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Thursday, March 13, 2014 12:01 am

Problems solved

Curses, foiled again
Gene Richins, 31, broke into a jewelry store in Sandy, Utah, by climbing down through the ceiling but then set off a motion-detector alarm. “The alarms were going off this whole time,” store owner Tim Branscomb said. “I don’t know why he didn’t just leave.” Instead, Richins continued filling his bag with jewelry. He wasn’t able to leave the same way he came in, however, so he tried to escape by breaking a window with a fire extinguisher but failed because the glass was shatterproof, police who arrived on the scene said. (Salt Lake City’s KSL-TV)

Police investigating a burglary at a church in Chula Vista, Calif., found a cellphone at the crime scene with a photo that the thief apparently took of himself. After identifying Adam Howe, 26, from the “selfie,” they arrested him and recovered some of the stolen property. (U-T San Diego)

Problems solved
Giant walls could protect the Midwest from tornadoes, according to Rongjia Tao, a physicist at Temple University. “If we build three east-west great walls in the American Midwest -- one in North Dakota, one along the border between Kansas and Oklahoma to the east, and the third one in south Texas and Louisiana -- we will diminish the threat in the Tornado Alley forever,” Tao said, explaining that the walls would need to be about 1,000 feet high and 150 feet wide. He estimated that they would cost $60 billion per 100 miles. (USA Today)

Mammoth offshore wind farms would protect coastal regions from hurricanes, according to Mark Jacobson, an engineering professor at Stanford University. He calculates that grouping 78,000 wind turbines, each 50 feet tall, in a strategic location, such as the Louisiana coast, could lower a hurricane’s maximum wind speed 50 to 80 percent (up to 92 mph) and reduce its storm surge up to 80 percent, all while generating pollution-free electricity. Jacobson explained that the plan would work because the turbines produce power by taking energy from the wind, thus slowing it down. (USA Today)

Below zero tolerance
Administrators at a high school in suburban Chicago objected to a state law requiring that 4-by-6-inch stickers warning guns are not allowed be posted in schools, as well as in churches, government agencies and liquor stores. But officials at Tinley Park High School oppose the notices banning guns because an image of a gun appears on them. “You can’t look at this and not think of Sandy Hook,” principal Theresa Nolan said, adding that she would prefer “something more subtle.” (Southtown Star)

Toy hero
An Oregon firm introduced an action figure of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. ThatsMyFace.com, whose catalog also includes Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, said that the 12-inch Snowden figure comes dressed in a blue shirt, casual trousers and black high-top shoes, but wardrobe options include a gray-striped business suit, Indiana Jones outfit and a combat uniform. It sells for $99. ThatsMyFace.com promises that proceeds will go to the Freedom of the Press Foundation, although the foundation’s executive director, Trevor Timm, denied any association with the doll or ThatsMyFace.com. (Agence France-Presse)

Flammability issues
Authorities accused Kara Koriath, 44, of setting fire to her SUV while driving with her two teenage children in St. Louis County, Mo. Fire investigators found numerous packages of fireworks placed throughout the vehicle and tied together with fuses and pipe cleaners, and mortar shells attached to the head rests. Lighter fluid and more fireworks were found in the glove compartment, and the floorboard of the driver’s side appeared to be soaked in gasoline. Investigators said Koriath might have been trying to kill herself because her married boyfriend wouldn’t leave his wife. (Springfield’s KSDK-TV)

German police blamed a fire at a dairy farm in Rasdorf on methane gas from 90 flatulent cows. High levels of the gas had built up in a farm shed, then a “static electric charge caused the gas to explode with flashes of flames,” the report stated, noting that one cow was treated for burns. (Reuters)

When Weight Watchers isn’t enough
Venezuelan beauty queen Wi May Nava, 18, revealed that she had a mesh patch stitched to her tongue to help her stay thin. “It makes me lose weight quicker,” the 2013 first runner-up Miss Venezuela said, explaining that the plastic patch made eating solid food too painful. “You eat the same, but liquefied.” (New York’s Daily News)

An alternative to liposuction lets people lose fat through urination. The treatment, called Aqualyx, involves injecting a water solution into specific areas of the body. It liquefies fat cells, which are then eliminated over a three-week period. “Aqualyx isn’t an injection for weight loss,” its British supplier, Mills Medical Services, said. “It is used for contouring the body and slimming down those stubborn fat areas.” One session, which is sufficient for chin areas, costs $417, Mills Medical said; larger areas require several treatments. (Britain’s Daily Mail)

Second-Amendment follies
A woman was critically injured at her home in Dayton, Nev., while her son was showing his new gun to his father. Lyon County sheriff’s deputies said that when the young man pulled the gun out of its holster, it accidentally fired, wounding the woman in the leg. (Reno’s KOLO-TV)

A 36-year-old man shot himself in the head while demonstrating gun safety at his home in Independence Township, Mich. The man’s girlfriend told Oakland County sheriff’s deputies that the man, who had been drinking most of the day, was using his three handguns to prove how safe guns are when they’re empty. The first two he pointed at his head didn’t fire, but the third one did. Calling the situation “pretty unique,” Undersheriff Michael McCabe remarked, “I have never heard of anyone testing out the safety of a gun by pointing at their head and pulling the trigger.” (United Press International)

Clint Galentine, 37, was practicing turkey calls while walking with a friend in a wildlife management area in Tampa, Fla., when a hunter shot him twice with a high-powered rifle. Michael Trott, 43, told Fish and Wildlife Conservation officials that he mistook Galentine for a deer. (The New York Times)

An off-duty corrections officer reaching for his valet parking ticket at a crowded restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., accidentally triggered his concealed handgun, firing a round that sent ricocheting shrapnel into a group of patrons. One was injured, according to police Detective DeAnna Greenlaw, who identified the restaurant as Shooters Waterfront. (South Florida Sun Sentinel)

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

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