News and Blues
by Roland Sweet - Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

05/21/14 – 05/27/14

Curses, Foiled Again
Gene Richins, 31, broke into a jewelry store in Sandy, Utah, by climbing down through the ceiling but then set off a motion-detector alarm. “The alarms were going off this whole time,” store owner Tim Branscomb said. “I don’t know why he didn’t just leave.” Instead, Richins continued filling his bag with jewelry. He wasn’t able to leave the same way he came in, however, so he tried to escape by breaking a window with a fire extinguisher but failed because the glass was shatterproof, police who arrived on the scene said. (Salt Lake City’s KSL-TV)

Not-So-Great Escape
Australian authorities thwarted an escape by two female inmates from a minimum-security prison in New South Wales when they searched a cell and discovered a 60-foot rope made from tied-together sheets. Officials at Emu Plains Corrections Center wondered why the rope was so long because the complex has just one level, and the fences and walls aren’t particularly high. (Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph)

When Guns Are Outlawed
Scottish authorities said Gary Rough, 28, tried to rob a Glasgow betting shop with a cucumber. He showed the clerk a “long cylindrical object covered in a black sock” and demanded money, but she refused. An off-duty detective heard the commotion and pinned Rough to the ground. Rough insisted the matter was “a joke,” adding, “It was a fucking cucumber. Am I getting the jail for this?” (Scotland’s STV)

Extreme Makeover
Hoping to distance aspiring middle-class Kazakhstan from its low-class neighbors, President Nursultan Nazarbayev suggested eliminating “stan” from its name. The word means “place” in Persian, but Nazarbayev said that it causes foreigners to lump the country with its economically less developed or more politically volatile neighbors. He suggested the name “Kazakh Yeli,” or “Land of the Kazakhs,” and invited public discussion of his proposal. (The Economist)

Slightest Provocation
James Jugo, 52, admitted beating his roommate to death in Tampa, Fla., after the two argued about a chicken foot. Roommate Benjamin Calderon, 52, objected when Jugo took the chicken foot from a skillet while Calderon was cooking it. (Tampa Bay Times)

Below Zero Tolerance
Administrators at a high school in suburban Chicago objected to a state law requiring that 4-by-6-inch stickers warning guns are not allowed be posted in schools, as well as in churches, government agencies and liquor stores. But officials at Tinley Park High School oppose the notices banning guns because an image of a gun appears on them. “You can’t look at this and not think of Sandy Hook,” principal Theresa Nolan said, adding that she would prefer “something more subtle.” (Southtown Star)

How Inconvenient
Dr. Daniel Ubani admitted killing an English patient by overprescribing drugs but moved to Germany, made a plea deal to pay a fine for “gross negligence” and continued practicing. While Ubani was delivering a presentation at a conference in Lindau, Germany, the victim’s two sons interrupted him and called him a “charlatan and killer,” Ubani sued the sons, demanding they pay him £2,800 ($4,690) because their disruption caused him to miss a post-conference dinner for which he had already paid. (Britain’s Express)

Deadbeat Dining
A child-nutrition manager dispatched to a Salt Lake City elementary school, to investigate reports of parents owing money to the school lunch program, ordered cafeteria workers to seize lunches from as many as 40 students. District official Jason Olsen said officials tried to alert parents with overdue balances that the child-nutrition manager was coming but couldn’t reach everyone in time. The students had already received their lunches before they were singled out, leaving workers no choice but to throw out the uneaten food because school rules forbid serving already served food to other students. (The Salt Lake Tribune)

Second-Amendment Follies
A 36-year-old man shot himself in the head while demonstrating gun safety at his home in Independence Township, Mich. The man’s girlfriend told Oakland County sheriff’s deputies that the man, who had been drinking most of the day, was using his three handguns to prove how safe guns are when they’re empty. The first two he pointed at his head didn’t fire, but the third one did. Calling the situation “pretty unique,” Undersheriff Michael McCabe remarked, “I have never heard of anyone testing out the safety of a gun by pointing at their head and pulling the trigger.” (United Press International)

Problem Solved
Chinese officials are considering using giant vacuum cleaners to improve air quality in polluted cities. The device, which resembles a giant hula-hoop, uses an electrified wire to attract smog particles. “It’s not going to cure smog on a large scale,” Dutch inventor Daan Roosegaarde explained, “but at least we can remind people what clean air looks like.” A separate report noted that in 1970, oil-rich Beverly Hillbilly Jed Clampett considered investing in a scheme to drill a tunnel through the San Bernadino Mountains, stick in a huge fan and suck all the smog out of Los Angeles. (The Washington Post)

Things That Go Boom
Two men attending the Western Pyrotechnics Association’s Western Winter Blast 25 were injured when their trunk filled with fireworks exploded in Lake Havasu City, Ariz. “There were 10-inch bundles of fireworks and sparklers,” fire Battalion Chief Mike Quijada said, explaining that when the driver stopped to check out the blast, “That’s when the back blew up. He walked into a fire bomb.” (Havasu’s Today’s News-Herald)

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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