NEWS AND BLUES
by Roland Sweet - Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

06-04-2014

Curses, Foiled Again
Stephen Furr, 48, denied breaking into a Boston home and stealing copper pipe from a boiler, even after police found him hiding beneath the basement stairs with a pipe cutter (described as “a burglarious tool”) and copper pipe appearing to have been cut from the boiler. The homeowners called police after the thief’s loud banging on the pipes woke them. (Boston Globe)

Slightest Provocation
Travis Schelling, 35, assaulted his girlfriend, police in Phoenix, Ariz., said, because he didn’t understand how Facebook works. According to investigators, whenever one of her friend’s posts appeared on her news feed, Schelling thought other men were sending messages directly to her. Every time Schelling read a post, he would hit her. The attacks, which lasted nearly four hours, included sexual assault, punching, slapping and pulling out clumps of hair. (Phoenix’s The Arizona Republic)

Problems Solved
Mammoth offshore wind farms would protect coastal regions from hurricanes, according to Mark Jacobson, an engineering professor at Stanford University. He calculates that grouping 78,000 wind turbines, each 50 feet tall, in a strategic location, such as the Louisiana coast, could lower a hurricane’s maximum wind speed 50 percent to 80 percent (up to 92 mph) and reduce its storm surge up to 80 percent, all while generating pollution-free electricity. Jacobson explained that the plan would work because the turbines produce power by taking energy from the wind, thus slowing it down. (USA Today)

Second-Amendment Follies
An off-duty corrections officer reaching for his valet parking ticket at a crowded restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., accidentally triggered his concealed handgun, firing a round that sent ricocheting shrapnel into a group of patrons. One was injured, according to police Detective DeAnna Greenlaw, who identified the restaurant as Shooters Waterfront. (South Florida Sun Sentinel)

Social Media Follies
Patrick Snay received $80,000 to settle his age-discrimination suit against Miami’s Gulliver Preparatory School, but the agreement included a stipulation forbidding disclosure of settlement details. The Snays’ daughter promptly notified her 1,200 Facebook friends: “Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver. Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.” A judge voided the settlement. (CNN)

When Guns Are Outlawed
Ottawa police reported that a masked man entered a downtown store brandishing a hockey stick and demanded cash. The suspect fled empty-handed after the store’s owner grabbed the hockey stick out of his hands. (CBC News)

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)

Going George Costanza One Better
Robert McKevitt, 27, deposited $1 in a vending machine at his warehouse job in Milford, Iowa, and selected a Twix candy bar, but it snagged on the spiral hook. “I was, like, ‘Oh, man.’ So I put in another dollar, and then it wouldn’t do anything,” he said. He tried banging on the machine and rocking it back and forth, but the candy bar wouldn’t budge. Determined to get the snack he paid for, McKevitt commandeered a 4-ton forklift, lifted the vending machine 2 feet and let it drop on the concrete floor. He repeated the maneuver six times; three candy bars fell into the chute to be retrieved. A supervisor confronted him, and five days later he was fired. After his claim for jobless benefits was denied, McKevitt acknowledged, “That machine was trouble.” (Des Moines Register)

When Weight Watchers Isn’t Enough
An alternative to liposuction lets people lose fat through urination. The treatment, called Aqualyx, involves injecting a water solution into specific areas of the body. It liquefies fat cells, which are then eliminated over a three-week period. “Aqualyx isn’t an injection for weight loss,” its British supplier, Mills Medical Services, said. “It is used for contouring the body and slimming down those stubborn fat areas.” One session, which is sufficient for chin areas, costs $417, Mills Medical said; larger areas require several treatments. (Britain’s Daily Mail)

Virtual Solution
After Los Angeles County passed a law requiring porn actors to use condoms, adult-film production companies fled to Las Vegas, Miami and other less restrictive locations. Some remaining companies responded by turning to technology, specifically computer-generated imagery (CGI), to digitize the flesh over the condoms. Gay porn company Falcon Studios released the first digitally enhanced film, California Dreamin’ 1. “I wanted to give the impression of a pre-condom movie,” director Tony DiMarco said, “but use condoms as we do in every scene we film.” (Slate)

Hidey-Hole
Sheriff’s deputies responding to reports of a shooting in Jefferson Parish, La., found Akili Bailey, 20, with gunshot wounds to his buttock, leg and foot. When paramedics tried to help Bailey, he refused to get up and appeared to be “clenching his buttocks together,” according to the police report. Authorities attributed his behavior to his injury, but a doctor who treated Bailey at the hospital retrieved a small bag containing 2.5 grams of cocaine from his buttocks. (New Orleans’ The Times-Picayune)

Everything You Know Is Wrong
A textbook used by more than 50,000 students in India’s Gujarat state contains more than 120 factual, spelling and grammatical mistakes, including that “Japan dropped a nuclear bomb on the United States during World War II.” The Gujarat government hasn’t withdrawn the books but did “set up a two-member committee to look into these errors and make changes immediately,” according to State Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama. (BBC News)

Coals to Newcastle
Thanks to a new restaurant in Shanghai, Americans living in the Chinese city of 24 million people can enjoy previously unavailable ethnic cuisine: Chinese food. That is, Chinese food as served in the United States. Fortune Cookie is the brainchild of American entrepreneurs Fung Lam, 31, who grew up in New Jersey, and David Rossi, whom Lam met in a master’s program in hospitality management at Cornell University. The restaurant targets nostalgic Americans by offering General Tso’s chicken and other Chinese-American dishes, made with such staples as Skippy peanut butter, Mott’s applesauce, Heinz ketchup and Philadelphia cream cheese.
“A lot of people called us crazy and were banking on us closing after six months,” Lam says, noting that February marked the restaurant’s eighth month. “It’s kind of embarrassing that you’re in China eating American-Chinese food, but it was spot on,” customer Megan Emery-Moore, who teaches art at Shanghai American School, said, noting the food makes her feel “calm,” “relaxed” and “like I’m at home.” (NPR)

Things That Go Boom
Iraqi authorities reported that a terrorist commander training suicide bombers in a secluded camp north of Baghdad was demonstrating with a belt packed with live explosives, which he accidentally triggered, killing himself and 21 other members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Fifteen others were wounded. An Iraqi Army officer described the militant commander as a prolific recruiter who promised martyrdom as a sure ticket to heaven. (The New York Times)

Commercialized Airspace
A car dealership in Houston, Texas, hired a drone to film its latest commercial. “It’s a good technique for getting shots that you normally wouldn’t be able to get for advertising purposes, because you get a different perspective,” said Don Ruguleiski, Internet-digital marketing director for Mac Haik Chevrolet. “It’s tough to get a boom out here with a camera on it.” The lightweight unmanned aerial vehicle with six propellers is operated by JAM Aviation. “You know, people used to be scared of it,” owner Don Hirsch explained. “Now they’re saying, ‘Hey, that looks like a UFO. Hey, that looks like a really cool piece of equipment.” (Houston’s KHOU-TV)

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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