NEWS AND BLUES
by Roland Sweet - Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

01-08-14

Curses, Foiled Again
When police encountered shoplifting suspect Levar Fulgham, 34, with $4,500 in designer handbags outside a TJ Maxx store in Farmington, Conn., he ran off and hopped into an idling car. He couldn’t get the car moving, however, because it was equipped with an ignition interlock system, which the driver has to blow into to put the car in gear. The car’s owner had been required to install the device after a drunk-driving charge, and Fulgham didn’t know how it worked. “Otherwise,” police Lt. Colin Ryan said, “he would have been long gone.” (The Hartford Courant)

Last Wish
After Scott E. Entsminger, 55, died in Columbus, Ohio, the death notice included his request that six Cleveland football players serve as pallbearers to lower him into his grave “so the Browns can let him down one last time.” (The Columbus Dispatch)

What Were We Thinking?
After the New York Mets asked the American Indian Community House to help organize a Native American Heritage Day at the ballpark, the nonprofit group bought a block of 500 tickets and was invited to stage pregame festivities, including traditional singing and dancing, outside Citi Field. The Mets also agreed to print 500 T-shirts for the occasion and broadcast two public-service announcements for the group on the stadium’s video boards. Then Mets officials noticed the game was scheduled for July 25 against the Atlanta Braves. Concerned that the Braves, known for their fans’ tomahawk-chop cheer, might interpret the event as a protest over the team name, the Mets notified the AICH that there would be no public-service announcements and no pregame festivities. “This whole thing wasn’t even our idea,” AICH deputy director Kevin Tarrant said after the group canceled its participation and requested a refund for the 500 tickets. “But it just feels like we’re being marginalized again within our own community.” (The New York Times)

Little Things Mean a Lot
Geronimo Narciso, 37, fired two shots in the air in Pangasinan, in the Philippines, and was tucking his gun into his waistband when it fired again, according to ABS-CBN News, and accidentally shot off his penis. Earlier this year, the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian reported that a security guard accidentally shot off his penis. He survived, only to be charged with illegally possessing the weapon. (The Huffington Post)

Revenge of the Mobile Devices

  • Texting contributed to the crash of a medical helicopter near Mosby, Mo., according to National Transportation Safety Board investigators. Despite the helicopter operator’s rule forbidding pilots to use electronic devices during flight, pilot James Freudenbert, 34, had exchanged 20 personal text messages in the two hours before the crash, including one 19 minutes before. Officials said the texting apparently prevented Fruedenbert from noticing the helicopter was running out of fuel. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Smartphone accidents are on the rise. The Chinese website Xianguo.com reported that a Hong Kong man named Du blamed his Samsung Galaxy S4 phone for burning down his house. Du said he was playing the game “Love Machine” on the phone when its battery popped. Startled, he threw the phone on a sofa, which burst into flames that quickly spread. Later that month, an 18-year-old Swiss woman received third-degree burns on her leg after her Samsung Galaxy S3 exploded in her pocket. In the same month, a Chinese woman reportedly died from an electric shock when she answered a call on her iPhone while it was charging; a similar occurrence sent a Chinese man into a coma. (The Huffington Post)
  • Believing that he may have accidentally dropped his cellphone down a garbage chute in his Palatine, Ill., apartment building, Roger Mirro, 56, went looking for it in a trash compactor, which crushed him to death. (Chicago Tribune)

Illuminating Conclusion
Police responding to a burglary alarm went to the wrong house in Fort Worth, Texas, shot the 72-year-old homeowner, then blamed “poor lighting around the home” for their mistake. Limited to using their flashlights, Officers B.B. Hanlon and R.P. Hoeppner encountered homeowner Jerry Waller, who they reported “was armed with a handgun standing near the corner of the home” and shot him six times, explaining that they acted in self defense. Waller’s son, Chris, disputed the officers’ account, insisting that his father “never stepped outside of his garage” and “was shot multiple times in the chest only a few steps away from the doorway to his kitchen.” (Fort Worth’s Star-Telegram)

