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Archive for May 27th, 2008

         Up, Up, and away, in my beautiful, my beautiful balloon…that is how the old song goes (with a much better voice than i will ever have).  This was how i envisioned Michel Fournier’s scientific experiment starting off…with that little song running through my head, as i watched the replay on the evening news!  No such luck. 

          It was reported today that the balloon somehow became detached and floated into the sky without the capsule.  How in the world could this have happened?  That balloon cost something like two hundred thousand dollars or so.  How could it have become detached without someone noticing, before this could derail Mr. Fournier’s attempt to lift off?

         The poor man, yesterday his experiment of going up in a capsule attached to a special made helium balloon, to set a few records, was cancelled due to the weather.  He had already had a couple of other attempts that were aborted in 2002 and 2003 due to the balloon being ripped apart before it could even get up into the air.

         Now this experiment, that he was attempting was important but, extremely dangerous and never before been attempted by anyone else, to my knowledge.  He was going to go up in the capsule attached to the helium balloon to then skydive from an amazing heighth…something like 131,000 feet if i remember correctly….planes fly at like 39,000 feet.  That is wild to someone like me who is afraid of heighths.  But not for Mr. Fournier who is a former paratrooper…this would have been a dream.

        It wasn’t just for “fun”…the experiment was also to document data for astronauts and scientists to see the effect on the human body in the highest altitudes.  Michel would also be wearing a pressure suit much like they wear in space because at a certain height…a person can develop a blood clot…or ewwwww, the blood can “boil”.  Yuck! 

          Mr. Fournier wanted to set four records by setting the fastest and the longest free fall (he is a skydiver) as well as the highest documented balloon flight & the highest parachute jump on record. 

           I can’t begin to imagine the extreme disappointment he must be feeling.  He has spent a fortune trying to make this happen over the years.  He has run out of money from the sounds of it…so this could have been his last attempt.  Maybe …just maybe…it was the big guy up above, looking out for him…maybe he would not have survived such an attempt!  Still, i do feel for him…his disappointment must be immense.

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         A new way of collecting physical evidence in rape cases is making news.  It seems that many rape victims are leaving the medical setting; rather than, face another trauma of talking to; or, being interviewed by police after being raped.  They are too frightened in some cases of dealing with the police; some are fearful of talking to police for a variety of reasons such as possible drug/alcohol use at the time of the attack.  Many victims are worried about revenge violence for reporting the assault.  Some of the victims are young and don’t want their friends/parents/or significant other to find out.  Some rape victims just can’t deal with one more thing, that is out of their own personal control.

           So, the newly titled, Jane Doe rape kits are being offered; the evidence is collected by a specially trained nurse/doctor; and no name is put on the sealed envelopes…only an identifying number.  This way, when and if, the victim is ready to file a police report the evidence is still available.

           States are going to be required to offer the Jane Doe kits starting in 2009.  The kits are expensive; about $800.00.   It will be left up to the states which locations will have the kits available.  This way of collecting evidence just may improve the reporting of rape crimes.  In 2006, before the Jane Doe kits have become more commonly, available…it has been estimated that less than half of all rapes have been reported.  That also means that victims who may have been exposed to Sexually Transmitted Diseases aren’t being tested or treated.  Pregnancies can occur if too much time passes without medical care and of course, unless they seek it out, oftentimes, counseling or support services aren’t offered because the medical/legal profession would not be notified of the attack.  The Jane Doe kits have some definate positives…but what about other issues?

          Some of my questions would be…how long does the evidence, kept in storage, last?  How long would a victim have, before that evidence was no longer viable? The physical evidence and the photo’s collected at the time, in the Jane Doe kits, would still be helpful…but, what about a victim’s documented memories? 

         Would a legal team be able to tear apart a victims testimony in court; if, some extended time passed before a police report was made and documented?  Would their testimony of events be questioned due to a time lapse between the actual rape, identification and prosecution of a suspect?   Could the questioning of a victim’s memories of the rape be called into question; giving the legal representatives an edge in getting the charges of the suspect dismissed?  These are all important questions, as it would be horrible to go through such an experience; only to have it all dismissed, after summoning up the courage to actually file a report and go through the legal process.

         What do you think about the Jane Doe kits for rape victims?  Do you feel they will be helpful or harmful to prosecuting a case against a suspect? 

        

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         On Saturday, a couple was having a special day; they were getting married in an outdoor ceremony.  During the ceremony, a man and his companion (female) were swimming in the water near the area of the wedding ceremony.

           While the wedding was ongoing the man in the water got angry and was making it known to the bride and groom.  They finished saying their vows only to be shot by the man who had gone to his car and retreived a gun.  The alledged shooter’s name is Patrick Paul Duvall.

           Duvall also shot a wedding guest and a bystander.  The bride and groom, Melissa and Mike Beavers are in the hospital in critical condition.  The wedding guest is still in the hospital but the bystander was released.  Duvall escaped in a stolen vehicle and was apprehended.  The police were told by the wedding attendees that no one knew this Patrick Paul Duvall.  The reason for his aggression seems to be unknown.  I haven’t heard any word about his companion and her role in the attack.

          When most people say their wedding vows…the phrase, til death do we part is usually included.  How many of us stop and really think about that phrase?  May God bless this couple and heal them completely so that they can continue on their life-long journey as a married couple. 

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