Sunlight shown to trigger DNA mutation that causes melanoma

Sunlight shown to trigger DNA mutation that causes melanoma

New research found mutations that cause melanoma result from a chemical conversion in DNA fuelled by sunlight, undermining previous theories.

Research conducted by scientists at the Van Andel Institute (VAI), US, showed that the genetic mutations that give rise to melanoma result from a chemical conversion in DNA fuelled by sunlight, not a DNA copying error as previously thought.

“Cancers result from DNA mutation that allow defective cells to survive and invade other tissues. However, in most cases, the source of these mutations is not clear which complicates development of therapies and prevention methods,” said Dr Gerd Pfeifer at the VAI. “In melanoma, we have now shown that damage from sunlight primes the DNA by creating ‘premutations’ that then give way to full mutations during DNA replication.”

While most cancers are thought to begin when DNA damage directly causes that is then copied into subsequent generations of cells, Pfeifer and his team found a different mechanism in the case of melanoma. They discovered the introduction of a chemical base not normally found in DNA that makes it prone to mutation.

The team used a method developed by Pfeifer’s lab called circle damage sequencing which allowed the researchers to “break” DNA at each point where damage occurs. They then coaxed the DNA into circles which are replicated thousands of times using a technology called polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Once they had enough DNA, they used next-generation sequencing to identify which DNA bases are present at the breaks.

The researchers looked at melanoma’s DNA bases and found that the problem occurs when UVB radiation from the sun hits certain sequences of the bases thymine (T) and cytosine (C): CC, TT, TC and CT. UBV causes them to chemically link together and become unstable, resulting in a chemical change to cytosine that transforms it into uracil, a chemical base found in RNA but not in DNA. This “premutation” primes the DNA to mutate during normal cell replication thereby causing alterations that underlie melanoma.

“In our study, 10-15 minutes of sun exposure to UVB light was equivalent to what a person would experience at high noon and was sufficient to cause premutations,” explained Pfeifer. “While our cells have built-in safeguards to repair DNA damage, this process occasionally lets something slip by. Protecting the skin is generally the best bet when it comes to melanoma prevention.”

According to the team, the findings challenge long-held beliefs about the mechanisms underlying the disease, reinforce the importance of prevention efforts and offer a path forward for investigating the origins of other cancer types.

Source: Science Advances
A tiny fish takes on its predators and wins, transforming the Baltic coast

A tiny fish takes on its predators and wins, transforming the Baltic coast

A tiny fish takes on its predators and wins, transforming the Baltic coast
No bigger than a minnow, the three-spine stickleback may seem a puny player in the underwater world. But along the European coastline of the Baltic Sea, it has edged out its own predators—toothy pike and perch, fish that grow longer than your forearm. Records dating back 40 years show how the flamboyant little stickleback has shifted the ecosystem, thwarting efforts to restore the larger species favored by human fishers. “A little pelagic fish that many people ignore is having a dramatic ecological impact,” says Brad deYoung, an oceanographer at Memorial University who was not involved with the work.

Ecologists say what has happened in the Baltic is a dramatic example of a predator-prey reversal, in which two species trade places on the food chain, drastically altering the rest of the ecosystem. “It shows you really need to understand not just who eats who, but who might eat who to properly manage [fish stocks],” deYoung says.

Johan Eklöf grew up along Sweden’s Baltic coast and fondly remembers catching plentiful Eurasian perch (Perca fluviatilis). Later, as an ecologist at Stockholm University, Eklöf and his colleagues noted that the three-spine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) seemed more and more common in coastal waters. To find out what was going on, the researchers unearthed 13,000 surveys of fish done between 1979 and 2017 by scientists and fisheries managers along 1200 kilometers of the western coast of the Baltic Sea. “This paper is a good example of using past data, which can sometimes seem dull, to explore a problem that cannot be addressed any other way,” deYoung says.

In the 1980s, Eklöf and colleagues found, sticklebacks outnumbered not just perch, but also Northern pike (Esox Lucius), at the outer edges of the many islands and shallow bays along the Baltic coast. That’s not surprising—pike and perch are freshwater fish, able to survive in the ocean only where river outflows lower salinity. Those fish prevailed in the fresher waters 8 kilometers closer to shore. But in the 1990s, sticklebacks began to outnumber their predators closer to land, their dominance spreading toward more protected bays and inland waters. By 2014, sticklebacks reigned a full 21 kilometers landward from the archipelago’s edge, Eklöf and his colleagues report today in Communications Biology.

The sticklebacks themselves probably didn’t initiate their predators’ decline. Instead, complex ecological factors appear to have first worked against pike and perch: Beginning in the 1990s, gray seals became more common, thanks to better water quality and an end to bounty hunting. The seals, along with cormorants, began to eat more pike and perch. Meanwhile, sticklebacks were thriving in the rapidly warming seas. And overfishing of cod, the top predator, and large herring translated into fewer predators on sticklebacks.

As the stickleback grew numerous, they became a formidable foe: They eat juvenile pike and perch. In earlier studies, co-author Ulf Bergström from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and colleagues found both species in the stomachs of sticklebacks. Eklöf, Bergström, and their colleagues caught and analyzed fish in 32 bays and confirmed that where stickleback were abundant, juvenile pike and perch were scarce. Thus, as stickleback became more plentiful in more places, pike and perch had even less chance to recover.

This is not the first time that scientists have documented a predator-prey reversal. Large populations of herring in the North Sea likely drove down numbers of cod, their predator, by feasting on tiny cod juveniles, for example. But such connections have been difficult to document. “This result seems remarkably clear,” deYoung says.

The work also stands out because it documents such a widespread and lasting ecological shift, adds Steve Carpenter, a limnologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. More typically, researchers have observed such shifts in a single location, often a lake, showing how dominance swings back and forth between two species as temperature changes or fishing becomes more intense, he says. The new results “show that regime shifts can spread among connected habitats and transform an entire coastline rather rapidly.”

The stickleback surge is triggering other ecosystem impacts. The fish eat snails and crustaceans that previously kept green algae in check, favoring the return of algal blooms that had been declining in these waters thanks to pollution control measures.

The work “clearly shows that the [disappearance] of larger predators can cause cascading effects all the way down to algae, and that these changes can unfold over vast spatial scales like falling dominoes,” says Boris Worm, a marine biologist at Dalhousie University. Worm worked in the Baltic Sea as a Ph.D. student, and he mourns the change, calling it “a slow-motion disaster through the Baltic Sea.”

Eklöf and others are now considering how to bring back pike and perch, perhaps by locally fishing out stickleback or stocking bays with juvenile pike and perch too big for stickleback to eat. For now, the lesson is clear. “The world is changing at a very fast rate and ecosystems are shifting, most times, to less desirable states,” says Julián Torres Dowdall, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Konstanz. How politicians and managers respond to the result of this study “is important to our planet.”
Mystery man seen by Welsh river where Logan, 5, was found dead an hour later, locals reveal

Mystery man seen by Welsh river where Logan, 5, was found dead an hour later, locals reveal

Mystery man seen by Welsh river where Logan, 5, was found dead an hour later, locals reveal
Neighbours of a five-year-old boy who was found dead in a river over the weekend revealed tonight that a mystery man was spotted near the water about an hour before the child's body was discovered.

Logan Williamson was found in the River Ogmore close to his home in the village of Sarn near Bridgend early on Saturday, and South Wales Police officers have been questioning three people on suspicion of murder. They all remain in custody.

The boy's distraught mother Angharad Williamson had been due to marry her fiancé Jay Cole, a carer, next year after he proposed in May - and Logan was said to have been 'beyond excited' about the wedding, where he was set to be a pageboy.

