NEWS AND BLUES
by Roland Sweet - Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

03-12-2014

Curses, Foiled Again
British police identified Afrasayab Khan, 18, as the suspect in an assault on a Staffordshire University student after he stole her phone and changed her profile picture on a phone app to his. Friends noticed and notified the victim, who gave police the photo. Officers investigating an unrelated matter in Hanley spotted Khan and recognized him from the photo. He pleaded guilty. (Stoke on Trent’s The Sentinel)

Bacon Bits

  • Bacon can lower a man’s sperm count, according to Harvard University researchers, who studied men that regularly ate bacon, sausages, ham and other processed meat, and found they had 30 percent less normal sperm than men who restrained themselves to less than a rasher of bacon a day. (Britain’s The Telegraph)
  • The latest bacon product from J&D Foods in Seattle is “Power Bacon,” a bacon-scented deodorant. “We realize that everyone loves bacon,” company co-founder Justin Esch said. “Well, now everyone can smell like it 24 hours a day.” (Seattle’s KIRO-TV)
  • A Scottish court sentenced Wayne Stillwell, 25, to 10 months in jail for rubbing bacon over the handles of a mosque in Edinburgh and then throwing the bacon into the building. “Muslims regard bacon as unclean,” Stillwell explained after pleading guilty to causing a breach of the peace. (Edinburgh News)

Criminal Comestibles
Police arrested a 52-year-old woman who reportedly entered Seattle’s Dim Sum King restaurant, told the patrons to “go back to China,” flipped over their plates, spit on one man and doused other diners in soy sauce and chocolate milk. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Slightest Provocation

  • Authorities accused Boca Raton, Fla., city worker Donell Allison Jr., 33, of brutally beating another city employee after the victim took refuge in the back seat of a city vehicle when it began raining and sat on Allison’s lunch. (South Florida Sun Sentinel)
  • Police charged Vernett Bader, 54, with stabbing her 64-year-old roommate in North Charleston, S.C., because he was listening to Eagles music and watching television with his brother. According to the police report, when Bader complained that she didn’t want to listen to the rock band, the roommate told her to shut up. Bader then grabbed a serrated knife from a kitchen drawer and swung it at the man. After the two men wrestled the knife away from Bader, she went back into the kitchen and returned with another knife. (Charleston’s The Post and Courier)

Unmanned Aerial Disasters

  • Several people were injured during a running-of-the-bulls event in Dinwiddie County, Va., but not by the bulls. Sheriff’s Major William Knott said a camera-equipped drone crashed into the grandstand overlooking the Great Bull Run. (Washington’s WTOP-FM)
  • When Roman Pirozek Jr., 19, lost control of the remote-control helicopter he was operating in a New York City park, it plummeted from the sky and sliced off the top of his head, killing him instantly. (New York’s WNBC-TV)

Wishy-Washy Policy
After gun rights groups praised Starbucks for allowing guns to be openly carried in its stores, the company ran full-page ads in newspapers advising customers that guns are no longer welcome. They’re still permitted, however, and customers who choose to carry guns will still be served, according to CEO Howard Schultz, who declared, “We are not pro-gun or anti-gun.” (Associated Press)

Crisis Management
When a landing-gear accident caused a Thai Airways jumbo jet to veer off the runway at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, the airline evacuated the 288 passengers and 14 crewmembers and then dispatched a team to paint over the Thai Airways logos on the tail and fuselage of the disabled aircraft. The airline explained it “generally practices the de-identifying of an aircraft after an incident (or accident).” (Bloomberg Businessweek)

What’s Your Emergency?
Japanese authorities charged Teruo Nozaki, 44, a part-time convenience store worker in Tokyo, with making 28,000 emergency phone calls between January 2012 and June 2013. Nozaki would make as many as 1,500 calls a day. When someone answered, he hung up. After he was arrested, he explained he made the calls “because I was irritated by the fact that I was always watched by police.” (Japan Today)

Slick Tricks

  • After a Massachusetts school district canceled classes at all six of its schools because of “weather-related building issues,” Amherst Regional High School Principal Mark Jackson explained that the cause was slippery floors. Noting 22 falls were reported throughout the district, Jackson said the schools’ floors had been waxed during the summer, and high temperatures after schools opened melted the wax, making the floors slick. (Associated Press)
  • Concerned about long-term damage to roads and the environment from using rock salt to deice city streets, Milwaukee’s Department of Public Works announced it will add cheese brine to rock salt. The brine is a liquid waste product left over from cheese making. It has a distinctive odor, but officials expect it to be more effective than the city’s previous deicing experiments: beet juice that turned into an oatmeal-like substance when mixed with road salt, and a sticky molasses-type product that residents complained was being tracked into their homes. (Associated Press)

