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Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2014 12:01 am

Second thoughts about being first

Curses, foiled again
When Damontay Wright, 19, drove himself unaccompanied to a road test facility in Jonesboro, Ark., for his driver’s license, a police officer approached to ticket him for driving without a license, but Wright sped off. He smashed into a state trooper’s patrol car and then, with police in pursuit, lost control of his car and plowed through the wall of a house. Officers who charged Wright with felony fleeing added that the license plate on his car had been reported stolen. (The Jonesboro Sun)

While Jose Lopez was being interviewed for a job in El Cajon, Calif., the business owner confronted him about showing up drunk. Lopez took offense and a fight ensued during which Lopez stabbed the owner in the arm. Lopez fled but police quickly located him because he left behind his completed job application. (San Diego’s KNSD-TV)

Second thoughts about being first

After the crash of Virgin Galactic’s space tourism rocket SpaceShipTwo in California’s Mojave Desert during a test flight, “about 20” of the people holding tickets on the craft’s initial space voyage requested a refund, company representative Jess Gilbert said. Tickets originally cost $200,000 each but later rose to $250,000. (The Hollywood Reporter)

Slightest provocation
Korean Air executive Heather Cho delayed the departure of her flight from New York to Incheon by demanding the removal of a flight attendant who served her macadamia nuts in a bag instead of on a plate. The incident prompted Cho’s resignation but boosted macadamia sales in Korea nearly 12-fold. (BBC News)

Police said two customers at a Tim Hortons store in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, threw a garter snake at an employee during an argument that began because they wanted the onions diced for their breakfast order. (Saskatoon’s The StarPhoenix)

California authorities accused Kathy Rowe of harassing a couple who bought a house in a Carmel Valley neighborhood that Rowe had placed an offer on, calling it her “forever home.” The criminal complaint said Rowe signed the wife up for sex ads online that encouraged visitors to drop by unannounced while her husband was at work. The couple also received unwanted magazines, books and junk mail, and Rowe allegedly sent romantic Valentine’s Day cards from the husband to his female neighbors. “Losing that house was devastating to my family and broke our hearts,” Rowe said, calling her actions “stupid pranks.” (ABC News)

Second-Amendment follies
Indiana conservation officers said that when a shooter in Martin County used modern smokeless powder in a muzzle-loading rifle designed for black powder the weapon turned into a grenade, which exploded, causing the shooter to lose a couple of fingers. (Indianapolis Star)

Career moves
Hoping to attract and retain more career women, Facebook and Apple began paying up to $20,000 for employees to freeze their eggs until they’re ready to become parents. (NBC News)

Secret secrets
The National Security Agency informed the Federation of American Scientists that a report to Congress on authorized disclosures of classified intelligence to the media is classified and thus exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. Congress requires government officials that authorize “disclosures of national intelligence” to notify it so congressional committees can tell authorized disclosures from unauthorized disclosures or leaks. The NSA explanation was a response to a FAS FOIA request to learn which disclosures were authorized. (Federation of American Scientists)

Stating the obvious
Steve Wadsworth won an “exciting competition” to name the new leisure center in Selby, England, scheduled to open this spring. “I was really surprised and excited,” said Wadsworth, who came up with the name “Selby Leisure Centre.” (Selby District Council News)

Loser of the week
Police responding to an emergency call of screams at an apartment in Oslo reported the sounds came from a male chess player “frustrated by constantly losing against his own PC.” (Norway’s The Local)

No place like home
Utah’s Housing First began a program in Salt Lake City to end homelessness by giving homeless people homes. Instead of spending more than $20,000 a year on care, Housing First reckons putting someone into permanent housing costs the state just $8,000. The program not only saves money but also provides stability that allows them to turn their lives around. After 22 months, none of the 17 people placed in homes around the city when the program started was back on the streets. Subsequently, the number of Utah’s chronically homeless fell by 74 percent. (The New Yorker)

The Italian company WASP has developed a 20-foot-tall 3-D printer than can turn mud and fiber into homes. WASP CEO Massimo Moretti said the process will provide cheap housing in impoverished regions starting this year in Sardinia, which has abundant wool to use as a fibrous binder in the printer’s mud. Moretti said that using the machine to work more closely with natural forms rather than the common square-shaped brick dwellings will help people express the power of their mind, rather than just of constructing something by hand. (MAKE magazine)

How laws get made
After North Hempstead, N.Y., posted signs warning residents to pick up after their dogs or risk a $250 fine community leaders discovered the town code states the fine is $25. Rather than pay to replace hundreds of signs officials said they’re considering raising the fine to match the amount actually posted. (New York’s WCBS-TV)

Good news, bad news
Talking on hand-held cellphones while driving has declined in the past six years, according to a survey by State Farm insurance company. But the percentage of drivers who admit to accessing the Internet while driving has doubled, from 13 percent in 2009 to 26 percent in 2014, and the share of drivers who said they read email while behind the wheel rose from 15 percent to 25 percent. Those who said they read social media while driving went from 9 percent to 20 percent. (USA Today)

Fiscal follies
The District of Columbia’s 2015 budget includes $2.7 million in anticipated proceeds from civil seizures of cash and property. Believing that provision creates incentive to seize property for slush funds, the city council introduced a bill that would require police to meet higher standards of proof before seizing property. Law enforcement officials objected, saying the measure “would lead to a loss of significant forfeiture revenues,” according to former D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier insisted the department isn’t building its budget on civil seizures, simply using them to pay informants and rewards. (The Washington Post)

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


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