Curses, Foiled Again
David Kelly, 52, sat idling at a traffic light in Chicago shortly after midnight when, according to a sergeant in a police squad car next to him, Kelly rolled down his window and yelled, “Hey, you looking for me? You guys want me?” The sergeant pulled Kelly over to check. While approaching Kelly’s vehicle, the sergeant smelled pot and noticed the butt of a handgun. A search turned up a .357 Magnum handgun on the front seat, a loaded assault rifle with additional magazines in the back and about 30 grams of cannabis. Kelly also lacked a valid driver’s license. Before the resulting multiple weapons and drug charges, including driving while under the influence of cannabis, Kelly had no prior criminal history or outstanding warrants. (Chicago Tribune)
A man walked into a bank on Stock Island, Fla., wearing shorts on his head. He handed the teller a note demanding, “Give me what are 20s and 50s.” The shorts covered his head but not his face, captured by surveillance cameras. Confused by the note, the teller asked what the man wanted. He said “never mind” and walked out. Police no sooner broadcast a detailed description of the suspect than sheriff’s Deputy Matt Dowling spotted Eli Escalera, 43, on a nearby street fitting the description and removing a pair of dark-colored pants that matched those worn by the robber. (Florida Keys Keynoter)
Tease of the Week
German researcher Thomas Hildebrandt heads a project called Project Frozen Dumbo, whose mission is to collect semen from wild elephants to avoid inbreeding among zoo elephants. Hildebrandt, of Berlin’s Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, travels to South Africa and searches for wild bulls by helicopter. He immobilizes the animals using a narcotic dart, then applies a procedure called “electro-ejaculation,” which uses a 5- to-15-volt charge to force out a sperm sample.
The challenge, Hildebrandt explained, is that the anesthetic in the dart triggers a muscle contraction that causes the elephant’s 1.5-meter-long penis to retract into its cavity. “In order to extract the sperm hygienically, we have to get the tip out and clean it,” Hildebrandt explained, noting that doing so takes some teasing. The sperm is then collected and immediately frozen.
It costs roughly $130,000 to collect three liters of elephant sperm, enough to impregnate 65 cows—theoretically speaking, because although Project Frozen Dumbo has been collecting semen this way for two years, no female elephant has yet been successfully inseminated with sperm that has been previously frozen. “But we’re close to it,” Hildebrandt said. “We’re very, very optimistic.” (Sweden’s The Local)
Fetishes of the Week
Investigators accused veteran third-grade teacher Mark Berndt, 61, of seeking sexual gratification by blindfolding pupils to play a “tasting game” and then spoon-feeding them his semen. (Los Angeles Times)
A judge sentenced Anthony Garcia, 32, to two years in federal prison for tricking four women at an Albuquerque, N.M., grocery store into sampling yogurt laced with his semen. (Albuquerque’s KOAT-TV)
Petty Crimes of the Week
Two officers who searched Asheton Killiant Biggerstaff, 24, when he returned to the Gaston, S.C., jail from work release found two bags of wintergreen smokeless tobacco hidden between his butt cheeks. (Gaston Gazette)
Authorities reported that a man tried to buy gas at a station in Salisbury, N.C., by giving the clerk counterfeit $1 bills. When the clerk recognized the bills were bogus, the man left them on the counter and drove away. (Salisbury Post)
Ambush of the Week
Part of a cell tower disguised as a palm tree broke off and crashed through the windshield of a car in El Paso, Texas. Driver Sergio Gonzales said the steel branch, made to look like a palm frond, impaled the vehicle and cut his face near his right eye. Blaming the accident on high winds, tower owner T-Mobile denied responsibility, pointing out the branch “broke in the middle of the frond, not at the point of attachment to the primary structure,” making it an issue with building techniques. (El Paso’s KVIA-TV)
Every Vote Counts
While going door-to-door campaigning for re-election in Latimer County, Ark., Sheriff Robbie Brooks said he recognized the smell of marijuana when homeowner Jerry Paulk, 65, “walked to the door holding a burning joint, clipped to the end of a set of hemostats.” Brooks removed Paulk and two women from the home while deputies obtained a search warrant. They found more marijuana and an indoor marijuana grow room. Brooks said that after his arrest, Paulk thanked him for treating him so well and promised to vote for him. (Fort Smith’s KFSM-TV)
Investigators in Seminole County, Fla., charged Sara Barnes, 26, with starting a fire in the woods that burned down “The Senator,” the world’s oldest pond cypress tree. After finding photos of the fire on her phone and computer, authorities said Barnes admitted starting the fire while doing drugs so she could see what she was doing. (Orlando’s WESH-TV)
Eight months after one of the deadliest tornados in American history destroyed much of Joplin, Mo., and killed 161 people, the city’s convention and visitors bureau discussed offering guided tours through the hardest-hit neighborhoods. Bureau director Patrick Tuttle insisted the appeal to sightseers was “not about busted-up neighborhoods or destroyed cars or body parts” but meant to promote Joplin’s recovery to outsiders. He explained the idea for the disaster tour came in response to a survey of people stopping at a Missouri welcome center along Interstate 44. When tornado victims and others objected to the guided tours, the bureau settled for printing a map showing the tornado’s path so visitors could find devastated areas themselves. (The Huffington Post)
Tourists are flocking to Harlem’s black churches, not to hear the word of God but to take pictures of the church and service and listen to gospel music. Visitors, mostly white and from abroad, often outnumber the worshipers, many of whom object to the tourists’ casual clothing, inappropriate picture-taking and walking out during the sermon. But the churches make money from tour operators, whose business comes from people curious to experience what they’ve seen on TV and in movies. “Our building is in need of repair,” Paul Henderson, a member of Mother African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, explained. “We need assistance. They’re helping to sustain us.” (Associated Press)
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.