News and Blues


Curses, Foiled Again
A man aroused suspicion by repeatedly calling a post office in Nashville, Tenn., asking if a package had arrived. When it did show up, postal workers inspected it and found it reeked of marijuana. They alerted police, who arrested Terrell Mills, 24, when he came to claim the package, which contained 10 pounds of pot. (Nashville’s WSMV-TV)

When Duct Tape Isn’t Enough
The FBI charged Jennifer Marie Vargas, 34, with assault after she nearly pulled off her 6-year-old son’s genitals because she was angry with him. According to the criminal complaint affidavit filed in San Antonio, Texas, Vargas cleaned the wound with alcohol and then “applied superglue to the scrotum until the bleeding stopped, stuffed his underwear with paper towels, and then told him to go to bed.” When the child’s father came home from work, he found the boy crying in an upstairs bedroom, noticed the bloody towels in his underwear and took him to the hospital. (Houston Chronicle)

Slightest Provocation
Ashley Marie Prenovost, 24, went on a naked rampage after she and her live-in boyfriend returned to their home in Glendale, Ariz., and he refused to have sex with her. Police said Prenovost punched two holes in a bedroom wall and “punched a picture hanging on the wall in the hallway, causing glass to break and causing injuries to both of suspect’s hands.” Holding their 4-month-old daughter, she then ran around inside the home and “bled all over the floor in the master bedroom, hallway, common area by the front door and kitchen.” (The Smoking Gun)

Overnight Success
When Google announced it was buying Nest, a high-tech thermostat and smoke-detector company, for $3.2 billion, investors rushed to buy stock. The flurry caused the stock of Nestor Inc., which sells automated traffic enforcement systems to local governments and trades under the ticket symbol NEST, to surge 1,900 percent. Prior to the deal, Nestor was trading for less than a penny. After reaching as much as 10 cents, the price fell back to 3 cents. (Business Insider)

The Next Winter Olympics Event
Quebec inventor Yvon Martel unveiled an electric-powered sled. Dubbed the MTT-136, it weighs about 280 pounds and can haul a person or cargo for 130 miles on an eight-hour charge. (Popular Science)

Extreme Makeover
Hoping to distance aspiring middle-class Kazakhstan from its low-class neighbors, President Nursultan Nazarbayev suggested eliminating “stan” from its name. The word means “place” in Persian, but Nazarbayev said that it causes foreigners to lump the country with its economically less developed or more politically volatile neighbors. He suggested the name “Kazakh Yeli,” or “Land of the Kazakhs,” and invited public discussion of his proposal. (The Economist)

Below Zero Tolerance
Administrators at a high school in suburban Chicago objected to a state law requiring that 4-by-6-inch stickers warning guns are not allowed be posted in schools, as well as in churches, government agencies and liquor stores. But officials at Tinley Park High School oppose the notices banning guns because an image of a gun appears on them. “You can’t look at this and not think of Sandy Hook,” principal Theresa Nolan said, adding that she would prefer “something more subtle.” (Southtown Star)

When Weight Watchers Isn’t Enough
Venezuelan beauty queen Wi May Nava, 18, revealed that she had a mesh patch stitched to her tongue to help her stay thin. “It makes me lose weight quicker,” the 2013 first runner-up Miss Venezuela said, explaining that the plastic patch made eating solid food too painful. “You eat the same, but liquefied.” (New York’s Daily News)

Problems Solved
Giants walls could protect the Midwest from tornadoes, according to Rongjia Tao, a physicist at Temple University. “If we build three east-west great walls in the American Midwest — one in North Dakota, one along the border between Kansas and Oklahoma to the east, and the third one in south Texas and Louisiana — we will diminish the threat in the Tornado Alley forever,” Tao said, explaining that the walls would need to be about 1,000 feet high and 150 feet wide. He estimated that they would cost $60 billion per 100 miles. (USA Today)

Rocket Surgery
After students at Reed College in Portland, Ore., rolled a 900-pound snowball, a pair of math majors seized it and started shoving it toward a city street. They miscalculated its trajectory, however, and it ended up plowing into a dorm and ripping apart a room’s wall. Maintenance workers spent 45 minutes cutting through the 40-inch-thick icy globe. (Portland’s The Oregonian)

How Inconvenient
Dr. Daniel Ubani admitted killing an English patient by overprescribing drugs but moved to Germany, made a plea deal to pay a fine for “gross negligence” and continued practicing. While Ubani was delivering a presentation at a conference in Lindau, Germany, the victim’s two sons interrupted him and called him a “charlatan and killer,” Ubani sued the sons, demanding they pay him £2,800 ($4,690) because their disruption caused him to miss a post-conference dinner for which he had already paid. (Britain’s Express)

Deadbeat Dining
A child-nutrition manager dispatched to a Salt Lake City elementary school, to investigate reports of parents owing money to the school lunch program, ordered cafeteria workers to seize lunches from as many as 40 students. District official Jason Olsen said officials tried to alert parents with overdue balances that the child-nutrition manager was coming but couldn’t reach everyone in time. The students had already received their lunches before they were singled out, leaving workers no choice but to throw out the uneaten food because school rules forbid serving already served food to other students. (The Salt Lake Tribune)

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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