Publication: Syracuse New Times
Date published:
Language: English
PMID: 58875
ISSN: 0893844X
Journal code: SYNT

Curses, Foiled Again

After Michele Grasso, 27, was convicted of drug dealing in 2008, he disappeared and eluded Italian authorities until this February, when he posted photos on his Facebook page of himself posing with a model of Barack Obama at London's Madame Tussaud's wax museum and working as a waiter. Italian police contacted British police, who arrested Grasso and returned him to Italy. (Italy's ANSA news agency)

Police arrested Eric Lee King, 21, on suspicion of stealing a television in Eagan, Minn., after he tried to conceal it in his pants. An officer spotted King leaving a business walking "straight-legged, shuffling his feet and not bending his knees," while trying to hold up his sagging pants. The officer called to King, who kept walking as if he didn't hear, so the officer got out of his cruiser and approached King. He noticed a 19-inch flat screen TV shoved down the man's pants, as well as a remote, a power cord and a bottle of brake fluid. (Minneapolis-St. Paul's KSTP-TV)

How Rightsizing Works

Concessions International announced it was laying off 530 servers, bartenders, kitchen managers and other workers at its restaurants at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The announcement was followed by another that the airport is adding concessions, including several restaurants operated by Concessions International, that will result in some 1,600 new jobs. "We're hoping that some of the people being laid off will capture some of those 1,600 jobs," Deborah Lum, executive director of the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency, said. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Th ere Oughta Be a La w

Conceding that it has no chance of passing, Arizona Rep. Katie Hobbs introduced a bill that would require advertisers who retouch photos to run a disclaimer alerting consumers: "Postproduction techniques were used to alter the appearance in this advertisement. When using this product, similar results may not be achieved." Hobbs said she hopes to bring attention to "bodyimage issues, especially with young girls." (Phoenix's The Arizona Republic)

Ammo Upgrades

U.S. weapons experts are developing a self-guiding bullet that can steer itself to its target. Using an optic sensor to identify the target and tiny fins to correct its course, the 4-inch bullet, developed by a subsidiary of defense contractor Lockheed Martin, is designed to be accurate at distances of at least a mile and a quarter. "We can make corrections 30 times per second," researcher Red Jones said. Calling the bullet "a revolution for ground forces" that "may help cut down on civilian casualties in future conflicts," Britain's Royal United Services Institute think tank worries nevertheless about its being marketed to the public, especially after the researchers issued a press release identifying potential customers as "the military, law enforcement and recreational shooters." (BBC News)

U.S. and German researchers have come up with a new gun and bullets that don't have to hit their target to kill, just come close. Prototypes have been tested by U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Intended to negate the advantage of cover, the 25mm bullets have a small computer that monitors their flight path. A computer in the XM25 rifle programs each round before it's fired. When the bullet nears the target, it explodes, sending shrapnel that strikes anyone in the vicinity, even those behind cover. The gun costs around $35,000, and bullets cost several hundred dollars each. They're made by hand, so the cost could lower to around $25 once production is automated. (The Economist)

Second-Amendment Follies

When Dustin Bueller, 20, asked Moises Zambrana, 48, to see his gun after church in Lealman, Fla., they made sure not to endanger parishioners gathered inside the church by stepping inside a closet. Zambrana removed the Ruger 9mm's magazine and began explaining the weapon's safety features. He forgot about the round in the chamber, however, and the gun accidentally fired, sending a bullet through the wall and into the head of Hannah Kelley, 20, who is Bueller's girlfriend and the daughter of the pastor. She was hospitalized in critical condition. (Tampa Bay Times)

A 52-year-old man walked into the Arizona Shooting Range in Broward County, Fla., rented a gun and shot himself in the head. He was taken to the hospital, where he died. When sheriff's deputies went to notify his wife, they found the 45-year-old woman's body and concluded her husband had killed her. (Miami's WIOD-AM)

Future Flunkers

China banned three kindergartens in Shanxi province from offering palm-reading tests that the schools claimed could predict pupils' intelligence level and potential. Although many parents were eager to have their children tested, some later complained about the method and its high cost: $190. (Reuters)

