News and Blues
by Roland Sweet - Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

04/30/14

Curses, Foiled Again
A man aroused suspicion by repeatedly calling a post office in Nashville, Tenn., asking if a package had arrived. When it did show up, postal workers inspected it and found it reeked of marijuana. They alerted police, who arrested Terrell Mills, 24, when he came to claim the package, which contained 10 pounds of pot. (Nashville’s WSMV-TV)

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)

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)
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)

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)

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)

Below Zero Tolerance
Administrators at a high school in suburban Chicago objected to a state law requiring that 4-by-6-inch stickers warning guns are not allowed be posted in schools, as well as in churches, government agencies and liquor stores. But officials at Tinley Park High School oppose the notices banning guns because an image of a gun appears on them. “You can’t look at this and not think of Sandy Hook,” principal Theresa Nolan said, adding that she would prefer “something more subtle.” (Southtown Star)

Toy Hero
An Oregon firm introduced an action figure of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. ThatsMyFace.com, whose catalog also includes Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, said that the 12-inch Snowden figure comes dressed in a blue shirt, casual trousers and black high-top shoes, but wardrobe options include a gray-striped business suit, Indiana Jones outfit and a combat uniform. It sells for $99. ThatsMyFace.com promises that proceeds will go to the Freedom of the Press Foundation, although the foundation’s executive director, Trevor Timm, denied any association with the doll or ThatsMtFace.com. (Agence France-Presse)

Flammability Issues
German police blamed a fire at a dairy farm in Rasdorf on methane gas from 90 flatulent cows. High levels of the gas had built up in a farm shed, then a “static electric charge caused the gas to explode with flashes of flames,” the report stated, noting that one cow was treated for burns. (Reuters)

When Weight Watchers Isn’t Enough
Venezuelan beauty queen Wi May Nava, 18, revealed that she had a mesh patch stitched to her tongue to help her stay thin. “It makes me lose weight quicker,” the 2013 first runner-up Miss Venezuela said, explaining that the plastic patch made eating solid food too painful. “You eat the same, but liquefied.” (New York’s Daily News)

Problems Solved
Giants walls could protect the Midwest from tornadoes, according to Rongjia Tao, a physicist at Temple University. “If we build three east-west great walls in the American Midwest — one in North Dakota, one along the border between Kansas and Oklahoma to the east, and the third one in south Texas and Louisiana — we will diminish the threat in the Tornado Alley forever,” Tao said, explaining that the walls would need to be about 1,000 feet high and 150 feet wide. He estimated that they would cost $60 billion per 100 miles. (USA Today)

Handicapable
Japanese composer Mamoru Samuragochi, whose deafness won him fame as a modern-day Beethoven, acknowledged that he paid a ghostwriter to compose some of his internationally acclaimed symphonies. The ghostwriter, Takashi Niigaki, revealed at a news conference not only that he had written more than 20 pieces for Samuragochi, but also that his employer only pretends to be deaf. “Samuragochi is deeply sorry as he has betrayed fans and disappointed others,” Kazushi Orimoto, Samuragochi’s lawyer, said while stating that his client wasn’t available to meet the press. Asked if Samuragochi had listened to Niigaki’s news conference, Orimoto insisted, “There’s no way. He can’t hear.” (The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal)

Second-Amendment Follies
A woman was critically injured at her home in Dayton, Nev., while her son was showing his new gun to his father. Lyon County sheriff’s deputies said that when the young man pulled the gun out of its holster, it accidentally fired, wounding the woman in the leg. (Reno’s KOLO-TV)

Litterbuggery
Hoping to reduce the estimated 50 tons of litter left by people climbing Mount Everest, Nepal ordered everyone descending to carry out 18 pounds of trash. The debris ranges from empty oxygen bottles, torn tents, discarded food containers and the bodies of climbers who died on the mountain. (The New York Times)

News and Blues is compiled from the nation’s press. To contribute, submit/email original clippings, citing date and source, to Roland Sweet in care of the Syracuse New Times.