Blog Posts by Mike Krumboltz, Yahoo News

  • Young boy with terminal disease gets to play in snow

    Melodie Williams with her son Mason, in their winter wonderland (TOM GAFFNEY / CATERS NEWS)

    A 3-year-old boy with a terminal disease had a simple wish — to see snow. His mother, with some help from friends and volunteers, made it happen in spectacular fashion.

    Mason Williams was born with hypoplastic left-heart syndrome, the Daily Mail reports. He requires an operation but is not yet well enough to undergo it. He is also unable to speak due to a chromosomal disorder, according to the report.

    Seeking to grant one of Mason's wishes, mom Melodie, who lives with her son in the parish of Rowley Rigis in England, set out to transform her front garden into a snowy dreamland. One problem: There was no snow. With the help of local businesses, Melodie fixed that by bringing in 105 gallons of snow to surprise her son.

    Melodie told the Daily Mail, "I just had to do something now in case he's not alive next time it snows. If I didn't do it now, and something happens to him, I'd never forgive myself for not making the most of the time we had."

    From the looks on Mason's face, he was very

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  • Coffee shop holds food drive for tip jar thief

    Here's something to help restore your faith in humanity. The Nervous Dog Coffee Shop is holding a food drive to help benefit a man who allegedly stole money from the baristas' tip jar.

    News of the coffee shop's good deed was reported by WKYC in Ohio. Apparently a man (still unidentified) was caught on camera pilfering money from the employees' tip jar. But instead of going after him with the help of the police, the coffee shop workers decided to give the guy a helping hand.

    Manager Scott Moses told WKYC, "He stuck his hand straight into the tip jar and took out as much as he could get and walked out like nothing happened."

    But rather than automatiaclly think the guy is a heartless jerk, Moses said, "we assume that if he was desperate enough to steal tips, he's probably in desperate times."

    Both coffee shop locations are taking food donations for the alleged thief and will give them to him if he comes forward, no questions asked, according to WKYC.

    An interesitng wrinkle to the story — some

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  • Can you stop the NSA from tracking your location? Nope.

    Is there any way to stop Big Brother? The National Security Agency (NSA) tracks the locations of hundreds of millions of cellphones every day, according to a report from the Washington Post. Americans traveling abroad are among those tracked via a program called CO-TRAVELER.

    From the Washington Post:

    One senior collection manager, speaking on the condition of anonymity but with permission from the NSA, said “we are getting vast volumes” of location data from around the world by tapping into the cables that connect mobile networks globally and that serve U.S. cellphones as well as foreign ones. Additionally, data are often collected from the tens of millions of Americans who travel abroad with their cellphones every year.

    What's an average person with a cellphone and a desire for a small measure of privacy to do? Can steps be taken to keep the NSA from keeping tabs on the location of a person's cellphone? Yahoo News tapped several experts in the field of cyber security to help answer the

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  • Nonprofit sends Amazon a cake to celebrate third year of unpaid invoice

    Attention, Amazon.com finance department: The good folks at MusicBrainz sent you guys a cake to celebrate the third anniversary of you not paying your bill.

    Congratulations?

    We first spotted the story over at Boing Boing, which reports that "MetaBrainz is a charity that oversees MusicBrainz, a free/open music metadata service" that acts as a free encyclopedia for music of all genres.

    Apparently, three years ago, Amazon.com hired MusicBrainz for a roughly $20,000 project involving a live data feed. Unfortunately, invoice #144 never got paid.

    Yahoo News spoke via email with Robert Kaye of MusicBrainz about cake-gate. "It wasn’t that there was no communication," he said. "There was plenty, but all of the actions on Amazon’s part were ineffectual. Nothing seemed to work and I wanted the organization on the

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  • Woman drives 'Liberty Van' 5,000 miles to fight ticket, wins

    A 56-year-old grandmother drove from Kentucky to New Jersey several times in order to fight a $56 traffic ticket over her so-called "Liberty Van."

    Good news for the woman: She won.

    Lynda Farley, whose van is emblazoned with flags, flowers, bumper stickers and political signs that say things like "Outdoor smoke bans are idiotic" and "Vote Marxists Out," was cited in New Jersey in September 2012 for driving a vehicle with an obstructed view. Specifically, the trooper told her the string of flowers bordering the front windshield of her 2004 Nissan Quest minivan obstructed her view of the road, according to the Express-Times.

    Farley didn't agree. She fought the ticket tooth and nail, going so far as to drive her Liberty Van from Kentucky to New Jersey several times to protest the fine. All told, she drove over 5,000 miles and 100 hours during the course of the fight.

    On Wednesday, Judge Ann Bartlett overturned the ticket, despite expressing concern about the vehicle's safety.

