Thieves leave behind a valuable clue – their 4-year-old son

John Benson and Sheakia Stubbs wanted to look like legitimate shoppers last weekend when they walked into a South Street jewelry store they planned to rob, police said. They decided the best way to complete the ruse was to bring along their 4-year-old son.

But with $50,000 in stolen rings stuffed into a shopping bag, and the store owner and an employee giving chase, police said, the couple abandoned their child to make their escape.

When police caught up with the suspects at a Roosevelt Boulevard motel just after midnight, Benson and Stubbs didn’t seem too concerned about the boy.

They didn’t ask us anything about the son,” said Police Officer Scott Brous, one of the arresting officers.

The boy, who was not harmed, was in the custody of the city Department of Human Services.

His parents face charges of attempted murder, robbery, conspiracy, and a host of other crimes.

“I think it’s unbelievable that you’d take a child with you to commit a crime,” said Capt. Laurence Nodiff, commander of South Detectives. “I think it’s reprehensible that . . . to make good on your escape, to leave your 4-year-old behind.”

Nodiff said the boy, who was not named, was able to help police identify his parents.

RTFA. These creeps shouldn’t be allowed to have a pet rock much less a child.

They are useless consumers of space and energy. I only hope their son – somehow – manages to escape their claim on him.

Tunick nude photo shoot in Sydney

Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

Some 5,200 Australians posed naked in front of the Sydney Opera House on Monday for a photo shoot by New York-based artist Spencer Tunick for another signature installation of nudes against urban backdrops.

On a chilly, overcast, first day of autumn, the mass nude photo shoot was titled “Mardi Gras: The Base” and meant to celebrate Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras last weekend.

As the sun rose, Tunick instructed participants to do a number of poses, from standing up, lying down, and even embracing cheek to cheek, for over an hour…

Some participants were surprised at how asexual, and leveling, the event was…

Tunick has produced almost 100 installations around the world, and says his work is not about exhibitionism or eroticism but instead reveals the vulnerability of life in a rough city landscape.

But that argument has not impressed authorities at home in the United States, where Tunick has been arrested seven times.

Anyone surprised?

E. Coli as sole indicator of water pollution called into question

In Ireland, bacterial contamination of water is a national concern, with the Environmental Protection Agency reporting that over 25% of groundwater samples were contaminated with E. coli in the 2004 to 2006 period. E. coli is the most important indicator used in Ireland and its presence indicates water is unfit for human consumption. It has long been thought that E. coli can only survive for short periods of time in the environment, hence its almost universal use as an indicator of recent faecal contamination of waterways.

However, new research investigating pathogen survival in Irish soils…has found that E. coli can become integrated into the indigenous microbial community in soils and survive for more than nine years, considerably longer than scientists initially thought.

This has important implications for the indicator status of E. coli, suggesting that the presence of E. coli in surface or groundwaters may not be indicative of recent faecal contamination,” explains researcher Fiona Brennan in TResearch magazine…

In conjunction with NUI Galway, Teagasc researchers are now using proteomics to investigate the unique properties of E. coli that allow it to persist in the soil for such long periods. Initial findings have found that the environmentally persistent E. coli produce specialised proteins, including ‘cold shock’ and ‘stress response’ proteins, which may assist in the survival and growth of the organism at lower temperatures. E. coli’s ability to survive for prolonged periods of time in soil may compromise its use as the sole indicator of faecal contamination of water.

I can just see 14 corporations, 3 research departments and a couple hundred waterworks managers going “cripes” – all at once.

Obviously a newer and more accurate test must be devised.

Online news more popular than newspaper hard copy in US

Of course, you could have someone online to read you the newspapers

Online news has become more popular than reading newspapers in the US, according to a survey. It is the third most popular form of news, behind local and national TV stations, the Pew Research Center said.

“News awareness is becoming an anytime, anywhere, any device activity for those who want to stay informed,” it said…

The survey showed that news aggregators such as Google News and AOL were most commonly used, along with the websites of CNN and the BBC.

Which is misleading without noting that sites like Google News reference online sites run by newspapers probably 99% of the time.

Sixty-one per cent of readers surveyed said they got their news online on a typical day, compared with 78% from local news channels and 71% from a national TV network such as NBC or cable channels such as CNN or Fox News.

