News & Blues
by Roland Sweet - Wednesday, November 27th, 2013


Curses, Foiled Again
Sheriff’s deputies hunting robbery suspect Matthew Oliver in Pasco County, Fla., posted his wanted picture on their Facebook page, naming him their “Fugitive of the Day.” Oliver replied, posting daylong comments, along with his photo and personal details, including his address. Insisting he was set up by a “crack head,” Oliver elicited such comments as, “Ur runnin from the popo & post on your picture? Lol.” Deputies arrested Oliver leaving his apartment. (Tampa Bay’s WTSP-TV)
Inside Jobs
Misconduct by Transportation Security Administration workers has increased by more than 26 percent in the past three years, according to the Government Accountability Office. The GAO report identified the most serious of the more than 9,000 documented violations as employees sleeping on the job, letting family and friends pass through security without being screened, leaving work without permission and stealing. (CNN)
Authorities accused United Airlines employee Sean Crudup and his fiancee, Raychas Thomas, of stealing luggage in the confusion following the July 6 crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 at San Francisco International Airport. Prosecutors said the couple helped themselves to unclaimed luggage piling up in the baggage area and then exchanged some of the contents for $5,000 cash at a nearby Nordstrom department store. (CNN)

Spaced Out
The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology approved funding for NASA but specifically banned the agency from moving forward with President Obama’s proposed mission to capture an asteroid. It also sharply cut money to research climate change. The asteroid retrieval mission (ARM) would entail using an unmanned spacecraft to use a giant net to haul in an asteroid 20 to 30 feet wide and release it into an orbit around the moon. Astronauts would then examine the asteroid to learn how to develop ways to deflect any larger asteroid headed directly for Earth. Denying that the party-line vote was an automatic anti-Obama response, Rep. Steven M. Palazzo (R-Miss.) insisted that NASA’s priority should be human spaceflight: “launching American astronauts on American rockets from America.” (The Washington Post)
A bill introduced in Congress would create a U.S. national park on the moon. H.R. 2617, “The Apollo Lunar Legacy Act,” identifies six Apollo landing sites with artifacts that could be pirated away “as space-faring commercial entities and foreign nations begin to achieve the technical capabilities necessary to land spacecraft on the surface of the moon,” the bill’s co-sponsor, Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) explained. Among the designated artifacts are the Eagle lunar lander’s descent and ascent stages, lunar exploration vehicles and three golf balls. (Brevard County’s Florida Today)

This Ain’t No Karaoke
American tourist Bobby Ray Carter Jr., 51, was killed at a bar in Thailand’s Krabi province after he insisted on singing with the band. “Witnesses said Carter got angry when the band played ‘Hotel California’ instead of the song he requested, and he refused to step down,” Krabi city police chief Col. Taksin Pochakorn said. The band then stopped playing and argued with Carter until at some point one of the musicians stabbed Carter in the chest. (Associated Press)

How the 1 Percent Play
Some wealthy visitors to Disney World are hiring disabled people to pose as family members so they don’t have to wait in lines. Social researcher Wednesday Martin, who said she uncovered this underground network while studying New York City’s Park Avenue elite, said the black-market Disney guides charge $130 an hour. Instead of having to wait hours in lines, Disney allows guests with wheelchairs or mobility scooters to bring up to six guests to a “more convenient entrance” at the front of each attraction. “It’s insider knowledge that very few have and share carefully,” Martin said. (New York Post)

Life Imitating Star Trek
The State Department ordered the nonprofit software distributor Defense Distributed to take down online blueprints for a 3-D printable handgun, called the “Liberator.” The single-shot firearm can be created by anyone with the blueprints and access to a 3D printer. The file was downloaded more than 100,000 times in its first two days online. (Forbes)
Replicating devices might be able to feed crews on missions to Mars. NASA awarded Texas-based Systems and Materials Research Corp. a $125,000 grant to develop a 3-D printer able to create “nutritious and flavorful” food suitable for astronauts. The printers will use a “digital recipe” to combine powders to produce the food, according to project manager and SMRC engineer Anjan Contractor, who said he got the idea after using a 3-D printer to print chocolate for his wife. The project’s initial goal is to re-create pizza. Eventually, SMRC said, the technology could allow astronauts to replicate their favorite recipes from Earth or even feed this planet’s hungry people. (The Washington Post)

