News and Blues
by Roland Sweet - Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

06/18/14

Curses, Foiled Again
Sheriff’s investigators concluded that a burglar who broke into a fishing store in Rochester, Minn., was driven off by a motion-activated singing novelty fish near the door. Sgt. Tom Claymon said the would-be thief fled empty-handed after he knocked the Big Mouth Bill Bass onto the floor, and it began singing “Take Me to the River.” (Minneapolis’ Star-Tribune)

Slightest Provocation
Travis Schelling, 35, assaulted his girlfriend, police in Phoenix, Ariz., said, because he didn’t understand how Facebook works. According to investigators, whenever one of her friend’s posts appeared on her news feed, Schelling thought other men were sending messages directly to her. Every time Schelling read a post, he would hit her. The attacks, which lasted nearly four hours, included sexual assault, punching, slapping and pulling out clumps of hair. (Phoenix’s The Arizona Republic)

Second-Amendment Follies
An off-duty corrections officer reaching for his valet parking ticket at a crowded restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., accidentally triggered his concealed handgun, firing a round that sent ricocheting shrapnel into a group of patrons. One was injured, according to police Detective DeAnna Greenlaw, who identified the restaurant as Shooters Waterfront. (South Florida Sun Sentinel)

Litigation Nation
After losing $500,000 at a Las Vegas casino, retired car dealer Mark Johnston is suing the Downtown Grand for comping him dozens of drinks and lending him money to continue playing while he “was blackout intoxicated,” according to his attorney, Sean Lyttle. Johnston, who lives in Ventura, Calif., has been a Las Vegas regular for three decades. (Associated Press)

Who’s Laughing Now?
Hyenas communicate through their backsides, according to Michigan State University researcher Kevin Theis, who has devoted his career to studying the contents of pouches next to the hyenas’ anuses. The animals smear the pungent material, called hyena butter, on plants for other hyenas to sniff. Theis compared the hyena butter of four distinct species and concluded that the butter of more gregarious ones contained more complex information. Theis has yet to determine exactly what the messages contain or how the system of communication evolved, but his research is continuing. (The Economist)

Up in the Air
After a jet aborted its takeoff at Florida’s MacDill Air Force Base because the crew thought it had hit a bird, possibly an osprey, wildlife manager Lindsey Garven searched the runway for a dead bird but found only a fish. DNA samples from the fish and the jet confirmed the accident was a fish strike. Garven said the 9-inch sheepshead was probably dropped by a bird that had been eating it on the runway until the jet scared it off. The incident is only the second reported collision between an aircraft and a fish, the first having occurred in 1987 between a fish and a Boeing 737 taking off from Juneau, Alaska. (The Tampa Tribune and The New York Times)

Social Media Follies
Shawn Stillinger, 15, responded to a YouTube challenge to try a homemade blow dart experiment but wound up swallowing the dart. “I tilted it up to shoot it out at a tree, and it fell back out of the straw that I had it in, and it went into my throat,” Stillinger explained. After two hospitals were unable to remove the dart from Stillinger’s windpipe, otolaryngologist Dr. David Gudis of the Medical University of South Carolina was able to access his airway through his mouth and operate endoscopically instead of having to cut open his throat. (Charleston’s WCSC-TV)

Things That Go Boom
Iraqi authorities reported that a terrorist commander training suicide bombers in a secluded camp north of Baghdad was demonstrating with a belt packed with live explosives, which he accidentally triggered, killing himself and 21 other members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Fifteen others were wounded. An Iraqi Army officer described the militant commander as a prolific recruiter who promised martyrdom as a sure ticket to heaven. (The New York Times)

Commercialized Airspace
A car dealership in Houston, Texas, hired a drone to film its latest commercial. “It’s a good technique for getting shots that you normally wouldn’t be able to get for advertising purposes, because you get a different perspective,” said Don Ruguleiski, Internet-digital marketing director for Mac Haik Chevrolet. “It’s tough to get a boom out here with a camera on it.” The lightweight unmanned aerial vehicle with six propellers is operated by JAM Aviation. “You know, people used to be scared of it,” owner Don Hirsch explained. “Now they’re saying, ‘Hey, that looks like a UFO. Hey, that looks like a really cool piece of equipment.” (Houston’s KHOU-TV)

First Things First
Nyima Dorjee, 39, was sitting in a New York City jury pool for a gun-possession trial when he complained to the questioning prosecutor of chest pains and difficulty breathing, but when a court officer informed Justice Joel Blumenfeld, the judge told him to let the prosecutor finish his questioning. “There’s a few more minutes left,” the judge reportedly said. “They can wait.” The officer decided that Dorjee needed immediate assistance, however, and called an ambulance. Doctors determined he was having a heart attack. (United Press International)

When Weight Watchers Isn’t Enough
An alternative to liposuction lets people lose fat through urination. The treatment, called Aqualyx, involves injecting a water solution into specific areas of the body. It liquefies fat cells, which are then eliminated over a three-week period. “Aqualyx isn’t an injection for weight loss,” its British supplier, Mills Medical Services, said. “It is used for contouring the body and slimming down those stubborn fat areas.” One session, which is sufficient for chin areas, costs $417, Mills Medical said; larger areas require several treatments. (Britain’s Daily Mail)

Science Schmience
Christian minister Ken Ham’s goal of building a replica of Noah’s Ark in the Kentucky hills stalled for lack of money until Ham (no relation to Noah’s son) engaged in a debate on evolution with PBS “Science Guy” Bill Nye. Ham’s Answers in Genesis ministry and the Creation Museum received widespread media attention during the debate, which pitted science against the Bible’s explanation of the origins of the universe. Ham said that a flood of donations would allow construction of the Ark Encounter to begin soon and open to the public in summer 2016. (Associated Press)

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)

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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