Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘DNA’

Video

Cousins In Rwanda

Cousins In Rwanda

Once, when we were visiting our friends in Rwanda at the Rwandan Orphan’s Project, we decided to also take a trip up to the north, near the border with The Congo, and visit our cousins in the rainforest – better known as gorillas. The families we met were so similar to our own human family, that there were times it was difficult to tell if their was much difference. It turns out gorillas have 97% of the same DNA as humans, or vice-a-verse.

Mother and child gorilla copy

Let Her Prove It

Gabriel –

The “all time champ in wrongful convictions”? Kirstin Lobato was 19 when she was sent to prison for murder — despite the fact that no physical evidence tied her to the crime scene, multiple witnesses testified that she was almost 200 miles away at the time, and other evidence pointed to a completely different person.

Crucial DNA evidence ignored: For ten years, law enforcement officials have refused to test DNA evidence from the crime scene, even though it could exonerate Kirstin and find the real killer. Kirstin’s friend Michelle Ravell says the reason is clear: they know it could prove they’ve kept an innocent woman in prison for ten years. But now, there is new hope.

You can help exonerate an innocent woman: A new District Attorney has just been appointed, and he has the power to agree to new DNA tests. Michelle says it’s a chance for him to right an historic wrong — and she knows that if he hears from thousands of people across the country, he’ll be convinced to take this opportunity to uncover the truth.

Click here to sign Michelle’s petition asking District Attorney Stephen Wolfson to allow DNA testing in Kirstin’s case.

Change.org

——————

Here’s more information about Michelle’s campaign, in her own words.

Kirstin Blaise Lobato is an innocent woman stuck in prison while evidence in her case goes untested for DNA.

In 2002 at 19 years old, Kirstin was convicted for the murder and sexual assault of a homeless man named Duran Bailey in Las Vegas. But there was no physical evidence tying Kirstin to the crime and the evidence that was tested for DNA actually excluded her. There were four identifiable crime scene fingerprints – none matched Kirstin’s. A bloody shoe print was found next to the body and a footprint expert testified that it came from a “U.S. men’s size 9 athletic shoe.” Pubic hair found on the victim was tested for DNA and the results excluded both Blaise and the victim as the hair’s source. Multiple people testified that Kirstin was nearly 200 miles away from Las Vegas at the time of the crime.

What happened to Kirstin could happen to anyone. But now, Kirstin has the opportunity to prove her innocence if Clark County District Attorney Stephen Wolfson makes two very reasonable decisions: to allow DNA testing of crime scene evidence and to not file any opposition to Kirstin’s appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court.

The Innocence Project, an organization whose DNA testing work has freed 292 innocent people from prison, has offered to pay to test and re-test 13 pieces of evidence related to the crime using the latest in DNA technology and Wolfson still won’t allow it.

In addition to the DNA evidence, Kirstin has proven her innocence by way of her Habeas Corpus petition’s new evidence grounds. If the State of Nevada District Attorney doesn’t oppose her Appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court, justice will finally be served and she can regain her life.

Clark County District Attorney Stephen Wolfson has a chance to do the right thing and to seek true justice in the murder of Duran Bailey.

Please sign this petition and ask District Attorney Wolfson to allow DNA testing of crime scene evidence and to not file any opposition to Kirstin’s appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court.

Click here to sign the petition
.

Grandson Jupiter

He’s almost 2 years old, has beautiful blond curly hair, is very smart, strong and huggable and has more energy and spunk than a supersonic jet on speed!

That is not Superman, but our grandson Jupiter. You could say I’m biased and of course, that would be completely mistaken. I am more than biased, I’m prejudiced and will fly hundreds of miles to hang out with this amazing bundle of energy and cuteness manifested in human form.

His parents have combined their DNA, experience and compassion and love to give this little tyke a dream home that his wee friends can only droo.l over and watch with envy. It isn’t that their parental units or unit is inferior or not good in many ways, but Jupiter’s Mama and Papa are really stepping up to the proverbial plate of parenthood and surrounding their son with limits, support, encouragement and love.

