10 worst ideas of the week: Oct. 18, 2009

1. Deadly spork

Cub Scout faced 45-day suspension for camping tool

The details: Delaware first-grader Zachary Christie, 6, was ordered to spend 45 days in his school district’s troublemaker “reform school,” where he would undergo mandatory counseling and behavior modification programs for violating the no-weapons rule with his Cub Scout camping utensil — a folding knife, fork and spoon. Following a nationwide no-stupidity outcry and a thronged Thursday school board meeting, Zachary was granted a reprieve.

2. Jon + $180,000

Gosselin raids couple’s joint checking account

The details: The reality show dad-turned-cad has been ordered by a Pennsylvania judge to return $180,000 he took from an account he shares with his wife, Kate.The couple, who are the parents of eight children and co-stars of “Jon & Kate Plus Eight,” are in the process of divorcing after almost 10 years of marriage. If celebrity tabloids are to be believed, he’s been living a bachelor’s life since the split, dating, sporting hipper clothes and partying with friends.

3. Meter madness

City considers extending some parking meter hours

The details: Drivers in San Francisco could be hit with parking meters that operate on Sundays as well as weeknight hours as late as midnight, according to a recommendation made by the S.F. Municipal Transportation Agency. Muni chief Nat Ford said such changes and others to local parking could bring in nearly $9 million to the cash-strapped agency. The MTA board will hear the proposal at its Tuesday meeting. Higher parking costs will drive customers away from city businesses. Did they not learn anything from the public outcry that followed a similar proposal in Oakland?

4. Hostile workplace

Canadian truck driver fined for smoking in his vehicle

The details: A cigarette probably sounds good to a truck driver on a long haul — but lighting up inside the cab will get a driver fined in Canada. One 48-year-old truck driver on a highway in southwestern Ontario found out the hard way — a police officer pulled him over and gave him the equivalent of a $290 ticket. A 2006 law prohibits smoking in the workplace, and that extends to work vehicles.

5. Expensive crossing

Bridge tolls may be raised to $5

The details: The Bay Area Toll Authority is determined to get every penny out of Bay Area drivers during this tough economy. The Authority said this week that they are considering three plans that would raise the toll to cross the Bay Bridge. One plan would raise the toll from $4 to $5 and another would raise it to $6 during peak hours. The tolls would apply to all seven state-owned bridges in the Bay Area.

6. Fizzy blunder

PepsiCo iPhone app draws fire for stereotyping

The details: An iPhone application used to market PepsiCo’s “Amp” energy drink has prompted a storm of online protests and prompted a company apology this week. The application, intended to attract the drink’s target market of young men, includes tips on how to pick up 14 different types of women, completely with pickup lines, and encourages users to post lists of conquests with names and other details. As the social-networking blog Mashable observed this week: “Alienate your female customers? Pepsi has an app for that.”

7. Balloon bust

Boy thought to be up in the air found alive, at home

The details: The Heene family led the entire world on a wild goose chase as everyone followed the story of the boy in the balloon. The problem? Six-year-old Falcon Heene was never actually in the hot-air balloon that the family was building for their weather chasing hobby. Falcon’s brother said he watched the boy climb into the balloon before it became detached from the house and floated away. But it turns out Falcon was hiding in a box the entire time. Regardless, the Heene’s shouldn’t have left their two young boys unsupervised in the backyard with a balloon that could reach heights of 10,000 feet.

8. Try to snatch my crops

Cops called about attempted theft  of marijuana plants

The details: A 54-year-old Michigan woman called sheriff’s deputies to report that two men broke into her suburban Detroit home and demanded her marijuana plants — but fled instead. The woman was then promptly booked on charges of manufacturing and delivering marijuana. She claimed the drug was for personal use but didn’t possess a medical marijuana card. Police will seek charges.

9. No nuptials

Interracial couple denied marriage license by judge

The details: A Louisiana justice of the peace refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple, citing concerns that the couple will have children and their relationship will not last. “I’m not a racist. I just don’t believe in mixing the races that way,” said Keith Bardwell, a justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish. “I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom. I treat them just like everyone else.”

10. You’re fired!

Size 4 model says she was dumped for being fat

The details: Filippa Hamilton, the 5-foot-10-inch, 120-pound model who found herself at the center of an online controversy last week after Ralph Lauren digitally altered her images to make her appear completely emaciated, now claims she was actually dumped by the brand several months ago because she couldn’t fit in their sample sizes. Hamilton said she never planned on going public with the firing, but after seeing the doctored photos she grew concerned the American brand was sending the wrong message to young women. Ralph Lauren claims Hamilton was fired as a “result of her inability to meet the obligations under her contract.”

Dim bulb of the week

Maria Shriver

What: California’s first lady caught on her cell while driving

Why: It’s been nearly two years since Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger approved a state law prohibiting drivers from using their cell phones without a hands-free device.  His wife, however, was caught by photographers chatting away, holding a phone to her ear, while behind the wheel.

Sinking ship

San Francisco’s unemployment rate rose to a record 10.1 percent in August with little sign of job recovery, according to the latest available numbers. It is The City’s highest unemployment since California started releasing monthly data 19 years ago, with 45,600 San Franciscans currently jobless. Meanwhile, U.S. unemployment is 9.8 percent and California’s August jobless rate was 12.2 percent.


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