news & blues
Curses, Foiled Again
Matthew Meguiar, 26, handed the teller at an Orlando, Fla., credit union an empty bag and a note demanding money, but the teller couldn’t fit the cash through the slot in the teller’s cage because the full bag was too big. According to the police report, Meguiar became frustrated and “turned around and walked out the door” without the loot. Orange County sheriff’s Deputy Christopher Thomas stopped Meguiar at the door, but during a struggle, the suspect’s arm came off. Deputies handcuffed Meguiar as best they could, then placed his prosthesis on the roof of a patrol car while they interviewed witnesses. (Orlando Sentinel) Authorities arrested Jerrie Perkins, 30, for shoplifting after she tried to leave a store in Rochester Hills, Mich., with $600 worth of stolen electronics merchandise. According to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, the 400pound woman’s getaway was thwarted when her mobility scooter got stuck at the door. (Michigan’s The Macomb Daily) Robert Michelson, 21, called 911 wanting to know how much trouble he could get into for growing one marijuana plant. When the dispatcher told him he could be arrested, Michelson said thank you and hung up. The dispatcher promptly notified police, who went to Michelson’s house in Farmington, Conn., and arrested him for marijuana possession. (Associated Press)
Stock Up Before the Hoarders Get It
Fire officials investigating an explosion that blew the roof off a home in Gobles, Mich., noted two barrels of gasoline had been in the basement. The homeowner explained she was stockpiling gas because the price keeps going up. (Kalamazoo’s WWMT-TV) Panic buying in China drove up the price of salt by as much as 10 times after radiation began leaking at a nuclear plant in Japan because people mistakenly believed the iodine in the salt could stop radiation sickness. The state-owned newspaper China Daily reported national sales of salt, normally 15,400 tons a day, peaked at 370,000 tons on March 17. When stores ran out of salt, people grabbed soy sauce, which also contains iodine. After learning that radiation from the crippled Fuku shima Daiichi nuclear plant posed little threat to distant China, the hoarders clamored for refunds. Most were denied. “We can’t offer refunds on food products,” a worker at a Beijing Wal-Mart store said. (Los Angeles Times and Reuters)
Haven’t They Suffered Enough?
Crocs Inc. announced it’s donating 100,000 pairs of its shoes to earthquake-tsunami victims in Japan. (Associated Press)
A new application for iPhones and iPads helps Catholics gain absolution for their sins. “Confession: A Roman Catholic App” is a password-protected, customizable guide to performing the sacrament that lets the faithful check whether their behavior conforms to Scriptures by asking such questions as, “Have I been involved in occult practices?” Although its developer, Patrick Leinen, said he was inspired by Pope Benedict XVI’s call to Roman Catholics to put digital technology to good use, the Vatican stressed that it’s impossible to confess by iPhone. “The rites of penance require a personal dialogue between penitents and their confessor,” Vatican official Federico Lombardi said. “It cannot be replaced by a computer application.” (Agence France-Presse) The Vatican has a Facebook page dedicated to the beatification of Pope John Paul II.
