Bad Blessings | News Quirks | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
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News » News Quirks

Bad Blessings



Curses, Foiled Again
Shantoria Valentine, 23, robbed a bank in Omaha, Neb., but while fleeing, she collapsed after only a few blocks, according to police. One witness noticed the suspect would "shuffle a little bit, run a little bit, walk a little bit, shuffle a little bit." After she ran up a hill, "she was pretty well winded then," another witness said. "She just laid down and put her hands out." (Omaha's WOWT-TV)

• Police charged Diondre Jones, 26, with Medicaid fraud after she identified herself as her dead sister when checking into a hospital in Slidell, La., while wearing a T-shirt that featured a memorial to her sister. (New Orleans's WWL-TV)

Bad Blessings
Tennessee high school senior Kendra Turner, 17, was suspended for saying "bless you" after another student sneezed during a class. The phrase was listed on the chalkboard, along with several others that students aren't supposed to say in class: "my bad, hang out, dumb, stupid, stuff and things like that," Turner said, adding that she "was being courteous" when she uttered the banned phrase. Lynn Garner, assistant principal at Dyer County High School, said the teacher's rule was "reasonable to avoid a distraction in the classroom" and blamed social media for blowing the incident out of proportion. (Dyersburg State Gazette)

•Leon Gardner, a physics professor at the College of Coastal Georgia, included a ban on the phrase "bless you" in his course syllabus as part of a list of disruptive behaviors, such as using a cellphone or arriving late for class. The syllabus threatened violators with a lower grade. After the syllabus went viral on social media, the college announced that the syllabus has been revised to remove the reference to "bless you." (Inside Higher Ed)

Unclear on the Concept
After Kelly John Lange, 34, was convicted of assault in Sioux Falls, S.D., a judge ordered him to attend anger-management classes. He didn't complete the course and was ordered to appear in court to explain why. While in a conference room with his public defender, Lange became angry and attacked her, causing minor injuries. He was arrested for assault. (The Smoking Gun)

Bottom Line
Japan kicked off Disaster Prevention Day by urging people to stockpile toilet paper. The promotion by the trade ministry and the Japan Household Paper Industry Association is part of the ministry's "toilet paper supply continuity plan," which was devised after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, but it's also aimed at boosting toilet paper sales, which have flattened since shoppers hoarded consumer goods ahead of this year's nationwide consumption tax increase. About 40 percent of the country's toilet paper comes from earthquake-prone Shizuoka Prefecture, according to ministry officials, who urged households to have at least a month's reserve supply. (Bloomberg News)

• Kimberly-Clark Corp. unveiled toilet paper rolls without the cardboard tube. The Wisconsin company said its Scott Naturals brand bathroom tissue will eliminate a large chunk of the 17 billion tubes thrown away each year and works with any toilet-paper dispenser. "And when you get to that last sheet, it just rolls off," said Jared Mackrory, brand manager for Scott. (Milwaukee's Journal Sentinel)

Family Values
Fifty-four percent of Christian men and 15 percent of Christian women admitted to viewing pornography at least once a month, according to a Barna Group survey. The definition of pornography was left up to the respondents. (The Washington Times)

It Ain't Rocket Surgery Thirteen people were injured during a demonstration of the science of tornadoes at the Terry Lee Wells Discovery Museum in Reno, Nev. A mixture of methyl alcohol and boric acid is used to create a whirling tornado effect for the daily exhibition, but this time there was a chemical flash, "similar to if someone threw gasoline on a fire," city official Matthew Brown said. Amateur video shows flames falling off an experiment table onto the floor near a group of children watching the demonstration. (Associated Press)

• Human-caused earthquakes, a side effect of high-tech energy drilling, cause less shaking than natural ones and feel about 16 times weaker, according to a study by U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Susan Hough. "It's not that there's no hazard," Hough said of the artificial quakes induced by injections of wastewater deep underground during hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, "it's just that it's a little better than you might think." Hough theorized that the artificial quakes have less energy because the injected wastewater lubricates the fault. (Associated Press)

• Federal wildlife investigators are urging California officials to halt an application to build a state-of-the-art solar plant after concluding that a similar but smaller existing plant in the Mojave Desert is causing birds to ignite in mid-air at the rate of one every two minutes. The smaller plant, operated by Oakland-based BrightSource Energy, uses 300,000 mirrors, each the size of a garage door, to reflect solar rays onto three, 40-story boiler towers, whose heated water produces steam to turn turbines to generate enough electricity for 140,000 homes. BrightSource has applied to build its new mirror field and a 75-story power tower near the California-Arizona border and, according to senior vice president Joseph Desmond, is investigating ways to scare birds away to curb the incinerations. (Associated Press)

Second-Amendment Follies
A 13-year-old boy who told police in Muskegon, Mich., that he was shot in the foot as a "random act of violence" later admitted he shot himself while checking to see whether the weapon was loaded. (The Muskegon Chronicle)

• Byron Bennett, an assistant professor of chemistry at Idaho State University, was lecturing to a classroom of about 20 students when a small caliber pistol he was carrying in his pocket discharged, shooting him in the foot. (Pocatello's Idaho State Journal)

First-Amendment Follies
After a video of a rant against President Obama by Richard Recine, a police officer at the Helmetta, N.J., Municipal Building, was made public, the borough council sought a ban on people taking photographs and videos inside public buildings without a permit. The proposed ordinance states that taking pictures could violate privacy rights of employees, cause a breach of government security or interfere with normal business operations. Steve Wronko, who made the video, said Recine ordered him to stop recording at the Municipal Building, but when Wronko insisted he has a constitutional right to take pictures inside the building, Recine declared, "Obama has decimated the friggin' Constitution, so I don't give a damn. If he doesn't follow the Constitution, I don't have to." (

Compiled from mainstream news sources by Roland Sweet. Authentication on demand.