Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Four infant bodies found in Canada storage locker

A storage facility in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on 21 October 2014


The bodies of up to four infants have been found in a storage locker in Winnipeg, Canada, authorities say. Police responded to a call from an employee at the storage facility on Monday and discovered the decomposed remains inside.
Tests on the unidentified bodies have yet to take place. Investigators are speaking with "a number of individuals", they say, but the remains do not appear linked to any infants previously reported missing. Police spokesman Eric Hofley told Canadian media the finding was "tragic beyond belief"
.

People stand outside a storage facility in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on 21 October 2014

An employee stands outside a storage facility in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on 21 October 2014

The bodies are said to be newborns or "of a very young age", he added. "[They're] certainly not children."
The remains were discovered at a Winnipeg U-Haul storage facility by an employee who contacted authorities. It is not clear how long the remains were in the storage locker before they were found.
Storing or concealing human remains is in itself illegal, said Mr Hofley.
"Until such time as the autopsies have determined what is the cause of this, we won't know what the full extent of the charges may or may not be."

Summary of final day of sentencing...Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius, rear right, is led to a waiting police vehicle to be taken to prison.

Oscar Pistorius, rear right, is led to a waiting police vehicle to be taken to prison. Photograph: Antoine de Ras/AP


Oscar Pistorius on his way to prison.

End-of-day summary

Oscar Pistorius is behind bars, reportedly at Kgosi Mampuru II prison in Pretoria, beginning a five-year jail sentence for the culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp.
  • Judge Thokozile Masipa has given Pistorius a five-year prison sentence, telling him:
"I am of the view that a non-custodial sentence would send a wrong message to the community. On the other hand, a long sentence would not be appropriate either, as it would lack the element of mercy."
  • She also handed down a three-year sentence for negligently discharging a firearm in a crowded restaurant, wholly suspended and to be served concurrently.


Oscar Pistorius is lead by an officer into a holding cell after being sentenced.

Oscar Pistorius is led by an officer into a holding cell after being sentenced. Photograph: Themba Hadebe/AFP/Getty Images

  • Pistorius must also surrender all his guns and firearms licences.
  • The judge said house arrest and community service – proposed by two defence witnesses in mitigation – would not be appropriate for Pistorius, who “deliberately fired four shots into the door”.
  • But the judge acknowledged that there would be many who disagreed with her ruling:
"Society cannot always get what they want. Courts do not exist for a popularity contest but only to dispense justice … The general public may not even know the difference between punishment and vengeance."
  • Masipa described Reeva Steenkamp as:
"Young, vivacious and full of life … a promising young woman who cared deeply for family, who was full of hope for the future, and lived life to the full.
The loss of life cannot be reversed. Nothing I do or say today can reverse what happened to the deceased and to her family. Hopefully this sentence shall provide some sort of closure to the family … so they can move on with their lives."
  • Steenkamp’s parents said they were satisfied with the sentence. But June Steenkamp, her mother, said there would not be closure, “unless you can magic her back”. Her father Barry said: “I’m pleased that it’s over.”


Parents of the late Reeva Steenkamp, June, front, and Barry back, leave court in Pretoria, South Africa, after Oscar Pistorius was handed down a five-year sentence.

Parents of the late Reeva Steenkamp, June, front, and Barry back, leave court in Pretoria, South Africa, after Oscar Pistorius was handed down a five-year sentence.
  • There are disputed claims about how long the athlete will serve in prison, with the defence team indicating it expects him to be considered for house arrest after 10 months, and the National Prosecuting Authority insisting he must serve a minimum of one-third in jail: 20 months.
  • The defence is not expected to appeal the judgment, although prosecutors have stated there is an “appetite” for an appeal and they are looking at the legal basis for challenging the conviction and/or sentence.
  • Pistorius is reportedly currently in Kgosi Mampuru II prison, formerly Pretoria Central, where it is anticipated he will be housed in the hospital wing.
  • The Pistorius family has said it accepts the judgment. The athlete’s uncle, Arnold Pistorius, said:
"I hope Oscar will start his own healing process as we walk down the path of restoration. As a family we are ready to support and guide Oscar as he serves his sentence."
  • The International Paralympic Committee has said Pistorius will be banned from athletics competitions until 2019.
I think the judge ruled pretty much as we expected she would...very politically correct.
He will serve about 20 months, maybe less. How much is a human life worth these days? Has justice been served? Personally, I think an angry, jealous, egotistical man decided if he couldn't own Reeva completely and bend her to his will, then no one could have her. Twenty months is a walk in the park; after which, a murderer gets to live out his life, free and clear. Reeva has been wiped from the earth, never to marry, or watch a child grow up, or enjoy all the things we take for granted....things that Oscar will continue to enjoy. And her parents will be broken hearted until they join her.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Oscar Pistorius may have notorious criminal for neighbor in prison

