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Tourist Unattractions



Curses, Foiled Again
Police got a good look at a burglary suspect who made off with $3,700 in Coral Gables, Fla., even though the man tried to hide his identity by repositioning surveillance cameras toward the office building's elevators. A large mirror located next to the elevators reflected the man's image and actions, which the camera recorded. (Miami's WTVJ-TV)

• Dylan Robert Stables, 20, attracted the attention of police by driving backward on a highway in Sebastopol, Calif. Stables reportedly told Officer David Harston that his transmission had failed, forcing him to drive north while facing south. After a check showed Stables was on probation, a search of his vehicle found credit cards that turned out to be stolen. (Santa Rosa's Press-Democrat)

Tourist Unattractions
After Army Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha led a successful coup in Thailand, the unrest, a curfew and martial law caused tourism to slump. It was rebounding four months later, when British tourists Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24, were murdered on a resort island beach. Prayuth, now Thailand's prime minister, responded by warning that bikini-wearing tourists were vulnerable to attack "unless they are not beautiful." (BBC News)

Crisis of the Week
Counterfeit prom dresses are harming the U.S. economy, according to Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J. He warned Lev Kubiak, director of the Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, that Chinese manufacturers and websites that sell counterfeit goods directly to U.S. buyers threaten the domestic prom and bridal dress industry and are "ripping off consumers." (Washington's The Hill)

When the Ice Bucket Challenge Isn't Enough
Responding to reports of a disoriented man in a plastic bubble off the Florida coast asking directions to Bermuda, the crew of a U.S. Coast Guard cutter found Reza Baluchi, 42, who explained he was trying to raise money for needy children by running 3,000 miles inside his inflatable "hydro pod" to trace the Bermuda Triangle. After going only 70 nautical miles in three days, however, he became exhausted and had to be airlifted to the hospital. Following his rescue, Baluchi denied asking for help and said he activated his emergency rescue signal by mistake. "I never quit," he declared. (The Washington Post)

Shy Flasher
Police in West Allis, Wis., accused Konrad Peters, 28, of exposing children to harmful materials by twice throwing dildos from his car while teenage girls were nearby and then lingering to watch their reaction. In a third incident, according to the arrest report, the car stopped about 100 feet in front of two girls walking in an alley, and the driver opened his door and placed an object on the ground that the girls "inspected and found to be a giant purple dildo." Investigators who identified Peters as the suspect reported finding "33 dildos and multiple sex toys" at his home. (Britain's Daily Mail)

A car at a gas pump in Lake City, Fla., was engulfed in flames while the driver was inside the gas station, according to sheriff's official Murray Smith. He noted that the car had a lit candle inside. (Jacksonville's WJAX-TV)

• A fire truck responding to a fire in Silver Spring, Md., had to stop en route after it caught fire. The fire started in the engine compartment and spread because it was a ladder truck and carried no water. The crew battled the blaze with hand-held fire extinguishers until another fire truck arrived to put it out. (Associated Press)

Danger Ahead<
Some experts blame the rise in pedestrian deaths on distractions caused by walkers listening to music, texting, talking or being otherwise engaged with their smartphones. Several studies illustrate the connection between cell phone use and pedestrian collisions. One, reported in 2013 by Ohio State University researchers, found that the number of injuries treated in 100 emergency rooms nationwide related to pedestrians using cell phones had more than doubled between 2005 and 2010, to more than 1,500. People ages 16 to 25 were most likely to be hit while distracted. "We definitely think it's a problem," said Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association. "I see pedestrians with headphones on looking down at their phones. They can't see or hear." (The Washington Post)

Irony of the Week
Rodney Edward Boutelle, 53, was killed while cutting firewood in Park County, Wyo., when a tree fell and hit him on the head. Sheriff's investigators concluded that Boutelle failed to hear the tree behind him falling because of the noise from his chain saw. (Associated Press)

Drone On
Officials called off a scoreless soccer match between Serbia and Albania in the 41st minute after a drone flew into Belgrade's Partizan Stadium carrying a flag symbolizing the extension of Albania's territory to wherever ethnic Albanians live. Albanian fans had been banned from attending the qualifying match between the two Balkan rivals, resulting in an overwhelmingly pro-Serbian crowd of 32,000 who regarded the flag as an insult. Serbian defender Stefan Mitrovic pulled down the flag, but when several Albanian players tried to take it away, a melee involving numerous players ensued. Some spectators threw objects, including flares, from the stands, and several ran onto the playing field to join the brawl. Serbs accused Olsi Rama, the brother of Albania's prime minister and one of a handful of Albanians permitted to view the match, of controlling the drone, but Serbian authorities were unable to find the drone's controller to confirm their suspicion. (CNN)

End of an Error
When the Arizona Department of Transportation announced plans to replace about 400 aging signs along a 60-mile stretch of Interstate 19 with new ones showing distances in miles, not kilometers, opposition stalled the project. The kilometer-only signs were part of a pilot program by the Carter administration to convert the United States to the metric system. That effort failed, but the Arizona road signs have remained for nearly 40 years. Local business owners point out that new signs in miles would change the highway exit numbers they advertise, especially for tourist-related businesses. The Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce added that many area businesses consider the metric signs a hospitality measure for metric-savvy Mexican visitors, who spend about $1 billion a year in Pima County. (Associated Press)

Drinking-Class Hero
The Italian food company Alta Quotta introduced spreadable beer, which it said is ideal for "appetizers and cheeses" and "to decorate or fill" pastries, cakes and ice cream. The product, Birra Spalmabile, is composed of 40 percent beer, although it contains no alcohol. (United Press International)

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

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