10 worst ideas of the week: April 4 

1. Patient abuse

LA man on trial for staging fights among elder patients

The details: Cesar Ulloa, 21, of Reseda in Southern California, is charged with seven counts of elder abuse and one count of torture. He faces life in prison if convicted. He is accused of abusing patients at the pricey Silverado Senior Living retirement home in Calabasas, where witnesses say he jumped on a 78-year-old woman’s chest and body-slammed her, and encouraged wheelchair-confined residents to fight. Ulloa’s attorney, Daniel Teola, denied that his client ever abused residents, saying other workers spread false rumors because they envied Ulloa.


2. Personal data stolen

3.3 million student-loan borrowers exposed

The details: ECMC Group Inc., a student-loan guarantee agency in Minnesota, acknowledged a data breach in which the personal information of 3.3 million borrowers, including their Social Security numbers, was compromised. Guarantee agencies such as ECMC are the private entities that, under the U.S. government’s system of federally subsidized student loans, collect government money and then turn around and pay it to private loan companies when borrowers default on their student loans.


3. FBI foul-up

Costly system upgrade just keeps getting worse

The details: Another U.S. Department of Justice audit has found that the FBI’s long-delayed computer system upgrade is getting even slower and costing more. The FBI’s promised paperless case management system was supposed to cost $425 million and be completed by last December. The project has been subjected to numerous delays and extra costs. And now the bureau won’t even guess when it will be done or how much more it will cost, although the price will be at least $451 million.


4. Cafeteria hot spot

Charter school banned from ­doubling as nightclub

The details: A Philadelphia charter school cafeteria will no longer be doubling as a nightclub on nights and weekends. The Harambee Institute of Science and Technology, which educates about 450 students in kindergarten through eighth grade, was ordered by the school district to halt its after-hours deal with Club Damani. Harambee’s facility was originally an Italian-American social club with a liquor license. The school kept the license, but it expired in 2008.


5. Stiffed

Colorado casino claims $42.9M jackpot was a mistake

The details: A Colorado woman who won $42.9 million from a penny slot machine bet was told by the casino the jackpot message was false. State gaming authorities are testing the machine. Louise Chavez got a free casino breakfast but is suing for more. Two years ago, another Colorado penny machine told a player she’d won $164 million when her correct prize should have been $6.60. That casino settled its lawsuit out of court.


6. Survivors detained

30 traumatized Haitians held for weeks over paperwork

The details: About 30 Haitians who survived the earthquake have been detained by U.S. immigration officials in Miami for weeks because they didn’t have visas when they arrived. Attorneys at the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center say federal immigration officials are holding the Haitians even though they had no criminal histories and they were severely traumatized by the Jan. 12 earthquake. The survivors’ documentation appears to have been overlooked in the frenzy to evacuate thousands of people from the crippled airport in Haiti’s capital. Attorneys have asked Immigration and Customs Enforcement to release the survivors.


7. Drink up

Small taxes on soda don’t prevent childhood obesity

The details: A recently released study concluded that putting small taxes on soda does not deter children from consuming soft drinks or prevent childhood obesity. The study was based on a 2004 health survey of children and found that the small taxes — about 4 cents on the dollar — did little to change patterns of soda consumption, except among low-income children. Researchers believe that larger taxes would have a greater impact on childhood obesity.


8. Last wishes

Robber held up bank because it was on her ‘bucket list’

The details: A Florida woman said she robbed a local bank because it was on her “bucket list” — a list of things to do before she died. The 51-year-old woman said she was acting impulsively when she robbed Bank of America earlier this month. The woman told a local television station that she thinks “everyone should have a list of things they want to do before they expire.”


9. 10-year-old ‘Tazed’

Officers accused of shocking child

The details: Two Martinsville, Ind., police officers were suspended after they were accused of using a Taser to subdue a 10-year-old at the Tender Teddies Day Care. The mayor’s office and the police department said the officers had been called at least twice to answer complaints of an out-of-control child who was hurting other children and staff members. One officer used a Taser to subdue the boy. Both officers, whose names weren’t released, have been suspended with pay and placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.


10. He said what?

Radio show fill-in says Biden ‘turning Japanese’

The details: If you don’t like Glenn Beck, you might like his radio show fill-in even less. During “The Glenn Beck Program” as a stand-in for the absent host, Chris Baker suddenly took aim at Vice President Joe Biden and said he was transforming into an Asian man. Baker said Biden is “turning Japanese ... look at that cat’s eyes, man, he’s turning into Joe Biden-san.”


Dim bulb of the week

Chris Wallace

What: The Fox News Sunday host went on Don Imus’ show and had some choice comments about his upcoming interview with Sarah Palin.

Why he should have self-censored: Wallace rose to the bait when Imus asked, “When you interview [Palin], will she be sitting on your lap?” The Fox host replied with a chuckle and said, “One can only hope.” He also somewhat fuzzily referenced “Moby Dick” by saying, “We’ve been chasing her like Captain Ahab and the great white whale for the last year and a half.” We’re not sure whether Palin should be flattered or offended.

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Doug Graham

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