Smoking Hazard
A jogger told police in Bowling Green, Ky., that two men robbed him while he stopped for a cigarette break on his evening run. The assailants took $7 and the jogger’s remaining cigarettes. (Bowling Green Daily News)

Waste Not, Want Not
Human urine can be used to charge cell phones, according to scientists at the University of West England. Their report in the journal Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics explains that as urine passes through microbial fuel cells, bacteria consume it and release electrons, which generate an electrical current. (ScienceNow)

Lost and Loster

Amy Stiner, 37, and Melissa Moyer, 38, got lost while hiking in Maine’s Rogue Bluffs State Park and called for help. After a landowner found them, a park warden drove them to their vehicle. Instead of returning to town, the women headed in the other direction and followed a boat ramp into the ocean, where, Washington County Sheriff Donnie Smith said, they drowned. (Associated Press)

Hidden Costs
U.S. military services have spent more than $12 million to design 10 new camouflage patterns for their uniforms, and millions more to buy, stock and ship them, according to the General Accountability Office. Eleven years ago, the military had two camouflage patterns: a green one for woods and a brown one for the desert. Then the Marine Corps implemented two new patterns, followed by the Army, Air Force and eventually even the Navy, which developed water-colored uniforms that some sailors objected to because it made them hard to spot if they fell in the water. The Air Force eventually ordered its personnel in Afghanistan to switch to the Army camouflage because it worked better in battle conditions. (The Washington Post)
After tests by the Navy Clothing and Textile Research Facility determined that the camouflage working uniforms most sailors wear at sea are flammable and would “burn robustly,” fleet commanders announced that all sailors afloat would be issued fire-retardant clothing. Submarine crews will continue to wear the flammable polyester and cotton coveralls because of low-lint requirements. (Navy Times)

Second-Amendment Follies
A 5-year-old boy shot and killed his 2-year-old sister at their home in Cumberland County, Ky., while playing with a .22-caliber rifle he’d been given last year. “It’s a Crickett,” coroner Gary White said. “It’s a little rifle for a kid.” The maker, Keystone Sporting Arms, describes the weapon as “My First Rifle,” intended to “instill safety in the minds of youth shooters.” White said the gun was kept in a corner of the family’s mobile home, but nobody realized it was loaded. (The Lexington Herald Leader)
Police said a 48-year-old man in Beavercreek, Ohio, shot himself in the chest with a pistol he bought on the street. He explained that he was unfamiliar with handling firearms and pointed the .22-caliber revolver at himself while checking to see whether it was loaded. (Dayton’s WHIO-TV)

Snoop Proof
Russia’s Federal Protective Service offered to pay $15,000 for 20 typewriters. The agency, a KGB successor assigned to protect President Vladimir Putin and other top officials, explained that it began using typewriters after Edward Snowden’s disclosures about U.S. National Security Agency secret surveillance to print drafts of official documents intended for Putin. (Associated Press)

Thanks for Nothing
To point out to voters how much Canada’s Conservatives are doing to improve life for disabled citizens, the party mass-mailed a flyer headlined “Supporting Jobs for All Canadians.” It repeated those words in a series of Braille dots. Only instead of being raised, the dots were printed on the flyer’s flat surface, making them unreadable to blind people. Jim Tokos of the Canadian Council of the Blind called the flyers “baffling.” (Toronto Star)

First Is Worst
First-class airline passengers are nine times more damaging to the environment than coach passengers, according to a study by the World Bank. The report noted that first-class seats are bigger than other ones, meaning planes can hold fewer people, thereby requiring more fuel per passenger to fly and increasing carbon emissions. First-class passengers are also likelier to have more luggage per person, requiring even more fuel. The report calculated that average coach passengers have a 0.76 carbon footprint, business-class passengers 2.30 and first-class passengers 6.89. (Britain’s Daily Mail)

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 New Times.