In the Courtroom:
How does legal abuse become especially outrageous? Read on.
• A man illegally brought a gun into a bar, got injured in a fight, and then sued the bar for not searching him for a weapon.
• Kids sued their mother for sending birthday cards without gifts.
• A woman disagreed with a store over an 80-cent refund and then sued for $5 million.
• A convict sued a couple he had kidnapped for not helping him evade police.
• A mother filed suit against an exclusive preschool over her child’s college prospects.
• A woman sued a theater over a movie trailer, saying there wasn’t enough driving in Drive.
• A mom sued Chuck E. Cheese’s, arguing that the restaurant’s video games encouraged gambling in children.
Source: Business Wire
In Germany, until recently, one could deduct bribes. All that was required was the names of the briber and the bribed. Americans are a bit more creative when it comes to avoiding taxes:
• A dog owner tried to deduct the cost of a dog walker by using a day care tax credit. It was denied.
• An exotic dancer wrote off breast-enlargement surgery, saying it was a business expense. The IRS agreed.
• A Pittsburgh furniture-store owner paid an arsonist $10,000 to burn down his business so that he could collect the insurance money. He then tried to deduct the payment, calling it a consulting fee. Both men reportedly ended up in jail.
• A New York lawyer tried to deduct his visits with prostitutes—$65,934—as medical expenses. It was denied.
Sources: walletpop.com, CNNMoney, efile.com
At the Airport:
Everyone's favorite whipping post, the Transportation Security Administration, gave travelers at airports more reasons to gripe this past year. Among their indiscretions:
• A 95-year-old leukemia patient was forced to remove her adult diaper for a pat-down
• A teenager was told that the pistol design on her purse was a federal offense
• A six-year-old girl was patted down aggressively
• A Bangladeshi tourist had $5,000 stolen from his jacket as it went through an X-ray conveyor belt
Sources: alligator.org, Associated Press
In the Government:
Federal dollars safeguard our nation and aid the poor. They also fund a redundant engine program for the F-35 fighter jet (cost: $207 million) and benefit checks sent to dead government employees ($120 million). Here are other destinations for your tax dollars:
• $113,227 to the International Center for the History of Electronic Games for video game preservation
• $606,000 to Columbia University to study online dating
• $492,005 to researchers at Wellesley College to answer the question, Do you trust your Twitter feed?
• $55,382 to a Virginia Commonwealth University researcher toward a study on hookah smoking by Jordanian students
• $198,195 to University of California, Riverside, to study whether happy or unhappy people spend more time on social media
• $592,527 to primate researchers to study in part what feces-throwing among chimps reveals about communication skills
• $338,998, granted by the National Science Foundation, to study Women, Weaving, and Wool in Iceland, in the years AD 874–1800
Source: Wastebook 2011, produced by Sen. Tom Coburn
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In the Classroom:
Remember Goofus and Gallant? The former was a jerk who made a mess of everything, while the latter always showed him up by improving his little corner of the world. Unfortunately, Goofus still exists in our educational system. But then, so does Gallant:
+ Good teachers and staffers at Columbus Elementary School in Corry, Pennsylvania, volunteered to work for free after the district cut the school’s funding.
- Bad teachers and principals in 44 Atlanta public schools corrected students’ answers on standardized tests in a massive grade-inflation scheme.
+ A good teacher in Mexico distracted her kindergarten class by coaxing them to lie down and sing songs while a gun battle raged outside.
- A bad teacher at Hastings High School in Michigan poured hot tea on two students who wouldn’t stop fighting.
+ A good principal at a Las Vegas high school spent several Saturdays going door-to-door and talking to students’ parents in an effort to encourage dropouts to return to school.
- A bad gym teacher in Denver faked a bomb threat to avoid going to work.
+ A good music teacher in Louisville, Kentucky, rescued musical instruments she found in her school’s supply closet and used them to start a student percussion ensemble.
- A bad teacher forced her Queens, New York, fifth graders to make holiday cards for her incarcerated boyfriend.
+ A good teacher will spend an average of $356 of his or her own money on educational products for the classroom.
- A bad special education teacher in Bainbridge, Indiana, posts on her Facebook page, “I love dumb people. I call it job security.”
Sources: philly.com, Huffington Post, New York Daily News, detroit.cbslocal.com, upi.com, National School Supply and Equipment Association, theindychannel.com, whatisworking.com, NPR