News and Blues

Your weekly re-cap of weird and funny news from around the nation

Curses, Foiled Again
Investigators charged Ian Dishon Isabel, 29, with secretly recording girls using an elementary school restroom in Davenport, Iowa, after cameras found behind the toilets showed not only close-up images of children from the waist down, but also those of the man installing them. Isabel conducts an after-school program at Hayes Elementary. “Although the male’s face is not visible,” the police affidavit said, “his identification card can be seen hanging from a lanyard on his neck.” (Moline, Ill.’s WQAD-TV)

Name Game

After unsuccessful campaigns for Congress and the Phoenix City Council, Scott Fister, 34, changed his name to Cesar Chavez and declared his candidacy for retiring U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor’s seat in Arizona’s largely Hispanic 7th Congressional District. “It’s almost as simple as saying Elvis Presley is running for president,” said Chavez, who not only changed his name to that of the late revered farm-labor leader, but also switched his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat. “People want a name that they can feel comfortable with. If you went out there running for office and your name was Bernie Madoff, you’d probably be screwed.” (Phoenix’s The Arizona Republic)

High on the Hog
Overrun by wild hogs that threaten native wildlife and vegetation and “breed prolifically,” Harris County, Texas, officials voted to trap, slaughter and cook them to supply local food banks, then signed a year’s contract with a processor for $217,6000. Each hog in the horde, which numbers “as many as 8,000 to 10,000,” produces 40 pounds of meat, prompting County Commissioner Steve Radack to declare the plan, which he himself proposed, a “gift from God.” Texas Parks and Wildlife responded by posting a recipe for feral hog tacos on its website. Food bank officials said they were excited to receive the hog meat. The USDA warned that “unlike domesticated pigs, wild hogs are more prone to trichinella and toxoplasma parasite infections.” (Houston’s KTRK-TV)

Life’s Ironies
Members of France’s biggest pilots’ union called a monthlong strike to protest the rules surrounding their right to strike. The pilots seek repeal of the law that forces them to give their companies 48 hours notice before any walkout. The airlines explained the notice allows time to notify passengers, but the union insisted it gives the airlines time to find replacements to minimize the walkout’s impact. (France’s The Local)

Way Too Soon
Ad agency Ogilvy & Mather apologized for a print ad for an Indian mattress company showing a cartoon image of Malala Yousafzai, a 14-year-old student activist who was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman on her way to school in 2012. In the ad, Yousafzai is shot in the face and falls backward with blood dripping from her head before landing on one of Kurl-On’s spring mattresses and bouncing back as an inspirational survivor. Patricio Vergara Calderón, head of strategic planning at the studio that created the ad, defended its message, explaining, “It’s about triumphing over violence.” (Yahoo News)

Litigation Nation
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFamilies with autistic children are suing Walt Disney Co. because its theme parks stopped letting the kids bypass lines for rides. Disney parks used to offer autistic visitors a “guest assistance card” that let them and their families board rides without waiting. The company cited instances of visitors hiring disabled people to obtain the cards as the reason it switched to “disability access service” cards, which let autistic children schedule times for park attractions. The 16 plaintiffs who are suing Disney under the Americans with Disabilities Act insist scheduling times amounts to waiting, which autistic children have difficulty doing. (Reuters)

Those Who Can’t
Roosevelt High School in New York’s Nassau County had to reprint its 2014 yearbooks after principal Steven Strachan was accused of plagiarizing his message to graduating seniors. Not only were some of the words identical to those another principal in Albany, Calif., wrote last year, but Strachan also ended his message: “Congratulations to the Albany High School Class of 2013.” (Long Island’s News 12)

Lesson Learned
Danielle Shea, 22, admitted phoning bomb threats to cancel Quinnipiac University’s spring graduation ceremony because she didn’t want her family to discover that she wasn’t graduating. She had accepted money from her mother for tuition but never enrolled. Police identified her because she used her cellphone for the calls, which prompted the Hamden. Conn., school to delay graduation ceremonies and move them indoors. (New Haven Register)

Family Feud
Two weeks before the death of radio deejay Casey Kasem, 82, the feud between his wife, Jean Kasem, 59, and his daughter, Kerri Kasem, escalated when Kerri arrived at his home in Silverdale, Calif., with an ambulance to take her father to the hospital. While paramedics waited to enter the home, Jean threw a pound of raw hamburger meat at Kerri. She explained that she was following a Bible verse: “In the name of King David, I threw a piece of raw meat into the street in exchange for my husband to the wild rabid dogs.” (NBC News)

Roll Out the Barrels
The Ignite Church in Joplin, Mo., encouraged attendance at its Father’s Day service by raffling off two AR-15 rifles. To attract males age 18 to 35– “the biggest black hole in our society,” pastor Heath Mooneyham said– Sunday services start later than many other churches and feature loud rock music. “We’re just dudes,” said Mooneyham, who sports tattoos and a short Mohawk, noting that churchgoers got excited about the firearms raffle “because that speaks our language.” (The Joplin Globe)

Blowing Smoke

Conservatives are customizing their pickup trucks to spew black smoke into the air to protest environmentalists and Obama administration emissions regulations. The diesel trucks, called “coal rollers,” are modified with chimney exhaust stacks and equipment that can force extra fuel into the engine, causing black smoke to pour out. Popular targets of the choking exhaust are drivers of hybrids and Japanese-made cars. “The feeling around here is that everyone who drives a small car is a liberal,” a coal roller named Ryan told the online news website Vocativ, which reported that Facebook pages dedicated to rolling coal had 16,000 followers as of July 1. (Business Insider)

Second-Amendment Follies
State police said Chad Olm, 34, was showing his guns to his son and nephew, both 11, at his home in Pike County, Pa., when he showed them the laser sight aimed at the ceiling and the wall. Olm then pointed the laser at his nephew, who reached out for the gun just as Olm pulled the trigger, believing it to be unloaded. It wasn’t, and the bullet fatally shot the nephew in the head. (Stroudsburg’s The Pocono Record)

Role Model of the Week
State police who pulled over University of Alaska Fairbanks campus priest Father Sean P. Thomson, 52, said he confessed to driving drunk and told trooper Christopher Bitz that he had a .357-caliber handgun in the back of his pickup. He clammed up when Bitz also found a 9mm handgun in his back pocket and a small bag of marijuana in his jumper. (Fairbanks Daily News-Miner)

Mixed Message
Hours after Allegheny County, Pa., announced that wireless users could start texting emergency dispatchers instead of calling, the 911 center received a text message about a drunk driver from a sender. The message indicated the sender was texting while driving, which county official Amie Downs pointed out is illegal, adding, “This is one that probably should have been better served by a phone call.” (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

Flatware Follies
Someone broke into the tomb of President James A. Garfield and stole 13 commemorative spoons from a display case, leaving other memorabilia and cash in a donation box. Katharine Goss, president and chief executive of Cleveland’s Lake View Cemetery, which houses Garfield’s tomb, noted that the spoons were “flimsy little things” with practically no monetary value and “would be hard to sell in a historical auction because everyone would wonder where they came from.” (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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