Saturday, December 26, 2009

Rudy Guede’s Sentence Dramatically Reduced

On December 22, 2009—just three days before Christmas—Rudy Herman Guede’s sentence was reduced from 30 years to 16. Guede was originally convicted back in October 2008, for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher. He opted for a fast-track trial and was sentenced to 30 yrs. His appeal to the Corte d'Appello took only two days. An eight member jury took four hours, upholding his conviction; however, his sentence was dramatically reduced. As he left the courtroom after the appeal Guede said, “I'm not happy because I am innocent.” The Corte d'Appello reported that the ruling took into account some extenuating circumstances for Guede. However, we will have to wait for the court to officially publish their reasons for reaching this decision. This process is expected to take up to 90 days.

Meanwhile Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were also convicted in a separate trial that ended at the beginning of this month. Guede’s cohorts in the murder—Knox jailed for 26 years and Sollecito for 25—still await their appeals, which are scheduled to take place towards the end of 2010.

Looking forward: Guede's reduction is a shocking blow for the convicted couple, because it validates the courts theory that Knox and Sollecito were the masterminds behind this crime.

Looking back: I also suspect that Knox and Sollecito’s recent guilty verdict played a part in the appeal reduction.

During the appeal Prosecutors restated their original position that "Guede, Knox and Sollecito were high on drugs when they murdered Kercher after she refused to join in a sex game." Francesco Maresca, Kercher’s family lawyer, said that he was “Surprised” with the reduction in the sentence. “He could have saved her. He could have acted to save her, then he wouldn’t be here asking forgiveness,” replied Francesco Maresca at the appeal. Meanwhile, prosecutor Pietro Catalani said, “He [Guede] is not credible.” Adding that wounds on Meredith’s body suggest it took far longer for her to die than Guede’s testimony indicated.

Possible Reasons for Reduction

So, the question still remains at this point, what was the courts reduction based on? Until the detailed report is released, we will only be able to speculate. Below are a few reasons why the ruling may have been reduced:

Guede’s original story was that he met up with Kercher at the apartment where they had made a date for that night. He claims that he was “hooking-up” with Kercher when the burrito he had eaten earlier needed his immediate attention. He rushed into the bathroom and listened to his iPod as he sat on the toilet. "I heard Meredith's and Amanda's voices, arguing about some money missing," he told the appeal court. "I was listening to music but halfway through the third track I heard a piercing scream." When he came out of the bathroom he was confronted by an Italian man [Sollecito] with a knife, who he struggled with. Guede did report that his fingers were cut from the altercation. He then said that he heard a woman’s voice and saw a silhouette of what appeared to be Knox in the doorway. Before they rushed off, Guede claims that they screamed that they would pin the murder on the black guy.

Sollecito’s bank account was found empty when checked by police, while Knox was found with the exact same amount of money in her possession that Kercher had withdrawn from her account before the murder. Guede’s prints were found all over the crime scene, while Knox and Sollecito’s prints were not. However, an apparent clean-up had taken place after the murder, that much is confirmed. Moreover, Knox’s prints were not found anywhere in an apartment that she had lived-in for the previous two months; except for one latent print found on a cup in the kitchen. How could that be without a clean-up? There were also 19 prints found in Meredith's room that were unidentifyable, because they had been smeared as if wiped clean by someone.

Then there are the five barefoot, bloody prints in the house that were wiped clean, which were only found after using the chemical luminol. My book will give a detailed forensic analysis of these prints; providing evidence that two of the barefoot bloody prints belonged to Knox and two belonged to Sollecito. Hence, disproving the 'Lone-Wolf-Theory.'

Lets not forget the five traces of blood found throughout the apartment that had a mix between Knox and Kercher's genetic profiles. The relatively large sample left on the sink facet in the bathroom located next to Meredith's bedroom was only found to be Knox's blood.

Meredith’s boyfriend—who lived in the flat downstairs—had left her the keys to their flat so that she could water his Marijuana plant and tend to their disfigured cat. Those keys were never found, but were used to get into the flat and smear blood down there to make it look like the boys downstairs were involved. Guede simply did not have enough time to do the extensive cleaning that appears to have taken place; as he was witnessed at a disco just hours later.

There was no break-in on the night of the murder, as claimed by Knox and Sollecito. The window found broken in Filomena’s room (roommate of the girls), was clearly staged. The room had been ransacked before the window being broken, as indicated by the broken glass found ON TOP OF the clothes that had been thrown around the room. Undeniably there is no sign suggesting a different hypothesis. Moreover, in order to break into this window, one would have needed a very high ladder, and this window is in direct view of the open road, which is illuminated at night by the car park across the street. So, someone let Guede in the house willingly, and there is no medical sign that sexual violence occurred.

Italy’s trial of the century is far from concluded. In the meantime, we will need to wait for the courts explanation on the sentence reduction in order to give a more accurate account of the ruling. Guede, from Ivory Coast, is currently celebrating his 23rd birthday today behind bars. Since he has already served two-years, he will now only spend another fourteen-years in jail. Aside from the fact that 21-yr-old Meredith Kercher was violently murdered, we may never really know exactly what happened at Via della Pergola 7 on the night of November 1, 2007. But you can safely bet that all three were involved somehow.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Foxy Knoxy: The Study Abroad Murder

The verdict came in on December 4, 2009, on what has been termed “The Study Abroad Murder.” More than two-years after the murder, foreign exchange student from the United States, Amanda Knox [22] was convicted Friday in an Italian court of being the ring leader in a “sex game gone bad” that led to the brutal murder of her British roommate, Meredith Kercher [21], on the night of November 1, 2007. This case had nearly fell off of the American media’s radar until the “stunning” decision that sent Knox to prison for 26 years and her boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, to jail for 25 years. Meanwhile Knox has become a tabloid celebrity in Italy the likes of Paris Hilton, and beyond. Knox was voted “person of the year” in 2008 in an online poll by a major Italian T.V. station. Knox nudged out her second place opponent—Italian-born French first lady, Carla Bruni—to get the honors.

