Curses, Foiled Again
A taxi driver in Springfield, Ill., picked up a fare who hadn’t even closed the door before he pulled a handgun and demanded money. The driver told police he noticed the car was still in gear, so he stepped on the gas and jerked the steering wheel back and forth, causing the gunman to fly out of the open passenger door and flee empty-handed. (Springfield’s The State Journal-Register) Two people in York, Pa., tried to sell stolen tools to Andrew Hamilton, who recognized the toolbox as his own. After verifying that his tools had been stolen, he notified police, who arrested Cody Lee Littrell, 34, and Rebecca Erinn Dice, 32. (The York Dispatch)
Who You Gonna Call?
A little-known Philadelphia company has quietly gained control of nearly a quarter of the 7.87 million toll-free, 1-800 numbers in the United States and Canada, often snapping them up the moment the previous users relinquish them. As of March, PrimeTel Communications administered 1.7 million 1-800 numbers — more than any other company, including Verizon and AT&T. The numbers 1-800-Chicago, 1-800-FIRETIP, 1-800-Cadillac, 1-800-Minolta, 1-800-Cameras, 1-800- Worship, 1-800-Beatles and 1-800-Whirlpool, for example, all connect to a recording of a woman offering “one-on-one talk with a nasty girl” for $2.99 a minute.
Although most numbers reach erotic chat lines, some connect to ads for a mortgage brokerage based in New Jersey, a dieting website and a travel reservation service. Prime-Tel also owns a dominant share of toll-free numbers with other prefixes, such as 1-888 and 1-866. “They started by getting numbers for phone sex, then getting good numbers in general, then they started taking all phone numbers,” said Bill Quimby, whose company specializes in helping businesses obtain easy-to-remember digits to connect with customers. (Associated Press)
Joseph Connelly, publisher of the “vegetarian-lifestyle” magazine VegNews, apologized after revelations that its editors regularly used photographs of foods containing meat and dairy to accompany vegan recipes. The vegan blog Quarrygirl.com reported finding free online stock photos that matched images appearing in VegNews and on its website. In one case, the magazine retouched a photo of grilled ribs to remove the bones. Quarrygirl.com bloggers protested by saying they were returning an award they had received two years ago from VegNews for an investigative article about nonvegan ingredients being served at vegan restaurants in Los Angeles. (The New York Times) The U.S. Postal Service acknowledged that the image of the Statue of Liberty it used on a forever stamp is actually a Lady Liberty replica outside the New York-New York casino hotel in Las Vegas. A sharp-eyed philatelist discovered the replica was used shortly after the post office issued the stamp in December and notified Linn’s Stamp News, which alerted readers. Explaining it selected the image from a stock-photo service, which licensed it as simply “Statue of Liberty,” the post office said it regrets the error but doesn’t plan to stop circulating the stamp. “We still love the stamp design and would have selected this photo anyway,” USPS official Roy Betts declared. (The New York Times)
After asking friends walking with him if they would save him if he were drowning, Samson Lindsey, 24, jumped into the Coosa River in Gadsden, Ala. Knowing he couldn’t swim, the friends did jump in to rescue him but couldn’t. A rescue squad from the Etowah County Sheriff’s Office later found his body. (Gadsden Times)
After driving a friend to a pharmacy in Mountain View, Calif., to pick up her prescription for painkillers, a husband and wife demanded the 50-year-old woman hand over the drugs. When she refused, according to police official Liz Wylie, the wife, who was riding in the front seat with her husband driving, reached back, stole $160 from the victim’s purse, took the bottle containing about 90 oxycodone pills and punched her three times in the face. When the victim tried to phone for help, the husband took her cellphone. The wife then threw the victim’s dog out the window, and the husband shoved the victim out of the moving car. “We know who the suspects are,” Wylie said. “I think they’ve been friends for years.” (Palo Alto Daily 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.