Worst ideas of the week: Nov. 22, 2009

1. Bud’s birds

NFL owner fined after making crude gesture

The details: It is one thing to be excited about your team winning its third straight game after a 0-6 start. It is another thing when you are an 86-year-old man and you start flipping the bird on both hands at the team and its fans as the clock winds down. But that is exactly what Bud Adams, owner of the Tennessee Titans, did following last week’s 41-17 victory over the Buffalo Bills. The NFL promptly levied a $250,000 fine on Adams for the act that was promptly a YouTube sensation.

2. Poor taste

Former attorney general uses Fort Hood tragedy in joke

The details: Jokes of some sort usually follow a tragedy. Some use it as a coping mechanism. Others just have poor judgment. Count Michael Mukasey among the latter. The former United States attorney general, on a Washington, D.C., radio show, responded to criticism of current Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his Sept. 11 co-defendents in New York, site of the 2001 terrorist attack. Said Mukasey: “I think he’s lost touch with reality. He ought to get professional help, perhaps from Maj. Nidal.” Mukasey is referring to Maj. Nidal Malik Hassan, the alleged shooter in the Fort Hood tragedy.

3. Land of plenty?

America’s hunger rate highest since 1995

The details: More than one in seven American households struggled to put enough food on the table in 2008, the highest rate since the Department of Agriculture began tracking food security levels in 1995. That’s about 49 million people, or 14.6 percent of U.S. households. Researchers blamed the increase in hunger on a lack of money and other resources.

4. There is no North Pole

Postal Service will block ‘Dear Santa’ letters

The details: The U.S. Postal Service is dropping a popular national program begun in 1954 in the small Alaska town of North Pole, where volunteers open and respond to thousands of letters addressed to Santa each year. Replies come with North Pole postmarks. Last year, a postal worker in Maryland recognized an Operation Santa volunteer there as a registered sex offender, prompting the Postal Service to drop the program.

5. Claim denied

Insurance ends for boy born with one arm

The details: Benjamin French, 12, was born with his right arm missing below the elbow. His latest prosthetic cost $30,000 and he will soon need another. But he already spent his lifetime maximum benefit. Michigan is one of 33 states allowing annual and lifetime caps on prosthetic coverage. Both Democrats and Republicans agree something must be done to fix state benefit differences, but Republicans want policies sold interstate, while Democrats say companies would just compete for lowest prices by cutting benefits.

6. Tasered 10-year-old

Arkansas cop Tasers unruly girl, supposedly with mother’s OK

The details: According to an Ozark, Ark., police report, Officer Dustin Bradshaw went to a home after the mother of an unruly girl called police. He found the girl on the floor screaming and crying. Bradshaw carried the girl into the living room and told her she was going to jail. She kicked violently and struck the officer’s groin. Then the mother allegedly told Bradshaw to briefly stun the child to get her into patrol car and take her to the youth shelter.

7. Not snow, but crook

San Francisco man steals 1,800 pieces of mail

The details: Bradley Williams, 31, took mail from residential mailboxes in the Hayes Valley neighborhood, not far from his home on Fell Street in the Panhandle area near Golden Gate Park. Over time he targeted more than 1,000 residents, poaching 1,800 pieces of mail. Williams and two accomplices cashed checks found in the stolen mail. This week he was sentenced to four years in state prison.

8. Bad party host

Libyan leader lures ladies to party to convert them

The details: Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, in Rome for a U.N. food summit, spent several hours in the company of 200 Italian women recruited by an agency and tried to convert them to Islam, Italian media reported on Monday. Some 200 women showed up at a Rome villa, expecting to attend a party and having been told they would receive 60 euros ($90). Instead, Gaddafi gave them a two-hour lesson on Libya and the role of women in Islam. Each woman was given a copy of the Koran.

9. Not so friendly skies

Computer problem results in air travel delays

The details: An FAA computer glitch Thursday morning caused cancellations and delays nationwide for four hours — the second time in 15 months. It started when a single circuit board in a piece of networking equipment at a computer center in Salt Lake City failed around 5 a.m., the FAA said in a statement. That failure prevented air traffic control computers in different parts of the country from talking to each other and forced them to type in complicated flight plans, slowing down the whole system.

10. Weighty costs

$344 billion price tag for obese Americans

The details: While the fat cats in Washington debate the latest health care bill, a startling fact has come out: If Americans continue to pack on the pounds, obesity will cost $344 billion in medical-related expenses. That figure would account for 21 percent of health care expenditures. An obese person will have an average of $8,315 in medical bills a year in 2018 compared to $5,855 for an adult at a healthy weight, according to the America’s Health Rankings report.

Unsportsmanlike behavior

Who: Elizabeth Lambert

What: The junior defender from the University of New Mexico threw elbows, collided with several players and then yanked the ponytail of a Brigham Young University player who went crashing to the ground — actions all caught on videotape and sent viral on the Internet.

Why: The soccer player gave the most lukewarm of apologies, saying the actions were “uncalled for” and “in no way indicative of my character or the soccer player I am.” But it wasn’t just one incident, it was a full game’s worth — and such behavior is never called for.

Sinking ship: Soldier suicides this year are expected to top last year’s totals, Army officials said on Tuesday. To date, 140 active duty soldiers were believed to have died of self-inflicted wounds in 2009. That’s the same as were confirmed for all of 2008. The rising suicide rate is not unique to the Army. Marine Corps suicides also are higher again this year — there were 42 reported as of Oct. 31, compared with 42 for all of 2008, 33 in 2007 and 25 in 2006.

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