Disney theme parks could harness foot recognition technology

(Disney patent/USPTO).

(Disney patent/USPTO).

Disney has received a patent for foot recognition technology that could be used to improve the guest experience at the entertainment giant’s theme parks.

One potential application of foot recognition technology could use a sensor to capture a foot shape and a camera to capture the foot’s appearance. This would be used to create a foot model that “can be used to identify a particular guest and the guest data can be used to output a customized guest appearance,” according to the patent documents.

Foot recognition technology could also be used to enroll guests in a venue and by a robot that interacts with guests. “The robot may also include a movement mechanism allowing the robot to roam the amusement park or a portion thereof and an input/output interface for receiving guest information from the guest,” the patent said.

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The technology could provide an alternative to “rather invasive methods” for acquiring guest information, such as retinal and fingerprint identification, according to the patent filing. “These methods are obtrusive and some guests may not feel comfortable providing this type of biometric information to a third party,” it added, noting that accessories such as hats and sunglasses could also limit the effectiveness of the technologies.

The technology could be used at amusement parks, theme parks, sporting events and other entertainment venues, according to Disney.

The entertainment company has no immediate plans to use the system, according to the Orlando Sentinel, which notes that the foot recognition technology is part of the firm’s ongoing research process.

Disney World’s Magic Kingdom was the world’s top amusement park in 2015 with 20.5 million visitors, according to a report released earlier this year by engineering firm AECOM and the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA).

 

Colorado man suffers ‘vicious’ croc attack at Costa Rica beach resort

  • GettyImages-94168077.jpg

    MALELANE, SOUTH AFRICA – DECEMBER 09: A crocodile lies in wait by the 13th green during practice before the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek Country Club on December 9, 2008 in Malelane, South Africa. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images) (2009 GETTY IMAGES)

An American surfer was in serious but stable condition after he was attacked by a large crocodile at a popular tourist beach in Costa Rica on Friday, according to an emergency responder who credited the man’s friend for fighting off the reptile with his bare hands.

Pat McNulty, who works as a consultant and is a certified trained lifeguard in Tamarindo, a northwestern town favored by surfers and eco-tourists, said the man was crossing a river with the friend when the crocodile struck.

“It was a vicious attack, and he was bitten several times in the leg as well as the head,” McNulty told the Associated Press by phone from Costa Rica. “They were able to get him free, swim him to safety and then trained lifeguards responded … and we administered first aid and called an ambulance.”

McNulty said he accompanied the victim, who remained lucid after the attack, to Liberia, the provincial capital, where he underwent surgery. He declined to give specifics about the man’s injuries other than to say he suffered lower leg trauma and his condition was serious but stable.

“His friend saved his life … and then we the lifeguards helped keep him alive,” McNulty said. “It was a very traumatic scene, and all individuals attending him did a tremendous job.”

Costa Rican media reported that the victim suffered partial amputation of his right ankle and most of his calf muscle was stripped.

McNulty said he was familiar with the man before the attack because Tamarindo is a small town where everyone knows everyone else. He declined to identify him publicly by name but described him as a surfer from Colorado who maintains a residence in the village. Family members were traveling to be with him, McNulty added.

The U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica said in a statement that it was aware of the case, and that consular officers help U.S. citizens when they are injured overseas but declined to comment further citing privacy considerations.

Earlier, Costa Rican press reports claimed the man was from Arizona.

Community, wildlife and tourism officials met after Friday’s attack to consider strategies for relocating crocodiles and making sure there’s proper signage to keep people safe.

McNulty said a few months ago there was a “minor incident” in which a smaller croc bit a person.

“We live in a country where there’s large crocodiles, and people take for granted that when you go into a river that you’re safe,” the lifeguard said. “But the fact of the matter is that you need to be aware of your environment … We’re in their world.

