News and Blues

News and Blues


Curses, Foiled Again

A man walked into a Taco John’s restaurant in Des Moines, Iowa, pointed a gun at the clerks and demanded, “Give me everything you got.” One clerk responded, “I don’t have anything for you. And plus, that’s a BB gun.” The suspect denied it, authorities said, and then racked the slide and fired the gun, but it apparently wasn’t loaded. The suspect fled empty-handed. (Des Moines Register)

Litigation Nation

Six months after being rescued from his upside-down car during Colorado’s historic flooding, Roy Ortiz filed a notice of intent to sue his rescuers at North Metro Fire Department. He claims they didn’t rescue him quickly enough. (Denver’s KCNC-TV)

Slightest Provocation

Police reported that a 20-year-old man was eating with a friend at a Taco Bell restaurant in Tega Cay, S.C., when a man at another booth asked him if he had belched without saying “excuse me.” The man then walked over and attacked the 20-year-old with a chair, grabbed his throat and tried to head-butt him before a restaurant worker told the assailant to leave. (Associated Press)

Things That Go Boom

Iraqi authorities reported that a terrorist commander training suicide bombers in a secluded camp north of Baghdad was demonstrating with a belt packed with live explosives, which he accidentally triggered, killing himself and 21 other members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Fifteen others were wounded. An Iraqi Army officer described the militant commander as a prolific recruiter who promised martyrdom as a sure ticket to heaven. (The New York Times)

Commercialized Airspace

A car dealership in Houston, Texas, hired a drone to film its latest commercial. “It’s a good technique for getting shots that you normally wouldn’t be able to get for advertising purposes, because you get a different perspective,” said Don Ruguleiski, Internet-digital marketing director for Mac Haik Chevrolet. “It’s tough to get a boom out here with a camera on it.” The lightweight unmanned aerial vehicle with six propellers is operated by JAM Aviation. “You know, people used to be scared of it,” owner Don Hirsch explained. “Now they’re saying, ‘Hey, that looks like a UFO. Hey, that looks like a really cool piece of equipment.” (Houston’s KHOU-TV)

Praymate of the Month

Italian publisher Mondadori launched a fan magazine devoted entirely to Pope Francis. The first issue of Il Mio Papa (My Pope) featured the pope’s life story and photos, including a pullout centerfold. The magazine also included ads for a weight-loss cure, a laxative, a beauty cream and a hair-care product. Editor Aldo Vitali, who’s also the editor of a magazine of television listings and celebrity news, declared that the magazine’s purpose was to help the pope make the world a better place. (Reuters)

Up in the Air

Investigators concluded that the pilot of a Mozambican Airlines flight bound for Angola deliberately crashed the plane while his co-pilot was using the toilet. All 33 people on board died when the plane plunged from 38,000 feet. Recordings from the recovered black box show a rapid descent and repeated banging on the cockpit door, either from the co-pilot or passengers. (Britain’s Daily Mail)

First Things First

Nyima Dorjee, 39, was sitting in a New York City jury pool for a gun-possession trial when he complained to the questioning prosecutor of chest pains and difficulty breathing, but when a court officer informed Justice Joel Blumenfeld, the judge told him to let the prosecutor finish his questioning. “There’s a few more minutes left,” the judge reportedly said. “They can wait.” The officer decided that Dorjee needed immediate assistance, however, and called an ambulance. Doctors determined he was having a heart attack. (United Press International)

Next Year, Try Evian

After the U.S. Drought Monitor declared northern Arizona to be “abnormally dry,” Flagstaff decided to allocate 440,000 gallons of drinkable water to make snow for the city’s third annual Urban Ski and Snowboard Festival. Flagstaff official Kimberly Ott defended the plan, citing “the economic benefit to the community.” The city rejected using reclaimed water to make snow, arguing that potable water is cleaner and more comfortable for snowboarders and skiers. “There would be people upset if it was reclaimed water,” downtown business owner Kevin Collins insisted. (Phoenix’s KTVK-TV)

Science Schmience

Christian minister Ken Ham’s goal of building a replica of Noah’s Ark in the Kentucky hills stalled for lack of money until Ham (no relation to Noah’s son) engaged in a debate on evolution with PBS “Science Guy” Bill Nye. Ham’s Answers in Genesis ministry and the Creation Museum received widespread media attention during the debate, which pitted science against the Bible’s explanation of the origins of the universe. Ham said that a flood of donations would allow construction of the Ark Encounter to begin soon and open to the public in summer 2016. (Associated Press)

Better Late Than Never

The New York Times ran a correction to an article it published on Jan. 20, 1853, acknowledging that it misspelled the name of Solomon Northup, whose memoir inspired the movie 12 Years a Slave. The paper spelled Northup’s last name as “Northrop” in the article and “Northrup” in the headline. The paper became aware of the errors after they were pointed out on Twitter. (USA Today)

Not All Crooks Are Dumb

Police reported that a man walked into a liquor store in Bradenton, Fla., and told the clerk he and a friend were having a disagreement about the new $50 bills and needed a picture of one. He asked the clerk to hold one up while he took a photo, but when the clerk did, the man snatched it and ran away. (Sarasota’s WWSB-TV)

Child’s Play

The driver of a car that got stuck in a ditch in Vestoppland, Norway, told a passing snowplow operator that he ran off the road while making a U-turn to return home to get his driver’s license. When the plow operator eyed him suspiciously, the diminutive driver explained that he was a dwarf. He was actually a 10-year-old boy joyriding with his 18-month-old sister in their family car. “He asked for help to tow his vehicle so they could continue their journey,” police Officer Kai Lyshaugen said. Instead, the plow operator notified the authorities. (United Press International)

A Friend Indeed

After Chicago Transit Authority train operator Brittney Haywood crashed into an escalator at O’Hare International Airport, sending 32 passengers to local hospitals, the head of CTA’s rail union vowed to fight any attempt to terminate her, even though she admitted dozing off at the controls for the second time in two months. Acknowledging that two dozing incident “sounds bad,” Robert Kelley, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308, said, “Come on. We’ve all dozed off driving a train (or a car). There’s a difference between dozing off and falling asleep.” (Chicago Sun-Times)

More Likes

Facebook added a customizable option that lets its 159 million U.S. users choose from 50 different gender descriptions. “For the first time I get to go to the site and specify to all the people I know what my gender is,” said Facebook software engineer Brielle Harrison, who worked on the project, is undergoing gender transformation and changed Facebook identity from “Female” to “TransWoman.” Users can also select “neither” or “other” and indicate whether they want to be referred to by the pronoun he, she or they. (Associated Press)

Power to the Power

Faced with having to pay its customers refunds or rate deductions from its excessive profits, as required by a 2007 law, Virginia’s Dominion Power successfully lobbied state lawmakers to pass a bill allowing the utility to deduct most of its research spending. As a result, instead of having projected excess profits of $280 million in the two-year regulatory period, which would have triggered savings for customers under the old law, the new measure allows it to deduct $400 million spent on nuclear energy research, denying its customers any savings. (The Washington Post)

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 Syracuse New Times.

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