Mystery man seen by Welsh river where Logan, 5, was found dead an hour later, locals reveal
Logan Williamson, five, is pictured at the Ogmore River in Sarn near Bridgend where he was found dead on Saturday.

Tonight, locals told of how a man was seen in the area in the early hours of the morning, just minutes before the tragedy which shocked the community.

Dog walker Lisa Gould told The Sun: 'The thought of this man being there so close to the spot where Logan was found only an hour or so later chills me to the bone. I'm in shock hearing this. That poor little lad. I just hope he didn't suffer.'

Mystery man seen by Welsh river where Logan, 5, was found dead an hour later, locals reveal
Pictured: A police diver surfaces in the bank of river Ogmore in Lower Llansantffraid in Sarn near Bridgend, Wales.

Another neighbour added: 'I heard someone living around here saw a man by the river at around 4.45am on Saturday. It's a mystery. What would you be doing by the river at that time of the morning?

'It is sickening to think that such a young life has been taken from our community.'

A man aged 39, a 30-year-old woman and a boy aged 13 remain in custody as police continue to investigate. Officers previously said they are 'not looking for anyone else in relation to this incident'.

Logan and his family had recently returned from a holiday in Blackpool and contracted Covid-19 during the trip.

Family friends said they received a phone call on Saturday morning from Miss Williamson to say Logan had been taken to the nearby Prince of Wales Hospital in Bridgend.

Mystery man seen by Welsh river where Logan, 5, was found dead an hour later, locals reveal
A police officer stands outside a house in Sarn today as the investigation into the death of Logan Williamson continues.

She is said to have collapsed when doctors told her Logan could not be saved. Miss Williamson, a full-time mother, attended the hospital while Mr Cole stayed at home with their other children.

Miss Williamson's best friend Rhiannon Hales, 26, led tributes to Logan and described Miss Williamson as a devoted mother. She said: 'They are good parents who love their children and bring them up well.

'My little girl is also five and she loved Logan, they were like little boyfriend and girlfriend together. I'm shocked and just devastated by what's happened, he called me Auntie Rhi, but Logan was like my own little boy.

'He was such a happy kid, always said please and thank you. He loved colouring and did all the coronavirus posters in the front window of their flat.'

Today, police widened the search area of the Ogmore River with divers spending a fourth day scouring the water and its banks after taping off another stretch.

Another neighbour said: 'The divers have been in and out of the river for a long time now they're definitely looking for something specific.

'They've had the drone overhead flying up and down the river and the forensics teams have been in and out of the house. It's all very thorough.'

Family friends paid tribute online to the 'kind, funny, polite, handsome and clever' boy. Those wanting to pay their respects were encouraged to place teddy bears at a lamppost and footbridge near where his body was found.

Neighbours speculated yesterday that police had removed a video doorbell as part of the search for evidence. A photo of the family home showed a strip on the doorframe where a doorbell may have been fixed.

But friends said the family did not have a video doorbell. The devices alert homeowners that somebody is at their front door by sending a notification to their phone along with a video.

Logan was in a nursery class at Brynmenyn Primary School in Bridgend where he was loved by pupils and staff.

Mother Lois Shepherd, 25, left a cuddly toy baby shark chosen by daughter Maisie-Rae, four. She said: 'I'm just shocked and gobsmacked - the is such a small community everyone is feeling the pain of what happened.'

Messages left at the river bank include: 'Fly high Logan, sending love and kisses,' 'RIP angel' and 'Thinking of you.'

A mother of two who drove two miles to the scene said through tears: 'I didn't know the little boy and his family but I felt I had to come. It's so sad, I can't comprehend what the family is going through.'

Chief Inspector Geraint White, of South Wales Police, said: 'This is a tragic incident. We are appealing for anyone who may have witnessed this incident, or who has any information, to get in touch.

'We would ask the public not to speculate about this incident on social media as this is an active investigation. If you have any information that can help, please report this to us. Our thoughts are with the family and we are supporting them in every way we can.'

Chief Inspector White said 'regular contact' has been made with Logan's family, who are being supported by specialist officers.

He added: 'We are keeping an open mind and are working hard to establish the full circumstances of his death so that we can provide answers to his family.

'This is an extensive and sensitive investigation and many people have been affected by this death.'

A spokesman for South Wales Central Coroner's Office said they had been notified of the death but an inquest was not yet due to open.
Woman is raped and murdered while hiking up a mountain in Eastern Europe

Woman is raped and murdered while hiking up a mountain in Eastern Europe

An Australian teacher has been raped and murdered while hiking in Eastern Europe, with her terrifying final moments heard by a friend over the phone.

Shanae Brooke Edwards, 31, was hiking Mount Mtatsminda alone above Tbiilsi, Georgia, when she was ambushed on Friday and her body found the next day.

Ms Edwards was on a call to a friend in the US while trekking when she was heard shouting 'take your hands off me' - before the call cut out.

Shanae Brooke Edwards, 31, was hiking Mount Mtatsminda alone above Tbiilsi, Georgia, when she was ambushed on Friday and her body found the next day.

Ms Edwards called the friend moments earlier, who heard her pleading 'please let me go, ok… just let me go'.

She was seen on CCTV footage leaving her apartment at 3.35pm on Friday with her hair tied up, wearing a black hiking outfit and carrying a green bag.

That afternoon, Natalia Karikh posted on a local expats Facebook group that she heard 'a woman screaming at the trails under Mtatsminda Park' about an hour after Ms Edwards had left home.

Mtatsminda Park is a booming tourist park with several adventure rides on top of Mount Mtatsminda.

Ms Edwards has been remembered as a kind and caring person with a love of adventure and animals. Her death is being treated as a premeditated murder by the Georgian authorities.

Another woman wrote in the same group claiming to have witnessed a disturbing sight on the mountain about the same time Ms Edwards went missing.

She claimed to have seen a man having 'aggressive' sex with a woman about 50m away, while her and her partner were walking 'exactly one day before the missing expat'.

Others urged her to report what she saw to police, while several reported separate incidents of harassment by one or more men in the same area previously.

Members of the group helped to organise a search for Ms Edwards following the call. Her phone was tracked to the Mtatsminda Park but early searches proved fruitless.

Ms Edwards' body was retrieved from near a mountain trail by a searchers including police with rescue dogs, volunteers and her friends, on Saturday.

She had been teaching English in the former Soviet republic for two years and travelling the world since 2016, when she left Melbourne.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia launched an investigation into her death, which is being treated as a premeditated murder.

Dozens of tributes to the 'kind' and 'adventurous' Ms Edwards flooded social media this week, many with memories from around the world as she travelled.

Georgian Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri told local media the suspect was believed to be a Georgian national - although that person was not yet in custody.

'The ministry and police officers are doing their best to find the murderer… We [the Ministry of Internal Affairs] have some information, though I can not talk about it due to the interests of the investigation,' he said.

Ms Edwards posted a photo of herself on a mountain with the caption 'Joy' on Instagram on Thursday.

She volunteered with various causes in Melbourne including with homeless people and was a passionate animal lover, having rescued stray cats in Australia and Europe.

Dozens of tributes to the 'kind' and 'adventurous' Ms Edwards flooded social media this week, many with memories from around the world as she travelled.

Many remembered how she helped them find their feet in a foreign country when they arrived, or how they met her when she moved in.

Elina Osmanova, posted a video of Ms Edwards after she adopted a cat and her kittens, saying she had cut short a holiday to care for them.

'She was that kind of person. Loving and caring. I miss her so much,' she wrote.

Another post called for help in taking care of and finding homes for a female street cat and her four kittens Ms Edwards was looking after.

'Shanae helped this cat that came to her house to give a birth. She let the furry family stay for a few months till the kittens grew a bit,' they wrote.

