Curses, Foiled Again
When Chicago police investigating reports of shots fired stopped a car that Shandra Kidd, 22, was riding in, she bolted. After an officer caught her, she stuck a gun in the officer’s chest and pulled the trigger. The gun didn’t fire. She tried again, but again the gun didn’t go off. The officer then shot Kidd in the buttocks and arrested her. Investigators explained Kidd’s gun was empty because the cylinder opened while she was fleeing, and all the bullets fell out. (Chicago Sun-Times) Authorities investigating a spree of vehicle fires in El Paso, Texas, identified Edwardo Ramirez, 25, as the culprit because he left footprints that led to a nearby home, where he was found burning clothing in the back yard. The police report added that gold and silver spray paint on Ramirez’s hands were the same colors as fresh graffiti near the burning vehicles. Also, a tattoo on Ramirez’s stomach matched some of the graffiti. (El Paso’s KVIA-TV)
Vermont State Police reported that truck driver Reginald Bailey, 70, pulled over to the side of the road in Berlin to urinate. He was standing in front of the vehicle when it rolled forward and ran him over. He was pronounced dead at the hospital. (Barre’s The Times Argus) Maine State Police said Bert Knox, 44, was killed after a pickup truck ran over him while he was lying in the road in Carthage. The driver wasn’t charged, police said, noting that Knox had a history of lying in the road. (The Portland Press Herald)
Rachel Avila, 30, was standing in front of her mobile home in Banning, Calif., when she found a 4-inch-long gun on the ground. According to police, she believed the .22 derringer-style gun was a novelty cigarette lighter and tried to light it by pulling the trigger. The weapon fired at the ground, but the bullet ricocheted and hit her 12-year-old daughter in the arm. (Riverside’s The Press-Enterprise) Joshua Seto, 27, and his fiancée were walking to a store in Chandler, Ariz., when he tucked her pink handgun in the front waistband of his pants. The gun accidentally fired, hitting Seto in his penis and thigh. “If you are going to carry a handgun on your person,” police Detective Seth Tyler advised after Seto was treated at the hospital, “use a holster, not your waistband.” (Phoenix’s The Arizona Republic)
A Russian court in Velsk rejected the parole request of Russian tax evader Platon Lebedev after prison officials stated that he hasn’t admitted his guilt, sometimes is aloof toward other prisoners and lost a pair of cotton prison pants. During the seven-hour session, the one-time oil magnate insisted that prison authorities, not he, lost the pants. (Associated Press)
Parents of extremely obese children should lose custody for failing to control the children’s weight, according to a commentary in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association. Joining advocates of government intervention in extreme cases, lawyer Lindsey Murtagh and Dr. David Ludwig, an obesity specialist at Children’s Hospital Boston, argued that putting children temporarily in foster care is sometimes more ethical than obesity surgery. (Associated Press)
Rhiannon Brooksbank-Jones, 19, showed her commitment to Korean Studies at Britain’s University of Sheffield by having her tongue surgically lengthened to improve her Korean pronunciation. The lingual frenectomy, which involves cutting a flap of skin that connects the tongue to the bottom of the mouth, lets her make sounds she couldn’t before. “My pronunciation was very foreign,’” she said, “but now I can speak with a native Korean accent.” (Britain’s Daily Mail)
New Orleans authorities reported that William Goetzee, 48, being held for assaulting a federal marshal, committed suicide by suffocating himself with toilet paper. Investigators said Goetzee had been observed swallowing toilet tissue in his cell throughout the day, despite a deputy’s having been assigned to watch him. (New Orleans’s WWL-TV) Work crews finally removed eight massive rolls of unprocessed toilet paper, weeks after they fell off a truck and clogged Idaho’s upper Lochsa River. State environment officials abandoned earlier efforts to remove the waterlogged paper because they caused it to begin disintegrating in the river. Finally, Department of Environmental Quality official John Cardwell said, lower river flows allowed crews to wrap the rolls with reinforced mesh and then pull them out with a tow truck. (The Lewiston Tribune)
Evidence of Disobedience
Canadian federal prison officials confiscated 2,444 forbidden items during searches of nine British Columbia prisons, ranging from homemade weapons and intoxicants (including fermented ketchup) to a new Michelin snow tire and a crab trap. Among other items seized: 30 cellphones, a homemade cellphone charger, a case of Fig Newtons, a kilo of bacon,
four pounds of raw chicken and a cooked turkey breast complete with stuffing and cranberries. Most of the items smuggled into cells are “throw overs” at perimeter fences of the prisons, according to director of provincial corrections operations Terry Hackett.
