News and Blues
by Roland Sweet - Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

7/16/14

Curses, Foiled Again
Paul James, 35, rented two mobility scooters while vacationing in Blackpool, England, and tried to take them home to sell, according to police who nabbed when he tried loading them into a van outside police headquarters. Officers noticed the scooters had signs on them indicating they belonged to Blackpool Wheelchair Hire and questioned James, who admitted the theft. (Blackpool’s The Gazette)

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)

Sound Barriers
Philadelphia schools eager to keep teenagers from loitering during off hours are counting on high-frequency sonic waves emitted by a device known as “The Mosquito.” Adults over 25 generally cannot hear the sound, but teenagers find it “extremely annoying and will leave an area within a couple of minutes,” said Michael Gibson, president of Moving Sound Technologies, which sells the device. (Philadelphia’s KYW-TV)

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)

Commercialized Airspace
After a federal judge ruled that the Federal Aviation Administration has no jurisdiction over small drones, a Michigan florist resumed using unmanned aerial vehicles to deliver flowers. The FAA ordered Wesley Berry Flowers in Commerce Township to stop testing drone delivery, but federal administrative law judge Patrick Geraghty declared that according to the FAA’s argument for regulating drones, “a flight in the air of a paper airplane or a toy balsa wood glider could subject the operator” to FAA penalties. “The next step for us,” Berry said, “is more testing.” (Detroit’s WWJ-TV)

Drinking-Class Hero
A Vancouver drug center began teaching homeless alcoholics to brew their own beer and wine to stop them from drinking hand sanitizer and mouthwash. The nonprofit Drug Users Resource Center, which gained media attention for providing Canada’s first crack pipe vending machine, charges boozers $10 a month to join its Drinker’s Lounge and qualify for five liters of home brew. “It’s more economically viable than buying it at a liquor store,” noted Rob, who joined the program when it began last summer. Center director Kailin See said, “As the drinking community becomes aware of what we’re doing, we’re obviously having to expand the program.” (Canada’s National Post)

Website Justice
When Christopher Viatafa, 27, searched his name on Google, he found a picture of himself on the “Northern California Most Wanted” website and immediately surrendered to San Leandro police. Viatafa had been unaware he was being sought for allegedly firing a semiautomatic at a private party at the San Leandro Senior Center. (San Francisco Chronicle)

The Honeymoon Is Over
Soon after American tourist Erin Willinger, 35, met rickshaw driver Bunty Sharma, 32, outside the Taj Mahal in Agra, India, last September, they wed. The marriage quickly soured because of “differences in their relationship,” Police Chief Shalabh Mathur said. Accusing his wife of smoking too much and “talking to other men,” Sharma stabbed her to death, then went home and killed himself by igniting a gas canister and causing his house to explode. (CNN)

E-Hazards
Fire officials blamed two fires in Medford, Ore., on the lithium batteries that power vaporizers in electronic cigarettes. In the first incident, an overcharged battery caused a mattress to catch fire, but a resident put it out in time. In the second incident, Fire Marshal Greg Kleinberg said an e-cigarette exploded while being charged, sending bits of burning battery flying into the ceiling and walls of a house. One hot piece of battery landed on a pillow, causing it to smolder and filling the house with smoke. (Associated Press)

Foodies
Military researchers working on new ready-to-eat meals for soldiers said they’ve concocted a pizza that doesn’t need freezing or even refrigeration. “You can basically take the pizza, leave it on the counter, packaged, for three years, and it’d still be edible,” said food scientist Michelle Richardson of the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center in Massachusetts. Noting that pizza is among the most requested items soldiers say they want added to their rations, Richardson said she spent two years working on the new recipe. (Associated Press).

Creature of Habit
Christopher M. Miller, 40, spent 15 years in state prison for robbing a Stride Rite shoe store in Toms River, N.J. Immediately after his release, Ocean County police said Miller boarded a bus from the prison to Tom’s River, where he robbed the same Stride Rite store. Police located the suspect a few blocks from the store and recovered the stolen money. (Baltimore’s WBFF-TV)

First Step to Gun Control
Kentucky Rep. Lesley Combs admitted accidentally firing her Ruger semiautomatic handgun in her Capitol office while unloading it. “I’m a gun owner. It happens,” she explained, adding that she intends to replace the weapon. “It’s an automatic. I need to stick with revolvers.” (Louisville’s WHAS-TV)

Familiarity Breeds Arrest
While dining at a high-end restaurant in Kansas City, Mo., a deputy U.S. marshal recognized another patron as Virgil Tillman, 30, a felon who had eluded police in two states since 2011 and whom he’d been hunting for five weeks. “I had been looking at the guy’s picture every day for weeks,” the deputy said after he called city police, who arrested Tillman as he was leaving Fogo de Chao. (Kansas City’s KSHB-TV)

Odorific Nuptials
A sewage treatment plant in Washington state is offering its facilities for weddings, touting its full catering kitchen, audiovisual equipment, dance floor and ample parking. The cost is $2,000 for eight hours. Susan Tallarico, director of King County’s Brightwater Wastewater Treatment Center, explained that receptions would take place next to where raw sewage is processed but insisted there’s no odor because the process is contained. (Seattle Times)

Open-Door Policy
Officials in Vancouver, British Columbia, changed its building code to ban doorknobs on all new buildings. Instead, doors are required to have handles, making them more accessible to the elderly and disabled. Critics of the new rule note that handles also make doors easier for bears to open. In fact, knob advocates note that Pitkin County, Colo., has banned door levers on buildings specifically to prevent bears from entering buildings. Meanwhile, officials in Halifax and Pickering, east of Toronto, are asking their provincial governments to follow Vancouver’s example. (The Economist)

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.

Ripped From the Headlines

Aunt of man arrested in Syracuse fight and stabbing: ‘There are two sides to this story’ (Syracuse.com) – Nothing like stating the obvious. There usually are two sides to a story, except in this case, one side got stabbed.

Syracuse couple charged after husband pulls stolen handgun on wife’s co-worker (Syracuse.com) – Should make for some interesting water-cooler gossip back at the office

Reports: Syracuse Police Chief’s son arrested on burglary charges (cnycentral.com) – That’s an awkward call home

‘On demand’ lawn mowing service in CNY: There’s an app for that (localsyr.com) – There is now officially nothing our phones can’t do

Prolific Oswego County sex offender’s release from prison delayed (localsyr.com) – This might be the best news to come out of this story