News and Blues


Curses, Foiled Again

  • Police investigating break-ins at dozens of businesses in Montgomery County, Md., identified Andre Antonio Henry, 30, as their suspect in what authorities termed a one-person “crime wave” after finding his name on court documents that he apparently dropped at the scene of one of the burglaries. “Obviously, that’s a clue,” prosecutor Stephen Chaikin said after a judge sentenced Henry to 18 years in prison. (The Washington Post)
  • While Joshua Burgess, Chaz West and Marquise Williams were awaiting the start of their trial for home invasion and armed robbery in Pensacola, Fla., Court Security Deputy Joseph Kastor found a note in the courtroom, apparently dropped by one of the suspects. The note advised another suspect about what to say to get their stories straight when they appeared before the judge. When confronted with the note, the suspects changed their pleas to guilty. (South Florida Sun Sentinel)

When Guns Are Outlawed

  • Earl Morgan III, 29, tried to kill himself by drilling into his head with a power drill, according to police in Anderson, Ind. Police official Joel Sandefur said that Morgan was in serious condition at an Indianapolis hospital. (Associated Press)
  • After Steven Lowe, 41, resigned from the Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., police department because of allegations that he impersonated a teenage girl online to entice young boys to send him nude pictures, authorities said he committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest “multiple times” with a nail gun. (Associated Press)

Slightest Provocation

  • A chess match between neighbors got out of hand when the host pulled a gun and threatened his guest, who fled the apartment in Bellevue, Wash. When police arrived, the man held them off for eight hours before finally waving a white flag out the window and surrendering. (Seattle Times)
  • Wal-Mart clerk Justine Boyd, 46, shot and wounded a 56-year-old co-worker in the store’s liquor section because “the defendant was upset that the victim got a position in the liquor store, an easier cash register,” Winnebago County, Wis., prosecutor Scott Ceman said. After shooting the victim, Boyd returned to her cash register and resumed working until she was arrested and charged. (Appleton Post-Crescent)
  • Douglas Yim, 33, was found guilty of shooting and killing a 25-year-old friend after the two argued the existence of God. Yim was for; Dzuy Duhn Phan, against. (Associated Press)

Revenge of the Dead
A 51-year-old hunter who shot an elk outside Vernal, Utah, was trying to roll the 600- to 700-pound animal over when one of its antlers punctured his neck behind the jaw. Uintah County Undersheriff John Larson said the victim phoned for help and was airlifted to the hospital. (Associated Press)

Government Giveaway

  • Small-town police departments across the country are taking advantage of the Defense Department’s 1033 Program to snap up used equipment being given away by a downsizing military, regardless of whether the items are needed or will ever be used, according to an Associated Press investigation. The program, intended to help local law enforcement fight terrorism and drug trafficking, operates with little oversight and results in a disproportionate share of property going to rural areas with few officers and little crime.
  • In the farming community of Morven Ga., population 700, for example, Police Chief Lynwood Yates acquired three boats, scuba gear, rescue rafts and a couple of dozen life preservers, even though the deepest body of water is an ankle-deep creek. Yates also received a shipment of bayonets, which remain in storage. “That was one of those things in the old days you got it because you thought it was cool,” he said of the bayonets. “Then, after you get it, you’re like, ‘‘What the hell am I going to do with this?’” (Associated Press)

No Surprise
The publisher of a calendar of traffic circles in Wales that was a surprise best-seller in 2012 returned this year with a new calendar: “Fast Disappearing Red Telephone Boxes of Wales 2014.” It failed to sell a single copy, according to publisher Kevin Beresford, who lamented, “Not even the most patriotic Welsh person wants to buy a copy.” (BBC News)

Better Than Armed Guards
The Glendale, Calif., school district paid a private firm $40,500 to monitor 14,000 middle and high school students’’ posts on Facebook, Twitter and other social media. School officials insist the purpose isn’t snooping but student safety. The contractor, Geo Listening, which has other school clients, searches public postings, looking for possible violence, drug use, bullying, truancy and suicide threats. “We enforce the code of student conduct for every school we serve” by compiling a daily report to send each principal,” CEO Chris Frydrych said. The firm employs 10 full-time staffers and hires freelance workers to work no more than four hours a day, Frydrych said, because “the content they read is so dark and heavy.” The firm intends expanding its monitoring capacity by offering a smartphone app that lets students and parents notify school officials of conduct violations. (CNN)