Planet’s Deepest ‘Blue Hole’ Has Been Found

Image result for Planet's Deepest 'Blue Hole' Has Been Found
Scientists announce discovery in South China Sea
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 26, 2016 11:59 AM CDT
Exclusive video of world’s deepest blue hole in the South China Sea.
(YouTube/CCTV News)

(NEWSER) – “Blue holes” are mystifying to look at, the large, deep pits appearing a shade of blue that’s just as deep and in stark contrast to the shallow waters around them. And what we’ve long considered the planet’s deepest—the 663-foot Dean’s Blue Hole in the Bahamas—has been relegated to second place, say Chinese researchers. They announced Friday that 11 months of study have confirmed that an underwater sinkhole in the South China Sea crushes that record. At 987 feet, it could nearly swallow the Eiffel Tower, reports theWashington Post. Known colloquially as “Dragon Hole” and the “eye ” of the South China Sea, the depth was confirmed using a VideoRay Pro 4 underwater robot equipped with a depth sensor, reports Xinhua.

The researchers further found that oxygen exists only in the top third of the blue hole, and they identified more than 20 fish and marine species in that top layer. The local government has drafted measures related to the protection and study of the hole. In its report on the discovery, Kyodo notes that when it’s humans, not robots, exploring these blue holes, the situation is “extremely dangerous.” On Nov. 17, 2013, a 32-year-old free-diver from Brooklyn drowned at Dean’s Blue Hole. The Economist ranks free-diving—relying on a single breath to dive as deep as you can —as second only to BASE-jumping in terms of its danger level. “Diving at extreme depths brutalizes the lungs, which at a depth of [100 feet] compress to a quarter of their normal size.” (This blue hole in Belize may hold the secret to the Mayan collapse.)

Navy funds study of underwater glue made using protein extracted from mussels

 Belgian cook Alexandre Vanlancker holds a handful of mussels at the Chez Leon restaurant in central Brussels November 24, 2011. Mussels start as larva, until they are heavy enough to sink to the bottom of the sea, where they grow wiry threads -- known as beards -- that allow them to latch on to anything around, forming great clumps of dark and heavily encrusted shells

Belgian cook Alexandre Vanlancker holds a handful of mussels at the Chez Leon restaurant in central Brussels November 24, 2011. Mussels start as larva, until they are heavy enough to sink to the bottom of the sea, where they grow wiry threads — known as beards — that allow them to latch on to anything around, forming great clumps of dark and heavily encrusted shells (REUTERS/Francois Lenoir )

Anyone who has ever made the mistake of wearing a Band-Aid in the shower knows all too well that adhesives which appear to be secure when dry quickly peel off when they get wet.

The challenge of creating glue that works underwater is the focus of Bruce Lee, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Michigan Technological University. To help him crack this conundrum, Lee has just been awarded three years of funding from the Office of Naval Research as part of its Young Investigator Program award.

Lee’s work is based on looking at one of the strongest natural undersea adhesives we know of — namely, that used by mussels to adhere themselves to rocks and the underside of boats.

“Mussels use a protein adhesive in order to attach to surfaces,” Lee tells Digital Trends. “It’s almost like injection molding: they inject it as a liquid, and then it adheres to a surface. One of those main proteins is an amino acid called DOPA. What we’ve done is to take that molecule and used chemistry to incorporate it into a synthetic adhesive.”

Lee says that there are two main possible applications for his work. The first of these would be useful for naval work involving the attaching of underwater sensors or devices on ships, submarines, or underwater robots. The second is a medical application involving the creation of dressings that will stay attached when a person sweats or otherwise gets wet.

As if underwater glue wasn’t enough of a challenge, Lee also wants to create an adhesive that can be switched “on” and “off” — meaning that it could be made sticky or non-sticky at will. Doing this means figuring out how to temporarily block the DOPA molecule, thereby triggering a structural change in the adhesive.

“By making our adhesive reversible, the hope is that we’ll be able to attach something underwater by turning it on, and then if you want to detach it, you simply turn it off again,” he says. “That’s something that’s quite novel, and is what makes the project exciting.”

