News and Blues
by Roland Sweet - Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Your weekly re-cap of weird and funny news from around the nation.

Curses, Foiled Again

Yafait Tadesse went to prison for stealing names and Social Security numbers of the dozen people and using the stolen identities to claim tax refunds. The bogus returns instructed the IRS to load the refunds onto debit cards and mail them to the same address in Georgia that led authorities to Tadesse. Among his victims was Attorney General Eric Holder. (Fox News)

Power to the Power

Faced with having to pay its customers refunds or rate deductions from its excessive profits, as required by a 2007 law, Virginia’s Dominion Power successfully lobbied state lawmakers to pass a bill allowing the utility to deduct most of its research spending. As a result, instead of having projected excess profits of $280 million in the two-year regulatory period, which would have triggered savings for customers under the old law, the new measure allows it to deduct $400 million spent on nuclear energy research, denying its customers any savings. (The Washington Post)

Splitsville, Kuwaiti Style

Abuse, infidelity and lack of communication aren’t the only reasons Kuwaiti couples cite for seeking a divorce, according to recent filings in that land. A woman complained that she was “disgusted” by her husband of one week because he insisted on eating his peas with bread instead of a fork. Another woman objected that her husband “is so obstinate” because he “stubbornly refuses” to squeeze toothpaste from the end of the tube and “keeps squeezing it in the middle.” And a man decided his marriage was over after he asked his wife to bring him a glass of water, but she refused and told him there was a servant who could do it. (Dubai’s Gulf News)

The Honeymoon Is Over

Soon after American tourist Erin Willinger, 35, met rickshaw driver Bunty Sharma, 32, outside the Taj Mahal in Agra, India, last September, they wed. The marriage quickly soured because of “differences in their relationship,” Police Chief Shalabh Mathur said. Accusing his wife of smoking too much and “talking to other men,” Sharma stabbed her to death, then went home and killed himself by igniting a gas canister and causing his house to explode. (CNN)

E-Hazards

Fire officials blamed two fires in Medford, Ore., on the lithium batteries that power vaporizers in electronic cigarettes. In the first incident, an overcharged battery caused a mattress to catch fire, but a resident put it out in time. In the second incident, Fire Marshal Greg Kleinberg said an e-cigarette exploded while being charged, sending bits of burning battery flying into the ceiling and walls of a house. One hot piece of battery landed on a pillow, causing it to smolder and filling the house with smoke. (Associated Press)

Foodies

Military researchers working on new ready-to-eat meals for soldiers said they’ve concocted a pizza that doesn’t need freezing or even refrigeration. “You can basically take the pizza, leave it on the counter, packaged, for three years, and it’d still be edible,” said food scientist Michelle Richardson of the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center in Massachusetts. Noting that pizza is among the most requested items soldiers say they want added to their rations, Richardson said she spent two years working on the new recipe. (Associated Press).

Familiarity Breeds Arrest

While dining at a high-end restaurant in Kansas City, Mo., a deputy U.S. marshal recognized another patron as Virgil Tillman, 30, a felon who had eluded police in two states since 2011 and whom he’d been hunting for five weeks. “I had been looking at the guy’s picture every day for weeks,” the deputy said after he called city police, who arrested Tillman as he was leaving Fogo de Chao. (Kansas City’s KSHB-TV)

Odorific Nuptials

A sewage treatment plant in Washington state is offering its facilities for weddings, touting its full catering kitchen, audiovisual equipment, dance floor and ample parking. The cost is $2,000 for eight hours. Susan Tallarico, director of King County’s Brightwater Wastewater Treatment Center, explained that receptions would take place next to where raw sewage is processed but insisted there’s no odor because the process is contained. (Seattle Times)

Open-Door Policy

Officials in Vancouver, British Columbia, changed its building code to ban doorknobs on all new buildings. Instead, doors are required to have handles, making them more accessible to the elderly and disabled. Critics of the new rule note that handles also make doors easier for bears to open. In fact, knob advocates note that Pitkin County, Colo., has banned door levers on buildings specifically to prevent bears from entering buildings. Meanwhile, officials in Halifax and Pickering, east of Toronto, are asking their provincial governments to follow Vancouver’s example. (The Economist)

Second-Amendment Follies

After a tree removal crew reported being chased off by a shirtless Michael Smith with a handgun, police armed with assault rifles surrounded the man’s home in Norridgewock, Maine. The officers stood down when they learned that the “gun” was actually a tattoo of a handgun on Smith’s stomach that looks like a gun tucked into his waistband (Associated Press)

Drinking-Class Hero

Adding beer when barbecuing meat reduces the risk of colon cancer, according to Portuguese researchers. Reporting in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the team from the University of Porto explained that beer when it’s roasted is rich in antioxidants, which soak up free radicals in meat that grilling causes to form polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). According to author Isabel Ferreira, beef marinated in dark beer has fewer PAHs than pale lagers and better than half the PAHs of beerless beef. (The Economist)

Startling Move

The Missouri Department of Transportation announced plans to deploy “acoustical weapons” to slow down speeders. The agency said that “directed-sound communication devices,” used in Afghanistan and against Occupy Wall Street protesters, will be set up near road construction sites and blast sound of up to 153 decibels directly at vehicles exceeding the posted speed limit. (The St. Louis American)

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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