Tax Dollars at Work
Taxpayers in Arlington County, Va., are paying $13,000 for an electronic billboard sign instructing motorists, “Don’t hit the car in front of you.” Police Lt. David Green Jr. defended the sign, saying that previous signs with more subtle messages didn’t reduce accidents at the location, almost all of which “are rear-end collisions.” (The Blaze)

Slip-Shod Education

  • Mexico’s Education Department acknowledged finding at least 117 mistakes in new textbooks after printing and distributing 235 million of them to the nation’s elementary schools. Although officials wouldn’t release a list of mistakes, an independent review by the news blog Animal Politico found many words had been written with a “c” instead of an “s,” commas had been overused, words lacked correct accent marks, and a geography textbook located the Caribbean resort city of Tulum in Yucatan state instead of Quintana Roo. Officials promised to give teachers a list of the errors to correct textbooks manually. Mexico’s National Commission of Free Textbooks, which prints books that are mandatory for both private and public schools, blamed freelance editors for missing the errors. “The telephone rings, you have to go to the bathroom,” commission head Joaquin Diez-Canedo said. “You get distracted. You miss a word.” (Associated Press)
  • The same day that Georgia state school superintendent John Barge announced his gubernatorial candidacy, his official website misspelled the word “governor.” It appeared as “govenor” until reporters alerted Barge’s campaign staff, which corrected it. (Atlanta’s WXIA-TV)

Shortcomings

  • The International Paralympic Committee declared swimmer Victoria Allen, 19, ineligible for last summer’s world championships because she wasn’t disabled enough. Having won four medals and set a world freestyle record the year before, she “failed to provide conclusive evidence of a permanent eligible impairment,” the IPC ruled on the eve of the 2013 competition. A star child athlete, Arlen developed a neurological condition that led to her spending three years in a vegetative state before she awoke in 2010 with paralyzed legs. She insisted she was being punished because her doctor believes that her condition might improve. IPC official Peter Van de Vliet defended the ruling. “If you’re classifying an amputee, either they’ve got a leg or they haven’t, and in 12 months they still won’t have a leg,” he said. “But when you get to these types of wheelchair athletes, it gets tricky.” (The New York Times)
  • After Jakiya McKoy, 7, won the Little Miss Hispanic Delaware contest, pageant officials took away her crown because of concerns that she wasn’t Hispanic enough. Contestants are required to be at least 25 percent Hispanic, but Maria Perez, president of the sponsoring Nuestras Raices, said the verification the child provided “does not specify she was 25 percent Hispanic or Hispanic at all.” The McKoys protested that the real reason their daughter’s reign was cut short was her dark skin, not the lack of documentation. (New York’s Daily News)

Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time
Ed Gemar decided the best way to eliminate a fire hazard from a storage building in Great Falls, Mont., was to burn weeds and grass away from the part of the building that was brick and concrete. The fire spread to some dry weeds near a wooden section of the building and destroyed the building and its contents, which included vintage automobiles and farm machinery. (Great Falls Tribune)

Second-Amendment Follies

  • Authorities said Matthew Coleman, 37, shot his wife through both legs at their home in Windsor, Vt., while trying to show her that a 9-mm gun wasn’t loaded. (Burlington’s WCAX-TV)
  • Police shot and wounded a 16-year-old high school student they thought was a would-be burglar but later learned had fled from officers because he was skipping school. After DeKalb County, Ga., police Chief Cedric Alexander called the shooting “an unintentional misfire,” the victim’s aunt and legal guardian said she wasn’t angry with the police. “If he’d been at school,” Geraldine Lloyd explained, “this never would have occurred.” (The Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Downside of Law and Order
The Dutch justice ministry announced the closing of eight prisons because of a lack of criminals. Crediting the declining crime rate, deputy justice minister Nebahat Albayrak said the closings will result in the loss of 1,200 jobs but indicated the Netherlands is negotiating with Belgium to take 500 prisoners. That deal would net the Netherlands $40.5 million and delay the closing of two of the prisons. (The Huffington Post)

Strange Bedfellows
The National Rifle Association joined an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against the National Security Agency’s phone-tracking program. The NRA’s supporting brief warned that the NSA’s data mining could inhibit people’s “willingness to communicate with the NRA” and “allow the government to circumvent legal protections for Americans’ privacy,” thereby creating an illegal “national gun registry.” (USA Today)

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.

News&Blues