Massive DNA search for killer rapist in London

Michelle Samaraweera’s sister appeals for help

An unprecedented DNA sweep of residents in 9,000 homes has been launched by detectives in a desperate race to catch a murderer and serial rapist who strikes towards the end of each month.

In a huge operation murder squad detectives have been drafted in from all over London to help complete the canvassing of houses within a 3.4 mile-wide perimeter in Walthamstow, east London.

Senior commanders know it will take at least a month to take a DNA swab from every male matching the description of the attacker and fear another woman will be attacked within days.

The rapist has assaulted at least three women, murdering his last victim and leaving her in a children’s playground.

All men that fit the description of the attacker are being asked to voluntarily give a mouth swab. If they refuse they face further investigation.

Detective Superintendent Vic Rae, from the Homicide and Serious Crime command, who is leading the hunt, said: “This guy has attacked three women in three months and we have got to do everything within our powers to apprehend him before he strikes again. Our concern is that he will strike again before the end of the month.”

RTFA. Stark, scary, provoking a massive police action throughout this community.

The discussion can and should open up to all the relevant questions of civil liberties: Will the coppers destroy unneeded DNA samples? How much time will be spent on the uncooperative?

But, Issue Number 1 remains the task of catching this thug.

Family finds house bulldozed: “Paperwork and GPS coordinates led the demolition crew”

To Al Byrd and his family, the house contained 2,200 square feet of memories.

His father, Raymond, had built the brick-and-concrete home in 1950 with his bare hands.

Al Byrd of Sandy Springs got a phone call Monday telling him that his family home in Carroll County had been torn down. The steps remain….

“Why did you knock this house down?” Byrd said he asked members of a Marietta demolition company Tuesday morning.

Byrd said a representative of North Georgia Container told him the company was hired by another company, Southern Environmental Services, to raze the home. And that company was hired by Fore Star Property, according to the sheriff’s department report….

Byrd was told paperwork and GPS coordinates led the demolition crew to 11 Byrd Trail. He said no company ever contacted him before leveling the house.

Charlsie Otieno, 60, Al Byrd’s youngest sister, fondly remembers learning her ABCs on the back porch. It was one of the few structures left standing. “This is like a death. It really is.”

The wonders of technology do no good in the hands of fools.

Attempt to open New York State Senate Falters

A day in the life of corrupt political power struggles in the NY State Legislature. It has little to do with democracy. Nothing to do with representing the electorate.

Republicans used a mysterious set of keys to force their way into the Senate chamber for the first time since their leadership coup on Monday. Protesters chanted “Senate not for sale” and banged on the chamber’s windows while Republicans tried to convene. And the Republicans’ vow to resume the session fizzled after one of the two dissident Democrats they were depending on for a quorum, Hiram Monserrate of Queens, walked out of the chamber shortly after the proceedings began…

“The dysfunction and chaos in the Senate has wasted an entire week of the people’s business,” a clearly irritated Gov. David A. Paterson said in a statement released Thursday. He has been largely relegated to the sidelines during the dispute.

By day’s end, it was clear that the balance of power in the state’s upper house — and the very gears of state government — continued to rest in the hands of Mr. Monserrate, who was indicted in March on charges of slashing his female companion with a broken glass.

As he was leaving the Senate chamber, a Republican staff member dashed after him, pleading, “Senator, we need you back in there.” But Mr. Monserrate said he was committed to recruiting more Democrats to join the coalition and would be holding meetings all day in hopes of doing so, even as those Democrats were simultaneously trying to woo him back to their side.

“This chamber must not remain divided,” he said. “You can’t have coalition government with 2 Democrats and 30 Republicans.”

There were many other developments throughout the day.

Tales of the most reactionary trying to form a coalition with the ineffectual are nothing strange to folks out here in the Southwest. A few years back New Mexicans helped to house and hide Democrats who had to flee Texas under threat of arrest from the Republikan majority in their legislature. If you could call it that.

Meanwhile, the debacle in New York State continues. Tune in next week to see who’s appointed king.

Exploring the ‘Google Forest’ in Mozambique

Mozambique — Five years ago, few knew there was a forest here. Its discovery by the scientific community is down to a very 21st-Century research tool.

“I used Google Earth to locate all the mountains over 1,500m that were closest to Mount Mulanje in Southern Malawi,” Dr Julian Bayliss, head of the cross-border conservation project, told me.

Mount Mabu was selected through Google Earth as one of these sites.”

