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Wednesday, August 29, 2007Himalayan Blunder!!!!!
Charges are to be dismissed today against a 39-year-old Goldsboro man who has spent nearly two decades in prison for a 1987 rape.
DNA testing has excluded Dwayne Allen Dail as the man who entered through the window of a Goldsboro home and raped a 12-year-old girl in 1987, Wayne District Attorney Branny Vickory said late Monday.
Vickory got the test results from the State Bureau of Investigation on Monday afternoon and plans to ask a judge to dismiss the charges against Dail today.
"The science has proved that Mr. Dail is innocent," said Vickory, who worked in the district attorney's office when Dail was prosecuted. "He didn't do it. The evidence is so overwhelmingly strong, there's no need to wait."
The exoneration follows a lengthy inquiry by the nonprofit N.C. Center for Actual Innocence, which uncovered evidence that authorities thought had been destroyed after Dail's trial.
Dail was sentenced to two life sentences plus 18 years in 1989 on charges of first-degree rape and other charges stemming from the incident. The victim identified him, and hair found at the scene was found to be consistent with his.
But even prosecutors wondered about the case, Vickory said. The trial took place in the days before DNA testing, and the hair test could have been a match with many other Caucasian males.
Vickory said the assistant district attorney who prosecuted the case, Donald Strickland, and Dail's defense attorney had both singled Dail's case out as one that troubled them.
"They both over the years have talked about that case," Vickory said. "[Strickland] has mentioned several times that was the one case that always seemed to worry him the most."
The victim identified Dail from among a group of men she saw near her home days or weeks after the rape, Vickory said.
"The way everybody described it, she just froze and said 'That's the man, that's the man,' " Vickory said. "That led to very powerful evidence with the jury."
Dail never admitted guilt. Chris Mumma, director of the innocence center, said he had turned down a plea bargain that would have given him three years of probation.
"The jury thought he was arrogant in court," Mumma said. "He told me, 'Of course I was arrogant. I knew I was innocent.' "
The center, staffed by law and journalism students at several Triangle universities, took on the case in 2001. All of the students who looked into the case believed strongly in Dail's innocence. But Wayne County authorities were convinced all physical evidence had been destroyed.
Years later, Mumma decided to try one more time. A helpful clerk told her that one police officer, already deceased, had kept evidence from all of his cases. It turned out that officer had worked Dail's case, Mumma said.
A box with a nightgown, sheet and other evidence turned up in a bicycle closet, Vickory said.
Mumma said the lab has already matched DNA found on the nightgown to someone currently in prison.
She commended Vickory for his prompt response once her group approached him about the case.
"We get a thousand letters a year, and we have 12 on our chalkboard," Mumma said. "Dail was one of them."
A University of Arkansas researcher examines the physiology of starvation in snakes and finds that they can lower their standard metabolic rate.
Starving snakes employ novel survival strategies not seen before in vertebrates, according to research conducted by a University of Arkansas biologist. These findings could be used in conservation strategies to determine the health of snake populations.
"These animals take energy reduction to a whole new level," said Marshall McCue, a graduate student in biological sciences in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. He reported his findings in the journal Zoology.
While scientists knew that some snake species could survive for up to two years without a meal, no studies have examined the physiological changes that take place when a snake goes for prolonged periods without food. McCue examined three snake species - the ball python, the ratsnake and the western diamondback rattlesnake - to study their responses to prolonged periods without food.
The 62 snakes studied went about six months without eating - a time period that could well be duplicated in the wild, where food supplies can be scarce. McCue then looked at physiological, compositional and morphological changes in the snakes.
The results showed that the snakes could lower their standard metabolic rates, some by up to 72 percent.
"Snakes already had low energy demands. We didn't know they could go lower," McCue said.
Another surprising finding: The snakes continued to grow despite the lack of food - a counterintuitive finding, but a measurement that again does not appear in the research literature.
"To me, this suggests that there must be a strong selective advantage to growing longer," McCue said. It also means the snakes have become extremely efficient in their ability to use available resources.
To illustrate the strategies employed by snakes to combat starvation, McCue uses an economic analogy of supply and demand.
"When you're cut off from resources, you are an organism that still needs to expend energy," he said. The "demand" end is met by decreasing their metabolic rate. The "supply" end must be met by frugal use of resources they have at hand for energy, which comes from within.