Hackett pointed out inmates also use pages from prison-issued Bibles “to roll tobacco and marijuana or hollow them out and store contraband in there. Normally you’re allowed to have a Bible. But once you start using it for some other purpose, then that’s when we seize it.” (The Vancouver Sun)
Join the Nuclear Club
Swedish authorities arrested Richard Handl, 31, for trying to split atoms in his kitchen. Handl, who is unemployed, explained he bought the radioactive elements radium, americium and uranium on the Internet and from Germany and tried setting up a nuclear reactor at home in Angelholm. After causing a small meltdown on his stove, Handl contacted Sweden’s Radiation Authority to make sure his experiments were legal. Police were dispatched immediately. Handl stated he was just “curious” about splitting atoms but admitted his plan was “crazy.” (Britain’s The Telegraph)Walk This Way
Surveillance video at a pet shop in Mesa, Ariz., showed Eric Fiegel, 22, stealing several snakes, including baby boa constrictors, by stuffing them down his pants and walking out. Police said Fiegel went to another pet store and traded some of the snakes for $175 and a large reptile tank. (Phoenix’s The Arizona Republic)
Honesty Not the Best Policy
When Willie David Rice, 45, appeared in federal court to answer charges that he guarded a brothel in Oakland Park, Fla., U.S. District Judge William Dimitrouleas asked Rice his occupation. “Criminal,” Rice answered. Explaining he’s never had legitimate employment, he pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm by a convicted felon. (South Florida’s Sun Sentinel) Michael Andes, 29, called police in Shelton, Conn., around 2 a.m. to report illegally parking his car in a handicapped parking spot on purpose because police don’t enforce parking laws. He placed 15 more calls over the next few minutes, each time berating the dispatcher about the lack of enforcement. When officers arrived and found the illegally parked vehicle, they said Andes approached them yelling and screaming about the lack of enforcement. When he refused their order to calm down, they shot him with a Taser and arrested him. He was charged with breach of peace and interfering with an officer. Police also issued him a ticket for parking in a handicapped space without a permit. (The Hartford Courant)
The California Senate passed a bill that would require hotels to use fitted sheets. Noting scores of housekeepers suffer back injuries each year lifting heavy mattresses to replace and tuck in flat sheets, the bill’s author, state Sen. Kevin De Leon, declared the measure, which would also require hotels to provide maids with special tools so they can clean bathrooms without having to stoop or get down on their hands and knees, would be the first law of its kind in the nation. “My mother was a housekeeper,” De Leon explained, “and worked herself to the bone.” (Los Angeles Times)
Police in Gainesville, Fla., reported that a 36-year-old woman tried to wake up her boyfriend by lighting a firecracker she was holding and tossing it out the front door, thinking the noise from the explosion would do the trick. Instead, the device exploded in her hand, tearing off three fingers. Police said the blast was so powerful they found one piece of bone embedded in the ceiling. (The Gainesville Sun) Construction worker James Huff, 38, found what he thought was a homemade firecracker at a job site in Owensboro, Ind., and lit it. Construction manager Ted Lolley described the ensuing explosion as “huge” and said it seriously injured Huff’s hands. Police official Marion Cossgrove explained the device appeared to have been a commercially made firework. (Evansville’s WEHT-TV)
On Track for Healing
The latest medical treatment in Indonesia involves as many as 50 people a day lying on railroad tracks outside Jakarta, believing that the electrical current from the tracks will cure them of various ailments. Patients scramble to safety when a train approaches, then resume their position the minute it passes. “I’ll keep doing this until I’m completely cured” of diabetes, Sri Mulyati, 50, said, twitching visibly as an oncoming passenger train sent an extra rush of current racing through her body.
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.