Scam-a-Ra ma

Nicolaos Kantartzis pleaded guilty to rigging pay phones in the Washington, D.C., area to make phantom calls to toll-free numbers so he could collect a fee for each call. Because the calls are free to callers, the recipient has to pay the cost, half of which goes to the pay-phone operator. Kantartzis made some 8 million calls, most lasting only a few seconds, collecting 50 cents each to net $4 million. (Associated Press)

As finance director of Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Ronald Lederkramer paid for upgrades to the taxpayer-owned facility's sound system by charging $270,000 to his personal credit card, collecting $24,000 worth of reward points, then paid the credit card installments with government-issued checks. He insisted he used the points for travel to conferences on Coliseum business, but when asked for documentation, he said, "Why would I have kept that?" (Los Angeles Times)

Food Follies

Chile's Supreme Court ordered the newspaper La Tercera to pay $125,000 to 13 people who suffered burns while trying out a recipe for churros. Days after the newspaper printed the recipe for the popular Latin American fried dough snack, hospitals around the country began treating people for burns suffered when the dough boiling in oil suddenly exploded. Judges ruled that the newspaper failed to test the recipe before publication. (Britain's The Telegraph)

A Transportation Security Administration agent confiscated a frosted cupcake from a Massachusetts passenger flying from Las Vegas, citing its gel-like icing as a potential national security threat. Accusing the agent of lacking common sense, Rebecca Hains, 35, called the incident "an encroachment on civil liberties" and said such incidents done in the name of security are "really theater" that are "not keeping us safe." (Associated Press)

Good News, Bad News

As cars have complied with federal requirements to improve fuel efficiency, declining gas use has caused revenues from the federal gas tax to plummet, leaving less for roads, bridges and transit projects. "It no longer works as our primary source," transportation attorney and former Transportation secretary Jim Burnley said. The tax - 18.4 cents a gallon for gasoline and 24.4 cents for diesel - accounts for 45 percent to 50 percent of capital spending for transportation. It was last raised in 1993. (USA Today)

How Congngress Thinks

Frustrated with the Senate's failure to approve a budget, U.S. Rep. John Sullivan (R-Okla.) told a town hall meeting in Bixby, Okla., "I'd love to get them to vote for it. Boy, I'd love that, you know. But other than me going over there with a gun and pointing it to their head and maybe killing a couple of 'em, I don't think they're going to listen unless they get beat." (Associated Press)

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) insisted that increasing the flow of oil through the Alaskan oil pipeline would benefit the caribou that live near the project. He explained to the House Natural Resources Committee that the caribou enjoy the warmth that the pipeline radiates. "So," he informed his colleagues, "when they want to go on a date, they invite each other to head over to the pipeline." He credited the pipeline for a tenfold boost to Alaska's caribou population and said the caribou might be adversely affected if oil stops running through the pipeline. When his colleague, Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) said he wasn't sure Gohmert knew what he was talking about, Gohmert remained adamant, saying, "It sounds like they need the pipeline." (The Washington Post)

Animal Wrongs

People for Ethical Treatment of Animals filed a lawsuit seeking to extend constitutional protection against slavery to five whales that perform at SeaWorld parks in San Diego and Orlando. Citing the 13th Amendment, the suit claimed that the wild-caught mammals are enslaved because they're held in concrete tanks against their will and forced to perform in shows. U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller agreed to hear arguments over granting constitutional rights to animals but ruled that the Constitution doesn't apply to non-humans. (Associated Press)

Big-Bangng Theory

Intending to quit smoking, Tom Holloway, 57, of Niceville, Fla., switched to electronic cigarettes. He was puffing on one when it exploded in his mouth, severely burning his face, knocking out his front teeth and blowing off a chunk of his tongue. "The best analogy is like it was trying to hold a bottle rocket in your mouth when it went off," North Bay Fire Department Division Chief Joseph Parker said. (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 New Times.

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