Kercher’s lifeless body had been found by Italian police under a duvet in her room at Via Della Pergola 7, in Perugia, Italy on November 2, 2007. Kercher was found partially clothed with her throat cut and with multiple signs of bruising to her neck and body. The pathologist’s report indicates that she was stabbed at some time between 9.30 p.m., and 11.30 p.m., on the night of November 1, 2007 (and because her carotid artery was not hit she suffered a long, agonizing two-hour death). Meredith’s door had been locked from the inside and the window in her room on the ground floor had been broken; which appeared to police to be where the killer had exited. All in all, it looked like a typical sex crime to police. But soon that would all change!

Knox and Sollecito both told police that she was at his flat the night of the murder, and that Knox did not leave until 10:00 a.m., the next morning. She claimed that she returned home, saw the blood in the bathroom, and thought that one of her roommates may have had a menstrual accident and had forgotten to clean up. She claimed that she was scared and rushed back to Sollecito’s house, but not before taking a shower. Sollecito accompanied her back to the cottage where the police arrived unexpectedly, as they had found both of Meredith’s cell phones in a nearby neighbor’s garden.

At the murder scene, police and media swarmed the house. Knox and Sollecito—who had been dating less than two-weeks—had been photographed by Italian media kissing and acting odd. Later at the police station, many people were brought down for questioning. Knox and Sollecito continued their strange behavior according to Pisco Alessi, owner of Merlin’s pub. Pisco said that Knox and Sollecito were laughing, joking, and kissing. “It just seemed completely wrong in that situation,” he said. Others questioned at police headquarters confirmed that they had seen Knox and Sollecito making faces, joking around, and passing notes to each other as well.

On November 5th police decided to bug Raffaele’s phone. That night they recorded a conversation that he had with his father about a flick-knife that he carried with him in which he said, “Well they have already questioned me and they didn’t find it on me, those stupid policemen.” From this police called in Sollecito for questioning the next night. Although she was not called-in by police, Knox tagged along for support. Suddenly, Sollecito had changed his story, claiming that Knox was with him only until 9:00 p.m., on the night of the murder. After police notified Knox of Sollecito’s change of heart she then changed her story. Knox provided police with a handwritten statement which would be the most damaging pieces of circumstantial evidence against her.

Key points in Knox’s statement:

“This is very strange, I know, but really what happened is as confusing to me as it is to everyone else.”

Knox starts off claiming that she was at Sollecito’s flat smoking marijuana, having sex, and “might even have fallen asleep.”

“The next thing I remember was waking up the morning of Friday November 2nd around 10am and I took a plastic bag to take back my dirty cloths to go back to my house.”

As she goes on, she begins to tell a different story of what might have happened in which she claims her boss, Patrick Lumumba, was the probably the murder. Lumumba is a (black male) Congolese immigrant who owned the nightclub (Le Chic) where Knox had been a waitress. According to this version of events Knox met Patrick Lumumba at around 9:00pm on the night of the murder at a basketball court in Piazza Grimana in Perugia and then went to her house. This is significant, because a homeless man later testified that he saw Knox and a black man on that very basketball court at that time.

“In my mind I saw Patrik in flashes of blurred images. I saw him near the basketball court. I saw him at my front door. I saw myself cowering in the kitchen with my hands over my ears because in my head I could hear Meredith screaming…these things seem unreal to me, like a dream, and I am unsure if they are real things that happened or are just dreams my head has made to try to answer the questions in my head and the questions I am being asked.”

Knox then does not rule out the possibility that there is evidence against her at the crime scene.

"The police have told me that they have hard evidence that places me at the house, my house, at the time of Meredith's murder. I don't know what proof they are talking about, but if this is true, it means I am very confused and my dreams must be real.”

Knox then acknowledges that her story seems far fetched and stands by both of her stories.

“I also know that the fact that I can't fully recall the events that I claim took place at Raffaele's home during the time that Meredith was murdered is incriminating. And I stand by my statements that I made last night about events that could have taken place in my home with Patrik, but I want to make very clear that these events seem more unreal to me that what I said before, that I stayed at Raffaele's house.”

Knox reaffirms that she is not sure what she was doing the night before the murder.

“I'm very confused at this time. My head is full of contrasting ideas and I know I can be frustrating to work with for this reason. But I also want to tell the truth as best I can. Everything I have said in regards to my involvement in Meredith's death, even though it is contrasting, are the best truth that I have been able to think.”

Knox reaffirms that she is not sure what she was doing the night before the murder, and that Patrick may have been the killer.

“In these flashbacks that I'm having, I see Patrik as the murderer, but the way the truth feels in my mind, there is no way for me to have known because I don't remember FOR SURE if I was at my house that night.”

Knox then asks herself a very puzzling question, which is basically saying that she was not there unless they have proof that she was, and if so then she doesn’t remember.

“Is the evidence proving my pressance [sic] at the time and place of the crime reliable? If so, what does this say about my memory? Is it reliable?”

Raffaele Sollecito made a similar statement that Knox was with him from 1:30p.m., that day until around 8:30p.m., at which time she left and did not return until the next morning. Police arrested Lumumba, and searched his club. No evidence was found there and no evidence of Lumumba was ever found at the crime scene. He was released from prison three-weeks later after police tracked down people who could confirm that he was at the club until late on the night of the murder. Lumumba was obviously upset and claimed that Knox had probably killed Kercher because he had recently fired her and hired Kercher in her place. He eventually had to close down his club after the incident, and he sued Knox in a civil suit for “slander.”

Police turned their investigation to Raffaele Sollecito’s flat in Corso Garibaldi. There, police found a pair of Sollecito’s sneakers that they claimed were a perfect match with one of the footprints left at the crime scene. They also found a flick-knife that they would later claim had Knox’s DNA on the handle and Kercher’s DNA on the tip.

