Curses, Foiled AgAin
When Caleb Smith, 19, approached the pharmacy counter at a drug store, showed a gun and demanded narcotics, police in Pensacola, Fla., said pharmacist Steven Rodick handed a paper bag containing the drugs to Smith, who set the gun on the counter so he could open the bag to check its contents. Rodick immediately picked up the gun, which turned out to be a starter pistol. Smith fled, but a store employee tripped him and helped Rodick detain him until police arrived. (Northwest Florida Daily News) A drunken, heavy-set woman wearing an oversized floral shirt and shorts approached the counter at a Taco John restaurant in La Crosse, Wis., and demanded a soft-shell taco and cash. The woman tried to back up her demand by pulling a hammer from her shorts pocket, but the weapon snagged on her shorts. While she was tugging on the handle, the cashier pressed the restaurant’s panic button and called 911. The suspect fled without any money, but police arrived in time to chase down Julie Bailey, 38, who was still holding the wooden hammer. (La Crosse Tribune)
The French fast-food chain Quick is offering burgers made from foie gras at its 350 outlets across France during the Christmas season. The Supreme Foie Gras, consisting of duck liver, beef, relish and lettuce, sells for 5 euros ($6.57). “We want to give our clients great taste at cheap prices and give them the possibility to party a little ahead of time,” said Quick’s marketing director, Laurent Niewolinski. (Reuters)
Kansas authorities blamed a phone glitch for mistakenly sounding tornado sirens that caused confusion and some panic in and around Hutchinson. The sirens are designed to be activated by emergency workers dialing discrete phone numbers. Officials said that a software glitch opened the phone lines to outside calls, and residents who mistakenly dialed those numbers activated the sirens. (The Hutchinson News)
A Houston inventor whose medical device found a bigger market as a sex toy filed suit against a British company, claiming its cheap knockoff infringes on his patent and might be dangerous because it isn’t as carefully crafted as his original. Jiro Takashima developed the Pro-State prostate massager, which works with muscle contractions instead of electricity to relieve fluid congestion. His company, High Island Health, sells the Pro-State device for $78.50. When men praised it for also improving their orgasms, the company began marketing a version as Aneros, which sells for $49.95.
“Our business took a major detour when men started using our prostate massager for recreational purposes,” said Amy Sung, High Island Health’s executive director and Takashima’s daughter. Sung said that another of her father’s medical inventions, a hemorrhoid massager, also enjoys brisk sales as a sex toy. (Houston Chronicle)
A Mighty loophole is our god
Coffee-loving Jews observing Yom Kippur in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood managed to skirt restrictions on the intake of food by using caffeine suppositories. “It helps,” said Baruch Hersfeld, who owns a bike store there. “You know, it’s hard to concentrate when you’re fasting and also addicted to caffeine.” Asked whether the rectally inserted pills are true to the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, Rabbi Simcha Weinstein advised against them. “We want to keep Jews in the synagogue,” he explained, “and not in the bathroom.” (The Brooklyn Paper)
eConoMy going to the dogs
To withstand a projected $440,000 budget shortfall, the city council of Jeannette, Pa., voted to lay off nine of the city’s 47 workers. Among those dismissed was Wando, the police department’s drug-sniffing dog. Also Wando’s handler, Officer Justin Scalzo. Police Chief Brad Shepler pointed out the loss of Wando came at a time when Jeanette is experiencing a boom in drug trafficking. (Pittsburgh’s WPXI-TV)
Colorado’s Adams County, which is immediately east of Denver International Airport, announced its intention to build a $7.5 million public shooting range next to a planned airport runway. Airport planning manager Jeanette Stoufer noted that landing aircraft would overfly the shooting range by about 500 feet. Despite concerns by the Transportation Security Administration “regarding the use of automatic and large-caliber rifles at the public facility,” Adams County officials promised they’d take precautions to prevent stray bullets and inadvertent discharge of firearms that might endanger low-flying planes. Both the U.S. departments of Homeland and Justice agree that a public shooting range might pose a threat to airport security, but county officials insist the facility is needed to meet demand for a public range in the Denver metro area. (The Denver Post)
Anticipating a boost in space tourism, Australian researchers are hurrying to launch the world’s first beer to be certified for consumption in zero gravity. The beer, a joint venture by the space engineering firm Saber Astronautics Australia and Australian 4 Pines Brewing Company, is to begin testing on board Zero Gravity Corporation’s modified Boeing aircraft, which flies a series of parabolic arcs that simulate weightless environments. Flight crews will record data on the beer’s taste and its effects on the body.
Although NASA has sponsored studies on space beer and whether it can be brewed in space, current policy forbids alcohol consumption in the International Space Station. In 2006, the Japanese brewery Sapporo teamed up with Japanese and Russian researchers to create a beer, called Space Barley, brewed from barley grown from seeds that had flown for five months on the ISS. (Space.com)
Police charged James Lee Frank, 49, with making terroristic threats and threatening to use weapons of mass destruction after he became upset with his son’s performance in elementary school and wanted to withdraw the boy from a certain class. Police said Frank called the school, located in West Sunbury, Pa., and threatened to blow it up and kill the staff. Officials immediately placed the school on lockdown and called state police, who found knives on the front seat of Frank’s car after he tried unsuccessfully to enter the building. (Pittsburgh’s WPXI-TV) Kenneth E. Bonds, 45, admitted shooting a 17-year-old boy in the buttock because the youth refused to pull up his sagging pants. Police in Memphis, Tenn., said that Bonds yelled at the victim and a 16-year-old companion to pull up their pants, then pulled a semiautomatic pistol from his waistband and fired one shot at the 17-year-old, missing him. The youths ran away, but Bonds fired more shots, one of which hit the victim. (The Commercial Appeal)
Missing tHe Mark
The anti-abortion group Americans United for Life aired a political ad in Colorado that denounced Ken Salazar for supporting health care reform, claiming the measure would overturn a ban on taxpayer-funded abortions. Actually, Ken Salazar’s older brother, Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., was running for re-election at the time. Ken Salazar, a former U.S. senator, is the secretary of the interior. As for the ban, President Barack Obama already signed an executive order affirming it. (Grand Junction’s The Daily Sentinel) The National Republican Senatorial Committee pulled a television ad opposing West Virginia senatorial candidate Gov. Joe Manchin III because it depicted the state’s residents as hicks. The ad, filmed in Philadelphia after a casting call seeking actors with a “hicky blue collar” look, shows men in flannel shirts and baseball caps posing as West Virginia voters worried that Manchin would side with President Obama if elected. (Associated Press)
next tiMe, try tHe snooze Button
Fire investigators blamed a house fire in Niagara County, N.Y., on an electric alarm clock beneath a pile of clothes. (The Buffalo News)
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 New Times.