10 worst ideas of the week: Sunday, July 11, 2010 

Firewalkers get burned, columnist berates charitable kids, would-be terrorist mocks airport security, insurance company pinches penny, and basketball star hogs the spotlight.


1. Explosive holiday

Violence mars July 4 weekend
The details: Separate stabbings — one involving a box-cutter and the other the result of a bar brawl — took place within minutes of each other the night of July 5. Neither victim suffered life-threatening injuries, police said. Also during the holiday weekend, a 65-year-old man was detained after fatally stabbing a 25-year-old man in Golden Gate Park. And, three white males for no apparent reason beat and knifed a Hispanic man in his 30s while he was riding his bicycle early Sunday morning.

2. Fire walking

Motivational event ends with burnt feet
The details: Sometimes corporate bonding exercises go wrong. In Italy, a “motivation day” organized by one of the country’s biggest real estate agents featured firewalking training, where employees walk barefoot over hot coals, ostensibly to overcome limits and fears. In this case, however, the fears were justified — the hosting hotel used the wrong kind of wood and coal, and nine employees wound up in the hospital treated for burns to the feet.

3. Accidental blast

Oakland man maimed when illegal fireworks go off
The details: Josh Myers, 19, was heading for a Fourth of July party carrying some fireworks he bought on the street for $10 each when an airborne ember ignited them and other firecrackers he was carrying in his pockets. Myers, who was planning to join the Marines this fall, lost a hand and a chunk of his leg. The victim was also a hero, pushing a 2-year-old girl out of the way just before the blast. The toddler’s leg was seriously injured, but rescuers say Myers’ actions saved her from worse harm.

4. Bad business

Columnist yells at kids for giving away lemonade
The details: There is no such thing as a free lemonade — that’s the lesson financial columnist Terry Savage wanted to teach three charitable little girls on the Fourth of July. When the kids told Savage that the lemonade at their stand was free, he recoiled in horror and then rolled down the window to give them a piece of his mind. “You must charge something for the lemonade,” he explained to them. “That’s the whole point of a
lemonade stand.” That’s the way to get kids into the American spirit!

5. The price of beauty

Supermodel uses endangered rhino horn as treatment
The details: The rhino may be endangered, but that doesn’t bother “The Body.” Australian supermodel Elle MacPherson admitted she uses the horn of rhinos as a beauty treatment, telling England’s Sunday Times it doesn’t taste very good, but “it works for me.” Animal rights activists are already taking up the call against MacPherson’s statement, saying endangered rhinos shouldn’t be poached for any reason, but especially not beauty remedies. They have a point.

6. Deadly dive

Two die after boat crash
The details: Two Hungarian tourists were found dead after an amphibious tour vehicle sank in the Delaware River in Philadelphia. Of the 37 tourists on board, 35 were rescued. The tour vessel had a fire, causing the engine to shut down, and was adrift in the Delaware River when it was hit by a barge being powered by a tug. An investigation is underway.

7. Bad review

Terrorism defendant says security at JFK airport was ridiculously bad
The details: A former cargo handler on a reconnaissance mission in an alleged plot to blow up New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport marveled at the lack of security for jet fuel storage tanks there. On videotapes played at his terror trial, Russell Defreitas, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Guyana, told a government mole the JFK fuel tanks were totally unguarded. Defreitas and his accomplices talked of wanting to kill thousands and cripple the American economy with massive explosions.


8. Dumped for $0.01

Leukemia patient’s coverage nearly lost over a penny
The details: La Rosa Carrington, 52, of Colorado Springs was undergoing chemotherapy for leukemia when her insurance company threatened to drop her for allegedly owing a single penny. Carrington was starting federally discounted COBRA coverage after being laid off. Before even receiving a bill, she whipped out a calculator, figured she owed $165.15 a month and sent a check. The insurer responded that she underpaid — but not by how much — and was being dropped. She only got her coverage back after proving her math was correct.

9. Shoplifting snafu

Woman defends high-end theft with pepper spray
The details: A San Francisco woman who attempted to shoplift a $2,345 Jimmy Choo purse and wallet from a Nordstrom store in Corte Madera was not going to give up her loot very easily. When security staff spotted Shirel Jean Smith, 20, trying to steal the items, she retaliated by spraying them with pepper spray. Smith then gave police a false name. She was booked into Marin County Jail.

10. Self-promoter

LeBron James holds 1-hour TV special to announce his new basketball team
The details: While the proceeds benefited his hometown Boys and Girls Club, the fact that LeBron James could command one hour of television time at the drop of a basketball shoe in order to announce the team he would be signing for basically ruins any good vibes the charity aspect provided. James irked his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers by spurning them to go to sunny Miami and play with two other superstars — Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh — for the Heat.

Dim bulb of the week: Takeru Kobayashi

What: The six-time Coney Island hot dog eating champion sat out this year’s contest because he refused to sign an exclusivity contract with the promoter. He attended as a spectator and got carried away when the audience started chanting, “Let him eat. Let him eat.” Kobayashi jumped onstage to take a bow and was promptly dragged away by security guards. He was then arrested for trespassing and spent the night in a New York City jail.

Sinking ship


The U.S. Postal Service is indeed sinking into red ink, and it has applied to increase the price of first-class stamps by 2 cents — to 46 cents — starting in January. Other postage costs would rise proportionately. The post office lost $3.8 billion last year, despite cutting 40,000 full-time positions and making other reductions. It is facing a $7 billion loss for this year and the same for fiscal 2011. The rate increase would bring in $2.5 billion, meaning there still would be a large deficit.

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Staff Report

Staff Report

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