 *Czech migrant Radovan Krejcir is on trial for alleged kidnapping and torture
*Pistorius may be held in same high security wing at Pretoria Central Prison 
*It has just six cells and is guarded by a special task force
A high security cell has been prepared for Oscar Pistorius alongside a notorious Czech prisoner on trial for torture, according to reports. The 27-year-old convicted killer will learn his fate tomorrow when he is sentenced for the Valentine’s Day shooting of his girlfriend. At last week’s sentencing hearing, Pistorius’ legal team called for the paralympian to be spared jail and placed under house arrest citing fears for his safety from violence and disease.


Czech businessman Radovan Krejcir outside the Magistrate's Court in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2012
scar Pistorius leaves  the High Court in Pretoria on Friday

High security: Krejcir is currently on trial at the High Court in Johannesburg for alleged kidnapping and torture, but is being held in a special wing at Pretoria Central Prison as he is considered a high security risk prisoner

Krejcir is currently on trial at the High Court in Johannesburg for alleged kidnapping and torture, but is being held in Pretoria as he is considered a high security risk prisoner. Pretoria Central Prison was the execution site of dozens of black political activists by South Africa's white-only apartheid government, which ended with the election of Nelson Mandela in 1994. It is now the home of apartheid death squad leader Eugene de Kock, known as 'Prime Evil', and is known for a vicious gang culture.
The correctional services department on Monday denied that it was making arrangements in advance of Pistorius’ sentencing tomorrow.

Lock up: Pretoria Central Prison was the execution site of dozens of black political activists by South Africa's white-only apartheid government. Now it is home to the apartheid death squad leader Eugene de Kock

Lock up: Pretoria Central Prison was the execution site of dozens of black political activists by South Africa's white-only apartheid government. Now it is home to the apartheid death squad leader Eugene de Kock


Gerrie Nel, who prosecuted Pistorius for the murder of 29 year old Miss Steenkamp, told Judge Thokozile Masipa that the idea of the athlete serving his sentence at home under 'correctional supervision' with an order to carry out community service, was 'shocking inappropriate' for the severity of the crime he had committed. He said the double amputee’s disability should not be taken into consideration when he is sentenced and called for a minimum of ten years behind bars.

The trial of Krejcir is one of the most high profile and high security South Africa has ever seen.The fugitive arrived in South Africa on a fake passport and since then a number of his business rivals and associates have died in mysterious circumstances, including German super car conversion specialist Uwe Gemballa and the owner of a string of strip clubs, ‘Lolly’ Jackson.

Requests for special arrangements came after Pistorius's legal team told the court their client faces threats from a ruthless prison gang leader if he is given preferential treatment in jail. Khalil Subjee - known as The General - said he would order 'a hit' on the double-amputee if his fame and wealth bought him an easy time behind bars.
Defence counsel Barry Roux quoted from a newspaper interview with the gang leader, who openly threatened to have Pistorius killed if he is gets extra care and privileges. With prison authorities under acute pressure to guarantee the fallen track star’s safety, a meeting of senior correctional services officials met on Friday to draw up plans to keep him safe.

Pistorius talks to his lawyer Barry Roux on day four of his sentencing hearing at the High Court in Pretoria

Pistorius talks to his lawyer Barry Roux on day four of his sentencing hearing at the High Court in Pretoria

Emotional: The athlete's sister, Aimee, wipes tears from her eyes next to her aunt Lois while listening to testimony from Miss Steenkamp's cousin, Kim Martin, during the sentencing hearing

Emotional: The athlete's sister, Aimee, wipes tears from her eyes next to her aunt Lois while listening to testimony from Miss Steenkamp's cousin, Kim Martin, during the sentencing hearing

If sentenced to  prison, it was thought the paralympian would be been sent to Kgosi Mumpuru prison in Pretoria, where feared gangs are notorious for turning new inmates into sex slaves in exchange for protection.
Mr Roux said Subjee, the head of the feared 26s gang who claims to control all of South Africa's inland jails, made his threats in an interview from a prison phone box.
Subjee said: 'If he thinks he is going to come here and buy his way to get computers and cellphones and a lavish lifestyle, he must know that will never happen for as long as I am around.'
The criminal kingpin, who has been in and out of prison for the past 33 years, admitted he had organized similar retribution on other prisoners who had received special care, including the killer of Chris Hani - a hero of the anti-apartheid struggle. The revelations came after Miss Steenkamp's cousin made a dramatic appeal for Pistorius to be sent to prison, telling the court that he 'needs to pay for what he's done' to her family and his own.