The Office of Naval Research funding will help Lee study the biochemistry involved with the concept. “Once we have worked out the basic mechanism, then we can focus on establishing the materials to turn this into a physical application,” he said

So, smart underwater adhesives by 2020, then? We’ll stick around to find out.

Oldest cancer in human ancestor found in 1.7-million-year-old bone

An image of the 1.7-million-year-old foot bone showing cancer.

An image of the 1.7-million-year-old foot bone showing cancer. (Patrick Randolph-Quinney (UCLAN))

An ancient foot bone from South Africa with an aggressive form of cancer on it is the oldest evidence of cancer in a human relative, researchers from South Africa reported recently.

While the researchers aren’t sure exactly what species the foot bone came from, they do know that it belonged to a bipedal hominin and that it dates to about 1.7 million years ago. The scientists also know that this type of cancer, in modern times, usually causes death if untreated.

“Due to its preservation, we don’t know whether the single cancerous foot bone belongs to an adult or child, nor whether the cancer caused the death of this individual, but we can tell this would have affected the individuals’ ability to walk or run,” Bernhard Zipfel, a scientist at the University of the Witwatersrand, said in a statement announcing the discovery. “In short, it would have been painful.”

The fossilized foot bone with cancer came from a cave complex called Swartkrans outside of Johannesburg, South Africa.

And another bone from another cave near Johannesburg, called Malapa, has given researchers an additional important finding to announce: the oldest known tumor in the human lineage. It was found in one of the vertebra of a boy from the species Australopithecus sediba, and he may have been only eight or nine years old when he died.

While the ancient foot bone had evidence of cancer in it, the tumor found in the vertebra— which is nearly two million years old—  was not cancerous.

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Before these discoveries, researchers had evidence of a noncancerous tumor in part of a rib from a Neanderthal that was 120,000 years old, and also a tumor from an Egyptian mummy that is 3000 year old. These South African findings are much, much older.

“Modern medicine tends to assume that cancers and tumours in humans are diseases caused by modern lifestyles and environments,” Edward Odes, a doctoral candidate at the University of the Witwatersrand, said in the statement. “Our studies show the origins of these diseases occurred in our ancient relatives millions of years before modern industrial societies existed.”

Both the study announcing the cancer and the tumor were published in the South African Journal of Science.

Follow Rob Verger on Twitter: @robverger

Hyena meets Tasmanian devil: Ancient ‘hypercarnivore’ unearthed

An illustration showing the size comparison of Australian marsupials, including a newly described extinct species of carnivorous marsupial, Whollydooleya tomnpatrichorum.

An illustration showing the size comparison of Australian marsupials, including a newly described extinct species of carnivorous marsupial, Whollydooleya tomnpatrichorum. (Karen Black/UNSW)

A newfound extinct marsupial “hypercarnivore” from Australia — one that researchers say looked like a cross between a Tasmanian devil and a hyena — was about twice as big as Australia’s largest living flesh-eating marsupials, a new study finds.

Named Whollydooleya tomnpatrichorum, the predator is just one of a bevy of what scientists said were “strange, new animals” found in a fossil-rich site Down Under.

Although scientists have so far discovered only a single lower molar tooth of this predator, they deduced from the animal’s tooth that “almost certainly it was a very active predator with an extremely powerful bite,” said study lead author Mike Archer, a paleontologist at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. [Image Gallery: 25 Amazing Ancient Beasts]

Judging from the size and shape of this fossil molar, the researchers suggest W. tomnpatrichorum was what scientists call a hypercarnivore. This term “generally refers to a predator that is larger than a cat whose diet is at least 75 percent meat,” Archer told Live Science. “These are animals that specialize in killing and eating other animals, although they probably wouldn’t pass up a juicy bit of fruit from time to time.”

The scientists estimated that this hypercarnivore weighed at least 44 to 55 lbs. (20 to 25 kilograms). In comparison, Australia’s largest living carnivorous marsupial, the Tasmanian devil, weighs only about 22 lbs. (10 kg).