    "Ms. Farley, I

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  • A miniature Christmas village you could get lost in

    Thanksgiving is in the rear-view mirror, which means it is now socially acceptable to decorate homes for the holidays. Many are content to string up a few lights or stick a plastic snowman on the coffee table. Fortunately, Trish Garrett is not one of them.

    In a series of photos posted on Imgur, Garrett's son Nick illustrated his mom's extremely elaborate Christmas village and how it took over an entire room in their home.

    Yahoo News spoke via email to Trish Garrett about her "labor of love." She said there are approximately 80 homes and buildings, hundreds of trees, as well as figurines, fencing, light poles and more.

    How long does it take to create? Garrett joked that this year it took her "approximately 60 hours and four bottles of wine." First she rearranges the furniture so she'll have enough table area to build on. "Then we start taking the boxes out of the attic, unpack and then I start to organize all the houses on tables, group all the little figurines, trees, roads, etc... and

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  • Supreme Court takes up frequent flier rights

    Who has the final say when it comes to frequent flier membership privileges? Are airlines the judge, jury and executioner? Or do program members have some rights?

    The Supreme Court addressed those questions Tuesday in a case that may have far-reaching implications for commercial air travelers, NPR reports.

    The case was brought by Rabbi S. Binyomin Ginsberg, who claims his frequent flier membership with Northwest Airlines was terminated in 2007 because he complained too often to the airline about its services.

    NPR reports that Northwest claimed Ginsberg called their frequent flier number two dozen times over a seven-month period to register complaints. He said he never asked for anything in return. The airline said he sought compensation.

    Ginsberg told NPR, "I did exactly what they asked you to do. If you have a negative experience, they want you to give them feedback."

    Northwest, which merged with Delta Airlines in 2008, gave Ginsberg "nearly $2,000 worth of travel vouchers, 78,000 in

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  • Operation Dead-Mouse Drop

    A group of 2,000 dead mice equipped with cardboard parachutes have been airdropped over a United States Air Force base in Guam in order to poison brown tree snakes.

    It may sound like the plot to an animated movie starring the vocal talents of Gilbert Godfried, but we assure you this is actually happening.

    NBC News reports that the dead mice were pumped full of acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol. The hope is that the snakes, which are invasive to the area and cause harm to exotic native birds and the island's power grid, will be drawn to the toxic rodents, eat them, and then croak. Other animals face minimal risk, reports the Air Force Times.

    Dan Vice, the Agriculture Department's assistant supervisory wildlife biologist for Guam, told KUAM that the mice are dropped in a time sequence from low-flying helicopters. Each rodent is strung up to a tiny parachute made of cardboard and tissue paper.

    Via NBC News:

    "The cardboard is heavier than the tissue paper and opens up in an

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  • Everything's bigger in Texas, even the gingerbread houses

    Everything's bigger in Texas, even the gingerbread houses.

    The good people from Guinness World Records certified that a gingerbread house created in Bryan, Texas, by the Traditions Club of Texas A&M is the world's largest at 39,201.8 cubic feet.

    The previous record was set by a house constructed at Minnesota's Mall of America that measured about 36,000 cubic feet. Amateurs!

    The new king of all edible homes was certified by Philip Robertson, adjudicator with Guinness World Records, on Saturday night. Robertson gave the creators credit for building the home outdoors amid the elements.

    According to the Houston Chronicle, construction lasted about a month. Ingredients include 1,800 pounds of butter; 7,200 eggs; 7,200 pounds of flour and around 3,000 pounds of brown sugar. That equals around 36

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  • George Harrison's sister lives modestly in rural Missouri

    George Harrison during the Beatles' first live U.S. concert at the Washington Coliseum in 1964. (AP)

    Before George Harrison died in 2001, the rock icon and former member of the Beatles reportedly saw that his sister, Louise, was given a $2,000 per month pension a small sum given his more than $300 million fortune.

    In an interview with the U.K.'s Daily Mail, Louise Harrison claims that pension ended after her brother died. Now 82, Harrison still works to support herself. However, she isn't upset about the arrangement. 

    She told the Daily Mail, "I was never concerned about the termination of the pension, I have found a way to make a living."

    She currently manages a Beatles tribute band called the "Liverpool Legends," who frequently perform at the Andy Williams Moon River Theatre in Branson, Missouri.

    "I don't have any blame for anyone and I was brought up as a Harrison and to be self-reliant," she told the Daily Mail. 

    Her brother, often referred to as the "quiet Beatle," lived in Friar Park, a 120-room mansion near London, with his wife and son. Louise told the Daily Mail she doesn't care

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