2009-12-02 / News of The Weird



Their health care is just fine without reform

. In September, the Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers, along with four physicians and three surgical nurses, donated their services for delicate brain surgery on a 25-year-old silverback lowland gorilla at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs.

. Among the health-insurance upgrades demanded by Philadelphiaarea transit workers and agreed to by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority in November was removal of the 10-tablet-per-month rationing of Viagra and similar medications, to allow as many as 30 per

month (according to a Philadelphia

Daily News report). (The final contract, reportedly even more beneficial to the union, was being voted on by union members at press time.) 


. For its Halloween gala, the Kings Island amusement park near Cincinnati had set up an exhibit featuring skeletons dressed to resemble, among other deceased celebrities, Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Ted Kennedy, Ed McMahon, TV salesman Billy Mays, Sonny Bono (his skeleton in front of a tree) and Ted Williams (his skeleton in front of a freezer). Alongside was a marker board labeled “agenda,” with those names crossed off but others still listed, including Bernard Madoff and the comedian Carrot Top. (Following a WLWT-TV preview of the exhibit in September, the park quickly canceled it, with a spokesman declaring, “We were not intending to be distasteful.”)

. Robert and Roberta Masters of Prior Lake, Minn., were arrested in October and charged in connection with a series of mailbox explosions over the summer, which police say were carried out by seven teenagers who had been supplied by the couple. Police said Robert Masters bought black powder for the kids and had said it “would be a good educational tool for the kids to build pipe bombs.” Roberta Masters allegedly encouraged the teens to learn on the Internet how to make pipe bombs because it would be “constructive” (but she said she had told them to be careful). 

Can’t possibly be true

In April, Richard Huether, the manager of the HoneyBaked Ham outlet in Cary, N.C., was shot in the stomach during a robbery of the store and hospitalized, with medical bills paid through worker compensation and his employee health benefits. In September, when his worker compensation expired (and though still at least three months away from returning to work), HoneyBaked fired him (forcing him to begin paying 100 percent of his insurance premiums and making subsequent insurance prohibitively expensive because of his new “pre-existing condition”). However, HoneyBaked human resources executive Maggie DeCan told WRAL-TV that the firing was for Huether’s own good, in that it would clear the way for him to receive Social Security disability payments. Said DeCan, “We couldn’t feel any worse for Rich, and we would do anything we could for him (except keep him on the payroll).” 

Those overhead costs

. The price of gasoline for U.S. troops in Afghanistan is about $400 per gallon, according to a U.S. House subcommittee in October, citing Pentagon officials (factoring in the security necessary to bring fuel through Pakistan).

. Patient Jim Bujalski complained to St. Anthony’s Central Hospital in Littleton, Colo., in September about the cost of his prescription Plavix and Crestor tablets, which he was forced to “buy” from the hospital because it administers only drugs under its control. The Plavix was $248 each (he pays $8 at home), and his Crestor ($3 at home) was $65. The medications were part of his $58,000, one-day hospital stay. 

Recurring themes

Thousands of airline passengers continue to attempt to bring prohibited

carry-on items on board. The New York

Post reported in September that the Transportation Security Administration had confiscated 123,000 items so far this year from just the three main airports serving New York City. Included were 43 explosives, 1,600 knives, a 10-point deer antler, several fire extinguishers, a tree branch, nunchucks, a grill, a baby alligator, “unwashed adult toys,” a gassed-up chain saw and a kitchen sink. 

Unclear on the concept

On July 13, William Thomson, 55, feeling bad recently about having violently resisted arrest by the Salisbury, Mass., police in a drunk-driving incident in 1997, brought hot coffee to a Salisbury station house and sought symbolic forgiveness from the officers on duty. The very next day, however, Thomson was arrested again in a drunk-driving incident, and again he forcefully resisted, punching a Breathalyzer machine, threatening an officer, and attempting to flood a lock-up cell in the station house. 

Least competent criminals

. Three men and a woman from Atlantic City, N.J., were arrested in August and charged with robbing the Artisans Bank in Bear, Del. Their escape after the robbery had been delayed when they accidentally left the keys to the getaway car in the bank.

. Andrew Burwitz, 20, was arrested in Appleton, Wis., in November and charged with drive-by shootings into two residences. No one was hit, and the major damage was done to Burwitz’s car, in that Burwitz fired the first shot before he remembered to roll down the window. 

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