News and Blues
by Roland Sweet - Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

07/09/14

Curses, Foiled Again
Christopher Brent Fulton, 30, surrendered to authorities after seeing his photo as the suspect being sought for attempted bank robbery in Midwest City, Okla. He handed the teller a holdup note written on the back of a personal check but left it behind when he fled empty-handed, thinking he had tripped an alarm. The personal information on the check had been scratched out with a pen, but investigators were still able to read it and determine it belonged to Fulton’s mother. (Oklahoma City’s KOCO-TV)

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)

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)

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)

Second-Amendment Rites
As the number of guns sold in America rises, gun safes are enjoying record sales and becoming centerpieces of home decor. “Because they are so pretty, people are putting them in their front rooms,” said Brandon Payne, of Liberty Safe, which sells 500 safes a day, most of them big ones costing more than $1,000 and able to withstand hours of exposure to fires and being dropped from 200 feet. Competitors, such as Fort Knox and Browning offer customized safes with wood-paneled interiors, dehumidifiers and lighting kits on the inside, and biometric locks and artwork on the outside. (The Economist)

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 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)

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)

McFlurry Madness
When a man refused to buy a woman with him a McFlurry at a McDonald’s restaurant in Jacksonville, Fla., witnesses said the woman headed for his car, poured alcohol and gasoline on it, lit it on fire and then ran off. After people helped the man put out the fire, he drove away. (Orlando’s WFTV-TV)

NIMBY Nincompoop
As CEO of ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson promotes hydraulic fracturing and condemns its critics and “dysfunctional regulation” that he insists “is holding back the American economic recovery, growth and global competitiveness.” As a homeowner, however, Tillerson has joined a lawsuit to block construction of a 160-foot tower next to his $5 million Texas home that would supply water to a nearby fracking site. The suit argues that the project would cause too much noise and traffic. Tillerson’s lawyer said his client’s concern is about the devaluation of his property, not fracking, although fracking opponent Rep. Jared Police (D-Colo.) responded to Tillerson’s suit by announcing, “We are thrilled to have the CEO of a major international oil and gas corporation join our quickly multiplying ranks.” (The Wall Street Journal)

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).

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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