In an Instagram video, Elon Musk himself pleads, "Don't do this! This is a super terrible idea." In the video he's running toward a colleague and talking about the newest offering from his Boring Company (no, the company's not boring - that's their name): a $500 flamethrower. Nevertheless, the flamethrower is now available for preorder on the company's site. Gizmodo points out that technically the device is not a flamethrower - it's more like a "very large torch" that's able to shoot blue flames just a few feet. The Washington Post notes that even if it is considered a flamethrower, it's probably legal, as most states allow them if used "properly." The Boring Company has been selling merchandise to raise money for its tunnel-digging projects and intends to end sales of the flamethrowers after 20,000 have been sold. As of early Monday, Musk indicated on Twitter they'd sold 7,000 units, which would equal around $3.5 million. Also the $500 price tag doesn't include shipping fees and taxes, and the site notes "aspiring flamethrower aficionados" have to sign a "terms and conditions" contract. (Washington Post)
So What Do Slot Machines and ATMs Have in Common?
High tech crooks have figured out how to turn an ATM into a virtual slot machine. So-called "cash out crews" have been attacking ATMs around the world, and now apparently have started in the US. ATM makers, Diebold Nixdorf and NCR Corp., have issued warnings about the so-called "jackpotting" scheme, which has made its way to US machines - usually stand-alone units in pharmacies, drive-thrus, or big-box stores. It's become such a problem that the US Secret Service issued an alert for the very first time. Per the Secret Service alert, an on-the-street crew decked out to look like ATM technicians uses an endoscope like you'd see at the doctor's office to access an ATM's innards and connect the ATM's computer with their own laptop. The ATM will then seem to be out of service when other potential customers show up to use it, and "co-conspirators" can then send an SMS or use an external keyboard to command the ATM to start spitting out cash "like slot machines" to a "money mule" lying in wait. The mule then leaves and the "technicians" come back to disconnect their equipment. (Reuters)
When Your 7-Year-Old Gets Arrested and Handcuffed!
The parents of a 7-year-old boy acknowledge their son acted badly when he hit a teacher last week at Miami's Coral Way K-8 Center. But mom said it broke her heart to see her boy taken away in handcuffs, then hospitalized for a mental evaluation against his parents' wishes. Apparently the boy was removed from the school cafeteria Thursday for playing with his food. While in the hallway, he allegedly "attacked the teacher by repeatedly punching her on her back" and kept kicking, punching, and grabbing hair even after being restrained. Parents Mercy Alvarez and Rolando Fuentes, were called to the school, and agreed to a 10-day suspension. But they were told their son needed to go for a psychiatric evaluation under the Florida Mental Health Act, or Baker Act, which permits the detention of someone who may be a danger to themselves or to others. His family, however, says that he doesn't have any mental issues (they think he's been acting up in school because he's being bullied) and that being carted off in handcuffs was unnecessary and "police abuse." Alvarez said, "They have created a psychological trauma, and instead of fixing the problem, you are building a problem," who says the same cop who dealt with him this time dealt with him in November, when he was suspended for 10 days for a similar "tantrum." The teacher the boy hit wants to press charges, while the parents are also considering legal action. (Miami Herald)
When Guns Come to the Birthday Party
In Merrill, Michigan, Zachary Woodcock was celebrating his 21st birthday when he accidentally shot his best friend. He was then so overwhelmed with grief, he shot and killed himself. Saginaw County Sheriff's Lt. Mike Gomez says Woodcock was celebrating his birthday with friends in his apartment when he returned from his bedroom with a handgun that "went off and struck Mr. Skillman in the chest." As others were helping Skillman, witnesses told police that Woodcock left the apartment. Gomez says "they heard a shot, walked out and there he was." About 10 guns later were found in the apartment and Skillman's car. (Reuters)
Flying the Friendly Skies
Carrol Amrich got word her 80-year-old mother had been hospitalized and was in serious condition. She couldn't afford a plane ticket so her landlord, Ines Prelas, bought her a $585 ticket for United Airlines through Traveler HelpDesk. When it became clear Amrich's mother was dying, Prelas called United and paid an additional $75 to get Amrich on an earlier flight - and that's when the trouble started. Amrich had already boarded the earlier flight and was suddenly told she had to get off the plane because "no one flies for free." Amrich later said, "I knew when I got off the plane that I would never see my mother again," Apparently Traveler HelpDesk got word that someone changed Amrich's ticket and refunded it to protect her from fraud. A customer service supervisor says they're "so sorry for Ms. Amrich's loss" but Prelas should have gone through them to change the flight. The United gate agent wouldn't let Prelas buy another ticket over the phone to get Amrich back on the flight - the last one of the day - so Amrich started the 15-hour drive to Minnesota. While she was driving, she got word her mother had died. Amrich said, "I drove 1,000 miles, and she was gone before I got there," Amrich tells the Times. "I went straight through. And she was gone." United offered to send flowers. Prelas' response: "What are the flowers going to do? You took away from her that she might have been able to see her mother alive." (Pueblo Chieftain)
Making Air Force One Great Again
In the past, President Trump has been openly critical of costs associated with Air Force One calling them "out of control." Of course he's president know so things have apparently changed. The US Air Force just signed a deal with Boeing last month to replace two of the presidential plane's refrigerators - at a cost of $23.6 million!! No kidding. Reportedly, this isn't a case of Boeing making a hefty profit off American taxpayers but rather a result of requirements placed on Air Force One by the Air Force and White House Military Office. The two refrigeration units being replaced came with Air Force One in 1990 and are different from at-home refrigerators and the "coolboxes" typically found in other planes. Air Force One has five "chillers" with 26 total compartments for keeping food cold and frozen. Those chillers need to store enough food to feed Air Force One's passengers and crew for weeks without resupplying - about 3,000 meals. Stefanek says the two new units will provide "nearly 70 cubic feet" of refrigeration and freezing. The nearly $24 million bill will cover design, manufacturing, installation, and testing. Still, one former senior adviser to President Obama tweets they "would have been impeached" if they spent $24 million on refrigerators. The fridge replacement project is expected to be completed by October 2019. (Defense One)
What the What?
Meanwhile in North Carolina, The Flat Earth International Conference recently took place - attracting a swarm of people who genuinely believe the Earth is some sort of pancake thing. Do a quick YouTube search for Flat Earth and then prepare to nearly pass out when you discover just how many people there are who genuinely believe all space missions are fakes, NASA is a fraud and all world governments are lying to us. One speaker, Rob Skiba, has now revealed something crucial - exactly why NASA is lying to us about the Earth being a globe. Skiba believes NASA basically wants to hide God. He says the Earth is flat - exactly like it is in the Bible - and NASA and their co-conspirators are trying to conceal this fact. Former England cricketer "Freddie" Flintoff revealed late last year that he was obsessed with a podcast called the Flat Earthers, and coming round to their ideas. He asked, "If you're in a helicopter and you hover why does the Earth not come to you if it's round?" He also said, "The middle is the North Pole, around the outside is the South Pole which is like a big wall of ice. This is why all governments now have bases on the South Pole." Next year's convention is Denver so you can plan now. (Metro)