Friday, November 21, 2008

Random News Briefs

100 Scammed By Man Promising Fancy Meal Mobile News

An offer of a free meal from a man who says he works at an upscale Indianapolis steakhouse has the restaurant chain fielding dozens of calls.

A man has reportedly been stopping people in Indianapolis-area parking lots and asking them for money to get a locksmith after claiming to have locked his keys in his car while changing a flat tire, reported television station WRTV in Indianapolis. In exchange, the man promises to give the person a free meal at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, where he claims he works as a manager.

The man gives the name of Matt Bauer, the name of a real manager at Ruth's Chris. Bauer said Wednesday that the person out asking for money isn't him. Instead, over the past three weeks, he's taken close to 100 calls from people asking about their free meal.

"So he is definitely going out with a premeditated story to take advantage, as you said, of people's good nature," Bauer said.

People have reported being approached in parking lots in two locations. The victims told police they gave the man anywhere from $14 to $40. Bauer said he's fed up with the scam artist using his name and soiling the reputation of the restaurant where he works.

"I do want it to stop. I want the community to be safe. I want them to spend their dollars on what they need to be spending their money on and not perpetuating this gentleman out there defrauding the community," he said.

The man has also used the name of Michael Moore. He is described as a well-dressed white man with very blue eyes.

Japan Navy Fails To Intercept Test Missile Mobile News

U.S. and Japanese military experts will be working to figure out why an anti-missile defense test failed.

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency said a Japanese navy ship Wednesday failed to shoot down a mid-range ballistic missile target in a test off the Hawaiian islands. Japanese sailors succeeded in a previous test from a ship at sea.

The latest $55 million test paid for by Japan went well until the last few seconds when "an anomaly" occurred aboard the interceptor missile, causing it to lose track of the target. Rear Adm. Brad Hicks, director of the U.S. Aegis ballistic missile defense program, said everything was fine until that point. Hicks said it was only the fourth failure out of 20 Aegis ballistic missile defense program tests.

FBI Offers $50K For Ecoterror Suspects

The FBI is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to the arrest of four alleged environmental extremists accused of sabotage attacks in five Western states -- including a 1998 firebombing at a Colorado ski resort that caused $12 million in damage.

The four are believed to be members of a radical environmental group known as "The Family" that is blamed for a series of arson attacks, vandalism and other crimes in Oregon, Washington, California, Wyoming and Colorado from 1996-2001.

The FBI identified the four as Josephine Sunshine Overaker, Joseph Mahmoud Dibee, Justin Franchi Solondz and Rebecca Rubin. The bureau said they are believed to be living outside the United States.

The 1998 firebombing at a Vail, Colo., ski resort is considered one of the most devastating ecoterrorism attacks in U.S. history. The group also is suspected in a 2001 ecoterror arson of the University of Washington's Center for Urban Horticulture in Seattle.

The incidents were among at least 25 criminal actions by members of the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front that caused more than $80 million in damages, officials said.

"These individuals are terrorists," said Michael Ward, deputy assistant director of the FBI's counterterrorism division. "Regardless of their political or social message, their actions were criminal and violated federal laws."

A total of 17 people have been indicted on ecoterrorism charges related to actions by the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front, Ward said. Thirteen have been convicted. The North American Earth Liberation Front press office issued a statement Wednesday calling the reward offer hypocritical.

"During the last 10 years, the federal government has wasted countless resources on its 'Operation Backfire' campaign aimed at demonizing those who are protecting the planet," said Lisa Nesbitt, a spokeswoman for the group. "Instead of tracking and prosecuting nonviolent eco-defenders, why isn't the federal government locking up the real ecoterrorists, the CEOs of corporations who are inflicting violence and destruction on the environment every day?"

The FBI said Solondz, 29, may be in Canada, Europe or Asia; Dibee, 31, in Syria; and Rubin, 35, in Canada.

Overaker, whose age is listed as 34 or 37, was born in Canada and may be living there, officials said.

Driver Loses Control After Sneeze Mobile News

We all know about the dangers of drinking and driving - but how about driving while sneezing?

An untimely sneeze nearly cost Andrew Hanson his life. The 42-year-old Weymouth, Massachusetts man told authorities that a sneeze caused him to lose control of his pickup on Soldiers Field Road and plunge into Boston's Charles River. Hanson was able to wade to shore after escaping from the truck, which was partially submerged in 4 feet of water. He was not seriously injured but was taken to a hospital as a precaution.

Lawrence Callahan of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation said Hanson told him that after he sneezed, "the next thing he knew he was in the river."

Turkey Price War Begins In Ohio Mobile News

Ohio supermarkets are slashing prices for turkeys in hopes shoppers will fill their carts with other Thanksgiving items that are more expensive this year.

In central Ohio - a very competitive market for food stores - chains including Kroger and Giant Eagle are selling turkeys 18 pounds or larger for a mouthwatering 29 cents a pound.

Ohio Grocers Association president Tom Jackson called that an unbelievable price during unbelievable times. Before Thanksgiving of last year, turkeys were averaging 36 cents a pound.

Wholesale prices for turkeys are actually up as much as 7 cents a pound from last year, but stores are using the birds as a lure and shoppers should not expect bargains elsewhere. White potatoes, for example, cost 35 percent more than last year.