'She taught them to go to cat's toilet, vaccinated and treated from parasites all of them, and neutered the mom cat.

'Her friends know how she loved them!'

Lina Kha posted to Instagram that Ms Edwards was 'one of the truest people I ever known. The warmest friend anyone can ever find'.

'I never told you how dear you were to me... You didn't deserve to go like this, but I'm glad I had a chance to spend some moments with you,' she wrote.

'You are forever in my mind. Anytime I'd ride a bike and play in my head Taking a Ride With My Best Friend by Depeche.

'Anytime I'd see an adorable Georgian house, anytime I'd stand on a top of a hill and see beautiful nature - I'd see you.'

'Shanae was always up for an adventure, so kind-hearted to those around her, full of laughter and a shining light. I lack the words to fully express what I feel, however I only have love for her,' Sarah Richards wrote.

Another friend, Natalie Curro, described her as 'selfless, caring and tough as nails'.

Mr Gomelauri confirmed there were reports of women being followed by men in Mtatsminda Park, but denied they had been assaulted.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs said it was was providing consular assistance to Ms Edwards' family.

'The Australian government offers its deepest condolences to the family of an Australian woman whose death is being investigated by authorities in Tbilisi, Georgia,' a DFAT statement read.
Inside The Gruesome Murder Of Mark Kilroy At The Hands Of A Satanic Cult

Inside The Gruesome Murder Of Mark Kilroy At The Hands Of A Satanic Cult

Inside The Gruesome Murder Of Mark Kilroy At The Hands Of A Satanic Cult
Mark Kilroy was a University of Texas student on spring break in March 1989 when he was tortured and murdered by Adolfo Constanzo’s cult in Matamoros, Mexico.

Mark Kilroy, a handsome, athletic pre-med senior at the University of Texas, was the all-American college boy of every parent’s dream. It was March 1989, with graduation approaching, and he and three of his best friends drove to Mexico for spring break as a last hurrah.

Inside The Gruesome Murder Of Mark Kilroy At The Hands Of A Satanic Cult
By the time a reward was offered, Mark Kilroy had already been butchered.

All four were closely bonded and had known each other since high school basketball in Santa Fe. Kilroy parked his car in the border town of Brownsville, with the group eager to meet girls and let loose as they crossed the bridge into Matamoros, Mexico. Within 48 hours, their dream vacation turned into a nightmare.

With dive bars and cheap drinks all along Calle Alvaro Obregon, the Matamoros strip provided no shortage of fun. However, as their second night rolled on, Mark Kilroy vanished without a trace.

It took a month for police to find his mutilated body. Buried among 14 others in a ranch outside Matamoros, he had been raped and dismembered by a group of Satanic drug-traffickers. His legs were hacked off with a machete, while his spine was removed — and his brains were found boiled in a cauldron.

The Ritual Murder Of Mark Kilroy

Inside The Gruesome Murder Of Mark Kilroy At The Hands Of A Satanic Cult
The full extent of the torture that Mark Kilroy suffered before his death may never be known for sure.

Born on March 5, 1968, in Chicago, Illinois, Mark Kilroy’s family moved to Texas when he was young. At Santa Fe High School, Kilroy excelled academically and became lifelong friends with his basketball teammates, Bill Huddleston, Bradley Moore, and Brent Martin.

Living in the same state well into college, all four remained close. Huddleston and Moore were fellow UT juniors, while Martin studied at Alvin Community College. On March 10, 1989, with their exams finished and spring break at hand, they got into Kilroy’s car and left for the Mexican border.

After parking in the border town of Brownsville, Texas, the group crossed into Matamoros on foot. They partied without a problem until 2:30 a.m. when they returned to their hotel on U.S. soil. The next evening began similarly, but ended on an ominous note. After hopping from bar to bar, Kilroy and his friends strolled back toward his car — when he vanished.

The group had stopped to urinate when a Hispanic man with a scar on his face approached Kilroy. “I heard him say something like ‘Didn’t I just see you somewhere?’ or ‘Where did I last see you?'” Huddleston recalled. Nobody thought much of it until the three friends finished their business and realized Kilroy was gone.

Their confusion turned to genuine concern by dawn, and Kilroy’s disappearance officially became a missing persons case. His parents distributed 20,000 leaflets across the Rio Grande valley and offered a $15,000 reward, while state officials on both sides of the border ramped up their search — with utterly macabre results.

The Satanic Crimes Of Adolfo Constanzo

After U.S.-Mexico authorities expanded their anti-drug operations on April 11, police arrested 20-year-old drug dealer Serafin Hernandez Garcia for marijuana possession.

He admitted that his family grew cannabis at the Santa Elena Ranch outside of town, where Comandante Juan Benitez Ayala, of Mexico’s Federal Police, discovered 75 pounds of marijuana. They also unearthed what one witness called “a human slaughterhouse.”

Buried in shallow graves were the dismembered corpses of 15 people — and Garcia admitted that Kilroy was among them. Victims had either been burned, shot, or hacked to death with a machete. Some, including Kilroy, had their hearts torn out. Many were missing ears or eyes. Kilroy’s legs were amputated, and his brains found in a shack — boiled in a pot with a roasted turtle.

Inside The Gruesome Murder Of Mark Kilroy At The Hands Of A Satanic Cult
The graves containing the mutilated remains of 15 people.

“I’ve been on the force 15 years, and there are no words to describe what I saw there,” said Lieutenant George Gavito, of the Cameron County Sheriff’s Department.

The pot of brains, wood, and human hair was a nganga — or, blood cauldron — of palo mayombe, an African voodoo cult. Garcia confessed that “it was our religion” and that the gang had lured Kilroy from the strip and raped him. They butchered people “for success” under the tutelage of Adolfo Constanzo.

Inside The Gruesome Murder Of Mark Kilroy At The Hands Of A Satanic Cult
The cauldron containing Kilroy’s brains.

Constanzo, of Miami, Florida, was raised practicing witchcraft, and began profiting from it after emigrating to Mexico City. Businessmen and cartel members paid him for palo mayombe sacrifices, which supposedly protected them from spirits and nurtured their careers.

His cult rapidly grew, with his most loyal devotee Sara Aldrete — a 24-year-old student from Texas Southmost College. Their victims were snatched off the streets. Tragically, inebriated tourists like Mark Kilroy were ideal targets. It was his death, however, that indirectly led to the cult’s demise.

As the manhunt for Constanzo saw police close in, he had one of his followers shoot him before he could be arrested. The shack containing Kilroy’s brains was burned to the ground, while Aldrete and four other cult members received prison sentences between 30 and 60 years.

Owner of Scholastic leaves the $1.2BILLION Harry Potter publisher to his LOVER and cuts out his two sons and ex-wife in surprise will after he died suddenly aged 84 on a walk in Martha's Vineyard

Owner of Scholastic leaves the $1.2BILLION Harry Potter publisher to his LOVER and cuts out his two sons and ex-wife in surprise will after he died suddenly aged 84 on a walk in Martha's Vineyard

The owner of $1.2BILLION Scholastic Corp. - which publishes books like 'Clifford the Big Red Dog' and 'Magic Schoolbus' - died suddenly in early June and shockingly left the company to a past flame who works in the company.

M. Richard Robinson Jr., who died suddenly on June 5 during a walk in Martha's Vineyard, left the the company to Iole Lucchese, the company's strategy officer; not either of his sons, siblings or ex-wife, The Wall Street Journal reported

She also inherited all his personal possessions, according to the The Wall Street Journal, which reviewed the 2018 will that outlined the succession plan, which family members are reportedly unhappy about.

