Darren’s Daily Dose of Weird News – October 04, 2010

Cuba has announced plans to help its struggling economy that could cost a million state employees their jobs. According to the Cuban labor federation, the first half will be cut by March 2011. It’s a drastic plan meant to boost the private sector through self-employment and private enterprise. Under the new rules, private employers will be allowed to employ workers for the first time.  ***MARLAR: Are you listening, Washington D.C.?  Even Cuba is now admitting that it’s the private sector that creates worthwhile jobs and stimulates the economy.    I can’t believe I’m saying this, but this one time only, listen to Fidel Castro!

You may soon find yourself paying more for your morning coffee – if you aren’t already. A trifecta of bad news has sent coffee futures soaring 44% since June and companies are passing on those costs. Bad weather in South America is threatening crops. Brazil and top exporter Vietnam are talking about hoarding their stocks. And U.S. stockpiles are reportedly at 10-year lows. That means higher prices for U.S. coffee companies, which, in turn, may mean higher prices for consumers. ***MARLAR: Good news!  Soon, it won’t just be Starbucks that has seven-dollar coffee!

A Kansas State University nutrition professor will eat little more than Twinkies and Nutty Bars over the next several weeks in an attempt to disprove common beliefs about nutrition.  Mark Haub, 40, associate professor in K-State’s Department of Human Nutrition, began a 30-day junk food marathon on Aug. 25. He is living on a diet of high-calorie, high-fat foods, such as snack cakes, powdered doughnuts and sticky buns, to show that foods commonly regarded as junk can actually help people lose weight.  So far, so good. Since the diet began, Haub says, he has lost seven pounds.  The professor, who’s coordinating the experiment with an obesity-related energy balance course he’s teaching, will maintain a dietary goal of 1,800 calories per day and provide his class with regular updates on his weight and health.  ***MARLAR: Good bye, Jenny Craig… hellooooo Twinkies!

A year ago, new car sales got a boost from the federal government’s “Cash for Clunkers” program.  Now, with the incentive expired, the auto industry is reporting a new phenomenon: a shortage of older model used cars.  Under the 2009 program, buyers got $4,500 toward the purchase of new, more energy-efficient vehicles in exchange for their existing vehicle. The used cars were then demolished, which critics say has drastically cut the supply of decent pre-owned vehicles.  The average price for a used car in the U.S. has jumped 10.3 percent in the past year, according to auto industry analyst Edmunds.com. The average price for some used SUVs has skyrocketed 30 percent, the company reports.  ***MARLAR: Not to worry, I’m sure our loving, caring government will take over used-car dealerships soon to remedy the problem.

Food fight! Now, you’re fired! A West Virginia high school principal has been canned, following a cafeteria food fight. The Upshur County Board of Education voted to send Brenda Wells packing. The Buckhannon-Upshur High principal admits she jumped on top of a pile of students. She says she did it to relieve the tension and to stop the food fight.  ***MARLAR: Good thing.  Throwing school cafeteria food is considered assault with a deadly weapon.

At first, fire officials suspected that carbon monoxide or some other toxic fumes had sickened almost 150 people at a Texas bank call center.  It turned out that perfume was to blame.  MedStar ambulance spokeswoman Lara Kohl says 34 people were taken to hospitals, 12 by ambulance, after reporting dizziness and shortness of breath Wednesday at a Bank of America call center in Fort Worth. An additional 110 were treated at the scene.  Fort Worth fire Lt. Kent Worley says the incident started with two people complaining about dizziness after a co-worker sprayed perfume. Others reported being sick when an announcement was made that anyone with similar symptoms should exit the building.  Investigators do not know what type of perfume was sprayed. ***MARLAR: It’s rumored she was wearing “Essence of Supervisor.”  (You’d think before marketing a new fragrance they’d do some type of research to make sure the smell of it didn’t make people puke.)

A New York City doorman who said he wouldn’t quit his day job after winning a $5 million lottery, kept his word. His employer, however, fired him. A spokesman for the union representing apartment building workers says Richie Randazzo notified the union’s grievance center on Tuesday that he had received the boot. Randazzo made $40,000 a year as a doorman. He began taking in another $65,000 every three months after hitting the jackpot on May 2nd. Randazzo’s father says his son got a letter that did not specify the reason for his discharge.  ***MARLAR: I’d think having a multi-millionaire opening the door for your tenants would make them feel pretty special.

Buy me some peanuts and gluten-free hot dogs? Yes, at Coors Field in Denver.  Food vendor Aramark announced it’s opening a gluten-free concession stand at the home of the Colorado Rockies.  Aramark says it’s believed to be the first such stand in the major leagues.  Gluten is a protein particle in wheat, barley, rye and their derivatives. It can trigger reactions in people with celiac disease.  In addition to hot dogs, the new stand’s gluten-free offerings include burgers, chicken sandwiches, brownies and, yes, beer.  ***MARLAR: Because the first thing you think of when ordering burgers, hotdogs, brownies and beer is your health.

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