Police investigating a convenience store robbery in Ferndale, Mich., by a man wearing a plastic Darth Vader mask identified Jamie C. Hernandez, 41, as their suspect after the store’s surveillance camera clearly showed him putting on the mask before pulling a butcher knife on the clerk. (Oakland County’s The Daily Tribune)
• Albanian authorities arrested two men trying to drill a passageway into a bank vault from a store they had rented above it. The noise from the drilling alerted authorities, Tirana police chief Tonin Vocaj said, noting, “We moved in when they were in the last stages of finishing the tunnel.” (Reuters)
Dangers of Night & Day
Using artificial lighting at night increases the risk of insect-borne disease for humans, according to Brazilian researchers, who observed that light pollution alters human and insect interactions. The scientists concluded that nighttime lighting lets people stay outside longer, increasing their exposure to insects attracted to artificial lights, possibly because the lights signal the presence of humans. Even when disease-carrying insects don’t bite people directly, they may bite pets and animals that co-exist with humans and can pass along disease-causing parasites (Environmental Health Perspectives)
• Solar rays bouncing off the gleaming glass of a Las Vegas high-rise hotel pose a risk of severe burns to people lounging at the pool. Local media, as well as some staff and guests at MGM Resorts International’s Vdara hotel and condominium, which opened last December, refer to the reflection off the concave-shaped building as the “death ray,” although MGM Resorts officials prefer the term “solar convergence phenomenon.” The firm installed high-tech solar film over each of the 3,000 glass panes covering the Vdara’s south faade, hoping to scatter the rays, but the concentrated sunlight remains hot enough at times to melt plastic and singe hair — and penetrate shade. “My back and the back of my legs started burning, and I ran under a nearby umbrella,” said William Pintas, 49, a Vdara condo owner who first encountered the death ray after a dip in the pool. “And I’m under the umbrella, and there is no shading from the light or heat.” Pintas, who happens to be a lawyer, said he could even smell his hair starting to burn.
Not everyone is unhappy about the situation, MGM Resorts official Gordon Absher reported. On cooler days, he has seen sunbathers deliberately lay their blankets on the convergence spot for additional warmth. (Reuters)
Anticipating a boost in space tourism, Australian researchers are hurrying to launch the world’s first beer to be certified for consumption in zero gravity. The beer, a joint venture by the space engineering firm Saber Astronautics Australia and Australian 4 Pines Brewing Company, is to begin testing on board Zero Gravity Corporation’s modified Boeing aircraft, which flies a series of parabolic arcs that simulate weightless environments. Flight crews will record data on the beer’s taste and its effects on the body.
Although NASA has sponsored studies on space beer and whether it can be brewed in space, current policy forbids alcohol consumption in the International Space Station. In 2006, the Japanese brewery Sapporo teamed up with Japanese and Russian researchers to create a beer, called Space Barley, brewed from barley grown from seeds that had flown for five months on the ISS. (Space.com)
Missing the Mark
The anti-abortion group Americans United for Life aired a political ad in Colorado that denounced Ken Salazar for supporting health care reform, claiming the measure would overturn a ban on taxpayer-funded abortions. Actually, Ken Salazar’s older brother, Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., is running for re-election. Ken Salazar, a former U.S. senator, is the secretary of the interior. As for the ban, President Barack Obama already signed an executive order affirming it. (Grand Junction’s The Daily Sentinel)
Compiled from the nation’s press by Roland Sweet. Authentication on demand.