GANGS ARE SO ENTRENCHED IN SOUTH AFRICA'S PRISON SYSTEM THEY HAVE THEIR OWN HIERARCHY AND EVEN A UNION
Prison life in South Africa is characterized by an elaborate system of gangs, through which much prisoner-on-prisoner violence is mediated. While gang activity is common to many prison systems, South African prison gangs are distinctive. Most importantly, they have a national organization. As such, a gang member who is transferred from one prison to another, or even released and re-imprisoned, will keep his membership and gang rank in the new prison.
 
Stark conditions: Prisoners are lined up inside the Kgosi Mumpuru 11 Management Centre during a surprise raid by prison officials checking for drugs and other contraband. The jail is the most likely one that Oscar Pistorius will be sent to if he is given a prison term for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

Stark conditions: Prisoners are lined up inside the Kgosi Mumpuru 11 Management Centre during a surprise raid by prison officials checking for drugs and other contraband. The jail is the most likely one that Oscar Pistorius will be sent to if he is given a prison term for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

The gangs have a history that predates the formation of the South African prisons department. They are not spontaneous creations in each prison, with an improvised system of membership and command. Instead, they have an elaborate structure, ranking and disciplinary code that mimics the militaristic structures of the South African apartheid system in general and the prison administration in particular.
The three predominant gangs operating in South Africa's prisons today are the 28s, 27s and 26s, known collectively as the 'number gangs'.  The 'number gangs' trace their origins, by an elaborate oral history, to the late 19th century, when gangs were formed in the all-male compounds occupied by migrant laborers working in the mines on the Witwatersrand, near Johannesburg.
 
Grim: The athlete's lawyer has argued that there will be a risk from prison gangs if he is sent to jail

Grim: The athlete's lawyer has argued that there will be a risk from prison gangs if he is sent to jail

A report by Human Rights Watch found that promotion is gained by carrying out acts of violence on non gang members or rivals. The 28s are said to be the most feared, operating an organized system of 'wyfies' - or sexual partners.
The 26s are known for skill at obtaining contraband items, while the 27s enforce the codes of the other two groups.
Inmates who are not associated with a gang complain of having to 'buy' back their own bunk from gang members and have other possessions confiscated. And any attempts to disrupt the structure of gangs often leads to warfare within the gang and with rivals.
Most worryingly, warders often turn a blind eye to gang activities and in some cases, actively collaborate with them.  I can't imagine a more dangerous environment for Pistorius to be placed in and am positive he will not be integrated into the general prison population. If he got killed right away in prison, he would be getting off too easy. I think the judge will be quite lenient in spite of public censure for her handling of this case.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

BBC visits five states on the "Blues Highway" to test the mood of voters and absorb the music

2014 US mid-terms: New Orleans

Restaurant in New Orleans
Following the old Blues Highway from St Louis to New Orleans to talk about the issues that matter most in the mid-term election November 4rth.
Aleem and Irvin Mayfield
The BBC's Aleem Maqbool meets Grammy award-winning jazz trumpeter Irvin Mayfield in New Orleans

Day Five - New Orleans, Louisiana
Driving into warm and vibrant New Orleans on the final day of our road trip made the rain and cold in St Louis and the tornadoes in Tennessee earlier in the week feel like very distant memories.

It is a magical sensation to walk down Frenchmen Street in the city and be bombarded by the sounds of live music coming from so many different directions - a trumpet here, a piano there, a double bass somewhere else.
This city largely celebrated the election of President Obama in 2008. Mr Obama may not be on the ballot on 4 November, but as he conceded recently, his policies most certainly are. The question is how the president's approval ratings - at their lowest ever - will impact how and whether people vote. Mary Landrieu, the incumbent Louisiana Democratic senator, has been criticized for distancing herself from the president. But holding on to her seat is crucial if the Democrats are to retain control of the US Senate, and stop the Republicans taking charge of both houses of Congress.
Observers back in Washington tend to see these elections through that prism, focusing on the handful of Senate seats the Republicans need to pick up.

In contrast, on this road trip we've been focusing on the issues - and particularly how these issues are being reflected in contemporary music. With that in mind, there was one man we had to check in on in New Orleans. Grammy and Billboard award-winning jazz man Irvin Mayfield was eloquent in his belief that music was intrinsically linked to life, history, people and to politics.He called jazz "democracy in art-form", explaining that in jazz, each musician has to shine as an individual but simultaneously needs to work in harmony with the collective. Mayfield seemed to have the answers to everything except the big one here: who will win Louisiana on 4 November?