The site links to video highlights of the late pontiff’s 27-year reign. The Vatican also has a new web portal, which is a news aggregator offering contents specifically designed to be posted, tweeted and blogged. (Associated Press)
Prince Frederic von Anhalt, 67, ninth husband of Zsa Zsa Gabor, announced his 94-yearold wife intends becoming a mother again. The 94-year-old Hungarian-born actress had hipreplacement surgery and a leg amputation last year and hasn’t been able to walk since a 2002 car accident. Von Anhalt indicated he’s looking for an egg donor and a surrogate mother for the child, who would carry on the Gabor name. Her two sisters didn’t have children, and her only daughter took the name of her father, hotel magnate Conrad Hilton, who was Gabor’s second husband. “That’s just weird,” Francesca Hilton, 64, said after learning of her mother’s plan. (CNN)
Sex offender John Jacques, 60, appealed his conviction, arguing that the arresting officer, posing as a 13-year-old girl during Internet chats, used animated emoticons that constituted entrapment. Jacques said that prosecutors at his trial in La Crosse, Wis., showed the jury transcripts of the conversations but inserted static blushing smiley-face emoticons to represent the actual animated ones, which Jacques insisted would have provided “clear evidence of enticement.” (La Crosse Tribune)
Kool-Aid’s Off the Menu
A restaurant chain in South Bend, Ind., pulled its billboard ads that made reference to People’s Temple leader Jim Jones and to the mass suicide he orchestrated in 1978. After coming up with the theme “You belong,” leaders at Hacienda brainstormed ways to show how clubs, teams and restaurants can develop cult followings of like-minded people. Using Jones’ cult “went the wrong direction,” admitted Jeff Leslie, Hacienda’s vice president of sales and marketing. “We lose the core message.” (South Bend Tribune)
Launchings of the Week
Timothy Lee Walker, 48, was riding on top of a mattress to keep it from falling off the roof of a sport utility vehicle in Burlington, N.C., when the SUV rounded a corner, causing the mattress to slide off the roof. Walker was thrown from the mattress into the street and had to be taken to the hospital by helicopter. (Burlington’s The Times-News) Nine-year-old Alissa Baray was seriously injured after being tossed 110 feet into the air in Marana, Ariz., when the bouncing castle she was playing in got caught in a gust of wind. The castle was tied down, but the force of the wind sent it skyward. The girl was thrown out onto a neighbor’s roof. According to a company that rents the inflatable castles for parties, they’re designed to handle winds of up to 25 mph, not the 160-mph one Baray experienced during what observers described as a “microburst.” (Britain’s Daily Mail)
The lawyer for former art dealer Kurt Lidtke, 44, who pleaded guilty to masterminding the theft of 13 paintings and a sculpture from a Seattle home, blamed the burglary on his client’s addiction to cough syrup. “His brand of choice was Robitussin,” attorney Ralph Hurvitz said. “By the time of his arrest, his consumption level was between three and four bottles per day.” (Seattle Weekly)
Freaky Accident of the Week
When Helen Foster, 36, of Carthage, Ohio, asked Clifton Hoover, 30, to use his pickup to tow her 18-year-old Dodge Caravan to the junkyard, they tied a rope from the truck to the van and headed out, with Hoover driving the pickup, Foster riding in the van’s passen ger seat and her friend, Melinda Adamski, 28, behind the wheel. Suddenly, the rope snapped, and the recoil severed Foster’s arm below the elbow. “It was like whoosh,” Adamski said. “It was the blink of an eye, and it was gone.” Doctors were able to reattach the arm. (Cincinnati Enquirer)
Heil and Farewell
Adolf Hitler’s last surviving bodyguard announced that he could no longer respond to fan mail because of his advanced age. Rochus Misch, 93, who also served as Hitler’s telephone operator and courier, said he receives a continuous deluge of letters “from Korea, from Knoxville, Tenn., from Finland and Iceland — and not one has a bad word to say.”
Misch, who lives in Berlin, used to respond to autograph requests by sending signed wartime photos of himself in a neatly pressed SS uniform. (Reuters)
Off the Record
Requests seeking public documents from Mike Huckabee’s 12 years as governor of Arkansas brought a response from current Gov. Mike Beebe’s chief legal counsel, Tim Gauger, that “former Governor Huckabee did not leave behind any hard-copies of the types of documents you seek. Moreover, at that time, all of the computers used by former Governor Huckabee and his staff had already been removed from the office and, as we understand it, the hard-drives in those computers had already been ‘cleaned’ and physically destroyed.” Huckabee and his aides have also blocked access to videotapes of his sermons as a Southern Baptist minister. An official at one of the churches he led said that much of the archival material pertaining to Huckabee’s tenure had been destroyed. Some of Huckabee’s gubernatorial papers do exist and are in the hands of Ouachita Baptist University, which indicated the records wouldn’t be accessible until after the 2012 presidential campaign. (Mother Jones)
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.