Saturday, March 29, 2008

Asking a Judge to Save the World, and Maybe a Whole Lot More

More fighting in Iraq. Somalia in chaos. People in this country can’t afford their mortgages and in some places now they can’t even afford rice.
None of this nor the rest of the grimness on the front page today will matter a bit, though, if two men pursuing a lawsuit in federal court in Hawaii turn out to be right. They think a giant particle accelerator that will begin smashing protons together outside Geneva this summer might produce a black hole or something else that will spell the end of the Earth — and maybe the universe.

Scientists say that is very unlikely — though they have done some checking just to make sure.

The world’s physicists have spent 14 years and $8 billion building the Large Hadron Collider, in which the colliding protons will recreate energies and conditions last seen a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang. Researchers will sift the debris from these primordial recreations for clues to the nature of mass and new forces and symmetries of nature.

But Walter L. Wagner and Luis Sancho contend that scientists at the European Center for Nuclear Research, or CERN, have played down the chances that the collider could produce, among other horrors, a tiny black hole, which, they say, could eat the Earth.

Read more of this article here...

And from "Bad Astronomy"

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) won't destroy the Earth!

Two men are suing to stop the LHC from being switched on, saying it may be dangerous and might even destroy the Earth:

But Walter L. Wagner and Luis Sancho contend that scientists at the European Center for Nuclear Research, or CERN, have played down the chances that the collider could produce, among other horrors, a tiny black hole, which, they say, could eat the Earth. Or it could spit out something called a “strangelet” that would convert our planet to a shrunken dense dead lump of something called “strange matter.” Their suit also says CERN has failed to provide an environmental impact statement as required under the National Environmental Policy Act.


The lawsuit, filed March 21 in Federal District Court, in Honolulu, seeks a temporary restraining order prohibiting CERN from proceeding with the accelerator until it has produced a safety report and an environmental assessment. It names the federal Department of Energy, the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, the National Science Foundation and CERN as defendants.

First off the bat, this sounds nuts, but really it’s not so nuts that we shouldn’t look into it. There are two causes for some concern: one is that LHC might create a black hole which would eat the Earth, and the other is that a very odd quantum entity called a strangelet might be created, with equally devastating results.

However, I don’t think there’s anything to worry about. I want to make that clear up front.

The LHC will slam subatomic particles together at fantastic speeds.

Read the rest of the article here...

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Cone Snail: can kill you in less than 4 minutes

Say, for instance, you happen to be happily walking through the low surf merrily picking up and discarding shells, looking for just the right one to decorate your desk back at the office.

With no warning at all, however, you feel a sharp sting from one of those pretty shells -- a sting that quickly flares into a crawling agony. With that quick sting, the cone snail's barbed spear has insidiously injected you with one of the most potent neurotoxins in existence.

(image credit: Richard Ling)

(image credit: Kerry Matz)

"The bright colors and patterns of cone snails are attractive to the eye, and therefore people sometimes pick up the live animals and hold them in their hand for a while." Meanwhile the snail may fire its harpoon, loaded with venom (the harpoon can penetrate gloves and even wetsuits)

Nerves short-circuited by this infinitesimally small amount of juice, in seconds the agony of where the stinger struck has faded into a heavy numbness. A relief, perhaps, but then it spreads and moments later the paralysis has seized the entire limb. Then the breathing troubles start ... and then, simply, your heart stops beating.

Yes, there are antivenoms available, but, frankly, with something that can kill in less than four minutes you'd have to carry it in your back pocket to survive. It wasn't just for their fondness for these pretty shells that lead the CIA to develop a weapon using this venom to dispatch enemies.

For more poisonous creatures go here...

Cone snail venoms contain a tremendously diverse natural pharmacology. The active components of the venom are small peptides toxins, typically 12-30 amino acid residues in length and are highly constrained peptides due to their high density of disulfide bonds. The small size yet extremely conserved structures make these toxins excellent for highlighting how subtle differences in structure, as little as a single amino acid change, can have profound effects upon potency or specificity.

