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Curses, Foiled Again

Marcus Banwell, 39, was arrested for shoplifting food at a convenience store in Bristol, England, after he ate one of the stolen items: a Scotch bonnet chile pepper. The variety has a heat rating of 100,000 to 350,000 Scoville units, compared with 2500 to 8000 for jalapeño peppers. Within seconds, Banwell doubled over in pain. The shopkeeper called police, who recovered four other chile peppers on him, along with a stolen milkshake and fruit juice. Police also found a stolen clarinet tucked inside his waistband, as well as crack cocaine and heroin. (Huffington Post)

Threat of the Week

Health and safety officials in Manchester, England, banned paper clips for being “too dangerous.” Citing unspecified “recent incidents,” a memo from Manchester NHS Trust officials warned that the use of metal fasteners was “prohibited” in medical surgeries, clinics and offices. It ordered all metal paper fasteners to be “carefully disposed of immediately” and replaced by similar plastic fasteners. (London’s Metro)

Slightest Provocation

James Davis Wilson, 43, punched an assistant manager at a McDonald’s restaurant in Knoxville, Tenn., over a dispute about a hot fudge sundae. “It had chocolate on the bottom,” Wilson testified at his trial. “The hot fudge should be on top. It freezes up when you get hot fudge on the bottom of it.” Even though assistant manager Brad Skelton refunded Wilson’s money, Wilson hit him in the face. The jury convicted him of misdemeanor assault. (Knoxville News Sentinel)

What Could Go Wrong?

Authorities in Shaoyang, a financially struggling city in China’s Hunan Province, gave roughly 1000 neighborhood watch committee members the power to issue tickets to citizens for littering, spitting in public, parking illegally and other minor infractions. The workers, all retirees, are paid about $78 a month, plus 80 percent of all fines they collect. Residents complained that the financial incentives have turned the enforcers into veritable ticketing machines. (New York Times)

Unnecessarily Necessary

Missouri voters approved an amendment to the state constitution that reaffirms “the right to pray in a private or public setting,” even though the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights already protect the right to pray. State Rep. Mike McGhee, whose legislation led to the amendment proposal, acknowledged the redundancy, but he and other proponents insist the amendment will fortify protection for Christianity, which they said is under attack. (Fox News)

App for the Afterlife

A British funeral company is offering to add quick response (QR) codes to headstones, linking smartphones to online biographies featuring pictures, videos and personal messages from family and friends of the deceased. “It’s about keeping people’s memories alive in different ways,” said Stephen Nimmo, managing director of Chester Pearce funeral directors in Poole, Dorset. He explained he got the idea after visiting the Kremlin Wall necropolis in Moscow and realizing he knew so much about the people buried there. Chester Pearce charges about $480 to etch a code on a small granite or metal marker that can be placed on gravestones, benches, trees or plaques to link to a page on its QR Memories website. (Reuters)

Cause & Effect

Corn prices have risen because there are so many ethanol plants competing for the corn, but ethanol plants are closing because they can’t afford the corn. After the Central Minnesota Ethanol Co-op in Little Falls laid off most of its 30 workers and suspended production, general manager Dana Persson said, “Until we can buy corn or sell ethanol at a price more conducive to doing business, this is the course we have to take for now.” (St. Cloud Times)

Trim Jobs

Fifteen students and two employees at Dahl’s College of Beauty in Great Falls, Mont., filed a lawsuit accusing owners Douglas and Barbara Daughenbaugh of charging students $9950 for classes, then abruptly expelling them and keeping the money. The plaintiffs, all women, added that the school failed to address sexual harassment allegations against an instructor who later became the school director. According to the 10-page complaint: “Among the offensive and unwelcome conduct included, inter alia, the instructor publicly exposing her genitals, exposing her buttocks and requesting that students examine a boil to see if it could be extracted, requiring students to wax her pubic hair, using a student’s trimmers and wax stick to trim and wax her pubic hair that were, upon information and belief, then used on customer haircuts.” (Huffington Post)

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