News and Blues

Your weekly dose of weird and funny news from around the nation

Curses, Foiled Again
Tyler Lankford, 21, entered a bakery with a loaded and cocked revolver, pointed it at the 58-year-old clerk and demanded money, according to police in McKeesport, Pa. The clerk emptied the register, but when the robber picked up the money, he put the gun on the counter. The clerk grabbed it and chased away the robber, whom police identified from surveillance video. (Pittsburgh’s KDKA-TV)

Verlin Sexton, 48, told authorities investigating a fire that destroyed his garage and damaged his house in Fremont, Ohio, that it started while he was using spray paint and a lighter as a torch to kill a mouse. He also said he went to the garage to smoke, noticed black smoke filling the garage and saw flames in the corner, so he ran to get a pan of water; when he returned, the fire was out of control. Then he said he saw flames in boxes and tried to kick the fire out, but it spread. He was charged with intentionally setting the fire. (Fremont’s The News-Gazette)

Tourist Traps
Now that affluent Chinese have become big-spending travelers, the China National Tourist Administration announced it would document “uncivilized” behavior by travelers abroad who have “tarnished” China’s image and need to “learn a lesson.” Inappropriate behavior includes violating customs, destroying public infrastructure and historic sites, causing disturbances on public transport and participating in gambling and prostitution. The agency said it would compile reports from local tourism bureaus, media reports and the general public and keep records for up to two years. It didn’t specify the nature of any punishment. In February, Thai authorities issued thousands of Chinese-language etiquette manuals after Chinese tourists were caught drying underwear at a temple, kicking a bell at a sacred shrine and washing their feet in a public restroom. (Reuters)

Problem Solved
Authorities concerned with large numbers of boarded-up homes in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area because of widespread foreclosures launched a pilot program to disguise the vacant houses by installing vinyl siding with painted doors and windows over the plywood. The program aims to upgrade the aesthetic condition of the buildings to reduce vandalism and improve nearby property values. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Orthographical Follies
When the Minnesota Department of Transportation replaced signs marking the town of Lindström, it removed the umlaut, twin dots over the “o.” It subsequently rejected town officials’ request to restore the umlaut, citing a rule that names in road signs contain only standard letters. The town said the umlaut honors its Swedish roots and had been on the signs until 2012, when the state removed them for road construction. Gov. Mark Dayton intervened, calling the rule “nonsensical” and ordering the umlauts restored immediately, “even if I have to drive to Lindström and paint the umlauts on the city limit signs myself.” (The New York Times)

Profit Center
The Transportation Security Administration last year collected almost $675,000 in loose change left behind by travelers at security checkpoints. According to TSA figures, that amount is up from $638,000 the year before. Travelers at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport left the most change, $43,000. Overall, the agency has collected $3.5 million in loose change since 2008. (Time)

Vehicular Follies
Investigators concluded that Elizabeth Rachel Dove, 23, was using her phone to record a video of her son in the backseat of her vehicle when she hit and injured three high-school students in a crosswalk in Gresham, Ore. “(Dove) is holding the phone with her left hand and was making gestures with her right hand,” then there is a 6-second video of the phone bouncing on the front passenger seat and “a child crying in the background,” Deputy District Attorney Annamarie Shoen wrote in a court document, which added that when the teens entered the crosswalk, Dove “appears to have had no hands on the steering wheel.” A police officer determined that Dove hit the victims 1.42 seconds after the video ended. (Portland’s KATU-TV)

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