The conotoxins are some of the most potent and diverse neurotoxins known, having an incredibly wide range of actions. Interestingly, a strong division exists not only between the mollusk eating and the fish eating species but also between species within a group or even individuals of the same species. The toxins from the fish hunting cone snails are also more bioactive upon the human system than the mollusk hunting cone snails, with deaths having occurred.

Three main classes of paralytic toxins have been the focus of intense investigation where all three interfere with neuronal communication but with different targets: alpha-conotoxins, binding to and inhibiting the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor; mu-conotoxins, directly abolishing muscle action potential by binding to the postsynaptic sodium channels; and omega-conotoxins, decimating the release of acetylcholine through the prevention of voltage activated entry of calcium into the nerve terminal.

alpha-Conotoxins And alpha-A-Conotoxins
Sequences of several alpha-conotoxins have been determined with a high degree of homology evident. They contain two cysteine bonds and thirteen to fifteen residues, with the majority coming from fish eating species. Diversity of spacing between toxins from fish eating and non-fish-eating species is evident although the cysteine framework is conserved except for conotoxin-SII.

The alpha conotoxins cause postsynaptic inhibition at the synaptic junction which results in paralysis and death. The muscle-type nicotinic receptor is inhibited by alpha conotoxins from fish eating species such as Conus. geographus, C. magus and C. ermineus, with toxins having a high affinity for the alpha+gamma site of the acetylcholine receptor. This is the same site favored by tubocurarine, unlike the snake venom alpha-neurotoxins which are more likely to bind to the alpha+delta site. In mammalian systems these peptides antagonistically bind to the alpha3/5 neuromuscular site.

Alpha-conotoxins of particular interest are SI and SII from Conus striatus. SI differs from other acetylcholine receptor ligands by binding differentially to a variety of vertebrate nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, an activity that may be explained by the presence of a proline in place of a positively charged amino acid at residue 9. Alpha-conotoxin SII, meanwhile, is structurally quite distinct in having three disulfide bonds, rather than the usual two, with no net positive charge and a free C-terminus. The notable difference in the specificity of SI widens the scope of study of vertebrate nicotinic acetylcholine receptors common targeting of SI and SII. Structural deviation also allows for some interesting structure-function relationship studies to shed light not only on the functional residues of the peptides but also the binding sites of the acetylcholine receptor.

Not all of the alpha-conotoxins target the neuromuscular junction, neuronal-specific peptides selectively target the alpha7, alpha3beta2 and alpha3beta4 neuronal nicotinic receptor subtypes. In addition to MII, four other neuronal alpha-conotoxins (AuIB, EpI, ImI and PnIB) have been isolated. While having strong conservations of cysteine bonds (2) and number of amino acids in loop one (4), these conotoxins can have differences in loop two, having three, six or seven residues. Despite this difference in loop two the activity is similar, indicating perhaps that binding specificity lies within loop one. It was subsequently determined through work on ImI that this was in fact the case, with a tri-peptide sequence (Asp-Pro-Arg) being crucial to activity. In addition to this difference in activity, the structure of the neuronally active peptides also differs from that of the neuromuscular specific alpha-conotoxins in having 4 amino acids in the first loop rather than 3 amino acids as is the case with the neuromuscular blocking alpha-conotoxins (except for E1)

The tissue specific sodium channel blocking mu-conotoxins act primarily upon voltage-sensitive sodium channels in muscle, with only minimal binding to neuronal sodium channels This is unlike tetrodotoxin and saxitoxin which bind to both muscle and nerve sodium channels with equal affinity and independent of voltage. Mu-conotoxins are typified by conotoxin GIII isoforms from C. geographus venom. These toxins are similar to tetrodotoxin in the selective blocking of skeletal muscle sodium channels, as well as competitively inhibiting saxitoxin binding to receptor site 1 of voltage-sensitive sodium channels . The 22 amino acid GIII isoforms also inhibit muscle sodium channel activation through tetrodotoxin and saxitoxin-like voltage dependent interaction.

O-Superfamily Of Conotoxins
This superfamily consists of presynaptic channel blocking peptides: sodium channel blocking mu-O-conotoxins; sodium channel blocking delta-conotoxins; and calcium channel blocking omega-conotoxins.