Double Jeopardy
Ye Mengyuan, 16, a passenger aboard the Asiana Airline flight that crash landed in San Francisco in July survived the crash and was thrown from the plane but died when she was run over by a rescue vehicle responding to the emergency, according to San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault. (CNN)

Cold Case
When Canadian authorities featured the case of Lucy Johnson in their missing-persons file, her daughter used the information to advertise the disappearance in newspapers, including in the Yukon, where her mother once lived. Royal Canadian Mounted Police official Curtis Harling said it wasn’t long before the daughter, Linda Evans, heard from a woman saying she’s Johnson’s daughter from a later marriage. Johnson disappeared in 1961, but her husband, Marvin Johnson, didn’t report her missing until 1965, arousing police suspicions. Marvin Johnson died in the late 1990s. Harling said the sisters were pleased to find out they had other family members but added that their mother, now 77 and living under a different name, has a lot of questions to answer. (The Canadian Press)

Respect Your Elders–Or Else
Chinese legislators amended a law to require people to visit or keep in touch with their elderly parents or risk being sued. “It is mainly to stress the right of elderly people to ask for emotional support,” Xiao Jinming, a law professor at Shandong University who helped draft the measure, explained. “We want to emphasize there is such a need.” (Associated Press)

Droning On
In the latest backlash against unmanned aerial vehicles, town officials in Deer Trail, Colo., are considering a proposed ordinance that would grant hunting permits allowing residents to shoot down drones. The permits would cost $25, and anyone who presents evidence of shooting down a drone would receive $100. “This is a pre-emptive strike,” said Phillip Steel, 48, who proposed the measure and collected enough signatures on a petition to require local officials to act on it. “I don’t want to live in a surveillance society.” The Federal Aviation Administration responded that people who fire guns at drones could be prosecuted or fined, but Steel insisted, “The FAA doesn’t have the power to make a law.” (Associated Press)

Cursive’s Last Gasp
Two German entrepreneurs invented an ink pen that recognizes misspelled words and bad handwriting. Its name is Lernstift, German for “learning pen,” according to Daniel Kaesmacher, co-founder of the company that spent 18 months developing the digital pen. It’s a regular pen with real ink, but also contains a tiny motion sensor and a battery-powered Linux computer with a WiFi chip. “The pen will have two functions,” Kaesmacher said, “calligraphy and orthography mode.” In the spelling mode, the computer compares words it writes to its language database; when it doesn’t recognize a word, it vibrates. If it senses bad letter formation or messy handwriting, it also vibrates. The company intends testing the digital pen with a whole school class before selling it, for 130 to 150 euros ($170-$200). The device will work with smart phones and tablets eventually, but its “basic functionality is all in the pen,” Kaesmacher said, pointing out “there’s no app needed” or special paper. (ABC News)

When Guns Are Outlawed

  • Detectives investigating the death of an inmate at Florida’s Pinellas County jail concluded that the victim’s cellmate, Scott Alexander Greenberg, 28, had murdered the 48-year-old man by shoving wet toilet paper down his throat. (South Florida’s Sun-Sentinel)
  • Pizza was the weapon of choice in two incidents. Cody Sebastian Parsons, 25, denied assaulting his 19-year-old girlfriend with pizza at their home in Wilkesboro, N.C., but police found “pizza sauce on the back of {the victim’s} right rib cage,” and “there were pieces of pizza all over the living room floor, as well as on the wall behind the front entrance door to the apartment.” In Fort Mill, S.C., police arrested Jimmy Ray Poage, 47, for assaulting his 40-year-old girlfriend with a pizza slice. Poage claimed the woman threw pizza at him first, but, according to a York County Sheriff’s report, her clothing was splattered with sauce, whereas his were “clear of pizza or pizza sauce.” (The Smoking Gun)

News and Blues is compiled from the nation’s press. To contribute, submit original clippings, citing date and source, to Roland Sweet in care of The New Times.

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