Family members and former colleagues said Robinson, 84, and Luccesse, 54, it was an open secret that they were in a longtime romantic relationship, but said they believed the couple broke up years ago.

Robison said in his 2018 will that Lucchese, who has been with the company for more than three decades, is 'my partner and closest friend.'

Richard Robinson, chairman, president and CEO of Scholastic, rear, holds the first signed US edition of the book 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince' during its unveiling in New York, Friday, July 15,2005.

Scholastic Corp. publishes some of most-well known titles like 'Harry Potter,' 'Clifford,' 'Magic Schoolbus', 'Captain Underpants,' among others.

Family members told the paper that they're reviewing their legal options.

Robinson's death stunned everyone. Although he was 84, he was said to be in good shape.

The company issued this statement afterward: 'We are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Dick Robinson.'

'Dick was a true visionary in the world of children's books and an unrelenting advocate for children's literacy and education with a remarkable passion his entire life. The Company's directors and employees, as well as the many educators, parents and students whose lives he touched, mourn his loss.'

Maurice Robinson, 86, founder and chairman of Scholastic Magazines Inc. (left) pictured with his son M.Richard Robinson Jr., the firm's president and chief executive officer.

He left behind two sons - Maurice 'Reece' Robinson, 25, and John Benham 'Ben' Robinson, 34 - his ex-wife and mother of his boys Helen Benham, and siblings: Sue Robinson Morrill, Barbara Robinson Buckland, Florence (Dover) Robinson Ford and William (Bill) Robinson.

Reece Robinson, who's done documentary work, said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that it was 'unexpected and shocking.'

'What I want most is an amicable outcome,' Ben Robinson, who operates a sawmill and workshop that produces lumber, flooring and furniture from trees in Martha’s Vineyard and lives off the land work, said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

He told the paper that he never met Lucchese until they spoke about his dad's estate last week and said this was 'like salt in an open wound.'

'We expect to have a collaborative approach with the estate,' he said without elaborating.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Robinson and his ex-wife Benham became good friends again during the pandemic.

Robinson and Benham met at the company after she started worked in the art department in 1974, but they didn't date until the 1980s, the Wall Street Journal reported.

They married in 1986, had their two sons together and finally split in 2003. That's the year she also left the company.

Before that she told the Wall Street Journal that she 'lived and breathed Scholastic while also raising our two children.

'Dick told me on more than one occasion, "You care more about Scholastic than I do.,"' she said.

They rekindled their friendship during pandemic, when she said her ex-husband had been worked 12-hour days by himself in the company's NYC headquarters.

'His only breaks were weekends on the Island (Martha's Vineyard), which he called paradise,' according to his obituary.

He seemed to be reconnecting with his ex-wife and his kids.

He was 'was spending all of his time not working with us. Not only weekends but regular nights with us in Manhattan. He was coming back to the family,' his obituary reads.

'While he had no plans to leave Scholastic, he expressed a strong desire to work less and spend more time with his family on the Vineyard, where he was most at ease and happiest.'

While she declined to talk about Lucchese, she told the Wall Street Journal, 'I was shocked and we were not expecting this.'

Mary Sue Robinson Morrill, one of Mr. Robinson’s sisters, said in a written statement that she and her siblings agree 'that our first goal is the continuation of the mission and legacy of Scholastic, the vision and brilliant lifework of both our father and our brother Dick, and we are confident that the new management of the company is fully committed to this goal.'

William Robinson, Richard Robinson's younger brother, said in an interview that his brother and father wanted to keep Scholastic independent.

'Our family value was we'd rather not have the financial benefit that we might get from a sale if it means the company won't be in the future what it was,' he told The Wall Street Journal .

'Everybody knows Scholastic and has a good feeling about it and it does good things for teachers. It's more than just a business for us.'

Meanwhile, the woman who's heading the company now has been there since 1991, when she became an associate editor in book clubs and moved up the ranks until se was named chief strategy officer in 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Two years later she became sole president of Scholastic Canada and in 2018 she added the title of president of Scholastic Entertainment.

She's a Canadian with a home in Ontario and a permanent US resident, according to an affidavit filed in New York Surrogate’s Court.

Former staffers told the Wall Street Journal that she and Robinson had 'sweet' and 'contentious' moments, where the battled in meetings about the direction of the company.

Former staffers said she wanted to expand the company.

Despite the public bouts, people who knew them say Robinson relied on her and she remained part of his inner circle, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The company declined comment.
Elk Grove Unified employee fired after displaying Confederate flag

Elk Grove Unified employee fired after displaying Confederate flag

The school employee is no longer working with school district after a parent took a picture of a Confederate flag inside the van's cabin.

ELK GROVE, Calif. — The employee accused of displaying a Confederate flag inside a district van is no longer working for the Elk Grove Unified School District, the school announced.

The school released a statement saying they promised students the right to attend school free of bullying and discrimination.

"We want our students who identify as Black and African American to know that every school has people they can rely on to create a safe space," the statement reads.

Erin Somers, the president of Elk Grove Unified School District Parent Coalition, told ABC10 she applauds the school's decision to part ways with the employee.

"We can hopefully look to them to continue the work that they need to do so we need to continue to hold them accountable," Somers said.

Loreen Pryor, with Black Youth Leadership Project, told ABC10 the school district needs to be transparent about the investigation that led them to fire the employee.

"They will hide behind, ‘well it’s a personnel matter,’" Pryor said. "That’s not accountability. The community needs to know who the person is to make sure they were held accountable. And I can’t do that with a ghost."

The school district released a statement in June to confirm they found a small flag during the investigation. They said vehicles, like classrooms, must be safe spaces for both students and staff and that displaying the Confederate flag is not tolerated.

Monty Watkins, a parent of two students in the district, told ABC10 in June that he found the flag hanging from an AC vent inside of a van's cabin.

"I'm not really trying to go around starting a bunch of crap because it took me a minute to think about it," Watkins said. "But they are around kids, and those vans are at the schools."

The school district also took "appropriate action" towards additional employees for not reporting the flag earlier, but the statement did not elaborate on what those actions were. The district did not release the identities of those involved in the incident.

“I literally seen where she wiped her arms and told the other co-worker she didn't want any Black to rub off on her," said Crystal Sims, former Target employee.

Long Island man fired from Burger King because of colostomy bag: 'My morale was crushed'

Long Island man fired from Burger King because of colostomy bag: 'My morale was crushed'

Long Island, New York man is suing Burger King after he alleged that the company fired him for using a colostomy bag. Ryan Pacheco, 20, claims that the issue stemmed from his inability to tuck his shirt in while working a shift, according to a report from the New York Post.

Ryan Pacheco says he was hired at one of the burger joints in Huntington Station for $15 an hour June 28, according to his Suffolk County lawsuit filed Thursday.

The next day, the 20-year-old Huntington Station man told the assistant manager that he used a colostomy bag, and no issues were raised at the time, court papers say.

Pacheco then reported for his first — and only — shift July 2, where a different assistant manager told the new employee to “tuck in his shirt inside his pants,” the documents say.

Pacheco — who has lived with the colostomy bag his whole life — told the manager that he couldn’t tuck in his shirt because it would cause the bag to leak and leave him in pain, the filing claims.

Then at the end of the shift, the manager pulled Pacheco aside and said she’d spoken with her superiors, who told her that the young man “couldn’t work here due to his colostomy bag,” the suit alleges.

Pacheco told The Post by phone that when he was 19, he worked at a Florida McDonald’s, and no one there ever raised any issues with him.

“Inside, my morale was crushed,” Pacheco said of being fired. “I was doing something I wanted to do — get a job and work — and not even by the end of the first day, being shot down like that, it’s frustrating, demoralizing and unacceptable.”

He added that he was never paid for the one shift he worked.

