Worst ideas of the week: September 27, 2009 

A day care center is also a site for dogfighting, police in Florida are caught playing on the job, Toyota wants to collect for training, and someone puts a cat in a sticky situation.


1. Unusable skills

Toyota seeks  funds for training, but still closing plant

The details: Toyota Motor Corp. is asking California for $2 million in money for training workers at its NUMMI auto plant in Fremont, funds the company says it is owed under a Feb. 27 agreement with the state’s Employment Training Panel. However, the automaker announced in August that it was closing that same plant, and critics have noted that there will be no other auto plants left in California where workers can use the skills they have gained.


2. Dangerous playtime

Day care center­ doubles as home for ­dogfighting ring

The details: Illinois police discovered this week that a home day care center was doubling as the base of a dogfighting ring. Officers discovered nine battered dogs in addition to syringes and bite sticks. In the facility’s garage, the officers discovered blood splattered on the floor and on a car. Ten children were also at the site on the day of the raid, although none of them were in close proximity to the dogs.


3. Raising the dead

Paris catacombs closed to public due to vandalism

The details: Paris’ collection of human remains has been closed to the public indefinitely after its catacombs were vandalized. Details of the damage are not available, but the catacombs hold the bones of more than 6 million Parisians in a maze consisting of approximately 186 miles of tunnels beneath the city. The catacombs are visited by 257,000 tourists each year, according to city historical officials. According to Isabelle Montagne, the spokeswoman for the Paris prosecutor’s office, the site was closed because it has become hazardous.


4. Killer snacks

Potato chip stand owner sentenced for selling firearms

The details: Michael Papantonakis pleaded guilty to selling guns from his potato chip stall at the ­Lexington Market in Baltimore this week. According to documents released in conjunction with his plea agreement, undercover police met with the man at the potato chip stall and purchased guns, which he was not licensed to sell. The 53-year-old was sentenced to 15 months in prison.


5. Criminal boasting

Husband and wife arrested after bragging about theft on national television

The details: Matthew Allen Eaton, 34, and  Laura Reese Eaton, 26, were guests on an episode entitled “Shoplifting confessions” on the “Dr. Phil” show last year. During the show, the couple bragged about making over $100,000 a year during a seven-year career as serial shoplifters. They were so bent on substantiating their chronic thievery that the couple even brought a video that depicts them in the process of shoplifting. Now the Eatons are facing a federal indictment out of San Diego, five years each in prison and a $250,000 fine.


6. Bad medicine

German therapist allegedly poisons patients, kills two

The details: A German doctor leading a group therapy session handed out drugs and other substances that killed two people and left 10 others hospitalized, according to Berlin police. It was unclear what substances were given during the session conducted by the 50-year-old psychotherapist, who reportedly bills himself as specializing in “depth psychology, bodywork, art therapy and spiritual crises.”


7. Game over

Cops jeopardize drug bust with video game break

The details: Officers in Florida’s Polk County conducting a warrant search of a suspected drug dealer’s house were caught on a hidden security camera playing with the suspect’s Wii console, playing a bowling game and jumping around with glee when they scored. One officer, who alternated between searching and playing the game on the video, also did a victory dance when they found a bag of methamphetamine. The video could jeopardize the case, as the defendant is now arguing the police violated the terms of the warrant.


8. Mile-high fix

Ryanair lets ­passengers ‘smoke’ for a fee

The details: Passengers on Dublin, Ireland-based Ryanair willing to pay nearly $9 a pack will be allowed to buy and “smoke” smokeless cigarettes. The cigarettes look like the real things but do not need to be lit to provide a nicotine kick and do not produce smoke, according to the company.


9. Meowch!

Duct-taped cat is recovering after being dumped

The details: Who would wrap a defenseless cat in duct tape from head to toe? That is what the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Pennsylvania is trying to figure out. The group is offering a $2,000 reward for information on who may have wrapped the cat in duct tape and left it to fend for itself in a random woman’s yard. It took the SPCA more than an hour to free the female cat.
 

10. Position secured

South African track chief in sex-test flap keeps job

The details: After days of politicians, newspapers and other sports agencies called for his resignation, the president of Athletics South Africa, Leonard Chuene, is keeping his job. The ASA says in a brief statement that they “unanimously expressed confidence in the current ASA leadership.” Chuene came under fire after he admitted to lying after continuously denying having knowledge of the gender tests on South African runner Caster Semenya. He said he kept quiet to protect the runner.


Dim bulb of the week: Muni

Who: A Muni driver-in-training ran a bus into a building in Japantown

What: The training bus jumped the curb on Laguna Street, between Post and Sutter streets, and took out a light pole before crashing into a building. Luckily, there were no passengers on the bus, and no injuries were sustained. We’re guessing the driver-in-training isn’t getting the job.


Sinking ship

With more people quitting smoking and less people using hormone replacement therapy, obesity is set to overtake the top spot for causes of cancer in women. One in 12 new cases of cancer is already linked to obesity, and scientists see those numbers greatly increasing over the next decade. Scientists say that they are being conservative about these numbers, and in some cases, they may actually be higher.

About The Author

Staff Report

Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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