Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Nebraska couple announces baby’s gender with exploding target; dad ticketed after investigation

Ashley and Jon Sterkel in Lincoln, Nebraska, just wanted to announce with a bang the news that their first child will be a boy. But the exploding target they set off with a rifle shot last Saturday (1/21), complete with blue smoke to signal a male, provided a bigger blast than they expected. And on Monday (1/23) it also resulted in a ticket from the local sheriff. Jon is the owner of a tree-care service where he has shot off exploding targets on his acreage in the past without problems. He used an exploding target and a bunch of blue chalk powder to signal that the expectant couple are having a boy. A video of the explosion was posted on Facebook for friends and family, with Jon shouting out, “It’s a boy!” Three miles away though, some residents thought a house had exploded or a car had blown an engine. The Scotts Bluff County Sheriff’s Office got several calls. Hearing reports on the local radio station and seeing the reaction on Facebook, he called the Sheriff’s Office to explain. He also posted an apology on Facebook. “I would like to apologize for all of the confusion,” he wrote. “This was just our way of announcing what gender our baby was.” By Monday, Scotts Bluff County Sheriff Mark Overman had completed an investigation of the blast and had issued a ticket to Jon for setting off an explosive without a required state permit. The violation is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of $1,000. The proud soon-to-be parents announced that they don’t plan another big bang when their son is born. The due date is June 16. (Omaha World Herald)


This is what $20 million hidden under a mattress looks like

Ever wondered what $20 million looks like hidden underneath a mattress? Well, the US Attorney’s Office in Boston has you covered. Federal officials posted a picture of the jaw-dropping scene on Twitter Monday, just weeks after uncovering the cash during a money laundering bust related to TelexFree Inc.’s $3 billion global fraud case. “Photo of $20M seized in box spring following arrest of Brazilian national in scheme to launder proceeds of TelexFree,” the prosecutors’ office tweeted, along with the photo. The image stems from a search conducted on January 4th inside the Westborough, Mass. apartment of Cleber Rene Rizerio Rocha, who was charged in a criminal complaint with one count of conspiring to commit money laundering in connection to the alleged pyramid scheme involving TelexFree. According to the complaint, the internet phone service company ripped off about half of their participants, or roughly 1 million people across the world. (New York Post)


Philadelphia becomes first US city to ban employers from requesting salary history

Philadelphia became the first city in the nation to bar employers from asking potential hires to provide their salary history Monday, a move supporters say is a vital step toward closing the wage gap between men and women. Mayor Jim Kenney signed the measure and said he’s confident the bill can withstand legal challenges he faces from companies such as cable giant Comcast. Comcast and the city’s Chamber of Commerce agreed the law goes too far in dictating how employers can interact with possible new hires. The City Council unanimously passed the ordinance in December. Supporters contend that since women have historically been paid less than men, the practice of asking for a salary history can help perpetuate a cycle of lower salaries for women, continuing throughout their careers. Women in Pennsylvania are paid 79 cents for every dollar a man earns, according to a 2015 Census Bureau report. For black and Hispanic women, the pay gap is even wider. The bill will officially become law May 23. (


So this is official

Today, the UK’s Supreme Court ruled that the UK has to get a permission slip from Parliament before beginning the process of leaving the EU. This upholds a decision made by a lower court last year. Reminder: in a international mic drop, the UK voted to leave the EU last summer. Ever since, new British PM Theresa May’s been trying to figure out the best way to consciously uncouple. Today’s ruling means she’ll definitely need Parliament’s stamp of approval first. Tricky, since May and some members of Parliament don’t see eye-to-eye on key Brexit issues, including access to the EU’s market. While Parliament says it won’t try and stop Brexit from happening, this will slow down the process and is a political blow for May. One silver lining on the May showers? Today’s decision also said that she won’t need separate approval from the legislatures in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales (also part of the UK). The divorce process is supposed to start by the end of March, but now it’s TBD on whether that will be delayed. (CNN)


Wider Racial Gap Found in Cervical Cancer Deaths

A new study found that cervical cancer is a bigger threat to US women than people realized. For years, the mortality rate for the disease was based on data that included women who’ve had hysterectomies. Hysterectomy: the procedure that typically removes a woman’s cervix, and – yup – the risk of cervical cancer. Once the data excluded those ladies, it showed a different picture. Even worse, the death rate is much higher for black women than white women. Some doctors say that could be because black women don’t have equal access to screenings or health coverage. (New York Times)



In a desperate bid to find their missing son, a couple plastered their town with fake police posters that painted him as a wanted terrorist. The posters, which describe their 20-year-old son as a “wanted terrorist,” were not officially issued. His parents said they printed up the posters, which offer a 500,000 yuan ($73,137) reward and list their phone numbers, to drum up leads about his disappearance two years earlier. Their son was last seen at Tianhe Airport in Wuhan, Hubei Province, in November 2015 after returning from a study abroad in Russia. He had not informed his parents he had returned to China.  After a year of searching and spending 100,000 yuan ($14,613) for information that led them nowhere, the parents decided to create the posters – listing their personal phone numbers as a contact. The father said he and his wife were trying to find their lost son promised to take down the posters. Forging official documents such as police notifications is a crime, according to China’s Criminal Law. Their son’s whereabouts still remain unknown. (Global Times)


Park employee didn’t collect admission fees from 160,000 foreigners over 2 1/2 years because one scared him

A 71-year-old former employee at a park in Japan failed to collect admission fees from at least 160,000 foreigners for over two years. The man said he stopped asking foreign visitors for the $1.70 entrance fee at the ticket counter after one of them yelled at him, and he felt intimidated after that. The environment ministry, which manages the park, has penalized the man one month’s salary. After the news came to light last week, the employee submitted his resignation and offered to return half of his retirement money — approximately 300,000 yen (about $2,635.67). (Japan Today)


Humpday Wednesday, it must be:

*A Room of One’s Own Day
*Macintosh Computer Day (Note: On Jan. 22, 1984 in a Super Bowl ad the Macintosh got introduced. Steve Jobs then presented it to the world on January 24, 1984 and it went on sale to the public the next day on January 25, 1984.)
*National Irish Coffee Day (Also observed on March 17)
*Opposite Day
*Robert Burns Day

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