NEWS & BLUES






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Publication: Syracuse New Times
Date published: September 14, 2011

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Curses, Foiled Again

Camden, N.J., police Sgt. Jeffrey Frett, 40, plotted an early retirement by having his wife meet him while on patrol to shoot him in the leg so he could claim he'd been the victim of a random shooting. The scheme unraveled after a plainclothes officer passed the couple and noticed the wife's van. A few minutes later, the officer heard Frett's voice over the police radio reporting he'd been shot, then saw the van drive by. He gave chase and captured the "assailant." Meanwhile, because her aim was off, she'd only shot Frett's pants leg. Frett later pleaded guilty to making a false police report, lost his job and forfeited his pension. (Cherry Hill's Courier-Post)

Robert Williams was arrested after he applied to join the San Diego Police Department and answered yes to two questions on his application about having had sexual contact with a child and viewing child pornography. Police searched his car and apartment and confiscated computers and hard drives. Williams released a statement objecting to being arrested for "telling the truth during the hiring process" and declared he "is seeking expert counsel, pro bono." (San Diego's KGTV-TV)

Not a Square to Spare

New York City's Parks Department began rationing toilet paper in women's restrooms along the Coney Island boardwalk. Despite assurances by department official Meghan Lalor that "our budget for these supplies is consistent" and "there's no need to ration," bathroom attendants insisted stocks were so low that they've stopped refilling toilet paper dispensers and started making beachgoers form "ration lines" in bathrooms to be issued single-ply toilet paper squares. Toilet paper isn't being rationed in the men's rooms because there isn't any to ration. (New York Post)

Short-Attention-Span Follies

Twitter helped form Northern Ireland's new government, as the five governing parties took turns using the social media platform to pick which of the 10 ministries they wanted to head for the next fouryear term. The majority Protestant party, the Democratic Unionists, went first and chose the Finance Department. The Irish nationalist Sinn Fein went second and chose Education. The entire process took less than 30 minutes. (Associated Press)

Celebrities who constantly alert fans via Twitter risk having shorter careers than those who preserve their mystique, according to survey by Britain's Bauer Media that pointed out minute-by-minute updates increase the likelihood of boring followers. As a result, the music industry is considering restricting access to certain types of artists to try to boost their staying power in popular culture. (Reuters)

Winners and Losers

State officials in Michigan are working to stop Leroy Fick, 59, of Auburn from receiving food stamps after he won a $2 million lottery prize. Because he took his winnings in a lump sum, he still meets the income threshold for food assistance. Fick further justified his use of food stamps by pointing out the government took more than half his winnings in taxes. "If you're going to. . . try to make me feel bad, you aren't going to do it," he declared. "It ain't going to happen." (Detroit Free Press)

When Robert Stayton claimed $10,000 for a winning scratch ticket, Montana State Lottery officials failed to check his background. He has two Flathead County arrest warrants on felony drug charges and owes $65,000 in child support in Washington and Idaho. Lottery officials explained they're supposed to check child-support records of winners only in Montana and are "not statutorily required to check criminal backgrounds." (Butte's KTVM-TV)

Stimulus Package

One consequence of the deadlier-than-usual tornado season in the United States has been record-breaking sales for the roughly 100 companies that sell safe rooms and storm shelters. Prices range from $3,000 for a concrete bunker to thousands of dollars for elaborate steel rooms. Not all shelters being sold, however, meet proper safety standards in a field that is largely unregulated, according to Ernst Kiesling, executive director of the National Storm Shelter Association. Noting "almost anyone can start up a shelter business and build shelters," Kiesling said some shelters on the market are little more than septic tanks rigged to accommodate people or use materials so flimsy that a high wind can rip off the doors. (The New York Times)

Slightest Provocation

Authorities accused Ilona Sales, 62, of beating her younger sister at the home they share in Plainfield, Ill., when the two fought because they couldn't agree whether to set the thermostat at 67 or 68. Will County Judge Brian Barrett found Sales not guilty because he couldn't tell which of the sisters started the brawl. (Chicago Tribune)

Police arrested brothers Jonathan R. Pippert, 32, and Jared J. Pippert, 27, at the home they share with their mother in Sheboygan, Wis., after they fought over a bottle of shampoo. The Pipperts agreed the fight began when Jonathan took the shampoo from Jared's room while Jared was sleeping, but each insisted the other one threw the first punch. (Sheboygan Press)

Karl Ludwig Eichner, 68, was arrested in Naples, Fla., after being accused of attacking a woman with his swim noodle and then punching her in the face because she threw his watermelon into the Gulf of Mexico. (Naples Daily News)

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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