Curses, Foiled Again
A clerk at a variety store in Biddeford, Maine, told police a robber threatened to “blow her head off,” took several hundred dollars and then crossed the road to a pizza restaurant. There, according to WLBZ-TV, police found Mary Gorsuch, 48, who matched the clerk’s description and was already on probation for armed robbery, waiting for a pepperoni pizza she had ordered.
• A pizza delivery driver alerted police after he spotted a man carrying laptop computers through a broken window at a computer store in Anchorage, Alaska. The Anchorage Daily News reported that cops chased the fleeing car until it crashed into a concrete pole and then arrested Peter Enmon, 44. Police said most of the stolen laptops were being repaired and were unusable.
Setting the Example
An arbitrator ruled that the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is responsible for ensuring fair treatment of workers, willfully violated the Fair Labor Standards Act. “The case before me, in my view, demonstrates action that went beyond mere negligence,” Steven M. Wolf wrote, declaring that the agency’s practice of offering compensatory time off instead of overtime pay amounted to “forced volunteering.”
• A 13-year search by Washington state environmental regulators to find the source of pollution of a creek near Vancouver Lake ended at their own office building. The Columbian newspaper reported the sewer line from the Vancouver building that houses the Washington state Department of Ecology regional offices, as well as those of the Department of Fish & Game and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was mistakenly connected to a storm drain instead of the municipal sewer main. Agency director Jay J. Manning called the discovery “embarrassing and upsetting.”
Mensa Rejects of the Week
Three men in Vietnam’s Tay Ninh province were trying to saw through a 105mm shell left over from the Vietnam War when it exploded. All three died. “The poor men wanted to sell the metal for money,” police official Nguyen Minh Kha told Agence France-Presse. “They could not escape the sudden blast.”
• Three men were hospitalized from injuries suffered during a fire in Fort Dodge, Iowa, that started, Assistant Fire Chief Doug Ostbloom said, when someone dropped a cigarette, then used a lighter to look for it under a couch. The flame from the lighter ignited the couch. The Des Moines Register noted two people in the house spent 10 minutes trying to extinguish the fire before it engulfed the house, and they decided to call for help.
Britain’s National Health Service warned that hospital patients were drinking disinfectant hand gel from dispensers as a cheap way to get drunk. The Daily Telegraph reported that the gel, which is used to reduce hospital-acquired infections such as MRSA, contains nearly twice as much alcohol as whisky. It is supposedly undrinkable because of the addition of bitter-tasting Bitrex, but authorities said addicts simply “drink through” the taste.
Technology to the Rescue
British scientists created a robot they claimed is the first machine to make scientific discoveries independently. Without any input from humans, the robot, dubbed Adam, formed a hypothesis on the genetics of baker’s yeast and then tested its predictions. The result was a series of “simple but useful” discoveries, according to findings published in the journal Science.
The Financial Times reported the team of computer scientists and biologists at Aberystwyth and Cambridge universities also just completed a successor robot, called Eve, to work with Adam to find new drugs to treat tropical diseases, such as malaria.
• American scientists looking to cure malaria came up with a ray gun that kills mosquitoes. The laser-operated device uses technology developed under the Stars Wars anti-missile program to lock onto the airborne insects by detecting the audio frequency generated by the beating of their wings. A computer triggers the laser beam, which burns off the wings, causing the smoking carcass to fall to the ground. The astrophysicists, whose work is backed by Bill Gates, speculated that the lasers could shield villages from mosquitoes or be fired at the swarming insects from patrolling drone aircraft.
Compiled from the nation’s press by Roland Sweet. Submit items, citing date and source, to P.O. Box 8130, Alexandria VA 22306.