Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Strange suburban crime blotter

My guess is that this first case involves a really disgruntled former employee. Matt Kiefer reports on the Chicago Sun-Times website:
At 6:23 a.m. [on September 13], rooftop surveillance cameras recorded an unidentified woman drive into the front parking lot of the [Takeda Pharmaceuticals property in Deerfield], then get out of her car and then defecate and urinate on company property.

Two security guards who responded said they parked their vehicle behind the woman's car, but that she put the car into reverse and struck their car before driving to the Lake-Cook Road exit. Company security reported she disobeyed two red lights on her way to the Interstate 294 tollway southbound entrance.
And, courtesy of Overheard in Cook County, we have a link to Dennis Sullivan's story in the Orland Park edition of Triblocal about an Orland Park woman who thought that a field sobriety test administered in the course of a traffic stop was a "fashion show." Sullivan quotes the police report as saying, "She walked up and down the line with hands on her hips three additional times." The report also notes that the woman demanded that she be read her "Amanda rights."

She has been charged with DUI.

Daddy's Home comic tackles jury duty dodging

A lot of people aren't thrilled to receive a jury summons -- my daughter Brigid was a recent exception -- which is why I found these recent comics particularly good. (Click either strip to enlarge.)

The comic "Daddy's Home," by Tony Rubino and Gary Markstein, runs in the Chicago Sun-Times, but I obtained these images from GoComics.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Are the antibiotics of the future in cockroach guts?

That, as I understand it, is the claim made in this story posted September 7 by Katie Drummond on AOL News.

The sad truth is that wee beasties that once were completely vanquished by antibiotics have adapted and are no longer so well controlled. Scary acronyms like MRSA have crept into the common vocabulary. The once futuristic-sounding word "penicillin" has taken on a rather quaint, lace doily, cloth-wrapped-electrical-cord tone.

Researchers are looking with growing desperation at any possible replacements for increasingly obsolete antibiotics. The operative word here is "any." Thus, brave British researchers at the University of Nottingham's School of Veterinary Medicine and Science have been reduced to probing into the interiors of everyone's least favorite insects.

And yet it turns out that this seeming longest of long shots may yield miraculous returns. Writes Drummond:
[P]otent chemicals, found in the brain and central nervous tissues of the critters, are able to kill 90 percent of E. coli and MRSA in lab-based tests.
According to the researchers, the unsanitary and unhygenic environments in which these bugs flourish has spurred them to develop toxins against the bacteria that we can no longer kill on our own.

If scientists can really develop something from cockroach innards, though, there will have to be some rather heroic efforts from somebody's marketing department before the potentially life-saving advantages of cockroach-gut medicine can really catch on.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Forget about the Asian Carp -- watch out for giant French Carp!

This photograph was featured tonight on Yahoo! News and it really wasn't taken in Lake Michigan or even along the Illinois River.

If the photo is real (Yahoo! reports that skeptics are suggesting the picture is faked, but the UK's Daily Mail presents it as legit) the fish in question still lives in a lake in the south of France. (The angler in the photo, Raphael Biagini, released the monster. Assuming, of course, that he caught it at all.)

Anyway, if leviathans like this are really flourishing in France, why are our neighbors so worried about the piscatorial pygmies at large in the Illinois River? Even the skeptical Yahoo! article notes that koi carp (i.e., goldfish) have been caught weighing 90 pounds. Might not any discarded feeder fish expand to these dimensions?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Juror tips vote on Facebook, removed from jury

Maybe what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. But anything on Facebook is there for the whole world to see.

Today's illustration of how Facebook isn't as-private-as-everyone-thinks comes from Macomb County, Michigan. Hadley Jons, a juror in a criminal case was removed after she posted this message on her Facebook page:
actually excited for jury duty tomorrow. It’s gonna be fun to tell the defendant they’re GUILTY. :P.
The trial started on August 10 but court was in recess on August 11 when the juror made that post.

Talk about prejudging the case: Jameson Cook's article for The Macomb Daily notes that the prosecution hadn't even rested when the juror announced her views to the world at large.
When jurors returned Aug. 12 for the resumption of the trial, Jons was brought into the courtroom alone by the presiding judge, Diane Druzinski, and asked about making a comment. Jons initially denied making a comment. But when the judge recited her words to her, she “put her head down” and didn’t respond, according to a court observer.

“You don’t know how disturbing this is,” Druzinski told her.

“Nobody could believe how cavalier she was about it,” said Saleema Sheikh, the defense attorney for the woman on trial.
And how was the juror found out?

My kids would call it "Facebook stalking": Defense counsel's teenage son (who just graduated from high school and was helping out in his mother's office to gain practical experience) was "surfing the Internet and plugging in jurors’ names," just to see what he could see.