After the arrest a massive journalistic manhunt had begun trying to dig-up some dirt on the couple. Not long after someone discovered Amanda Knox’s MySpace page, which was titled "Foxy Knoxy." The name caught on like wildfire! On her page she had a blog that featured a story entitled Baby Brother, which described a young woman who was drugged and raped, that concluded with two roommates in a bloody confrontation. Sollecito also had an internet blog which featured a photograph of him dressed as a mummy and wielding a meat cleaver; while promulgating his desire to try “extreme experiences.” Security footage from a local clothing shop named “Bubble” soon surfaced. Knox and Sollecito were seen kissing and purchased sexy under wear just one day after Kercher’s body was discovered. The shop keeper told journalists that he overheard the two talking and giggling about the wild sex that they were going to have.

A YouTube video of Knox drunk soon surfaced. The media jumped all over these new findings, and began painting “Foxy Knoxy” as a drug crazed, sex crazed party girl. More strange behavior would be exhibited by Knox when she was seen several times laughing and smiling in court, and in her prison diaries; which when analyzed by a British psychologist showed multiple signs of narcissistic behavior and psychopathic tendencies.

Six weeks after the murder forensic tests confirmed the fingerprints and DNA of a local drug dealer, Rudy Hermann Guede, all over the crime scene. Soon after, Guede was arrested in Germany and extradited back to Italy to face charges. Guede admitted being at the house during the murder. He said that Meredith invited him back to her apartment, they flirted, kissed, and then he went to the bathroom. It was there he claimed he heard Meredith screaming. Guede then said he opened the bathroom door and saw a man, an Italian man (Sollecito), standing there with a knife in his hand. Guede also told cops the Italian man said he would try to pin the murder on him (“The black guy”). Guede claims that he left the house and went to a nightclub with friends. The next day he took a train to Germany. Police didn’t believe a word that Guede was saying. Their only intention was to connect Guede to Knox and Sollecito.

Right on cue, an Albanian immigrant appeared at the police station and claimed that he had seen the suspects lurking by a trash compactor just 50 meters from the house the night before the murder. He claims that he ran his car lightly into the dumpster by accident and that Knox, Sollecito and Guede jumped out of the dumpster and threatened him with a knife.

More evidence soon began coming in against young Amanda Knox. Allegedly Knox had been seen by two men washing some clothes and a pair of shoes at a laundry mat in Via Fabretti with an African man the day after the murder. CCTV cameras in a car-park across the way from her house had captured images of Knox entering the cottage just before Meredith arrived that fatal night. There were also reports from neighbors living in the flats overlooking the cottage had seen two people running away from the house at the time of the murder.

A Local Supermarket assistant testified that on the morning of November 2, 2007, he witnessed Amanda Knox come into his store at 7:45 a.m., the morning after the murder, and purchase cleaning products. This put a big hole in Knox’s story, because her and her lawyers have always maintained that she had stayed at Raffaele’s apartment until 10:00a.m.

Although Knox later claimed at her trial that she and Meredith were close, more than one of Meredith’s friends testified that they didn’t like each other. They claimed that Meredith didn’t like Knox because she was promiscuous and frequently brought home strange Italian men. Meredith’s father confirmed this, saying that his daughter had voiced these concerns to him as well. One girl testified that Knox had bragged to them when she first arrived that she had sex with a stranger on the train ride in.

Rudy Guede later opted for a ‘fast-track’ trail and was sentenced to 30 years in prison for the murder of Meredith Kercher. Guede told police that Meredith had gone to her room and opened a drawer and noticed that some money was missing. According to Guede, Meredith believed that Knox had taken the money to buy drugs. This may have been the only thing that Guede was telling the truth about, because later it was found that Meredith had withdrawn €250 to pay for her rent due on the November 1st. However, her landlord never received the money. Coincidentally the sum of €215 was found on Amanda Knox when she was searched.

Police held Knox and Sollecito for one year, the maximum under Italian law, before bringing them to trial. One year after the trial began, hoards of people stood outside the courthouse after the guilty verdict and watched as Knox and Sollecito were escorted to prison in armored vehicles. Crowds ran after the vehicles chanting “Assassins” as the couple were escorted to prison.

The American media has repeatedly painted the verdict as being brought down on Amanda from a corrupt, unjust, and primitive Italian justice system and a lack of any real physical evidence. However, most of these arguments come without any knowledge or respect for the field of forensics; along with other biases. Amanda Knox’s parents have been on a tireless campaign over the last two years, proclaiming their daughters innocence and damning the Italian justice system. The American media has bought their story lock-stock-and-barrel, without questioning them or doing any research. There have been numerous stories using Knox’s friends and family to protest the verdict and claiming that the young, pretty, and Caucasian Knox was a model citizen who is incapable of participating in such a vicious act.

However, there are some that believe that the Italian media’s obsession with branding Knox as some spoiled American swinger girl is an attempt to use her as a target for their anti-American sentiments. The American media have really made themselves the bad guy here. This is one of the most gravely misreported cases in recent history. The American media has done no digging, consulted no Italians, and have repeatedly recycled discredited sources and those with a vested interest in the outcome. Moreover, they have revealed no understanding of how the Italian judicial process works, and often depict the Italian professionals with contempt. So far no-one has held them accountable for this.

So what really happened that fatal night? How did the murder occur and who was involved? Did Guede know Knox and Sollecito, and did they conspire and kill Meredith Kercher? What transpired during the trial, who testified, and most importantly, was there enough physical evidence to convict the couple? My new book attempts to detail, examine, and answer these questions and many others.

Study Abroad Murder: The Mystery of Via Della Pergola 7 is the chronological story of the brutal murder of Meredith Kercher. I walk you through the days leading up to the murder and take you inside the house at the time of the murder; and everything that transpired afterwards.

I feel that it is my obligation as a writer, forensic specialist, and journalist to bring the real story to the world from a unique perspective. With the combination of trial transcripts, judge’s reports, news articles, interviews, and a detailed forensic evaluation of the physical evidence, this book is designed to be the quintessential book on this case.