“I don‘t really care about the money,” Pacheco explained. “It’s more about making a statement that things like this are unacceptable. I want them to be known that what was done shouldn’t happen to me or anyone else for even the smallest disability.

Ryan Pacheco (left), who is suing Burger King, with his lawyer Jon Bell.

Pacheco’s lawyer, Jon Bell, told The NYPost, “This is the simplest reasonable accommodation an employer can give which is just allowing his shirt to be untucked and continue working.”

He said the eatery didn’t even attempt to work out a solution, such as keeping Pacheco on the register if there was a concern about him handling food.

“Have some dialogue with him,” Bell said. “They immediately turned around and fired him, which is completely disgraceful given the fact that this is such a large company.”

Bell said Burger King should have better training on how to handle disability accommodation requests.

Burger King said in a statement to The Post on Friday, “Unfortunately, we’re learning about this team member’s experience at this time as well.

“The franchisee is investigating to understand the details.”

A manager at the location declined to comment.
The Unsolved Murder of Joline Witt

The Unsolved Murder of Joline Witt

Joline Faye Witt was born to Lindsey and Linda Witt on February 18, 1987. Joline’s parents divorced in 1994, and her father had custody of her and her older siblings, Lindsey Jr, 12, and Cassie, 11. Joline lived with her father and siblings in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Their mother, Linda Longenecker, lived in nearby Muncy and had visitation rights with the children.

On Saturday, July 26, 1997, Joline, 10, visited her mother for the weekend. At the time, Linda lived with her brother, Bruce Longenecker, and his family, including his wife, Christine, and their five children.

Joline went to bed around midnight on July 27. Her cousin, Bruce and Christine’s daughter, slept next to her in the same bed. Christine checked on the girls around 3:00 a.m. and then went to sleep. An hour later, Linda Longenecker’s screams awoke everyone in the house; Joline was not in her bed. The front and back doors to the home were open, and Joline was nowhere to be found.

The Investigation

A quick search for Joline Witt on Sunday and Monday produced no evidence of her whereabouts or who took her. Joline’s father, Lindsey Witt, participated in the search for his daughter. Both he and Linda were not considered suspects in Joline’s disappearance.

The investigative team consisted of 23 full-time investigators from several nearby towns, the FBI, and the Pennsylvania State Police.

The following Tuesday, a helicopter equipped with infrared detectors flew over adjacent fields, and a search dog went through a nearby deserted barn. Late Tuesday, divers searched a section of the Susquehanna River (Raphael, 1997).

Police had zero suspects in the case, and any leads or tips led nowhere.


Around 3:30 pm on September 6, 1997, hikers found a badly decomposed body in a densely wooded area along route 554 on Bald Eagle Mountain, about 3–5 miles south of Williamsport.

Williamsport Water Authority owned the land, but hikers and mountain bikers could use it if they registered with the agency.

Four days later, the body was identified as Joline Witt. The autopsy report stated cause of death was homicide by violence. Police said they had a few possible suspects but did not release any further details. More recent reports state Joline was either strangled or smothered.

Meanwhile, Muncy residents began pointing fingers at the Longeneckers.

Family Problems

Linda Longenecker had a protection from abuse order against Joline’s father, Lindsey Witt. He countered with a similar order against Linda after the September 3, 1997 incident.

Around 1:30 a.m on September 3rd, Linda showed up at Lindsey’s Williamsport home and began kicking and pounding on the door. Lindsey woke up and opened the door to Linda, holding a .25 caliber black Beretta and threatening him.

Lindsey grabbed Linda’s wrist, and the two struggled. He then grabbed her throat and held her in a headlock.

Linda responded by saying, “Go ahead and hit me so I can shoot you.”

As police arrived at the house, Lindsey threw the gun over the railing and onto the ground. Police cited Linda with disorderly conduct.

Linda told the police she was upset because she had not seen her two other children. She was supposed to see the kids twice a week.

Lindsey said that after Joline disappeared, the kids were scared, and they did not want to visit their mother.

Bruce Longenecker

Immediately after the recovery of Joline Witt’s body, her uncle, Bruce Longenecker, moved his family to Speculator, New York.

Pennsylvania authorities were going to interview Bruce again regarding Joline’s murder, and he was aware of this.

On November 4, 1997, Bruce shot himself in the head. A family member called an ambulance to the home at 3:32 p.m. When police arrived, they found Bruce lying on his back on the bed, a .38 caliber revolver at his side. An autopsy determined the gunshot wound to his head was self-inflicted.

Authorities said at that time that Bruce’s suicide was not related to Joline Witt’s case; he had been struggling with depression for years.

But Bruce Longenecker had been a suspect from the very beginning. A 1999 Grand Jury hearing revealed that the Longenecker house was locked on the night of Joline’s abduction, and Bruce had gone to bed in his underwear. But when Linda’s screams woke everyone in the house, the entry doors were open, and Bruce was wearing jeans.

There was no sign of forced entry in the home.

Investigators, which included the FBI and Muncy police, learned on numerous times Longenecker had made crude remarks about Joline’s anatomy and had touched her inappropriately. DNA tests linked sperm on the pillow cover on Joline’s bed and material on her comforter to Longenecker (Beauge, 2015).

In 2015, Lycoming County Detective Kenneth L. Mains reviewed the case and believed someone else was responsible for Joline Witt’s murder. Police may have identified the wrong person as the killer. Mains did not provide further details about who he thought killed Joline or what led him to that conclusion.

No one has ever been charged in Joline Witt’s murder. Joline’s father, Lindsey Witt, passed away in 2014. It is unclear what happened to Linda or Joline’s older siblings.


Raphael, Michael. “Girl’s Mysterious Disappearance Befuddles Search Teams in Muncy.” The Philadelphia Inquirer. July 30, 1997.
Dolly Parton addresses Britney Spears' conservatorship: 'I went through a lot of that myself'

Dolly Parton addresses Britney Spears' conservatorship: 'I went through a lot of that myself'

Parton fought a lawsuit from her music partner Porter Wagoner in 1979.

Dolly Parton is speaking out about Britney Spears.

Spears, 39, has been embroiled in a nasty court battle over her conservatorship, which has seen her father Jamie oversee her life for well over a decade.

In recent weeks, a number of celebrities have spoken out in support of Spears and the #FreeBritney movement, which has called for her to be released from the conservatorship, as she has asked a court to do.

During Thursday's episode of "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen," Parton was asked for her take on the #FreeBritney movement.

"Well, I try to not get involved in other people's business. I think she is a wonderful artist and I think she's a wonderful girl," Parton, 75, said. "I only wish her the best."

"I understand all those crazy things," the "Jolene" singer continued. "I went through a lot of that myself – through a big lawsuit in my early days with Porter Wagoner trying to get out on my own."

The country legend said she understands "where [Spears is] coming from and how she feels."

"I hope that all turns out the way that it should," Parton concluded.

In the 1970s, Parton was part of a musical duo with Porter Wagoner and eventually set her sights on a successful solo career. The two had a falling out and eventually, Wagoner filed a $3 million lawsuit against Parton in 1979 alleging breach of contract.

In the suit, Wagoner sough a hefty chunk of Parton's income over the course of several years.

The suit was later settled out of court. It's unclear just how much money was exchanged, but Parton has spoken about the ordeal, suggesting she paid him at least $1 million.

During her "WWHL" appearance, Parton also spilled on several of her upcoming projects, revealing that she's recorded a song with Reba McEntire and is "absolutely" going to appear on "Grace and Frankie" alongside her "9 to 5" co-stars Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda.

Delta variant substantially more contagious than other variants, CDC presentation warns

Delta variant substantially more contagious than other variants, CDC presentation warns

Evidence is mounting about the dangers of the delta variant and how mask-wearing is essential to bring it under control, according to a government slideshow dated Thursday.