Let’s see, how many other thousands of words can I use to gush on about Jupiter Gabriel Constans. Oh yes, he has the coolest middle name in the world and calls me Gapa. I’ve got to stop writing right now and go peek in on this sleeping beauty who looks like a cherub in human clothing.

Murakaza Neza (Welcome)

The two lane paved road kept climbing higher, past waterfalls, lush cultivated valleys and terraced hillsides. Kermit the Frog, from Sesame Street, would feel right at home with the abundance of green foliage that simmered before our eyes. The river that followed the road to Ruhengeri in the north of Rwanda provided a beautiful contrast with its brownish-red colored waters. Our family was traveling with a group we worked with at an orphanage in the capital Kigali. We were taking a break to visit the rare mountain gorillas that live in the Virunga National Park, which borders The Congo and Uganda in Eastern Africa. The scenery during our two hour ride along the Ruhengari Road (built by the Chinese) was spectacular, but even that lovely assault on the senses didn’t prepare us for what was to come.

When we arrived at The Gorilla Nest Lodge in Ruhengeri, just outside the Volcanoes National Park, we were stunned. Imagine a luxury hotel, superbly crafted from local stone, wood and bamboo, tucked into the jungle at the bottom of a blue-green volcanic range. Top that off with spacious rooms, fine dining and friendly service from people that speak English, French and Kinyarwanda (the national language) and you have a virtual Shangri-la in the middle of Africa.

After a peaceful night we were driven to the Virunga Park entrance and met our guide, Fidel, who has worked as a park ranger for thirteen years. He informed us that we would be walking for about three hours to find the family we would be observing. We set out, nine in all and made our way up the hillside past planted fields and traditional mud huts; over the stone wall, which was built by villagers (who were paid by the government) to keep out elephants and buffalo and to delineate the park boundary. We were well prepared for what is usually a wet misty experience (with our boots and raincoats), but were in luck with sunny weather and a clear trail.

As we walked Fidel told us that the dominant male in a family (the Silverback) is called “The President”. He said if there is no dominant male in the group than a female is the leader. “Blackbacks are males before they become adults,” Fidel said quietly. “From eight years on females are called adults because they can have babies. Gorillas can live up to forty years old. Gestation for pregnancy is about eight to nine months. Females usually live longer than males. Sound familiar? They are vegetarians. They sleep, play, socialize and eat just like us. Their DNA is ninety-seven percent the same as humans.” Fidel suddenly held up his hand and whispered, “straight ahead.” We heard the sound of twigs breaking and grunting noises before we could see anything. Fidel gently pushed aside some bamboo and my wife was staring face to face with a 500 pound silverback ten feet in front of her who was contently sitting down to lunch on some freshly stripped morsels of bamboo leaves. She froze, as we lined up alongside her; our mouths agape at the spectacle.

It wasn’t long until a number of females with toddlers and a newborn joined the silverback. We watched the children play, nurse and be pulled back to their moms when they got to far away or too close to the spectators. We were entranced. We were the ones with the camera equipment, but if the gorillas could take our picture, they would probably be laughing hysterically at images of our grinning stupefied faces.

As required, we left the gorilla family after an hour’s viewing and made our way back down the mountain. We were in such awe that there was little conversation. Everyone knew the $500.00 per person we had paid for permits to see the gorillas was the best money we had ever spent. The funds from the permits help the rangers protect the gorillas, continue research and provide funds for the surrounding communities to build schools, health clinics and crafts centers.

Rwanda is becoming increasingly noticed for its environmental policies, gender equality, stable government, family life and breathtaking beauty. Positive internal and international support for infrastructure, education, investment, security and eco-tourism have made it assessable, affordable and one of the safest destinations for adults and children in Africa.

When we returned to Kigali the next day and continued our work at the ROP Center for Street Children, my wife said, “Wouldn’t it be nice if these kids could some day afford to see the gorillas?”

“It would be fantastic,” I thought. Perhaps some day soon these children will be able to finish their education, make a living and visit the rare mountain gorillas themselves. Perhaps some of them will, like Fidel, grow up and work in one of Rwanda’s beautiful national parks and lead tourists like you and me to see their beloved and amazing national treasure, our cousins, the magnificent mountain gorillas of Virunga National Park.

Tag Cloud