German coppers track wrong DNA for two years

A hunt for a killer in Germany was hampered because police were chasing DNA that belonged to a factory worker who packaged the cotton used to collect evidence.

Authorities said the factory worker’s DNA was found at 39 crime scenes. Police pursued the trail for two years before realizing that the DNA collected at the crime scenes came from the cotton ball maker.

Bild reported Thursday that police had linked the killer to seven homicides, including a 2007 slaying in which a 22-year-old policewoman in Heilbronn was shot dead and her colleague was seriously injured.

Bernd Meiners, a spokesman for the public prosecutor’s office in Saarbrucken, acknowledged the mistake Wednesday. “There are considerable doubts about the existence of the ‘phantom killer’. The DNA has instead been linked to investigation materials,” he was quoted as saying.

These guys will never get a job in CSI.

Darwin Award candidate

A woman may have been distracted by talking on her cellphone when she walked into the side of a truck and was crushed to death under its wheels on Front Street in downtown Toronto, police said.

According to investigators, a delivery truck was making a turn from Blue Jays Way onto Front Street just as the 28-year-old woman started across Front Street. Because she was on her cellphone at the time, police said, she didn’t notice the truck, and walked right into the side of it. She fell to the street and was run over by the truck’s rear wheels, police said.

“There’s no way to say definitively yes or no, but it certainly didn’t help that she was talking on the phone while trying to cross a relatively busy street,” said police Sgt. Steve Burrows.

She was pronounced dead at the scene. Police have not released her name.

Police have not announced any charges against the driver of the truck.

She certainly qualified.

G20 summit will test resolve on greener economy

Daylife/Getty Images

A G20 summit next week will test leading countries’ appetite to fight climate change after spending trillions bailing out banks and shoring up the global economy…

“We need a very clear signal that the G20 views this as broader than fixing a financial crisis,” said Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN Environment Program.

“When you see $100 billion going into rescuing one or two companies you have to ask yourself is this the most rational way of dealing with a (climate) threat that will have far greater economic consequences and human suffering…”

G20 powers could confirm next Thursday their commitment to forge a new climate treaty in Copenhagen, and urge spending wherever possible of a $2 trillion-3 trillion global stimulus on “green” causes, analysts say…

Applying environmental conditions to stimulus spending may also pare state aid and protectionism fears. But the fight against recession inevitably means that the climate cash left will have to lever private sector money.

Governments could get more for their buck by guaranteeing private sector loans, or under-writing “green bonds” where pension and insurance funds invested in clean energy…

“(Making) government spending work very, very hard in terms of leveraging private capital… that fits very much with the Copenhagen agenda,” HSBC analyst Nick Robins said.

It all begins to look like the world’s largest PR campaign and balancing act.

Though – I think – it is possible to use the Keynesian amendments to government support dependent upon Green conditions. I think we can count on that from the Obama delegation and at least lip service from Gordon Brown and Angela Merkel. The latter two are sneaking up on elections and look ready to topple over to the Right at the drop of a single molecule of fossil fuel. – a homeless video website is something special

BTW – watch the video all the way to the end

When Sean Dolan saw signs being carried by homeless people, he saw an opportunity.

He and his father wanted to drive people to a Web site, so they created as a marketing tool and gave a homeless man a sign with the Web site’s address to hold while panhandling in Houston.

Their idea worked.

Visitors seeing the sign flocked to the site and in less than two months Dolan received $50,000 in donations and pledges through the site for the man, including a five-week alcohol treatment program donated by Sunray Treatment and Recovery based near Seattle, Washington.

“We knew that the same campaign with a sincere appeal and a Web site like would be ignored,” he said. “We knew that if we insulted people’s sensitivity or appealed to their humor on a subject as sensitive as this we would get their attention.”

Kevin Dolan, with more than two decades of marketing and sales experience and his son, Sean, a Web-savvy college student with a small video camera and a passion for volunteer work, got the site off the ground with the help of Timothy Dale Edwards. He has been homeless and living under a busy Houston overpass for more than four years.

The Dolans’ offer to Timothy Edwards would be a hard one for any homeless person to refuse: $100 cash per day guaranteed, perhaps even more if the campaign was successful. All Edwards had to do was carry a homemade sign advertising while he panhandled each day.

Interesting tale. There’s a lot more to it than I’m posting here as a teaser. Read it and reflect.

Girls threatened with porn charge sue prosecutor – UPDATED


One summer night in 2007, a pair of 13-year-old northeastern Pennsylvania girls decided to strip down to their skivvies to beat the heat.

As Marissa Miller talked on the phone and Grace Kelly flashed a peace sign, a third girl took a candid shot of the teens in their white bras.
It was harmless, innocent fun, the teens say.

But the picture somehow wound up on classmates’ cell phones, and a prosecutor has threatened to charge Miller and Kelly with child pornography or open lewdness unless they participate in a five-week after-school program followed by probation.

On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union asked a federal judge to block Wyoming County District Attorney George Skumanick Jr. from filing charges, saying that the teens didn’t consent to having the picture distributed and that the image is not pornography, in any event.