The presentation, compiled by a doctor with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lays out what is known about the delta variant, which now accounts for the vast majority of COVID-19 cases in the United States.

Earlier this week, the CDC recommended that people in COVID-19 hotspots resume mask-wearing in indoor public spaces.

The agency had been criticized for making the recommendation without adequately supporting its reasons for the policy shift. But the presentation, first made public by The Washington Post, appears to do just that.

CDC declined to comment late Thursday on the slideshow or its contents.

The presentation shows that those who are vaccinated are three times less likely to catch COVID-19 and 10-times less likely to die from it than those who are unvaccinated.

Once infected, though, vaccinated people are just as contagious as those without that protection — meaning they need to wear a mask and keep their distance to avoid passing on the virus.

"The data makes a pretty compelling justification for why we need to go back to mask wearing and other public health measures," said Dr. Charles Chiu, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, San Francisco. "I do think it's because of the delta variant."

'I thought I did everything right':The fully vaccinated are frustrated by CDC's changing mask advice

Mapping CDC's new guidelines:High transmission areas where you need to wear a mask indoorsThe vaccines still work extremely well and are an essential part of eventually winning the battle against COVID-19, Chiu and other experts emphasized.

If more people had been vaccinated earlier this year, cases would not be rising now and a return to masking wouldn't be necessary, said Dr. Eric Topol, director and founder of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, California.

"We wouldn't be in this pickle if we'd had 70% of the population vaccinated," he said. "When you have more than half your population not (fully) vaccinated, you're vulnerable."

People who are vaccinated should wear a mask and socially distance, he and others said, largely to protect those who haven't been vaccinated or who have a weakened immune system and so can't get full protection from the vaccine.

Vaccines remain effective and preventing hospitalization and death from COVID-19, though they worked better against the original strain and the alpha variant than they do against delta, data finds.

In one Israeli study, vaccinated people over 60 were shown to be 97% protected against the alpha variant, but only 85% protected against delta. "Ninety-seven percent is phenomenal, but 81%?" Topol said. "We've got a bigger challenge than ever before."

CDC mask recommendations have changed:What's required in your state?

The delta variant is known to be substantially more contagious than other variants – as contagious though deadlier than chicken pox, according to the CDC presentation. Among common infectious diseases, only measles is more contagious.

People may also be infectious for longer with the delta variant, 18 days instead of 13, the presentation says. This suggests official guidance on quarantining when sick may need to be changed, too, said Dr. Robert Wachter, chair of the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

"None of it is good news," he said by email. "Clearly (we) need more vaccinations, resumption of non-pharmacologic interventions ASAP even for vaccinated people, and probably boosters."

The federal government has said there is not yet enough data to support booster shots, even for the elderly and immunocompromised, though Israel is now recommending them for those groups.

In a study posted online this week by Pfizer and its collaborator BioNTech, but not yet peer-reviewed, the companies found their vaccine to be effective for at least six months. Effectiveness topped 90% for that period, according to the study, which was largely conducted before the delta variant became widespread.

Data beyond six months isn't yet available because the shots are so new.

Several researchers questioned why the information in the CDC's presentation was not released two days earlier, when the agencymade its new mask recommendations.

In a Tuesday briefing, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky downplayed the possibility that a vaccinated person could pass on the virus, without giving the details about the viral load contained in the slideshow.

Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and former Baltimore health commissioner, said the slideshow suggests CDC is worried about the risks of delta to the vaccinated, but that's not what Walensky focused on during her Tuesday briefing, Wen said.

"I don't know what to make of it, honestly," she said after seeing the slideshow. "Why wasn't this level of data revealed to the American public two days ago?"

And, she wondered aloud, why countries like the United Kingdom and Israel are still generating so much more COVID-19 data than the U.S.

It would be simple, for instance, to ask people as they're tested for COVID-19 whether they'd had their shots, she said — but the CDC doesn't collect the data, so it's not clear what percentage of transmissions are from the vaccinated.

Dr. Paul Offit, who directs the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said he's very concerned about the current state of America's pandemic.

Last summer, before there was a vaccine, there were about 80,000 new COVID-19 cases reported every day and nearly 500 deaths — almost exactly the same count as today although half the population is vaccinated and many other have immunity because they've already been infected.

Why haven't things gotten better, Offit asked rhetorically. "The answer is we have enough people in the population that are susceptible – and we have a virus that is clearly more contagious."

Man arrested over murder of girl, 17, from almost 22 years ago

Man arrested over murder of girl, 17, from almost 22 years ago

A man has been arrested over the murder of a teenage girl dating back to 1999 in Suffolk.

Victoria Hall, from Trimley St Mary, was 17 years old when her body was discovered days after she disappeared following a night out with a friend.

The teenager left home on the evening of Saturday September 19, 1999, to enjoy a night at Bandbox nightclub in Bent Hill, Felixstowe.

Victoria and her friend stayed at the club until around 1am, before they decided to leave and get some food from Bodrum Grill in Undercliff Road West.

As they started walking back home towards Trimley St Mary, the pair went separate ways at around 2.20am – just yards away from Victoria’s home.

The teenager’s body was found after a five-day search (Picture: Suffolk Constabulary/PA)

That was the last time the teenager was seen alive.

Victoria’s parents awoke the following morning to find she had not come home and called police to report their daughter missing.

Following a five-day search, Victoria’s naked body was found by a dog walker on September 24.

She was discovered in a ditch next to a field in Creeting Lane, Creeting St Peter – about 25 miles away from where she had last been seen.

In September 2019, Suffolk Police revealed that the case – known as Operation Avon – had become a live inquiry again.

Police reopened the case in late 2019.

A new team of detectives were assigned to the case to reinvestigate Victoria’s killing, after new information was brought to police’s attention.

Police have now confirmed that a man has been arrested on suspicion of murder this morning and is currently being questioned in custody.

He is not someone who has previously been arrested as part of the investigation.

Anyone with information over Victoria’s murder is urged to contact Suffolk Police.
New research shows animal life may have existed in Earth's oceans 890 million years ago

New research shows animal life may have existed in Earth's oceans 890 million years ago

Simple animal life may have existed in Earth's oceans 890 million years ago, according to new research.

Recently discovered fossils belonging to ancient sponges might be the earliest known remnants of an animal body and pre-date other sponge fossils by 350 million years.

Elizabeth Turner, a professor of paleontology and sedimentary geology at Laurentian University in Ontario, discovered what she believes are possibly the fossilized structures of sponges that once existed in reefs millions of years ago. They were found in rock samples in northwestern Canada.

A study on Turner's findings published Wednesday in the journal Nature.
Little is known about the earliest days of animal life's emergence on Earth because the fossil record is sparse. While scientists have used genetic evidence to suggest that sponges first appeared between 541 million and 1,000 million years ago during the early Neoproterozoic era, the lack of fossilized sponges has created a knowledge gap. Turner's discovery may help fill that gap and provide a glimpse into the earliest marine animal life on Earth.

"I serendipitously came across a few very rare examples of the material during my unrelated PhD research, long ago, on fossil microbial reefs," Turner said.
 "When I became a professor and had my own grants, I was able to return to the field sites and collect more material so that I had a more robust collection to work from."

What she found in the ancient rock samples were fossilized structures that resembled the skeletons like those that exist within horny sponges -- the kind you use for a bath sponge. Horny sponges, also called modern keratose demosponges, have a skeleton with three dimensional branching made of a tough organic substance called spongin.

This is a small sample of well-preserved microstructure in an ancient sponge, as shared in Turner's study.

