Monday, March 21, 2011

Extra, extra: In Other News, online

Posted By on Mon, Mar 21, 2011 at 9:00 AM

In this week's installment: fun with guns, inhaling food (literally) and the 575-pound spokesperson for the Heart Attack Grill drops dead at age 29.

Curses, Foiled Again
Robert Michelson, 21, called 911 wanting to know how much trouble he could get into for growing one marijuana plant. When the dispatcher told him he could be arrested, Michelson said thank you and hung up. The dispatcher promptly notified police, who went to Michelson’s house in Farmington, Conn., and arrested him for marijuana possession. (Associated Press)

Authorities arrested Jerrie Perkins, 30, for shoplifting after she tried to leave a store in Rochester Hills, Mich., with $600 worth of stolen electronics merchandise. According to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, the 400-pound woman’s getaway was thwarted when her mobility scooter got stuck at the door. (Michigan’s The Macomb Daily)

When China Rules the World
China’s Civil Affairs Ministry wants the government to make it mandatory for adult children to visit their elderly parents. The ministry’s proposal would allow parents to sue no-shows. “Younger generations are moving away from their parents and quickly developing different values,” said Ninie Wang, international director of the Gerontological Society of China, which endorsed the measure. “Filial piety is a myth.” (The New York Times)

Second-Amendment Follies
A New York City police officer tried to switch on a pistol-mounted flashlight but pulled the trigger instead, shooting Jose Colon, 76, in the stomach. Colon survived. The incident followed the shooting death of an unarmed man in Plano, Texas, that occurred when an undercover police sergeant drew his pistol in a dark parking lot and tried to turn on the flashlight mounted on it but accidentally fired the gun. Both incidents involved the Surefire X300 flashlight, whose manufacturer insisted it “prevents misidentification and saves police lives.” Firearms expert Kenneth Cooper disagreed, warning that pistol-mounted flashlights complicate what is already a stressful situation for police officers pointing guns. (New York Post)

Two men were injured in an accidental shooting at a gun show in Bloomington, Ill., when an attendee handling a mini-14 semiautomatic rifle was setting the rifle back on a vendor table, and it fired a .223-caliber bullet. “The round went through a post, through a person and then into another person,” McLean County Sheriff Mike Emery said. (Central Illinois’s The Pantagraph)

Allen Jones told authorities in Baldwin County, Ala., that he was bringing his loaded Glock .40 handgun from the glove compartment of his truck into the house when he tripped and fell and accidentally shot himself in the leg. Aleisha Jones was bathing their young son when she heard her husband’s call for help. Both she and the boy arrived at the same time, and the boy grabbed the gun. Aleisha Jones said that when she tried to take the gun away, it accidentally fired, hitting her in the neck. Neighbors who heard the gunshots alerted the sheriff’s office, which reported that husband and wife were hospitalized in stable condition. (Mobile’s WPMI-TV)

Smell Away Unwanted Pounds
A device that lets food be inhaled rather than eaten will go on sale this fall in France, promised its inventor, Harvard University professor and aerosol scientist David Edwards, 49. The machine, named Le Whaf, will cost $130. It uses rapidly vibrating crystals to create ultrasound waves that transform liquefied food into tiny droplets. Then Le Whaf pumps the flavored mist into a goldfish-like bowl, from which each breath (or “whaff”) takes in the taste with hardly any calories. Edwards predicted that “whaffing” will catch on as a way of eating in the future. “Imagine a restaurant where, instead of sitting at a table, you walk around,” he explained. “Instead of eating food, you’re breathing it in as you walk from room to room, each with a different flavor.” (Britain’s Daily Mail)

More Strikes Than a Bowling Alley
After a minivan struck a man crossing a street in Hawthorne, Calif., the driver sped off. Moments later, a second vehicle ran over the man and continued without stopping. As several pedestrians who witnessed the incidents rushed to help the pedestrian and block other cars from running over him, a third vehicle struck one of them. This time, the driver stopped to help the woman, but the crowd attacked him anyway. “These criminal bystanders assaulted the victim and ultimately stole his cell phone,” a police statement said. Police arrested Tran Lewis, 32, on suspicion of beating and robbing the motorist and located the driver of the second vehicle. The pedestrian died, and the woman hurrying to help him suffered moderate injuries. (The Los Angeles Times)

Too Big-Box to Fail
Wal-Mart, Kmart and Best Buy are setting up financial services for store customers without bank accounts, hoping for a share of the $320 billion a year alternative financing services industry, now populated by payday-loan and check-cashing stores that charge 2 to 4 percent of the check’s amount. Wal-Mart charges a flat-rate $3 to cash a check. Besides check-cashing, the big-box retailers sell money transfers and prepaid cash cards. Best Buy also started providing kiosks where customers can pay utility, cable and phone bills

A government survey found that 30 million households either don’t have a bank account or use one sparingly. Two-thirds of America’s “unbanked” population earn less than $30,000 a year; others might earn more but don’t trust banks or come from cash-based cultures. (The Washington Post)

Way to Go
Moments after high school junior Wes Leonard, 16, scored the winning basket in an overtime game in Fennville, Mich., to clinch his team’s undefeated season, he collapsed on the court in the middle of the victory celebration and died of a heart attack. (Michigan’s The Holland Sentinel)

Blair River, the 575-pound spokesperson for the Heart Attack Grill, a restaurant in Chandler, Ariz., that specializes in huge burgers, milkshakes and fries cooked in lard, dropped dead at age 29. “Cynical people might think this is funny,” restaurant founder Jon Basso said, “but people who knew him are crying their eyes out.” Having a big man promoting it was part of the restaurant’s tongue in cheek “glorification of obesity,” but Basso said the 6-foot-8 River was more than a caricature, pointing out, “Even if he was skinny, we would have given him the job. We would have just put a fat suit on him.” (The Arizona Republic)

Least Surprising Finding of the Week
A University of Texas poll of 718 students found that half of the boyfriends would forgive their girlfriend’s infidelity, so long as it was with another woman. Only 22 percent of the boyfriends surveyed said they could forgive betrayal with another man. (Reuters)

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