This story is far from over as Knox’s appeal is expected in the third quarter of 2010. Through all of this, let us not forget Meredith Kercher, who was taken away from us so violently and unnecessarily. Also, let us remember the Kercher family, who lost a beautiful, vibrant young daughter so tragically that night.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Savive’s “Top 25 Greatest Quotes”

1. Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.
Mark Twain
2. It's better to be unhappy alone than unhappy with someone.
Marilyn Monroe
3. A friend is one who has the same enemies as you have.
Abraham Lincoln
4. Nothing is as good as it seems beforehand.
George Eliot
5. Appear weak when you are strong and strong when you are weak.
Sun Tzu
6. Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.
Victor Hugo
7. Zeal should not outrun discretion.
8. The voice of the people has been said to be the voice of God; and, however generally this maxim has been quoted and believed, it is not true to fact. The people are turbulent and changing, they seldom judge or determine right.
Alexander Hamilton
9. The pen is mightier than the sword.
Edward Bulwer-Lytton
10. He who lives by the sword dies by the sword.
Jesus Christ (The Bible, Matthew 26:52)
11. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
12. Power Corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Lord Acton
13. A picture is worth a thousand words.
Fred R. Barnard
14. Carpe Diem (Seize the day)
15. Divide and Conquer.
Julius Caesar
16. I haven't failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.
Thomas Edison
The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.
Vince Lombardi
17. It's not whether you get knocked down; it's whether you get up.
Vince Lombardi
18. The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will.
Vince Lombardi
19. If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause and say, "Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well."
Martin Luther King, Jr.
20. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.
Abraham Lincoln
21. The journey of a thousand miles begins with but a single step.
22. If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.
Harry S. Truman
23. Letting the cat out of the bag is a whole lot easier then putting it back in.
Will Rogers
24. Never miss a good chance to shut up.
Will Rogers
25. Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.
Will Rogers

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Origin of The "Arctic Fox"

The Arctic Fox (Alopex lagopus) is an amazing creature that lives year round in the harsh conditions of the Arctic Tundra. Many sources claim that the Arctic fox is part of the Vulpes genus—along with just about every other fox—but in fact all taxonomy lists classify them as Alopex lagopus ("Virginia Hayssen," n.d.). The Arctic Fox originated from the Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes), some 1.2 million years ago (Nowak, 2004). As Red Fox populations moved north and south, some moved into much colder conditions and became isolated. There, they had to evolve rather quickly to keep up with the frigid conditions of the frozen arctic tundra.

As a result of Natural Selection, the Red Fox’s red colored fur changed dramatically into a purely white fur in the winter and brown in the summer. The white coat grows very thick and covers their ears and even their paws. In the winter they follow polar bears around, scavenging off of the scraps that the bear kills leave behind ("Planet Earth: Ice Worlds: Polar Bear and Cubs," n.d.). In the summer months, this remarkable creature’s fur turns from pure white to brown. This camouflages it once again, making it harder for predators to detect it. This color change also makes it harder for them to be seen by the prey that they are after. In the summer this coat gets much thinner than in the winter months. All of these changes contribute to the overall fitness of the fox in this particular environment.

This change in coat color and thickness arose by a process called Natural Selection, which is the process of decent with modification in which individuals in each generation differ slightly from the members of the preceding generation (Audersirk, Audersirk, & Byers, 2007). Basically the Red Fox population that migrated to arctic areas passed favorable traits (Traits that would help future generations thrive in the area) to their offspring. These favorable variations slowly continued mutating for several hundred-years until it created a whole new genus and species. The reason for this gene mutation was so that the fox was able to adapt to the environment. If these changes had not taken place, the fox may not have survived or thrived in that area. Eventually—because of this abiotic pressure—every individual in that population possessed this favorable trait; with many other generational changes taking place as well.


Audersirk, T., Audersirk, G., & Byers, B. E. (2007). Biology: Life on Earth with Physiology (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson-Prentice Hall.

Nowak, R. M. (2004). Walker's Carnivores of the World. New York: The Johns Hopkins UP.

Planet Earth: Ice Worlds: Polar Bear and Cubs [Television series episode]. (n.d.).

Virginia Hayssen. (n.d.). In Clark Science Center - Smith College. Retrieved August 12, 2009, from

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Jackson Pollock’s Convergence Is All That Is American


Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) was a famous American painter who helped pioneer the Abstract Expressionist movement (post WWII art movement). Some say that Pollock’s unconventional style is merely chaotic splatters of paint randomly thrown onto a canvas with no skill or idea behind it. However, he has been accepted as a whole in the artistic community as a heroine of character that transcends both tradition and tragedy. Regardless of this, many have their ingrained beliefs—somewhat pretentious—of what and should not constitute art. Because of the freeness in his style, Pollock seems to be at the center of this debate. In order to gain a greater understanding and exemplify his place among the most notable artists, it is necessary to take a look at one of his more famous paintings.


Perhaps his most famous work was a painting entitled Convergence, which was a collage of colors splattered on a canvas that created masterful shapes and lines that evoke emotions and attack the eye. The painting was created in 1952, and is oil on canvas; 93.5 inches by 155 inches (Karmel, 1999). With Pollock’s brushstrokes he was able to make handy use of colors, lines, textures, lights, and contrasting shapes. This painting is enormous and its size can only really be appreciated in person. In 1964, puzzle producing company, Springbok Editions, released Convergence (Inspired by Pollock’s painting) the jigsaw puzzle. It was a 340-piece puzzle that they promoted as “the world’s most difficult puzzle” ("Jackson Pollock: Convergence Jigsaw Puzzle," n.d.). The impact of Pollock’s Convergence was evident in 1965 when hundreds of thousands of Americans purchased the jigsaw puzzle ("Jigsaw Puzzle History - The History of the Jigsaw Puzzle - Anne D. Williams - Jigsaw puzzles History and Origins," n.d.).