Despite very limited sequence homology with the mu-conotoxins, the sodium channel inhibitor conotoxin GS was reported to be similar to the mu-conotoxins in also acting upon tetrodotoxin and saxitoxin sensitive sites but this data remains to be confirmed. A more recently isolated toxin, mu-PIIIA from Conus purpurascens, reversibly blocks a sodium channel in the rat brain which is tetrodotoxin-sensitive but not blocked by mu-conotoxin-GIIIA.

The mu-O-conotoxins are distinguished from other members of the O-superfamily in blocking not only sodium channels, including those on Aplysia neurons which other sodium channel blockers are unable to effect, but at higher doses also block the fast-inactivating calcium currents and slightly blocking the sustained current. Although the mu-O-conotoxins have the same molecular core as the delta-and omega-conotoxins and like delta-conotoxins contain a high amount of hydrophobic residues (charged residues being present only in the first intercysteine loop) the mu-O-conotoxins share little peptide sequence homology. However, the mRNA sequences encoding mu-O conotoxins, such as MrVIB, share a significant homology with those encoding the omega-and delta-conotoxin precursors. The physiological as well as genomic data indicates that these neurotoxins are perhaps an evolutionary link between the variants of conotoxins that specifically target either sodium or calcium channels.

Despite a lack of toxicity towards vertebrates, the delta-conotoxins such as conotoxin SVIA from Conus striatus bind with high affinity to voltage-independent sodium channels in the rat central nervous systems at a site separate from that bound by other neurotoxins. In contrast, the venom of the fish hunting species C. purpurascens contains a delta-conotoxin (PVIA) termed the 'lock-jaw' peptide, a vertebrate specific delta-conotoxin targeting the voltage-sensitive sodium channels. This sort of toxin is termed an excitotoxin due to its distinct production of rigid, rather than the typical flaccid, paralysis in fish. These results suggest that these toxins may be quite useful due to their ability to bind to the same site on receptors from different phyla yet produce different results. These sorts of results make possible further understanding of the structural criterion determining gating variations in sodium channels.

The omega-conotoxins are all 24-30 amino acids in length with three disulfide bonds. However, these toxins are no less subtle in activity or diverse in sequence than the other classes of conotoxins. The divergent bioactivities make the omega conotoxins quite useful in furthering the understanding of calcium channels of the presynaptic terminal. By way of example, omega-conotoxin SVIB from C. striatus is bioactively distinct from other omega-conotoxins. It is the only one that is lethal through intracerebral injections of mice, utilizing a high-affinity binding site different from the high-affinity binding sites of other conotoxins such as GVIA from C. geographus or MVIIA from C. magus. Omega-conotoxin GVIA is also unique in binding to a site distinct from omega-conotoxin MVIIA as well as most omega-agatoxins from the spider Agelenopsis aperta.

C. magus venom contains the most major sequence variants of omega conotoxins of any other Conus species, containing four out of the eight possible combinations. Indeed, some of the most studied conotoxins (omega-conotoxin-MVIIA,-MVIIIC and MVIID) are found in this venom. The omega-conotoxins MVIIA and MVIIB from magus block the neuronal Ca2+ channels, competing with omega-conotoxins from geographus for the same sites in mammalian brains. However, these toxins have a narrower specificity in the amphibian brain in addition to differing in amino acid sequence. MVIIA in particular is a potent and selective blocker of N-type voltage sensitive calcium channels.

Like the spider toxin omega-Aga-IVA from Agelenopsis aperta, omega-CTx MVIIC blocks calcium channels not blocked by other calcium-channel blocking conotoxins. Omega-CTx MVIIC is a 26 amino acid, with three disulfide bonds, preferential blocker of P and Q type Ca2+ currents through the high affinity binding to voltage-sensitive Ca2+ channels. Omega-conotoxin MVIID displays more pronounced discrimination against the N-type voltage-gated calcium channels than any other omega-conotoxin as well as being able to target other voltage-gated calcium channels besides the N-type.