Day Four - Clarksdale, Mississippi
Aren Wilkins, 10, sings about growing up in America's poorest state. For me, there was something magical about today; the characters we met, the warmth of the communities, and the feeling that the land itself was drenched in the richest of music history. The route we took passed through huge swathes of cotton-growing country - endless fields blanketed in white. That crop will be forever linked to the music of The Delta.


The cotton fields of Mississippi
The cotton fields of Mississippi

Mechanization of cotton cultivation in the 1940s meant that job opportunities for African Americans in the South declined dramatically. That, in part, led to extraordinary mass migration north, back along our very route as people journeyed in search of a way to make a living. Of course, as they travelled they took with them the music through which they expressed their pain - the blues.
"Years ago, your Afro-American people couldn't communicate with white people, so they would sing about it," says 88-year-old Sonny Payne. "The blues today is about the same thing."


Sonny Payne in a radio studio
Sonny Payne has been playing the blues for more than 60 years

For more than 60 years, "Sunshine" Sonny Payne has hosted "King Biscuit Time", the longest-running blues radio show in the world.  I contested his assertion that the blues are the only way for some people to communicate their feelings, exactly as in the past. After all, I said, there is no longer legal segregation, and African Americans have available to them the same means of expression as everyone else.
"You don't know this area very well, do you?" he told me.


Welcome to Mississippi sign
Rich in musical history but still America's poorest state

We then crossed the Mississippi River to meet a precocious emerging blues talent, one that I hope will one day be a huge star. Clarksdale is known to many as the birthplace of the blues. It was there, in a glass-fronted converted store, now a youth club, that we met 10-year-old Aren Wilkins. He was quiet, modest and well-mannered. When he climbed up with his guitar onto a stool behind the microphone to perform for us, his legs dangled a couple of feet above the ground. But as he gave the signal to the high school musicians that he played with to fire up their stop-time blues chords, and when he opened his mouth to sing, he was transformed.


Aren Wilkins singing 
"I just go into a world of my own and just sing." - Aren Wilkins

The surprising richness in his voice, the assured way he sang the words, was mesmerizing.
"Well, it feels like I don't hear anything or see anything around," Aren told me. "I just go into a world of my own and just sing."
The neighbourhood in which Aren was born and raised is among the roughest in Clarksdale. His state, Mississippi, is the poorest in America. Clarksdale was one of the hubs of The Great Migration back in the 1940s. Lack of jobs is a huge issue in modern day Clarksdale too. With that, comes the scourge of drugs and guns and gangs. Aren hopes music will lead to a better life. Aren's family hopes music will keep him occupied enough that he steers clear of trouble. But, it's a place where opportunities are not easy to come by. Aren seems amply aware of the issues that surround him, and already determined to avoid the bad things he has seen.
"The blues is not a kind of music, it's how you feel. Certain lyrics just come out, and that's what blues is to me," Aren tells me. These, I have to remind myself, are the words of a 10-year-old boy. I start to think that veteran blues host, Sonny Payne was right; things have not changed that much at all.

Day Three - Little Rock, Arkansas
We're at the state capitol in Arkansas asking why so many Americans feel Washington is not working. People are very outspoken, whether for or against. Political opinions in the south are very strong and run deep.

Day Two - Joiner, Arkansas, and Memphis, Tennessee
Early on Day Two there was a moment when I thought our road trip was about to come to an abrupt end. As we drove south from St Louis, a huge bank of swirling black clouds rose in front of us. Alarming tornado warnings were being shouted over on the local radio stations. But as the storms broke around us, there was little we could do but battle our way through the heavy rains to the nearest town.

Aleem in Joiner, Arkansas
Shelter from the storm - the BBC team seeks a safe haven from potential tornadoes in Arkansas

It was in a grocery store, in the tiny town of Joiner, Arkansas, that we sought refuge until the storms passed. There were people from the area waiting it out there too - farmers, a mother in her pyjamas with her baby, and members of the family running the store. They had all been born and raised in the surrounding area, and while we often read of the apathy that there is among Americans ahead of the mid-term elections, all those sheltering in Winford's Grocery Store said they would be voting in three weeks' time.
"I don't have any issues, but I will vote," Bruce told me. "Around here we don't vote on issues or even what party people are from, we vote on the person and what we know about them and how they run things."
But down the road in Tennessee, there is a very specific issue on which people will be asked their opinion on  November 4rth. Just as I was beginning to think we would never be able to reach Memphis to hear about it, the storms eased up a little. In Tennessee, people will be asked whether or not they want to change the rules governing abortion. It has drawn the attention of women's rights campaigners across the country.