A changing landscape

Back when W. tomnpatrichorum dwelledin the forests of northwest Australia during the late Miocene period, which lasted from about 12 million to 5 million years ago, Australia was beginning to dry out.

“Although Whollydooleya terrorized the drying forests around 5 million years ago, its own days were numbered,” Archer said in a statement. “While it was at least distantly related to living and recently living carnivorous marsupials such as devils, thylacines and quolls, it appears to have represented a distinctive subgroup of hypercarnivores that did not survive into the modern world. Climate change can be a merciless eliminator of the mightiest of mammals.”

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Much remains a mystery about the animals from the late Miocene of Australia; fossils of land animals from this period are extremely rare because of Australia’s increasing aridity back then, the researchers said.

“Fortunately, in 2012, we discovered a whole new fossil field that lies beyond the internationally famous Riversleigh World Heritage Area fossil deposits in northwestern Queensland,” Archer said in a statement. “This exciting new area, New Riversleigh, was detected by remote sensing using satellite data.”

Exploring Australia

This discovery “reminds us about how much of the Australian continent remains virtually unexplored,” Archer said. “Much of remote, northern Australia has yet to be explored for potentially even more exciting paleontological deposits.” [6 Extinct Animals That Could Be Brought Back to Life]

But these regions tend to be difficult to reach, Archer said. “We can’t get vehicles anywhere near this area, hence we have to use helicopters, and they’re very expensive,” he added. The scientists began to carefully explore New Riversleigh in 2013 with the help of a grant from the National Geographic Society.

The new species’ molar was one of the first fossil teeth unearthed from an especially fossil-rich site in the area, which study team member Phil Creaser discovered. This fossil-rich locale was named Whollydooley Hill in honor of Creaser’s partner, Genevieve Dooley. The species was, in turn, named after Whollydooley Hill, as well as Tom and Pat Rich, “who are well-respected research colleagues,” Archer said.

All in all, the site is yielding “the remains of a bevy of strange, new, small- to medium-sized creatures, with W. tomnpatrichorum the first one to be described,” Archer said in a statement.

One strange feature of these fossil teeth is that they were often worn down, Archer said. This suggests there was abrasive dust in the hypercarnivore’s habitat and that the plants some of these animals were eating in the late Miocene may have been tough and drought-resistant, he said.

Not alone

Previous research did unearth medium to large-size late Miocene animals in Australia, but “those deposits give almost no information about the small to medium-sized mammals that existed at the same time, which generally provide more clues about the nature of prehistoric environments and climates,” study co-author Suzanne Hand, a professor in the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of New South Wales, said in a statement.

In contrast, “the small to medium-size mammals from the New Riversleigh deposits will reveal a great deal about how Australia’s inland environments and animals changed between 12 [million] and 5 million years ago, a critical time when increasing dryness ultimately led to the ice ages of the Pleistocene,” study co-author Karen Black, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of New South Wales, said in a statement.

All in all, W. tomnpatrichorum‘s large size is an early sign of the trend toward gigantism seen in many lineages of Australian marsupials, Archer said. “These new discoveries are starting to fill in a large hole in our understanding about how Australia’s land animals transformed from being small denizens of its ancient, wet forests to huge survivors on the second most arid continent on Earth,” Archer said in a statement.

The Whollydooley site also contains signs of windblown sand grains, which are absent from the older nearby Riversleigh World Heritage deposits. These windblown sand grains suggest “that at least two aspects of a drier Australia were taking shape — less water and more wind,” Archer said. “Today, windblown sand grains are a normal part of every deposit forming in almost the whole of the continent.”

In the future, “we have to raise funds to continue the remote exploration and dissolve the bone-rich blocks that we recover during these explorations,” Archer said.

The scientists detailed their findings in the July 30 issue of the journal Memoirs of Museum Victoria.

Original article on Live Science.

Copyright 2016 LiveScience, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Juno is on its way to closest skim of Jupiter

This color view from NASA's Juno spacecraft is made from some of the first images taken by JunoCam after the spacecraft entered orbit around Jupiter on July 5th (UTC).

