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News » News Quirks

No Road to Somewhere



Curses, Foiled Again
A British court convicted Emmanuel Jerome, 23, of burglary after police discovered a video recording of the break-in on his iPhone. Bradford Crown Court heard that Jerome thought he had switched on a flashlight app on the phone to find his way but instead activated the camera. (Britain’s Daily Mail)

A cleaning person arrived for work one morning at a social club in Boldon Colliery, England, to find owner Kim Collins, 42, bound to a chair with her mouth taped. Collins explained that a masked man had woken her in the night, dragged her along the hallways to turn off the alarm, then tied her up before snorting a bag of cocaine, emptying the safe and fleeing. Suspicious detectives discovered the alarm had been deactivated only 40 minutes before the cleaning person got there. Outside security cameras showed nobody arriving earlier that night, and investigators found Collins’s saliva on the cable ties binding her wrists. When confronted, Collins admitted making up the incident to convince her boyfriend-business partner that they should sell the club and move away, explaining she got the idea from watching the television show “CSI.” “This lady clearly thought this was a good idea in the short term but hadn’t realized how the police would deal with it,” her attorney, David Forerester, said. (South Tyneside’s The Shields Gazette)

No Road to Somewhere
After receiving $29 million in federal stimulus money, the Army Corps of Engineers ordered a harbor built on the Aleutian island of Akutan. Its 58 slips remain empty because the harbor lacks electricity, running water and a road linking it to the fishing village two miles away. Officials estimate the road will cost at least $22 million because the route must be blasted through steep cliffs ringing Akutan Bay. Conceding that lack of infrastructure has prevented building harbors in the past, Steve Boardman, head of the Corps’ civil projects division, said an exception was made for Akutan because of the harbor’s strategic importance. Akutan has a brand-new airport on a neighboring island that also isn’t being used because access is difficult—except by boat. (Anchorage Daily News)

Economy Boosters
After Maine, Maryland and Washington voters approved same-sex marriages, The Williams Institute, a national think tank at the UCLA School of Law, estimated that nearly 18,000 same-sex couples will exchange vows in the next three years, generating $166 million in wedding spending, boosting tax revenue and creating jobs. Six states and the District of Columbia where gay weddings are already legal, have already benefited economically. (Associated Press)

Washington and Colorado anticipate an influx of tourists after voters approved marijuana possession by both state residents and out-of-staters. Likeliest to benefit are Colorado’s ski resorts, which, according to the resort association Colorado Ski Country USA’s Jennifer Rudolph are “closely” watching the development of marijuana tourism. “If people want to come to Colorado because pot is legal, and that’s the sole reason, it’s up to them,” said Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo, whose jurisdiction includes Aspen. “I am not the lifestyle police.” (Associated Press)

Invaders from Within
Thirty-six percent of the people asked about their privacy once police are permitted to use drones to track suspects said they’re “not too concerned” or “not concerned at all.” The Associated Press-National Constitution Center poll found that 35 percent of Americans are “extremely concerned” or “very concerned,” and 24 percent are only “somewhat concerned.” (Associated Press)

As facial-recognition technology improves, businesses anticipate using signs and billboards able to identify people and track other ads they’ve seen recently, then adjust ads to their tastes and buying history. “Something has to be done,” Justin Brookman, director for consumer privacy at the Center for Democracy and Technology, insists, “because otherwise we are living in a world of ubiquitous identity where you can’t walk out your front door.” One proposal to regulate the growing “data-mine” of raw video and photography is a comprehensive privacy law, administered by a “privacy commissioner.” (The Washington Times)

Silver Lining
Hurricane Sandy generated 5,000 jobs for New Yorkers being hired for cleanup and rebuilding efforts. Federal and state officials said the positions, funded by $27 million in federal Labor Department money, pay about $15 per hour and will last about six months. In addition, the state and Federal Emergency Management Agency expect to hire another 700 temps for administrative and community relations positions. (Associated Press)

Gender Issues
A Canadian lawmaker who proposed designating safe parking spaces just for women received emails expressing outrage. “Some people perceive it as sexist, that, ‘I don’t need your help,’” said Stephen Chase, a city councilor and deputy mayor in Fredericton, New Brunswick, noting he got the idea after seeing such spots at a German parking garage. Insisting women-only parking has no public support, Mayor Brad Woodside announced his opposition, declaring, “It is our responsibility to provide safe parking for all of our citizens.” (The Toronto Star)

  Scottish police responding to a complaint of sexism against a Glasgow pub organizing an “Ugliest Woman” competition stood down after the Islay Inn’s George Hogg explained the contest was for “ugly men dressed up as women.” Hogg said that when two female officers investigating learned the facts, “they were amused.” (Britain’s Daily Record)

Chopstick-Licking Good
Japan Airlines began serving Kentucky Fried Chicken on some U.S. and European flights. The chicken, served in more than 80 countries and territories worldwide, is especially popular in Japan around Christmas time. On JAL’s menu through February, the Air Kentucky meal includes a breast, a drumstick, bread, coleslaw and lettuce. (Britain’s Daily Mail)

Gun Shy
In August, the University of Colorado announced that its Boulder and Colorado Springs campuses would reserve a separate dormitory for students older than 21 with a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Guns are banned in all other dorms. “So far,” university official Ken McConnellogue said in November, “no one has moved.” (The Denver Post)

Investing in the Past
Scranton, Pa., decided to raise revenue by billing 7,800 property owners for delinquent garbage bills going back as far as 1999. Changing private collection agencies left the city without easily accessible records of which property owners had paid their bills before 2012. Now they know. Noting that the lines of people at City Hall paying or contesting their bills were 15 to 20 people deep at time, Treasurer Chris Boland said, “I imagine this will go on for a while.” (Scranton’s The Times-Tribune).

Compiled from the press reports by Roland Sweet. Authentication on demand.