News and Blues

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

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Curses, Foiled Again
A clerk thwarted a robbery at a gas station in Ann Arbor, Mich., after a man hopped over the counter with a weapon in hand. The clerk flipped the man, who was knocked unconscious when his head hit the floor. The clerk fled to his car and called police. Meanwhile, the robber’s accomplice tried to awaken him but couldn’t and grabbed cash from the register. She dropped most of the money while fleeing. Detectives identified the couple from surveillance video and arrested Frederick Coble, 49, and Christina Maria Borcea, 48. (The Ann Arbor News)

Life’s Ironies
After successfully campaigning for a stricter anti-gay law, Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa could be charged under that same law, according to Mbarara University of Science and Technology professor Paul Kaliisa. “Pastor Ssempa has, if anything, promoted homosexuality where he is allegedly trying to fight it,” Kaliisa said, pointing out that Ssempa repeatedly screens gay porn to his congregation, ostensibly to show it is evil. “Very soon people are going to get used to the idea at some point, men can have sex with fellow men, and armed with the knowledge Ssempa has distributed, they will know exactly what to do.” (Britain’s Gay Star 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)

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)

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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)

Suzi LeVine, 44, became the first U.S. ambassador to be sworn in on an e-reader. The new diplomatic representative to Switzerland and Liechtenstein took the oath of office by placing her hand on a Kindle Touch whose screen displayed a digital copy of the Constitution. Earlier this year, New York’s Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano was sworn in for his second term by taking the oath of office on a digital Bible when a printed copy could not be located. Later, four New Jersey firefighters were sworn in by simultaneously placing their hands on an iPad with the Bible app open. (The Washington Post)

Foodie of the Week
At-large parolee Mark Royal, 51, led police on a high-speed chase from Sacramento, Calif., to Auburn, about 35 miles away, where he pulled over at the Placer County Jail and surrendered. He told police he chose that location because “the food is better here.” Unfortunately for him, officers returned him to the Sacramento County Jail. (Sacramento’s KCRA-TV)

Pity the 1 Percent
After “affluenza” victim Ethan Couch, 17, escaped jail time for killing four people and seriously injuring two others while driving drunk in a 2013 crash in Fort Worth, Texas, his parents also caught a break. The state hospital where Couch is undergoing rehab treatment as part of his sentence costs $715 per day. But the facility used a sliding scale to determine that millionaires Fred and Tonya Couch need pay only $1,170 per month, leaving Texas taxpayers to pony up the balance. (Dallas-Fort Worth’s KDFW-TV)

Way Too Soon
British police arrested political candidate Paul Weston “on suspicion of religious/racial harassment” after he quoted former Prime Minister Winston Churchill during a speech in Hampshire. Weston cited a passage from Churchill’s 1899 book The River War, which included his views on Islam: “No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith.” After ignoring an order to disperse “following complaints from members of the public,” Weston was questioned for about 40 minutes before being searched and taken into custody.” (Western Center for Journalism)

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Fore, Fire
Titanium-coated golf clubs used to hit balls out of the rough caused at least two fires in Southern California, including one that burned 25 acres, according to scientists at the University of California Irvine. Hoping to confirm the suspicions of fire investigators, the researchers re-created course conditions on the days of the fires. They found that clubs containing titanium can, if they strike a rock, produce sparks of up to 3,000 degrees that will burn for more than a second. That’s “plenty of time” to ignite nearby dry vegetation, according to researcher James Earthman. Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Steve Concialdi advised golfers using titanium clubs who hit into rocks and dry vegetation to “improve their lie,” even if it means taking a penalty stroke. (Associated Press)

When Guns Are Outlawed
When a masked man ordered Miyo Koba, 89, to open the cash register at her store in Moses Lake, Wash., she refused and threatened the robber with scissors. He countered by pulling a 3-foot-long sword out of his jacket. Koba trumped his move by grabbing a golf club and hitting him in the legs. The man fled on a bicycle with the cash register and sword, but police said he dropped the register nearby with the money still in it. (USA Today)

Real Reality
Police shot and killed a crew member of the television show Cops while trying to stop a robbery at a Wendy’s restaurant in Omaha, Neb. Police gunfire struck the suspect, Cortez Washington, 32, but he fled the restaurant and officers continued firing, killing the suspect and Bryce Dion, 38, described by his production company as “a long-term member of the Cops team.” (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.


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