Odd news for Friday
October 19, 2007
EDINBURG, Texas ” Firefighters who spent half an hour fighting a blaze in which 2,000 pounds of marijuana went up in smoke breathed so much of it that they would have failed a drug test, a fire chief said.
It took more than 35 firefighters, 1,000 gallons of water and five gallons of chemical suppressant to extinguish the warehouse blaze on Wednesday, Fire Chief Shawn Snider said.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were investigating the origin of the drugs. The Hidalgo County fire marshal was investigating whether arson was the cause.
Snider said Thursday the firefighters were exposed to so much marijuana smoke that they would not be able to pass a drug test, despite wearing air packs to prevent them from inhaling toxic or hazardous fumes.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. ” Arkansas lawmakers won’t have to give up their portable spittoons or cans of snuff after House members rejected a rule banning chewing tobacco from their chambers Thursday.
With a 51-27 vote, the House of Representatives fell short of the 67 votes needed to change the rules to ban the use of all tobacco products. House rules and state law already prohibit smoking cigars, cigarettes or pipes in the chamber.
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Supporters of the ban noted that chamber rules, which prohibit food and drink in the chamber, allow for a day’s worth of tobacco juice. Pamphlets on the risks of chewing tobacco that included pictures of diseased mouths were left on members’ desks before the vote.
“We need to set an example in here for all the kids who sit in the gallery and watch us work,” said Democrat Rep. Randy Stewart.
Rep. Billy Gaskill, who smokes and does not chew tobacco, said he opposed the ban and suggested supporters of the restriction were hypocrites with their own health problems.
“Here we go again, telling us how to live and how to die, and the very people that are most for this amendment are about 50 pounds overweight,” said Gaskill, another Democrat. “Leave us alone. … Let us die the way we want to.”
Rep. Monty Davenport, who voted against the ban, pulled out a can of chewing tobacco during an interview outside the House chamber after the vote. Davenport said he wouldn’t have minded if the ban passed and said he’s trying to quit using chewing tobacco.
“It is gross, and as a health issue you can’t defend it. It’s unhealthy,” said Davenport, a Democrat.
A law banning smoking in nearly all indoor workplaces in Arkansas went into effect last year. It does not cover chewing tobacco.
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) ” A man who walked into a meeting with his probation officer wearing a Rolex watch ended up sporting handcuffs.
Victor Lopez, 32, was arrested Tuesday on a probation violation for possessing stolen property and was booked into the Santa Fe County jail, police said. The probation officer grew suspicious when he noticed Lopez wearing the $2,500 watch and called police, Wheeler said.
“It goes back to that thought process that these guys aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed,” said Santa Fe Deputy Police Chief Aric Wheeler.
The watch was stolen Sunday evening when three men forced their way into a Santa Fe home, police said.
Lopez told police a friend had left the watch at his home, Wheeler said.
Officers went to the Probation and Parole Department and determined from markings on the watch that it was the one that was stolen, Wheeler said.
Lopez has an arrest record dating back to 1997. He had been sentenced four days earlier in five cases, said Cindy L. Turcotte, a Santa Fe attorney appointed to represent him in those cases.
Turcotte said Thursday that she had not been appointed to represent him in the watch case and that he likely did not have an attorney yet.
BOSTON ” Harvard senior fullback Noah Van Niel plans to trade the gridiron for the opera stage after the Crimson’s season finale this year.
The tenor has apprenticed in Florence, Italy, and New York and says he’s ready to see how far his talent can carry him. This fall, he’ll audition for postgraduate programs in vocal performance.
The bruising sport and the singing art both involve mastering certain skills and both inspire nervousness and self-doubt about performing for large crowds, Van Niel told The Boston Globe.
And while the Harvard football playbook may be complex, opera playbooks come in English, Italian, German and French. “You’ve got to know them like the back of your hand,” says Van Niel, who has taken two years of college Italian.
On the football field, Van Niel scored the first two touchdowns of his college career last weekend when Harvard defeated Lafayette, 27-17. On the likelihood of his football career ending, he notes that playing college football is “four more years than most people get.”
He isn’t Harvard’s first operatic football player. Ray Hornblower, a halfback on the school’s unbeaten 1968 team, is a lyric tenor who has performed throughout Europe.