The latest 'sighting' of Madeleine McCann turns out to have been of a little fair-skinned, blonde Arab girl.
One telling aspect of the story is that when the Evening Standard reporter who tracked her down visited the girl in her hill village he was struck by the fact that even in that remote region, people were familiar with the story of the missing English child. The photograph of the Arab girl had been taken by a Spanish tourist - another example of how the search for Madeleine has attracted such enormous worldwide interest and coverage.
It all raises yet again the most baffling aspect of this disturbing case.
Not just that a child has disappeared. But that she has apparently disappeared so completely off the face of the earth.
And that despite millions of people worldwide being aware of her story and being constantly on the look-out for her, not the merest trace of her has yet been found.
Now, house about a cut-price US des res?
The news that a number of local developers are offering house-buyers incentives that range from paying their stamp duty to even covering the first mortgage payments is a reflection of just how difficult the market is for those still trying to get on that first rung of the property ladder.
In Northern Ireland these days you're lucky to get anything in housing terms for under £150,000.
So consider this for value ?
It's described by the estate agents as a 'gorgeous home in a lovely area'. This detached house has three bedrooms and two bathrooms. There's a massive family room and outdoor patio, large back garden and your own swimming pool.
The kitchen is completely new with granite work-tops and brand new outsize fridge and washer/dryer. The property also has its own garage and is situated beside an excellent golf course, close to great schools, shops and restaurants. Oh, and it's a short walk to a fabulous beach that stretches for miles.
Price? Around £160,000 in our money.
I say our money because this house which is currently for sale (and is a pretty average example of the thousands of properties like it now on the market) is down the coast a bit from West Palm Beach in Southern Florida.
While prices on our side of the Atlantic have been spiralling ever upwards, the crisis in the US housing market spawned by the sub-prime mortgages meltdown has been taking the market the other way.
Lenders there had provided buyers with loans well beyond their powers of repayment in the event of an interest rates hike. When the inevitable happened, thousands upon thousands of families lost their homes.
But as an inappropriately hearty salesman informs listeners on local radio 'while foreclosure may mean misery for some, it also means there are a lot of bargains for buyers right now!'
Tasteless, insensitive, heartless even.
But he does have a point ?
For adding to the property crisis in southern Florida has been a bad outbreak of what could be called condominium blight.
Miles and miles of coastline have been gobbled up in recent years by developers hopeful of making a quick buck or several million from what we would call apartment blocks.
Needless to say since everybody seems to have had the same bright idea at the same time, the market is now swamped and the prices there are tumbling, too.
But the really interesting aspect of asking prices in the US is what tremendous value they represent to anyone from our side of the pond. That's because of the state of the dollar. You now get two to the pound. Bearing in mind that only a couple of years ago, when the dollar was at itself, your pound was worth only $$1.50, the potential saving on property prices is immense. But there is the obvious downside.
You may get more for your money in Miami than in Malone, but it's a long way to commute to work in Belfast or Dungannon or Lurgan or wherever. There's no place like home in that sense.
And the state of the US property market is also a reminder that there is no place, including home, exempt from wild fluctuation, sudden market collapse and changing currency values.
Despite the cheery patter of the radio salesman, it's hard to leaf through those glossy brochures of 'competitively priced luxury properties overlooking the ocean' and not think of the families who didn't just lose 'the best view on the beach'. They also lost their homes.
When it comes to the crunch, we're world class
AS you may be able to tell from other pieces on this page, I've been in the US of late.
But in the bars of Fort Lauderdale there are plenty of reminders of home.
In McSorleys, overlooking the ocean, their premier snack is Tayto crisps. Interesting news for Mr Tayto perhaps - it's not the inimitable cheese and onion that the customers can't get enough of. It's the smokey bacon.
Then there was the bar we called into because we heard the distinctive sound of Scotland the Brave being belted out on the bagpipes by a bloke in shorts and a Hawaiian shirt. He was Alan whose family were originally from Scotland via Canada. Alan now lives in Seattle where, apparently, there's a strong piping community. He mentioned one band (the name escapes me) led by friend of his that recently competed in the world championships. Alan had heard them before they took part.
They were so good, he said, he knew with absolute certainty that they couldn't be beaten. But they were. "That Field Marshall Montgomery Band is truly awesome," he conceded of the local outfit which took the top prize.
As we were discussing this, over the bar's PA another Northern Irish band with a global reputation was Chasing Cars. The brilliant Snow Patrol.
From potato snacks to piping and popular music - just a small sample of the talent that goes to make this place a world-beater.
Recycling NY style
Far be it from me to put ideas in the heads of local hoods, but I'm surprised a few of them haven't copped on to a scam currently being operated in New York.
Gangs there have been posing as recycling collectors (if that's the right term) and scooping not only materials left out by conscientious householders but, it also transpires, a fair whack of the profit the city authorities would have hoped to have made from flogging this stuff .
On recycling day the gangs have simply been going round early and gathering up the best of the items left for the legitimate team. They've then been selling this on to recycling firms.
Dishonest profiteering, of course.
But in a way you can't help feeling that this is as close to a victimless crime as it gets. After all the stuff is ending up where it is intended. And if the city authorities lose out on cash from the nabbed materials, maybe they could make savings by cutting back on official collections?
In New York they don't seem to see it that way. The cops are, we are told, determined to hunt down the pirate recyclers. And dump them in the sin bin.