Australian Man Pardoned 87 Years After Hanging!

Colin Campbell Ross was hanged for allegedly raping and strangling 12 year old Alma Tritschke almost 87 years ago. Ross, who ran a wine saloon was alleged by the Crown to have given alcohol to the little girl before comitting the crime on New Year's Eve 1921. He was sent to the gallows the following year, although witnesses had placed him elsewhere at the time of the murder.

Ross always maintained his innocence, and a review of the case has found that hairs found on a blanket at his home and used as evidence against him did not belong to the victim.

'This is a tragic case where a miscarriage of justice resulted in a man being hanged,' Victoria Attorney-General Rob Hills told The Age newspaper.'It also sends a salutary warning to those who still believe that the death penalty still has an appropriate place in our legal system,' he added.

The case was reopened because of a campaign by the families of both Tritschke and Ross. A forensic examination of the hair revealed it was not Tritschke's.

'It's a tragedy for everybody that the actual perpetrator was not caught and an innocent man lost his life,' a spokeswoman for the dead girl's family said.

Betty Everett, the hanged man's niece said,' I have lived with this fear and doubt for most of my life, the more as I began to have children, that perhaps I carried the genes of a murderer. That shadow has gone.'

Premier John Brumby said that the request for pardon had been a joint request by both Ross' and the victim's families.

New York Says "No" To Traffic Fee.

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan for a congestion charge to reduce traffic and pollution in Manhattan has been blocked by the state Assembly.The plan, first announced in December 2006 is modelled on congestion pricing programs in London, Stockholm and Singapore. It was to be a three year pilot program at the end of which the city and state were to decide if the program should be made permanent.

The plan would have charged most drivers $8 to drive below 60th Street, near the southern edge of Central Park, between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays. Transit buses, emergency vehicles, taxis and handicapped drivers were to be exempted from the charge.The initiative had been endorsed by the state's Democratic Governor, David Paterson, its Republican-led Senate and the New York city council.

The main criticism of the plan was that it did nothing to address the traffic jams which would inevitably be caused outside Manhattan, as motorists tried to avoid the congestion pricing zone.Brooklyn and Queens are also strongly opposed to the plan.They say that as more than half the traffic into Manhattan originates from the city proper, taxing Brooklyn and Queens for pollution problems on Canal Street is unjust punishment. All the middle-class and working neighborhoods also oppose the plan as they see it as an unfair tax on their incomes.

The vote means the city will forfeit $354 million in federal money for starting the initiative.The plan had been endorsed by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger who called Mr. Bloomberg an 'environmental warrior,' and also by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair who had hailed it as a move which would 'mark out New York as a global leader in the fight against climate change.'

First Church Opens In Qatar.

The first Christian church opened in Qatar, Saturday with mass being celebrated in the Roman Catholic parish of Our Lady of the Rosary. The church is built on land donated by Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the emir of Qatar. Construction of buildings for four other groups, Anglican, Coptic and Greek Ortodox communities , as well as an inter-denominational center is also under way. Some 150,000 Christians, mostly expatriates live in Qatar.

Out of respect for local sensitivities the building's exterior bears no Christian symbols such as crosses, steeples or church bells. Local reaction to the church is mixed.Some of the local residents are not comfortable with the idea of an official Christian church.They feel that a church should not be allowed in a Muslim country.Others have taken a broader view. They say that if Muslims can ask for a mosque in England, then why can't Christians ask for a church in Qatar. As long as the religion does not interfere with the state or impose itself on other Muslims they don't see any problem at all. The Christian priests on their part have promised not to proselytize. Since it is illegal in Qatar for Muslims to convert to other religions, any native showing interest in Christianity is expected to be turned away.

Qatar hopes that the church will be seen as a sign of opening up to the West and help it in its bid to host the Olympic Games in 2016.

YouTube vs. Who will win?

After several months of Beta testing , the News Corp.-NBC promoted video site is opening to the public. How big a challenge will it be to YouTube's near monopoly? CEO Jason Kilar says:'Subjectively, Hulu strikes us as an inherently fun name, one that captures the spirit of the service we're building. Our hope is that Hulu will embody our never ending mission, which is to help you find and enjoy the world's premier content when, where and how you want it.'