When we finally got to Memphis, we met Gretchen Peters, a Grammy-nominated country singer and
songwriter who raised eyebrows when she spoke up about her views on abortion.
"What scares me about what is happening in the mid-terms in Tennessee is that the amendment that’s on the ballot would actually not provide for abortion in the case of rape or the potential death of the mother. That is extreme…. For me, women's rights remains the biggest issue in Tennessee today, and that extends to the right of women to govern what happens to their own bodies," she says
"I got some really quite ugly hate mail, but to me country music has been about adults and real life and the problems they face and I have a responsibility to stand up for the issues I believe in".

Gretchen Peters in the recording studio
BBC team with Gretchen in studio

 Peters courted controversy in 2008, when Sarah Palin chose to use her song Independence Day as a walk-on anthem at rallies during the presidential election campaign.
"Sarah Palin used it thinking it was a patriotic standard because she hadn't listened to the song," Peters says.
"It is actually a story about domestic abuse and a women who is horribly oppressed and can't figure a way out."


Protestors carry a US flag upside down at Ferguson protests
Activists carry the US flag upside down at a protest in Ferguson - some flags were later burned

I have seen American flags burned at anti-drone protests in Pakistan, and seen them stamped on after air strikes on the Gaza Strip, but this weekend the Stars and Stripes were set alight by some protesters in Missouri.
It is more than two months since a police officer in this area shot dead 18-year-old African American Michael Brown. The media gaze may have turned elsewhere, but the almost daily confrontations with the police continue.
"We don't feel American," says St Louis hip hop artist Tef Poe. "When you look at a mother whose son was murdered by the people supposed to protect us and serve us, how can you feel included?"
"It's just a shame that they would bring tear gas and tanks against their own citizens," says Tef Poe, referring to the perceived heavy-handedness by the police.
"How could you feel included in a system when they treat you so badly for speaking out against the injustices that they committed?"
It is a sobering start to our road trip down the so-called "Blues Highway".
Over the course of a week, we will be journeying from St Louis to New Orleans through the richest stretch of land in American music history, looking at some of the country's biggest issues and the way they are reflected in the music of today.
Crowd chanting at a hip hop resistance concert
"We have to use our platform for something righteous" - Tef Poe, hip hop artist

Here in Missouri, they are talking "hip hop resistance". Rappers who feel that little has changed since Brown's death have come together for a protest concert in St Louis.
"Ferguson, Missouri, became Ground Zero for a wider protest movement," Talib Kweli told me. The internationally renowned hip hop star had flown in from New York to be at the event.
"In America, a lot of energy is spent getting a lot of young black and brown and poor people in prison. To do that, you have start by making them feel that their lives don't matter, but this community is motivated to change things now," says Kweli.
"As artists, we have a responsibility to speak about these things. We have a platform and we've got to use that platform for something righteous," says Tef Poe, who helped organize this event.
Like blues music, hip hop has become a way in which African Americans with few means can express their struggles.To some extent, hip hop has been part of the confrontations that have taken place between young people from the area and the police. We saw that two months ago in the immediate aftermath of Brown's death, and we saw it even this weekend.


Protesters and police in Ferguson
There was the same tension as protesters looked into the eyes of law enforcement officers close to the Ferguson police station.

Last time we were here, a voter registration table had been set up close to the spot where Brown died in Ferguson. It was much talked about at the time that African Americans of the area had a very low election turnout, and as such denied themselves influence on the way Ferguson was run. Just two months later, with elections at hand, we encountered a great deal of scepticism about the idea that change could come through the ballot box.
"It's a distraction and a mistake to think that voting is going to solve all your problems," says Talib Kweli. He notes Brown was killed even as a relatively liberal African-American man sits in the White House.
Politicians are fighting these elections on a vast range of local and national concerns. I wonder if we will stumble upon the same type of apathy from other communities as we look at a different issue each day this week, travelling through Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana.
We will be tracing back the route taken by poor blues musicians in the 1930s and '40s as they journeyed (in the opposite direction) from the Deep South to cities like St Louis. Here they found audiences that embraced their tunes derived from aching ballads, labour songs and spirituals. It quickly led to music revolution.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Death Star moon may be 'wonky or watery'

Mimas
  The enormous Herschel Crater makes Mimas look rather like the Death Star space station from Star Wars

The internal structure of one of Saturn's moons is either wonky or awash with water, according to a new study.  Mimas is nicknamed the Death Star because it resembles the infamous Star Wars space station.
It has a tell-tale wobble that is twice as big as expected for a moon with a regular, solid structure.

The researchers offer two explanations: either it has a vast ocean beneath its surface, or a rocky core with a weird shape resembling a rugby ball. The study appears in Science Magazine.

