Darren’s Daily Dose of Weird News – July 19, 2010

Australian doctors have begun charging patients a fee of up to $43 for being just 10 minutes late for appointments. ***MARLAR: I’m totally cool with this… so long as I can take $43 off the bill for every ten minutes I’m forced to sit waiting to see the doctor.

One employee used a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) credit card to buy $4,318 in “Happy Birthday” gift cards. Two other FEMA officials charged the cost of 360 golf umbrellas — $9,000 — to the taxpayers. Other FEMA officials used funds allocated for disaster relief in Oklahoma to buy 19 portable ceramic heaters for the office at a cost of $1,098.   In all, $247,100 in “improper” expenses was made to FEMA credit cards, according to a report by the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General.  ***MARLAR: Boy, it’s a good thing something like this could never happen with health care.

Did you hear about when Sean Harrington entered his freshman year at Arlington High School in Massachusetts?  He noticed something peculiar: There were no American flags in the classrooms, and no one recited the Pledge of Allegiance.   So Harrington enlisted the aid of his fellow students, and now, three years later, they have succeeded in getting flags installed in the classrooms. But the pledge still will not be recited.  The Arlington, Mass., school committee has rejected the 17-year-old’s request to allow students to voluntarily recite the Pledge of Allegiance, because some educators are concerned that it would be hard to find teachers willing to recite it.  Charles Skidmore, principal of Arlington High School in Arlington, Mass., has offered to allow students to recite the pledge before school begins — but in the school’s foyer and not in the classrooms, as 17-year-old Harrington had hoped.  Kathleen Bodie, Arlington superintendent of schools, told reporters that “The principal wanted to be very respectful about the pledge and be sensitive to the Supreme Court ruling that students are not forced to say the pledge. He wanted to be sensitive to the diverse group of students we have.”  ***MARLAR: Diverse group of students?  They’re all AMERICANS aren’t they?!?!

Dentists could soon hang up their drills. A new peptide, embedded in a soft gel or a thin, flexible film and placed next to a cavity, encourages cells inside teeth to regenerate in about a month, according to a new study in the journal ACS Nano. This technology is the first of its kind.  ***MARLAR: Dentists surveyed said this would take all of the fun out of being a dentist.

A 10-year-old boy could clean-up, thanks to cleaning up. Arie Johnston found a backpack stuffed with more than $8,000 cash. He was helping his grandmother with the annual roadside cleanup drive in Alton, N.H., when he spotted the backpack. Officials managed to locate the owner, thanks to passports and other documents in the bag. Arie’s grandma says he could be getting a reward. ***MARLAR: The owner of the backpack also noticed that some of the larger bills were missing and replaced with smaller bills.  Arie said that way he won’t get gypped out of a reward like the last time he found money and returned it.

It’s a fate better than burgers. The 500-pound cow that forced New York’s Finest to play cowboy has found a new home. Molly the cow is now living the good life on a Long Island farm sanctuary. The cow put the mooo-ves on the NYPD earlier this week after bolting from a Queens slaughterhouse. She dodged cars and cops on a mile-long chase before being captured by the NYPD’s elite Emergency Services Unit. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals moved Molly to her new home yesterday. An ASPCA official says Molly’s future is a lot brighter now than it was a couple of days ago.  ***MARLAR: Until the Policeman’s Ball when they plan on serving burgers and steaks.

Researchers are working on a thermal imager that one day might be used to detect liars at a government checkpoint.  The research arm of the Defense Intelligence Agency has been working since 2000 on a camera that measures minute changes in facial skin temperature. Those fluctuations — involuntary and undetectable even to the owner of the face — indicate a stress response.  Researcher Troy Brown says that might signal untruths.  The DIA is deeply interested in deciphering deception in job candidates applying for positions with access to classified information and in prisoners captured on the battlefield undergoing interrogation.  So far, the only way the government can get an inkling that someone may be less than truthful is a polygraph, the so-called lie detector test.  ***MARLAR: Washington D.C. politicians are working quickly to draft legislation to keep the technology away from government buildings.

A study has found that fish in Washington’s Spokane River have an extremely high concentration of toxic flame retardants. ***MARLAR: You can still catch the fish but you’ll have a heck of a time trying to fry one.

Killer bees may reach as far north as Kansas this year.  ***MARLAR: My concern is that they’ll be like ME, and get so bored with Kansas that they move to Northern Illinois.

Some restaurants in Britain are forcing customers who like their meat rare to sign a disclaimer form before eating due to fears of the risk of E-coli and salmonella poisoning. ***MARLAR: We have a similar disclaimer next to the radio station’s coffee-maker.

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