The emphasis here is on content and has tied up with the best known names in the business like Time Warner's AOL, MGM, Sony Pictures Television, Comcast etc. to bring it to the viewers. It promises hit shows like The Simpsons, The Office, television series like Arrested Development, Buffy the Vampire Slayer etc. and also movies, clips and other content.Should YouTube be worried about It's too early to say.Presently has only about 5 million registered users to YouTube's almost 80 million.Just as Google, an internet based company has been trying to scale up into a media company, here we have a media company re-branding itself as an internet firm. The reason is obvious. It won't be long before online advertising revenue overtakes all other kinds of advertising revenue, maybe put together.What could trouble YouTube is the fact that the number of viewers for online videos is several times larger than the number of people who post online provides the assurance of a wide variety of studio quality media for free.It relies on its vast library of copyrighted content for the purpose.If Hulu also provides an easy interface to upload videos, YouTube could well be having a problem.

Cyber War Games Start March 11th.

Code named Cyber Storm II, Cyber war games are scheduled to be held from March 11th till the 14th.The exercises will test the cyber security of the US, Australia, the UK, New Zealand and Canada.Its goal is to test preparedness and responsiveness to real time threats.The focus will be simulated cyber attacks on information technology, communications, chemical and transportation infrastructure.Cyber Storm II participants have been divided into two groups, planners and players.The players have not been told about the situations they will have to handle.The exercises are expected to include hypothetical threats from organized crime, terrorists and hackers operating on behalf of a rogue nation.

Each of Cyber Storm II's participants will also have their own country or agency specific goals and challenges designed to bolster their individual capabilities.

The exercise has been organized by the Department of Homeland Security. The participation of private enterprise is extremely important as these companies own almost 85% of the nation's cyber infrastructure.Cyber Storm II has taken about 18 months of planning and has cost almost $6.2 million.

What is not known beforehand is what is the criteria for success and will it be defined before or after the exercise.It will certainly raise the consciousness of government and business leaders as a reminder that along with its many benefits, the global IT revolution carries a new generation of risks.

West Virginia Allows Hunting Classes In School.

Senator Billy Wayne Bailey had been pushing for all schools in the state to offer voluntary hunting courses.State lawmakers finally approved the Bill, Friday.Bailey claims he did it to improve the state's finances as a decline in the number of permits had led to falling permit revenues.The move is backed by the National Rifle Association.

The number of hunters nationwide has fallen from 19.1 million in 1975 to 12.5 million in 2006.Experts offer different reasons for the decline in hunting.Increasing single parent homes,growing urbanization, and the increasing popularity of the internet and video games are amongst the reasons cited by them.

Apart from causing a loss of revenue the fall in hunting activities has also caused an increase in the wildlife population, particularly deer.It is causing problems in some states, notably in West Virginia which has the highest number of vehicle accidents caused by deer. Almost 40 deer on an average are killed every day in road accidents in the state.

Gun control groups are not amused.They point to the Virginia Tech incident to highlight the danger of selling guns to immature children and letting them bring them to school.Animal lovers have called for promoting other types of outdoor activity such as wildlife watching and photography.They emphasize that you can enjoy nature without killing animals.

But Senator Bailey is clear in his mind that he wants kids to learn hunting and gun safety in school as part of their physical education classes.'Hunting is an economic and cultural thing and we have seen a decline of hunting licenses over the past years,' he told Agence France-Presse.

College Education To Become Cheaper For Many.

Brown University is following in the footsteps of Harvard, Yale and Stanford, by reducing tuition fees for bright students from lower and middle income families. Under a new scheme announced Saturday, grants will replace loans for families that make less than $100,000 a year. Parents who earn less than $60,000 per year will not have to pay anything for their child's education at Brown. The new policy applies to both current students as well as future students. Under the new policy loans have been reduced and grants increased to all students receiving financial aid, regardless of family income.

The move is expected to address the increasing problem of college debt.Many students are so overburdened with debt when they pass out that repayment is almost impossible.Almost 30% to 35% of the undergraduate population comes from families earning less than $100,000 a year , and 15% to 20% from families earning less than $60,000. Households headed by persons age 45 to 54 had a median household income of $62,424 in 2006. This means that these colleges are now free for about half the American families who are likely to have college going children. Contributions from those earning between $60,000 to $100,000 are to be increased as per a formula. Since most of these universities have huge endowments, funding these schemes should not be much of a problem.