Its authors are astronomers in the US, France and Belgium, who based their calculations on high-resolution photos of Mimas snapped by the Cassini spacecraft. Cassini was sent to Saturn in 1997 to explore the planet and its many moons, which so far number 62 (53 with names).
The researchers built a detailed 3D model of Mimas using images taken from various angles, and tracked the movement of hundreds of reference points on its pockmarked surface.
"After carefully examining Mimas, we found it librates - that is, it subtly wobbles - around the moon's polar axis," said lead author Dr Radwan Tajeddine, who works at Cornell University in the US.
Apart from these gentle "librations", Mimas otherwise presents the same face to Saturn throughout its orbit.

Saturn's rings and moons
Seen here as a faint glimmer just beneath the rings, Mimas is the innermost of Saturn's major moons

Our own moon has a similar motion, with a small wobble that offers us slightly different views of the satellite over time. But when Dr Tajeddine and his colleagues put all their measurements together, they found that the surface of Mimas swivels back and forth by 6km.

This is quite a wobble for a moon that measures less than 400km across. In fact, it is twice as much movement as expected, based on Mimas's size and its elliptical orbit.

"This is where we started thinking of more exotic interior models," Dr Tajeddine told BBC News.

First, the team tested whether the extra rotation could be explained by a deformity underneath the enormous Herschel Crater, one-third the size of Mimas itself, which gives the moon its signature appearance.

But even a "huge mass anomaly" created by the wallop that left the crater would not deliver the amount of movement that Dr Tajeddine's team had observed.

lunar librations 
Our own moon also wobbles or "librates", showing us slightly different faces over time
 
Instead, they wondered whether Mimas might be far from the simple, uniform sphere of ice and rock that most planetary scientists had previously assumed.
"Nature is essentially allowing us to do the same thing that a child does when she shakes a wrapped gift in hopes of figuring out what's hidden inside," Dr Tajeddine said. His team settled on two likely plot twists, wrapped beneath Mimas's icy crust.
Firstly, their calculations suggested that the wobbles could arise from a core that was squashed or elongated by 20-60km: a huge, central rugby ball of rock.
Alternatively, the moon could have a normal spherical core and crust, but separated by a "global ocean". That way, Dr Tajeddine explained, "the shell can wobble more easily, because it's not attached to another mass".
Of the two explanations, he favours the subterranean sea.
"When we saw this wobbling, the first thing we thought of was an ocean," Dr Tajeddine said.
Either possibility would make Mimas a much more interesting research subject: "This brings the spotlight back to this moon, which was a little bit ignored."

Saturn's rings and moons
Mimas is mostly made of ice and has a diameter of 396km
 
Prof Chris Lintott, an astrophysicist at the University of Oxford, was surprised to hear of the new results.
"If you'd asked me before now, I would have said that Mimas is a boring, icy moon.
"If the ocean is really there, we're getting to the point where it's just completely standard for icy moons to have substantial bodies of water inside - and that could have interesting implications for how many of these things could support life."

Day Three Pistorius Sentencing

Oscar Pistorius arrives at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria

This case warrants the exposure it's getting for a couple of reasons: First of all, it's an example of misogyny, which is global and systemic. Extreme violence against a young woman; followed by a defense team which has been attempting to trivialize her death. Particularly so, on this third day of the sentence hearing for Oscar Pistorius. And it's a case of a murderer, born to privilege and celebrity, who is receiving privileged treatment, a watered down verdict, concessions for his disability and who still has his freedom. Let's hope it serves as a model of what 'should not happen' in a court created to serve justice.

Oscar Pistorius
Dream team
Oscar Pistorius
Instructions for his lawyer

DAY THREE
The chief defense lawyer in Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial sought on Wednesday to undermine the prosecution testimony of a couple who say they heard screams and gunfire the night the athlete fatally shot his girlfriend, saying similarities in their accounts indicated that they had aligned their versions at the expense of the truth.

Charl Johnson, a neighbor of the double-amputee runner, had resumed his testimony on the third day of the trial after telling the court in Pretoria, the South African capital, that he heard the cries of a terrified woman and shooting around the time that Pistorius killed Reeva Steenkamp in what the athlete said was an accident in the early hours of Valentine’s Day last year.

Johnson’s wife, Michelle Burger, had given similar testimony and at one point broke down in tears because of what she said was the memory of the terrified screams of a woman.

Defense lawyer Barry Roux said there were differences between the statements that Johnson and Burger had given to police after the shooting, and testimony that they gave in court. Both the statements and the testimony shared similarities, Roux said, implying that the couple had contaminated their evidence by talking through what they were going to say.
"You could just as well have stood together in the witness box," Roux said. "What do you say to that?"

