News and Blues


Curses, Foiled Again

  • A man walked into a bank in Antioch, Calif., and handed the teller a note. She couldn’t make it out because of the bad handwriting and showed it to the manager to help her decipher the message. By the time they figured out it was a hold-up note, the man had left through a back door. Police arrested suspect Jamal Garrett, 29, after they found him across the street from the bank and witnesses at the bank identified him. (San Jose Mercury News)
  • A man entered the garage at a home in northwest Chicago and demanded that the resident hand over the keys to her 2012 Honda MDX. She complied, but then fled the garage and closed the door behind her, trapping the man inside. She called the police, who arrived to find Andre Bacon, 21, sitting in the driver’s seat of the vehicle with the keys in the ignition. (Chicago Tribune)

Mystery Meat

  • Chicken nuggets contain only 50 percent or less chicken muscle tissue from breasts and thighs, according to Mississippi researchers. The rest is a mix of fat, blood vessels and nerves from skin and internal organs. “Some companies have chosen to use an artificial mixture of chicken parts rather than low-fat chicken white meat, batter it up and fry it and still call it chicken,” said Dr. Richard D. deShazo of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, who reported the study’s findings in the American Journal of Medicine. (Reuters)
  • Two years after concerns over pink-slime prompted Fairfax County, Va., to replace additive-filled hamburgers on school lunch menus with all-beef patties, it’s returning to adulterated burgers because students complained the beef burgers didn’t look or taste right. For one thing, their centers were pink, since the all-beef patties lacked caramel coloring. The old burgers contained 27 ingredients, including caramel coloring and pink slime, a combination of beef scraps and connective tissue sprayed with ammonia gas to kill pathogens. The all-beef burgers contained only beef. The new patties have 26 additives, including the caramel coloring but lacking pink slime. “Students are our customers,” Penny McConnell, the county’s food and nutritional service director, said, “and we listen to them and implement their requests if possible.” (The Washington Post)

Hazards of (e)Smoking

A 3-year-old boy received first- and second-degree burns while riding with his mother in Provo, Utah, after an e-cigarette exploded in their car. Kinzie Barlow said she noticed a strange smell while charging the device, “then there was a big bang, and kind of a flash, and there’s smoke everywhere.” She explained that a white-hot copper coil shot out into the boy’s car seat, where it burned through the fabric, melted the hard plastic and sent flames up the boy’s body. Barlow tried to smother the flames with her shirtsleeve, but it caught fire. She finally doused the flames with iced coffee. (Salt Lake City’s KSTU-TV)

Tax Dollars at Work
Taxpayers in Arlington County, Va., are paying $13,000 for an electronic billboard sign instructing motorists, “Don’t hit the car in front of you.” Police Lt. David Green Jr. defended the sign, saying that previous signs with more subtle messages didn’t reduce accidents at the location, almost all of which “are rear-end collisions.” (The Blaze)


  • The International Paralympic Committee declared swimmer Victoria Allen, 19, ineligible for last summer’s world championships because she wasn’t disabled enough. Having won four medals and set a world freestyle record the year before, she “failed to provide conclusive evidence of a permanent eligible impairment,” the IPC ruled on the eve of the 2013 competition. A star child athlete, Arlen developed a neurological condition that led to her spending three years in a vegetative state before she awoke in 2010 with paralyzed legs. She insisted she was being punished because her doctor believes that her condition might improve. IPC official Peter Van de Vliet defended the ruling. “If you’re classifying an amputee, either they’ve got a leg or they haven’t, and in 12 months they still won’t have a leg,” he said. “But when you get to these types of wheelchair athletes, it gets tricky.” (The New York Times)
  • After Jakiya McKoy, 7, won the Little Miss Hispanic Delaware contest, pageant officials took away her crown because of concerns that she wasn’t Hispanic enough. Contestants are required to be at least 25 percent Hispanic, but Maria Perez, president of the sponsoring Nuestras Raices, said the verification the child provided “does not specify she was 25 percent Hispanic or Hispanic at all.” The McKoys protested that the real reason their daughter’s reign was cut short was her dark skin, not the lack of documentation. (New York’s Daily News)

Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time
Ed Gemar decided the best way to eliminate a fire hazard from a storage building in Great Falls, Mont., was to burn weeds and grass away from the part of the building that was brick and concrete. The fire spread to some dry weeds near a wooden section of the building and destroyed the building and its contents, which included vintage automobiles and farm machinery. (Great Falls Tribune)

Gangnam Style
South Korean teenagers who can’t afford plastic surgery are turning to do-it-yourself cosmetic enhancements, using cheap tools bought online. Instead of double-eyelid surgery to give them a “Hollywood look,” for example, some teens wear glasses, costing $5 to $20, that force their eyes to stay open without blinking. Another popular item is a $6 jaw roller intended to push the jaw line into a petite, oval form. Another device promises to raise the nose bridge to give a pointed nose. It’s painful but costs only $2. “We want to become pretty without spending all the money,” 17-year-old Na said, explaining that she and her friends started ordering online after seeing Korean talk show guests demonstrate various gadgets. According to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, South Koreans are the world’s most cosmetically enhanced people. (GlobalPost)

When the Owner’s Manual Isn’t Enough
Truck driver Jeffrey Glossop, 58, was transporting a 58-ton vintage battle tank but couldn’t climb a hill outside Gold Beach, Ore., so he decided to unload the tank and drive it up the hill. Glossop had never driven a tank, but “he had the manual, so he thought he could do it,” State Police Lt. Gregg Hastings said. The tank slipped out of gear, however, then rolled back down the hill and crashed through a guardrail. Glossop tried again, crossing over the damaged guardrail and heading back up the hill. The tank again slipped out of gear, rolled down an embankment and came to rest in a stand of trees. The tank wasn’t damaged, but Glossop was cited for reckless driving. (Portland’s The Oregonian)

Moonlighting by Day
University of Colorado Denver officials placed cultural diversity coordinator Resa Cooper-Morning, 54, on administrative leave while they investigated reports that she operated a phone sex business during the hours she was working at the school. Her website features numerous nude, provocative photos of Cooper-Morning, and a phone sex component invited callers to talk dirty with her Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. until late at night. Her university work hours are 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. After Cooper-Morning was placed on leave, the website stated that she was available for phone sex weekdays only after 3 p.m. (Denver’s KCNC-TV)

Drinking-Class Hero
A pilot program in the Netherlands that hires alcoholics to collect litter and do other light work in Amsterdam pays them with beer. The 20 men must show up at 9 a.m. three days a week. They start with two beers, work all morning, eat lunch, get two more beers, do an afternoon shift that ends with a beer and sometimes a bonus beer. Besides the beer, participants receive a meal, tobacco and $13 cash, a lot of which, the men admit, goes to buy more beer. Amsterdam East District Mayor Fatima Elatik defended the program, which the city operates with the nonprofit Rainbow Group Foundation, declaring, “I am giving the people a sense of perspective, even a sense of belonging. We validate them, and we don’t ostracize our people.” Insisting that the program’s goal is to get alcoholics to stop drinking and move back to mainstream society, Rainbow leader Gerrie Holterman said beer was the obvious choice because it’s easy for the sponsors to regulate the men’s consumption.” (Associated Press)

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.

News and Blues

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