23, and Moises Ismael Locón Yac, 27, the only two people reported missing. Figueroa was on a lunch date at Sushi Park, a restaurant in the building at the center of the explosion, and Yac, a Guatemalan immigrant, was a busboy at the restaurant.

Officials are still investigating the cause of the explosion, but early indications point to unsafe tampering with a gas line in Sushi Park's building at 121 Second Ave. Watch an emotional New York Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro announce the discoveries in the Associated Press video below. —Peter Weber

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