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Huge backlog in rape kit testing starting to be worked on.

The trucks keep arriving from all over the country at an office park in Northern Virginia, each containing hundreds of envelopes marked with one word written on red tape: “Evidence.”

Just after 9 on a weekday morning, Kim Freeman pulls her hair back from her face and walks from her cubicle to a large storage room. “I’m here for the two,” she tells a desk attendant.

Two envelopes. She put them on reserve the day before, and now she scans one to make sure the contents label is correct. “Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit,” it says.

Another day has begun at the Bode Technology laboratory in Lorton. Another slow excavation of a national problem.

The problem is a backlog of untested rape kits, tens of thousands of them, each representing an alleged assault. In every case, evidence was collected from victims after their attacks, but it was never analyzed. Instead it sat on shelves for years, even decades.



Copper thief shocked, burned at Puget Sound Energy substation

RENTON, Wash. — A man who apparently intended to steal wire was nearly electrocuted early Wednesday when he cut a copper wire on top of a high-voltage transformer at a Puget Sound Energy substation, officials said.

King County deputies first responded to a report of an explosion about 4:30 a.m. at the substation between Renton and Issaquah.

Firefighters removed the injured man and took him to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with second- and third-degree burns over 60 percent of his body, Eastside Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief Dave McDaniel said.

The man is in critical condition in the intensive care unit, hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg said.



Outside group tells governments where to search for Flight 370

A group of independent experts -- who prodded authorities to release satellite data on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 -- says it thinks it knows the approximate location of the missing aircraft.

Five separate computer models all place the plane in a tight cluster of spots in the south Indian Ocean — hundreds of miles southwest of the previous search site.

"We recommend that the search for MH370 be focused in this area," the group said in a statement late Tuesday.

"While there remain a number of uncertainties and some disagreements as to the interpretation of aspects of the data, our best estimates of a location of the aircraft (is) near 36.02 South 88.57 East," according to the statement, which was approved by 10 named experts.



Ex-U.S. attorney takes stand: 'I don't owe anyone $100 billion'

By Jason Meisner
Tribune reporter
5:04 p.m. CDT, June 17, 2014

Former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald is no stranger to the inside of a federal courtroom, but on Tuesday he found himself in an unusual position: on the witness stand testifying at a bizarre trial of a sovereign citizen follower who allegedly had tried to place a bogus $100 billion lien on his residence.

Prosecutors contend Cherron Phillips had retaliated against Fitzgerald and other top federal court officials in Chicago after she had been barred from the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse following her allegedly disruptive behavior at proceedings in her brother Devon’s drug case.

Near the end of his testimony, Fitzgerald drew smiles from some jurors when was asked whether he owed Devon Phillips $100 billion as the lien claimed. Fitzgerald leaned forward in the witness chair, raised one eyebrow and spoke directly into the microphone.

“I don’t owe anyone $100 billion, and I don’t believe I owe Devon Phillips a penny,” Fitzgerald said.



Chinese tycoon offers free lunch and cash to U.S. poor

Eccentric Chinese tycoon Chen Guangbiao took out a full-page bilingual advertisement in the New York Times, inviting underprivileged Americans to a charity lunch and offering cash handouts.

According to Chinese media reports, the ad appeared in the New York Times print edition on Monday, announcing that Chen would host a charity luncheon at New York Central Park's Loeb Boathouse on June 25 for 1,000 "poor and destitute Americans". Each participant would also receive $300.

Chen, who is known for theatrical philanthropic stunts, has a photo of himself in the ad placed side-by-side with a picture of Lei Feng, a Chinese soldier from the Mao-era who is celebrated as a selfless model citizen. The title above the images says, "China's 'Lei Feng for a new era.'"

Those who wish to join the luncheon need to RSVP via a Hotmail email address.



Man with 150 arrests gets 5 years for fatal hit-and-run

ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KSDK) – A 56-year-old man who has been arrested 150 times and convicted of six DUIs will spend five years in prison for an October 2012 hit-and-run crash that left a 4-year-old dead and his then 10-year-old brother injured.

Ricky Weeden Sr. struck a plea deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, leaving the scene of a crash and driving with a revoked license. He had been charged with second-degree murder and assault.

St. Louis County Circuit Judge Joseph Walsh III accepted Weeden's plea deal.

He will receive credit for the 20 months he's already spent in jail for the incident.