Skumanick said he would fight the lawsuit. “Frankly, we just wanted to protect these kids…

The ACLU’s lawsuit claims…the photos are protected First Amendment speech.

Basic premise #1: people who think images distributed electronically are like carrying a single copy to show a friend and, then, bringing it back home safely are too ignorant for polite description.

Basic premise #2: 19th Century moralists in cop suits are about as useful to the process of moderating communications between human brings as a cast-iron gag. The all-seeing eye of someone who’s growing old awaiting his turn to run for governor.

UPDATE: The ACLU and the girls won their case and the judge has ordered charges dropped. Bravo for common sense.

The biggest toy story in the world

Daylife/Reuters Pictures

It’s quite easy, wandering round the small town of Billund, to start believing in the existence of a Lego god. You can’t help but feel a master intelligence is at work here – the place is so manifestly wholesome, the street plan so well ordered, the pavements so tidy. Unostentatious automobiles proceed slowly along all-but-empty roads, stopping politely for pedestrians nowhere near a zebra crossing. A jovial red-and-yellow Lego giant points towards the town centre; huge coloured bricks lie scattered as if awaiting deployment in some exemplary new civic amenity (except that, being Denmark, it’s not immediately apparent what else the town might need).

I half-expect to be plucked from the pavement, brushed up a bit and plumped down in front of the smart rectangular building labelled Head Office: Lego A/S. My goal here is to find out how, in the teeth of global recession and barely five years since it was being read the last rites, one of the world’s best-loved brands has come back from the dead. For Lego, born of an earlier and tougher depression, is positively revelling in this one: the little studded, primary-coloured bricks are selling like never before. In Britain alone, the company’s turnover last year was up 51%.

Its home town, though, is a bit too much for some people. “I couldn’t ever live here,” admits Mads Nipper, who looks and – when it comes to plastic bricks – acts about 12, but turns out to be one of the company’s executive vice-presidents. “I’m nuts about Lego, believe me; I eat, sleep and breathe the stuff. But there’s a bit too much of it around here even for me.”

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Young Indians say “Thanks – but, no thanks” to American dream

The golf course is in Bangalore
Daylife/Getty Images

For decades, the United States beckoned as the land of opportunity for bright, young Indians, lured by the prospect of prestigious university degrees followed by jobs on Wall Street or in Silicon Valley.

Indians have since 2001 been the largest foreign student population on American campuses, comprising around 15 percent of all international students at colleges and universities in the United States, according to the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi.

But now, the economic crisis that has sent the U.S. economy into its worst recession in decades, has tarnished the sheen of the ‘American Dream’ for many Indians who are opting for university studies and career opportunities at home.

America’s loss may be India’s gain, analysts say, pointing to a ‘reverse brain drain’ that may see India reaping benefits for years to come as some of its smartest and most talented people put their energies into India’ economy, Asia’s third-largest.

“The brain drain has already begun to reverse. Now there are many magnets pulling the best talent. Before, the U.S. was where everyone wanted to go,” said Vivek Wadhwa, a U.S.-based Indian academic who has written a paper on the issue. India’s economy has boomed at around 9 percent growth in each of the last three years, lifting millions out of poverty and creating a generation of affluent and ambitious young Indians…

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Police seek ‘Plasma Pat’ in TV parking lot discount scam

He’s a TV salesman offering an unbelievable deal — and police say you don’t want to do business with him.

Dubbing himself “Plasma Pat, the TV Discount Guy,” he allegedly took cash from Wal-Mart shoppers, promising to use his employee discount to get them a good deal on a TV set, police said…

Police in Largo, Florida, a city near Tampa on the state’s gulf coast, circulated security pictures of “Plasma Pat,” and now can put a name to the alliterative nickname. Investigators say their suspect is 60-year-old Joseph Wesley Torma, and they’ve just released a mug shot from a recent arrest in Polk County, Florida…

He allegedly befriended people outside Wal-Mart stores, telling his victims that he worked at the store, and that he could use his employee discount to get them a good deal on a major purchase.

Then, police said, he took their cash, walked into the store through one door — and out another, leaving his victims in the parking lot.

Police say they believe that Torma has left the area, and may be headed to Texas, but they have not explained why.

I guess the reporter means the police haven’t explained how they know he’s gone to Texas. I can guess why. Har!

You pay to have a computer pray for you – WTF?

Information Age Prayer is a site that charges you a monthly fee to say prayers for you. A typical charge is $4.95 per month to say three prayers specified by you each day.

“We use state of the art text to speech synthesizers to voice each prayer at a volume and speed equivalent to typical person praying,” the company states. “Each prayer is voiced individually, with the name of the subscriber displayed on screen.”

Prices, however, are dictated by the length of the prayer. As noted in the Information Age Prayer FAQ, “A discounted prayer will cost less than other prayers of similar length.”

I agree with Bill Christensen the writer of this piece – “Bow your head and click, that you might see the story more clearly.”