Pollock’s Style

Pollock is most-known for painting with his canvas on the floor, and creating something called the “pouring technique” (Oxford Art Online: Pollock, n.d.). He did this by “…using heavily loaded brushes, sticks and turkey-basters,” to apply the paint (Oxford Art Online: Pollock, n.d.). The country really took notice of Pollock and embraced him in 1949 after a four-page spread in Life Magazine was published about him. Word spread fast of Pollock’s unconventional style, proving that art comes in many forms and has no boundaries. Pollock was a very unique recluse who would go into an almost trance-like state when painting. In Possibilities I, Winter 1947-48, Pollock was quoted, as saying, “When I am in my painting, I'm not aware of what I'm doing. It's only after a sort of ‘get acquainted’ period that I see what I have been about. I have no fears about making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own” (Karmel, 1999).

Pollock is mentioned in just about every journal that considers contemporary art. The mystery in his style has always been a thing of intrigue to the art world, weather you like him or not. No one can truly discern exactly what his paintings stood for. Many credible references acknowledge Pollock’s style as “seeming to derive from limitations of education and experience” (Oxford Art Online: Pollock, n.d.). The frustration of the art community in this respect appears to be the failure to be able to put-their-finger-on the very essence of what made him such a success with his public. The conventional world seems to have a problem rapping their minds around links between Pollock’s overindulgent-unconventional-style and his high-ranking status in modern mythology.

Defense of Convergence as Culturally Pivotal

Jackson Pollock's style of painting, as exemplified by Convergence, is an important, innovative development in the history of painting. At the time of the painting, the United States took very seriously the threat of Communism and the cold war with Russia. Convergence was the embodiment of free speech and freedom of expression. Pollock threw mud in the face of convention and rebelled against the constraints of societies oppressions. It was everything that America stood for all rapped up in a messy, but deep package. On that same note, some of Pollock’s works were even sponsored by the Congress for Cultural Freedom (an anti-communist advocacy group founded in 1950), which was backed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) (Karmel, 1999). The CIA appreciated Pollock’s style, because it steered clear of social realism and overt political gestures. Pollock’s abstract work was hard to decipher, but his rebellious nature and expressions of freedom were clearly evident.

In a well-known essay ("American Action Painters") in 1952, featured in ARTnews, Harold Rosenberg coined the term "action painting," and about Pollock’s work he wrote, "What was to go on the canvas was not a picture but an event” (Karmel, 1999). During Pollock’s peek as an artist, new forms of thought were emerging. Pollock was on the front lines, even the inspiration or fore-runner, of these new schools of thought. One of them aimed to garner the ability to create a deeper self-expression. Many believed that if a person could focus more on living-in-the-moment, that they could evoke a deeper/more-profound creative expression (Spolin, 1986). This movement was termed Stream-of-consciousness by the great Pragmatist, William James, which came to be defined as “spontaneous live or recorded performances, as in film, music, and dramatic and comic monologues, intended to recreate the raw experience of the person portrayed or the performer” (Spolin, 1986). Somehow Pollock was able to tap into this zone and take it where not many have taken it before. The world certainly took notice. This line of thinking was carried-on with the inspiration of Pollock’s culturally innovative style.

American drama teacher and author, Viola Spolin, brought this new style of thinking formally in-vogue in the late 1950s; just after Pollock’s somewhat premature death. Spolin is considered by several as the “Grandmother of Improvisational theatre;” which led to such things like Saturday Night Live and countless other examples of the like; which led to a branching-out of other expressionist forms (Spolin, 1986). This proves that Pollock’s influence still lasts today. In fact, it proves that it is so ingrained in our society that we have all been inadvertently influenced by it; weather we know it or not.


Jackson Pollock’s painting style, as well as his personality, has become thoroughly entrenched into our society. Pollock will forever be known as an innovator and pioneer of Abstract Expressionism, whose blatant quest for freedom of restraints provided inspiration for generations to come. Not only was Pollock embraced by the public, but he was also endorsed by the government as an excellent representation of the prototype of what an American painter’s philosophy should be in the 1950s; as exemplified in his most famous painting, Convergence. The fact is that Pollock’s painting Convergence represented not only a transformation in art, but a transformation in culture and thinking.

It was a concept of letting the Freud coined, “unconscious mind,” express itself in an unfiltered way; spawning the art form: Improvisation. Whether Pollock knew it or not, he epitomized the “Individuation Philosophy” of the great Psychologist, Carl Jung; which stated, “The development of individuality, the discovery of what an individual really thinks and believes, as opposed to the collective thoughts, feelings and beliefs imposed on him by society, becomes a quest of vital significance” (G., 1999).


G., J. C. (1999). The Essential Jung. New York: Princeton UP.

Jackson Pollock: Convergence Jigsaw Puzzle. (n.d.). In Pomegranate's Secure, Online Store. Retrieved August 20, 2009, from

Jigsaw Puzzle History - The History of the Jigsaw Puzzle - Anne D. Williams - Jigsaw puzzles History and Origins. (n.d.). In MGC Custom Made Wooden Jigsaw Puzzles - Custom Photo Puzzles maker Jigsaw Puzzle Manufacturer. Retrieved August 20, 2009, from

Karmel, P. (1999). Jackson Pollock interviews, articles, and reviews. New York: Museum of Modern Art: Distributed by H.N. Abrams.

Oxford Art Online: Vigée-Lebrun (n.d.). Retrieved August 19, 2009, from

Sayre, H. M. (2007). A World of Art (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Spolin, V. (1986). Theater Games for the Classroom A Teacher's Handbook. New York: Northwestern UP.

Friday, August 14, 2009

DNA Fingerprinting Using the PCR Process

DNA Fingerprinting (a.k.a. DNA Profiling or DNA analysis) is a sub-category of Biotechnology that has several uses among scientists as well as other fields. A broad definition of Biotechnology is, “any use or alteration of organisms, cells, or biological molecules to achieve specific practical goals” (Audersirk, Audersirk, & Byers, 2007).

Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is located in the nucleus of every cell that has a nucleus. Its appearance is similar to a twisted ladder or staircase, which is referred to as a double-helix. DNA is an extremely long polymer made from four nucleotides: Adenine (A), Guanine (G), Cytosine (C), and Thymine (T). It is the sequence of A, G, T, and C that codes information for each gene.

In 1986 Kary B. Mullis developed the Polymerase Chain Reaction process (PCR), that produces Short Tandem Repeats (STR) which are relatively small fragments of DNA (Audersirk, Audersirk, & Byers, 2007). This means that very small amounts of DNA, found at a crime scene for instance, can be multiplied by the PCR process.

There are two main reasons why the PCR process was such a huge breakthrough. The previous system took nearly four-five weeks for results to return from the lab, but PCR could return results within twenty-four hours (Ragle, 2002). Another reason was that the previous process required almost perfect samples of DNA, and there has to be a large amount to test successfully; while the PCR process requires a relatively small amount of DNA and is successful with almost every sample (Ragle, 2002).

Once in the lab, the DNA sample needs to be amplified. To do this, the DNA double-helix needs to be separated first. Heating a solution of the DNA to a temperature of 90C separates the two strands. After the strands unwind and cool, they are put into a DNA Amplifier and an enzyme called polymerase makes two new DNA strands; which are exact duplicates of the original. It takes approximately 4 minutes per cycle; each cycle doubling the amount of DNA. This process can be repeated every 4 minutes, which comes to 30 cycles every 2 hours. This means that in 2 hours, the small sample has been amplified 2^30 or 1 billion times.

“In 1999, British and American law enforcement agencies agreed to use a set of 10 to 13 STR’s…that vary greatly among individuals. A perfect match of 10 STR’s in a suspects DNA and DNA found at a crime scene means that there is less than one chance in a trillion that the two DNA samples did not come from the same person” (Audersirk, Audersirk, & Byers, 2007). In this can be realized the power and significance of this system.

In 1990 the FBI formed a “working group” to come up with a national data base that would hold all DNA Profiles collected (Ragle, 2002). They named this new data base, Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), the genetic equivalent to the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS). By 1994, CODIS was operational, but it wasn’t until 1999-2000 that most labs nationwide started relying on it as the official data base for sharing among agencies (Genge, 2002). Once most labs began testing the same thirteen STR points (1999-2000), CODIS could then be used to cross reference DNA Profiles from all over the United States; a practice that is widely used today. As of December 2004, CODIS contained 2,132,470 DNA profiles; and as of June 2009, over 7,137,468 offender profiles; and has assisted in more than 91,800 investigations (Federal Bureau of Investigation, n.d.).

Audersirk, T., Audersirk, G., & Byers, B. E. (2007). Biology: Life on Earth with Physiology (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson-Prentice Hall.

Federal Bureau of Investigation - Laboratory Services. (n.d.). In Federal Bureau of Investigation Homepage. Retrieved August 04, 2009, from

Genge, N. E. (2002). The Forensic Casebook The Science of Crime Scene Investigation. New York, NY: Ballantine Books.

Ragle, L. (2002). Crime scene from fingerprints to DNA testing, an astonishing inside look at the real world of c.s.i. New York, NY: Avon Books.

Trimm, H. H. (2005). Forensics the easy way. Hauppauge, NY: Barron's.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Suicide Bombers Strike Indonesia: Al-Qaeda-linked-group prime suspect

At 7am on the morning of 17 Jul 09, there were explosions at the Marriott and Ritz Carlton Mega Kuningan hotels in Jakarta, Indonesia. At least 9 people are confirmed dead and 50 injured at this time. 8 of the 50 injured are American. Officials said these numbers are expected to increase. The Ritz-Carlton blast occurred approximately five-minutes after the Marriott blast, and both are said to have been executed by suicide bombers.

CNN's Anderson Cooper interviewed Jakarta resident, Greg Wollstonecraft, by phone. Wollstonecraft lives across the street from the Ritz-Carlton. Wollstonecraft, who works from a local Indonesian TV station as the Chief Technical Officer, was returning home from a walk when he heard the first blast go off. As he ran down the stairs to see what was happening he heard the second blast. He immediately went over to get a closer look, and actually got inside the Airlangga restaurant (Inside the Ritz) where the bomb had exploded. He saw bodies laying everywhere, and he even claimed to see what appeared to be the suicide bomber’s mangled body. Wollstonecraft claimed that he lived in the Ritz Carlton for 12 months and he is perplexed how anyone could have snuck a bomb through such incredibly tight security. He said that they must have had some inside help. "The inside of the Airlangga restaurant has been totally devastated," Wollstonecraft said.

No group has come forward as of yet to claim responsibility for the attacks, but it is said to have been executed by known terrorist group, Jemaah Islamiya. This group is closely linked to Al-Qaeda, and is responsible for several attacks in Indonesia, including the 2002 nightclub bombing in Bali; which killed 220 people. Abu Baker Bashir is said to be Jemaah’s spiritual leader. Terror expert, Rohan Gunaratna, told CNN that he has “no doubt that Jemaah was responsible for this attack.” Bomb Squads and other forensics experts have been deployed to sweep the area for evidence and to check for further possible explosives.

Officials reported finding an undetonated bomb in a room on the 18th floor of the Ritz. It is said to have been the control-room for the terrorists. It is not known as of yet whether the men who were in the room were the bombers themselves, or if there were others who have since vanished. The occupants of the room had checked in a couple of days prior. Authorities did confirm that a group of 4 men checked in. Police will certainly be viewing the security footage to identify the room’s occupants and see if they can tie them to a specific group. Although there has not been confirmation on exactly which group was involved, most are just about certain that it was Jemaah. Officials say that the undetonated bomb found in the Ritz is very similar to a cache of explosives found in a house in West Java, Indonesia just 2 weeks ago. The explosives found there are linked to Jemaah Islamiya and specifically to Indonesia’s most wanted terrorist, Noordin Mohd Top; who was the mastermind behind the bombing in Bali in 2002.