This color view from NASA’s Juno spacecraft is made from some of the first images taken by JunoCam after the spacecraft entered orbit around Jupiter on July 5th (UTC). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS)

NASA’s Juno spacecraft made a flashy arrival at Jupiter on July 4, and now, the probe has just passed another turning point in its mission.

Before Juno can start studying Jupiter up close as it orbits, it has to complete two big orbits, each of which lasts 53.5 days long. Currently in its first orbit, it has just made its way past the point most distant from Jupiter— five million miles away— and is now falling back towards the gas giant, with an arrival date of August 27.

Juno will be coming very close to the gas giant at the end of this month, cruising only 2,600 miles over Jupiter’s clouds. In fact, that’s the closest the craft will ever get to the planet during its mission.

After this coming pass, each orbit will be just a little bit further away from Jupiter, according to NASA.

“The altitude increases quite slowly at first, but during the last few orbits it ticks up a lot more,” a spokesman from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory told FoxNews.com in an email. “Even so, Juno’s closest approach distance never exceeds about 4,900 miles.”

And while the craft’s scientific instruments weren’t switched on for its arrival, they will be during this coming close approach.

“We’re in an excellent state of health, with the spacecraft and all the instruments fully checked out and ready for our first up-close look at Jupiter,” Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a statement.

Juno’s mission includes studying the gas giant’s structure and magnetosphere, and because the planet is so ancient, scientists hope that understanding Jupiter will help them better understand how the solar system formed.

Follow Rob Verger on Twitter: @robverger

Asteroid strike could cause ‘immense suffering’

Artist's concept of the impact that created the asteroid Bennu. (Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab)

Artist’s concept of the impact that created the asteroid Bennu. (Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab)

A huge asteroid hurtling through space at 63,000mph could one day hit Earth causing “immense suffering and death”, astronomers say.

The space rock was discovered in 1999 and is likely to blast in between the Earth and the moon in 2135 – a little too close for comfort.

But on a return trip later in the century, it is estimated the asteroid known as 101955 Bennu could actually strike our planet.

Dante Lauretta, the NASA expert in charge of a new mission to analyse the asteroid, said: “That 2135 fly-by is going to tweak Bennu’s orbit, potentially putting it on course for the Earth later that century.”

More on this story on Sky News.

Eric Shawn Reports: How Frank Sheeran killed Jimmy Hoffa

NOW PLAYINGEric Shawn Reports: Jimmy Hoffa and Frank Sheeran

It all started, and ended, on this day 41 years ago.

It was a hot July afternoon, nearly 92 degrees, when Teamsters president and labor icon Jimmy Hoffa is said to have opened the rear door of a maroon 1975 Mercury in the parking lot of the Machus Red Fox restaurant in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. and climbed in.

He was never seen again.

The FBI has expended countless resources in the ensuing decades in the hopes of finally solving this enduring American mystery with no success.

But I believe, based on my 2004 investigation, that Frank Sheeran did it.

“Suspects Outside of Michigan: Francis Joseph “Frank” Sheeran, age 43, president local 326, Wilmington, Delaware. Resides in Philadelphia and is known associate of Russel Bufalino, La Cosa Nostra Chief, Eastern Pennsylvania,” reads the 1976 HOFFEX memo, the compilation of everything investigators knew about Hoffa’s disappearance that was prepared for a high level, secret conference at FBI headquarters six months after he vanished.

Sheeran, known as “The Irishman,” told me that he drove with Hoffa to a nearby house where he shot him twice in the back of the head. Our investigation subsequently yielded the corroboration, the suspected blood evidence on the hardwood floor and down the hallway of that house, that supports Frank’s story.

No one who has ever boasted about knowing what really happened to Jimmy Hoffa has had their claims tested, scrutinized, and then corroborated by independently discovered evidence … except Frank.

He is also the only one of the FBI’s dozen suspects who has ever come forward and talked publicly about the killing, let alone admitted involvement.