As a result, in a push to get more consumers in their doors, grocery chains are practically giving away turkeys this year. This comes even though higher export demand for U.S. turkey has driven the estimated wholesale prices up 3 cents to 7 cents per pound compared with 2007, Corrine Alexander, an agricultural economist at Purdue University told the Columbus Dispatch.

"Grocery stores are hoping that when you come to pick up that turkey you're also going to buy your potatoes, your cranberries and all of the other items that you serve at Thanksgiving," she said.

Fla. Man Accused Of Sandwich Assault Mobile News

A Florida man is accused of hitting his girlfriend in the face with a sandwich while she drove, knocking her glasses off her face, reported WPBF-TV in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Emmanuelle Rodriguez, 19, is charged with domestic battery and child abuse for the incident that occurred Friday while he, his 19-year-old girlfriend, Brittany Gonzales, their 7-month-old son were on Interstate 95 traveling to their new apartment in Fort Pierce, Fla.

According to an incident report, the boy was asleep in the back seat when Rodriguez became angry and began striking Gonzales in the face with a sandwich. Police said Gonzales was screaming for him to stop because she couldn't see and thought she was going to lose control of the car.

Gonzales told police he then ripped the rearview mirror off the windshield and began hitting the windshield with the mirror. She said she exited the interstate and told Rodriguez to get out, leaving him for his mother to pick him up.

Rodriguez admitted to police that they were arguing and he didn't want to hit her, so he threw a sandwich in her face instead, the report said. He was arrested and transported to the St. Lucie County Jail. He's free on $7,500 bail.

Cell Phone in Man's Chest Pocket Stops Bullet

A man says his cell phone saved his life. A stray .45-caliber bullet hit R.J. Richard's chest while he was mowing the lawn - hitting so hard he thought it was a stone kicked out by his tractor. He pulled out the phone. It fell apart.

The 68-year-old man was bruised. He said doctors told him two things prevented worse injury, maybe even death: the phone, and the fact that the bullet came in at an angle rather than head-on.

Reports of pocket Bibles saving their owners' lives pop up every so often. Richard says he's sure that God told him to put the phone in his overalls chest pocket rather than a pants pocket as usual. He said that Saturday's incident increased his faith. He figured the bullet was fired by a hunter in woods near his 5-acre property.

Sarah Palin Should Be Time's Person Of The Year

NEW YORK - Time magazine has a nice problem: It can choose between two compelling newsmakers as its 2008 Person of the Year.

When it announces the winner next month, will Time opt for Barack Obama or Sarah Palin?

Of course, these aren't the only contenders, by any means. But Time Warner's (TWX) Time has been known to zig while the country zags. The magazine may select someone who doesn't have a link to the just-concluded presidential campaign. Time likes to make off-the-wall choices, in an effort to look controversial and manufacture publicity, such as Vladimir Putin, the prime minister of Russia, a year ago and "You" two years ago.

"You" was a nod to the raging popularity of social-network Web sites and the empowerment of individuals in a digital world. At the time, I thought the pick was as dumb as dust and said so in print. I subsequently saw the wisdom and recanted my criticism, to Time's satisfaction.

Obamamania vs. Palinmania

Does Time have the nerve to go out on a limb and select Palin over the obvious pick, President-elect Barack Obama?

Sure, Obama revolutionized and electrified the political scene, becoming the first African-American to win the U.S. presidential election. Further, he accomplished a far-reaching goal. He made politics seem accessible and relevant to a nation of disenfranchised Americans, including generations of African-Americans. That's no small feat in itself.

Then again, Palin, the oft-mocked governor of Alaska, achieved something remarkable in her own right. She showed it was possible for (truly) anyone to rise to political prominence on the national stage, whether she strikes you today as an inspiration or a punch line.

Palin's overnight fame seemed even more unlikely than that of Obama, who had followed a carefully scripted game plan designed to capitalize on the disillusionment over such better-known and seasoned rivals as Hillary Clinton and John McCain. By contrast, Palin emerged as the accidental celebrity of politics.

Remember, only a handful of political junkies outside of Alaska knew much about Palin as recently as Aug. 28. Then, 24 hours later, John McCain tapped her to be his running mate and unwittingly unleashed Palinmania. McCain was the presidential candidate on the Republican ticket -- but was there ever any doubt about which one was driving the media train? It was Palin.

Picking Palin

I hope Time selects Palin for these reasons:

Palin, even more than Obama, made politics seem exciting every day. Obama, presumably, will get many opportunities to be named a Person of the Year during the years he occupies the White House (particularly if and when he leads America out of Iraq and helps us achieve economic prosperity). It would be fun to watch so many Americans go nuts because Time, once again, chose someone unexpected.

No doubt, plenty of jaded readers will ask, who cares?

It's a fair point but, ultimately, a short-sighted one. Yes, the relevance of weekly news magazines has receded dramatically during the digital era. Still, Time's Person of the Year is probably the only end-of-the-year award that matters anymore.

Jim Kelly, the former Time managing editor who now holds the same title at publisher Time Inc. is fond of calling the Person of the Year speculation "America's favorite parlor game" -- and he is correct. If nothing else, it is entertaining to make a pick, like with the nation's preoccupation with holding Oscar pools every year.

There's nothing wrong with lightening up a little now and then.

MICHELLE'S WEB QUESTION: Who should be Time's Person of the Year? (and I hope that any sourpuss who snidely replies "who cares!" gets a lump of coal in his or her Christmas stocking).


WSB, WRTV-TV, WPBF-TV, U.S. Missile Defense Agency, AP, Time

No comments: