news & blues






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Publication: Syracuse New Times
Date published: November 17, 2010

CURSES, FOILED AGAIN

Police were able to capture a woman suspected of robbing two banks in Butte County, Calif., after she locked herself out of her getaway car. Witnesses said Laura Jane Murray, 48, tried to borrow a tire iron to smash the window, but when Davis police showed up, she began using her hand to try to smash the window. (Chico Enterprise-Record)

Two uniformed police officers were ordering at the register at a Starbucks in New Westminster, British Columbia, when a man cut in front of them, threw a drink at the employee and demanded cash. The officers "looked at each other in astonishment," Sgt. Bruce Carrie said, and promptly arrested the 43-year-old suspect. (CTV British Columbia)

INSTANT COWMA

Authorities who charged Christopher Newton, 21, and another man with trying to push over two 4-foot-tall fiberglass cow sculptures in Burlington, Vt., noted that Newton's foot was broken when one of the 150-pound cows fell on it. (Associated Press)

GROUNDSKEEPING FOLLIES

Instead of covering baseball diamonds with a tarp to keep them dry, Alberta's St. Albert Minor Baseball Association dries rain-soaked playing fields by setting them on fire. The tradition could cost the non-profit association $20,000 after an official poured six liters of diesel fuel on one field and lit it. Within minutes, St. Albert firefighters arrived and extinguished the blaze, and a city hazmat team dug up the field to check for contamination. The city also forced the association to dig up one of the pitching mounds found to be contaminated with fuel. Association officials accused the city of overreacting, but city official Chris Jardine insisted the quick-dry practice puts both players and the environment at risk. (CBC News)

NUTS TO CHARITY

When Joe Cooper, 24, agreed to undergo a bikini waxing at a charity fund-raising event in Leicester, England, onlookers bid to pull off the strips. One strip stuck to his scrotum, and an over-energetic tug by one bidder tore off several layers of skin, causing Cooper to nearly lose a testicle. He was taken to the hospital, where, "They told me if any more skin had come off, that would have been it," he said, adding, "I'd never do it again." (Associated Press)

SLIGHTEST PROVOCATION

Dennis Zeglin, 67, admitted shooting his family's 20-year-old African gray parrot to death with a pellet gun in Randolph, N.J. Zeglin's lawyer explained that the bird's squawks distracted his client from a NASCAR race on television. (Asbury Park Press)

Police in Pontiac, Mich., said Torrie Lynn Emery, 23, repeatedly rammed a car driven by Alesha Abernathy, 21, causing her to lose control and hit a dump truck. The crash killed Abernathy and sent passenger Danielle Booth, 20, to the hospital in critical condition. Detective Paul McDougal, who witnessed the incident, said Emery attacked the vehicle after she spotted Booth, with whom she had been feuding on the social networking site Facebook. (The Detroit News)

FIRST-AMENDMENT FOLLIES

A California appeals court declared that a Roseville shopping mall's attempt to regulate conversation is unconstitutional. The Westfield Galleria behavioral-enforcement rule banned anyone in the mall's common areas from "approaching patrons with whom he or she was not previously acquainted for the purpose of communicating with them on a topic unrelated to the business interests" of the mall or its tenants. Anyone intending to talk about anything other than the mall, including the weather or to ask directions to somewhere outside the mall, must submit a written application for permission "four days in advance."

The three-judge panel's opinion cited the deposition of Gavin Farnam, the Galleria's senior general manager. Asked by an attorney for plaintiff Matthew Snatchko, who challenged the rule, if it prohibits approaching strangers to talk about any other subject than the mall, Farnam testified: "It doesn't prohibit you. It just means you have to come in and fill out the application for third-party access for noncommercial" speech. When the attorney asked if a sports fan would be violating the rules to tell a stranger, "Hope you're supporting the Giants this week," Farnam answered: "You can go in and again fill out a third-party access." (The Sacramento Bee)

FATAL DISTRACTION

Kathleen Gomez Collier, 47, drowned after she drove her Ford Expedition off a boat ramp and into the Sacramento River near Isleton, Calif., while she was on her cell phone, asking her daughter for directions. According to California Highway Patrol Officer Michael Bradley, just before the call was cut off, Collier told her daughter the car was filling up with water and to phone her insurance company. (San Francisco Chronicle)

AVOIRDUPOIS FOLLIES

A woman flying standby from Las Vegas to Sacramento, Calif., paid full fare for the last available seat, boarded and stowed her bags, only to be told she had to deplane because a late-arriving passenger assigned the seat next to her required two seats to accommodate her girth. The tardy overweight passenger was just 14 years old. "It didn't seem right that I should have to leave to accommodate someone who had only paid for one seat," the 5-foot-4, 110-pound bootee said, adding that Southwest Airlines personnel berated her when she questioned their action. Airline official Marilee McInnis admitted Southwest "should have handled it better" and promised the airline would apologize. (The Sacramento Bee)

A nail salon in DeKalb County, Ga., charges overweight customers $5 extra for pedicures. Kim Tran, manager of Natural Nails, explained that she instituted the surcharge to cover the $2,500 cost to fix broken chairs, which have a 200-pound weight limit. (Atlanta's WSB-TV)

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 New Times.

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