10 worst ideas of the week: Nov. 8, 2009

Muni has no money, casino refuses to pay up entirely, tainted beef kills two and sickens dozens, ­airlines bilk passengers during holidays, and paper runs accidental ad.

1. Regret the error

Premature ad salutes Phillies for winning World Series

The details: Philadelphia newspapers don’t pull any punches when it comes to criticizing the city’s sports teams. But one rag in town — the Philadelphia Inquirer — committed a catastrophic error when it ran a three-quarter-page Macy’s ad in Monday’s editions congratulating the Phillies for winning back-to-back World Series titles. One problem: The Phillies weren’t even winning the series and fell behind 3-1 with Sunday’s 7-4 loss to the New York Yankees. They eventually lost the Fall Classic on Wednesday night.

2. Trick or glow

Kids swallow glow-stick liquid on Halloween

The details: The most popular single reason that parents called poison centers nationwide on Halloween was because their young children had chewed on glow sticks while out trick-or-treating and swallowed some of the iridescent liquid inside. The foul-smelling liquid can cause skin irritation, itchy eyes and an upset stomach, but it’s not fatal. The Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center covers six states and received 43 calls.

3. Fly Scrooge Air

Airlines double surcharges to $20 each way

The details: Most of the largest U.S. airlines doubled their surcharge for flying on the busiest travel days to $20 each way. Delta, American, United, US Airways and Northwest added the higher surcharges to a large number of flights within the U.S. on more than a dozen peak days around holidays, including Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. The carriers’ busiest days tend to fall right before or after major holidays.

4. Broken record

Transit agency finds itself cash-poor — again

The details: Stop if you’ve heard this one before: Muni is in financial trouble. Just months after implementing measures to make up for last year’s budget deficit, Muni said it’s already projecting a $45.1 million shortfall for this fiscal year, which began July 1. Through what seem to be a handful of measures that sound more like trying to keep a crumbling building together with bubble gum, Muni said it can come up with $25.5 million in potential solutions, reducing the deficit to $19.6 million.

5. It’s what’s for dinner

E. coli outbreak kills 2, sickens 28

The details: An outbreak of E. coli in ground beef has killed two people and badly sickened 28 others, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than a half-million pounds of ground beef is being recalled by Fairbanks Farms in Ashville, N.Y.

6. A lot of baggage

Pair charged with stealing luggage from Arizona airport

The details: Stacy Lynne Legg-King, 38, and Keith Wilson King, 61, were arrested Monday on suspicion of stealing up to 1,000 pieces of luggage at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Police first arrested King three weeks ago after allegedly watching him take a piece of luggage off the baggage carousel and put it in his car. After that incident, the officers kept an eye on King, who returned to the airport Monday, stole another bag and returned home with it. According to officers, the house was a mess with clothing and luggage everywhere. “The amount of luggage being stored inside of the residence was almost surreal,” an officer wrote in a court document.

7. Slinging the cat

Man hangs kitten — and records it

The details: Police are accusing a 22-year-old upstate New York man of hanging his girlfriend’s 4-month-old kitten with a belt and making a video of the animal struggling. Joanne Cichy reported to police that when she returned from a Halloween night of trick-or-treating with her children, her kitten was nowhere to be found. The following day, Cichy discovered what had happened. A video on her digital camera showed the kitten hanging from the apartment door with a noose tied around its neck.

8. Nothing like mom’s love

Mother secretly gave missing child to babysitter

The details: It turns out missing 7-month-old Shannon Dedrick of Florida was secretly given to her babysitter in the middle of the night, after police spent five days searching for her. Washington County Sheriff Bobby Haddock announced Thursday that the infant was found alive in a box underneath the babysitter’s bed. According to investigators, babysitter Susan Baker had asked if she could have custody of the baby. Both women face several charges. The baby was placed in protective custody.

9. House always wins

Casino denies man $166 million

The details: Bill Seebeck was playing a slot machine at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino near Tampa, Fla., when the bells started ringing and the display indicated he’d won a $166 million jackpot. Casino officials quickly dampened his celebratory mood by telling him that he had not won, the machine had merely malfunctioned, and he wouldn’t be getting any cash. Likely realizing the public relations nightmare they had hoisted themselves into — no one wants to play with a house that’s a poor loser — the casino reached a settlement with Seebeck by the next day for an undisclosed sum.

10. Poor bedside manner

Parents of dead student get $29K hospital bill

The details: The parents of a Sacramento State University student who was allegedly beaten to death by a roommate were still reeling with shock when they received another jolt. Gerald and Elizabeth Hawkins say 10 days after their son Scott died, they got a bill for $29,186.50 from UC Davis Medical Center. The parents say the bill also implied that they were indigent, saying they hadn’t paid what they owed. A spokeswoman for the hospital said the bill was a mistake and should have gone to an insurance company.


Sinking ship

Don’t be too relieved that the Bay Bridge is finally open after a historic, nearly weeklong closure — it’s only temporary. The span could be closed again in the coming months to allow Caltrans to replace a trouble-plagued repair to a cracked support beam. The recent work replaced a failed fix that had been completed during the scheduled Labor Day weekend closure. The latest work was characterized by Caltrans officials as a short-term repair that will require exhaustive ongoing monitoring and maintenance.


Dim bulb of the week: Beefeater bullies

Who: Misogynistic guards at Tower of London

What: Two of the 34 ceremonial Beefeaters — guardians of Britain’s 524-year-old Tower of London, where medieval kings and queens were executed — were suspended because they have been charged with bullying and harassing the first woman to become a Beefeater. Scotswoman Moira Cameron, below left, bested five men competing for the job in 2007, after serving in the army for 22 years. She reportedly had her uniform defaced and nasty notes left in her locker. A third male Beefeater received a police warning for sabotaging Cameron’s Wikipedia entry.

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