Recently discovered toxins from Conus catus are new members of the omega-conotoxin family. In radioligand binding assays, one of these toxins (CVID) has the highest selectivity for N-type over P/Q-type calcium channels when compared to other omega-conotoxins. These studies also investigated the effects upon rat N-type calcium channels and CVID had a similar potency to MVIIA. CVID was also unique in structure in having a rigid and well defined globular surface brought about by loop two being stabilized by two hydrogen bonds, resulting in loop two being proximal to loop four.

'King-Kong' Peptides
The so-called 'king-kong peptides' from the mollusk hunting C. textile (Textile cone; Cloth-of-Gold cone) are mollusk specific paralytic neurotoxins of high affinity receptors and ion channels. These conotoxins have a disulfide linked molecule similar to that of the omega-conotoxins yet differ in features such as an unusual net negative charge and a high content of hydrophobic residues. Further, one of the toxins (TxIIA) is especially unique with its uneven number of cysteine residues. The king-kong toxins induce membrane depolarization and spontaneous repetitive firing in addition to inducing a marked prolongation of the sodium dependent action potential duration. TxVIA mediates sodium channel inactivation through selective action upon mollusk sodium channels at a binding site distinct from that acted upon by other conotoxins.

The conotoxins may ultimately prove to be some of the most interesting and useful peptidic toxins. Subtle variations in the sequences of these natural wonders demonstrate the profound potential for dramatic differences in specificity and potency that can occur. The small size, multiple disulfide bonding and ingenious variations make conotoxins a tremendous natural pharmacological library.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Hoax Craigslist ads cost Ore. man huge property loss

10:34 PM PDT on Monday, March 24, 2008
Associated Press

JACKSONVILLE, Ore. - A pair of hoax ads on Craigslist cost an Oregon man much of what he owned.

The ads popped up Saturday afternoon, saying the owner of a Jacksonville home was forced to leave the area suddenly and his belongings, including a horse, were free for the taking, said Jackson County sheriff's Detective Sgt. Colin Fagan.

But Robert Salisbury had no plans to leave. The independent contractor was at Emigrant Lake when he got a call from a woman who had stopped by his house to claim his horse.

On his way home he stopped a truck loaded down with his work ladders, lawn mower and weed eater.

"I informed them I was the owner, but they refused to give the stuff back," Salisbury said. "They showed me the Craigslist printout and told me they had the right to do what they did."

The driver sped away after rebuking Salisbury. On his way home he spotted other cars filled with his belongings.

Once home he was greeted by close to 30 people rummaging through his barn and front porch.

The trespassers, armed with printouts of the ad, tried to brush him off. "They honestly thought that because it appeared on the Internet it was true," Salisbury said. "It boggles the mind."

Read the rest here...

Missing: The £5bn aid needed to rebuild lives

25 March 2008

  • The Scotsman
  • Scotland
  • Related Topics: Afghanistan


    BILLIONS of pounds earmarked for rebuilding Afghanistan have been wasted on overpaid consultants and corporate profits, a damning report claims.

    Total foreign aid to Afghanistan amounts to £3.5 million a day – a fraction of the £50 million the United States government spends each day maintaining its military presence.

    It says £5 billion of promised funds has never materialised – while £3 billion of the £7.5 billion actually spent has found its way back to wealthy donor countries rather than helping the Afghan economy.
    This has happened through a mix of "high levels of corruption", bumper company profits of up to 50 per cent and the vast earnings potential of foreign consultants, who can take home up to £250,000 a year as a result of hardship payments and "danger money".
    Some £5 billion of promised aid is still with foreign governments, apparently because of delays in reconstruction on the ground, corruption and the inability of the Afghan government to keep tabs on the vast sums of cash.
    Five American companies are named as having scooped the lion's share of their country's cash – with huge sums eaten up by an opaque web of sub-contractors.
    The consultants' six-figure salaries are in shocking contrast to the millions of Afghans who live in extreme poverty. About half of the 27 million population are thought to live on 50p a day, and one in five children dies before his or her fifth birthday.
    Last night, opposition politicians in Britain said the discrepancy between the aid pledged and delivered was "staggering", and there was a "real danger" of failing Afghanistan's desperately poor population.
    Total foreign aid to Afghanistan amounts to £3.5 million a day – a fraction of the £50 million the United States government spends each day maintaining its military presence.
    Meanwhile, the security situation continues to deteriorate, as Afghans grow increasingly disillusioned with the international presence. There are about 57,000 troops in the war-torn country, including 7,800 from the UK.