The tart assertion drew a caution from Judge Thokozile Masipa, who told Roux he had gone too far.
Roux contended that crucial elements in the testimony of the couple were missing in their earlier comments to police, including the statements that they heard a woman’s screams rising in anxiety and intensity and that they heard the woman’s voice "fading" after the last in a volley of gunshots.
Johnson suggested that he and his wife were more expressive while testifying in court than when providing information for a police document.
"I would venture a guess that it’s the way you verbally tell the story," he said. "There’s a lot more emotion involved ... whereas the statement is more factual."


Barry Steenkamp
Reeva's dad

At the beginning of proceedings on Wednesday, prosecutor Gerrie Nel said Johnson’s telephone number had been read out in court a day earlier. Johnson then said he had since received a "large amount" of missed calls.
He described one voicemail message as saying: "Why are you lying in court? You know Oscar didn’t kill Reeva. It’s not cool."

The prosecution then proceeded with its cross-examination of defence witnesses. State prosecutor Gerrie Nel grilled defence witness Annette Vergeer, a social worker after she testified that Pistorius should not be given a prison sentence because South African prisons will not be able to meet his needs as an amputee.

"What I find interesting is that you want to come to court and deal with conditions in prison and you don't know how the prison is run. How can you do that? I find it so irresponsible that you would come to court and give an opinion but don't know anything about the correctional services department and you're employed by another state department," Nel asked Vergeer during cross- examination.
However, Vergeer defended her position saying, "I don't know every single act."

Nel argued that if killers were sentenced to house arrest and community service,  society would lose trust in the judiciary system, something he said could force people to take the law into their own hands.
Nel asked, "Would you agree with me. Madam, that society demands that if you kill someone there should be harsh punishment? "
Vergeer defended her views, "I cannot dispute that, but have to look at the circumstances of the accused in totality."

Kim Martin, who is Reeva Steenkamp's cousin, became the first state witness to testify in  of sentence.
"Reeva was the first baby I ever held," Martin said in her testimony. These words caused Reeva's father Barry Steenkamp to breakdown in tears and had to be consoled by his wife June.

Martin explained how kind, loving and cheerful Reeva was. She cried when explaining how devastated she was when she first heard on radio that Reeva had been shot dead. "And it was for me the end of the world. Everything was a blur from there onwards," she said.
Martin also described the amount of trauma and devastation suffered by Reeva's parents when they heard the news of her death. "My aunt was hysterical. My uncle sat in the corner crying, crying, crying," Martin testified.

She went further to give her own assessment of Pistorius's attitude towards his relationship with Reeva. Martin testified, "I didn't notice much affection."

The court also heard on Wednesday that Pistorius was paying Reeva's family about 600 U.S. dollars per month for their upkeep since March 2013. "The money was paid unconditionally, with no conditions attached," defence lawyer Barry Roux told the court on Wednesday.
In his response to reports that Reeva's family wanted to pay back the money, Roux said, "Mr. Pistorius does not want it back."

The court was also told that Pistorius wanted to pay Reeva's family a lump sum of money amounting close to 40 thousand U.S. dollars but the family refused.

The prosecution is expected to call three more witnesses in a bid to persuade the court to impose a harsh sentence on Pistorious. However, the defence has already indicated it wants a non-jail sentence.


Oscar Pistorius
Water bottle and cell phone in court  with reeva's image

Pistorius was charged with the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.  After a long televised trial, Pretoria High Court Judge Thokozile Masipa found him guilty of culpable homicide not murder.
The judge accepted Pistorius's version of events in which he said he thought there was an intruder in his house.  The trial continues on Thursday.