Some say that the timing of the attack is significant, because it is a Muslim holiday and that observant Muslims would not be located in such locations. Gunaratna says that these groups will attack whenever they feel is the best time to take down a target, regardless of what day. The message that the group is sending is quite clear: to show that they are still a very capable terrorist organization. Indonesian authorities have arrested hundreds of Jemaah over the course of the last 7 years in a serious effort to crack down on the group’s activities. This is the first terrorist attack in Indonesia in more than 3 years. However, it seems as though Jemaah is having a resurgence of sorts, and they are clearly trying to demonstrate this with these attacks. Note: The fact that these were two American-owned hotels is not an accident.

President Barack Obama released a statement early this morning:

"The American people stand by the Indonesian people in this difficult time, and the U.S. government stands ready to help the Indonesian government respond to and recover from these outrageous attacks as a friend and partner.”

Affected guests from both hotels who have not been killed or injured have been relocated to Marriott Mayflower Apartments and Ritz Pacific Place, respectively.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Very Harold And Kumar Christmas

In a recent blog I reported that actor, Kal Penn, accepted a job at the white house, working for the Obama administration. Many of Penn’s fans were happy for him, but curious to know if the third installment of the Harold and Kumar series was jeopardized by the appointment. Well news (from Warner Bros) has it that a release date has been set for Harold & Kumar 3, which will be called “A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas.” The release date has allegedly been set for November 5, 2010.

There is no word yet, however, if Penn will actually be in the movie. I can’t imagine that Obama would let Penn step away to play a pot-smoking wild man. On the other hand I can’t imagine them making the movie without him. Hopefully they will not do something stupid like a prequel featuring younger actors playing the characters. It was a bad move when they tried to pull it off with “Dumb & Dumber,” and it would probably fair the same if they tried it with the Harold and Kumar franchise. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Jackson Investigation Intensifies

Picture taken 6/23/09: Jackson at rehearsal (2 days before death)

The investigation into the death of Michael Jackson is well under way. Los Angeles investigators took two bags of evidence from Jackson’s home today, and they made a brief statement that there were bottles of medications collected. Dr. Conrad Murray, who was paid $150,000 a month to provide care for the star, denied any wrong-doing on his part. In an interview with CNN, Jackson’s trainer, Lou Ferrigno, claimed that Michael seemed “lean and fit” during their training sessions less than a month earlier. Ferrigno said that Jackson looked as good as he has in “15-years.” New pictures released show Michael rehearsing and healthy-looking just days before his death.

Investigators will also be heavily focused on the circumstances surrounding the singer’s death to see if there was any gross negligence committed. How long did the doctor wait until he ordered the 911 call? Why was a professional cardiologist giving CPR to Jackson while he was on the bed? Even the 911 operator knew that the floor or a hard surface is normal protocol. What does the mystery 911 caller have to say? Allegedly he was one of Jackson's security guards.

CNN reported today that Murray was checking on Jackson every half-hour or so. The doctor will have to face questions like: why Jackson was not in a hospital receiving proper care, or what was Jackson’s condition? What drugs was Dr. Murray prescribing Jackson, and what drugs were in his system at the time of his death? Furthermore, investigators will be looking at the possibility that other Dr.’s may have been providing Jackson with drugs that may or may not have been found in the house.

These are all questions that the investigators will surely be searching to have answered. This is not jumping to conclusions on the part of investigators, this is just standard procedure. There very well may have been no crimes committed. However, you don’t have to be Dick Tracy to find the circumstances of death in this case, odd. Murray’s attorney, Ed Chernoff, claimed on CNN that the time lapse between when Murray found Jackson and when paramedics arrived was approximately 25 – 30 minutes. Chernoff completely downplays any negligence on the part of his client, and that Murray was not only Jackson’s personal physician, but a dear friend.

It will take at least two weeks for police to release any pertinent information about the case, and toxicology results—which will reveal what drugs if any were in Jackson’s body—will most likely take 4 – 6 weeks. Dr. Cyril Wecht (Forensic Pathologist) told CNN that "Jackson probably had up to three different drugs in his system which caused death by acute combination drug toxicity." Wecht estimated that Jackson’s system will show the drug demerol, but Chernoff adamantly denied that his client prescribed the drug. Wecht responded by saying, “Forensic Science will tell the story, not an attorney.” Currently, police have issued a statement claiming that Dr. Murray is NOT a suspect and that this is not a crime investigation, it is a death investigation. This official title will most likely not change until after the results from the toxicology report surfaces. However, this could simply mean that police don’t have enough evidence to file charges at this time.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

YOU CAN’T CHOKE THE TRUTH; The Revolution will be Twitterized

The protests in Iran have reached epically tragic levels today. More and more violent footage continues to stream in through Twitter and Facebook, despite the Iranian government’s attempts to slow-down and even shut-down internet access. Ahmadinejad “allegedly” won the election by receiving 62% of the vote, but many of the Iranian people feel that the election was rigged, and that Mousavi should have won. For the first time an Iranian elect campaigned with his wife. Mousavi appears to come from a more open-minded point of view. This has clearly scared and threatened the zealots; which also happen to be the elite. But this is not as much about Mousavi as it is about the people wanting a change from the current and past oppressive nature of the government!

Women especially have been oppressed in Iran, and they are playing a big part in the protests. Iranian culture has grown so much! No longer are they speaking of the utopian dream; they actually want democracy! This may be because nearly half the Iranian population is under 30 years old. This is because of the Iran/Iraq war. So many Iranian’s were lost that the Iranian government heavily encouraged their people to proactively procreate. In essence, the government created its own home-grown enemies.

