10 worst ideas of the week: April 25, 2010 

Super Bowl champ gets suspended, politicians get high-paying jobs, princesses kept out of park, a husband-hammerer gets off easy and stranded flyers stuck with the bill

1. Saucy dispute

Woman accused of hitting TSA agent

The details: A judge threw out a case against Nadine Hays, 58, of Camarillo — who is accused of hitting a TSA agent who allegedly tried to take away her 93-year-old mother’s applesauce — if she stays out of trouble for six months. A year ago, Hays was going through security at Bob Hope Airport in Palm Springs with her mother, who is now deceased. She says she had alerted the TSA in advance she needed extra items to care for her mother. Responding to the TSA, Hays eventually threw out the food. She claims she was reaching for a cooler but accidentally hit a TSA agent. Hays was charged with misdemeanor battery.

2. No humanity

Major appliances stolen from brand-new Habitat for Humanity houses

The details: Burglars looted 17 brand-new refrigerators, ovens and dishwashers — valued at more than $10,000 — from seven Habitat for Humanity homes that the first owners were scheduled to move into next week. More than 3,000 volunteers spent more than a year building the Bayview houses to be sold for below-market rates to disadvantaged families. Thieves already broke into three homes and stole still-boxed appliances once before.

3. Safer banking

Chase offers suggestion on PINs

The details: Even though security experts say PIN debit transactions are much more secure than signature debit purchases, JPMorgan Chase & Co. is suggesting to customers that they select the “credit“ option when paying with their debit card so they don’t have to enter their PIN in public. Banks collect higher interchange fees from merchants on signature debit transactions. Merchants, unsurprisingly, interpreted the letter as an attempt to squeeze more fees out of them. A bank spokeswoman said the mailer is standard for all Chase debit card reissuances.

4. ‘Amen’ refusal

No jail for mom who starved her toddler to death

The details: Ria Ramkissoon, 23, was given five years probation after pleading guilty to fatally withholding food and water from her 16-month-old son for a week. Her cult leader, “Queen Antoinette” promised it would cure the child’s “spirit of rebellion” for not saying “Amen” before a meal. Ramkissoon had been in jail since her August 2008 arrest. Her plea deal specifies that if her son comes back to life, the admission of guilt will be voided.

5. Inside jobs

Governor hands out cushy jobs to termed-out politicos

The details: Gov. Schwarzenegger appointed 11 former officeholders to high-paying state jobs this week. Former Republican Assemblyman Greg Aghazarian will get $115,000 as deputy secretary for legislation and special assistant to the Department of Food and Agriculture secretary — a job that doesn’t require Senate approval. Aghazarian was originally up for a $128,000 job before word got out that the Senate would block him. Meanwhile, former Citrus Heights City Councilman James Shelby, a Democrat, is now a $128,109 Gambling Control commissioner.

6. Up in the air

New air traffic control system is buggy

The details: Technical problems plague computers running the country’s new air traffic control system, according to a Transportation Department inspector. The $2.1 billion computer system has misidentified aircraft and had trouble processing radar information. If the problems aren’t fixed, the computers may delay a planned transition to a GPS-based air traffic control system.

7. No fairytale ending

Disneyland bans mom, daughter for dressing up

The details: Disneyland Paris barred a British mother and her young daughter from the park because of the fairytale princess costumes they were wearing. The reason given? Other visitors might mistake Natasha Narula and her daughter Drew for “real” Disney princesses. A spokesman for Disneyland says there’s a policy preventing adults from wearing costumes inside lest they be taken for staff members. But Narula said she felt “like Cinderella being told [she] wouldn’t go to the ball.”

8. Got off easy

Woman gets light sentence for hammering husband

The details: After a Utah woman blindfolded her husband with promises of a surprise and hit him in the head with a hammer, she was sentenced to only 30 days at home with an ankle monitor. Amy Ricks was also sentenced to probation and community service. The 37 year old’s husband suffered minor injuries. At the time of the hammering, they were still married but separated.

9. Trapped travelers

Stranded passengers get no priority

The details: Passengers who recently were stranded in India and China got no priority from British Airways over new paying customers, the airline admitted. In the wake of travel mayhem caused by Iceland’s volcanic ash cloud, passengers in Mumbai, Delhi and Beijing were slapped with monster bills upwards of $3,000 if they wanted to get home before next month. While the airline said passengers would be reimbursed later for the full price of the tickets, the stranded travelers never got that message from foreign airports.

10. Cancer targets

WellPoint cancels on some patients

The details: That tens of thousands of Americans lost their health insurance shortly after being diagnosed with life-threatening, expensive medical conditions has been well documented by law enforcement agencies, state regulators and a congressional committee. And a congressional committee last year said WellPoint was one of the worst offenders. But WellPoint also has specifically targeted women with breast cancer for aggressive investigation with the intent to cancel their policies, federal investigators said.


Dim bulb of the week

Ben Roethlisberger

Why: The Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback was suspended six games by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for violating the personal conduct policy.

How come: Before this, Goodell has acted with a strong hand mainly on players who had checkered or suspect behavior. By banishing the two-time Super Bowl winner for more than one-third of the season, the commish shows no one is immune. Roethlisberger was caught being a little too loose with his personal choices for a second time, even though he has avoided legal punishment.


Sinking ship

McAfee Inc. could not say how many computers were affected, though judging by online postings the number was possibly in the hundreds of thousands, but it confirmed a software update it posted caused its antivirus program for corporate customers to misidentify a harmless file, causing computers around the world to repeatedly reboot themselves Wednesday. It has posted a replacement update for download.

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