Curses, Foiled Again
Pennsylvania state police accused Randy R. Clinkscales, 27, of stealing a man’s identity after he applied for a credit card in the victim’s name and used it for a nose job. When the victim reported an unauthorized charge of $6,000, investigators contacted the medical practice that performed the procedure and learned the patient had identified himself as the victim. He also posed for photos before the surgery. Police used a facial-recognition program to match the images with Pennsylvania driver’s license photos and identified Clinkscales, who pleaded guilty. (Doyleston Intelligencer) When a homeowner confronted a burglar who kicked in the door of his home in Arleta, Calif., around noon, the thief begged the resident not to call police and dashed to his car, which he’d parked in the driveway. It wouldn’t start. Police records stated the burglar returned to the house to repeat his request not to call the police, but when he turned his back, the homeowner knocked him unconscious with a hoe. The suspect recovered and ran off before police arrived, but detectives found fingerprints, a clear footprint where he’d kicked open the door, blood on the hoe and the car, which contained other stolen goods, as well as a traffic citation with the name and address of suspect Miguel Luna, 25. “The crime scene was really a study in how to get caught,” Lt. Paul Vernon observed. (Los Angeles Daily News)
Maytag Repairman’s Nightmare
Authorities accused Jason DeJesus, 36, and Chanelle Troedson, 33, of luring a handyman to their northern California home, where they beat him and held him against his will for seven hours. They forced him to repair their dishwasher and other appliances, fix a broken door and perform other maintenance tasks at the couple’s five-bedroom home, which includes a beach volleyball court, a pool and tennis courts.
Sheriff’s Sgt. Jose Cardoza said next the couple forced the fix-it man to accompany them to another home to make more repairs. When they stopped for gas and snacks, leaving him alone in the vehicle, he ran to a neighboring home and called 911. (Associated Press)
While Julian Schmidt, 14, was praying with two friends in Junction City, Ore., at a memorial site where a train ran over one of Schmidt’s relatives, an Amtrak train hit and killed Schmidt just feet from the site. (Eugene’s KVAL-TV)
Invasion of the Robot Pants
Samsung disclosed that it subjects its smart phones to stress tests that involve sprinkling rain on them, pressing their home button 20,000 times and using a robotic tush covered by pants to sit on the phones. (Samsung video release) NASA demonstrated a robotic exoskeleton that’s worn over the legs, with a harness that reaches up the back and around the shoulders, like overalls. The 57-pound device is designed to help astronauts stay healthier in space by using it as an exercise machine to supply resistance against leg movement. As the technology advances, NASA said the exoskeleton could benefit astronauts working on the surface of other planets by improving their ability to walk in a reduced-gravity environment. (NASA news release)
Feats of Science
Among the winners of the 2012 Ig Nobel awards, sponsored by the journal Annals of Improbable Research:
Dutch researchers Anita Eerland, Rolf Zwaan and Tulio Guadalupe were awarded the psychology prize for their study “Leaning to the Left Makes the Eiffel Tower Seem Smaller.”
The acoustics prize went to Japanese scientists Kazutaka Kurihara and Koji Tsukada for creating the SpeechJammer, a machine that repeats public speakers’ words with a slight delay to alert them if they are speaking too quickly or have taken more than their allotted time.
Frans de Waal and Jennifer Pokorny won the anatomy prize for discovering that chimpanzees can identify each other by looking at pictures of their rear ends. (BBC News)
The Canada Border Services Agency warned motorists to expect delays at the border crossing in Emerson, Manitoba, because of “work refusals by several officers at this port of entry.” Some border agents refused to work after the CBSA ordered all agents to wear name tags. Agents at two Ontario crossings walked off the job for the same reason but returned to work wearing the nametags. The union representing the border guards said wearing nametags puts them at risk of retaliation from border crossers, but the CBSA pooh-poohed any safety risk. “Personalized name tags reflect our commitment to service excel lence,” it explained, “and reinforce the professionalism and integrity for which CBSA officers are known.” (CBC News)
Next Nosh at Costco’s Toothpick Buffet
Caviar vending machines have shown up at three Los Angeles shopping malls. Called “caviar boutiques,” the machines also dispense truffles, escargot, Bellini cocktails and caviar accessories. (Los Angeles’ KTLA-TV)
When elderly residents at a Boston public housing project complained they were freezing because the new heating system, with preset energy-saving thermostats, wasn’t heating their apartments adequately, if at all, Housing Authority Administrator William McGonagle responded that 163 separate tests showed the complex met state code. “We’ve been through this at other elderly and disabled developments,” he said. “It takes time for them to get used to it.” (Boston Herald)
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.