Fifty-four per cent said they listened to radio news programmes at home or in the car.

More than 90% use more than one method to get news, and 57% consult between two and five websites as part of their newsgathering, the survey found.

Continue reading

McDonald v. Chicago creates challenges for the Supreme Court

Otis McDonald, 76, lives in Morgan Park, a tough Chicago neighborhood where the same youngsters who used to shoot hoops in his back yard are now threatening his life.

A law-abiding citizen, McDonald wants to keep a handgun in his home to protect himself against gangs but that’s against Chicago’s gun-control laws…

McDonald’s attempt to keep and use his weapon lawfully has been rejected by the trial court and the 7th U.S. Court of Appeals, both of which ruled in favor of the city. The U.S. Supreme Court takes up the issue Tuesday in McDonald vs. Chicago.

But allowing McDonald to have a gun for self-protection could mean huge upheavals in constitutional law, involving the Second and 14th amendments…We know what the 2nd Amendment arguments are. If you don’t, someone from the NRA will show up and repeat them 99 times.

The 14th Amendment, adopted in 1868, states: “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

The privileges and immunities clause and the due process clause are the ones through which federal rights might be imposed on the states. The states and their respective county and municipal governments would be required to recognize and uphold any rights thus “incorporated against” the states.

In 1873, however, the Supreme Court handed down a decision on consolidated cases that undercut the privileges clause…

The decision was never seriously challenged and so, throughout the ensuing 137 years, the privileges clause of the new amendment was essentially dead as a means to apply federal rights against the states because justices instead looked to the due process clause…

If the Supreme Court were to reinvigorate the privileges clause, it would overrule the Slaughterhouse Cases and would open the floodgates for challenges not only of the Second Amendment, but for wholesale incorporation of federally guaranteed freedoms as yet unincorporated against the states.

RTFA. Lots of details – including devils. Historically, states rights have been used as a defense for reactionary politics in the United States. But, that’s not a requirement cast in stone.

Our present Supreme Court is reactionary enough they may even wish to revisit 1873 and start afresh. Though style over substance still requires the inclusion of copout loopholes to avoid the least opportunity for progressive legislation. Hearings and decisions should be interesting. Stay tuned.

The number of bugs underfoot has doubled in Britain!

Unnoticed by the people of Britain, a transformation has been happening beneath our feet. In the first study of its kind, scientists have analysed the soil the country depends on.

In just the top 8cm of dirt, soil scientists estimate there are 12.8 quadrillion living organisms, weighing 10m tonnes, and, incredibly, that the number of these invertebrates – some just a hair’s breadth across – which in effect make the soil has increased by nearly 50% in a decade. At the same time, however, the diversity of life in the earth appears to have reduced.

The most likely reason for both the increase in numbers and the decrease in types is the rise of annual temperatures and rainfall over the decade of the study, leading to warmer, wetter summers, said Professor Bridget Emmett, of the UK’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), who led the study. The scientists’ theory is that the warmer, wetter soil encourages most of the bugs to breed faster or for longer, but that more marginal species have been unable to adapt to the new conditions.

They are less certain, however, about whether the changes are a threat or a boon: soil has a relatively high “species redundancy”, so there are many species that can do the same job, but all creatures are facing an onslaught of changes such as global warming, pollution and habitat destruction.

“If you look at the soil, most of it comes out of the back end of the animals,” said Emmett. She added: “The question is whether we have lost resilience in the soil. Is diversity important for the soil to bounce back after multiple pressures..?”

The decrease in the variety of species found was much smaller – 11% – and the scientists warn that further research is needed to be sure of the trends, because too little is known about whether climate, pollution and land management affect soil bugs and, if so, how.

Cripes. Now my curious bump is going to force me to track down similar info for the United States – or hopefully my own neck of the prairie. I’ve already noted on this blog species changes in lizards and birds.

Actually, I don’t doubt that extension bureaus, local farm bureaus, may already have comparable information – though I can easily guess what they will show for American agricultural regions. We’ve been using pesticides and chemical fertilizers for so long – striving for monocultures – I’ll bet diversity is down as much as mass may well be.

That’s only a guess. Kudos to the Brits for continuing and advancing their Countryside Study.