Curses, foiled again
Paul James, 35, rented two mobility scooters while vacationing in Blackpool, England, and tried to take them home to sell, according to police who nabbed him when he tried loading them into a van outside police headquarters. Officers noticed the scooters had signs on them indicating they belonged to Blackpool Wheelchair Hire and questioned James, who admitted the theft. (Blackpool's The Gazette)
Michigan authorities identified Jules Bahler, 21, as the suspect in three bank robberies after he posted his picture on Facebook holding a submachine gun like the one used in the holdups. When questioned, Bahler confessed to the robberies. (The Smoking Gun)
Italian publisher Mondadori launched a fan magazine devoted entirely to Pope Francis. The first issue of Il Mio Papa (My Pope) featured the pope's life story and photos, including a pull-out centerfold. The magazine also included ads for a weight-loss cure, a laxative, a beauty cream and a hair-care product. Editor Aldo Vitali, who's also the editor of a magazine of television listings and celebrity news, declared that the magazine's purpose was to help the pope make the world a better place. (Reuters)
A Vancouver drug center began teaching homeless alcoholics to brew their own beer and wine to stop them from drinking hand sanitizer and mouthwash. The nonprofit Drug Users Resource Center, which gained media attention for providing Canada's first crack pipe vending machine, charges boozers $10 a month to join its Drinker's Lounge and qualify for five liters of home brew. "It's more economically viable than buying it at a liquor store," noted Rob, who joined the program when it began last summer. Center director Kailin See said, "As the drinking community becomes aware of what we're doing, we're obviously having to expand the program." (Canada's National Post)
A friend indeed
After Chicago Transit Authority train operator Brittney Haywood crashed into an escalator at O'Hare International Airport, sending 32 passengers to local hospitals, the head of CTA's rail union vowed to fight any attempt to terminate her, even though she admitted she dozed off at the controls for the second time in two months. Acknowledging that two dozing incidents "sounds bad," Robert Kelley, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308, said, "Come on. We've all dozed off driving a train [or a car]. There's a difference between dozing off and falling asleep." (Chicago Sun-Times)
Splitsville, Kuwaiti style
Abuse, infidelity and lack of communication aren't the only reasons Kuwaiti couples cite for seeking a divorce, according to recent filings in that land.
• A woman complained that she was "disgusted" by her husband of one week because he insisted on eating his peas with bread instead of a fork.
• Another woman objected that her husband "is so obstinate" because he "stubbornly refuses" to squeeze toothpaste from the end of the tube and "keeps squeezing it in the middle."
• A man decided his marriage was over after he asked his wife to bring him a glass of water, but she refused and told him there was a servant who could do it. (Dubai's Gulf News)
Missing the point
During an argument with his girlfriend, Tyler Ford, 23, hit her with a textbook used in his anger management class, according to sheriff's deputies in Spartanburg County, S.C. (Greenville's WYFF-TV)
Honey Dew Donuts announced it was opening a branch at the Quincy, Mass., YMCA but that it won't sell doughnuts. "It's definitely tailored to the healthy lifestyle the Y supports," YMCA official Sara Trubiano explained. (Quincy's The Patriot Ledger)
Victim of technology
After border officials in Ontario arrested Louis DiNatale, 46, accusing him of trying to smuggle a loaded handgun into Canada, the Kentucky resident insisted that he and his wife didn't want to enter Canada in the first place. He explained they were on a road trip to upstate New York when they were "misdirected by an unreliable GPS." They arrived at the border crossing, where DiNatale admitted owning a gun, explaining "it was my right as an American citizen to do so," but denied having it with him. Agents searched the car and found a Bersa .380 handgun stowed in the center console that DiNatale said he had forgotten was there. The retired Army sergeant major faces three years in a Canadian prison. (Los Angeles Times)
Facebook added a customizable option that lets its 159 million U.S. users choose from about 50 different gender descriptions. "For the first time I get to go to the site and specify to all the people I know what my gender is," said Facebook software engineer Brielle Harrison, who worked on the project, is undergoing gender transformation and changed her Facebook identity from "Female" to "TransWoman." Users can also select "neither" or "other" and indicate whether they want to be referred to by the pronoun he, she or they. (Associated Press)
Maybe try Evian?
After the U.S. Drought Monitor declared northern Arizona to be "abnormally dry," Flagstaff decided to allocate 440,000 gallons of drinkable water to make snow for the city's third annual Urban Ski and Snowboard Festival. Flagstaff official Kimberly Ott defended the plan, citing "the economic benefit to the community." The city rejected using reclaimed water to make snow, arguing that potable water is cleaner and more comfortable for snowboarders and skiers. "There would be people upset if it was reclaimed water," downtown business owner Kevin Collins insisted. (Phoenix's KTVK-TV)
Power to the power
Faced with having to pay its customers refunds or rate deductions from its excessive profits, as required by a 2007 law, Virginia's Dominion Power successfully lobbied state lawmakers to pass a bill allowing the utility to deduct most of its research spending. As a result, instead of having projected excess profits of $280 million in the two-year regulatory period, which would have triggered savings for customers under the old law, the new measure allows it to deduct $400 million spent on nuclear energy research, denying its customers any savings. (The Washington Post)
Duke Energy anticipates hiking its rates to cover environmental cleanup in North Carolina and Indiana, which Duke Chief Financial Officer Steve Young pointed out "have a strong record of allowing utilities to recover costs related to environmental compliance investments." Cost recovery means charging customers rather than taking costs out of company profits, which would lower earnings for shareholders, among them Gov. Pat McCrory, who has received more than $1 million in campaign donations from the utility. (Raleigh's WRAL-TV)