This week, Scrabble players on steroids.
Curses, Foiled Again
Less than an hour after Richard Owens, 18, was released from jail in Land O’ Lakes, Fla., a sheriff’s deputy saw him trying to break into a car in the jail parking lot. “He knows Richard because he released him from jail earlier in the evening,” the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office reported, adding the car belongs to another deputy. (Tampa Bay Times)
After a man stole a 32-inch TV from a Wal-Mart store in Port Charlotte, Fla., two detectives in separate vehicles spotted the suspect fleeing on a bicycle. One pulled ahead of him while the other gave chase on foot. While watching the detective behind him, the suspect failed to realize the vehicle in front had stopped and slammed into it. Wal-Mart security personnel identified Jonathan Ryan Fontaine, 32, as the suspect, and he was arrested. (Sarasota’s WWSB-TV)
Authorities who know Richard Henry Bain, 61, the man accused of opening fire at a political rally in Montreal, described him as “a little eccentric” because he wore a kilt. “Certainly, when you see someone in a kilt in this region,” Marie-France Brisson, the municipal director general in La Conception, Quebec, where Bain lives, “it’s not like New York. It stands out a bit more.” (Reuters)
Treasury Department investigators estimated that the Internal Revenue Service paid $6.5 billion last year to identity thieves who filed fraudulent tax returns. In one instance, the IRS issued more than $3.3 million in refunds for 2,137 separate tax returns listing the same address. In another, hundreds of refunds were deposited into the same bank account. (Associated Press)
The U. S. Postal Service wastes at least $2 million a year by printing more commemorative stamps than it sells and then destroying the unsold stamps, according to USPS investigators. It wasted $1.2 million in printing costs in 2009, for example, by issuing 1 billion 44-cent stamps commemorating television’s “The Simpsons” It sold 318 million. Responding to the report, the USPS said it already addressed the problem by creating the “forever” stamp, whose value increases with postage rates. (Bloomberg News)
Wrong Arm of the Law
A man suspected of fatally shooting two men and seriously wounding two others in Detroit turned himself in at a fire station two hours after the incident. Fire officials called police, but, according to a police statement, “due to area patrol units being busy handling high priority runs, no units were dispatched to the location.” The 36-year-old man eventually went to a police station, where he was arrested. (Associated Press)
Kentucky’s Supreme Court declined to review two challenges to state laws requiring the state to credit God for its homeland security that were passed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The first stated the “safety and security of the commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God.” The second created the state’s Office of Homeland Security and required its executive director to publicize “dependence on Almighty God.” The group American Atheists insisted the laws violated constitutional bans on state-sponsored religion. A judge agreed, but the Court of Appeals reversed the decision, declaring the law “merely pays lip service to a commonly held belief in the puissance (power) of God” and doesn’t advance religion. (Louisville’s The Courier-Journal)
A man driving off a ferry in Whittier, Alaska, went about 400 feet, then obeyed his GPS unit directing him to make a hard right turn and drove down a boat ramp into the harbor. Whittier public safety director Dave Schofield said the Subaru was fully submerged, but a man jumped in the water and broke open a window, allowing the unnamed driver and his two dogs to escape. A cat inside a carrier drowned. (Associated Press)
Fed up with Canadians crossing the border to use their high Canadian dollar to stock up on comparatively cheap gas, milk and other items, some residents of Bellingham, Wash., started a Facebook page calling for American-only shopping hours at the local Costco. It reports that Canadians not only are loading up on goods, leaving little for the locals, but also are taking up more than one parking space in the store’s lot. Some even complain that Canadians are behaving rudely. But Chamber of Commerce Ken Oplinger urged patience, pointing out, “In the last two years, our sales tax generation has doubled or tripled the pace in the rest of the state, and it’s almost entirely because of the Canadians coming south.” (CBC News)
People who aren’t on social networking sites are “suspicious,” according to increasing numbers of employers and even some psychologists, and may be abnormal and dysfunctional. The German magazine Der Taggspiegal pointed out that Colorado theater shooter James Holmes and Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik lack Facebook profiles, and Slate.com advice columnist Emily Yoffee cautioned young people against dating anyone who isn’t on Facebook. (Britain’s Daily Mail)
A small twin-engine plane crashed in Taylorville, Ill., killing the pilot but sparing all 12 passengers, who were skydivers and jumped from the plane before it went down. (St. Louis’s KSDK-TV)
Police arrested Kevin Michael Reyes, 27, for beating up his 40-year-old father at home in Spring Hill, Fla., after becoming upset because his parents hadn’t cooked dinner for him. (Tampa Bay Times)
After officials ejected a teenage player at a national Scrabble championship tournament in Florida, John D. Williams Jr., executive director of the National Scrabble Association said it’s well-known that some players take minerals known as “alleged brain boosters.” (Associated Press)
Where No One Has Gone Before
Planetary Resources has developed a three-step plan to mine asteroids. Step one is to find the right rocks. Since asteroids don’t reflect much light, making them hard to spot from Earth, the company, backed by Google chief executive Larry Page and “Avatar” director James Cameron, hopes to launch a series of telescopes to spot potential targets. Then a robot probe will be dispatched to assess the targets’ potential value and, if promising, stake a claim. Finally, robot miners will be sent to collect rocks. The goal isn’t ore but water, which can be broken down into its elements to produce rocket fuel. (Popular Mechanics)
What Could Go Wrong?
The Texas Transportation Commission has approved an 85-mph speed limit for a 41-mile toll road near congested Interstate 35 between Austin and San Antonio, two of the state’s largest metropolitan areas. (Associated Press)
Compiled from mainstream news sources by Roland Sweet.