Every other claim that you have ever heard about, from Hoffa being buried in the end zone of Giants Stadium to being entombed under a strip of highway asphalt somewhere, came from people who were never on the bureau’s list of people suspected of actual involvement.

For that reason, Frank stands alone.

Six weeks after Hoffa disappeared, Frank, along with the other suspects, was summoned before the Detroit grand jury investigating the case. He took the Fifth.

When I met him in the spring of 2001, Frank freely talked.

My meeting with Frank was arranged so that I could take his measure, and he mine, for a possible in-depth investigation, interview and news story about his claims. He was accompanied by his former lawyer Charlie Brandt, the author of Frank’s then-proposed biography, which tells the Hoffa story. Charlie had been able to spring Frank from a Mafia-related federal racketeering prison sentence, and for that reason was taken into Frank’s confidence.

It would be three years before the book, “I Hear You Paint Houses: Frank ‘The Irishman’ Sheeran And Closing The Case On Jimmy Hoffa” would be published by Steerforth Press, and before the first of my many news stories about Frank, and our investigation, would air on television.

Frank’s story is this: He and others were ordered by the Mafia to kill Hoffa to prevent him from trying to run again for the presidency of the Teamsters union. Hoffa had resigned after serving prison time for jury tampering, attempted bribery and fraud convictions. Frank picked Hoffa up at the restaurant, accompanied by two others, to supposedly drive Hoffa to a mob meeting. When they walked into the empty house together, with Frank a step behind Hoffa, he raised his pistol at point-blank range and fired two fatal shots into his unsuspecting target, turned around and left. He said Hoffa’s body was then dragged down the hall by two awaiting accomplices, and that he was later told Hoffa was cremated at a mob-connected funeral home.

Frank had an imposing, old-school mobster way about him that even his advanced years — he was 80 at the time of our first meeting — did not betray. His menacing aura was also not diminished by a severe case of arthritis that crippled him so badly that he hunched over when he slowly walked with two canes, struggling to put one foot in front of the other.

I found Frank tough, determined, steely.

As I listened to his matter-of-fact recounting of what he said went down at that house, and giving such detail, I remember thinking what he was saying could actually be true.

Here’s why:

There is no doubt that Frank was a close confidant of Hoffa, someone who Hoffa trusted. And Hoffa didn’t trust very many people.

Frank was both a top Teamsters Union official in Delaware and an admitted Bufalino crime family hit-man, a top aide to the boss himself.

The FBI admits that Frank was “known to be in Detroit area at the time of JRH disappearance, and considered to be a close friend of JRH,” as the HOFFEX memo states.

Hoffa’s son, current Teamsters President James P. Hoffa, told me in September 2001 that his father would have gotten into the car with Frank. He said that his father would not have taken that ride with some of the other FBI suspects whom I mentioned.

In the book, Frank says that he sat in the front passenger seat of the car as a subtle warning to Hoffa, who habitually sat there. He felt a deep friendship and loyalty to Hoffa, yet knew what his own fate would be if he failed to carry out the lethal order from his mob masters. So he sat in the front seat hoping Hoffa would realize something was wrong. Hoffa did not.

The FBI did find “a single three-inch brown hair…in the rear seat back rest” of that car that matched Hoffa, and three dogs picked up “a strong indication of JRH scents in the rear right seat.”

I asked Frank if he remembered how to get to the house where he said he killed Hoffa. I thought finding where Hoffa was shot, and investigating everything about the house, could be key to the case. Frank rattled off the driving directions from the restaurant and described the house’s interior layout.

Killers may not remember an exact address of a murder scene, but they never forget how they got there and what they did when they arrived.

“Sheeran gave us the directions,” Charlie wrote in the book. “This was the first time he had ever revealed the directions to me. His deepened voice and hard demeanor was chilling, when, for the first time ever, he stated publicly to someone other than me that he had shot Jimmy Hoffa.”

A year after our meeting, Charlie and Frank drove to Detroit to try to find the house, and when they did Frank pointed it out to Charlie. They did not go inside.