Deflated Protest
After British police stopped a chartered party bus for carrying nine passengers instead of the allowed eight, driver Bash Ali, 41, objected, pointing out that the ninth passenger was actually a blow-up doll. Lacking money for a lawyer, however, Ali pleaded guilty in Manchester court, which ruled “that the vehicle was overloaded and that they were all human beings.” Ordered to pay $688.86 in fines and cost, Ali declared, “I have no faith in the justice system.” (United Press International)

Alien Sex

  • Pakistan leads the world in homophobia, according to a report by the American Pew Research Center, and, according to Google, search requests for same-sex pornography. (International Business Times)
  • An Indian court ruled that adult couples who have slept together should be considered legally married. The verdict in Tamil Nadu state involved a woman who sued a man for alimony after living with him for five years and bearing two children; he countered that they weren’t legally married. “If any couple choose to consummate their sexual cravings, then the act becomes a total commitment with adherence to all consequences that may follow,” Justice C.S. Karnan said. The news portal called the ruling “groundbreaking,” observing, “It’s not often that a High Court judgment can be used as both a punch line and a pickup line.” (The Washington Post)

Prostitutional Paradox
Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes told New York City police to “immediately cease” seizing condoms from prostitutes in the borough to use as evidence against them so the prostitutes won’t be discouraged from using the condoms, which the city Health Department hands out by the millions to stem the spread of deadly diseases. Police official Paul J. Browne acknowledged the directive but pointed out condoms still have “evidentiary value when going after pimps and sex traffickers,” such as when officers find “a bowlful of condoms in a massage parlor.” (The New York Times)

Paying the Price
Rogelio Andaverde, 34, and his wife were at home in Edinburg, Texas, when two armed men wearing masks forced their way inside and made off with Andaverde. Maria Hernandez immediately reported her husband’s abduction, and authorities launched “an all-out manhunt,” Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviñño said. Lacking any leads or a ransom call, deputies called off the search after a few hours. The next morning, Andaverde returned home and told his wife he’d been released. When deputies interviewed him for details, he admitted he staged the kidnapping so he could “spend time with his friends and party,” Treviñño said, adding, “Well, he’s going to party in jail now.” (San Antonio Express-News and McAllen’s The Monitor)

Bacon Bits
Bacon can lower a man’s sperm count, according to Harvard University researchers, who studied men that regularly ate bacon, sausages, ham and other processed meat, and found they had 30 percent less normal sperm than men who restrained themselves to less than a rasher of bacon a day. (Britain’s The Telegraph)
The latest bacon product from J&D Foods in Seattle is “Power Bacon,” a bacon-scented deodorant. “We realize that everyone loves bacon,” company co-founder Justin Esch said. “Well, now everyone can smell like it 24 hours a day.” (Seattle’s KIRO-TV)

Unmanned Aerial Disasters

  • Several people were injured during a running-of-the-bulls event in Dinwiddie County, Va., but not by the bulls. Sheriff’s Major William Knott said a camera-equipped drone crashed into the grandstand overlooking the Great Bull Run. (Washington’s WTOP-FM)
  • When Roman Pirozek Jr., 19, lost control of the remote-control helicopter he was operating in a New York City park, it plummeted from the sky and sliced off the top of his head, killing him instantly. (New York’s WNBC-TV)

Wishy-Washy Policy
After gun rights groups praised Starbucks for allowing guns to be openly carried in its stores, the company ran full-page ads in newspapers advising customers that guns are no longer welcome. They’re still permitted, however, and customers who choose to carry guns will still be served, according to CEO Howard Schultz, who declared, “We are not pro-gun or anti-gun.” (Associated Press)

Crisis Management
When a landing-gear accident caused a Thai Airways jumbo jet to veer off the runway at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, the airline evacuated the 288 passengers and 14 crewmembers and then dispatched a team to paint over the Thai Airways logos on the tail and fuselage of the disabled aircraft. The airline explained it “generally practices the de-identifying of an aircraft after an incident (or accident).” (Bloomberg Businessweek)

What’s Your Emergency?
Japanese authorities charged Teruo Nozaki, 44, a part-time convenience store worker in Tokyo, with making 28,000 emergency phone calls between January 2012 and June 2013. Nozaki would make as many as 1,500 calls a day. When someone answered, he hung up. After he was arrested, he explained he made the calls “because I was irritated by the fact that I was always watched by police.” (Japan Today)

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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