    Read the rest of the article: Here.

    Saturday, March 22, 2008

    Mysteries: Fact or Fiction?

    We present seven examinations of mysteries both genuine and artificial to show how pseudoscience deals with ancient mysteries.


    The genuine mysteries of the world seem to pale in comparison to the exaggerated and faked mysteries alternative authors put forward. These four quick looks at genuine ancient mysteries are, like all true mysteries, a little vague and short on details. For these puzzles from the past, more research is clearly needed to show where fact and fiction merge. . .

    Legends of lost continents like Atlantis, Lemuria and Mu aside, tantalizing remains of underwater architecture still remain unexplained. Among the most prominent submarine ruins is the (in)famous Bimini Road, discovered in 1968. This miles-long complex of stonework that resembles a road or the walls of buildings is officially classified as a natural formation, but many people believe that the arrow-straight lines and right-angle turns imply an artificial source. Divers also report that patterns formed by the stones resemble the ground plans of Mayan temples. . .

    On the other side of the world, Nan Madol, pictured above, is one of the great stone structures on earth. Its basalt megaliths form temples, palaces and other buildings with upturned corners so that they resemble boats. The native people remember legends that beneath the original Nan Madol, down in the ocean, is the primeval Nan Madol built during the glorious reign of the gods. Great stone pillars of this ancient city can still be seen off the island of Ponape. . .

    Off the southernmost island of Japan, the Yonaguni Monument has created a heated controversy because of its resemblence to megalithic temples in South America and the Pacific islands. Japanese researchers have declared the structure man-made and 9,000 years old while American geologists like Robert Schoch, the man who claims the Sphinx dates from 7000 B.C., say Yonaguni is a natural formation. The underwater mysteries remain unexplained.

    Still on the roster of unsolved mysteries is the question of just how much contact ancient cultures had with one another. Recently the story of the Egyptian cocaine mummies has reopened questions long thought answered. Analysis of Egyptian mummies has turned up traces of cocaine in hair follicles, implying that the Ancient Egyptians chewed coca leaves, a plant found only on the continent of South America.

    The United States has had many cases of mysterious stones and markers bearing writing variously attributed to Phonecians[sic], Egyptians, Vikings and Celts. While the vast majority of these are obviously racist hoaxes designed to bolster Euro-American claims to Native American lands, at least a handful of these artifacts have not been explained. In addition, late twentieth-century research confirmed that Vikings had colonized a portion of eastern Canada, the famous Vinland, during the eleventh century.

    An archaeological team announced in 2001 that Roman coins had been discovered underneath the floor of an Aztec temple, proving that Roman goods had been present in the New World before Columbus. This dovetailed on reports of a Roman-style sculpture discovered in Mexico and Roman amphorae in Brazil. While some of these goods could have arrived through ships blown off course or by conquistadors bringing a bit of home with them, this mystery remains unexplained.

    In 1901, an ancient clock-like mechanism surfaced off the coast of the Greek island of Antikythera. The original 1959 Scientific American article on the device called it "the most complex scientific object that has been preserved from antiquity." The Antikythera Computer, as it is now called, had apparently been used to calculate the position of the stars as an aid to navigation. This computer predates the supposed invention of clockwork gears by millennia and is still considered only a curiosity by mainstream science. However, it is unlikely that the only Greek computer ever built would have been preserved, so presumably there were others.