Three years later, in 2004, Charlie, Fox News producer Ed Barnes and I first set foot into the home’s foyer, looked around the first floor and saw that Frank’s description fit the interior to a tee.

Ed and I arranged with the homeowners to take up the floorboards in the foyer and hallway and remove the press-on vinyl floor tiles that they had put down over the original hardwood floors when they bought the house in 1989.

We hired a forensic team of retired Michigan state police investigators to try to find any blood evidence. They sprayed the chemical luminol on the floors, which homicide detectives routinely use to discover the presence of blood.

We found it.

The testing revealed a specific pattern of blood evidence, laid out like a map of clues to the nation’s most infamous unsolved murder. Little yellow numbered tags were placed throughout the first floor foyer and hallway, to mark each spot where the investigators’ testing yielded positive hits.

The pattern told the story of how Hoffa was killed.

The greatest amount of positive hits were found right next to the front door, where Hoffa’s bleeding head would have hit the floor.

Seven more tags lined the narrow hallway toward the rear kitchen, marking the drops that perfectly mimic Frank’s story of Hoffa’s lifeless body being dragged to the kitchen by the two waiting accomplices, who then stuffed it into a body bag and carried it out the back kitchen door.

We arranged for the Oakland County prosecutor’s office to remove the floorboards for DNA testing by the FBI, though Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca cautioned that it would be “a miracle” if Hoffa’s DNA was recovered.

I knew those odds. A DNA hit was beyond a long shot.

Experts told me that such tiny samples of genetic material, degraded by the passage of 29 years and exposure to air and the elements under a homeowner’s heavily trafficked floor, would likely not provide enough material to result in a DNA match.

The FBI lab report says that chemical tests were conducted on 50 specimens; 28 tested positive for the possible presence of blood, and DNA was only recovered from two samples.

The FBI compared what was recovered to the DNA from a known strand of Hoffa’s hair. One sample was found to be “of male origin,” but it was not determined from whom. The other result was “largely inconclusive.”

Was I disappointed that a DNA match was not possible? Yes. Was I surprised? No. Did I think this disproved Frank’s claim? No.

Think about it.

What are the chances of any random house in America testing positive for blood traces from more than two dozen samples, in the exact pattern that corroborates a man’s murder confession?

What would luminol reveal under your home’s floor?

There are other reasons to believe why Frank’s scenario fits.

The house was most likely empty on the day Hoffa died. It was built in the 1920’s and owned for five decades by a single woman, Martha Sellers, a teacher and department store employee. By the summer of 1975, Sellers was in her 80s, and not living there full time. Her family told The Detroit News and Free Press that she had bought another home in Plymouth, Mich., where she would move permanently the next year.

Frank says that a man he called “a real estater” lived in the house. The Sellers family remembered that boarder, who they recalled resided in an upstairs bedroom. He was described as “a shadowy figure…who would disappear. He never said more than a few words and they know nothing about him, not even his name.”

It is quite possible that “the real estater,” was the link between the house and the Detroit mob, providing an empty house as needed, when Sellers was absent, for whatever purpose — including using it as a Mafia hit house to murder Jimmy Hoffa.

The FBI clearly believed Sheeran had credibility. Agents visited him in his final years in an unsuccessful attempt to secure his cooperation.

While we were conducting our investigation in Detroit in 2004, the FBI, I was told, had tried to find the house even before we aired our story.

And the views of those closest to Jimmy Hoffa, his son and daughter, seem especially relevant when assessing Frank’s credibility.

Not only did James P. Hoffa confirm that his father would have driven off with Frank, but his sister, Hoffa’s daughter, Barbara Crancer, wrote Frank a poignant letter begging him to come clean about their father’s fate.

In the one-page handwritten note dated March 5, 1995, she wrote:

“It is my personal belief that there are many people who called themselves loyal friends who know what happened to James R. Hoffa, who did it and why. The fact that not one of them has ever told his family — even under a vow of secrecy, is painful to me…”

She then underlined: “I believe you are one of those people.”

