Darren’s Daily Dose of News – May 12, 2009

darrensdailydoseofnews12President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden took a short motorcade ride from the White House to Virginia and pulled into a small, independent burger joint called Ray’s Burger. The two leaders went right up to the counter where the meat was being grilled and ordered. Each fetched cash from his pocket and paid, and then the pair stood like the rest and waited for their number to be called before going to a table. The restaurant, which prides itself on premium aged 10-ounce burgers, sits in a small strip plaza. The burgers sell for $6.95.  ***MARLAR: The President and V.P. can afford seven-dollar burgers?  Good news – the recession is over!

Elise Tan Roberts may be young, but she’s already accomplished something the majority of us never will: She has become a member of Mensa. At just 2 years, 4 months and 2 weeks old, Elise has an estimated I.Q. of 156 — putting her in the top 0.2 percent of children her age and qualifying her as the youngest member of the well-known society for smart people.  ***MARLAR: If she’s so smart, why is she still sucking her thumb?

A man has admitted living in a northeastern Pennsylvania family’s attic for more than a week and occasionally going into the house when no one was there.  Stanley Wayne Carter also admits stealing belongings while the homeowner and her children were out of the house in Plains Township, about 100 miles from Philadelphia.  The 21-year-old from Trumann, Ark., pleaded guilty Tuesday in Luzerne County Court to burglary, trespassing and other offenses.  When asked if he had anything to say to homeowner Stacy Ferrance and her family, he said, “I’m sorry.”  Carter had been staying with Ferrance’s neighbors, whom he knew.  But when they asked him to leave, he went into the attic shared by the two homes and lived there for 10 days in December.  He’ll be sentenced in July.  ***MARLAR: Just because you have to duck to keep from hitting your head on the support beams does NOT mean you have squatter’s rights. 

A team of British engineers have designed a car that not only runs on a fuel derived from the tasty treat, but is largely constructed from parts derived from vegetables. The steering wheel of the open-cockpit car is constructed from carrot fibers, the foam in the seats from soybeans, and the rear view mirrors and body panels produced from the starch of potatoes. Even the brakes are based on cashew nut shells.  Even though the car can run on any form of biodiesel, the engineers choose a fuel made from chocolate.  The veggie-car’s top speed is 150mph.  ***MARLAR: So now your Jaguar can run on a KitKat. 

Specialty coffee retailers are hoping new ads and price cuts will entice more latte lovers to take a sip.  Those retailers include the nation’s biggest hamburger chain.  Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald’s yesterday (Tuesday) began a more than $100 million campaign including TV, radio, print, online and outdoor ads for its McCafe espresso drinks. They aim to get consumers to see the beverages as affordable, quality alternatives to lattes at more gourmet chains.  ***MARLAR: Affordable alternative… yes.  Quality… no.

Nevada now has an official state bug — thanks to some fourth-graders. Yesterday, Gov. Jim Gibbons signed a measure into law naming the Vivid Dancer Damselfly as the state insect. Kids from John R. Beatty Elementary school in Las Vegas suggested the Damselfly. Their essays noted the bug is blue and silver, Nevada’s state colors.  ***MARLAR: Meanwhile, Washington D.C.’s school children have voted the official bug as the poli-TICK. 

Radio Shack employee James Knol of Eau Claire, Wisconsin crossed that line recently. Knol not only refused to accept a return item from customer Leigh Carey, but he also started punching him so violently that a witness called ‘911.’ Apparently, Knol went all ‘Incredible Hulk’ when Carey asked to see his manager. Knol was charged with disorderly conduct and battery.   ***MARLAR: By the way, if you’re looking for conductors and batteries, you can find them at Radio Shack.

A small airplane dropping from the sky after its engine failed wound up landing on a bunch of portable toilets – and the pilot was able to walk away apparently unhurt. Gary Mayor of the Federal Aviation Administration says the Cessna 182 crashed Friday afternoon in Washington state after taking off from Thun Field, an airfield owned by Pierce County southeast of Tacoma. Sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said the plane was about 50 metres in the air when the engine quit. Troyer tells us that the pilot tried to turn around to land but didn’t quite make it. The plane hit a fence, flipped over and landed upside down on top of the portable toilets standing in a storage yard.  ***MARLAR: Eww… upside down on top of the porta-potties.  That means his head was…

They said it with flowers. Joy Zamoiski’s children wanted to do something special for her 85th birthday, so they planted thousands of daffodil bulbs last year. The flowers bloomed in time for her birthday last month. The yellow and white daffodils were planted so that when they came up, they would spell out Zamoiski’s first name.  ***MARLAR: Too bad she’s allergic.

A cowboy who rode a horse through a Denver suburb has been cited for riding an animal under the influence. Police say Brian Drone was given a $25 traffic violation ticket in a strip mall parking lot Friday. Drone told us that he was out for a “joyride” in Arvada Colarado with his horse, Cricket. Sgt. Jeff Monzingo says the citation was the first he’d seen in 15 years of working in law enforcement. Police say deciding what to do with the horse was a “tricky call” because “you can tow a car” in typical drunk driving cases. A stable owner eventually offered Drone and his horse a ride home. A phone number listed for a Brian Drone in Arvada was disconnected.  ***MARLAR: Brian promised to place his horse in rehab.

Two companies, one in Maine and one in Florida, are marketing machines that are a new fad in seafood restaurants. They combine a claw machine game with a lobster tank: for $2, you get a chance to grab a lobster, and if you do, it’s cooked for you for free. But it’s even harder than a regular claw machine because the lobsters try to elude capture. The maker says it’s just good fun, but a PETA spokeswoman called it “absolutely hideous” to “turn animal cruelty into a game.” ***MARLAR: So don’t play with your food, just boil it alive.

If you think you’re getting too much homework, don’t bother whining to your parents about it. A new survey finds that most parents say their children get the right amount of homework, and most teachers agree. If anything, parents and teachers say the homework load is too light. There were some other interesting results in the poll. They found that less educated parents spend more time helping kids with take-home assignments and the most affluent parents spend the least time. Women spend an average 46 minutes a day helping with homework. Men spend 35 minutes. A majority of parents and teachers also agreed that the subject that students needed the most help with was math. ***MARLAR: A majority… that’s like almost 50%, right?

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