The body composition of snakes includes water, ash, protein, fats and carbohydrates. McCue found that the snakes used up selected fat stores first during starvation, but he also found crucial differences between the snake species. The ratsnakes, which typically have a more abundant rodent supply in their natural environment, began to break down proteins faster than the pythons or rattlesnakes.
"The protein use was higher in the snakes less well adapted to starvation," McCue said.
Snakes are relatively new on the world scene, having been around for about 100 million years. Yet they currently comprise about half of all reptile species.
"Snakes are very evolutionarily successful," McCue said. Understanding the physiology that allows them to succeed in low-energy environments will help scientists further their understanding of the snakes' evolution and their adaptation to their current ecosystems.
Two brothers who tunneled out of a collapsed mine were forced to eat coal and drink urine during the nearly six-day ordeal.
The men were even able to crack jokes about their wives remarrying once they were dead.
Meng Xianchen and Meng Xianyou surfaced on Friday after more than 130 hours trapped in an illegal mine in Beijing's Fangshan district.
News of their miraculous escape came as rescuers in northeastern China's Shandong province tried to reach 181 miners trapped in two flooded coal shafts.
Officials said today they had not given up hope even though the workers' chances of survival were dim after 11 days.
Rescuers had called off efforts to save the Mengs after more than a day, and grieving relatives had already burned ceremonial "ghost money" for the men's souls to use in the afterlife.
"At the beginning, our mobile phone still had power so there was a little bit of light. Two days later, the battery ran out so we could only feel with our fingers and listen," the brothers told the Beijing News.
The newspaper ran a photo of the men dressed in hospital gowns, standing and clasping the other's hand while surrounded by relatives.
Doctors have said the Mengs, whose ages were not reported, had kidney damage from lack of water but no other major injuries.
Officials have said rescue work was halted after experts determined there was no chance that the brothers from the Chinese region of Inner Mongolia had survived. Efforts to extract them would also have put rescuers at risk, they said.
The men were optimistic until the sound of digging outside stopped. Then they "totally had a breakdown. I told my brother, your wife is going to have to marry someone else," said Meng Xianyou
"I said right, I had been thinking about buying an apartment in town for my wife and it was going to be someone else's," Meng Xianchen added.
"I laughed too, I said my wife could find a rich man in Shenyang. But then I thought, I have two children and my wife is ugly, so it'd be hard for her to remarry," his brother joked.
The Mengs said they dug three horizontal tunnels but stopped because they felt they were going in the wrong direction.
Then they started digging a vertical tunnel, which ultimately led them to the surface.
"We were thinking about digging toward the surface so we dug a tunnel at a 75 degree angle. Actually in that situation, everyone just wants to survive. We thought, every metre we dig is one metre closer to the surface," they said.
The men, who each had 20 years of experience working in coal mines, clawed through nearly 66 feet of coal and rock with a pick and their hands. They dug through half a metre in three hours, taking turns working because the tunnel was too narrow.
"At first we didn't feel hungry, but later on we were so hungry we couldn't even crawl," Meng Xianchen said. "At the end, we were so hungry we ate coal and thought it tasted delicious."
They also had no water and were forced to drink urine using two empty water bottles they found in the coal shaft.
"You could only sip it a little at a time. After drinking it we wanted to cry," Meng Xianchen said.
The Mengs said they had worked for state-owned mines in the past but turned to the illegal mine - which had no oxygen, ventilation or emergency exits - because they got paid every two weeks or so, as opposed to once a month.
Still, they said they made only about US$265 each a month for working 12 hours a day.
China's coal mines are the world's deadliest, with an average of 13 deaths a day in fires, explosions and floods. Deadly accidents often are blamed on mine owners who disregard safety rules.
The Mengs said their mining days were over.
"Never. Never again. Other people learn a lesson from being injured, we learned our lesson from almost losing our lives. Now we just want to go home safely and put this behind us," they said.
Two crazy Russian artists think that frogs should be able to fly, so they’ve made different photos of the frog in “flight”. The one above is called “Eddy Chlorophyll”.
The jump of frog symbolizes thirst of flying. As genetic magic dream, about that far time, when frogs were the ANGELS.