The sentence for culpable homicide is largely at the judge's discretion. Pistorius could be jailed for up to 15 years or he could be given a fine, a suspended sentence or correctional supervision. Legal experts say the maximum prison time is rarely handed out and Pistorius would be entitled to seek parole after serving half of his sentence. Correctional supervision could include anything from community service to a rehabilitation programme. Kelly Phelps, a CNN legal analyst, says a typical sentence is five to eight years. "But it is a principle of South African law that the sentence should be tailored to the culprit as a whole person, as opposed to the crime."
What conditions would Oscar Pistorius face in prison?
Conditions in South African prisons vary, but one nationwide issue is overcrowding. The country's prisons have an occupancy rate of 128 per cent, according to statistics from the International Centre for Prison Studies, meaning that they hold almost a third more inmates than they were designed for. In some prisons, inmates are kept locked up for 23 hours a day, with just one hour outside their cell. In one prison, the government is investigating claims that inmates were punished with electric shocks, beatings and forced injections. Laurie Pieters, an offender profiler and criminologist, has described prison in South Africa as "notoriously a very dangerous place" and he said during the trial that Pistorius would be at risk because of his disability as well as his notoriety. "Everybody knows who he is. You are going to have one lot targeting him for money and then maybe even others offering him protection for money."
He may also become a victim of physical violence, which has also been discussed in court. Oh well, 'oeil pour oeil'.
Will there be an appeal against the verdict?
Both sides can apply for leave to appeal if they believe the judge made an error in law. According to legal experts, the defence could form grounds for appeal arguing that the unprecedented broadcast of the court sessions rendered it an unfair trial. Others say the prosecution might argue that Masipa applied the test for dolus eventualis incorrectly. Usually an appellant will rely on numerous grounds, says David Dadic, a litigation attorney based in Johannesburg. .
Will Oscar Pistorius race in the Olympics again?
The International Paralympic Committee has said Pistorius could resume his career once he has served his sentence and the South African Olympic Committee has confirmed that it has no regulations barring athletes with a criminal record. Pistorius, known as the Blade Runner, was last year cleared to race overseas after appealing his bail terms, but chose not to while he focused on his murder trial. His agent Peet van Zylsaid that competing at the moment is not an option but that they would "sit down and take stock" after the sentencing hearing.

For some reason it makes me angry to think that Oscar will just resume his career, almost as if nothing happened. Just a blip on the radar, a tiny bump in the road and then right back to taking care of business. Honestly, I never got over the OJ trial. It has made me a little paranoid about celebrity murder trials.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ask Maxy

Dear Maxy ,
I am due  a promotion  at my  job,  but  I think  I'm the only one  who thinks so . I have  been there for  five years  and I have watched  several people  get promoted in front of me . Whenever  I have said  anything  about it, I get the brushoff . The  last time I spoke to my boss, he said the reason  I didn't  get the latest  promotion  is  because I have a bad attitude . Is that a legitimate  reason  to be passed over ? I can't  help it at this point , I am so angry  that they don't  see my potential, but I can't  figure  out what else I can do to prove it to them . Is it time  for me to look for another  job ? I'm so frustrated .
Pulling Out  My Hair
Dear Pulling  Out  Hair ,
It is  time  for you to listen closely  to your boss  and  your  peers . If you have been passed over  repeatedly, it  can not  be everybody else's issue . You have some responsibility . Review  your behavior. Note  specific  incidents  when your  behavior   has been  questionable . Consider how  you might have handled  the situation  differently .
Request  a meeting with your  boss  to discuss your  future. Ask for  candid  feedback  and  guidance  on what  you can  do to improve  your  skills  and  your  chances for  promotion . Be mindful  not to bring  up other  co-workers  and their progress . Keep your focus on yourself .
I highly recommend  that you work  at your  current  job, if at all possible . If and when  you leave, let it  be with skills  that you have  cultivated  that  make  you more  marketable . Resist the  the emotional reactions that can easily  cause you to be  fired  or be limited  in growth  at your  current  job . Stay calm  and continue  to learn and  grow .
Maxy

Dear Maxy ,
My family gets substantial financial  aid  from my children's school . We are grateful, especially since it  didn't  start  out that way . We paid full tuition  at first, but when I lost my  job, everything  shifted . I used to  involved in lots of activities  at the school, but now I wonder  if I should continue . I don't  know  if other families  know that we get  financial  aid .  I don't want to  be embarrassed  by our  situation . Should I just  stay quiet  or do you think  it  makes sense to stay involved ?
On the  Dole
Dear On the  Dole ,
You must change  your  mindset . There is  no need for shame  in getting  financial aid . It exists  to support  families  who need  it . There  should be  no stigma  attached  to you  or your family  as a result of it, and chances  are that  has only  happened  in your mind's worst case scenario . By all means, continue  to be active  in the parent body . Your  presence  should  be as appreciated  as  any other parent's .
Maxy

Dear Maxy ,
I appreciate  your  printing  the letter  about  the rare  congenital disorder  schizencephaly .
As a pathologist  with special training  in childhood diseases , I would  also like  to bring attention to the non-profit  organization  known as  NORD  ( national organization for rare disorders ).
They are  headquartered  in Danbury, Conn . Their website  rarediseases.org, has a wealth of information about  rare diseases, most of which become symptomatic  in infancy or  childhood  . Their user-friendly  website  has separate sections  for patients  and their  families, patient  support  organizations  and  medical  professionals .
---JW
Dear JW ,
Thank you. We are very grateful for your much needed input .
This is one  I didn't have.  Again, JW, thank  you .
Maxy