The branched networks of tube-shaped structures were covered by mineral calcite crystal. These also appeared similar to structures found in calcium carbonate rocks that were likely created when horny sponge bodies decayed.

"This organic skeleton is very characteristic and there are not known comparable structures," said Joachim Reitner, a professor in the University of Goettingen's department of geobiology who reviewed Turner's study ahead of publication.

Life as an ancient sponge

The ancient sponges lived in "shadowy nooks and crannies" on and below large reefs made from water-dwelling bacteria that were photosynthesising, or converting light energy into chemical energy.

"They may well have hunkered down and lived a sweet life without having to evolve much for a few hundred million years," Turner said.

The "oxygen oasis" and potential food sources produced by the bacteria would have been a Goldilocks spot for the sponges.

These sponges appeared 90 million years before events thought necessary to support the appearance and diversification of animal life.

About 800 million years ago, Earth's oxygen levels increased during what scientists refer to as the Neoproterozoic oxygenation event, when there was a substantial boost in the amount of oxygen in the oceans and atmosphere.

The sponges may have been tolerant of low oxygen levels, so what was provided by the bacteria could have been enough.

Then, there were also the Cryogenian glacial episodes, during which much of Earth likely experienced severe ice ages between 635 million and 720 million years ago. The sponges weren't likely affected by this either.

The finding in Turner's paper "is a milestone in the understanding" of the animal family tree and reveals that the origin of it was much earlier than previously thought, Reitner said.

The animal life timeline

Many fossils can be dated back to the Cambrian explosion, a period 540 million years ago when diverse animal life flourished on the planet, according to David Bottjer, professor of Earth sciences, biological sciences and environmental studies at the University of Southern California. Bottjer was not involved in this study.

"The fossil record of animal life is something that many people are interested in and in particular, when animals first evolved on Earth," he said. "The big discussion has been, was there animal life in a significant way in the pre-Cambrian before the Cambrian explosion or not."

Researchers use two data sources to address these, he said. One is the fossil record. Then, there are molecular clocks, which are used to help scientists estimate how evolution has occurred in different organisms over time. The idea is that DNA evolves at a constant rate within organisms and genetic evidence can fill the gaps where the fossil record is sparse or entirely bare.

"This molecular clock approach says that animals were on Earth a good deal earlier than the Cambrian," Bottjer said.

Previously, many scientists believed spicules -- the mineralized skeletal structure of sponges -- were needed to show the existence of sponges. But some sponges don't have mineralized skeletons.

If complexly structured and diverse fossils are appearing in the rock record during and before the Cambrian period, it suggests that animals had to evolve ahead of that, Turner said.

This also suggests a time when animals existed, but were not well preserved or preserved at all -- prior to skeletons, shells and exoskeletons, Turner said. She understands that the earlier timeline suggested by her research "may be a little alarming for some researchers."

This is a three-dimensional fragment of spongin skeleton from a modern bath sponge.

Bottjer thinks Turner has authored "a very well-founded paper." He also acknowledges that her findings will certainly ignite discussion among researchers.

"I tell my students that all pre-Cambrian fossils are disputed by somebody because it's very early in evolution," Bottjer said. "These animals commonly don't have all the features that they evolve later on so it can be a little tricky. I look forward to seeing what the response is, but it's I think it's a very strong case."

What isn't surprising is that the earliest evolutionary animals were probably sponge-like, Turner said. Sponges are simple, basic animals with a long history in the fossil record, and prior research suggests they likely appeared around this time.

Investigating the distant past

Now, Turner wants to investigate when sponges actually emerged if they were already present 890 million years ago.

"The early evolution of animals remains murky, regardless of what I have to offer in this paper," she said. "What is needed is a lot of really focused work on very thoughtfully chosen rocks of the same age, as well as younger and older rocks, to look for other possible physical evidence of early animals -- sponge-like and possibly other more complex types of animals."

She also suggests keeping an open mind during the search. When it comes to early animal life, researchers really have no idea what they will find.

Turner also said the current academic standard and research grant system is less supportive of the type of time-consuming work, often resulting in unpublishable findings, that will be required to thoroughly understand and investigate the rock record of early animal evolution.

"If we find ourselves looking for something that looks familiarly animal-ish, we will fail, because the familiar is too complex for the earliest animals," she said. "We need to do some real soul-searching about what early animal preservation might have been like."

This research could even help in the search for life beyond our planet. While the Perseverance rover searches for evidence of ancient microbial life on Mars in an ancient lake bed, the ancient rock record on Earth could help scientists spot intriguing targets.

"If we're going to find things on other planets, it's probably going to be more like the pre-Cambrian stuff than something that is a million years old and has mammoth bones in it," Bottjer said.
Babysitter is charged with murder 37 YEARS after shaking baby

Babysitter is charged with murder 37 YEARS after shaking baby

A former Florida babysitter has been charged with murder - decades after she shook a baby boy so violently in 1984 he was left with permanent severe brain damage - following his death at the age of 35.

Benjamin Dowling was left with such serious head trauma, he never mentally development past the age of five-and-half-months.

Terry McKirchy, 59, (pictured) is now being charged with first-degree murder, thirty-seven years after she aggressively shook Benjamin Dowling, 35, when he was an infant.

Despite his injuries, he survived into adulthood, under the constant care of his family, until he died at his family's home in Bradenton, Florida, in September 2019.

A Manatee County medical autopsy confirmed his death was a result of the injuries he received as an infant under the care of his babysitter Terry McKirchy, now 59.

This month, McKirchy was arrested and charged with first-degree murder. She is currently awaiting extradition back to Broward County, Florida to face the charges.

McKirchy was 22 when she claimed Dowling fell off a couch while she was watching him at her home in Hollywood, Florida on July 3, 1984.

His parents, who had arrived to pick him up from McKirchy's home, were immediately concerned.

The family told the Sun Sentinel they noticed their son was acting unusually; Mrs. Dowling told police her son's hands were clenched and he was turning blue, in addition to his breathing being shallow and him staring blankly at her.

Mrs. Dowling immediately rushed her son to the hospital, where doctors determined Benjamin had Shaken Infant Syndrome, now commonly referred to as abusive head trauma.

McKirchy was later arrested and found guilty of first-degree attempted murder and aggravated battery on a child.

Benjamin's injuries were so severe, he needed to have a feeding tube placed in his abdomen when he was 18-months-old, where it remained until he died.

However, after taking a plea deal, McKirchy, who was pregnant at the time of sentencing, escaped a 15-year prison stay.

Instead, a Broward judge ordered McKirchy to report to jail only on weekends until her baby was born.

But after Dowling's death in 2019, new murder charges were filed after the Medical Examiner's Office ruled his death was caused by the injuries he suffered as a baby and referred his death the local police which passed it to the State Attorney's Office.

'The passage of time between the injuries sustained and the death of the victim were considered by the forensic experts who conducted the autopsy and ruled the death was directly caused by the injuries from 1984,' the State Attorney's Office said in a statement.

'The facts speak for themselves, and this case was presented to the Grand Jury, which determined that this was a homicide,'

Although the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution claims no one can be prosecuted twice for the same crime, murder and attempted murder are two separate crimes.

The U.S. does not have a statue of limitations for murder and filing new charges after death is very common, Javis states.

McKirchy was arrested in Dowling's death on July 2, 2021, after U.S Marshalls tracked her down at an auto parts store in Sugar Land, Texas where she was working.

The U.S. Marshals Office did not have a home address for McKirchy in Sugar Land and are uncertain of how long she had been residing there.

The new charges may bring some peace to the Dowlings who believe it weren't for the 1984 incident, their son would've lived a normal life.

