NEWS AND BLUES
by Roland Sweet - Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

04-23-2014

Curses, Foiled Again
Denver police arrested four burglary suspects who tried to sell stolen goods back to their victim. Lacinda Robinson, 24, said that after discovering the crime, she went to a nearby McDonald’s parking lot, where two young men offered her a PlayStation 3 video game similar to the one she lost. She declined, but when another youth approached her wearing a distinctive Washington Redskins jacket “that I believe belonged to me” she realized the men were selling her stuff. She reported the incident to two off-duty police. (Denver’s KMGH-TV)

Lesson Unlearned
Police who stopped Michael Heller, 21, for stealing a truck in Redding, Calif., said he told them he needed it to make a court appearance for stealing another vehicle. (Redding Record Searchlight)

Overnight Success
When Google announced it was buying Nest, a high-tech thermostat and smoke-detector company, for $3.2 billion, investors rushed to buy stock. The flurry caused the stock of Nestor Inc., which sells automated traffic enforcement systems to local governments and trades under the ticket symbol NEST, to surge 1,900 percent. Prior to the deal, Nestor was trading for less than a penny. After reaching as much as 10 cents, the price fell back to 3 cents. (Business Insider)

Immigration Reform
Thomas J. Donahue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, declared that the United States needs more low-skill immigrants because U.S. workers aren’t “qualified” or “willing” to do such jobs. (The Weekly Standard)

Punctuation Follies
England’s Cambridge City Council voted to ban apostrophes from street names, insisting that the change will clarify addresses for emergency services. “It was decided potential confusion over incorrectly punctuated street names meant we wouldn’t use punctuation any more,” council officer Nick Milne explained, pointing out that the move follows guidelines prescribed by the National Land and Property Gazetteer, where all new street names are registered. “Our understanding was that many data users including the emergency services make no reference at all as to whether an apostrophe is used or not.” The council’s new policy affects only new street names and also bans street names that would be “difficult to pronounce or awkward to spell,” as well as names that “could give offense” or “encourage defacing of nameplates.” (Cambridge News)

Always Read the Fine Print
When Christopher Poole, 26, learned that Nando’s fried chicken chain was offering a card guaranteeing chicken for life to anyone who ate at all its worldwide outlets, he embarked on an attempt to visit all 1,031 of them. “I love chicken and eat there a couple of nights a week anyway, so I decided to embrace the challenge,” Poole said. After spending $1,670 and gaining 14 pounds from visiting just the 85 outlets in the United Kingdom, Poole discovered that the competition ended two years ago. “There are now so many Nando’s worldwide that we don’t run the challenge anymore,” a Nando’s official said. He added that if Poole completes his attempt, “we will happily honor our original promise and give him free Nando’s for life.” Poole promptly announced he was heading for Australia, where Nando’s has nearly 300 outlets. (Britain’s Daily Mail)

The Next Winter Olympics Event
Quebec inventor Yvon Martel unveiled an electric-powered sled. Dubbed the MTT-136, it weighs about 280 pounds and can haul a person or cargo for 130 miles on an eight-hour charge. (Popular Science)

Too Big to Care
HSBC bank has imposed restrictions on large cash withdrawals by some of its British customers who cannot prove why they want their money. Customer Stephen Cotton said that when he tried to withdraw £7,000 pounds ($11,695) from his local HSBC branch, the bank declined his request without “a satisfactory explanation for what the money was for” and refused to tell him how much he could have. “So I wrote out a few slips,” he explained. “I said, ‘Can I have £5,000?’ They said no. I said, ‘Can I have £4,000?’ They said no. And then I wrote out one for £3,000, and they said, ‘OK, we’ll give you that.’” When he complained, the bank said the new policy took effect in November but declared it “had no need to pre-notify customers of the change.” (BBC News)

Hard News
The federal government overpaid by $86.4 million to provide penis pumps to Medicare patients at twice the price private providers charge, according to the Health and Human Services Department’s inspector general. The IG report noted that the vacuum erection systems cost taxpayers nearly $175 million during the years 2006 to 2011 and that reducing the Medicare payment for the devices to the level of non-Medicare payers could save the federal government about $18 million a year. (The Washington Times)

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)

Write About What You Know
Alaric Hunt, 44, won a $10,000 literary prize from Minotaur Books and the Private Eye Writers of America for his crime novel Cuts Through Bone. The award includes a publishing contract for the author, a convicted murderer who has been in a South Carolina prison since 1988. Hunt said he assembled his view of the outside world for the novel from books he read and from episodes of television’s Law and Order. (New York Times)

Slightest Provocation
Retired police officer Curtis Reeves, 71, asked Chad Oulson, 43, to stop texting during the previews at a movie theater in Wesley Chapel, Fla. When Oulson objected, an argument ensued, and at some point Reeves said Oulson threw popcorn at him. Claiming self-defense, Reeves fatally shot him. (Associated Press)

Rocket Surgery
Two boys working on a school science project involving model rocketry caused an explosion so powerful that it blew out several windows of their Seattle home, blasted open the back door and propelled debris into the backyard. After the boys were hospitalized, one of the fathers said the boys had tried to start a fire in the fireplace and may have used some of the rocket fuel to get it going. (CNN)

Flammability Issues
Authorities accused Kara Koriath, 44, of setting fire to her SUV while driving with her two teenage children in St. Louis County, Mo. Fire investigators found numerous packages of fireworks placed throughout the vehicle and tied together with fuses and pipe cleaners, and mortar shells attached to the head rests. Lighter fluid and more fireworks were found in the glove compartment, and the floorboard of the driver’s side appeared to be soaked in gasoline. Investigators said Koriath might have been trying to kill herself because her married boyfriend wouldn’t leave his wife. (Springfield’s KSDK-TV)

That’s Rich
Surgeons in India removed 12 small bars of gold worth about $23,000 from the stomach of a man who claimed he was sick from swallowing a bottle cap.

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.

Ripped from the Headlines

Stories you may have missed last week

Former Syracuse quarterback Donovan McNabb reportedly arrested in Arizona for DUI (Syracuse.com) Laws of physics tell us that if we eliminate air resistance, a hero falls just as fast as a can of Campbell’s Chunky Soup.

Toby Keith’s at Destiny USA owes nearly $190K in taxes, company says issue is ‘being addressed’ (LocalSyr.com) Should’ve Been a Cowboy. Wish I Didn’t Know Now.

Pair of peregrine falcons back in the nest box on Syracuse’s State Tower Building (Syracuse.com) The babies should hatch around Mother’s Day, meaning more majestic raptors to leave decapitated corpses of smaller birds on sidewalks downtown.

Syracuse’s major announcements: New uniforms, LSU visiting Carrier Dome in 2015 and more (Syracuse.com) Don’t see a whole lotta orange in those new duds…

Stephanie Miner resigns as co-chair of NY Dem party (Syracuse.com) We’re sure it had nothing to do with the frost between Syracuse’s mayor and New York’s governor.

Record Store Day attracts vinyl fans for new albums (CNYCentral.com) We’ve all had that friend. You know, the one who explains in depth why sound on vinyl is so much better than on CDs or digital recordings. It’s your day, Bryan.

Assault rifle turns up on debris pile on Syracuse’s West Side (CNYCentral.com) No, that is not recyclable.

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