    Many sources comment on the exquisite workmanship of ancient artifacts. There have been rumors of archaic vessles made out of platinum or aluminum, metals not used in the West until the nineteenth century. Unfortunately, most of these objects seem to exist only in the pages of alternative histories and are nearly always described as "missing" or "lost." Consequently, it is impossible to comment on the veracity of most claims of ancient metalurgy, but an analysis of the remains of metal clamps used to hold together the blocks of the ancient Andean city of Tihuanaco seems to imply that the alloy used needed a higher smelting temperature than most archaeologists believe Andean peoples could generate. These mysteries require more investigation before they can be safely tucked away. (see Dendera Lightbulb and Coso Artifact below)

    Despite nearly a century of theorizing, no one has been able to certainly determine how ancient peoples moved the massive megaliths that make up ancient buildings. Such structures seem to defy attempts to explain them away. While many competent theories have been proposed (and many more incompetent ones), no one can claim to completely solve the mystery of the megaliths.

    At Ollantaytambo, above, to take one example, a series of polygonal megaliths weighing upwards of 70 to 100 metric tons each are fitted together in an immense jigsaw puzzle of a wall over 260 feet tall. What makes this more amazing is that all of the immense stones had been transported 195 feet up the side of a mountain from a quarry located five miles away and almost 3,000 feet higher on the other end of the Vilcamayu river valley.

    Other megalithic sites on the same order include Sacsayhuaman, right, Tihuanaco, the Great Pyramid, and scattered ruins on the beautiful Polynesian islands. Other megalithic sites of large scale and note include Easter Island, Stonehenge, Carnak and the inexplicable stone spheres of Costa Rica. These spheres are near-perfectly spherical and range in size from an inch to tens of feet in diameter. They are placed seemingly at random across the jungles of Central America and, though we know how they were made, their purpose has never been satisfactorily explained.

    Read more here...

    Friday, March 21, 2008

    FBI: Who is this man?


    10:50 PM PDT on Thursday, March 20, 2008

    SEATTLE – Who is he and what is he up to? Those are questions that federal agents in Seattle are asking after they arrested a man who has lived under assumed names for at least twenty years.

    He's used names like Robert Lowe, William Gee and Dwayne Spill, but to FBI and Social Security agents, he is known only as John Doe.

    "We determined he was using several identities and to this point we still don't know who he is," said Steven Dean, Assistant Agent-in-Charge, FBI.

    Dean says it's rare that law enforcement's vast network of fingerprints and computer files fails to identify a suspect.

    John Doe has lived under assumed names in a tiny, unkempt apartment on Lower Queen Anne for 5 years.

    Agents arrested him a week ago at Postal Express Delivery, where he has worked as driver named Bob Lowe for several years.

    But after months of investigation, agents still don't know who this man is.

    Agents say John Doe aroused suspicions in Vancouver last year when he requested a copy of a birth certificate claiming to be someone who was actually deceased.

    Agents traced his trail of aliases to Seattle where he is still wanted on a 1998 warrant, and they have also linked him to criminal convictions and rap sheets under assumed names in other states.

    To make things even more bizarre, John Doe isn't your usual identity thief who's after money.

    "A typical ID thief is using stolen identities to commit fraud, to take as much money as they can," said Dean.

    But he doesn't do that. Read more here.

    Friday, March 14, 2008

    A Baby Kiwi Is Born

    Hatching is hard work.

    An exhausted baby kiwi, a highly endangered bird from New Zealand, is resting at the Smithsonian's National Zoo after being born early March 7.

    Keepers had been incubating the North Island brown kiwi egg for five weeks, following a month long incubation by the chick’s father, carefully monitoring it for signs of pipping: the process in which the chick starts to break through the shell. The chick remained in an isolet for four days and is now in a specially designed brooding box.

    Kiwis are one of the world's most endangered species. Only four zoos outside of New Zealand have successfully bred kiwis, and only three U.S. zoos, including the National Zoo, exhibit them.

    The sex of the chick is still unknown and is difficult to determine by sight. For this reason, Bird House staff enlisted the help of National Zoo geneticists. Using DNA samples swabbed from the inside of the egg and from the bird’s beak, the geneticists hope to decipher its sex in the coming weeks.

