Animal pic of the day

This tube-nosed fruit bat is just one of the roughly 200 species encountered during two scientific expeditions to Papua New Guinea in 2009….

Though seen on previous expeditions, the bat has yet to be formally documented as a new species, or even named. Like other fruit bats, though, it disperses seeds from the fruit in its diet, perhaps making the flying mammal crucial to its tropical rain forest ecosystem.

In all, the expeditions to Papua New Guinea’s Nakanai and Muller mountain ranges found 24 new species of frogs, 2 new mammals, and nearly a hundred new insects.

Interesting Note: Papua New Guinea is one of the most diverse countries on Earth, with over 850 indigenous languages and at least as many traditional societies, out of a population of just under 7 million.

Sweden makes an arrest for racist shootings in Malmo

A man has been arrested in the Swedish city of Malmo over a series of gun attacks which targeted mainly immigrants in the south of the country.

The unnamed suspect was accused of committing one murder and seven attempted murders over the past 12 months. People were fired on at bus stops, in their cars and through a gym window…

A tip-off from a member of the public led to the arrest, police spokesman Borje Sjoholm told reporters in Malmo on Sunday.

The suspect is accused of attempted murders between October 2009 and October of this year, as well as one actual murder…

When they were satisfied they had enough evidence to make the arrest, they telephoned the man and asked him to step outside his flat.

The suspect did as he was told and did not offer resistance, the police spokesman said. He was being interrogated on Sunday…

The shootings made headlines in Sweden, spreading fear among immigrants about going out at night and sparking sharp criticism of the police.

“This is naturally a success in the investigation,” Malmo police chief Ulf Sempert said after Saturday’s arrest.

Has to be a terrible translation from the Swedish. Unfortunately, I’m not much help with a remedy.

This has been a terrible story, waking old fears, old hatreds. I’ll keep an eye out for updates.

Foreclosure lawyers guarantee their fee – with a 2nd mortgage!

For some Florida residents, the price of getting out of foreclosure will include taking on a second mortgage — payable this time to their lawyers.

The new mortgage, which takes effect only if the foreclosure is dismissed and the homeowner’s debt to the bank is reduced, is controversial among defense lawyers, some of whom call it “creepy” and “crass.” Yet even they acknowledge it offers a solution to a vexing question: How do they get paid?

After recent revelations that banks were sloppy in processing many foreclosures and in some cases lack standing to seize a house, potential clients seeking to challenge their lenders are flocking to lawyers. But while these distressed homeowners might have a case, they generally lack the resources to pay legal fees. Being in foreclosure usually means being broke…

Foreclosure defense is a new legal specialty whose strategies and techniques are still being worked out. Peter Ticktin, who has some 3,000 foreclosure clients, says his plan to collect fees by taking another mortgage on his clients’ properties has already been copied by other firms.

The Ticktin mortgages resemble the loans that the clients originally got from Countrywide, GMAC and other lenders. Each will be a contractual obligation with the law firm, labeled as a mortgage and structured like one, too, with the client paying a certain sum every month and using the house as collateral…

Mr. Ice, Mr. Ticktin and many other Florida foreclosure lawyers typically receive a few hundred dollars a month from each client. To supplement that, they seek legal fees from the banks they successfully challenge as well as contingency fees…

In foreclosure cases, however, the client pays the contingency fee. While such an approach is sometimes used in commercial litigation, this is a first for consumer cases, said Lester Brickman, a professor at Cardozo Law School in New York.

“For a lawyer to supplement or replace the banks as a long-term mortgage creditor of homeowners leaves me a little queasy,” said Mr. Brickman, an expert on contingency fees. “It’s an invitation for the public to say, ‘There go the lawyers again.’ ”

That’s exactly what I would say – here and now. When the only solutions to problems in a troubled economy guarantee reward to only one group of participants – lawyers – I’d say there’s something as corrupt with the solution as there was in the creation of the problems.

Woman charged with selling baby grandson

The diminutive grandmother accused of selling her 8-week-old grandbaby in a Daytona Beach parking lot is also a convicted armed robber who spent eight years locked up in a Michigan prison, records show.

Patty Sharree Bigbee, 45, was still in a Volusia County Branch Jail cell Saturday night on $100,000 bail set after her first appearance before a judge early in the day, jail officials said.

Bigbee, listed in prison records as a mere 4 feet, 11 inches tall and 125 pounds, was imprisoned from February 1999 to February 2007 for a 1998 armed robbery in Eaton County, Mich., according to the Michigan Department of Corrections.

She had no criminal record in Florida until she was charged Friday afternoon with selling her grandson for $30,000 to a police informant in a Best Buy parking lot on International Speedway Boulevard.

Bigbee’s boyfriend and accused accomplice in the deal, 42-year-old Lawrence Works, saw his bail rise from $1,500 to $50,000 after his own first appearance before a judge Saturday morning. He also remained in custody Saturday night.

Both declined interview requests from their jail cells…

Investigators watched over several days as the buyer negotiated the price down from $75,000 and arranged to buy the little boy in Daytona Beach. Agents waited for the deal to be complete before they rushed in to arrest Bigbee and Works, said Wayne Ivey, FDLE’s resident agent in charge.

Ivey said there was no written receipt or bill of sale for the deal.

My goodness. Not even a warranty or service contract?

America’s religious fanatics prefer intolerance over civil rights

Alarmed by evidence that gay and lesbian students are common victims of schoolyard bullies, many school districts are bolstering their antiharassment rules with early lessons in tolerance, explaining that some children have “two moms” or will grow up to love members of the same sex.

But such efforts to teach acceptance of homosexuality, which have gained urgency after several well-publicized suicides by gay teenagers, are provoking new culture wars in some communities.

Many educators and rights advocates say that official prohibitions of slurs and taunts are most effective when combined with frank discussions, from kindergarten on, about diverse families and sexuality.

Angry parents and religious critics, while agreeing that schoolyard harassment should be stopped, charge that liberals and gay rights groups are using the antibullying banner to pursue a hidden “homosexual agenda,” implicitly endorsing, for example, same-sex marriage.

If you want to understand how the Taliban thinks, you need look no further than America’s fundamentalist army of fanatics. Free thought and education are meaningless to ideological cave-dwellers who would not allow processes that differ with their “revealed” cant.

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