Curses, Foiled Again
At least five people in Arizona face charges for operating an illegal horse track, where up to 300 people would pay $10 to attend the three-horse, 200-yard races. Illegal betting was rampant, according to Mark Brnovich, director of the Arizona Gaming Department. The track at Pantoji operated in full view of Interstate 10, had its own website, distributed posters advertising weekend races and posted videos on YouTube. Gaming agents raided the track after learning about it from nearby residents who complained because of the noise, dust and traffic. (KTVK-TV and Associated Press)
• Authorities arrested Richard Homer Smith, 56, who they said stuffed $53 worth of meat down his pants and darted from a supermarket in Oakland Park, Fla. While driving off, he stopped to remove his license plate and threw it away. Sheriff’s investigators recovered it and used it to identify Smith as their suspect. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)
The company that was awarded a $442 million contract to provide security for the London Olympic Games admitted, mere weeks before the event, that it couldn’t provide the required number of guards it agreed to, requiring the government to deploy some 3,500 British troops to make up the difference. G4S, billed as the world’s biggest security firm, agreed to cover the cost of the deployment, putting its loss at up to $78 million. G4S boss Nick Buckles apologized for the company’s failure, explaining, “It’s a very complex process.” Addressing charges that some of the recruits the firm did provide couldn’t speak English, Buckles said it was a “difficult question to answer.” (Associated Press)
• Olympics organizers banned all 800 food retailers at 40 venues from serving french fries to spectators because of “sponsorship obligations with McDonald’s.” The lone exception, the edict stated, is if the fries are served with fish, as in fish & chips. In addition, in deference to Olympics sponsor Visa, all ATMs that accept rival cards were ordered closed, and all food and souvenir concessions were told to accept only Visa cards. (Britain’s Daily Mail)
A hundred women, ages 74 to 97, competed in the first “Miss Holocaust Survivor” beauty pageant in Haifa, Israel. Winner Hava Hershkovitz, 79, called the victory “her revenge, showing how despite the horrors her family went through, her beauty and personality have endured,” pageant organizer Shimon Sabag said, pointing out, “People don’t have to see the Holocaust survivors mainly as a group of wheelchair-bound victims.” Hershkovitz won a family weekend at a resort, and all contestants were awarded electronic distress buttons. (Reuters)
The owner of the Robinson Funeral Home in Easley, S.C., is adding a Starbucks Coffee shop. Chris Robinson, who owns the fourth-generation funeral and crematory, said the store will be open to the public as well as mourners but promised it won’t be a distraction from services. “You walk in the front, and it’s off to the side,” he said. “It’s not like it’s right up front.” (Spartansburg’s WSPA-TV)
• The monks at St. Joseph Abbey, located near Covington, La., won the right to sell its handmade wooden caskets after a federal judge ruled that a Louisiana law giving funeral director exclusive rights to sell caskets is unconstitutional. “It would be like saying you have to become a podiatrist in order to sell shoes,” said attorney Jeff Rowes, who represents the monks. “It just doesn’t make sense.” (AARP Bulletin)
What, “Bangkok” Not Suggestive Enough?
After Ikea opened its fifth-largest superstore in Bangkok, the Swedish furniture chain learned that several of its products’ names had sexual connotations when transliterated into Thailand’s cursive alphabet. The embarrassed retail giant hired locals to scrutinize product names, in some cases changing a vowel sound or a consonant to prevent unforunate misunderstandings. “Ikea was actually in a very fortunate position in the context of Thailand in the sense of because there’s a transliteration issue you have the ability to make some adjustments,” Carleton University marketing professor Robin Ritchie explained. “That’s not the case when you’re talking about using Roman characters in a new environment.” Ritchie cited as an example an Ikea work bench sold in Canada called Fartfull. (Toronto Star)
An 18-year-old boy accidentally shot himself in the head during a webcam chat, believing he was handling an unloaded gun. “His manhood or his ego was challenged, and he said something along the lines of, ‘I’ll show you,’” Capt. John Gallagher said. “He thought he was clowning around, trying to shock the other party on the Internet site.” (Philadelphia Daily News)
When three women who worked for Kansas attorney Jeremiah Johnson filed a civil suit accusing him of planting cell phones underneath their desks to look up their skirts, Johnson counter-sued, claiming the women didn’t have the right to delete images they found in his phone. A federal judge dismissed his claim. (Kansas City’s WDAF-TV)
• Hoping to reduce the number of drunk men driving, drinking establishments in three Michigan counties installed state-issued talking urinal deodorizer cakes that remind men to call a cab or a friend for a ride home. “We want to turn some heads and get people talking,” Michael L. Prince, director of the state Office of Highway Safety and Planning, said of the motion-activated messages, without mentioning any provisions to discourage urinating women from driving drunk. (Detroit Free Press)
Compiled from the press reports by Roland Sweet. Authentication on demand.