    There are five species of kiwi and all are unique to New Zealand. The North Island brown species of kiwi is the national bird of New Zealand. They are widely thought to be the most ancient bird and have existed in New Zealand for more than 30 million years. Kiwis typically mate for life, and both parents share the responsibility of caring for the egg. After kiwi chicks hatch, however, they receive no parental care. Unlike other bird species, kiwis hatch fully feathered and equipped with all of the necessary skills they need to survive.

    The North Island brown kiwi species is classified as endangered by the International Union of Conservation of Nature. Read more here.

    Police looking for dangerous criminal


    10:42 PM PDT on Thursday, March 13, 2008

    BELLINGHAM, Wash. – The Washington State Patrol, King County Regional Auto Theft Unit and Law Enforcement Agencies from across Washington and New Mexico are seeking help in locating Kurt Sohrbeck.

    Auto theft detectives want to find 43-year-old Sohrbeck in connection to criminal activity that stretches across the State of Washington, and now includes the attempted murder of a police officer in New Mexico.

    Sohrbeck was tracked to New Mexico and Thursday, a deputy stopped Sohrbeck just outside Carlsbad, NM.

    During the traffic stop, the deputy was shot several times.

    The deputy was airlifted to a hospital and is listed in critical condition.

    Investigators found that Sohrbeck has extensive criminal history. A felony warrant from Whatcom County has been issued and there is also the new warrant for attempted murder of a police officer in New Mexico.

    Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies are currently conducting an extensive manhunt for Sohrbeck. He is considered armed and extremely dangerous, and should not be contacted. Read the rest of the story...

    Friday, March 7, 2008

    Woman fired for her military service


    10:34 PM PST on Thursday, March 6, 2008

    SEATTLE – Kelly Hansen of Kirkland has served for many years as a National Guard chaplain. But now she says it has cost her her job as a chaplain at Children's Hospital in Seattle.

    She was required to drill for a weekend and take time off work.

    "The first day she came back to work after her drill weekend she was called into her supervisor's office and terminated," said James Beck, her lawyer.

    In a lawsuit filed Thursday in Seattle Federal Court, Hansen claims she was fired because Children's Hospital knew that her unit was on alert and she would be leaving for a 14-month deployment to Iraq.

    State and federal law require businesses to hold jobs for employees serving the Guard and Reserves, and those that don’t can face stiff penalties.

    Read the rest of the story here.

    Wednesday, March 5, 2008

    Seattle woman shatters world boomerang record

    05:00 PM PST on Tuesday, March 4, 2008

    SEATTLE - A Seattle attorney become the first woman to set a world boomerang record for time aloft.

    The United States Boomerang Association says Betsylew Miale-Gix broke the world record for unlimited time aloft by throwing and catching a boomerang that stayed airborne for an incredible 3 minutes and 49 seconds.

    USBA says Miale-Gix broke the record for "Maximum time Aloft" at a tournament in Tucson, Ariz. on Feb. 23.

    "I knew it was a big throw but had no idea it had been up that long," said Miale-Gix.

    USBA says Miale-Gix has been the "premier" female competitive boomerang thrower in the world for the last decade, and has been the only woman throwing for the United States on the last five United States Boomerang Teams in International World Cup competition.

    Seattle will host the 2008 World Boomerang Championships, Aug. 17-28.

    Read the rest of the story here.

    Sunday, March 2, 2008

    Fred Meyer recalls bleach

    02:03 PM PST on Sunday, March 2, 2008 Staff

    Fred Meyer is recalling bottles of bleach that were sold exclusively at Fred Meyer and QFC stores that could potentially burst out of the bottle when opened.

    The Every Day Living Bleach involved in the recall was on the shelves beginning January 17. It includes 96-ounce bottles of its regular, citrus and mountain blend bleaches as well as 128-ounce bottles of the regular bleach.

    Fred Meyer says customers who purchased the product should put the bleach in a garbage bag, and place it in a second bag if the container looks bulged.

    "Please don't attempt to take this item back to a store," the company says in a notice on their Web site. They ask customers to move the item to an area where it "won't cause damage" and contact the manufacturer, KIK Custom Products at 800-479-6603 ext. 656.

    The company says customers can make arrangements for the manufacturer to come to their house and pick up the bagged bleach.

    For the rest of the article: King5 website.