News and Blues
by Roland Sweet - Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

7/2/14

Curses, Foiled Again

A clerk at a Radio Shack in Clearwater, Fla., identified Andre T. Puskas, 20, as the suspect who tried to rob the store because Puskas worked there. The clerk told police that Puskas tried using a Taser on her but instead Tasered his own hand and then fled empty-handed. Police arrested him when he showed up later for his shift. (Tampa Bay Times)

Missing the Point

During an argument with his girlfriend, Tyler Ford, 23, hit her with a textbook used in his anger management class, according to sheriff’s deputies in Spartanburg County, S.C. (Greenville’s WYFF-TV)

First Things First

Nyima Dorjee, 39, was sitting in a New York City jury pool for a gun-possession trial when he complained to the questioning prosecutor of chest pains and difficulty breathing, but when a court officer informed Justice Joel Blumenfeld, the judge told him to let the prosecutor finish his questioning. “There’s a few more minutes left,” the judge reportedly said. “They can wait.” The officer decided that Dorjee needed immediate assistance, however, and called an ambulance. Doctors determined he was having a heart attack. (United Press International)

Next Year, Try Evian

After the U.S. Drought Monitor declared northern Arizona to be “abnormally dry,” Flagstaff decided to allocate 440,000 gallons of drinkable water to make snow for the city’s third annual Urban Ski and Snowboard Festival. Flagstaff official Kimberly Ott defended the plan, citing “the economic benefit to the community.” The city rejected using reclaimed water to make snow, arguing that potable water is cleaner and more comfortable for snowboarders and skiers. “There would be people upset if it was reclaimed water,” downtown business owner Kevin Collins insisted. (Phoenix’s KTVK-TV)

Science Schmience

Christian minister Ken Ham’s goal of building a replica of Noah’s Ark in the Kentucky hills stalled for lack of money until Ham (no relation to Noah’s son) engaged in a debate on evolution with PBS “Science Guy” Bill Nye. Ham’s Answers in Genesis ministry and the Creation Museum received widespread media attention during the debate, which pitted science against the Bible’s explanation of the origins of the universe. Ham said that a flood of donations would allow construction of the Ark Encounter to begin soon and open to the public in summer 2016. (Associated Press)

Better Late Than Never

The New York Times ran a correction to an article it published on Jan. 20, 1853, acknowledging that it misspelled the name of Solomon Northup, whose memoir inspired the movie 12 Years a Slave. The paper spelled Northup’s last name as “Northrop” in the article and “Northrup” in the headline. The paper became aware of the errors after they were pointed out on Twitter. (USA Today)

Child’s Play

The driver of a car that got stuck in a ditch in Vestoppland, Norway, told a passing snowplow operator that he ran off the road while making a U-turn to return home to get his driver’s license. When the plow operator eyed him suspiciously, the diminutive driver explained that he was a dwarf. He was actually a 10-year-old boy joyriding with his 18-month-old sister in their family car. “He asked for help to tow his vehicle so they could continue their journey,” police Officer Kai Lyshaugen said. Instead, the plow operator notified the authorities. (United Press International)

A Friend Indeed

After Chicago Transit Authority train operator Brittney Haywood crashed into an escalator at O’Hare International Airport, sending 32 passengers to local hospitals, the head of CTA’s rail union vowed to fight any attempt to terminate her, even though she admitted dozing off at the controls for the second time in two months. Acknowledging that two dozing incidents “sounds bad,” Robert Kelley, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308, said, “Come on. We’ve all dozed off driving a train (or a car). There’s a difference between dozing off and falling asleep.” (Chicago Sun-Times)

More Likes

Facebook added a customizable option that lets its 159 million U.S. users choose from 50 different gender descriptions. “For the first time I get to go to the site and specify to all the people I know what my gender is,” said Facebook software engineer Brielle Harrison, who worked on the project, and is undergoing gender transformation. Harrison changed her Facebook identity from “Female” to “TransWoman.” Users can also select “neither” or “other” and indicate whether they want to be referred to by the pronoun he, she or they. (Associated Press)

Power to the Power

Faced with having to pay its customers refunds or rate deductions from its excessive profits, as required by a 2007 law, Virginia’s Dominion Power successfully lobbied state lawmakers to pass a bill allowing the utility to deduct most of its research spending. As a result, instead of having projected excess profits of $280 million in the two-year regulatory period, which would have triggered savings for customers under the old law, the new measure allows it to deduct $400 million spent on nuclear energy research, denying its customers any savings. (The Washington Post)

Cheers!

Four Idaho hockey fans sued Boise’s CenturyLink Arena for $10,000, claiming it defrauded customers by charging $7 for a “large” beer served in a tall, narrow cup and $4 for a “regular,” served in a shorter, wider cup, even though both cups hold 20 ounces. Arena officials blamed a mix-up in cup orders and promised to begin selling large beers in 24-ounce cups. (Associated Press)

First-Amendment Follies

Mark Adams was charged with a felony after he spoke too long at a township board meeting in Saginaw County, Mich., and several police officers had to pull him from the podium. Township supervisor Augie Tausend pointed out that Adams has been asked on previous occasions to curtail his remarks after exceeding the posted public comment time limit of three minutes, but Adams declared, “Freedom of speech doesn’t have a time limitation.” (Grand Rapids’ WXMI-TV)

Poutine for Potholes

Saskatchewan’s Prairie Energy has discovered that used cooking oil from restaurants is an effective topping for dusty rural roads. “It basically penetrates about an inch and a half,” explained the company’s Mark Hryniuk, who came up with the idea. “As you drive on it, it gets harder and harder. And it looks like poor man’s pavement. We’ve done complete villages already.” (CBC News)

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 Syracuse New Times.

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