Crancer confirmed to me that she wrote that letter.

Sadly for the Hoffa family, Frank never directly honored her request. When I sat with him, he said that his No. 1 priority was not to go back to “college,” meaning prison. He decided that the best way to avoid that possibility, while also revealing his story, was to share his secrets for the book and my reporting.

Frank died on Dec. 14, 2003. He was 83.

While authorities no doubt will continue to respond to more tips, as they should, I believe that we already know what happened to Jimmy Hoffa.

Frank described the most precise and credible scenario yet to be recounted, and the evidence that we found in the house backs up his confession.

In the four decades since, Hoffa’s life and legacy as a pivotal part of the American labor movement has been overshadowed by his disappearance. But it seems clear that organized crime bosses did not want him to resume the mantle of the Teamsters presidency, and went to the ultimate length to prevent his return.

Today Hoffa’s union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, represents 1.4 million workers and continues to be headed by his son. Last year, a milestone was marked in its attempts to shed any specter of possible organized crime. Federal Judge Loretta Preska approved the Department of Justice and union agreement that will end the U.S. government oversight of the Teamsters that has lasted for more than 25 years.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said at the time that the union had made “significant progress” in “ridding … the influence of organized crime and corruption,” though he cautioned that “the threat … persists.”

Hoffa called it “an historic agreement … our union is committed to the democratic process, and we can proudly declare that corrupt elements have been driven from the Teamsters.”

Sadly, it was those corrupt elements that took the life of his father as he tried to take back his union.

“Jimmy Hoffa raised millions of workers and their families out of poverty and into the middle class,” noted the Teamsters Union in a statement to Fox News.

“He gave his life while fighting to remove corrupt elements from the union and return power to the members. This tragic anniversary is particularly difficult on his family who lost a father and grandfather much too soon. They want nothing more than to have the closure that they so deserve.”

Frank’s story will soon be told in a major motion picture, “The Irishman,” starring Robert De Niro as Frank, directed by Martin Scorsese and produced by Irwin Winkler. Tribeca Films, in association with Paramount Pictures, will bring this story to the big screen in 2018. Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel are also reported to also have roles, uniting the legendary actors of the mob movie genre in one film.

Follow Eric Shawn on Twitter @EricShawnTV

Eric Shawn is a New York-based anchor and senior correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC). He anchors “America’s News Headquarters” on Saturdays at 6 pm and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m to 5 p.m ET. and “Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo.” He anchors frequently during the week on the Fox News Channel and reports on politics, terrorism, and foreign affairs. Shawn has provided live coverage from both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions since 1992 and anchored convention coverage this summer. In 2004 he led the Fox News investigative team that uncovered new evidence in the murder of Jimmy Hoffa, based on the claims of hit-man Frank Sheeran.

Click here for more information on Eric Shawn.

Strange ‘burning’ object spotted in sky over western US

UFOS

NOW PLAYINGFragments from a Chinese rocket streak across the night sky

A strange, apparently burning object was spotted in the sky over parts of the western U.S. Wednesday night.

Fox 5 in Las Vegas reports that hundreds of viewers contacted the station about the streaking lights, which appeared in the sky around 9:35 p.m. PDT. The lights were said to be visible in Reno, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Idaho and Northern California.

The object generated plenty of buzz on social media.

“Amazing fireballs in the sky!! Did anyone else see them?,” tweeted the Death Valley National Park Service.

Amazing fireballs in the sky!! Did anyone else see them?@NASA

“It was seen here in Las Vegas. Looks like space debris burning up. Not confirmed,” tweeted the National Weather Service in Las Vegas, in response.

Citing the National Weather Service, Fox 5 reported that the object could be a Chinese rocket burning up on re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. However, Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada said that the object was likely a meteorite burning up, according to Fox 5.

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Another theory suggested that the lights could be related to the Delta Aquarid meteor shower, which peaks Thursday and Friday.