Cuomo Won't Sign Medical Marijuana Bill Because It Allows For Smoking Marijuana

Continuing his record of craven political dickery with respect to sensible drug policy, Governor Cuomo said this morning that he would not sign a current version of the medical marijuana legislation working its way through Albany because it involves smoking marijuana. "This is supposed to be for serious diseases," Cuomo said on WCNY. "This isn't supposed to have loopholes that you can drive a truck through, right?"

On yesterday's WCNY show, Cuomo also questioned the amount of marijuana the law would allow patients to possess.

"Two and a half ounces of marijuana per month, that's about 150 joints, could be as many as 200 joints per month. You know, we're talking about a lot of marijuana distributed to individuals."

When pressed by the host Susan Arbetter on whether it's merely the language of "smoking" that concerns the Governor, or whether he'd rather see patients using a different form of ingestion altogether, Cuomo replied, "Smoking or not smoking, you don't need a lot of language to discuss that….This is not about commas and dotting 'i's and crossing 't's. We don't have a conceptual agreement."


May 2014 Was the (Global) Hottest May in Recorded History

According to new data released this week, May 2014 is officially the warmest May in recorded history.

Both NASA and the Japan Meteorological Agency have tentatively ranked May at the top of historical measurements, though NASA’s numbers are preliminary because crucial information is still missing from China.

Gavin Schmidt, the director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, which maintains NASA’s global temperature database, explained the Chinese data glitch:

Still, the fact that NASA and the JMA used different calculation methods to arrive at similar results is telling. Another agency, NOAA, will release its estimate of May global temperatures next Monday using a third method.

The exceptionally warm month was egged on by a building El Niño in the tropical Pacific. Europe, Central Asia, Russia, Japan, Australia, Southern Africa, Brazil, Eastern Canada, and Western North America (so, basically everywhere) were warmer than normal last month. Besides shifting weather patterns worldwide, that extra El Niño-fueled ocean warmth is supercharging the Earth’s temperature, which could help make 2014 the warmest year since human records have been kept, and probably for much longer. El Niño’s effects should peak between October and December and will likely continue into early 2015.


Hillary Clinton: Unaccompanied Child Migrants 'Should Be Sent Back' To Central America

In separate television interviews with Fox News and CNN on Tuesday, Hillary Rodham Clinton faced a number of difficult questions, among them about immigration and the recent surge in unaccompanied minors crossing the border with Mexico illegally.

Clinton spoke about the cause for the increase – "the main reason I believe why that’s happening is that the violence in certain of those Central American countries is increasing dramatically” – and expressed the conviction that the U.S. needs to do more to help Mexico secure its own southern border.

“Should they be able to stay here?” Amanpour pressed again, adding, “It’s safer.”

“It may be safer, but that’s not the answer,” Clinton responded.

“So you’re saying they should be sent back now,” Amanpour said.

“They should be sent back as soon as it can be determined who responsible adults in their families are,” Clinton finally admitted.


Opossum Drop bill shows how low NC can go

Over the past few weeks, in a stunning display of legislative efficiency and bipartisanship that Washington lawmakers can only dream of, both houses of the N.C. General Assembly worked together to rush through what was apparently the most pressing issue of this legislative session: the legalization of cruelty to opossums.

Now, opossums in Clay County can be abused between Dec. 26 and Jan. 2, for the sole purpose of allowing Opossum Drop organizers to dangle a terrified opossum above a crowd of rowdy revelers each New Year’s Eve, something prohibited under law and for good reason. It is inappropriate to torment wildlife for fun.

Opossum Drop event sponsor Roger West proposed the legislation just as PETA’s latest legal challenge to using a live opossum at the event was heating up. In an admission that the Opossum Drop always has been illegal, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission ran to the legislature to help it avoid doing the right thing. Enter HB 1131, which legalizes cruelty to North Carolina’s official state marsupial, as long as it takes place in Clay County during the week of New Year’s Eve.

Meanwhile, wildlife rehabilitators who toil night and day to feed, medicate and care for injured, ill or orphaned wild opossums are still subject to the same laws that North Carolina’s lawmakers decided shouldn’t apply when you lock a timid opossum in a box and force him or her to endure a barrage of screaming celebrants, thumping music and deafening fireworks – in other words, all the things that frighten opossums most.

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/06/16/3941556/opossum-drop-bill-shows-how-low.html
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