'Benjamin never progressed in development beyond a 5½-month-old infant. Benjamin never crawled, fully rolled over, walked, never talked, never fed himself, he never enjoyed a hamburger or an ice cream cone,' they told The South Florida Sun Sentinel.

The family told the Sun Sentinel that Benjamin progressed normally through his first five-and-a-half months of life, but that his life as never the same after the incident.

Benjamin's injuries were so severe, he needed to have a feeding tube placed in his abdomen when he was 18-months-old, where it remained until he died.

In addition, he also had metal rods placed along his spine because he could not hold himself upright.

He also attended numerous schools for children with special needs.

Despite those efforts, Benjamin's family said he was unable to accomplish the simplest of functions or even comprehend any form of communication.

'Although he lived to be 35 years old, the life we would have lived as a family was forever altered,' the family added. 'We cherish our time with and memories of Benjamin, and we continue to support him through our belief that there should be justice for Benjamin.'

McKirchy remains in Texas where she awaits extradition to South Florida.

Capitol riot probe must uncover everything that happened at White House on Jan. 6, Cheney says

Capitol riot probe must uncover everything that happened at White House on Jan. 6, Cheney says

Mobs of Trump supporters attacked police officers, threatening their lives and hurling racial slurs as they stormed the U.S. Capitol, law enforcement witnesses told House lawmakers Tuesday in the Jan. 6 committee's first hearing on the attempted insurrection.

"I was grabbed, beaten, Tased, all while being called a traitor to my country," Metropolitan Police Department Officer Michael Fanone testified before the select committee investigating the Capitol invasion.

"I was at risk of being stripped of and killed with my own firearm, as I heard chants of, 'Kill him with his own gun,'" Fanone said.

The four officers' testimony painted a picture of a vicious, weapon-wielding mob that was willing to assault the police in pursuit of its goal of stopping Congress from confirming Joe Biden's electoral victory over then-President Donald Trump, who had spent weeks falsely claiming the election had been stolen from him.

Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., who is leading the Jan. 6 panel and chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, and Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., stressed at the start of the hearing that the problems that led to the invasion have not been solved. "This threat hasn't gone away. It looms over our democracy like a dark cloud," Thompson said.

Earlier Tuesday, Cheney suggested that the investigation might subpoena Trump and House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy. "It could," Cheney told ABC News on Tuesday morning. "The committee will go wherever we need to go to get to the facts."

Sgt. Aquilino Gonell of the U.S. Capitol Police described being crushed by a group of rioters pushing their way into the building.

"I could feel myself losing oxygen and recall thinking to myself, 'This is how I'm going to die, defending this entrance," Gonell said.

Another USCP witness, Pvt. First Class Harry Dunn, said that a group of Trump supporters hurled racist slurs when they found out he had voted for Biden.

"One woman in a pink 'MAGA' shirt yelled, 'You hear that, guys, this n----- voted for Joe Biden!' Then the crowd, perhaps around twenty people, joined in, screaming 'Boo! Fucking n-----!'

The law enforcement officials spoke after lawmakers on the panel called for more facts and accountability, including from the Trump White House. Investigators must figure out "what happened every minute of that day in the White House — every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to, during and after the attack," said Cheney, one of two Republicans on the nine-member panel.

"Honorable men and women have an obligation to step forward. If those responsible are not held accountable, and if Congress does not act responsibly, this will remain a cancer on our constitutional republic, undermining the peaceful transfer of power at the heart of our democratic system," Cheney said.

Before the mob broke into the Capitol, Trump held a rally outside the White House and heaped pressure on Republicans, including Vice President Mike Pence, to challenge key states' Electoral College results. He exhorted the crowd to march to the Capitol, telling them, "If you don't fight like hell you're not going to have a country anymore."

As throngs of rioters broke through lines of law enforcement officers and streamed into the Capitol, Trump initially lashed out at Pence on Twitter for refusing to reject electoral votes. Pence "didn't have the courage to do what should have been done," Trump tweeted.

He later posted a video urging the attempted insurrectionists to go home, adding, "We love you. You're very special."

The House committee, whose members were all appointed by Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was created after Senate Republicans voted down an independent, "9/11-style" commission to study the invasion.

Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, both vocal critics of Trump in the wake of Jan. 6, are the only Republicans on the panel. House Republicans voted to strip Cheney of her House leadership role after she refused to stop criticizing Trump for spreading the lie that the 2020 election was rigged to favor President Joe Biden.

McCarthy submitted five Republicans to be added to the select committee, but withdrew all their names after Pelosi rejected two of his picks. One of those rejects, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, may be a material witness in the probe, Cheney said last week.

In opening minutes of the hearing, Thompson played a video that spliced together footage from in and around the Capitol during the siege. The video showed rioters attacking police, shooting sprays and throwing objects, breaking windows and other property, threatening lawmakers by name and calling for the election results to be reversed.
US women's gymnastics team claims silver in team final after Simone Biles withdraws at Tokyo Olympics

US women's gymnastics team claims silver in team final after Simone Biles withdraws at Tokyo Olympics

TOKYO — No reign lasts forever and the end, when it finally comes, is always a shock.

For the U.S. women to end here, in this fashion, though, was simply unfathomable.

Simone Biles withdrew from the team competition after struggling on vault, ending whatever chance the U.S. women had to win their third consecutive Olympic title. They finished with silver, the first time since the 2010 world championships that the Americans did not win the team title at a worlds or Olympics.

Russia won the gold, its first since the breakup of the Soviet Union.

There were hints after qualifying that the Americans might be in trouble. They had six major errors, including three by Biles, and finished more than a point behind the Russians, a team that is much improved from 2019, when it finished nearly six points behind the U.S. women at the world championships.

But there is trouble, and then there is this.

In warmups for vault, the U.S. women’s first event, Biles bailed on an Amanar. The 2½-twisting somersault is one of the most difficult vaults being done, but is so second-nature to Biles she could probably do it five minutes after getting out of bed.

When it came time for her to compete, she bailed out mid-air, doing only 1½ twists. Cameras captured her teammates’ mouths dropping open in shock, knowing that not only was something wrong with Biles, their chances for the gold medal were probably gone.

Teams have to count all three scores on each event, and Biles got a 13.766. Instead of running up the score on the Russians, the U.S. women found themselves already down by a point.

Biles looked as if she was fighting tears as she came off the podium, and coach Cecile Landi immediately went and put an arm around her shoulder. Biles was seen talking with the team doctor, Marcia Faustin, for several minutes before they left the competition floor.

Biles came back as the U.S. women were warming up for uneven bars, exchanging hugs with her teammates before taking off her grips – a clear sign she wasn’t going to do bars – and putting on her warmup pants.

In a text to USA TODAY Sports, USA Gymnastics spokeswoman Carol Fabrizio said Biles was withdrawing “due to a medical issue.”

“She will be assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions,” Fabrizio said.

Biles stayed on the floor to cheer on her teammates, and if the rest of the U.S. women were fazed by the uphill task they faced, they didn’t show it.

Jordan Chiles, who filled Biles’ spot on bars and balance beam, was dancing to China’s Lu Yufei’s floor music, Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” and Biles soon joined in. The U.S. women were yelling and jumping up and down as if they were at an NCAA meet rather than the Olympics, and they were practically strutting as they moved from event to event.

But it's not confidence that decides gold medals, it's scores, and the U.S. women simply didn't have high enough ones to dig themselves out of their early hole. They went into the final event, floor exercise, trailing by eight-tenths, but to have any hope of catching the Russians, they needed perfect performances from all three gymnasts.

They did not get them. Grace McCallum stepped out of bounds on her second tumbling pass. Chiles' feet slipped out from under her on the landing of one of her passes, and she landed on her backside.

Their hopes for gold were done. So, too, the long U.S. reign.