Worst ideas of the week: October 4, 2009

1. Hsu sentenced

Ex-Democratic fundraiser sentenced to 24 years

The details: Norman Hsu, 58, who raised millions for Hillary Clinton and others, was sentenced Tuesday to more than 24 years in prison by a federal judge who accused him of manipulating the political process in a way that “strikes at the very core of our democracy.” Hsu pled guilty to stealing more than $50 million in a 10-year Ponzi scheme targeting hundreds of investors who were impressed by his political contacts.


2. Concealed kidneys

Dialysis patients not being told of transplant option

The details: Thousands of U.S. kidney patients start dialysis without first being told of kidney transplants that would be cheaper and lead to longer lives, according to a four-month newspaper investigation. Some patients spend five years receiving debilitating dial­ysis treatments before they’re put on the nation’s kidney transplant list. Others never make the list, although transplants add an average of 10 years to a patient’s life and a transplanted kidney costs Medicare about $50,000 less than dialysis.


3. Guns and booze

Bring your deadly weapons to your favorite bar
The details: A new Arizona law allows guns into bars and restaurants serving alcohol. The 138,350 Arizonans with concealed-­weapons permits can now bring their guns into booze emporiums that haven’t posted signs banning them — but they aren’t supposed to drink while armed. And they aren’t allowed to openly carry their guns into bars — as they can normally do elsewhere throughout the state. The National Rifle Association says 41 states now allow guns in businesses serving alcohol.


4. No nuke bargaining

Iran won’t discuss its ‘nuclear rights’ in new U.N. talks

The details: Iran insists it will not bargain about its “rights” to nuclear technology during this coming week’s talks with the five permanent U.N. Security Council members. Tehran is also refusing to abandon its nuclear activities “even for a second,” according to the director of Iran’s atomic energy agency. Meanwhile, the U.S. is demanding that International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors get “immediate and unfettered access” to Iran’s newly discovered second uranium enrichment plant.


5. Unsocial networking

Facebook poll asks if Obama should be assassinated

The details: A Facebook user got another lesson in being careful what you post online. The Secret Service is looking into a user-­generated Facebook poll that asked the question “Should Obama be killed?” The poll has since been taken down, but not before 730 users voted in the poll. Both the creator of the poll and the company that provided the third-party application have been suspended from the site.


6. Late-night profanity

‘Saturday Night Live’ opens ­season with F-bomb

The details: Talk about making a first impression. Saturday Night Live newcomer Jenny Slate accidently slipped in an F-bomb during the live telecast of the show’s season opener. The segment was called “Biker Chick Chat,” and Slate and veteran Kristin Wiig were tossing around the lighter version — “friggin’” — until Slate unintentionally slipped. Lucky for her, SNL producer Lorne Michaels says her job is safe.


7. Lack of imagination

Bush officials vs. J.K. Rowling

The details: Entertainment Weekly noted this week that a new memoir by former Bush administration speechwriter Matt Latimer includes a juicy tidbit noting that certain “people in the White House … object[ed] to giving the author J.K. Rowling a presidential medal because the Harry Potter books encouraged witchcraft.” Given Rowling’s high approval ratings, a snub to the enormously popular author would hardly have been politic.


8. Brutal attack

Video shows teens beating ­student to death

The details: The brutal beating death of Derrion Albert, 16, an honor roll student who was on his way to a bus stop after school when he got caught up in a gang brawl, was captured on a video that showed combatants wielding railroad ties and other weapons. Albert’s death drew attention this week to a string of violent deaths in Chicago schools, where more than 30 students were killed last school year and numbers continue to rise.


9. HPV program interrupted

England stops offering girls cervical­cancer vaccine

The details: Britain halted a federal cervical cancer vaccine program for days after a 14-year-old girl died shortly after being given the Cervarix vaccine. The vaccination was part of a federal program to defend against the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus. An investigation found that the young girl had actually died of a different form of cancer — a tumor in her chest — and not the Cervarix vaccine.


10. Hanging on to wallets

Consumer­confidence dip is bad holiday omen

The details: After a slight rise in August, consumer confidence fell in September and economists are now worried about how this may affect the holiday shopping season. According to a consensus survey, most economists thought the index would rise to 57 from 54.5 in August. The dip shows that consumers are still concerned about the economy and are not quite ready to part with their money.


Dim bulb of the week

Stephen Jackson

What: During Warriors media day, the team captain unloaded his frustrations with the franchise, reiterating public comments he made last month that he wants to be traded so he’d have a more realistic chance of getting to the playoffs elsewhere. These comments came the day before the team opened training camp, casting a huge cloud over an already murky-looking season.

It’s a losing situation for everyone involved, as Jackson will now be hounded by trade questions from the media every week, management is put between a rock and a hard place, and fans are forced to root for a player they know doesn’t want to be in the Bay Area.


Sinking ship

In an effort to keep the struggling show alive, TLC has decided to recast the once popular “Jon and Kate Plus 8” TV show as just “Kate Plus 8,” after the messy public divorce between Jon and Kate Gosselin. The move was immediately challenged by Jon, however, who sought a court order to stop filming the children. Stay tuned … or better yet, don’t.

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