Monday, March 14, 2011

Extra, extra: In Other News, online

Posted By on Mon, Mar 14, 2011 at 9:00 AM

In this week's installment: the end of plastic, and the man purse of the week.

Curses, Foiled Again
Matthew Meguiar, 26, handed the teller at an Orlando, Fla., credit union an empty bag and a note demanding money, but the teller couldn’t fit the cash through the slot in the teller’s cage because the full bag was too big. According to the police report, Meguiar became frustrated and “turned around and walked out the door” without the loot. Orange County sheriff’s Deputy Christopher Thomas stopped Meguiar at the door, but during a struggle, the suspect’s arm came off. Deputies handcuffed Meguiar as best they could, then placed his prosthesis on the roof of a patrol car while they interviewed witnesses. (Orlando Sentinel)

Investigators charged James Brown, 53, as the driver of a stolen car that crashed into two other vehicles and then fled the scene in Sacramento, Calif., after they identified him from the false teeth he left behind. Police said vehicle’s airbag knocked out the teeth when it inflated. (Sacramento’s KCRA-TV)

The End of Plastic
Credit cards face extinction, to be replaced by transactions made using cell phones. “This is a chance to bring payments forward from the plastic age and the vinyl records age to the digital age,” said Michael Abbott, CEO of Isis, a new mobile payment network whose “mobile wallet” lets consumers store multiple credit cards, make payments with a wave of their phone, check balances, receive coupons and use reward points at the point of sale. Visa, MasterCard, Google, Bank of America, Citi and U.S. Bank are among companies testing contactless mobile payments that expect to roll out mobile wallets this year. The research firm Aite Group forecasts that transactions made by scanning mobile phones at cash registers will reach $22 billion in 2015, up from “practically none” last year. (CNN)

Not-So-Smart Art
New York University professor Wafaa Bilal, 44, who had a camera inserted in the back of his head for an art project, underwent surgery to remove part of the camera because his body had rejected it. Iraqi-born Bilal had a body-modification artist at a Los Angeles tattoo shop install the camera by attaching three mounting posts to a titanium plate implanted between Bilal’s skin and skull. Bilal’s intention was to have the backward-facing camera take a picture every minute as he went through his day. After having the camera removed because of the pain caused by its rejection, Bilal said that when the wound heals, he’ll continue with the project by tying the camera to the back of his neck, something he didn’t try in the first place because “I didn’t feel that strapping something around my neck would be the same way I’m committed to the project as mounting it to the top of my head.” (The Chronicle of Higher Education)

Point of Law
“The laws of Texas don’t reward someone just because he got rid of her body real good,” prosecutor Cary Piel told a Denton jury in his summation at the trial of Charles Stobaugh, 55, accused of murdering his wife the day before their divorce was to be final in 2004, even though her body was never found. The jury returned a verdict of guilty. (The Dallas Morning News)

Man Purse of the Week
Corrections deputies conducting a routine search of a cellblock at the Sarasota County, Fla., jail noticed part of a condom sticking out of the rectum of inmate Neil Lansing, 33. Sheriff’s officials who retrieved the hidden condom said it contained 17 round blue pills, one cigarette, six matches, one flint, one empty syringe with an eraser over the needle, one lip balm container, one additional unused condom, a receipt from CVS pharmacy and a paper coupon. (Sarasota’s Herald-Tribune)

Rollover-Minutes Follies
Rip Alan Swartz, 43, turned himself in to police in Upper Allen Township, Pa., who said that for the past five years Swartz made as many as 400 random phone calls a day all over the country trying to get women to talk to him about pantyhose. (Harrisburg’s The Patriot-News)

Maurice Cruz, 43, used his cell phone to make more than 18,000 prank 911 calls during a six-month period, according to the California Highway Patrol, who tracked Cruz to a home in East Los Angeles. (Los Angeles Times)

We All Scream
A British ice cream parlor began selling ice cream made from human breast milk. “It’s good enough for our kids, good enough for our ice cream,” declared Matt O’Connor, founder of London’s The Icecreamists, which pasteurizes the milk, then churns it together with vanilla pods and lemon zest, and serves it in a martini glass for 14 pounds ($22.77). The breast milk is provided by nursing mothers who answered an ad at an online mother’s forum offering 15 pounds ($24.39) for every 10 ounces. Donor Victoria Hiley, 35, said she believes that if adults realized how tasty breast milk actually is, then new mothers would be more willing to breast-feed their own infants. (Associated Press, Reuters)

Self-Bailout Plan
New York City police investigators said postal worker Thomas Tang, 38, stole more than 7,000 coupons from his route and sold them at steep discounts on eBay, earning $35,000 just from J.C. Penney coupons. Other coupons were from Kohl’s and Lowe’s. “I did not want this to happen,” he told police, according to court documents, “but it was the only way I could avoid having my house foreclosed on.” (New York Post)

Urban Planning
China has begun a six-year plan to merge nine cities just north of Hong Kong into one mega-city that will be the world’s largest. Called the “Turn the Pearl River Delta into One” plan, the proposal aims to create a city of 16,000 square miles—26 times larger geographically than Greater London—with a population of 42 million. The goal is to integrate China’s manufacturing base there and challenge Shanghai and Beijing as China’s driving economic force. (Britain’s The Telegraph)

As many as a million people live beneath Beijing because they cannot afford aboveground rents. They pay $50 to $80 a month for small, windowless rooms in a network of unused air-defense bunkers left over from the days when China feared a Soviet missile strike. Beijing is estimated to have 30 square miles of tunnels and basements. One of Beijing’s “bomb shelter hoteliers,” identified as “Mr. Zhao,” said he rents out 150 rooms—they range in size from 6-by-9 feet to 15-by-6 feet—mostly to wholesale sales workers and street peddlers. (Britain’s The Telegraph)

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