Dr Bayliss’s project, funded through a British scheme called the Darwin Initiative, looked for similarities between different patches of medium altitude rainforest. When images of Mount Mabu were analysed, it became clear that there was a large patch of dark green of which there was no official record.

A quickly arranged visit to northern Mozambique confirmed what Dr Bayliss had suspected.

“It was at that stage I realised that we were dealing with what looks like the biggest rainforest in Southern Africa,” he said.

Travelling with Dr Bayliss and a team of scientists on to Mabu, I saw what had so excited them. Unlike most of the forests in southern Africa there was no sign of any logging or burning having taken place. The 7,000 hectares of Mount Mabu are in pristine condition.

RTFA. Enjoy the excitement of discovery. Listen in on the thoughts of scientists exploring an island of life that no one thought existed.

Great stuff.

I’ve done local archaeological work using Google Earth. I live on one of the traces of El Camino Real – the royal highway from Mexico City to Colonial Santa Fe. I found and traced ancient ruts across the southern half of the Caja del Rio with Google Earth. Then, walked the route. Just for the fun of it.

SOLD! Bobby Fischer’s Chess Collection — $61,000

Rex and Jeanne Sinquefield have purchased the chess library of the legendary Bobby Fischer, including notebooks he prepared for his 1972 World Championship match with Boris Spassky. The Sinquefields acquired the collection through San Francisco-based auction house, Bonhams and Butterfields.

“I am thrilled to have this collection from arguably the greatest chess player in history,” said Rex Sinquefield, founder and board president of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. “I have been a lifelong fan of Bobby Fischer.”

The reclusive Fischer died in January 2008 at age 64. The collection purchased by the Sinquefields includes 320 books on chess; about 400 issues of chess-related periodicals; three sets of proofs for Fischer’s 1969 book, “My 60 Memorable Games”; and a number of bound volumes detailing the match histories of several chess masters, including Spassky.

The Spassky-related works centers on Fischer’s preparation for his historic 1972 match, won by Fischer. The victory ended 24 years of Soviet domination of the World Championship….

I, along with many others, have followed the tale of the Bekins storage debacle. If all the materials are in fact in order, this is a happy ending. Well, except that Fischer himself never got the stuff back. Details, details. I am happy for the buyers, and happy that the buyers turned out to be chess patrons who will understand the value and significance of what they have received.

Continue reading

Voter turnout in Iran is unprecedented – UPDATED

I’ll have a roundup later in the day. Just wanted to put up a couple of photos of voter turnout.

Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Uncle Sugar kept his oil-stained fingers out of the pot this time. Maybe the people of Iran will have a chance at change.

UPDATE: Polling places in many districts staying open 4 hours after scheduled closing time to allow everyone in line a chance to vote.

UPDATE: It appears that Ahmadinejad has won a stunning victory. Poll predictors in Iran had better learn to travel outside the student districts.

Unlike American reactionaries, the Iranian sectarians have learned to provide their base something more than ideology and war. Butter has triumphed – over the guns of progressive ideology in rural and poor districts of Iran. Like Hezbollah and Hamas, Ahmadinejad’s supporters understand the value of providing material benefits for their ideological base.

Discoveries inside dreams

Scientists believe that a nap can boost creative thought and help problem-solving. So what major breakthroughs in science and the arts have been made during sleep..?

Scientists believe so-called REM sleep allows the brain to form new nerve connections without the interference of other thought pathways that occur when we are awake or in non-dreamy sleep.

Anecdotal evidence from some key figures in the arts and science suggests there could be some truth in this.

Here is one example of major discoveries made in dreams…

“Yesterday” by The Beatles is one of the world’s most well-known songs and according to the Guinness Book of Records, the song with the most cover versions.

Paul McCartney has spoken about how the melody came to him in a dream. He was staying in a small attic room in London in 1965, while the band were filming Help!.

He woke up with a tune in his head, he said, and immediately decided to play it.

“I got out of bed, sat at the piano, found G, found F sharp minor 7th – and that leads you through then to B to E minor, and finally back to E. It all leads forward logically…

He was still unsure whether he had merely repeated someone else’s song so he played it to anyone who would listen, but no-one could identify it. Many fans have tried to do the same.

RTFA. Four more examples of similar experience in science, sport and art.

When I was writing a great deal – and a light sleeper at the time – I used to keep a notebook at my bedside to jot down whatever I recalled from a restless night’s sleep. Some of it was pretty good. Some was trash, of course. Especially, I recall, if I was excited and transcribed my thoughts in BIG PRINT.