Perhaps the most disturbing footage is that of a young Iranian woman by the name of Neda being shot in the chest by Iranian Government security forces. Neda literally means voice, rough translation: voice of Iran. Neda’s death has sparked the protesters and has made Neda a martyr, and in Iran that’s very bad news to those in power. (See link at the bottom for video footage).

This is absolutely SICK, and there is no better word to describe it. Iranian official’s have slowed internet connections and heavily restricted journalistic efforts. In order to enter Iran as a foreign journalist one must first get the proper credits, and then have the displeasure of having an Iranian appointed translator to report back to government everyday regarding what the foreign journalist said.

The latest disturbing footage shows amateur footage of night-raids on civilians by Iranian officials. The horrifying screams of civilian dismay and confusion remind me of another similar nightmare: Jonestown. But unlike Jonestown, this is much a more aggressive and brutal; if that’s possible. The screaming and sounds of terror from many go on and on for what seems like an eternity. When the society that you are a part of makes you a target there is no greater alienation! This is another example that each society is a cult of its own. This is the world we live in tonight people. I ask you: Does it have to be your family woken in the middle of the night at gunpoint for you to feel this? Does it have to be your mother shot dead in the street for this to interest you?

More reports have just come in that protesters are being thrown off bridges. Fire and chaos rained down in Iran’s capitol, Tehran, today. Yet, the big question remains: What will President Obama do? Republican’s have been quick to jump on Obama for not being vocal enough or taking action. They say that while this is happening the president was eating ice cream with his two children. What the critics fail to acknowledge is that U.S. intervention up to this point would have made us seems as antagonizes. The way this has played out is clearly a thorough discontent of the Iranian people. This move by Obama (to let the situation bolster itself) is brilliant! This is the right move for the president, because it lets the American people (and the world) weigh in, which includes the U.N.

Moreover, Obama has stated that this type of behavior by the Iranian government is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. The president is being smart, patient, and measured in his steps. It’s best for him to not say too much right now. Remember, you can’t “walk-back rhetoric.” However, you can slowly walk it forward. Let’s also remember that we are currently fighting a war in Iraq, a war in Afghanistan, a major economic crisis, and new threats from N. Korea (threatening that they are going to “wipe the United States off the map”). We need to see how this unfolds. The world knows what side that we are on. We do not want to step in only to not be able to back up our rhetoric later. Let us also remember that hasty and emotional moves are usually the wrong ones; such as us rushing into war with Iraq over bogus claims that they had nukes. Plus, why give Iran even more reasons to blame this on us. Oh yes, that would play right into the Iranian official’s hands.

We all wanted something different in our president, which is why we elected Obama. We must give him a chance to prove it. And don’t believe that Obama is not tough. In his first 100 days the commander and Chief gave the order to kill the three pirates, which saved Captain Richard Phillips. I would, however, like to see Obama use this opportunity to speak on democracy and human rights. I would like to see him go and do a big speech at the statue of liberty. This would be historic. Obama said that he wants to wait to see what happens or “how it will end.” I want him to come out and say, “This is how it’s gonna end!” However, I think that Obama and his administration have a plan, but they don’t want it revealed just yet. I have faith that he will do the right thing, but if he doesn’t, I will be the first to report it, I promise!

In the mean time, let us pray for the protesters in Iran, because this is far from over!

WARNING: Disturbing footage…

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Harold and Kumar Star Quits “House” for “White House.”

Actor, Kal Penn, accepts job at the white house? Yes it’s true! Penn became a well known actor after starring in the movie “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle.” Now, Penn is headed for the White House. Penn was starring in the T.V. series “House” recently. Last night his character said farewell from the popular show by committing suicide. He had already accepted a job in the White House as President Obama’s associate director in the White House office of public liaison. Penn said that he will be doing “outreach with the American public and with different organizations.”

What does this mean for Harold and Kumar 3? Well, sources said that the film was given the green light by the studio before this announcement, and there has been no word yet on what will be done now in regards to the movie. Penn said that he got to know the President and some of the staff during the campaign and had expressed interest in working there. Penn is taking a significant pay-cut to work for Obama’s staff. You’ve got to give him credit for that! Now let’s just hope and pray that he doesn’t go looking for a White Castle on his lunch break!! LOL!!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Obama Picks the Winner

Although many have criticized President Barack Obama for taking time away from fixing the economy to fill out his NCAA bracket, Obama has picked the winner. Tonight, the North Carolina Tar Heels (NC) beat the Michigan State Spartans (MS) to become the 2009 NCAA National Champions.

final score: NC (89) – MS (72).

Even though some would say that it wasn’t that big of a stretch to pick NC before the start of the tournament, let us remember that Louisville was the favorite, and the team that most people had chosen.

MS made a valiant effort, but in the end, they were no match for Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, and NC’s strong presence inside.

Obama is now 1 – 0 as president in choosing the NCAA champion. He should have at least 3 more chances as president to defend his record. Now let’s see if he can keep the streak going.

Earthquake ROCKS Italian Province of L'Aquila

The Italian province of L'Aquila was hit with an earthquake at 3:32am this morning. The quake measured 6.3 on the Richter scale. It affected some 57 million residents in L’Aquila and the surrounding areas. Even as far as Rome—which is located approximately 80 miles (130 km) west of L'Aquila—felt the devastating effects. During early recovery efforts, Italian officials did not want to speculate on the amount of the dead. They reported 14 dead, but they realized that the amount was probably much higher. At this time reports estimate that there are more than 150 dead, and some 2,000 injured.

Many buildings that stood strong since the Middle Ages were toppled like blocks. Officials said approximately 15,000 buildings were either damaged or destroyed, including hospitals. L'Aquila Mayor Massimo Cialente said about 100,000 people were homeless, but did not make clear if he included the surrounding towns. There were a more than a dozen aftershocks. Rescue workers with dogs and cranes are sifting feverishly through the ruble to find survivors; holding up bed sheets to hide the dead bodies from the surrounding crowd.