Police ask gun shop owners for help tracking serial killer. Local NRA gun nuts go ballistic!

If you bought a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson Sigma series pistol in 2004 or 2005, Daytona Beach police want your personal information.

They think it could help them catch a serial killer.

Daytona Beach police Chief Michael J. Chitwood sent letters to gun shops across Central Florida asking for the names, addresses and phone numbers of customers who purchased that type of gun during that time frame.

Police think a serial killer shot three prostitutes — and possibly another woman — to death using that weapon. It’s the newest lead they are following aggressively in the stalled six-year investigation.

“Forensic tests revealed that all of the victims were killed with the same type of weapon …,” reads a follow-up letter from Chitwood that one of the gun-shop owners shared with the Orlando Sentinel. “These weapons were shipped to you by Smith & Wesson or a gun wholesaler during the period of 01/01/2004 through 12/31/2005. This information would greatly assist in the investigation of these homicides.”

Gun advocates are blasting the initiative, saying the information police are seeking is illegal to collect in Florida, but serial-killer experts applaud it for invigorating a cold case…

The problem is that Florida law prohibits law enforcement or any other government agency from requesting and compiling the personal information of gun buyers. And that’s why the move by police is enraging gun advocates, such as those at the National Rifle Association, who have fought for strong laws that prohibit the creation of a gun registry in Florida.

“What are they trying to do? Show up on someone’s doorstep and ask to see their gun?” asked Marion Hammer, a National Rifle Association lobbyist in Tallahassee. “This is exactly what the law was intended to stop. They [police] need to read the law…”

Complicating Chitwood’s initiative is the lack of a comprehensive national system of gun registration, something law enforcement has long pushed for.

I’ve been a hunter and a gun owner for over a half-century and never could comprehend the paranoia that some gun nuts have over registration. Not that I have a boatload of confidence in the federal government.

But, I trust the NRA and teabagger gun nuts even less.

Prince and the death of the internet. Har!


Which flower is the narcissus?

In a curious, and, if you’ll excuse my cynicism, rather well-publicized statement this week, Prince has announced the death of the internet.

The internet’s completely over,” Prince said, quoted in the British tabloid newspaper The Daily Mirror. “I don’t see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else. They won’t pay me an advance for it, and then they get angry when they can’t get it.”

Meanwhile, Prince has decided to repeat the practice he made in 2007 of releasing his new album, “20TEN,” exclusively as a free giveaway with this Saturday’s edition of the Mirror.

No doubt he is being paid a healthy sum, which brings up the question: Where does the term “free” fit in here?

Buyers of the newspaper are paying for it, albeit at much less than a standard CD retail price…

Prince will benefit from the heightened publicity, both from the readers and from the wider news generated across the media, including the internet. And he will doubtless be making more money from ticket sales to his future concerts.

But well done, Prince. Your outburst has generated massive publicity, and got us talking yet again about the extraordinary changes the internet continues to bring to our lives.

And how little Prince contributes either to our lives – or to music.

Mystery code in Cyber Command logo

The U.S. military’s new Cyber Command is headquartered at Ft. Meade, Maryland, one of the military’s most secretive and secure facilities. Its mission is largely opaque, even inside the armed forces. But the there’s another mystery surrounding the emerging unit. It’s embedded in the Cyber Command logo.

On the logo’s inner gold ring is a code: 9ec4c12949a4f31474f299058ce2b22a

“It is not just random numbers and does ‘decode’ to something specific,” a Cyber Command source tells Danger Room. “I believe it is specifically detailed in the official heraldry for the unit symbol.”

“While there a few different proposals during the design phase, in the end the choice was obvious and something necessary for every military unit,” the source adds. “The mission.”

There are lots of terrific comments from those who wanted to play – and those wanting to solve the question.

My favorite from the former being ““I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

The real answer is over here.

Hobbyist with a conscience finds huge stash of Roman coins


Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

One of the largest ever finds of Roman coins in Britain has been made by a man using a metal detector.

The hoard of more than 52,000 coins dating from the 3rd Century AD was found buried in a field near Frome in Somerset. The coins were found in a huge jar just over a foot below the surface by Dave Crisp, from Devizes in Wiltshire…

After his metal detector gave a “funny signal”, Mr Crisp says he dug down 14in before he found what had caused it.

“I put my hand in, pulled out a bit of clay and there was a little Radial, a little bronze Roman coin. Very, very small, about the size of my fingernail.”

Mr Crisp reported the find to the authorities, allowing archaeologists to excavate the site…

The coins were all contained in a single clay pot. Although it only measured 18in across, the coins were packed inside and would have weighed an estimated 350lb.

“I don’t believe myself that this is a hoard of coins intended for recovery,” says Sam Moorhead from the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

“I think what you could see is a community of people who are actually making offerings and they are each pouring in their own contribution to a communal ritual votive offering to the gods…”

Because Mr Crisp resisted the temptation to dig up the coins, it has allowed archaeologists from Somerset County Council to carefully excavate the pot and its contents,” said Anna Booth, local finds liaison officer.

Bravo, Mr. Crisp.

I hope the find is declared a national treasure – so museum purchase of the coins goes to Dave Crisp and the landowner.

E.U. border guards capture garlic smuggler

Nordic customs officials have arrested a truck driver after he tried to illegally import 28 tons of Chinese garlic into the European Union.

The driver was intercepted last month as he drove the pungent truckload from Norway, which is outside the EU and where garlic is exempt from customs’ duties, into Sweden, where garlic is subject to a 9.6 percent EU-wide duty.

Smuggling of cheaply produced Chinese garlic into the EU is on the rise, with around 1,200 tons brought into the 27-nation bloc via Norway since 2009, according to the European Anti-Fraud Office, known as OLAF.

“The interception of the lorry was the result of a carefully prepared initiative coordinated by OLAF,” the EU said in a statement. “This action came about due to the excellent cooperation provided by Norwegian and Swedish customs.”

Whoop-de-fracking-doo.

I don’t believe any nation can have too much garlic.

Imposing a duty of almost 10% is just crap protectionism. Not that that is outside the framework of most EU political decisions, anyway.

Australians breed biggest, tastiest prawn in the world

Scientists claim to have bred the largest and tastiest prawn yet in an attempt to satisfy the Australian appetite for the shellfish.

After 10 years of careful breeding and research, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) scientists have created a larger tiger prawn which will reduce the need to import the popular seafood platter and barbecue food.

The scientists used DNA fingerprinting to identify the natural genetic traits or characteristics that are most desirable and favourable, such as faster growing, bigger size and better colour. Those prawns were then used to breed the larger Tiger prawns.

Bruce Lee, director of the CSIRO’s Food Future Flagship, said: “You can now produce prawns, particularly at times of the year when you want them fresh. In Australia one would like to have fresh prawns at Christmas time.”

“The advantages are you can now do this sustainably, that is you don’t have to trawl nets across the ocean floor to take prawns from the ocean,” said Mr Lee.

I recently spent a sizable portion of someone else’s spare time describing the wonders of CSIRO and their contributions to national and international life, renewable energy and sensible science. Now, I find there are folks toiling away within their domain in Oz with a sense of what goes well with extra virgin olive oil and garlic.

I’m even more impressed.